Back to previous post: The London Olympics’ wacky “linking policy”

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: 100 years of Woody Guthrie

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

July 14, 2012

Open thread 175
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:43 AM *

Stopping by an Open Thread on a Summer Evening

Whose plums these are I think I know.
He left them in the icebox, though
He should have known we’d be by here
To eat them, with a chilled Bordeaux.

The plum guy’s from the Fluorosphere;
Thus ought to know the things that we’re
Prepared to do before the dawn
And that those plums might disappear.

It’s hungry work to stay logged on.
Thus, when the tea and scones are gone,
We gnomes steal in on silent feet
To eat those plums beside the lawn.

The plums are tasty, dark and sweet,
But I have spam I must delete
And one more chapter to complete
And one more chapter to complete.

Continued from Open Thread 174

Continued in Open Thread 176

Comments on Open thread 175:
#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:21 AM:

That was an interesting analysis of BRAVE. It got a lot of "pretty fluff" reviews, but I enjoyed it a lot.

I don't think I'll be seeing it again in the theater, but I'd look forward to recording it in HD in a year or two (or borrowing the Blu-Ray), and giving it a thorough watch-through.

#3 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:58 AM:

...Burma Shave.

#4 ::: Rich Van Gaasbeck ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:07 AM:

OMG, is this open submissions thread?!! I didn't read any of the guidelines, but figured they didn't apply to me. Can I just query with all my ideas in one post?

Feel free to ask for the first chapters.

The thing et my truck

Browbeaten, he towed the line, but the truck wouldn't budge.

OMG, I ripped my bodice

He had a deep seeded love blossom and four angel tears that he bought at the florist.

Failing at the opera

He glanced over the two people ahead of him from his nearly penultimate position in line.

Saturday night further

Damn zombies and their reeking havoc and putrid dancing upstairs. I can't get any sleep.

Scott Mason, a love story

She sang a plaintiff melody while he sat on defense resting.

Lizard men vs the transformed

His body went ridged and his hands transformed into claws.

The empiricist strikes back

In theory, the empirical storm troopers had the situation in control.


#5 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:21 AM:

Open Threadery:
The areocentric model: I was thinking about an "medieval" Martian looking at the skies and assuming that the world beneath its feet resided in the centre of the universe. That Martian would probably deduce the order of the Moving Heavernly Bodies in this way, from innermost to outermost:

Earth with a big satellite
Some small stars
Here I assume that Uranus will still only visible with rather refined instruments.

Am I overlooking something important here, especially other remarkable features an areocentric model must necessarily possess?

#6 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:31 AM:

From too much love of stonefruit,
From greed and plain deceit,
I took – ‘twas not my own fruit –
But oh! so cold and sweet,
My gluttony enslaving
My will, for I was craving
The plums that you were saving
To be a special treat.

#7 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 03:07 AM:

The mountain plums are sweeter,
But your chilled plums are fatter;
We therefore deemed it meeter
To carry off the latter.
Refrigerator opened;
We found the wine, and quaffed it;
The plums were over-ripened,
And by breakfast they'd be past it.

#8 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:03 AM:

Far over the cracking pavement grass'd
To supermarket car park glass'd
I must away ere it's midday
To seek some plums to break my fast.

The other day I bought some fruit
Not yet quite ripe, but soon to suit
My morning taste. And, bag-encased,
Those plums were mine beyond dispute.

I bought red apples to give to Bill
So he'd have fruit to eat his fill.
He loves what's sweet, and dares to eat
The food I leave in the fridge to chill.

We've had this argument before
Since he will oft my signs ignore.
I write "Keep out, you dirty lout."
And "Eat this food and you'll get what for!"

And so I hid those plums from him
Behind the milk, in a corner dim,
I'd planned and schemed, and so I dreamed
Of cold sweet plums on the way to gym.

Far over the cracking pavement grass'd
To supermarket car park glass'd
I must away ere it's midday
To seek some plums to break my fast.

The sun was hidden by the gloom
And woke me not. In our bedroom
I slept past eight, while Bill, up late,
Had got the munchies, I presume.

The wooden floor in the kitchen squeaked
The icebox door with menace creaked
And in their sack, open to attack,
Sat plums with condensation streaked.

The bag it rustled, then it tore
That pig ate one, and wanted more.
The plums were gone, that I'd counted on:
My breakfast plans did my Bill ignore.

And on arising, what did I see
But the note that Bill left me
In timeless verse (which makes it worse):
A self-indulgent fauxpology.

Far over the cracking pavement grass'd
To supermarket car park glass'd
I must away ere it's midday
To seek some plums to break my fast.

#9 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:30 AM:

This is just to say I've eaten those plums in the icebox sweet and
Cold that for your breakfast you had probably put by in store.
Forgive me, they were so delicious, that my hunger growing vicious
Made its plea so meretricious, the refrigerator door
I could not forbear to open, as I prowled the kitchen floor:
This excuse, and nothing more.

#10 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:44 AM:

chown I:eaters plums.icebox

#11 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:59 AM:

Whose plums are these?
Whose plums are these?
They belong to Pete
And they're cold and sweet
And they won't be there much longer.

#12 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 07:09 AM:

HLN: area woman gave herself permission to follow her bliss, piqued by one of one of abi's parhelia.

Despite taking dire liberties with the instructions, first attempt falls into catagory of "not bad at all". A successor on HL woman's knitting needles, made with the leftovers, has turned into a cloche cap; she's now searching (again locally) for a gros-grain ribbon of *just* the right hue.

Area woman is now knitting the pattern again, having bought the correctly-sized needles (taking into account differences in sizing-catagories), and making a few extra changes: namely, the "doubled yarn" wasn't necessary if her yarn is already effectively the thickness of the one used in the instructions, and that one could "stretch" a color that was possibly not sufficient in supply, by electing to knit with a nicely contrasting shade for the first part of the brim.

Crazy(and, don't take this wrong, abi, but the area woman is only slightly grumbling under her breath about her lack of willpower in the face of such a cool project....)Soph

PS Area woman's also found out how the website subtly signals when she's munged the HTML code... goodness, I must really be awake then, eh wot?

#13 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 07:29 AM:

We are the icebox plums
We are the chilled plums
Leaning together
Sweet flesh filled with pits, alas!
Our moist voices, when
We whisper together
Are plummy and glutinous
As juice dried in glass,
Or syrup over pancakes splashed
On our small table.

#14 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 08:25 AM:

"The Plum Job" should be an episode of "Leverage", the new season of which begins tomorrow.

#15 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 08:41 AM:

What happens to a plum in the icebox?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sits
and ripens and sweetens.

Or does it get eaten?

(I was already to write a whole new parody when I realized that the second stanza worked just fine without any alteration, and who am I to improve on Mr. Hughes?)

#16 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 09:36 AM:

Purple black ripe plums
Sweet juice running down my chin...
Nothing but pits left.

#17 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 09:44 AM:

You had written me a letter
Which you had, for want of better
Knowledge, posted in apology for nicking those nice plums
They were juicy, ripe and chilly
Heck, to leave them would be silly
So you took them and you ate them and the juice got on your thumbs
And it leaked upon the paper
That you'd left after this caper
Blurring every second letter and about a dozen words
Well, it could have been quite funny
Seeing all the writing runny
And the images it left me sometimes bordered on absurd
But I'd planned those plums for dinner
Just for me, not for some sinner
Who'd decided if it's in the fridge it's anyone's to take
So while your hands are all sticky
I'll take all your choccy bikkies
And the ice cream and the trifle and a half a pound of steak.

PS: Get more plums from down the market
And if you don't want to "cark it"
Get enough damned plums for both of us to eat and have our share
And some choc'late, while you're shopping.
Please don't nick my food; it makes me hopping
Mad and I can't concentrate on getting verse to scan properly.

#18 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 10:27 AM:

From that article about people with a lot of stuff and no time:

"Most families rely heavily on convenience foods even though all those frozen stir-frys and pot stickers saved them only about 11 minutes per meal."

Does this seem plausible? Even with fairly simple cooking (mostly stir-fries) it might barely be true in my experience, and it would be per serving, not for preparing the whole batch.

#19 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 10:38 AM:

I read one review which didn't go the fluff route - it said that Merida was a brat and that her mother was the most interesting character in the film.

#20 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:03 AM:

The choices that we make are most constrained
by all the history we do not know
the pain of truth, and life that is not slow
but constant motion towards what was gained
by long ancestral struggle. We attained
some measure of the fair, but the true flow
of justice and of freedom will not grow
just from our acts, much else must be ordained,
No victory is final, that we learn
from childhood on and every hill we reach
turns out to be just one below the peak.
So we clomp upwards while the seasons burn
still wondering just what it is we teach
and what exactly is the prize we seek.

#21 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:15 AM:

Nancy @18: I'm continually surprised at the number of people who don't cook more than once or twice a week (for values of "cook" that include things like making sandwiches or salads as well as things that involve stoves and ovens) and who rely on takeout or convenience foods. As well as by those who cook an entire meal every night. Both things are alien to me.

I generally put in a lot of kitchen time on Sundays. I make a week's worth of sandwiches and put them in the freezer. This is coordinated with prep for a big meal, which typically includes 3 or 4 days' worth of an entree, 2 or 3 days' worth of a vegetable, and an entire box of pasta or 8 servings of rice or a similar amount of potato or other carb. (I prepare a lot of carbs because my teenager eats them for breakfast; she doesn't like cereal or most carb-related breakfast foods.)

So then I have dinner for Sunday and dinner for Monday (microwave reheated). Tuesday, I make a new vegetable. Wednesday, I make a new carb. Thursday, we usually eat stuff I brought home from the greenmarket on Wednesday. Friday and Saturday, sometimes we do takeout or eat out or I make something simple/fast, like eggs or tuna salad or veggie burgers.

I'm not a gourmet cook but I manage to put edible food on the table pretty much every night, and except for Sunday, it rarely takes more than 20-30 minutes to go from walking in the door to food on the table, even if I'm dog-tired.

#22 ::: Laura Runkle ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:33 AM:

Melissa @21, I'm also with the "cook large on Saturday or Sunday" camp. And by doing that, it's usually about 15 minutes from feet in the door to supper. I like tortillas - we sometimes treat them as proto-Mexican, sometimes as proto-Indian, and sometimes as proto-Chinese. Oh, yeah - or under the broiler, instant personal flatbreads for proto-Med. Just as crepes, pre-made and frozen on Sunday for brunch can be proto-French, proto-Polish, proto-Russian, or proto-Chinese, depending on how they are made. It helps to have more than one person working in the kitchen at once.

I can't afford to have two family members in college unless we eat out rarely, and convenience foods are far too salty for our taste. Thus weekend cookery, and a week (or so) of tasty meals.

#23 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:55 AM:

There are two of us in the house (double income, no kids, active volunteer schedules in the evenings) and we tend to cook for 2-3 nights at a go. Most family cookbook recipes are 4-6 portions, so this works out nicely: make something on Sunday and eat it left over on Monday; cook Tuesday for Wednesday and Thursday; "fend for yourself" on Friday and go out on Saturday (or vice versa.)

I have to admit that my husband does most of the cooking. He gets hungry first.

This means, alas, that I end up doing most of the dishes.

#24 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:59 AM:

The thing is, I like the process of cooking: the peeling, the slicing, the dicing, the julienning; the brining, the marinading, the herbing; the sweating, the sautéing, the braising; the reducing, the correcting, the saucing.

I don't suppose I'd have become a chemist if I didn't love transforming one thing into another.

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 12:13 PM:

I would gently remind people to be careful not to be judgmental about people who use convenience foods.

Not everyone finds cooking restful. The article says, "But with a job and two young children to pick up from day care, things get hectic at the end of the day, and prepared foods give her a much-needed mental break."

That's not just time. That's energy, too -- energy to think of something to make, energy to have shopped, energy to deal with what happens if a new recipe turns out badly.

If, like me, you have two children with fairly mutually exclusive tastes, you have to add in the fact that that X won't eat this and Y won't eat that. So all of the mental effort, shopping, and risk-taking is doubled, or you get to watch one kid pick at their food. Thoroughly depressing*.

Basically...assume the people in the article (and the people reading these comments and deciding whether to admit to using convenience foods, or just click on by) have considered what they're doing, and have reasons to choose the way they did. Otherwise this turns into a mommy drive-by. And that doesn't make us smarter, wiser, or more joyful.

* And if anyone wants to take me to task for not sorting out their food fussiness...just don't.

#26 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 12:35 PM:

I did takeout a lot more when my daughter was littler and couldn't wait to eat since she was starving by the time we got home from afterschool/daycare. I also placated her with carrots and other stuff while I did meal prep. The older she got, the easier it got and the more able I was to have enough time on Sunday to make a full meal. Though there were many weeks when I'd spend no more than half an hour in the kitchen and make nothing more than pasta/rice, microwaved frozen veggies, and some variant of something hashlike--seasoned chopped meat sauted with additional veg thrown in.

I think different family circumstances are really important to take into account in any discussion of "chores" or "housework." I'm a terrible housekeeper; I hate cleaning and sorting and stuff like that and my apartment is full of piles of stuff. I keep the bathroom and cooking areas cleaner, though not necessarily less-cluttered, and I know that the sight of my mess would be horrifying to many people.

A lot of the people I know who don't cook are not people with young children (or any children); they are mostly single people who spend huge amounts of time at work. When I was that person, I cooked a lot less. But it still surprises me to run into this pattern--I don't condemn it; there's a difference between surprise and condemnation--in people in their 40s and 50s. I think I expect it more in people in their 20s and 30s.

#27 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 12:36 PM:

They eat them up, the plums you bought.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They eat up every plum you've got
And don't leave any there for you.

But they lost fruit too in their turn
To fools who wrote replies in verse
Whenever they were given stern
Reminders, or an angry curse.

Man hands on stonefruit to man.
It sweetens on the icebox shelf.
So eat it early as you can,
And don't buy any fruit yourself.

#28 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 12:51 PM:

On a Shelf of the Refrigerator

The apparition of these plums in the fridge;
Stonefruit in a wet, red maw.

#29 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 12:51 PM:

On the Brave critique: what a brilliant article. And it helps explain to me why when I saw it with two male friends, their reaction was "Nice, but not as good as Tangled," whereas mine was "OH GOD FINALLY." They barely noticed the lack of a romance plot; to me, it was a good 50% of the point of the movie.

On convenience food: Over the last four months, I've gone from eating fast food 1-2 a day, and frozen/premade food for most of the remaining meals, to making my own food for 95% of my meals. And it's not because I've suddenly become a More Responsible Person. It's because I moved to a new house--and suddenly had a pleasant, less stressful environment; a well-stocked brightly-lit kitchen; an enormous grocery store in walking distance; and no classes over the summer, leaving me with plenty of mental energy and time to turn towards something...

I have a great deal of sympathy for people who do things which serve short-term needs at the expense of theoretical ideal long-term ones. Because as I've learned in many computer games, it doesn't matter if I'm taking the most efficient route to a long-term goal if everything collapses into a twitching heap right now. And there's only so much mental energy to go around.

#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 12:56 PM:

Cooking for one is difficult - you get more food than you can even store without a separate freezer - and there's no room for one in an average apartment.

#31 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 12:57 PM:

"Soylent Green is made out of convenience food!"

#32 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:15 PM:

Inside the humming Frigidaire,
The mustache of the frost
Rimes white, and one can trace in there
The signs of plums, now lost.

A thumb print wet, a bit of rind,
Small circles drawn in juice,
A mealy note for me to find.

I'm going to make a noose.

#33 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:28 PM:

I'll note that I've been making a lot of salads for lunch lately (I'm often home alone at lunchtime, and it's summer). The kitchen is the hottest room in our apartment, even when I'm not cooking. That's an argument for salad, yes: but it also means that I may decide it's time for lunch, go and slice some pepper and a radish, then go into another room to cool off before I cut up cucumber or mushrooms.

Even this takes time and energy—and not all vegetables keep well once sliced, so cutting them ahead of time, ideally when it's cooler, isn't always practical. And the time in which I know I need to get up soon and peel and slice part of a cucumber and a bit of ginger isn't time I can really focus on something else.

So I wonder what the article means by saying a convenience food "only" saves 11 minutes. Does that mean the family eats 11 minutes sooner, or does it mean 11 minutes of prep and cooking time spread out over 45 minutes, with an ear cocked for the kitchen alarm or just knowing you have to go into the kitchen periodically and stir the rice?

I'm sure there are people who can make potstickers from scratch in 11 minutes, for values of "from scratch" that mean their kitchen supplies include wonton wrappers as well as suitable things to put inside the potstickers. But I'm not one of them. And I'm more likely to buy and use a sack of premade dumplings than to buy and actually cook with and eat a package of wonton wrappers and the other stuff I'd want to put into those dumplings.

I'm also sure that somewhere out there, someone is sneering at someone else for using premade wonton wrappers instead of making their own, and talking about how it "only" saves x amount of time, and that's not how grandma did it.

#34 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 01:42 PM:

Convenience foods must be nice. I rarely find one I can eat -- MSG is the problem. I really don't like to trade a few minutes of timesaving for a day spent with a migraine or worse...

So cooking from scratch is the rule here. It's the only way to control the ingredients. And reading labels is a must too.

The week-long power outage did a number on our desire to cook. We went out to dinner almost every night, to spend some time in an air conditioned environment and to avoid putting any more heat in the house. I suspect none of us would have had the patience to cook -- the heat shortened the entire household's tempers.

#35 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:11 PM:

I think it's the attention as much as the time. Eleven minutes saved is one thing, but if it's a can of soup dumped in a pot and stirred every once in a while (this is a proper meal for me; I eat worse ones) I can unload the dishwasher while it's cooking. Can't do that with stir-fry.

There's also the fact that convenience foods are easier to explain to kids. I learned to use the stove so I could make ramen, and the oven so I could make brownies.

#37 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:22 PM:

One of the reasons I try to stay away from a lot of convenience foods--and there are scales of convenience; I buy a lot of refrigerated filled pastas (and would happily buy premade dumplings) and things like veggie burgers--is the higher amounts of salt, high fructose corn syrup, and various not-so-good-for-you chemicals. I've always looked at sodium levels and try not to buy things where a single serving has more than 20% of the RDA, but this became more important once I turned 50. My blood pressure seems to be a little higher post-50, though not _high_, so sodium is an easy thing to pay attention to.

So I buy convenience foods that are lower in those things. Refrigerated ravioli, veggie burgers, premade quiche. and a few other things.

I'm not saying I never buy the other stuff. But I'm trying to be mindful. Especially since I rejoined Weight Watchers about 5 weeks ago. (which provides me, weekly, with a truly weird moment--the meeting leader is my former 6th grade teacher, whom I had not seen in 40 years prior to going back to WW)

#38 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:42 PM:

There's some really lovely poetry here; I'll have to come back when I have some time to write some myself. Please, keep them coming.

Our rat terrier, Spencer, is getting an MRI today; we consulted with a neurologist about the seizures he had a month ago, and about some other problems we've seen (he's starting to have a little trouble with coordinating his hind legs sometimes). She noted that his hind leg problem looked slightly asymmetrical, which worried her. So, to rule out tumors or other brain abnomalities we're doing the MRI, and to check on brain and spinal cord chemistry we're getting a spinal tap. This, by the way, is the clinic that diagnosed our other dog's Jemma's blindness, and we were very impressed by how well they handled her.

Update: The neurologist phoned, and the MRI is done, with no obvious anomalies visible. They're going to do the tap and then wake him up, and we'll go in later to talk to the neurologist and take Spencer home. The only toad in the mushrooms is that they've got a surgery going that is pushing eveything else out, so we probably won't get to pick him up until late this afternoon. On the other hand, these people are very good at what they do, they really like and understand how to deal with animals, and they've been very good about keeping us informed: I dropped him off at 8 AM, and they called a little after 9 to tell us he was anesthetized and about to into the scan, and then again about 10:30 to say the scan was done and he was doing fine.

So we'll know a little more (I hope) this afternoon. It's hard to know what to hope for: negative results, so we know there's no tumor or lesion, or positive results, so at least we know what the problem is what has to be done.

#39 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 02:51 PM:

Re the Microsoft stacking Particle:

When I worked at Intel (back when we used parrots to peck out the IC masks) they used a similar system, officially called "rating and ranking" and informally called "raving and ranting". It caused some damage to morale, and was one of the reasons I left the company, but it had much less to do with the problems that Intel had at the time than the organizational growing pains of a company going from middle-sized to large, and from a single location with a single management chain to a geographically-distributed, multi-divisional matrix management.

So my take is that Microsoft really can't blame its mistakes on an inappropriate employee evaluation system. Nice try, though.

#40 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 03:03 PM:

abi, thanks for the reminder at #25.

For years, cooking involved a silent battle between my mother (who dominated the kitchen of my childhood to the point where I felt totally excluded) and my adult self. It did not matter that we had not shared a house for decades: the battle was in my emotions, where she was always present. I did not really know how to cook (except pasta); I did not like to cook. Cooking was her sphere. It made me uncomfortable. I did not eat fast food i.e. take out, Big Macs, JITB, but I did not eat very healthy food. (Ramen, yes! Lean Cuisine, sure. Ice cream, no problem. Red meat whenever I felt like it.)

After I had a heart attack, I changed what I eat, because I had to. No more ramen. Very little pasta. I now avoid most, though not all, processed foods. (Greek yogurt, yum.) I still dislike the process of cooking -- unlike Theophylact, whose comment at 24 fills me with envy -- but I can do it, as long as I keep things simple.

Vicki, I like big salads for dinner. Romaine lettuce, my fave, plus whatever else I can throw in the bowl: carrots, cukes, celery, zucchini squash in season... I don't eat tomatoes or citrus (too acid for my digestion, much discomfort) but I have discovered that raisins, grapes, or apple slices are wonderful in a salad.

#41 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 03:24 PM:

Lizzy: my mother didn't let anyone in the kitchen either. My father did, when she wasn't around, which was rare. I was only allowed in the kitchen for baking, because she couldn't do it (still can't). So if we needed rolls or a cake or something else baked, it was my job, even though I mostly work from box mixes. Baked my own birthday cakes for several years. Dad taught me how to scramble eggs.

Everything else I learned on my own, including how to cook pasta. When I first moved out, I took copies of a lot of my mother's recipes--she was a decent cook and the food was tasty--but I haven't made any of those dishes in more than 25 years.

I started formally teaching my sprout the basics when she was 9 or thereabouts; before that, she was allowed to help cut and mix and stir.

Actively remembering to teach is sometimes hard; she said to me the other day that one of the reasons she didn't like washing dishes was because of the feel of the dish soap. I gave her a funny look and asked where she was putting the soap. She said on her hands. I said, It goes on the sponge. Somehow, I'd never told her that . . . .

#42 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 04:01 PM:

I used to buy those single-serving frozen entrees for especially busy days, but other than the variety it got kind of old quickly.

I "eat out"* perhaps twice a week. Now-a-days I make my own frozen entrees. I make a big batch of casserole, pasta, stew or soup, portion it into cottage cheese containers, and freeze them.

In addition to one of these, I have a green salad and a bunch of steamed vegetables (typically an onion, a couple carrots, and a large handful of fresh spinach).

The frozen entrees I do buy tend to be things I really don't have the skill to cook. Indian dishes. Spinach pie from Trader Joe's.

* This includes actually going out to eat (or getting take-out) at dinner, a large lunch with co-workers, or a lunch based on catered-business-lunch-meeting leftovers. Lunch is usually enough of a meal that I skip dinner.

#43 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 04:08 PM:



Many of my apartment-complex neighbors are moving out. The folks downstairs, for whom I did favors and vice-versa, said that their rent had gone up rather much.

My current terms are fine, but I'm afraid what is going to happen when my lease expires at the end of February. Any significant rise means renting is more expensive than a mortgage payment (and property tax) on a modest house.

I'm not sure when to begin looking. Wait until fall, and hope things close so I have a month of overlap so I can move most of the small stuff myself?

#44 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 04:25 PM:

I live alone and don't like to cook*. I don't hate it, but I can't deal with coming home from work and having to mess around in the kitchen. And as noted upthread, it's a lot easier to cook several portions at a time than just one. So I cook on weekends** and eat leftovers during the week. I do buy convenience foods sometimes; I'd do it more often if they weren't so expensive.

*although I occasionally feel like baking something
**defined as any day when I'm off work--not necessarily Saturday or Sunday

#45 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 04:39 PM:

Xopher (OT 174 #920): Fingers crossed!

#46 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 04:46 PM:

I'm also surprised at the "only 11 minutes" -- I find that when I'm cooking family dinner from ingredients, I'm lucky to get done in under an hour (which is pretty much all active work). It feels like it takes me most of 11 minutes just to inventory the available ingredients and figure out what to cook from them!

Admittedly, for me family dinner is a vegetarian meal for five adults. And if you can do that without a half hour of chopping vegetables, you're doing very different recipes from me.

#47 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 04:48 PM:

I generally like to cook, but it takes some front-loaded planning to make sure all necessary ingredients are in the kitchen before I need to start dinner. The menu planning, grocery list making, grocery shopping, and putting away the shopping take a full weekend afternoon. If I want to cook a bunch of stuff and freeze it, that takes another full afternoon (and the willingness to eat the same three soups/stews/pasta dishes over and over and over and over).

If I haven't done that, then I have to think of something to cook, go to the grocery store on the way home from work, and then cook. And some days I am just tired and can't face planning and shopping on top of cooking. Or I get home, start taking out ingredients, realize we are out of onions, and just don't want to go back out in rush-hour traffic to get onions.

Frozen dinners, ordering pizza, and eating out therefore happen more often than I would like.

And I don't even have kids to take into account -- picking them up from daycare or school on time, having to pack them back into the car to run out and get missing ingredients, and for older kids, getting dinner ready before whatever evening activities they have going on, like sports or scouts.

I consider the work involved in preparing meals to be worthwhile -- but it is non-trivial.

#48 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:02 PM:

Now is the summer of our discontent
Cooled to winter by well-chilled plums of York
And all the bowls once filled within our fridge
In clouds and drifts of pits are buried.
Now are our bosoms stained with sweetness,
The empty skins flung afar as monuments.
Merry, we changed the house alarms
That no dreadful homeowner march
Grim-visaged against our joy in smooth plums.

#49 ::: Darien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:12 PM:

Excuse me if that information don't correspond to the content of the open thread.

But I found a fantastic new author, judge by his titles :
A Stranger in a Strange Land, The Reversed World, The End Of Childhood and RENDEZVOUZ WITH ZAMA, this author is named Ibnul Jaif Farabi.

A page in Smashwords seems to indicate he is from Blangadesh.

How marvelous is the internet!!

#50 ::: Darien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:15 PM:

Excuse me, forgot to precise his titles(!) are available on and

#51 ::: Melissa Singer sees (most probably) Spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:18 PM:

49 and 50. If it's not spam, it's really odd.

#52 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:25 PM:

Melissa Singer (51): It looks to me more like he found someone in Bangladesh who is plagiarizing SF books via Smashwords.

#53 ::: Darien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:26 PM:

Excuse me, Ms. Singer, I forgot to add an irony point. But it's real. the "author" has even copied the synopsis of the true novels.

The items were posted on Amazon from 11 to 13 july. I was browsing the last published ebooks, when I found that.

I didn't download even extracts, fearing dubious or damageable content.

#54 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:26 PM:

Caroline, #47: the willingness to eat the same three soups/stews/pasta dishes over and over and over and over

Yes, that's an issue for a lot of people. My partner's ex had it to an extreme level -- she couldn't stand eating the same thing for dinner twice in the same week. Fortunately, he and I are both creatures of habit, and don't mind repeating meals until all the roast/chicken/ribs/whatever is gone. And I can eat the same thing for lunch every day for weeks on end, which is how I got thru junior high and high school.

If you only have space to store single-serving portions of 3 big-pot dishes in the freezer, it helps to rotate the ones you make; over time, you'll end up with smaller quantities of just about everything, and larger amounts of the last 2 things you cooked.

#55 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:28 PM:

***stands on chair and applauds all the poetry, including the OP***

Y'all are a plum talented bunch.

Also, good-health mojo offered to Linkmeister and Janet, ditto to Ardala and Spencer of the Four-Foot Brigade, and much good-job mojo to Xopher! (Re: the 1.5-hour me, That's What Books Are For. :) Or, I suppose, knitting. Or folding origami. Or....)

#56 ::: Syd: Gnomulated! ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:32 PM:

This is just to say
that my post,
which would have been #55,
has been captured.

I'm sorry if I
used a Word of Power,
or possibly munged
my punctuation,

but I was in a hurry
to applaud.
But you should know...
no plums.

(I know, not much like That Poem, but it's the best I can manage at the moment.)

#57 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:39 PM:

There's some question about whether low salt diets are good for people.

#58 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 05:59 PM:

That state of things thou mayst in me behold
When yellow lettuce leaves (so few!) do stay
Upon those shelves which hold things in the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet plums lay.
In me thou see'st the broken fridge-door light --
Not as the sun which riseth in the east,
But with a broken on-switch, doomed to night:
Death's second self, that's hidden all the feast.
In me, without the glowing of that fire,
You cannot see the plums. These notes that lie,
And wither 'fore their sell-by dates expire,
"Consumed I that which you'd be nourish'd by".

These thou perceiv'st, which makes thy hunger strong,
To love too well what thou had saved too long.

#59 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 06:07 PM:

I want a medieval version of this. Heck, I'll settle for this version. A steampunk version is also attainable.

#60 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 06:07 PM:

Darien (not my cousin Darien, I presume) -- I think internetese for "can you believe this fool!?" is 0_o and I for one can scarcely believe it. Does Farabi really think no-one will notice?

And if it is my cousin, Hi Darien, I didn't know you read sf!

#61 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 06:20 PM:

Well, "save" 11 minutes means the amount of time it takes to stop at the fast-food restaurant and bring it home and so on, or to prep the convenience food, is only 11 minutes less than making it from scratch, not that you can make a meal from scratch in 11 minutes.

I still don't buy it.

OT, my mom sent me this:

Dear God
I know that I don't talk to you that much,
but this year you have taken away:
my favorite screenwriter Nora Ephron,
my favorite visionary Steve Jobs,
my favorite author Ray Bradbury,
my favorite childrens' author Maurice Sendak,
my favorite American Bandstand guy Dick Clark,
my favorite hairdresser Vidal Sassoon,
my favorite musician Earl Scruggs,
my favorite Monkee Davy Jones,
my favorite 60 Minutes guy Mike Wallace,
and my favorite singer Whitney Houston.
I just wanted to let you know
that my favorite radio announcer is Rush Limbaugh.

#62 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 06:48 PM:

Del Cotter @9: Lovely!

When I was living alone I pretty much lived off of packaged premade pasta. Since getting married I have cooked much more. It's more satisfying to cook for someone else, and you eat leftovers for only a couple of days instead of a week.

#63 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 06:56 PM:

Stefan @43: I just mostly-bought a house (haven't closed yet), and I strongly recommend starting your search in August via but expecting everything to get snapped up before you have a chance to get to it. The market slows as the temperature goes down, but looking early will give you an idea of what quality goes with which price point.

I got in just at the start of the summer rush - it took me about a week from the beginning of the search to the initial bid on the house we're buying. (I'm in the Puget Sound and was looking at ~$200k townhouses and condos.) The last time we looked was in 2006 and it took a month or two to find new construction that we ultimately backed out of. (Out of which we ultimately backed - meh, I'll dangle if I wanna!)

#64 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 06:59 PM:

Xopher, somehow I don't think that will work. (I wish it would, though.)

#65 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 07:06 PM:

I would just like to say that my previous comment here is a joke, and that I don't hold with praying for someone to die, even a reprehensible piece of shit like Rush Limbaugh.

Still, it made me chuckle.

#66 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 07:12 PM:

My partner's ex had it to an extreme level -- she couldn't stand eating the same thing for dinner twice in the same week.

Is that unusual? I don't know that I would object myself, but it's always struck me as the kind of thing One Is Not Supposed to Do.

To me by far the most common reason for pulling out convenience foods is emotional bandwidth. There are days that I cannot think about food. There is too much else in my head. And you've no idea how difficult it is cooking for two vegetarian daughters who have no common taste in beans (e.g., one will eat refrieds and one won't, one will eat black beans and one won't, and so on and on and on) and only one of whom will eat tofu. Also I lack what one might call a bean thumb.

#67 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 07:21 PM:

Darien, my apologies; the nature of your warning was not apparent.

Nancy @57, I'm not aiming for low-salt, just not incredibly high salt, in my diet. I salt foods, both while cooking and after, to taste, but what I want to taste is food, not salt. I've read some of the articles about "too low" salt. Mainly, I strive (often unsuccessfully) for balance.

I don't mind eating the same thing two or three times in a row; I tend to make all of the same kind of sandwich for a week and vary the fruit or veg I take along with. I find that if one or two components of a meal change, my mind accepts it as a new meal.

My brother, in his teens, ate the same thing nearly every schoolday for lunch for the entirety of high school--2 pb&j sandwiches and some carrots.

My mother put a different meal on the table every night, except for Thursday or Friday (can't remember which now), which was leftover night. So it's not family conditioning.

#68 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 07:38 PM:

Lee @ 54: I don't mind eating the same thing a couple times in a week. I have learned, though, that I get really bored rotating through the same three items for lunch and dinner for two or three weeks.

I also struggle because things I cook seem to lose flavor and get bland after freezing and reheating. My freezer meals tend to be things like vegan chili, vegetable lasagna with homemade sauce, that kind of thing. I wonder if it's because I tend to cook fairly low-fat, low-salt things, so there's not enough oomph to the flavor to withstand freezing and reheating. (I use either freezer bags or those vacuum-seal thingies, so they shouldn't be getting too freezer burned. I hope.)

I really wish I could master the logistics necessary to do meal planning with planned leftovers -- where you roast a whole chicken on Sunday, then make, like, chicken salad on Monday and chicken enchiladas on Tuesday. I've seen people interweave entrees and side dishes in truly amazing, clever, efficient ways. That would allow variety and make-ahead time savings. But it takes even more front-loaded planning.

#69 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 07:47 PM:

#63: Thanks for the insights. This is all baffling. In just two days of looking at listings I've learned some. I've seen some nice houses in awful locations (at the end of a maze of little streets, all alike), and some nice ones in neighborhoods that might make you think of Willoughby.

The listings have little calculators for mortgages, and some show the taxes and other fees. I now feel that my current rent is rather nuts. Wonderful location, but I could have been earning equity.

#65. Xopher, don't feel too guilty. Guys like Limbaugh and Savage make it really, really hard to not wish ill on them.

#70 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 08:02 PM:

Xopher, #61: I didn't think you were serious. But I am having an interesting and complex reaction to the joke, and I think I may pull it over to my LJ and philosophize a bit.

HelenS, #66: Well, if you have a big roast chicken for dinner on Sunday, and there are only 2 of you, then you're definitely going to have enough left for another dinner, which most people will have on Tuesday or Wednesday. She wouldn't hear of it, and leftovers tended to go bad in the refrigerator as a result.

Caroline, #68: I'm surprised to hear that you find chili of any sort bland after being frozen and reheated. That's one of our staples, and it holds up extremely well. Perhaps you need to experiment with more spicing?

#71 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 08:31 PM:

I'm another no-leftovers person; I can do a very few things leftover, but I don't like to take risks with food. It was a great moment realizing that chicken and dumplings can be refrigerated as long as I put the dumplings in separately. Nom.

But I have food issues, as I think I mentioned here. I talk to a brain person recently and she asked about food, and I gave her a pretty precise rundown of what I have in the house. Not quantities, but almost completely accurate item types.

#72 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 09:01 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 69: Rents are high in the Portland area these days, since our vacancy rate is now second only to New York city. I remember how much I enjoyed moving out of an apartment into a house!

Some things to ponder on comparing the cost of owning a house to renting:

- Equity is nice, when it happens. The last few years show the opposite, and it isn't unique. A friend of mine had a mortgage go underwater in California in the '80s. The Portland market lost value for awhile in the '80s, too.

- Don't forget the cost of the points on the loan, and the other closing costs such as title search, appraisal, etc.

- Interest and property taxes are easy to find out. Insurance costs can be startling. You have to buy a second policy if you want earthquake insurance, and it's considerably more expensive than the regular kind. Alas, the insurance companies figured out that we're on the ring of fire.

- Utilities and garbage pickup.

- Stuff wears out. An inexpensive new roof (a second layer of asphalt shingles) will probably be more than $5,000. Is that water heater more than 10 years old? Might fail soon, or last another 6 years or so, but it will eventually run you around $500 to replace.

- I remember discovering a lot of expenses that added up when I moved from an apartment to a house. Need a hose, rake, lawn mower, blinds or something for all these windows! I went to the laundromat for awhile, and it was true joy when I could afford a washer and dryer.

- I love gardening, and carefully avert my eyes from what I'm spending on plants and soil amendments.

- I'm too chicken to get up high enough to clean my gutters, so I pay a handyman to do that once or twice a year.

- I expect that you're not looking in the old east-side neighborhoods, so the really nasty surprises probably don't apply. I've got a 100-year-old house. I had to replace the sewer line, and later had to tear down a brick chimney and replace one of the foundation walls. The sewer line was $8,000. The chimney and foundation work was more than $20,000.

#73 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 09:12 PM:

I'm vegetarian-ish (love seafood, and bacon). I think that vegetarian meals probably freeze more conveniently than a meat-potatoes-side-of-veggies thing. Quinoa, risotto or pasta with yummy vegetable additions, or something bean-based, freezes up and reheats beautifully. We eat two servings for dinner the night he makes it, then the rest goes into single-serving containers in the freezer, and I eat them for lunch*. Everyone at work covets my lunches. I've practically had to throw an elbow to keep my stuffed shells.

*He rarely wants to eat leftovers for dinner. I cannot fathom being willing to cook from scratch on a regular basis -- which is precisely why I'm not the cook in this partnership.

#74 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 09:18 PM:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's plum?
Thou art more lovely and more juicy-sweet
I would say more, but fear to be struck dumb
And plums straight from the fridge can cure the heat;
For far too hot the eye of heaven shines
So we long for a taste that's sweet and cool
To ease our hearts and help us past the whines
Of radio blowhard and loud teevee fool.
Your taste of summer brings us hearty cheer
And fruity goodness, nothing to despise,
Blended with odours in the pleasant air
The greatest blessings in the noblest guise.
So long as we have breath, and words to say,
For all our lives, we shall fall to thy sway.

#75 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 09:38 PM:

janetl, #73: My supervisor at one of my old jobs always brought the previous night's leftovers for lunch, and would reheat them in the break room. This was no problem most of the time, but he was very fond of salmon, and about once every 2 or 3 weeks you could smell his leftovers all over the building for the rest of the afternoon. Ew. Yours are probably much less aromatic!

#76 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 09:54 PM:

This might have been more on topic earlier in the thread. Mais ou sont les prunes d'antan?

Ballade des mangées

Human readers who come after me
Do not have hearts hardened against me
Since if you pity me in my plight
Your housemates will likewise have mercy on you.
You see them eaten there, all five or six
As for my stomach, that I fed too much
It has long since ached for my greed
And I, the poet, become contrite.
Of my poem let no one make fun
But pray that my housemate will absolve me!

If I call you my readers, you must not
Disdain me for it, for I must apologise
In writing. Anyway, you know
That all men may have their good sense overcome
Before the fruit of such a tree
In the icebox, so cold and sweet.
Preserve me from my housemate's wrath!
I have eaten, let no one blame me
But pray that my housemate will absolve me!

I washed the plums and drained them;
The icebox made them cold and sweet.
Greedily I devoured them
Stripping them to pits.
They no longer sit in the icebox.
Now here, now there, as my mood changes
I pace guiltily thoughout the house.
The birds did not eat them, no, 'twas I
So do not be, like me, a thief
But pray that my housemate will absolve me!

Good Reader, who has knowledge of all
Prevent my housemate from carrying a grudge.
I have nothing to pay or to trade for these plums.
There is no point in mocking me,
But pray that my housemate will absolve me!

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 09:57 PM:

My workplace has decreed that popcorn and fish have to be heated in the cafeteria microwaves (that is, the microwaves that reside in the cafeteria) because they have very definite odors. (Shrimp was right out, anyway, on the work floors.)

#78 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 10:53 PM:

There's a concept called "opportunity food" which Juan and I and our friend Jenett and a number of other people share. We've either needed it or had partners who needed it. Opportunity food is food for when you can't stand up long enough to cook something. Serious health issues, mobility issues, and the like generally mean that planning ahead for this I-can't-stand-up-or-move-well-today stuff becomes a habit.

Some of my favorite opportunity food is microwaved frozen green peas with butter and a little bit of shoyu. Yum. The invention of frozen vegetables was a useful thing indeed.

PJ Evans @77: They made a rule about thirty years ago at the Science Museum that the volunteers who worked with the boa constrictors were not allowed to warm up the boa's dinners (which came frozen) in the microwave in the volunteer break room. Frozen rodents being microwaved are a bit aromatic sometimes. (The solution involved a second microwave dedicated to snake food warming.)

#79 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:06 PM:

I've largely given up trying to be Organized and Efficient in my meal planning, not least because I lately seem to be experiencing a chronic shortage of spoons (ironically, and not coincidentally, partially a result of less-than-optimal nutrition), and as previously mentioned, all the planning, listing, shopping, storing, and prep requires a non-trivial investment of time, attention, and energy.

One of my favorite tricks, which I hate hate hate is to, in a burst of ambition, buy a bunch of vegetables with the intention of doing fresh vegetable stew, and then not get around to it and have the vegetables turn into mush in my refrigerator.

I fantasize about those subscription restaurants that turn up in a few Heinlein novels.

#80 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:08 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft: Happy healings and good luck with the peroxide & antibiotic cream. And, yes: living alone sux when you're sick.

KayTei: Best wishes for your mother!

Xopher: Appendages crossed!

#81 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:13 PM:

The supermarket had some ready-to-cook squash on sale this morning, so it's now in my fridge. Green and yellow squash with onions and dill, roughly two servings for me. (I sometime buy a package of ready-to-use veggies, cook them, and put them in the freezer.)

#82 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2012, 11:23 PM:

I don't think we have an official rule, but I would never microwave fish at work!

Jacque @ 79: Now that Portland has weekly pickup of kitchen waste & yard debris, I feel less guilty about the things forgotten at the back of the crisper drawer. It will decay into nice mulch -- it just got a head start.

I believe that a lot of refrigerators contain what I call an "aspirational salad" which goes from grocery store, to fridge, to compost.

#83 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:11 AM:

#72: Thanks for the reality checks.

I'll almost certainly be looking for a townhouse or condo in the same Orenco Station neighborhood. Most of the stock here is 10 - 15 years old. A nicer neighborhood slightly farther away, or a more congested place closer to work, might also work.

Townhouse and condo developments have interesting maintenance options. They essentially own the place outside the walls, and would presumably handle roofs. Of course, you get charged a fee for the privilege.

#84 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:29 AM:

little pink beast @76: That's terrific, but I have the distinct feeling that it's modeled on something -- something which I don't recognize. What's the original?

(If there is no model, and it's all yours [with the obvious debt to Williams, of course] then please accept my apology and congratulations.)

#85 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:33 AM:

little pink beast @76: That's terrific, but I have the distinct feeling that it's modeled on something -- something which I don't recognize. What's the original?

(If there is no model, and it's all yours [with the obvious debt to Williams, of course] then please accept my apology and congratulations.)

#86 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:33 AM:

Stefan—in regards to house-hunting, a couple of things that we did might help. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, but find a mortgage officer who is willing to do what ours did, which is let us give him our preferred monthly payment and have him calculate what that added up to in terms of the total number. Yes, that will change as the rates do. But it's a better way to know what you can look at.

The second thing is to get out and look at listings, physically. Even if you're not interested in that particular house. And when you do, note down what you like and don't like about each place. The first few times we went out, we figured out what we really wanted by such tactics, and what was important to us. And we ended up with a place that has its flaws—we're not rich enough to get a perfect place, natch—but all its flaws are things we can fix. Someday. When we have time. :)

In regards to cooking at home, I find that the workspace is paramount to determining how enthusiastic we are about cooking. We once had an apartment with hardly any kitchen cabinets, so all of our stuff ended up on the counter. Which left very little counter space. And it was very depressing to try and cook in that kitchen. When we moved to another state and had plenty of cabinet space, we were cooking from home a lot more all of a sudden. And our current kitchen, while small, was made highly usable by the gift of a little rolling island, which is the primary workspace. If we didn't have it, we'd have to use the counters, which are kid-accessible and therefore cluttered.

For the most part, we like to do simple meals. Burritos from scratch (including frying the beans ourselves but not including tortilla manufacture) take us about fifteen minutes (down a bit with practice). Pancakes from scratch are almost as fast as from a mix. And I love a good avocado on toast or simple melts. (We love our toaster oven; don't ever buy a cheap one because they break easily, while the ones in the $80-$100 range will last for a decade and some double as convection ovens.) The biggest barrier to cooking for myself is brain melt.

#87 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:38 AM:

Oh—pancakes from scratch, if you're interested.

per 1 cup self-rising flour*

1 egg
1 cup milk (dairy milk; preferably higher fat)
1 tblsp oil (make waffles with 1/3 cup oil)
dash of sugar
vanilla, lemon, or almond extract optional

You can add spices (sometimes I use powdered chai mix) or fruit (after pouring onto hot pan.)

It's one of those recipes that you look at and wonder why you're paying for pancake mix. Most mixes require at least two of the additional ingredients anyway.

*You can make your own self-rising flour through various recipes; I've not been able to get as even a mix. We store it in the freezer and it keeps well.

#88 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:40 AM:

David Goldfarb@84: Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. It's based on François Villon's "Ballade des pendus".

#89 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:51 AM:

To various people waiting for email responses from me: I fell off the planet middle of last week. I'm finally climbing back on, but am still searching for my brain.

#90 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:55 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 83: A friend of mine owns a condo, and she's talked about the importance of a practical condo association. They should be setting money aside for those roof replacements, repainting, etc. If they've been deferring maintenance or not keeping the cash reserve healthy, then the condo owners can suddenly find themselves assessed a whole lotta money to do big repairs. If you buy into a well run condominium, then your monthly fee is nice and predictable and insulates you from nasty surprises.

#92 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 01:55 AM:

B.Durbin@87 - Self-rising flour is basically white flour and baking powder. I'd rather buy them separately. My pancakes are usually about half corn meal or masa and half white flour, but sometimes it's whole wheat flour, depending on what I've got around and whether we're in a corn pancake mood. And yogurt works ok if I'm out of milk. Haven't tried adding plums, though blueberries are good if they're around.

#93 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 02:13 AM:

With regards to the whole "convenience foods" vs "cooking from scratch" thing, I find I'm somewhere in between.

Here's the various considerations which go into what happens in our kitchen. Firstly, Himself isn't earning that much (it's enough to cover the rent and the bills, but very little over), which means we're trying to be as frugal as possible. This means I'm feeling a certain amount of pressure to cook regularly. After all, it's cheaper for me to do the cooking than it is to buy foodsicles and reheat them (plus I'm capable of more diversity than the foodsicle manufacturers). So I try to cook on a regular basis.

However, (and secondly) the kitchen in this rental house was designed by an architect who never cooked for themselves, and built straight off the plan for an owner who wasn't planning to ever live in the place themselves either. This means the kitchen, while workable, is poorly designed, doesn't have anywhere near as much pantry space as I require on a regular basis, and is very poorly lit (one bulb over the island bench in the centre of the kitchen - if you're using the stove or the sink, you're casting a shadow on your own workspace).

Also (thirdly) I'm a person who is capable of doing more in the mornings than in the afternoons. Ideally speaking, my preference for a big meal would be lunchtime, and then a light supper for the evening meal. "Quick" meals for the evening (such as stir-fries or meat and three veg) tend to require me to be "up" and "on" at a time when my brain is busy winding down for the day.

As a result, I get a lot of use out of the slow cooker I bought last year. I'm finding it a wonderful thing - I can do all the prep and setup first thing in the morning, when my brain is actually firing on all cylinders, leave it cooking throughout the day (and not-so-incidentally at this time of the year, heating up the immediate area) and put on the pasta, rice or spuds to serve with it when Himself gets home from work of an evening. Then the leftovers go into containers and get put into our chest freezer (a purchase from last year's tax refund, and worth every single cent) for days when I don't feel like cooking. On those days, dinner is what I call "scrounge" - as in "scrounge around in the freezer until you find something that sounds good, and reheat that". One of the good things about casseroles and the like is that firstly, they take the cheaper cuts of meat, and secondly, I can always stretch them by increasing the amount of vegetables in the mix (veges here in Australia are cheaper and more readily available than meat).

When it comes to lunches, if I'm working it'll tend to be either leftovers, cup-a-soup, or whatever's available nearest my workplace. I got put off sandwiches when I was in primary school (plastic lunch-box in a schoolbag in a classroom without air-conditioning during an Australian summer equals a lunch which tastes horrible) - as far as I'm concerned they're definitely something which works a lot better if there isn't a four-hour gap between the making and the eating.

#94 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 02:24 AM:

I have two vegetarian nephews-by-marriage - sons of my wife's brother - who are lacto-vegetarian. So I cooked vegetarian, and found how restricted they were. I cooked nut-stuffed pumpkin, refilled tomatoes, roasted root vegetables - carrots, sweet potatoes and new potatoes - and a stir-fry of fresh snow peas and mushrooms - just tossed in hot oil with a sprinkle of soy and a little tarragon. There was also fresh local bread from a country baker.

Turns out that they don't like tomatoes, pumpkin or carrots. Never had snow peas. Didn't care for mushrooms. Ate the potatoes. The tomato filling included herbs and ricotta, and that was OK.

Their doting mother explained that they mostly ate lentils, potato and what she described as "pockets", approximately white bread cheese melts, plus pasta and rice. And not brown rice, at that. They had ice cream for dessert. I offered fresh mango to go with it, but no. They didn't go much on fruit.

They seem healthy, though. I ended up wondering if there was anything in this balanced diet lark after all.

#95 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 03:05 AM:

The subthread about work microwaves reminds me that I've had two memorable labs with microwaves. The first one, I threatened to install a fume hood due to a certain student's reeking industrial quiche-sickles (this in a psych lab); the second one, the microwave is less of an odoriferous issue than the electric skillet one of the other grad students has in the lab kitchen. I'm tempted to tell him that sauteing frozen shrimp isn't particularly pleasant for those of us in the adjoining office space...

#96 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 03:08 AM:

The subthread about work microwaves reminds me that I've had two memorable labs with microwaves. The first one, I threatened to install a fume hood due to a certain student's reeking industrial quiche-sickles (this in a psych lab); the second one, the microwave is less of an odoriferous issue than the electric skillet one of the other grad students has in the lab kitchen. I'm tempted to tell him that sauteing frozen shrimp isn't particularly pleasant for those of us in the adjoining office space...

#97 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 03:51 AM:

There's a little (TV Guide-sized) cooking magazine that has week's worth shop-and-share-prep menus, with the shopping list worked out by grocery section. They don't fit my household's dietary requirements very often, but it's such a nice idea.

I think older cookbooks used to have lots of them, with a regular catenary from the Sunday fancy roast and Monday washday beans through the Wednesday hash and the Thursday creamed club sandwiches.

#98 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 04:07 AM:

All this talk of plums . . . mine are the last in the neighborhood to ripen. They'll be ripe in a week or two. I'm locating all my winemaking materials and my notes. I am determined to make a really drinkable wine this year, for the first time since the nice fellow died in 2008. That year I made a decent vinegar, which is used up. The year before I made a really nice little wone. I'm aiming for that again this year. 2009,2010, 2011, I couldn't think straight enough to get the plums picked in time.

#99 ::: lexicat ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 04:44 AM:

I think I've finally got the courage to delurk.

First: applause for the poetry, which has always been one of the things I like best about Making Light.

Second: my family generally eats meals made from scratch, although we also keep some convenience foods for when everyone's tired and nobody has thought of anything to make until nearly dinner time. Cooking nowadays tends to be a cooperative effort, as most of us quite enjoy it. Leftovers rarely happen, since there are five (sometimes six) adults at the table.

Lunch is another matter, as I'm a picky eater who often skips meals without noticing and frequently goes through periods of eating only because I know I have to. Cup-a-soups and yoghurt are wonderful, because at least I'll eat them and they don't take much time or effort in preparation. I suspect part of the reason I don't notice missed meals is that I had the same problem as Megpie71 @92 regarding sandwiches for lunch at school; I couldn't face eating them and eventually stopped eating lunch at school altogether.

#100 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 07:45 AM:

We have heard how Wilhelm Wilhelm's son
Despoiled ere dawn the pantry-plums
His lord was most likely saving for stop-fast.
Hunger had he, slyly he swiped
From the frost-hoard the mead-feast mathom.
It is told in the tales that they were toothsome,
Wine-winsome were they, and most winter-like.
Faith-breaker, fruit-reaver, may he be forgiven.

#101 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 08:45 AM:

re 30: And then there's the "family-sized package" problem. Here I am at the Safeway, contemplating the BOGO family-sized ground beef packs, where all five of us (well, four-- #3 kid doesn't do burgers) can be overfed with half of one of these. And I'm thinking, what with the recent unreliability in PEPCO, there's no way I want to have to store that much meat.

#102 ::: Darien ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 09:02 AM:

Following up my former posts, the plagiarist , in reality the books are total copies of the originals, has also striked CJ Cherryh with her latest Foreigner novel.

She reacted in this post on her blog :

the former post where I signaled the thing :

#103 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 09:37 AM:


The very prolific Ibnul Jaif Farabi is also a Smashwords author:

#104 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 09:49 AM:

One of the advantages of frozen vegetables is that they often come pre-chopped. That's something irrelevant to peas, and I didn't really notice when I was buying green beans, but it makes a difference in the time and effort involved in cooking squash or cauliflower.

#105 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:19 AM:

"Find a mortgage officer who is willing to do what ours did, which is let us give him our preferred monthly payment and have him calculate what that added up to in terms of the total number."

I'd be wary about this myself. Anytime you're trying to negotiate based on monthly payment rather than price to someone who's paid a commission (as most mortgage brokers, car salespeople, etc. are), the person you're working with has strong incentive to work out an arrangement that optimizes for payment size/overall cost ratio, *not* for low cost and risk.

A lot of the mortgages in the bubble were like that. The quoted monthly payments were low, but the mortgages that went with them were variable rate, had temporarily discounted "teaser" terms, had very inflated closing costs (sometimes rolled into the principal to make them harder to notice), had negative equity terms (so you actually fell further behind in your debt every month), or had onerous balloon-payments or very sensitive penalty trip-wires that could easily blow up in your face a few years down the road. But they all enabled a broker to sell an expensive mortgage for what looked like a low monthly payment up front.

So what I'd do instead, before talking with a broker, is to figure out what sort of mortgage you want (for most people I'd generally recommend fixed-rate for the life of the mortgage, term of no more than 30 years or the time till you hope to retire, whichever is shorter). Then use a mortgage calculator (they're easy to find online) to find out what the monthly principal and interest payments would be for likely interest rates and purchase prices. (Or ask your broker to help you with this, but make sure he or she is calculating it based on the type of mortgage you said you wanted, not some more exotic variant that makes for lower-looking payments.)

Then, to compare to rental costs, add on property taxes, homeowners insurance (including flood and/or earthquake coverage, depending on where you are; they generally are *not* part of the standard homeowners policy), and maintenance costs (varies, but 1-4% of home value per year is not uncommon). It's also useful to add a bit of cushion on top of all that, to cover the payments if things go bad, or to accelerate the pay-down of principal if things go well.

It may sound a bit intimidating, but it can still be very rewarding to own your own home, if it's something you can easily afford and that you're personally invested in. You just need to have your eyes open going in, and not take on more than you can handle. (And be aware that what you can comfortably handle may well be considerably less than what a mortgage broker or realtor presses you to buy, or says that you can borrow.)

#106 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:42 AM:

Canned soup--the no-corn-syrup kind--works wonders, when various items are added--protein, vegies, and so on [omnivore, Health At Every Size.] I hear you all about the need for more "front-loaded planning". I haven't crossed the doors of a restaurant or fast-food place in months, but I sometimes spend more on tonight's dinner than I expected because I didn't plan ahead well enough--or forgot what I already had on hand. Batches of roasted vegetables, and boxes of wholegrain crackers majorly discounted at a store I know, are another help.
When I was working, some people snarked about the smell of the canned tuna I brought for lunch. I told them to chill or I'd bring in some lutefisk. Fortunately I never had to back up that threat. Our break-room fridge smelled worse--everyone in the room would lean away when someone opened it, and not due to anything of mine therein. This problem was eventually solved by someone getting us a new one. I was gone from that workplace before finding out how long the pristine condition lasted.
Plums? Here in Cascadia they happen in October--at least for the trees I know. Sometimes I feel almost like the first person to discover that there are trees that make things I can eat.
But that workplace fridge didn't smell any worse than a literary discovery some years back. I was hunting for mind-candy in a used bookstore and found a jungle-adventure/feral-child novel from some 80 years or so back. Some sections of which proved to be directly plagiarized from Kipling's Jungle Book. I mean, all he did was change a couple of names. Really left a bad taste in my mind, and I think I recyled it.

#107 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:55 AM:

I used to take pb-and-honey sandwiches, because they could take hours without refrigeration. (One semester I had a late class, so I was taking two of them. After eight hours, the pb&h had soaked into the bread a bit, and it was interestingly crunchy.) These days, I take carrots and a banana, along with a hard-boiled egg, to work for lunch. The carrots and the egg don't mind not being fridged, but they're in a somewhat insulated container and a somewhat air-conditioned room.

#108 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:56 AM:

I had wondered if that was you over there....

#109 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 12:20 PM:

PJ #75: I also worked in an office with a fish & popcorn policy. No fish -- especially no shrimp-flavored ramen -- and if you made popcorn, you had to make enough for everyone. Sometimes someone would.

And on another note, apparently there has been a sale on apostrophe's.

#110 ::: Darien ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 01:19 PM:

PJ #108 Yes it's me, I had that old handle on the Cherryh blog.

At 19h00 today French hour, Ibnul Jaif Farabi "books" have disappeared from Amazon US and FR

#111 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 01:21 PM:

The microwave-themed comments reminded me of a recent exchange with my son.

I sent him this:

******, you may find the microwave-related incident particularly to your liking ...

To which he responded:

some of those scenes totally don't remind me of things we've done at work on slow days, honest. especially not various powders and a lit range.

To set the scene, he was involved with a particularly notorious (and funny) microwave incident while at school.

The video is of all those things your parents told you not to do ...

My son works at a brewery/brewpub. We've always said he's a man of few words. But well-chosen ones.

#112 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 01:24 PM:

Sorry gnomes. No plums yet, but I do have fresh cherries ...

#113 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 01:26 PM:

Lee @ 70: Perhaps I do. Usually what happens is that the capsaicin heat remains, but the other flavors seem to fade and muddy.

I did some googling about freezer cooking yesterday. Many recipes suggest pre-cooking only part of the ingredients, or pre-cooking them and freezing them separately, for assembly on the day. Many of them suggest assembling a dish up to the point where you'd bake or roast it, then freezing it in a covered casserole dish. Then you finish baking it on the day you're ready to eat it, as opposed to cooking it all the way, then freezing it.

I'm not sure how to apply this to individual portions or portions for two; most of the freezer cooking websites are aimed at families with multiple hungry kids, who can finish a whole casserole dish full of food at once. (Admittedly, very practical for that situation.)

I guess I could assemble, bag, and freeze things like individual enchiladas, to be taken out of the bag and baked. Or maybe I could use foil loaf pans as smaller-portioned casserole dishes to assemble things to be baked/roasted later. The internet tells me there are various small foil pans, like tart pans and pot pie pans.

Hmm. Will have to consider this further.

#114 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 02:01 PM:

Angiportus @106, people seem to have had a different attitude about plagiarism back in the day. I noticed it while reading Jess Nevins' Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana,, where one dime novel after another would turn into a Jules Verne story halfway through. Definitely a despicable practice.

#115 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 02:19 PM:

Caroline @133: I often find little oven-safe baking dishes in thrift stores or Goodwill; I suspect people get them for one fancy meal (souflees? crem brulee? terrine?) and give up. Good for freeze-one-serving, though, especially if you have a countertop oven.

Come to think of it, I've seen fruit pie with crust baked in Mason jars, and can't think why lasagna and casseroles wouldn't work as well.

#116 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 02:44 PM:

Dave L., #94: I'm not vegetarian, and one of the world's pickiest eaters, and I'd have done better than that! I'm not a fan of pumpkin, but I'd have eaten the tomatoes and the roasted veggies (it turns out that I like sweet potatoes just fine when they're not drowned in brown sugar and marshmallows); the stir-fry sounded great until you got to the tarragon (tastes like pickles, ugh!). What it sounds like your nephews are eating is what I think of as a "white diet", and no, it's not that healthy. OTOH, a lot of kids go thru that sort of phase at some point, and then decide that it's boring and they want more variety.

Open Threadiness: I've now had a nasty surprise from the updated Firefox -- instead of asking me whether I wanted it to save my tabs when I closed it, it just killed them all. And I can't find any way to make it save tabs. Anybody got a solution?

#117 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 02:50 PM:

Lee @116:

Settings/General should have "Show my windows and tabs from last time" in the "When Firefox starts" dropdown.

Mine does, anyway.

#118 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 02:54 PM:

"The Plum Job" should be an episode of "Leverage", the new season of which begins tomorrow.



That is all.

#119 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 03:32 PM:

WRT cooking vs zapping:

I cook all the dinners/suppers, but zap (or toaster-oven) things for lunch, as cooking midday uses Daytime Spoons which somehow suck up other spoons much faster than the evening version. (Don't ask me why, I just work here! Something to do with my personal version of time management, I think.)

It's also a lot easier to count the calories reliably for the pre-made foods; I don't know whether I should trust the published counts, but at least they're there and I can act like I believe them.

As to the eat-it-more-than-once-a week controversy, I try not to cook the same thing more than once in three weeks or so. It helps that I make out a menu each week before I make the shopping list.

#120 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 04:01 PM:

Nicole @ 118... With 'tomorrow' now being today. And yes, let us squee at the return of "Leverage".

#121 ::: Towse ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 04:25 PM:


#122 ::: Towse ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 04:36 PM:

When the kids were young and in daycare because we were both working, we, of necessity, served something fast when we slammed through the door.

That something was usually rice into the rice cooker, and in the twenty minutes the rice took to cook, we chopped up onions and garlic and boneless skinless chicken thighs. Cooked. Added a jar of sauce. Zapped some vegetables. And served. Sauce could be anything from spaghetti sauce, Thai curry sauce, tapenade, teriyaki, whatever.

The kids are grown now, but still consider "chicken n' sauce" comfort food.

#123 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 04:40 PM:

abi: On Firefox 13, that's under Tools/Options/General.

#124 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 04:58 PM:

Lee @ 116, about saving Firefox tabs--I've been using the option "restore previous session" in the history pull-down menu.

#125 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 06:03 PM:

Some say the plums will end in tarts
Some say on ice
From what I've eaten 'round these parts
I hold with those who favor tarts
But if they had to vanish first
I think I know enough of guilt
To say that for consumption, chilled
is also good, and would suffice

#126 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 06:11 PM:

Leverage fans who go to and search a bit will find a nice long article about the Fifth Season and the show's new setting. Which is also its old setting, but now is acknowledged as its new setting.

* * *
House hunting: I bought a copy of "House Buying for Dummies," 2001 edition. There was a handy mortage-rate table. The lowest rate they bothered to show was 5.00%. I hope the rest of the information isn't out-of-date.

#127 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 06:36 PM:

stefan @126: one more thing, don't forget to factor things like mortgage insurance and home insurance into the monthly costs. that was a nasty surprise for me a few days ago.

seattle area values on a 225k house for things that are either included in rent or not charged to renters:
water/sewer - 90
garbage - 15
hoa - 200
mortgage insurance - 200
home insurance - 30
property taxes - 250
electric/gas - 70
cable/internet - 80

#128 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 06:54 PM:

Plums, plums, glorious plums
Nothing's quite like them for soothing the gums...

#129 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 06:56 PM:

#127: Thanks; the only thing there I hadn't been mentally penciling in is mortgage insurance. That's a rather astonishing figure. I'll have to add that in to my back-of-envelopage.

(I currently pay water/sewage/trash and cable; some of those will surely rise.)

I'm going to do some reading and have an orientation talk with the mortgage people at my credit union. Their rates seem quite decent.

#130 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 07:28 PM:

I like to use loan calculators. Here's one that lets you add a payment of additional principal: Bloomberg mortgage calculator

When you see how much of what you are paying on a house or car loan is the interest, it's croggling. Paying some additional principal can have a big impact on that. Here's an example:

Principal: $200,000
Term: 30 years
Rate: 4%
Monthly payment: $954.83
Paid off in June 2042
Total Payments: $343,739
Total Interest Paid: $143,739

Now add a $50 per month payment of additional principal, so your monthly payment goes from $955 to $1,005. That additional amount is purely voluntary, so if you get a setback, you just quit paying it for awhile.

That reduces your total interest of the life of the loan by $14,900. The mortgage will be paid off 2 years and 8 months sooner.

I started adding about $50 on my mortgage as soon as my student loans and cars were paid off. I added more once I could afford it, with bigger chunks from time to time if we got a windfall. I got my house paid off early -- and within 6 months was paying a bundle for house repairs, but that was just the universe being petty.

Back when I was figuring this out about mortgages I had a DOS program that did the calculations. I used it for years, running it in the terminal on Windows machines, until I finally moved to a Mac and left it behind. Hunting for mortgage calculations on web pages, I was startled at how few let you add additional principal payments and showed you how much of an impact they have. If I was a cynical sort, I'd suspect that these banking websites aren't interested in sharing that info...

#131 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 07:30 PM:

Stefan Jones (129): I believe* mortgage insurance only applies when you put less than 20% down. And it doesn't last forever; once you owe no more than 80% of the purchase price, you no longer have to pay mortgage insurance.

*This is what I learned when I was house hunting; someone correct me if I'm wrong.

#132 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 07:50 PM:

Mary Aileen @131: that's my understanding of mortgage insurance as well, as its purpose is to protect the lender if something happens to you when they consider loan amount uncomfortably close to the net amount they'd get from a foreclosure.

My impression is that some lenders will automatically terminate the mortgage insurance when they no longer require it (i.e. when your equity has risen to > 20% of current value), and others will require you to request that it be terminated. These days I wouldn't be surprised if they all keep it as long as they can...

#133 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 07:59 PM:

A new plum thread is perfect for my weekend. Weather conditions have conspired to bring the plums from all three of my trees ripe within a couple-week span. I've taken the plunge this weekend and pretty much stripped the trees to turn them into 2 gallons of frozen plum puree. About one quart from the ornamental red-leaf plums (which I didn't quite get to during their peak) and the rest from the damson-type.

It would be preferable for the plums to behave like lemons: ripen distributed over the year and stick to the tree even when ripe. But I'll take what I can get. It occurs to me that when I've really started planting stuff in my yard, I'll either have to expand to canning (yuck! sugar syrup!), drying (quite practical), or invest in a chest freezer (winces at power bill).

#134 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 08:37 PM:

I Celebrate my plums, and sing my plums,
And I have consumed what you would have consumed,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and eat your plums,
I lean and loafe at my ease consuming the ones you were saving for breakfast.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from stolen plums, this icebox,
Taken from here like earlier plums the same and earlier plums the same, and still earlier plums the same,
I, having eaten plums thirty-seven years am in perfect health,
Hoping to cease not till death.


Not the same quality as most of the above offerings, but it's amazing how fun it is -- and how easy it is. Stanza after stanza just walks right into it:

Iceboxes and refrigerators are full of plums, the shelves are
crowded with plums,
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
It is so sweet, and so cold.

...but the point is made, so I'll try to stop. Although I can't resist noting:

Did I consume your plums?
Very well then, I consumed your plums.
(They were delicious, so I ate multitudes.)

#135 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 08:39 PM:

Like failing a "are-you-a-human" test, getting caught in the spam filter is mechanized and impersonal (I presume), yet it always stings.

[We gnomes do not mean to sting; what caught you was a minor point of formatting, one that we have recently adopted as the spammers have devised a counter-measure to our already overly-elaborate filters. The response to that countermeasure is simple, but, alas, it can trap the innocent. Alas, for the greater good, I fear we must leave that new filter in place.

Would you like a nice scone? They're fresh from the oven. -- Couanail Kouosi, Duty Gnome]

#136 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 08:48 PM:

Sarah had me get her a couple of plumcots at Wegman's this week, and she put the second one away this afternoon. She likes the fruit, likes the juice, but says the pit is too sharp for her poor fingers.

#137 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 08:56 PM:

Stefan @43, @69: what B. Durbin said @86 (only take a mortgage whose 'rent check' will be what you are paying now) I strongly agree with. Most mortgage companies will approve you for what I think is 'far too much mortgage', in the sense that if you bought that house you'd be in serious financial difficulties a year later even if nothing else changed. I also agree with the suggestion upthread to, if you can, pay down additional principal with each payment. If you need that extra cash back for any given month you can skip it, but meanwhile it goes straight towards building equity. It might also be worthwhile to run the calculator for both 20year and 30year mortgages; we were surprised that we could get the shorter term for not a lot more payment.

Similarly, make sure you put down enough down-payment to make your loan advantageous, but also (from personal experience) you want $15-35K in the bank, if you can manage it, for the first year's 'oops' and new-homeowner expenses. If you manage to make it through the first year without spending that much on the house, you're lucky (and can use it for optative/cosmetic improvements).

I also agree with the thought that you should go physically see some houses long before you think you're going to make an offer; real-estate-listing-ese is not quite English, and getting a feel for the local dialect variants is worthwhile (aka, "if the listing says A, they mean A*" -- in our area, 'cozy' when applied to condos means 'really low ceilings'). and similar are wonderful searchers to window-shop houses and get an idea of what the current prices, availability, etc are. Being thoroughly familiar with the market conditions before you 'get serious' is very valuable, as it helps you ground-truth your wants (both up AND down).

Once you are fairly serious about individual houses, spend the $250ish and get a home inspector to go over it with you (make it a condition of your offer). Most of them will be happy to do the inspection with you present and do a running commentary. Think through ahead of time what kind of 'flaws' or problems are ones you're willing to deal with, and which will be instant dealbreakers if found.

New construction has DIFFERENT endemic problems than old houses, but they don't NOT have problems, they're just different. Old houses often have very old stuff that has 'still worked' for long enough that nobody replaced them (cloth-covered wiring; antiquated pipes); new houses often have shortcuts and sloppiness built in by cost-cutting builders (inadequate wiring, sloppy pipes, structural weirdness that only becomes clear 10years after construction, use of building materials or methods that ARE NOT CODE but did not show at completion). A lot of old houses USED to have problems like this, but usually they were either fixed fifty years ago (to 50-years-ago standards) or the house hasn't survived.

My rule with houses is like Reagan's "Trust, But Verify": Fall in love, but do due diligence. :->

elise @78 said: Opportunity food is food for when you can't stand up long enough to cook something.
My experience rhymes with this, though my lack of spoons is mental and not physical. I need to have a pot of "I can eat this" in the fridge at all times, or else it is far too easy for me to skip meals because they're too hard or too scary to deal with making at a given time. Usually it's noodles/rice/potatoes and a pot of something to pour over them that contains flavor, protein, and veggies. Sometimes the veggies are additional (provided by dumping frozen ones on the noodles before putting the sauce in and microwaving).

#138 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 08:59 PM:

Speaking of cooking...

I'm not normally an idiot in the kitchen, but last week I made the rookie mistake of putting some containers in the turned-off oven so they didn't lose heat. Naturally, when it came time to remove the containers and use the oven for its intended purpose, I only removed half the containers. Did I mention they were styrofoam? (I survived, but my lungs hated me for a few hours.)

I haven't used the oven since. Does anyone know how to get melted styrofoam off the bottom of an oven?

#139 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 09:04 PM:

Also in re seeing houses: Start thinking now about what kind of space layout would work best for you, as "3br/2ba" covers a whole RANGE of options. We saw a lot of houses that, on paper, were just what we wanted, but in person wouldn't work.

For us, we want a lot of 'public' space contiguous on the first floor, and big-enough nice-enough (but not huge) bedrooms tucked to the sides and upstairs where visitors don't have to see them. I like hosting housefilks and board-game nights, so I kept that in mind while looking. One of the places we saw that was in theory big enough had the entiiiiire second floor as a huge open-plan 'master suite'; it just wouldn't have worked for us, because I don't spend much time in the bedroom and I don't want to PUT the stuff I spend time doing IN my bedroom because I don't want people wandering around in there (including my kid). :->

If you make a list of 'non-optional' features, it'll help you winnow the listings. Is off-street parking important to you? How about central air? A finished basement? Etc.

We also made a list of 'bonus' features: ours included a florida porch, big porches in general, radiator heating, and built-ins. We lucked out and got all three, in the end, on this house, but I was willing to buy a house without them.

You may end up adding things to the features lists AFTER seeing houses that aren't suitable: either because seeing the house made you realize you really really needed it, or because (even though this house isn't right for you) it had something you'd never thought of that would really jazz you up and excite you about a house.

Also consider how much any given feature would cost to add to a house: central air, depending on the house, can cost $10-30K to add, so if you get a house cheap enough that you can add it yourself for the same total price ...

#140 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 09:12 PM:

structural weirdness that only becomes clear 10 years after construction

We moved into a house like that. It was custom-built, and the various structural weirdnesses, as well as the next-door neighbor's descriptive comment [lift an invisible bottle and take a swig], led us to describe its style as 'drunken contractor' (and a suspicion of paid-off building inspectors was also in there). I think most of it got fixed before it was sold again.

#141 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 09:21 PM:

P J Evans @139: I decided early on that I was not willing to deal with New House Problems (I grew up in old houses with a contractor mother, so I was very familiar and comfortable with Old House Problems), so we ruled out from the search anything built after 1970. Around here, the 'built from cardboard and chewing gum' houses start to show up in the 1950s, depending, but very nearly everything built after 1970 has (by my standards) flimsiness and carelessness problems. The pre-War houses are almost invariably WORTH rehabbing, which a lot of the post-1970 ones are not; many of them are easier and cheaper to tear down and rebuild new than fix.

And then there's the whole 'split-block construction' controversy, which while technically meeting the building code means that 90% of the time the building will only stand for 12 years before the walls crack apart and the floors fall down.

I wish I were kidding. It's a construction method intended for use in strip malls and big-box stores (which largely aren't continuously occupied that long), that is being erroneously used, in its flimsiest iteration, for condo buildings. There are quite a few built-since-1995 condo developments in pricey neighborhoods in Chicago where the current owners call in a home inspector (because they're underwater and looking for whether it's worth staying) to discover their building has 2-3 years left in its safe lifespan. Entire condo associations are abandoning the property to the banks and basically saying "Screw you, condemn it behind me, I'm not paying to reconstruct THAT."

Gives me screaming hives to contemplate. I'd much rather have a house that's PROVEN its ability to stand up for multiple decades; then I only need to worry about what its previous owners have neglected to fix (or actively harmed it by doing).

But your screaming-meemies may vary; I have an acquaintance who's househunting right now who adores the space-layouts in new houses and is very used to new-house problems; old-house problems terrify her. Horses for courses.

#142 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 09:31 PM:

Lee@70: HelenS, #66: Well, if you have a big roast chicken for dinner on Sunday, and there are only 2 of you, then you're definitely going to have enough left for another dinner, which most people will have on Tuesday or Wednesday. She wouldn't hear of it, and leftovers tended to go bad in the refrigerator as a result.

Oh, I do various things with leftover chicken all the time, but I don't think of that as the same meal twice. For instance, chicken in gravy with biscuits, one of my standbys, is actually way more work than the original roast chicken. I was thinking of things like eating a big batch of chili twice in a week, rather than freezing some for a different week. (And again, I don't mean I have any objection, only that I thought it was a common thing that people got told, like, uh, not wearing white shoes after Labor Day.)

My problem is that I am not only a disorganized person in general, but the meal-planning bit of my brain goes to mush when I'm stressed out, and I can only think of about three things. I expect matters to get much easier in the fall when I'll have one kid away at college and another out most evenings, as my youngest fortunately eats nearly anything (though he's starting to grow alarmingly, so I'm not necessarily expecting the grocery bills to go down much!). I plan on not serving mac'n'cheese for at least six months (for a long time it's been the only thing everyone would eat -- luckily I do a fairly lowfat version, but still).

#143 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 09:45 PM:

nerdycellist, #137: Ouch. I had never lived with anything but electric ovens before I moved here, so the whole idea of "putting something in the oven to keep it warm / dry it out" was just not on the radar. My partner, having always had gas ovens, did this routinely. After several disasters of varying proportions*, we came up with the idea of a warning signal -- a piece of masking tape that lived next to the oven dial. Placed over the dial, it meant, "There's something in here that needs to come out before you turn the oven on to heat." Not relevant to your exact problem, but it did make me flinch in sympathy.

* Not always caused by me, either -- sometimes he forgot he'd put something in there.

#144 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:01 PM:

Mary Aileen, Jeremy Leader: mortgage insurance

My understanding is that you only require mortgage insurance over 80% loan-to-value ratio, and that it should disappear spontaneously when your loan gets below 78% of the value of the house at the time you bought it. If the value rises so that your loan becomes less than 80% of the new value, you have to request termination. See here for an expert view

#145 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:23 PM:

Years ago, when I was paying on a mortgage, the rule-of-thumb I learned was that doubling the principal in any given month cuts a month off the mortgage. And the principal is a very small portion of the mortgage payment at the start. So that's one way to think about the payment process. It's not completely accurate, but it's close enough.

#146 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:30 PM:

Stefan @126:

You really want a post-bubble home-buying guide. We used Nolo's "Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home" when we bought our house a year and a half ago, which I very much recommend.

The one thing I haven't seen mentioned yet is a home inspector. This may be less important for a condo, but for a free-standing house it's essential. After you put in an offer, they'll go through and tell you everything that's wrong with the place, which will both help you decide if you want to rescind your offer and help you negotiate with the seller. We paid ours $500 but he saved us $4500 on a major plumbing issue, which in our state is a "seller must fix" category.

When you're looking at houses, make a list of what you want. Be prepared to recognize that you may not get everything -- we realized that we could either give up "walking distance to Metro", or give up basically everything else we wanted. We decided that driving two miles to transit, but then being able to get everywhere from there, was an acceptable sacrifice for a house we love.

#147 ::: lorax has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:31 PM:

It's nice and cool here with the gnomes. Might I offer them some leftover tomato salad, in lieu of baked goods considering the heat?

#148 ::: lorax has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:32 PM:

Twice. The second time on my attempt to report a gnoming.

#149 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:39 PM:

Elliott @136:

what B. Durbin said @86 (only take a mortgage whose 'rent check' will be what you are paying now) I strongly agree with.

I'd qualify that by saying that you should include what you're currently saving toward a down payment in the "what you're paying now" part of the calculation. It seems obvious, but every few months my wife is alarmed at not saving as much money as we did when we were renting, and I need to point out that a lot of what we were saving for was a down payment, and that home equity is a type of savings.

#150 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 10:40 PM:

Following the planning ahead meals thing with interest, but does anyone have recommendations on how to get started? I'd like to have some kind of "not constantly eating junk food on late weeknights" plan in place before things get as hectic as they're promising to, but I'm so intimidated by the entire thing; I feel like I never have time enough for everything that needs doing, even when things are going relatively well.

(We have the added complication that meals have to be kosher, but that can generally be worked around by assuming vegetarian as a baseline and selecting/modifying meat-based recipes carefully.)

#151 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 11:03 PM:

OK, here's a weird one. It features an openly gay Republican running for President (of the United States! Now! I know, right?) and the Utah politician's wife who disses him. He's maybe a bit on the wacky side, but Nanette Billings is an ignorant, mean-spirited, stupid bozo. Note her inability to spell 'conservative'.

#152 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 11:11 PM:

Lee @ 142, the signal we use for "the oven has something in it" is a bright orange refrigerator magnet, which lives on the fridge when there is nothing in the oven.

#153 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 11:16 PM:

I live alone, so I always look in the oven before turning it on (glass fronts are helpful for that) and never store things in it. I'm too forgetful to take the risk, so I made up the habits and rules so I wouldn't have to remember.

Now, of course, I will make this mistake. But not until winter.

#154 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 11:19 PM:

RE new building problems:

I moved into my apartment ten years back. The "Orenco Station" new-urbanism development was in its final stage of completion: A ring of duplexes were being framed up around the outer ring of lots.

By the time I got my dog, a couple of years later, all the properties were occupied.

I mention the dog because our afternoon walks took us through all parts of the development: The retail section (with offices and condos above), the neo-brownstones, the single-family homes on postage stamp lots, the duplexes and townhouses.

Over the next few years, every one of the multi-family and mixed-use structures was rebuilt. The outer shells were torn off and the moisture barrier reinstalled. Some of the single-family places also had to be rebuilt.

I have pictures I took of the underpinnings of a stairway leading up to a condo. The particle board was covered in black rot.

For well over a year the area was a re-construction site, with giant forklifts whizzing through the streets bearing loads of particle board, Tyvek, and roofing.

This turned out to be not an isolated case. Another development down the road, on another dog-walk route, was finished perhaps five years ago. Just this spring every one of the rowhouses started undergoing the same strip-and-resurface treatment.

I'm certainly aware of that awful scene! I keep that in mind when looking at listings, which show age and number of owners.

As for older houses . . . there simply aren't any in my area. None. The entire neighborhood, and all the surrounding neighborhoods, were farmland 20 years ago.

(OK, two exceptions. The McMenamin Brothers put a microbrewery -- the Imbrie Roadhouse -- in a fine old farmhouse down the way. And there are a dozen or so 100 year old houses in what was once a company town for the Oregon Nursery Company . . . hence Orenco.)

#155 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 11:45 PM:

Lee #116: They cook sweet potato with sugar and/or marshmallows in America?

Holy screaming diabetes, Batman.

#156 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 11:56 PM:

#153: Not everywhere. I don't think anyone on either side of my extended family would do such a thing.

I think I first heard about the practice in A Wrinkle in Time. The feast that IT provides has sweet potatoes with marshmallows melting on them. (Disclaimer: 30 years since I read the book.)

#157 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 12:11 AM:

KayTei at 148: Just off the top of my head, here are a few ideas for fast dinners for when you get home and need to cook but don't want to spend 30min+ cooking. All of these are things my girlfriend and I make with some regularity when we get home from lab and don't want to make cooking a project:

1. Peanut noodles: boil long pasta of choice (I like linguine, but use whatever people like - short shapes aren't a good idea), make a mix of ~1c natural peanut butter, 4-6tbsp rice vinegar, 2tsp soy sauce, chopped scallions, sesame seeds and anything else that you think would be good (fish sauce adds depth, but is pretty funky stuff; chili paste adds heat, ginger could also be good)... dump hot pasta on top and toss to combine.

2. Pasta salad: 1lb pasta (medium sized shapes - farfalle or something) + .5-1lb small tomatoes, sliced in half + 4oz arugula, washed and chopped; dress with olive oil and vinegar (2/3 to 1/3 or so); if you've got an immersion blender, add walnuts and capers, and process until smooth - it adds a lot of depth, but you need very little for this to be good

3. Bread salad*: 4-6 slices good bread (something with a crust and actual flavor) + 2 tomatoes, chopped and lightly salted + 1 avocado, chopped (optional) + 10 leaves fresh basil + 2tbsp mayo. Put the tomatoes and avocado in a bowl; toast and chop your bread (think big croutons), toss to combine; add mayo; combine; add thinly sliced basil, combine. Eat immediately (it does not get better with age)

4. Pasta with tomatoes (v1): 1lb pasta + 1lb cherry tomatoes, cut in half. Make a salad dressing (we like olive oil, cheap balsamic, a tiny bit of mustard and some finely chopped onion or shallot for bite). Cook and drain the pasta, toss with tomatoes and dressing. (v2; from our adviser's wife) replace the dressing with .5c grated Parmesan + 10 basil leaves, sliced thinly. Toss to combine.

This last one isn't so much a recipe, but a useful trick - we've got a programmable rice cooker (a decently big one starts at about $60 online); it really helps with dinner prep if you set it up in the morning, it does its thing and you come home to cooked rice in the evening.

* Bread salad grew out of my liking for avocado toast on wheat bread when I lived in Nashville and a recipe post of Teresa's from way back.

#158 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 12:13 AM:

lorax @145 -- Elliott Mason mentioned an inspector up at 136. Doesn't mean that your reiteration is a bad thing, as an inspector is an excellent idea! Just wanting to send some credit in Elliott's direction.

#159 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 01:27 AM:

lorax @ 146:

I would recommend an inspector for a condo as well. My older son and his wife bought a condo in DC and lived there for three years. It was an old conversion with 6 units; by the end of their second year all 6 were suing the original owner and building manager because of serious structural flaws, water leaks, and dry rot. Eventually they reached a settlement, and the problems were fixed, so that when they got jobs in Louisiana they were able to sell the condo at a reasonable price and buy a house in Baton Rouge, but it took a year of legal maneuvering and another year of construction to get there.

#160 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 01:44 AM:

There's a new extra for xkcd fans, the answers to serious scientific questions.

Such as relativistic baseball pitching. But, subsequent to the pitch, the umpire would rule the field unfit for play. (Rule 3.10c)

#161 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 01:46 AM:

Well, Stefan Jones, have the homeowner horror stories convinced you that renting is paradise? We certainly have piled on!

I'm pleased that no one has trotted out that chestnut about "you'll save money on your taxes." Oh, yeah, pay interest and property taxes all year, file your taxes citing that expense as a deduction, and get a little bit of it back in your tax refund check. That's a savings all right.

#162 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 03:22 AM:

Dave L., #155: Yes, they do; it's a traditional Thanksgiving dish, at least in both of my parents' families. And everywhere else when I was living in Nashville, so it may have started as a Southern thing and then spread like fungus.

#163 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 03:59 AM:

Dave Luckett @155: The recipe that I got independently from both of my grandparents [1] involves a cup of sugar for every two cups of sweet potatoes, basically. (And then 3 eggs, 1/4 cup butter, 3/4 cup milk or evaporated milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and a tablespoon of flour.) The recipe card on at least one of the versions of the recipe describes this as suitable for either a sweet potato casserole or for pie filling.

It is not, in point of fact, ideal for a casserole with those ratios; the sugar would need to be halved at least for that. Reducing it to 3/4 cup seems about right for a pie. But that 2:1 ratio is about the traditional recipe, there. And then some people sprinkle the top of the casserole form with a layer of little marshmallows before baking it.

[1] I was going through my mom's recipe box transcribing things, and had a moment of, "Wait a minute, I just transcribed this...."

#164 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 04:21 AM:

It seems that the British Police are spying on everyone and everything...

There are problems...

"If they need to know the plans and schemes of anti-capitalists, the worst place to look is Glastonbury as we were rarely in a fit state to plan the downfall of a parish council let alone the world financial system as we know it."

Oooh, he said "downfall".

"...and the car parks here, here, and here, are under three feet of water."

"Steiner will be able to deal with that."

"My Fuhrer..."


"Steiner has only been able to find two buckets."

#165 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 04:26 AM:

Somewhere in the icebox there are some plums
I like fruit for breakfast this time of year
Eat them while still cool and your tongue goes numb
To keep them safe I stuffed them in the rear

I like fruit for breakfast this time of year
When hungry my roommate will eat up crumbs
To keep them safe I stuffed them in the rear
This time I hope that they will not succumb

When hungry my roomate will eat up crumbs
No mealbreak for the late shift cashier
This time I hope that they will not succumb
If they asked, I'd probably volunteer

No mealbreak for the late shift cashier
(Eat them while still cool and your tongue goes numb)
If they asked I'd probably volunteer
"Somewhere in the icebox there are some plums."


I failed in writing a pastiche, but then had all the plum rhymes sitting around making the place look untidy.

#166 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 05:36 AM:

I have a notion that houses built at the height of the boom are more likely than most to be shoddy. Reasonable?

Sweet potatoes by themselves are surprisingly easy on the blood sugar. I wonder if people sweeten them (something that doesn't make sense to me since sweet potatoes are pretty sweet) to get that simple carb emotional/physiological kick.

#167 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 05:58 AM:

My family recipe for Thanksgiving sweet potatoes only adds sugar in the form of marshmallows. You peel 'em, boil 'em till tender, mash 'em with milk and butter, just like making mashed potatoes, only with lots of broken pieces of pecans, then put them in a casserole, top them with marshmallows, and bake them. The idea that you would add either sugar or flour is just appalling to me. (Okay, I know marshmallows are predominantly sugar, but nonetheless.) When I've taken them to potlucks, they've been eaten up pretty quickly, so somebody besides me must like them.

#168 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 08:13 AM:

I wonder if the sweet-potatoes-with-sugar-and-marshmallows goes back to the kind of sweet potatoes available in the 19th century, before they were bred to be really sweet and really orange.

I prefer sweet potatoes baked, with butter.

#169 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 08:14 AM:

janetl @161 scoffed at the thought that deducting mortgage interest and property taxes already paid is a 'tax bonus'.

Add to this the fact that what my household would 'save' by doing those deductions on our taxes has so far invariably been far less than the 'standard deduction' for our household -- if you have a $150K house, you pretty much won't have a big enough benefit to make it worth while itemizing deductions unless it's already worth while to itemize deductions for you.

Nancy Lebovitz @166 said: I have a notion that houses built at the height of the boom are more likely than most to be shoddy. Reasonable?

I'm sure it got worse, but in my experience (and my anecdotal samples are far from exhaustive), every single new or less-than-15-years-old house anyone I know has ever bought, has had serious 'gotcha' flaws that were traceable back to the original builder. The only exception was one where the condo building was being rebuilt, and my informant was a pre-finished buyer (meaning they got to have input like "don't bother putting a fireplace in, they're stupid and take up wall space"), and had a skilled, contractor-trained agent on site periodically through the process to tattle on any slipshoddery.

Builders cheat, especially if they're large companies that do nothing but build new developments. Their goal is to get through having spent as little money as possible on each unit and get out and clear of responsibility as fast as possible. Very occasionally it is possible to sue them, but even in cases where their liability has not expired, they usually have their lawyers shove off responsibility on individual (no longer extant) contractors and so on and avoid having to pay for their mistakes.

The most pernicious, and utterly pervasive, builder-cheating is, in my opinion, shorting the public services. A builder will buy a large property in an unincorporated area of Illinois, plat it out, lay out streets and house lots and start construction on Phase 1. They will lay in water and sewer lines ... whose maximum service capacity will be hit when about 60% of the units are occupied. Somewhere around half-sold the developer gets a nearby municipality to take over the land (by making it part of their town's area). The town is now responsible for water, sewer, garbage ... a few years after taking it over, the development's owner group/neighborhood club/whatever goes to the city all up in arms about complete inadequacy of water pressure, sewage removal, etc, and suddenly there's a whole year of construction-site with the streets torn up, because every gorram pipe in the ground is about half the diameter it needs to be.

But the developer's long gone by then, and bears no financial responsibility (even though in some cases they are still constructing McMansions on open lots and selling them).

But I'm cynical. :->

In re Dave Luckett @155 and sweet potatoes: In the Midwestern US marshmallow-topped baked sweet potatoes (either pre-mashed or just chopped and roasted with mini marshmallows on top) are so common that everyone is familiar with them, even if you are an individual who strongly dislikes them. It is also common to sprinkle brown sugar and pumpkin-pie-type spices atop sweet potatoes while roasting them, or on halved winter squash like acorn.

#170 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 09:10 AM:

KayTei wanted quick cook-after-work-without-thought recipes. My go-to "I don't feel like cooking" algorithm has always been "Starch/veg/meat", thusly:

1 - Throw some starch on (usually for me rice in a rice-cooker or a pot of boiling water for pasta). That's going to take 30-40 min, start-to-finish, mostly unattended. Do it first, because it takes the longest, and you can do other things while it's heating its water.

2 - Decide what you're having for 'meat' (which need not contain animal protein). If it's actually meat my favorite method is to take it out of the fridge or freezer and do a broiled drip-sprinkle: Put the meat on a tray or piece of aluminum foil and slosh a small amount of moist sauce (soy, worchestershire, orange juice, whatever) over the pieces, then sprinkle dried spices atop to taste. If you want to remove more thought, you can premix a spice blend so all you have to do is shake one bottle. Then put the meat in to broil (I prefer gas stoves for this, though electric works too), usually for 7min on the first side and 5min on the second, with side-flipping repeated until the piece is cooked (shorter for thinner cuts, longer for thicker or from-frozen).

3 - After the meat is well settled and decided-upon and in the heater, look in the fridge or freezer for veg options. I often do frozen veggies in a bowl in the microwave for a minute at a time till they're hot; real veg steamed will only take a little longer, modulo chopping time (which can happen in the 5-7min spurts where you're not doing anything to the meat).

Start-to-finish, dinner on the table in about 45min, depending how long your starch takes to cook. Flavors customizable by what you put on the meat; my 'secret ingredient' insta-sauce for broiling is a healthy spoonful of grape jelly (or whatever fruit jam you have) in a bowl, with enough soy sauce mixed into it to lower the overall consistency to that of heavy cream, then sprinkle liberally with ground ginger and garlic and whatever else you like. Spread on chicken breasts. Broil. Yum.

#171 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 09:23 AM:

Oh beautiful for purple skin,
With faint translucent gleam,
For jam and gin and cobbler sweet
With oodles of whipped cream.
Delicious plums; oh Damson plums,
Still green upon the tree
When autumn comes I’ll cook with plums.
May the birds leave some for me!

#172 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 09:33 AM:

Breaking bad amigurumi? Wouldn't it be easier to unravel them?

...oh. Never mind. /litella

#173 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 09:40 AM:

In my youth, I only encountered sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and Christmas, baked with sugar and marshmallows. I hated them.

Now I bake them, then drizzle lime juice and sprinkle some salt. Delicious! They also make a wonderful soup, flavored with ginger and lime.

#175 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 09:56 AM:

Open threadyness: More time-lapse videos of the sky at night. From above and from below.

#176 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 10:35 AM:

Re: House-hunting

If you are accident-prone you may want to make sure the dwelling you purchase has a bathroom, kitchen and potential bedroom on the same level.

I learned this the hard way after I tore up my right ankle back in 1989. Having to go upstairs on my hands and knees to get to the bathroom and bedroom was not fun. Having stairs on every entry to the house proved unfortunate as well.

When we bought Rainbow's End, one reason was that it is a ranch, with all the needed facilities (including laundry!) on one level. It wouldn't take much in the way of retro-fitting if either one of us ever needs a wheelchair...

#177 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 11:20 AM:

Jim Macdonald @ #174:

Picture how very straight my face is as I assure you that Alain de Bottom is one of my favourite non-fiction authors.

#178 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 11:27 AM:

I was going to read the Censorship Olympics story, but it seems to have vanished.

#179 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 12:32 PM:

The discussion of unexpected house costs is very timely! The plumber showed up to fix the kitchen faucet today — it's lost water pressure. Turns out the source of the problem is debris from a failing dip tube in the 15-year-old water heater. That is a typical life for a water heater, so I had been expecting to need to replace it one of these days.

We're now spending about $1,000 to have a new one put in. They'll also move it a few inches from where the old one was, and strap it to a post, which will be nice. Earthquakes happen.

#180 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 12:46 PM:

Thanks for various best wishes, all -- recovery is proceeding well, infected-looking incision is now a happy light pink rather than angry bright pink, and I'm getting a nice walk in every morning before it hits 80. I should be all recovered in time for upcoming trips to Berkeley and England, though still perhaps required to pack no container heavier than 15 pounds. THAT may be an interesting challenge!

#181 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 12:47 PM:

I never cared for the marshmallow sweet potatoes either. Bland and oversweet, like bad baby food.
A trendy bar snack up here is sweet potato fries. They are usually served with ranch or dill dip, which is ok, but my preferred condiment is chili or hot sauce. Tiger sauce is excellent, but Tabasco works too. Yummy!

#182 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 12:50 PM:

plums by here, my dear, plums by here
plums by here, my dear, plums by here
plums by here, my dear, plums by here
In the icebox, plums by here

Someone's hungry, dear, plums by here
Someone's hungry, dear, plums by here
Someone's hungry, dear, plums by here
In the icebox, plums by here

Cold and sweet, my dear, plums by here
Cold and sweet, my dear, plums by here
Cold and sweet, my dear, plums by here
In the icebox, plums by here

Someone's sorry, dear, no plums here
Someone's sorry, dear, no plums here
Someone's sorry, dear, no plums here
No breakfast, no plums here

... now this is just getting silly

#183 ::: thomas was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 12:52 PM:

The gnomes already have my plums. There's some peas in the icebox, though.

#184 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 12:55 PM:

Oh, and lexicat @99, from one recent delurker to another - welcome!

I hear ya on the sandwiches. Starting in junior high I made my own lunch, and I mostly ate baloney sandwiches for the next three years. Now I'm queasy just thinking of the stuff.

#185 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 01:35 PM:

Oh, terrific -- Florida has a TB problem, and one of the commentors thinks there's an inocculation for TB....(sigh).

TB Strain found in 18 counties

It's a bacteria, it can be treated, but how do you do so when it's running rampant through the homeless population? (AND, they're housing those with the disease in MOTELS???!!!)

Results so far: 13 dead, 99 with active TB, and 3,000 potential contacts -- and that is probably the tip of the iceberg.

#186 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 01:43 PM:

#135, Couanail Kouosi, Duty Gnome: Thank you for the scones. Very tasty.

I did not mean to complain overmuch. It just did strike me as funny how one (or at any rate I) can take automated processes *personally*.

#187 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 01:56 PM:

AKICIML: Text-message spam

I just got my first piece of texted spam. It says if I want to opt out of future messages to reply to it with STOP. I have a feeling that if I do so I will be noted down as having put myself on the opt-IN list.

Any suggestions where I go with this? Can I report them to my provider? I pay $.08 to receive each message, on a prepaid plan.

#188 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 01:58 PM:

On Food:

I grew up lucky enough to have a grandmother who cooked for us all, several days a week, as well as a father whose schedule allowed him to be at home several days a week, so he cooked too. In those days, fast food was an occasional treat.

My son loves fast food, and can't get enough of the large, calorie-laden items. I negotiate it with him, trying to avoid using food as a reward, and pointing out the calories per meal, offering lower-calorie alternatives, and attempting to keep him to a once-per-week treat at a fast food place. We discuss portion sizes as well as calories, and encourage the consumption of fruits as well as vegetables, although he still tries to use the "I had fruit this morning" argument against having any more fruit the rest of the day.

For myself, I do appreciate the convenience of fast food places, although I can't eat a lot of things. Besides the MSG that bothers me, potatoes are on my "cannot consume" list, which eliminates not just french fries, but also many buns and breads that contain potato flour. I lean towards local chains whenever possible, to do my best in supporting the economy locally, so I go to the delis and mom-and-pop places.

As a single mom, I do a lot of pastas, salads, and leftovers. If we do eat out, the portions are usually huge, so that makes lunch the next day. I try to make lunch my biggest meal, because I can prepare it ahead of time or that morning, and because I find that a light dinner is easier on the stomach (and tends to not be applied directly to my hips..). The FG, since she works at home, has more opportunities to shop and to cook, which she does when she needs a break from coding. I benefit from this, and get whole grains with chicken or turkey for lunches, or salads, or borscht (which freezes well).

I also have a really decent pizza dough recipe that can be put together in about 10 minutes, and the pizza itself can then be assembled in another 10 minutes, baked for about ten minutes, and enjoyed at once. My son has decided he likes this recipe, particularly since I'll make the dough and have him add the toppings. This is a very flexible recipe, not too labor-intensive, and allows me to do my other chores (cat and dog feeding, mainly) in the evening, without making me feel more tired. When I was a resident/fellow, I used to do a version of pasta with veggies and tofu that was quick-n-easy (angel hair pasta, cooks fast; frozen veggies into microwave; tofu into pot at last minute, and other protein optional, as preferred).

I like Trader Joe's because I can get decent quality items -- frozen as well as fresh produce -- for meals, although my local store has serious issues with its cheese storage. Overall, I consider myself fairly lucky to have options other than what I fed myself in veterinary school (which was mainly a diet of bread, cheese, and pickles; why I didn't realize I was anemic until years later is beyond me).

#189 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 02:27 PM:

My mistress' eyes are nothing like a plum;
Satsuma's far more red than her lips' red;
If fruit be round why then her breasts are plumb;
If hairs be twigs, brown twigs grow on her head.
I have drunk prune liquor, red and white,
But no bloom from drink see I in her cheeks;
And in some preserves is there more delight
Than in the morning breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, though she is of honor most renowned,
    Yet, breakfast plums, when I did bid her eat,
    she downed them all, so good, so cold, so sweet.

#190 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 02:29 PM:

Re sweet potatoes, our preferred format is julienned and then fried in butter with cinnamon and garam masala. There are never any leftovers.

Elliott, #187: I don't know if there's anything you can do if you want to continue being able to receive text messages. This is why we have texting disabled on our cellphones; we object strongly to paying for spam, and none of the cellphone companies offered any solution beyond all-or-nothing.

#191 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 02:31 PM:

Stefan @ 154 re: new construction skinned and re-skinned

Same in my (old) neighborhood. There was a condo-building boom in the north Emeryville/SW Berkeley neighborhood in the last decade or so. Since my bike ride to work (until I moved last year) ran straight through the majority of it, I couldn't help but notice that within surprisingly few years (less than 5) they all had the exterior stucco stripped off, moisture barriers replaced, and then were refinished.

In a few cases, I'd also taken note during the original construction that the buildings sat in mid-construction through one or two rainy seasons with just the ply-/particle-board exterior exposed (or sometimes with Tyvek sheathing on the outside), and I have to wonder how much that contributed. (I suspect there were financial issues during construction that caused delays.) But I also suspect that there's some element of current Standard Condo Construction that has a spectacular and relatively immediate failure mode similar to the one you observed.

#192 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 02:52 PM:

Lori @185:

[TB is] a bacteria, it can be treated

It's unclear from the article, but it sounds like that particular strain is not drug-resistant. Evolution being what it is, though, drug-resistant strains of TB have been developing, and there have been reported cases of so-called totally drug-resistant TB in India.

#193 ::: lorax has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 02:55 PM:

The gnomes seem to be unusually diligent today. Perhaps a cup of nice herbal tea will make them a little less trigger-happy?

#194 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 03:00 PM:

Elliott @187:

It depends on your provider, but it couldn't hurt to ask. My wife was able to have a particular number blocked after receiving spammy text messages (we have Verizon).

#195 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 03:39 PM:

Renting is definitely less stressful, and nearly every week I quietly give thanks when I hear co-workers talking about repair headaches, but . . .

A) I'm facing a strong possibility of a large increase come next spring (the rental market is incredibly tight around Portland), in

B) a housing market that is likely near bottom and is starting to show signs of heating up, and

C) where loan rates are at historic lows.

If I ever want my own place, with an attached garage where I can have a shop, this may be my best chance.

I'm sure as heck not leaping into this, and appreciate the insights!

#196 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 04:43 PM:

Donald Sobol, who wrote the Encylopedia Brown series, has died.

#197 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 04:47 PM:

Elliott Mason @141: Friend of mine bought a big McMansion in Houston about fifteen years back, thinking "I'll never be able to buy this much house again." Subsequently, he commented, "Well, they seem to have perfected the science of biodegradable housing."

#198 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 04:58 PM:

KayTei @150: Well, my "braindead need nutritious food without a lot of work/attention/planning" is my Cream of Dinner Soup. I've seen some interesting variations posted by others here.

#199 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 05:34 PM:

P J Evans @168: I wonder if the sweet-potatoes-with-sugar-and-marshmallows goes back to the kind of sweet potatoes available in the 19th century, before they were bred to be really sweet and really orange.

Now, of course, there's the question: is it a sweet potato? Or a yam? If it's orange and has pointy ends, it's probably a yam, which is not actually (AIUI) a potato. It's a tuber of African origin.

Now the sweet potato is actually a potato, but (AIUI) the flesh is generally white.

"Cogito ergo spud—I think, therefore I yam."

#200 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 06:10 PM:

We see Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in our local groceries a lot. They're amazing to look at on a plate: purple food!

#201 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 06:31 PM:

@150 KayTei

Following the planning ahead meals thing with interest, but does anyone have recommendations on how to get started?

Back when I was in school 5 days a week, and working 6 days, I only had Sundays to cook every meal for the next week, as well as do all my laundry/housework/etc. It was not uncommon for me to have a pot on every burner and something in the oven.

One of my favourites was (still is) Lentil Soup. You can let it cook while you're Doing Something Else, and then freeze it in serving sizes for microwaving later. There are lots of different recipes, but here's the one I use:


1 sweet onion, chopped
1 tbsp / 15 ml olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon / 5 ml dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon / 5 ml dried basil
1 (14.5 ounce / 430 ml) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups / 500ml dry lentils
4 cups / 1L broth
4 cups / 1L water
1/2 cup / 250 ml spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons / 30 ml vinegar
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste


In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper, and more vinegar if desired.

If you're making it to freeze, you might as well use frozen spinach.

#202 ::: HLN:Area woman makes soup for gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 06:35 PM:

It's Lentil.

#203 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 06:39 PM:

Notes, while my program runs.

Jacque @ 199
There are three plants; Irish or white potatoes (from the Andes), sweet potatoes (from the Americas somewhere), and yams (from Africa, probably).

Yams are a monocot, and their skin is very hard--almost like bark. Sweet potatoes come in a variety of colors and flavors[1] (from the white-skinned, white-fleshed White Triumph and Southern Queen, through the red-skinned, white-fleshed "Asian" variety, to the common orange Beauregard)--but true yams are a different plant entirely.

On the cooking sub-thread; I was always a cook-ahead person. In my observation, starches absorb flavors, while fats hold them--so if you have starches in a dish, the flavor will dull over time. I usually made soup, stew, or sauce on the weekend, and then ate it with bread [2] or rice or pasta during the week. (That way the flavor was more stable than if I cooked the starches in from the beginning.)

1) We grew sweet potatoes to sell when I was a boy. In the fall, the living room would be full floor to ceiling of sweet potato crates--usually 300 bushels or so. I liked fall, because then I could pretend I had a bedroom.

2) I love making bread, but good bread and premade dry pasta are the two convenience foods I bought most.

#204 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 06:43 PM:


There's a bunch of conflicting tuber terminology involving three unrelated sets of plants.

Ipomoea batatas is the thing that gets baked with marshmallows at US Thanksgiving (chaqu'un a son gout). The purple things that Linkmeister refers to are varieties of the same thing, as are what we call kumara in NZ. It's thought to be from central or south America; it's not clear exactly when the Polynesians got hold of it. Some people call these things yams, others call them sweet potatoes. They (the tubers, not the people) have pointy ends. At one point in the US there was a systematic distinction: the firmer variety were called "sweet potato", and the softer varieties "yams". This correlated with color, but color wasn't the basis for the distinction.

Dioscorea spp also get called yams, and don't really have any other English name. Some prescriptivist-type people, including the USDA, think these are the only vegetable that should be called yams. These yams are can be bigger than Ipomoea batatas and have round ends. Confusingly, a version of these yams grown in the Pacific Islands, among other places (called uhi in Hawai'i) is also purple.

Oxalis tuberosa, a South American tuber called oca in most of the world, is called "yam" in New Zealand (and to a lesser extent Australia). These are small knobbly things with shiny skin, and don't look anything like the other two sorts of yam.

#205 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 06:45 PM:

Elliot Mason @187,

Your situation is the reason why I had my cell provider turn off text messages. I'm on a (very remarkably cheap) pay-as-you-go plan, with no prepaid minutes and no prepaid texts... and I was getting five or six spam texts a day. I told all my friends to call me, not text me, and had my provider turn on the no-text option. (I asked them about blocking by source, or only-accept-texts-from-people-in-my-phonebook, but they told me they couldn't do it.)


#206 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 06:47 PM:

Erm, that's "Elliott" with two tees... {rueful}

#207 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 07:05 PM:

RE soups:

I love lentil soup. Gloppy and satisfying.

The discount grocery across the street has a nice bulk section. This has maybe a half-dozen bins with "soup kit" mixes. Mixes of beans, and sometimes rice. There is, for each, a little card you can take with a suggested recipe.

I've found these very useful. When I made soup with my home-made stock, I used a five-bean soup mix from the bins.

The same place sells beef and chicken stock powder -- kind of like loose bullion cube material -- but I'm not sure if I trust it.

* * *
Before I ladle out soups or casseroles or pasta entrees into my preferred storage of old cottage cheese containers, I give them a light wash, put them still wet with their lids on in the microwave, and nuke 'em.

When the lids pop, I figure they've had enough live steam in them to be sterile.

Also, the pops make the dog leave the kitchen for a while.

#208 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 07:24 PM:

The naming of yams is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, the chefs cook with THREE DIFFERENT YAMS

First of all, there's the yam that the Igbo use daily
Whether barbecued, roasted, fried, grated, or smoked
Colored whitely or purplely, darkly or palely
All of them sensible everyday yams

There are pointier yams, that also taste sweeter
To eat with marshmallows or saute with spice
Some are grown just to look at, eg, Margarita
But all of them sensible everyday yams

But there's also a yam that's particular,
A yam that's peculiar, not known in the wild,
It is farmed in the Andes, in sites perpendicular,
It's flavor is tangy, it's texture is mild
Of yams of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
They're called oca or uqa or New Zealand Yam
They may not be eaten by all in this forum
They're not served with turkey; they don't make good jam.

But above and beyond there's still one yam left over,
And that is the yam that you never will guess;
The yam that no human research can discover—
Your recipe's yam, which it will not confess
When you notice a cook in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is often the same:
Their mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the name and the type and the species of yam
The recipe's specified
Deep and inscrutable singular yam.

[credits and apologies: one ell, one t]

#209 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 07:47 PM:

To-day we have naming of yams. Yesterday,
We had plum stealing. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have how to plead when we're caught. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of yams. Lumination
Glisters, with verses by all the resident poets,
And to-day we have naming of yams.

#210 ::: Kip W calls a gnome a gnome ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 07:48 PM:

Ain't gonna study gnomes no more.

#211 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 07:57 PM:

Thomas, #208: Bravo!

#212 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 08:11 PM:

And then there are the bignormous brown stick things (with white insides) that are, apparently, PROPER yams and originate in Africa. Not too different from what central americans know as yucca, at least in terms of how you cook them and what they taste like, though I understand they're different plants.

#213 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 08:13 PM:

I have a number of Dinner Prep Problems that tend to heterodyne: two vegetarians and one omnivore (as I'm the omnivore, the solution is just for me to eat veggie, which is no great hardship -- but when I eat out, I SO look for the bacon); both vegetarians being somewhat fussy eaters, including some sensory issues, and the disliked foods do NOT overlap; two of the three household members taking medication that mutes hunger signals; the household member who is NOT taking such medication being hungry by 5PM due to a workday that starts early; said same household member taking taekwondo classes four nights a week, and those classes having a variable start time.

A lot of the recent solution has been focused around the Humble Snack Wrap, that being a vegetarian protein patty (flavors "chik'n" or "burger," more exotic flavors being disliked) wrapped in a tortilla with lettuce, shredded cheese, and dressing of some sort. And a larger dinner prepared later on the early class nights. Sometimes.

The vegetarian household member who doesn't go to taekwondo (this is starting to sound like one of those logic problems with the graphs, isn't it?) is not all that enthralled with The Humble Snackwrap.

This week's weather forecast (tomorrow: 97F, rest of the week: not all that much better) was actually a boon to plan-ahead eating. Because I (as the household cook) basically looked at it and said "I don't think I'll want to EAT hot food all week, let alone cook it." So I spent some brain-cycles (on a two-hour drive where I didn't really have to think about much else) sorting out what things we might WANT to eat when it was beastly hot.

I also applied the principle of "not every dish has to be appealing to all three members of the household. Two is okay. One is even okay if that one is me, because I get to eat food I like too."

Then I steeled myself to a long stretch of food prep on Sunday, after I brought home the groceries.

We now have, in the fridge: homemade hummus, cucumber-yogurt soup, gazpacho, pasta salad (this is the big three-person-approved item, and it fills my biggest mixing bowl), deviled eggs, a tub of lemon dill butter, and a bunch of little containers of Veggies We Like In Salad, cut up and ready to assemble (because if they're pre-cut, we'll make salad, and if they're not, we won't).

If I'd gone on everyone having to like everything, most of that wouldn't have gotten made, because Housemate hates dill whereas Kid thinks lemon dill butter is the secret to "cucumber sandwiches are totally dinner," and Kid doesn't like deviled eggs but Housemate will eat them like they're going out of style, and the cucumber soup was ALL FOR ME, and both hummus and gazpacho are right out for Housemate, whereas Kid will sometimes eat them and sometimes not, and Housemate is totally fine with having salad every day, whereas Kid finds it gets old fast.

Between all of those and The Humble Snackwrap, though, if anyone can't find something to eat in the house this week, it is officially Not My Problem.

I really ought to figure out a winter-months answer to this. The winter version of "pasta salad" is "vegan minestrone" and I pretty much DO make a batch every week, but I need to figure out secondary at-least-two-people-eat-this dishes that can live in the fridge and be reheated a serving at a time as convenient.

The other Crowd Pleaser for any time it's not too hot to run the stove is Tofu Stir Fry With Garlic Sauce. I make the garlic sauce myself (combining a freshly-pressed clove of garlic with things from seven bottles and a bit of sugar and cornstarch, instead of finding a garlic sauce I can pour from one bottle) but I use the shortcuts of pre-cubed tofu (love that stuff, because I HATE slicing tofu), frozen broccoli, and baby corn and water chestnuts that come out of cans. This is THE most reliable way to get a stir-fry everyone likes. The only acceptable variation is that if I have access to snow peas and/or fresh green beans, they can go in too.

I proved to myself, last week, that I could get the entire stir-fry made in 20 minutes, because I was starting from a clean kitchen. I had a thing I wanted to watch starting at 5PM and I came home cutting it close, and I made it. Normally I think of cooking as taking a lot longer because there's a whole bunch of dishes I have to get out of the way first, which, ARGH.

I am trying like hell to commit to starting the day with an empty dish drainer (or at least emptying it while I make my coffee) and Cleaning As I Go, not just for the cooking dishes but for the stuff I dirty when eating breakfast and lunch, etc.

Because it really does make it easier.

#214 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 08:34 PM:

I'm looking for reasonably famous quotes from/ about science fiction that are
1. from not-originally-English books/movies
2. from stories often read in high-school or college = what non-SF readers will have read.

These are for pre-panel visuals ahead of an SF panel for a mostly international audience of which about 15-20% are fen.

[Standard quotes I've got "...It's full of stars; overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out;..."]

for 2, I'm thinking stories like There Will Come Soft Rains, Flowers for Algernon,... but what are the equivalent for non-English SF lit?

#215 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 08:54 PM:

On construction and newer buildings:
The apartment complex my mother was living in had all its exterior sheathing removed while she was living there - it looked to me like extra-thick plywood, surfaced to look like it was actual boards. I suspect they were having problems with water getting behind it at the joins, even though there were battens covering them (not a good idea when the battens have to run horizontally).

On sweet potatoes/yams:
I understand that true yams (being really tropical) are not found in stores in the US - they're all sweet potatoes; the color is all that varies.

#216 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 09:29 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @214:

Kafka's "Metamorphosis" is slightly more fantasy than SF, but has some SF sensibility -- and it's considered Real Literature. Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter." Much of Borges (and there are lots of quotes from him on Wikiquotes). I'm fond of Piet Hein's Grooks, which have a real SF sensibility about them but aren't generally considered SF (and they were written in English to help him learn English). Much of Italo Calvino. Much of Vonnegut gets taught, like "Harrison Bergeron". That's off the top of my head; more will probably show up as I think. There's very little Lem that gets widely quoted, but possibilities from both him and Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita should be easy to find. Capek's R.U.R. is seldom quoted except for the word "robot", which is now ubiquitous. (goes off to think)

#217 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2012, 09:41 PM:

Elliott Mason: those are Dioscorea, the staple in Nigeria.

#218 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 01:59 AM:

Hurrah for all the quick-thinking poets! It's not the only thing I love about Making Light, but it's definitely one of the things.

(My vegetable poem would grow
vaster than empires, and more slow)

In related news, the supermarkets around here sell, in the healthy and otherwise weird food aisle, packets of sweet potato crisps. One of their points of distinction from potato potato crisps is that each packet contains three different colours of chip: orange, purple, and white. (If memory serves, the white ones are actually taro.)

#219 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 02:41 AM:

Paul A. @ #218, sweet potato fries have hit the mainstream or gone down the road to perdition; you pick. I am now seeing bags of them in the freezer cases, in bright red Ore-Ida packages.

#220 ::: KayTei is up past her bedtime ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 03:35 AM:

For I will consider the Gnomes*, all.
For they are the hands of the Fluorosphere, duly and daily maintaining it.
For at the first glance of the making of light on these pages they worship in this way.
For is this done by filtering posts several times round with elegant quickness.
For then they leap up to catch the words, which are the living enactment of human prayer.
For they roll upon pranks to work them in.
For having done duty and received blessing they begin to consider themselves.
For this they perform in ten degrees.
For first they look upon posts to see if they are spam.
For secondly they kick up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly they work it upon stretch with their hands extended.
For fourthly they sharpen their claws by practice.
For fifthly they purify their element.
For sixthly they roll upon blogs.**
For seventhly they dsmvwl, that true conversation may not be interrupted by the heat.
For eighthly they seek out the innocent to release their posts.
For ninthly they look up for their instructions.
For tenthly they go in quest of food.
For having considered God and themselves they will consider their neighbor.
For if they meet another gnome they will kiss her in kindness.
For when they takes their prey they play with it to give it a chance.
For one poster in seven redeems themselves by this dallying.
For when the day's work is done their business more properly begins.
For they keep the Lord's watch in the night against the advertisers.
For they counteract the powers of darkness by their making of light and knowledge of traps.
For they counteract the Troll, who is deaf, by briskly beating the pinata.
For in their morning orisons they love the Fluorosphere and the Fluorosphere loves them.
For they are of the tribe of Gnome.
For the Cherub Gnome is a term of the Angel Warrior.
For they have the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness they suppress.
For they will not do destruction if they are well-fed, neither will they suppress posts without provocation.
For they respond with practicality when Fluorospherians offer gifts of appreciation.
For they are an instrument for the Internet to learn benevolence upon.
For every thread is incomplete without them, and a pastiche is lacking in the spirit.

*For "gnomes," I seriously considered substituting "Mods" in several places, but the format lent itself poorly to such switchery. I blame Christopher Smart for his clear lack of foresight in planning the structure of his original poem.

**Apologies that this reference is rather dated. The source poem predates the redesigned mainpage.

#221 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 03:57 AM:

Also, many thanks to everyone who expressed their good wishes in response to my previous post regarding my mother's health situation. Unfortunately, despite everyone's best hopes, we are now focusing on painlessness, family connection, and quality of life for the time remaining to my mother. She and her doctors have determined that the resulting harm from further aggressive treatment now outweighs any potential for improvement.

#222 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 04:25 AM:

KayTei @221:

I'm sorry to hear it. I hope that the remaining time is as good as possible for her and for your family.

#223 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 06:53 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 187: Most cell phone providers do have a spam text reporting number, where you forward the text and then report the number of the sender. AT&T's is 7726, for example. Not sure of others, but they're probably googleable.

I also learned from David Pogue recently that if you have AT&T or Verizon, you can block text messages originating from the Internet (as opposed to from another phone). This apparently cuts way down on spam texts, which are easily sent en masse from the web. Sprint and T-Mobile don't have that blocking ability, but they do have some, like blocking text from e-mail or individual numbers. Pogue gives details.

#224 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 07:38 AM:

KayTei: Sorry to hear about your mother. I hope her remaining time is pain-free and that your family is supportive and kind to each other at this difficult time.

#225 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 09:39 AM:

KayTei @221: My sympathies, and best wishes for a pain-free resolution.

#226 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 10:00 AM:

KayTei @ 221

May the Lord grant [her] restful night[s], and a peaceful death.

#227 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 10:01 AM:

KayTei @ 221

May the Lord grant [her] restful night[s], and a peaceful death.

#228 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 10:58 AM:

KayTei (221): My sympathies.

#229 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:02 AM:

KayTei at 221: I wish your mother and your family kindness and peace.

#230 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:26 AM:

KayTei: Peace to you.

#231 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:26 AM:

KayTei: what Lizzy wished, that also do I wish.

#232 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:26 AM:

#221 ::: KayTei :::

You have my sympathies, and I hope that your mother's remaining days are peaceful for all of you.

#214 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale :::

Would Solaris count?

“We don't want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos.” -- Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

W/R/T easy food:

Sprouts/Sun Harvest/Sunflower has a bulk 10-bean soup that is probably some of the best bean soup I've ever tasted. We usually cook it with smoked ham or pork hocks, onions, garlic, etc. and whatever meat bits we have leftover from the week, but it could easily be cooked with some crushed tomatoes and tofu, for a vegetarian version. It's *amazing*. Chilled, it thickens down, and could be used as what Husband and I call "taco caulk".

#233 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:28 AM:

#221 ::: KayTei :::

You have my sympathies, and I hope that your mother's remaining days are peaceful for all of you.

#214 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale :::

Would Solaris count?

“We don't want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos.” -- Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

W/R/T easy food:

Sprouts/Sun Harvest/Sunflower has a bulk 10-bean soup that is probably some of the best bean soup I've ever tasted. We usually cook it with smoked ham or pork hocks, onions, garlic, etc. and whatever meat bits we have leftover from the week, but it could easily be cooked with some crushed tomatoes and tofu, for a vegetarian version. It's *amazing*. Chilled, it thickens down, and could be used as what Husband and I call "taco caulk".

#234 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:33 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 195: You (and house-hunting lurkers) are now well-informed on what to look for and defensive planning! I do feel compelled to warn renters considering buying, because America tends to bombard people with all the positives and none of the negatives of home ownership.

For all my whining about unexpected costs, I'm glad to be an owner instead of a renter, and able to make decisions myself instead of arguing with a landlord.

#235 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:54 AM:

KayTei: Peace to you.

#236 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:56 AM:

KayTei, add mine to the chorus of sympathy and wishes for a calm and loving passing.

#237 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 12:21 PM:

KayTei: let me add my sympathies, and wishes for a kind passage for your mother. At least you have a chance to make proper farewells.

#238 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 01:39 PM:

KayTei, #221: My sympathies, and a hope that things go as smoothly as possible for you and your mother.

Caroline, #223: Thank you for that link! I've forwarded it to my partner for consideration. Some of our business acquaintances are so dependent on texting that they've whined to us about not having it.

Jennifer, #233: HamBeens has both a good 10-bean soup mix and an absolutely amazing black-bean soup mix. You get the dried beans and a spice packet in the bag, and can add whatever else you like; for us, that generally means some sort of sausage, chopped onion, and Tabasco. The 10-bean mix is more widely available than the black-bean, which is unfortunate. If you live in a region that has Albertson's grocery stores, try there first.

#239 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 01:58 PM:

Kaytei: good luck to you and your mother; may she go peacefully in the arms of her family.

#240 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 02:00 PM:

KayTei, my sympathies. The hospice services I know about also concentrate on making sure the relatives of the person in hospice are taken care of. Take advantage of their services to help take care of yourself, if you can.

#241 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 02:51 PM:

KayTei: Bright blessings for painlessness and a peaceful resolution for your mother, and for as much serenity for you as possible.

#242 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 02:57 PM:

KayTei, adding my voice to the kind wishes for you and your mother.

#243 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 02:58 PM:

JanetL @234, plus Stefan et al: I am also very much pleased to be owning instead of renting, but I am a very hands-on fix-it-myself kind of person. Our last landlord (we bought a house and moved out of his apartment) was over-the-moon happy with us, because we were all on the same page about quality of work and what needed done, AND John and I mostly fixed minor stuff ourselves (an outlet giving up the ghost, replacing a ceiling lamp, the toilet getting THOROUGHLY borked in the tank mechanics suddenly) instead of calling him up and insisting he be there in ten minutes to fix it. We gave him receipts and he paid us back parts costs, it was very amicable.

That said, my mother (who has both landlorded and been a tenant, many times, in her life) has an axiom: "All landlords are assholes, and all tenants are destructive." The addendum is, "Yes, even when it's YOU." The nature of the relationship leads (unless you are very, VERY careful with your communication and very lucky to have a nice personality harmonization with your counterpart) quickly to adversarial situations.

I am very glad, as a homeowner and-no-longer-tenant, to be able to plan out long-term improvement chains (like, "First, we're going to work on getting the pantry shelves reinforced. Then I'm building a spice rack and a cabinet for the cups, so they can come off that stupid shelf over the sink. Then I'll rearrange the kitchen once I have that space ... and after THAT, I'll start thinking about how I want to redo the dining room now that the TV is off the table and up on the wall.") without needing to worry about a landlord's toes or run anything past them.

We are responsible for our property, and that has pluses and minuses -- for example, we never had a landlord who shovelled our walks, but I can imagine it would be nice not to have that chore be ENTIRELY our problem. Similarly, in case of catastrophic ick, we are solely responsible to get it fixed and pay for it.

That said, the one thing I KNEW we were NEVER going to get involved with was condo boards (or their sneaky evil sibling, neighborhood-management organizations). To me, those sorts of half-measures give most of the downsides of homeownership (all the financial responsibility, etc) PLUS many of the downsides of renting (having to meet someone else's pissant standards, which may be worse than yours; having no control over aspects of your property like landscaping or what color you paint your windows, having to pay in for improvements you may not agree with the bidding process or work standards of, etc).

It's a lose-lose, for me, the way my mind works. They work very well for other people, so I am glad they exist, but they give me the screaming meemies and I choose to avoid them. I also chose not to househunt in any jurisdiction that would try to tell me what it is ok to plant in my front yard, because of the same allergy on my part. There are actually municipalities in northern Illinois (small ones) that have prevented homeowners from putting solar panels on their roof on the grounds that they were 'unsightly' and 'lowered the property values' of their neighbors.

Yeah. Not for me.

#244 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 04:25 PM:

KayTei #221: My sympathies to you, and my hope that your mothers remaining time is as easy as possible.

#245 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 05:10 PM:

Kay Tei, adding my voice to the others expressing sympathy and best wishes.

#246 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 06:03 PM:


My minimalist dinner solution at the moment is that we have a large jar of pickled herring in cream sauce. Add some bread and butter (which requires no cooking, and I can buy decent pre-sliced bread), and we have a tasty (and kosher) supper with protein.

That isn't cooking even in the sense of "I am going to slice a cucumber, part of a bell pepper, and some ginger and scallions, toss them in with a pile of lettuce, add a few nuts for protein, and put olive oil and vinegar on top" (I've been doing a lot of salads lately), but it is nourishing and easy.

I tend to dress salad with olive oil, vinegar or lime juice, salt, pepper, and maybe herbs, because I'm not fond of most commercial salad dressings; if you have one you like, by all means save yourself a couple of steps here. I think of it as "not cooking" because no heat is applied at any point, which is an advantage this time of year.

I'm also fond of black beans and rice made with the recipe on the Goya can (though I don't use their packaged spice mix, just throw in whatever seems good that day). I sometimes use a couple of strips of bacon as the fat for sauteeing things in, but as written the recipe is vegan (and hence kosher). I think of that as "simple," but this may just be an aspect of "because I've made it a bunch of times." The recipe uses things I tend to have on hand, which means I don't have to shop for it, just decide I'm in the mood for black beans and rice, and that it's not too hot to cook.

Lori @185: Well, there is a TB vaccine, but it isn't very effective (and if you've had it you'll test positive for TB in the skin test); WHO currently recommends it only for children in specific areas. So the people who are saying "well, there's a vaccine for TB" aren't so much Wrong as Missing the Point on the Internet.

#247 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 06:10 PM:

KayTei, sympathy and wishes for the best resolution to what I'm guessing has been a long life.

#248 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 06:30 PM:

Vicki @246: That's interesting. I know for sure I got the TB vaccination as a kid (in Chicago proper), and that everyone else did, too; it was required on the list of stuff they wanted you to prove you had (or have a good excuse) to let you into grade school. We had to go back for the stupid bump test to prove we were still making antibodies for it more than once, too.

I wonder what changed between then and now, for it to go from "everyone gets it" to "don't bother" in thirty years or so?

#249 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 06:36 PM:

@KayTei: Sorry to hear the sad news . . . peace and strength. The last few years have seen several relatives & family friends go the hospice route, and . . . well, it is so much more decent and kind than how I recall things being handled when I was younger.

#250 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 06:49 PM:

@Eliot: My parents set a good example RE home maintenance, and I wouldn't hesitate to handle minor plumbing and electrical fixes myself.

But for what I see as a medium-horizon home (five to ten years) bought in part as an investment (hopefully we're really at the bottom), I would really welcome the condo /neighborhood association model, where they do the landscaping and insure & maintain exteriors.

When in comes to personal tastes and changes, I am only concerned about the insides of the place anyway. I might install energy-saving stuff (e.g., a ductless heat pump) and better ventilation for interior bathrooms.

SIGH. I'm actually trying NOT to think about house hunting and buying. I haven't been able to think about fun and creative stuff since this came up.

#251 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 08:01 PM:

Stefan, #250: I hope that was just carelessness, and that you really are aware of the difference between a condo maintenance fee and a neighborhood association fee, and what each of them typically gets you. The former is generally included in your mortgage payment, and is what pays for landscaping, lawn-mowing, exterior repairs, etc.* The latter you have to pay separately, and provides sweet fuck-all in the way of labor-saving; all it gets you is the right to have your neighbors tell you what YOU have to do (and pay for) to make your property Look Right by their standards. Ghod help you if you let your lawn get an inch too long between mowings, or if you hang the wrong color of curtains.**

* Although I will note that when I had a condo, the landscape-maintenance guys routinely left in place tree branches that dipped down over the sidewalk and made average-height me dodge around them. OTOH, when I got a pair of pruning shears and lopped them myself, I could just leave the branches under the tree and the maintenance guys would haul them away.

** Because curtains can be seen from the outside, y'know.

#252 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 08:25 PM:

Lee @251: It was my grouping of them together initially that I think Stefan was quoting; I view them both as equally annoying, from my standpoint, though they do typically cover different things.

To be fair, in some developments, the Neighborhood Association assessments pay for upkeep on (for example) the joint public swimming pool or other amenities, and so is then parallel to a condo assoc in that you're paying for 'joint expenses' for 'joint benefit'.

#253 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 08:56 PM:

Elliott Mason #248: You almost surely got the test: they prick your skin with a little four-pronged thing and watch for a reaction there, or tell your parents to. A vaccine would be a different story.

#254 ::: GingerB ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 09:41 PM:

The United States does not vaccinate for TB; it's not endemic in our country, so the process here is to test and treat. Outside of the US, there are many countries where TB is endemic, so they vaccinate with BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin), which initially does result in a strong response to the tuberculin skin test, if the vaccine was effective. In about 60% of vaccinated people, the BCG fails.

The reaction gradually decreases over time even in properly vaccinated people.

The other way to become immune to tuberculosis is to have an active infection that is properly treated.

#255 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 09:45 PM:

I've only seen "HOA" mentioned in various listings, and in the cases where it is broken down mentions a mix of things noted in Lee's and other's post.

I'd hope to have a place with no lawn. Or something I could maintain with a pair of scissors and a watering can. Or a rake for putting nice patterns in the sand.
* * *
Anyone know of a benefit where a first-home PURCHASE has some kind of capital gains benefit? I know selling a first home has some kind of special gains allowance. (I'll be using some very old employer stock and about-to-expire options for the down payment.)

#256 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 09:58 PM:

Stefan @255:

A good, recent first-home-buyer book would be more helpful than I am; the only home-buying tax benefit I can think of aren't at all capital gains related. You can deduct the "points" (that extra money you pay to get a lower interest rate) from your taxes, and you can pull money out of an IRA with no penalty to put toward the cost of your first home.

#257 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 10:16 PM:

Thanks Lorax.

I did pick up "Home Buying for Dummies," and it looks fairly comprehensive.

But, being a cheapskate, I got a used copy. The mortgage rate charts START at 5% (I've seen 5 year rates as low as 2.75%), and there's a section about homebuying-as-investing that in retrospect seems darkly humorous. (If I'd bought a house when I relocated in 2002, when my fellow Bay Area co-workers were ecstatic over the "low" home prices, I likely wouldn't have found it humorous at all.)

The research continues.

#258 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 10:16 PM:

Hm. Not sure how I ended up with a B in my name, but there it was. Good thing I'm not allergic to Bs.

#259 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 10:40 PM:

The BCG TB vaccination was routinely given in the early teens to children in the UK until 2005. Apparently by that point the prevalence of TB in the UK was low enough that it wasn't worth doing.

#260 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:16 PM:


Our HOA (for a townhouse development) does maintenance on the pool, common grounds, and mows everyone's lawn. I imagine this makes more sense because these are all townhouses, so your lawn is small enough that a lot of people might other wise cut it with a weed whacker or something.

As far as I've seen, our HOA is not terribly picky about the wrong color of paint sort of issues. But they're under a lot of financial pressure, because a number of the people living in the development ran into financial trouble and stopped paying HOA fees at some point. (A couplle got foreclosed on in our immediate area.) Maybe they'd be micromanaging us more if they had the resources for it. As it is, the most we get are comments along the lines of "please power-wash your house and don't leave your trash can on the porch" once a year.

#261 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:20 PM:

You take a bowl of stonefruit,
You take a bowl of stonefruit,
You take a bowl of stonefruit
and you put it in the icebox--
Oh oh, oh no, roommate.

You dream about the stonefruit,
You dream about the stonefruit,
You dream about the stonefruit,
Awaiting in the icebox--
Oh oh, oh no, roommate.

Juices, they run down.
Juices, they run down.

He's eaten all the stonefruit,
He's eaten all the stonefruit,
He's eaten all the stonefruit,
And emptied out the icebox.

#262 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:23 PM:

KayTei: You and your family are in my prayers.

#263 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2012, 11:36 PM:

Cat #259:

The other part of the tradeoff with BCG vaccination is that it makes it much more difficult to tell who is infected: the tuberculin skin test becomes uninformative

In the US, BCG is offered to people who work with multi-drug-resistant TB patients in settings where there has been actual transmission of the disease, but otherwise the protection isn't worth the reduced diagnosability.

#264 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 12:47 AM:

An amazing ultra-short piece of compelling fiction with utterly enveloping worldbuilding (and a twist at the end) by the author of the webcomic 'Goblins'.

#265 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 01:13 AM:

Cally @261: We're really going to have to sing that in harmony at the next convention late-night hanging out music session, aren't we?

#266 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 01:24 AM:

I keep hearing Cally's stonefruit song to the same tune as Dr. James Robinson's "Drivel" ... I don't know if that's an original or a trad, but they scan perfectly. Google is failing me, in terms of seeking out lyrics to link in (or a listing of whether the tune is original).

#267 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 02:34 AM:

Elliott, #266: The original is "Bamboo" by Dave van Ronk. And yes, "Drivel" is to the same tune.

#268 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 02:54 AM:

Remember the surgery I mentioned in Open Thread 174?

The doctors gave me the results today.

Short answer: excellent news. That giant asteroid missed me.

#269 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 03:17 AM:

Linkmeister, happy to hear it!

#270 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 03:51 AM:

Lee @266: Wow, the original lyrics make so much less sense than either of the parodies I (now) know. :->

Actually, not much less sense than another 'trad' tune I've just become familiar with all the words of: The Farmer in the Dell. I must have sung all of it as a kid (my grandmother used to be a professional Girl Scout, and we sang all the chestnuts), but as of this morning I could only remember the first and last verses, so when my husband responded to a breakfast-related comment about cheese with "The Cheese stands alone," I had to sing it.

Our daughter picked up on it and immediately followed with, "The Mouse ate the cheese," and when she finished that verse, looked at me and said, "What comes next?" I extemporized "He pooped on the floor" (because we go classy in this house on first reflex), and suddenly there are now several more verses down that plot-chain. Because I know the Fluorosphere is curious, they involve the house's inhabitants needing to clean the floor (in several stages) and then you get to play on the floor again.

Over dinner, many hours later, she was STILL (or again) singing out her folk-processed verses, so in the hopes of short-circuiting the process I asked Prof. Google what the ACTUAL intended words are ... and discovered that they're rather more of a pattern game than a plot.

I'm still compiling my preferred lyrics subset/our family canonical version of Froggy Went A'Courtin, including my mother-in-law's fave verse (in response to "Miss Mousie, will you marry me?" she answers, "Without my Uncle Rat's consent, nuh-uh/I would not marry the prez-eye-dent!") and various good ones found all over the internet.

#271 ::: Elliott Mason is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 03:51 AM:

Luckily, I have homemade banana-yogurt popsicles to share. Tasty, cooling, AND healthy!

#272 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 04:04 AM:

This article claims that a very small number of very rich people have donated nearly all the money in the superPACs. I don't know enough about campaign finance to know how correct the picture he gives is, but it does seem plausible to me.

The money quote (sorry) is: 196 Americans -- have given more than 80 percent of the super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.

More broadly, only a tiny fraction of people give any significant amount of money to political campaigns. That means the guys who give a lot of money inevitably have a big impact--my senator may or may not care what I think, but he cares a great deal what his donors think.

This relates to the story I linked to awhile back, where both parties had more-or-less open price lists for how much money you had to commit to raising for the party, in order to get various leadership posts. When your future chance at power depends on $1000/plate fundraising dinners, you really, really don't want to do or say too many things that offend the kind of people who can afford to go to a $1000/plate fundraising dinner.

A better quote (but go read the short article):These few don't exercise their power directly. None can simply buy a congressman, or dictate the results they want. But because they are the source of the funds that fuel elections, their influence operates as a filter on which policies are likely to survive.

#273 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 07:49 AM:

Linkmeister: many felicitations on your good news.

#274 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 08:22 AM:

Linkmeister, excellent news.

#275 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 11:32 AM:

Yay, Linkmeister! Yay and also whew!

#276 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 12:00 PM:

Good news, Linkmeister!

#277 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 12:12 PM:

Linkmeister: Hooray! Ticker-tape parade!

#278 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 01:00 PM:

Yay Linkmeister!

#279 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 01:05 PM:

Linkmeister, that's great news. Loud cheers.

#280 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 01:07 PM:

I appear to have been gnomed. Would sugar cookies help? Chocolate chip?

#281 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 02:41 PM:

@Linkmeister: Whew!

The tween' daughter of a college friend of mine -- who had lost a son to leukemia and whose wife had successfully dealt with lymphoma -- was found to have tumors in several spots. Kidney and nearby. The surgery was of course no fun, but by amazing luck, no trace was found in nearby lymph nodes and tissue.

I am so glad to hear stories like hers, and yours.

Dodging chemo and radiation is a very good thing.

#282 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 02:45 PM:

For those times when we begin to think teenagers are aliens . . . .

A few months ago, one of Benedict Cumberbatch's fans decided to make a video of birthday greetings for his 36th birthday (which is tomorrow). She announced this on her tumblr. I've no idea how many submissions she got, but the result is this 11 minute long video of fans (mostly teenage girls) from all around the world saying nice things and showing off their handiwork.

Along the way it turned into a charity project which raised around $8,000.

Not too shabby.

(my kid? she's at about 1:13)

#283 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 03:11 PM:

Linkmeister, congrats on the great news!

KayTei, my sympathies, may you and your family have all the spoons they need to cope, and may your mother's passing be peaceful.

My news for the day, it looks like I will be going to Dragoncon. I have a friend who is a dealer and her assistant for Dragoncon has been sidelined with a back injury. She called today and asked if I was interested in going...

#284 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 04:05 PM:

Glad to hear, Linkmeister!

#285 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 04:34 PM:

Linkmeister: HOORAY!!! Congratulations!

The good thing about oral cancers (never thought you'd see those words, did you?) is that they hurt at the primary site, so are often caught early, as in your case. If you ignore the pain for a long time, like I did...well, that's stupid. I'm glad you weren't stupid like me!

#286 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 05:44 PM:

View of the HailCyclone that hit Manhattan this afternoon, seen from a planet out of LeGuardia:

That is some serious Micheal-Bey-level of weather-shit going on there.

#287 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 06:06 PM:

Melissa Singer @282: The one with the fans standing in Tianenmen Square is particularly amazing to me. (of course, if you lived in Beijing, where ELSE would you film it?!?)

#288 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 06:27 PM:

Warning: may contain triggers in re: rape

So, I was kind of randomly clicking through news links when I came to this, which is a follow up to this, and it makes me wonder: does this guy just have "I don't get it" tattooed on his forehead? Because... he really, really doesn't get it. I don't know how to make this clearer: "There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I or any other woman could possibly wear that makes rape our own fault."

He compares wearing 'provocative clothing' to wearing deer-coloured clothing during hunting season. He's missing something:


#289 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 07:20 PM:

HLN: Due to the stunning generosity of a good, good friend, local man learns that he will be at Chicon after all! Local man reports himself still stunned by this good fortune.

The generous friend sprang for local man's airfare, apparently just to have his company at the convention. (Local man bought membership back when they were cheap, and will also be crashing in generous friend's room.)

Local man looks forward to seeing other good friends in Chicago!

#290 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 08:06 PM:

Xopher (289): See you in Chicago!

#291 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 08:56 PM:

I look greatly forward to 'buying you a beer' or equivalent and getting to converse in person!

BTW, any Fluorspherians coming who'd like a custom chatty walking tour of downtown's charms (or a native guide to a CTA-distance specific destination), I'd be tickled.

(My first draft of this post read something like ZOMG I might get to MEET XOPHER!!!!askdth!!!eleventy!!!)

#292 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 09:14 PM:

Linkmeister #268: That is excellent news.

#293 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 09:17 PM:

Xopher #289: I look forward to it.

#294 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 09:26 PM:

Awesome! Xopher at Chicon! I will see you there, and Mary Aileen, and Elliott! And who else?

#295 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 09:39 PM:

Not me, this year -- too many other good cons and not enough money.

#296 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 11:03 PM:

I have a question for the gardening folk out there: I'm not a gardener for a number of reasons including that I'm color blind and always pull up the wrong thing. As I remember we brushed up against the edge of my problem some years ago at ML, but this is a bit different.

Basically my back yard is several thick slabs of concrete, surrounded by a 6" thick cement wall, done when the house was built in 1960 or '61. Nothing is coming up through that slab (between slabs is another question, but that's why I have a weed-eater), and the wall is in pretty good shape except where it has tilted very slightly in the neighbor's direction, leaving roughly a two inch gap between the slab and the wall.

Now comes the problem. The neighbor has Japanese Knotweed. I know the stuff can drill through blacktop, but trust me it's not going to crack that concrete. Unfortunately it's gotten into the aforementioned two-inch gap and is thriving there. Since the body of the thing is below the concrete level I can't really do injection on the knotweed since you're supposed to do it to the lowest joints, and I don't think that black plastic to block out the sunlight would work there since the plastic would blow off the wall, so I've been doing weed-eating and the occasional application of Roundup.

My question is this: is there a better approach I should try? I've considered dumping several gallons of salt water in the crack but they have a huge Douglas Fir that probably doesn't need the runoff from that, and dumping a gallon or two of vinegar in the crack hasn't slowed it down. I could just let the SOB grow, but while it is green and alive I don't think of it as that much of an improvement over the concrete. Suggestions would be appreciated.

#297 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 11:12 PM:

Xopher @ 289... Bravo!

#298 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2012, 11:40 PM:

There are lots of great spots around Beijing, like the Olympics plaza and Forbidden City (which is across the street from Tianenmen Square). The Square is just another tourist venue. They know something happened there, but I didn't hear any express an opinion against the government.

I figure in ten or twenty years there'll be a life-size sculpture of a tank where it happened, and tourists (99% of them Chinese) will have their pictures taken standing in front of it with a sheepish smile at the camera.

#299 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 01:14 AM:

So we've gotten the final results of our rat terrier Spencer's tests back, and I had a long talk with the neurologist on the phone. The MRI is completely clear, so there are no structural brain problems, such as a tumor. And the spinal tap was clear, so it isn't meningitis, encephalitis, or an auto-immune problem. That leaves epilepsy, which was the lowest probability because it's not common for it to present with such a late onset (Spencer is 10).

We've got him on phenobarbital, the most commonly used anticonvulsant in dogs, and we just have to get a blood test in a couple of weeks to make sure it's at the right level in his blood. This looks promising because he hasn't had a seizure in the month since the first two. The neurologist says that we want to maintain him at less than one seizure per month, so we're looking good so far.

The only problem now is that while we were doing the tests and trying him out on a couple of different anti-convulsants, we took him off the regular dose of Prozac we're using to calm down his terrier obsessiveness about barking and the aggressiveness he displayed when we first got him. I'm starting him up on it again, but we have to keep a watch on it because there's some indication in the literature that it might (there's apparently no hard data about this) affect the uptake of the phenobarb. But that's a nit compared to the things that could have been wrong.

#301 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 02:19 AM:

Turns out Japanese knotweed is edible.

An article I read describes it as "an escaped ornamental."

#302 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 04:24 AM:

HLN: Olympic torch relay changes torchbearers at the bottom of Area Man's road. "That was a more entertaining break than usual, especially when some of the lads on top of the sponsor buses had to duck under bunting strung across the street. The mascots look slightly less ridiculous in context with a lot of carnival nonsense going on. Anyway, kids seemed to be having a good time."

#303 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 05:19 AM:

If I ever got to Beijing, I'd want to spend some time wandering around the 798 Art District. (Former factory area that Chinese artists have repurposed for galleries and public art. Some neat photos come up when you Google.)

#304 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 08:06 AM:


I'm also going to be there.

#306 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 08:54 AM:

Elise @294,

I'm a relatively new Fluorospherian, but I'll be at ChiCon.

(I almost typoed "Flourospherian", which gave me an immediate vivid image of a large fluffy ball of flour....)

#307 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 09:46 AM:

Bruce E, Durocher @ 296: No knotweed-specific advice, unfortunately. But I wonder if you could duct-tape black plastic to the wall to keep it in place? Maybe I'm not visualizing correctly and that's not possible.

Invasive weeds are ick. I'm sorry.

Linkmeister: WOOHOO! That's excellent news! So happy and relieved to hear it.

#308 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 09:57 AM:

Bruce Durocher @ 296

The approach you are taking to control the Japanese knotweed sounds like the recommended one from the National Park Service, IF you are using the Roundup correctly--the leaves should all be thoroughly wet, and the plant should be actively growing. In my experience, the other recommended herbicide, triclopyr (Crossbow is one of the common brands) is more effective once plants are big enough to be woody.

#309 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 11:08 AM:

Glyphosate = Roundup

Roundup isn't a herbicide, it's just a very naughty brand...

#310 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 01:08 PM:

elise @ 294... I shall be there and this year's Hugo Ceremonies should once again have yours truly as an usher who also doubles as a Victorian Time Traveller with a flashlight.

#311 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 01:37 PM:

Seen on the front of today's Wall Street Journal: "Would you vacuum your dog?"

(Pity it's not 'cat', but close enough.)

#312 ::: Mary Aileen has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 01:38 PM:

The gnomes have my post about dog-vacuuming. Oatmeal-raisin cookies?

#313 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 01:55 PM:

HLN: Local woman is pleased to report that her missing iPod has been located, not in the car or the house where she expected to find it, but at the library, which she called as a last-ditch effort because it was the only other place she had been. "It must have fallen out of my bag," she said, "and someone kindly turned it in." No information about the finder was available.

#314 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 02:05 PM:

That's heartening news, OtterB.

#315 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 02:42 PM:

elise @ 294: I'll be at Chicon as well.

#316 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 04:05 PM:

#311: RE vacuuming your dog, I'd like to get a Dyson Sphere which I could lock Kira at the beginning of shedding season and let run until every loose hair has been removed.

While it is running I'd grill her a whole salmon fillet by way of apology.

#317 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 04:26 PM:

Elise #294: Gail and the idiot who follows her around will also be at Chicon.

#318 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 04:31 PM:

Does anybody here remember the title of the "DS9" episode where the teaser consisted of Chief O'Brien running from one repair job to the next?

#319 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 04:35 PM:

Mary Aileen #311: I saw that, and immediately thought "YES!". And the article is in fact about various vacuum attachments and other gizmos for removing dog hair.

The idea has been suggested to me a couple of times, but I'm not going to do it while she's sick (2 days after getting her back from the dog-sitters, her Lyme disease has relapsed. :-( )

#320 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 04:55 PM:

Serge, just watched that one a week or so ago, if it's the one I'm thinking of. With the aphasia virus? It's early in the first season. If so, that's "Babel."

I remember because the virus was planted in one of the food replicators, and O'Brien was the first to get it.

#321 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 05:03 PM:

I've fantasized about a dog vacuuming attachment but along with the toaster, the vacuum is Ardala's arch-nemesis. In fact, she has just (passively) killed her third vacuum cleaner just through the sheer power of her double coat. I'm considering getting a rebuilt commercial Oreck from our local Sew & Vac repair shop. I've heard good things about Dysons, but also that when they break, they're not easily fixed due to all the plastic parts. Also, I really, really hate bagless vacuums. Any advice?

#322 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 05:29 PM:

Xopher @ 320... Thanks. That might be the one. I'll need to google a bit, but I'm in the Bay Area this week and, here, my employer has a firewall that blocks out what it judges to be 'social' sites. Yes, my ability to post here makes one wonder if they consider Making Light to be chopped liver. ("But... but... We *like* chopped liver!")

#323 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 06:22 PM:

It's shaping up to be an excellent gathering of Fluorospherians at Chicon. We should maybe have a party, no?

#324 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 07:25 PM:

elise (323): We should maybe have some kind of fluorospheric get-together, yes!

On a completely different topic, anyone have experience with/opinions of the Moshi travel alarm clocks? My travel alarm just died, and those look intriguing.

#325 ::: Mary Aileen is visiting the gnomes again ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 07:26 PM:

Hi, gnomes! Nice weather we're having, eh?

#326 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 09:15 PM:

My gosh . . . the last time I went to a big SF convention -- I forget if it was a Worldcon or a NASCFIC -- it was in Chicago. Very early 90s?

#327 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 11:06 PM:

Cheryl @ 288

The Toronto Sun is a Canadian tabloid; modeled after a British tabloid, more or less. That is to say, lots of sports, a girlie picture (but mostly clothed, this being Canada), and right-wing politics of the kind evident. Sorry about that, we do have 'em.

#328 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2012, 11:44 PM:

Elise @294
Martin and I will be at Chicon. And I will get to see many people. Xopher, I hope to be able meet you and talk about various and sundry.

Should I bring brownies, if I can? We're taking the train, so space may be at a premium.

#329 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 01:18 AM:

elise @ 294: I'll be at Chicon -- my first worldcon!

#330 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 01:34 AM:

Stefan, #326: Chicon V was in 1991; that's probably what you're thinking of. I still have the custom button I had made there, after the first day, which says "Chicon V -- it's in the other tower and down another escalator". Because no matter where I wanted to go next, it was.

We will not be there this year. My partner is committed to Dragon*Con, and it's too expensive for me to go as a fan. I do have a supporting membership, because I by ghod want to cast a Hugo vote for a filk album.

#331 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 01:53 AM:

Lee: How about your plans for next year's?

#332 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:04 AM:

I'm figuring to take the train too, Magenta. Perhaps there will be a bunch of us. Hmm! TRAIN PARTY! (Shades of the trip to alt.polycon. Though we'd have considerably less time to write filksongs on the way to Chicon, seeing as how that particular alt.polycon was in Seattle.)

Dang. I wish Mike was still here. He'd love going to a Chicago worldcon on the train.

#333 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:15 AM:

elise @ #332, another Festival Express.

#334 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:58 AM:

Would it be useful for the organizing of things to have a separate thread for this? I worry that not everyone who would like to gather at the con reads the Open Threads...

#336 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 05:25 AM:

There are reports on the BBC of a shooting in Denver, at a midnight showing of the new Batman film. No clear numbers yet, but around forty victims, dead and wounded.

BBC "Breaking News"

#337 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 06:16 AM:

@336: Jesus Christ.

#338 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 07:02 AM:

Dave Bell #336: It's been at the top of the news on NPR this morning. It is a truly appalling event.

#339 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 08:19 AM:

On a different topic:
Today is Moon Day.

#340 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 08:19 AM:

Stefan Jones @ #286: a planet out of LeGuardia

Yet another reminder that we're living in the future now?

#341 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 09:45 AM:

#336: dear God. I wish I could say I don't know what that's like. Right down to the "is this part of the show?" and the horrible, dirty feeling afterward.

#342 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 10:11 AM:

((Hugs)) Lila.

#343 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 10:37 AM:

elise @294--I plan to be at that Worldcon thing, along with the always-lurking, never-posting Stringwoman.

#344 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 11:12 AM:

Chicon: Will be there. Is stuff happening?


Last night's terrible events: Wasn't there. Am OK.

Perhaps other ML'ers in the state could check in and reassure us that they're OK too? I presume the small gathering of light last night that I was unable to attend happened somewhere between Denver and Boulder, and nowhere near a certain movie theater in Aurora?

#345 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 11:46 AM:

Abi @ 334... Yes.

#346 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 11:53 AM:

I'm fine.

The gathering of light is planned for when Lee & partner are in town for the Denver county fair, on Thursday, August 9th.

I don't know of one last night.

#347 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 01:44 PM:

David G., #331: At the moment, it looks like I will be at San Antonio, provided they don't price the dealer tables completely out of the ballpark. (There had been a rumor that they were going to do so, but I was able to check into it at ApolloCon, and it seems to have been unfounded.) My partner is still committed to Dragon*Con, but I have an arrangement for booth help. All of this is still subject to change with circumstances, but that's where it sits right now.

#348 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:36 PM:

This is (blessedly?) the first I've heard of the shooting. Paging CZEdwards.

#349 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:37 PM:

I'd appreciate a separate thread for the Worldcon gathering (or just Worldcon talk in general).

#350 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 02:46 PM:

The victim-bashing has already started.

Summary: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) moves in quick succession from blaming the attack on separation of church and state to blaming veterans' suicide rates on atheism to asking why nobody else in the theater shot back. CWAA.

#351 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 04:16 PM:

NPR is reporting that the Aurora suspect's apartment is boobytrapped with explosives and toxic chemicals. Also that one of the Aurora victims narrowly escaped the Toronto shooting a couple of weeks ago.

Lee 350: GODS we have some sick fucks in Congress these days.

#352 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 04:58 PM:

Lee #350: Gohmert's head is stuck up his nether orifice.

#353 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 05:14 PM:

The gathering of light is planned for when Lee & partner are in town for the Denver county fair, on Thursday, August 9th.

I don't know of one last night.


All the emails seemed to simply talk about "Thursday." I am sure when I reread I will find an "August 9" in there, right where I failed to read it.

I still probably won't be able to make it, for the same reason. Oh well.

Also, glad to hear you're fine!

#354 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 05:15 PM:

Halp the gnomes done ated my plums!

#355 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 05:18 PM:

(My gnomed post mentioned that I had somehow not noticed the "August 9" part of the interaction, and thought everyone was talking about THIS Thursday. Only that's not true; I remember that I looked up the Denver Fair to know which weekend it was. I do not know why at some point I started fixating on this week's Thursday instead.)

#356 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 05:30 PM:

We're fine. Score one for Mr. Me's incredible distaste for first night crowds ( and being three counties away.)

Re Gohmert ( and really, has there ever been a more appropriate name for a congress critter?) 's lack of imagination: how much worse did he want it to be?

Off to bang my head against a wall.

#357 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 06:18 PM:

If Gohmert stuck his head up his ass he'd probably get a better view than from whereever it is now.

This will certainly help: AMC theaters bans costumes at its theaters. Perhaps they'll keep the lights on too. That would help, right?

And now . . .
. . . a few words from Batman.

#358 ::: Stefan Jones gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 06:19 PM:

There are a couple of links in my just-posted post. Scrap this one after it is brought into the light.

#359 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 06:34 PM:

Stefan, your second link in #357 is borked.

#360 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 07:20 PM:

Nicole, #353: I'm sorry, I think this mix-up is my fault. When I sent my original e-mail to the addresses Jacque had provided, I didn't specify a date because I thought the context of "Denver County Fair" would be enough. I should have been explicit for exactly the reason you mention @355*, and I apologize.

* I've gotten confused that way on a couple of occasions myself. This is why I should know better.

#361 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 07:29 PM:

Let me try that again:

A few words from Batman.

SIGH. A night for comfort food.

#362 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 07:31 PM:

OK, this is getting silly. Here is the naked URL:

Hopefully the format won't attract gnomes.

#363 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 10:06 PM:

Re Representative Louie Gohmert's (R-Wingnuttia) suggestion that having multiple shooters in the movie theater in Colorado would somehow be a good idea -- (deep breath) -- oh, never mind.

#364 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 10:32 PM:

Lizzy L: My first thought was "Hello: Colorado? Not Texas." But then the abiTapes cut in, and I have to concede that, while Gohmert may represent Texas, he is likely not representative of Texans.

That said, though, I'd have to think hard before turning down an opportunity to spit in his face.

#365 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2012, 11:51 PM:

Lizzy L: what you said. Chaos, terror, tear gas, darkness and RANDOM FIRING FROM MORE THAN ONE DIRECTION? Jesus.

#366 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 12:21 AM:

Lila, #365: Oh, it gets worse. A direct quote from a comment on a link posted by one of my Facebook friends: "If you start an armed assault in a space where I am present, and you don't take me down with your first shot, it'll be your last."

Can you say full-blown Ramboland fantasy? I let him have it, pointing out that there is no scriptwriter in real life.

Again, CWAA.

#367 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 12:37 AM:

Nicole, #353: I'm sorry, I think this mix-up is my fault. When I sent my original e-mail to the addresses Jacque had provided, I didn't specify a date because I thought the context of "Denver County Fair" would be enough. I should have been explicit for exactly the reason you mention @355*, and I apologize.

No no, this was all me. The context was indeed enough! Soon as I got the initial emails, I looked up the Denver County Fair to find out when it would be. So that was cool. It's just, at some time between then and now, my brain misfiled or mislabeled the key piece of temporal memory. I have no idea why, but I blame roller derby. This weekend has been one thing after another -- scrimmage Thursday! mix-up bout Friday! mix-up bout canceled*, so, instead skating Longmont's art walk to promote Saturday's bout! -- to culminate with our big home team rematch tomorrow evening, and my brain has pretty much turned into roller skates.

I'm still not going to be able to make the gathering because it *is* a Thursday, but thank you for reminding me which Thursday to think of y'all fondly upon!

*Filed under "insult added to injury": Tonight was gonna be Bout Time w/ Mac & Doog. The sports radio duo were gonna broadcast their usual "Drive Time" show from the track where two teams composed of skaters from 4 different leagues would play. Well, as it turns out, one of their interns is among the dead, thanks to this latest random asshole with guns and unfathomable motives. So the event was canceled/postponed. Here, have some obnoxious disappointment sauce on top of your crushing heartbreak salad! SO MUCH RAGE.

#368 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 12:39 AM:

...and one of these days I'll remember to reset my sign-off after a gnome spotting so that the "has been gnomed" marker doesn't outlive its usefulness.

(removes marker, checks box, submits post)

#369 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 01:03 AM:

Serge Broom @ 322: *waves from far side of Bay*

#370 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 01:45 AM:

Apologies if I'm being dense, but I can't figure out the appropriate expansion of "CWAA" in this context.

#371 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 05:37 AM:

Jeremy, #370: Christ, What An Asshole. It's a little jargony as yet, but a very useful acronym.

Something rather more fun to contemplate: Profundo's Delight. I've been looking for this on YouTube for years, and someone finally posted a performance!

#372 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 05:45 AM:

Well, in happier news, some Helpful Soul over on the DFD pointed out that the new Bujold is out in eARC.

#373 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 07:12 AM:

Jacque @ #372:

Good news for people who can read eARCs, I suppose. I'll just go and Eeyore in the corner until I can get a copy of the real thing.

#374 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 12:05 PM:

I'll be at Chicon, but I've sold my soul to Consuite (I'm on staff) so I'm not sure how out and about I'll be able to be. I might be stuck in the prep room....

Contrary to earlier hopes, it's looking more and more like we won't be able to serve hot food in the consuite after all. Darn it. I hope to be proved wrong about this, but it's not likely.

#375 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 12:40 PM:

Lee @371:

Unfortunately I can't make out the words too well. and it seems to be out of print. Any idea where I can get a copy?

#376 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 12:53 PM:

O.K., I'm pissed. I just made a post to a Blogger account and Google set up a Blogger account for me automatically. How do I kill this thing with extreme prejudice, ideally with a hit poker to the backside of whatever misbegotten programmer who decided this was a feature?

#377 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 01:06 PM:

tykewriter, #375: Well, I found this link which purports to be for the sheet music. Aside from that, I'd suggest asking your local music school or voice teachers.

#378 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 01:29 PM:

I found that too. I'll try my local music shop on Monday.

I'd never heard of it before, but I'll definitely seek it out and learn it.

#379 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 04:01 PM:

D Potter @ 369... Waving back at you from New Mexico! :-)

#380 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 04:04 PM:

D Potter @ 369... I was in the Bay Area last week, but never had time to do much besides work, and, in the evening, making professonal contacts that will hopefully help me to one day say ta-ta to my current employer. If not for all that, I'd have tried to meet with fellow fluorospherians. :-)

#381 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 04:07 PM:

By the way, wasn't yesterday the birthday of TexAnne?

#382 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 05:03 PM:

Cally @374: I hope the consuite at least has things like bread and peanut butter. Then I'll be OK.

#383 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 05:07 PM:

Jacque @ #372

...and it's glorious!

Having ordered the hardcover and read the sample chapters, this moose couldn't wait, so bought the eARC in html format and spent the next several hours reading it with growing delight.

#384 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 05:22 PM:

Cadbury Moose @383:

It is, indeed, made of awesome. Martin bought it immediately on release. I've finished it, and he's most of the way through.

There were reasons I recommended it in DFD. But it's a good read many ways around.

My only question is, ubj vf vg gung Neny vf fgvyy nyvir? V gubhtug ur qvrq ng gur raq bs Pelbohea. Qbrf guvf gura gnxr cynpr orsber gung cbvag?

#385 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 05:33 PM:

By the way, I've opened up a thread for making plans at Chicon.

Have fun!

#386 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 05:55 PM:

Warning! Contains spoilers for next Bujold masterpiece.

Abi wrote at #384:

ubj vf vg gung Neny vf fgvyy nyvir? V gubhtug ur qvrq ng gur raq bs Pelbohea. Qbrf guvf gura gnxr cynpr orsber gung cbvag?

Lrf, ohg gung ortf gur dhrfgvba bs jul Zvyrf qbrfa'g zragvba nalguvat nobhg Vina'f zneevntr... V jbaqre vs Dhvaa tbg uverq gb qrny jvgu Cerfgrar....

This moose reckons we shouldn't have spoilers for a book that is (counts on hooves) four months away from HC publication.

#388 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 09:43 PM:

Kip, it looks to me as though the proportion of loaded mousetraps matters a lot.

The optimum is probably no more than one armed guardian per theater.

#389 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 10:20 PM:

There was an armed hero at the Gifford shooting in Arizona. He came on the scene, ready to draw and, in his words, almost shot the wrong man.

#390 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 11:27 PM:

iamnothing @ 382

Knowing the Chicon consuite head, I will be completely shocked if there is not something foodlike available at LEAST around classic mealtimes, and probably closer to constantly. Veggies and sandwich fixings at a minimum.

There are feelers going out to food trucks, as well (but there are some Chicago regs about food trucks; as I understand it, they can be parked for no more than two hours, and no closer than some specified distance from a Real Restaurant).

There are a fair number of places to eat in the Illinois Center, and they WILL be warned about fannish appetites, and asked to extend their hours. As will the little grocery store down the block. Whether they believe us or not is another question. I've heard stories about a Major Chain burger place running completely out of food at Reno, even though they'd been warned....

Note: I am not speaking officially. I don't know anything for sure. I'm a mere staffer, and not in the decision loops.

#391 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 12:24 AM:

Paul A. @373: Good news for people who can read eARCs, I suppose. I'll just go and Eeyore in the corner until I can get a copy of the real thing. are you not able to read eARCs? (Which I infer is your meaning?)

#392 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 12:27 AM:

abi @384: Yeah, I'm confused about that, too.

#393 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 01:10 AM:

I think it's because it looks like a format name. (I dug enough to find out what that one means, and I might buy it, if only to find out What Happens Next.)

#394 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 01:13 AM:

I have purchased the Bujold eARC, and all is right in the world!

Jacque @391, I imagine that Paul A. doesn't use an eReader. I wouldn't read a book on a regular computer.

#395 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 01:53 AM:

Somebody in Scalzi's comments pointed me toward Calibre, which is an open source free epub converter/reader. I downloaded it and used it to read most of The Grantville Gazette Vol. I (free from the Baen Free Library) today. It's got a pagination button which gave me the illusion that I was turning pages rather than scrolling down a long HTML page, as well as some other features. Not bad at all if you don't have a Kindle, Nook, or other dedicated e-reader device.

#396 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 02:12 AM:

It's not a technical problem. I have an eReader, and as far as I know it's entirely capable of handling an eARC. The fault is entirely within myself.

On some fundamental level, ARCs just don't do it for me. However much I'm eager to read the book, an eARC is not the book I'm eager for. Perhaps I could say, not yet. What I want is the finished work. I want to read the book as soon as possible, but no sooner.

Or perhaps it's just that I have the proofreader's eye in sufficient strength that I can't imagine reading for pleasure anything that starts with a notice guaranteeing that it will contain typos and other errors.

#397 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 04:10 AM:

Some advice to throw things, shine bright lights, grab the attacker-- sounds fairly reasonable to me, but I'm no expert. What do you think?

#398 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 04:29 AM:

HLN: Area man visits doctor before flying to Europe, asks about strange rash. Walks out with shingles prescriptions. Takes flight anyway. Now extremely grateful to inventor of hydrocodone.

(As I said on Twitter, the really great thing about ankylosing spondylitis is it builds up your pain tolerance for situations like this.)

#399 ::: Steven desJardins has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 04:31 AM:

It's completely inexplicable. Just because I explicitly endorse a popular spammed product, you're censoring me.

#400 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 06:17 AM:

Nancy @397

It's a man with a gun. You want to shine a bright light and attract his attention?

#401 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 07:56 AM:

@Nancy Leibovitz, 397.

Always good to have a plan.

But this guy shot off more than 100 rounds of ammo (had to pause to change his 100 round magazine in his AR-15, shot his shotgun and I believe, emptied his 15 shot Glock). Before the police got there, 90 seconds later.

Sorry, this is a sore point for me, I practice about a mile and a half away from the Century 16. A dear friend lost her grandson.

This guy took out a vet who served in Iraq. To suggest pummeling him with popcorn or shining your cell phone in his eyes might have helped, is a bit disingenuous, I'm afraid. I think the article is from the bunch of Coloradans who are telling the survivors how much better they would have done in the same situation. (In case Columbine and this nut haven't clarified it, there are a lot of disturbed people here in Colorado. I think our mental health system is ranked in the lower 10 of the 50 states, mostly because of underfunding.)

The survivors who are talking to the media are saying some of the same things the Columbine survivors said. Lay still, play dead, crawl away as fast as you can when the perp is focused on other victims.

I would add, don't panic and don't trample other people.

Colorado has a carry concealed law which was supposed to protect us from this kind of insanity a second time around. So much for that.

I'm concerned that when the 'rents of this guy open up to the media, they're going to say he was always a bit off. But enrolling at my dear ol' alma mater drove him over the edge. I can see how that could happen.

I know, TL, DR.

#402 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 09:06 AM:

Throwmearope @401 My sympathies to you, and to your friend.

Lee @366--Ouch. I am in favor of rich interior lives, having one myself, but there are limits.

Nancy L @397--Terrain and conditions control tactical plans. Always. People at the Tuscon shooting had room to maneuver, and so were able to disarm that gunman. Different circumstances must dictate different reactions. In this one, stay low and get out if possible was the best option.

You want good thinking in an emergency, folks? Here it is, and it makes me kind of happy to type "Kids these days--they do some pretty good stuff!" Let us give Jarrell Brooks all the props he rates for this.

#403 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 10:12 AM:

I just want to say that this morning, while Jim and I were at church, Making Light got hit by approximately 150 spams. None of them got through the filters. Jim and Abi rock.

#404 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 10:25 AM:

Teresa... They do, and it bears repeating.

#405 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 10:25 AM:

Teresa... They do, and it bears repeating.

#406 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 10:27 AM:

Nancy, if he's got an automatic weapon and is already firing or is about to fire, those are last-ditch measures. IMO, once the first shot has been fired, your best move is to hit the dirt.

#407 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 10:31 AM:

Lee @366:

A direct quote from a comment on a link posted by one of my Facebook friends: "If you start an armed assault in a space where I am present, and you don't take me down with your first shot, it'll be your last."

Can you say full-blown Ramboland fantasy? I let him have it, pointing out that there is no scriptwriter in real life.

Again, CWAA.

Counterphobic behavior. You see a lot of that in the wake of distressing incidents. They're trying to convince themselves that it can never happen to them.

#408 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 10:35 AM:

Paul A. @ 396: I had the same reservations, but couldn't resist.

#409 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 11:34 AM:

I didn't see anything like that in the preview chapters; it's good.

#410 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 11:38 AM:

Some situations are just really hard to survive. Like being stuck in a crowded theater with a heavily armed, armored nut who doesn't even care whether he survives, but wants to kill lots of people. My guess (I'm not entitled to an opinion, so little do I know about armed combat) is that this is one of those situations where it's just going to be hard to make things better. Adding an armed uniformed security guard might or might not help (the murderer might just shoot him first).

Any armed response in this situation has a big problem, though--to a first approximation, crazy people almost never show up in a theater and start blazing away, whereas obnoxious people often do disruptive loud things (like setting off fireworks or shooting off a cap gun). Any response that increases the chance of successfully killing the crazy mass-shooter also increases the chance of killing the far more common idiot teenager being a public jerk, but deserving no more consequences that being tossed out of the theater.

This is very much like the calculation involved in terrorism, which makes sense, because mass-shootings are basically terrorist attacks with a small conspiracy size and usually not much coherent ideological basis. (The Norwegian and Ft Hood mass shooters are exceptions, as both are broadly part of larger ideological movements; the nut who shot Gabrielle Giffords had some political ideology in there somewhere but was also batshit nuts, and certainly didn't represent any movement.) Most stuff you do to stop the one guy in a billion who is trying to board your plane with an explosive belt will also massively inconvenience some large chunk of the billion minus one other people trying to fly, some of whom will be body cavity searched or strip searched or forbidden to fly or porno-scanned or otherwise very badly treated.

#411 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 12:43 PM:

Bradley Wiggins (GB) has won the Tour de France

Mark Cavendish (GB and World Champion) has won the stage.

Chris Froome (GB) second in the TdF

That was the 99th Tour de France, and it is the first time any British rider had finished in the top three. It's also the fourth consecutive time that Mark Cavendish has won the final stage, making a total of 23 stage wins for him.

And it even stopped a Test Match...

#412 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 01:37 PM:

Remind you of anyone?

Summary: "motivational speaker" encourages people to walk across hot coals to "access their inner power"; many are injured, several to the point of being hospitalized; organizer says he's been doing this for years and will continue to do it. At least nobody died this time.

#413 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 01:59 PM:

By the way, I've posted another of my sadly intermittent Babylon 5 posts. Really must get more regular about them.

#414 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 03:04 PM:

How many people reading this thread have been in an enclosed room full of tear gas without a mask? I have, and I can attest that it is extremely difficult to see what's going on around you or to coordinate your actions. Yes, you might get lucky and get off a round or two and hit the shooter; but it's more likely you'd hit someone else and attract the shooter's attention (he is wearing a mask and can see you and shoot you).

As albatross said, some situations are hard to survive.

#415 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 03:14 PM:

Reading about it gave me the impression that it wasn't the kind of setup most actual firewalkers would use. And guarantees I wouldn't trust him any farther than I could throw him.

SFGate: 'Walking across hot coals on lanes measuring 10 feet long and heated to between 1,200 to 2,000 degrees provides attendees an opportunity to "understand that there is absolutely nothing you can't overcome," according to the motivational speaker's website.'

#416 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 03:40 PM:

Cally @390: Thanks for the detailed answer. Renovation had only salty snack foods.

#417 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 03:49 PM:

Throwmearope 401: I'm sorry for your friend's loss, and I agree with what you say here.

Serge 404: You're right, they do, and it does.

Serge 405: You're right, they do, and it does.

Lee 412: Yes, he does remind me of someone, and he had exactly the same problems. He didn't know how to teach firewalking or what its limits are. Walking on hot coals can be done without burning yourself if you're properly taught and if the bed of coals isn't too long. Sigh. Idiots.

While I understand the physics of firewalking (hot coals don't transfer heat to skin very quickly), I do NOT understand what I saw once at a Pagan gathering, which was a guy who took off his shoes and walked through the bonfire, stepping on flaming logs. He wasn't burned either. I'm sure similar physics accounts for it, but man...flames. Actual flaming burning logs.

#418 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 05:14 PM:


Thank you and thanks everybody.

Gotta go get cleaned up. We are forming a wall of love to keep the W*stb*ro nutbags from Kansas away from the prayer vigil tonight.

My friend is a very private person and she and her family won't be there, but her grandson's friends will be, and we don't want the haters anywhere near them.

It feels good to have something constructive to do.

#419 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 05:20 PM:

Throwmearope: Good luck, and thank you for offering support and decency to people who sorely need both--they'll be getting plenty of crap thrown at them.

#420 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 05:23 PM:

Leverage: Patrick and I got a tour of the new set and the rest of the setup when we were out in Portland for our nephew Milo's wedding. It was way cool -- "The punching bag's for Eliot, right?" "Oooh, look, it's Hardison's workbench" -- but the one thing we're not allowed to do with our photos is publish them.

The artistry was impressive. I was particularly smitten with the way the interior brick walls of the microbrewery had backstory built into them -- areas where old doors or windows had been bricked up, or imperfectly matched repairs where something used to be attached to the wall.

Also very cool: the huge props storage area, full of recognizable gothic church windows, Cincinnati Airport signage, the lion centerpiece from the chocolate festival, a pair of servers I'd swear I've seen suborned more than once, and hundreds of other objects from previous seasons.

The experience has unsettled, rendered thermoplastic, my understanding of all TV shows. "Why did they do it that way?" changes fundamentally when you start finding out which options are easier or harder, cheaper or more expensive. I suspect that's true of all tech and manufacturing subjects.

#421 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 05:54 PM:

Sorry, my last comment was off topic for the current thread. It's what I get for taking too long to finish writing it.

Throwmearope, you're right. I was talking about this today with Jim Macdonald. He said that "disarm the guy with the gun" maneuvers are for situations where the guy has already decided not to shoot you, and is trying to do something like take you prisoner, or situations where you figure you're not going to survive either way. The people who think that throwing stuff or shining bright lights will keep them safe are kidding themselves.

That kind of nonsense was a constant challenge when I was moderating Boing Boing. Whenever they blogged about an event like this one, or had a story about someone being abused/mistreated/tasered/ripped off by the police, TSA, border guards, mall cops, big-box retailer, etc., the comment thread would be full of loud bloviations and hot air about how it was all the victim's fault, and if only they'd been as smart as the commenter, it would never have happened. Sometimes they'd make up dozens of previously unknown "facts" to buttress their explanations.

You couldn't make them see what they were doing. I doubt they could hear anything we said. They were yelling too loudly about how it couldn't happen to them.

#422 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 06:20 PM:

Throwmearope @ 418: We are forming a wall of love to keep the W*stb*ro nutbags from Kansas away from the prayer vigil tonight. Thank you for doing that. Wish I was close enough to join you.

#423 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 06:40 PM:

#420: Living near Portland, where on any day you might hear on the radio that the ____ Bridge or a stretch of ____ Avenue is shut down for a Leverage (or Grimm) shoot, as was the case this morning, posts like that are always topical!

Hmm. I'd assumed that the brewpub interior set (well, not the control room) was the interior of a brewpub, of which there are many in Portland. It must have taken a lot of work to replicate one, especially in the HDTV era. (I'm watching Leverage re-runs in HD; they're running on the ION network.)

I hope they get another season, or at least do a spinoff.

#424 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 06:41 PM:

iamnothing @416

I emailed the consuite head, and I'm authorized to say that there will be "Pasta salads and regular salads, tuna salads and chicken salads, egg salads. Cheeses, meats, pb n j, candy chips n bars, those kind of things. Nothing hot except coffee"

Did I mention that I've observed his consuite philosophy to be "the fans must be fed"? I think it's a Midwest fandom thing; at least I know that my very limited experience with west coast cons leans more towards the salty snacks and not much else.

I don't know about hot water for tea. I *do* know that there will, alas, be no kettle in the consuite; we're not allowed to plug anything in there. Coffee will be made up in our prep room and served from insulated jugs. Sorry to all the tea drinkers.

#425 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 06:54 PM:

My impression is that food at east coast con suites varies quite a bit, but there's some correlation between the amount of protein and the state of the economy.

#426 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 07:12 PM:

You could have hot water in insulated jugs and teabags for the tea drinkers. It isn't ideal, but neither is pre-made coffee.

#427 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 07:13 PM:

The original plans were to serve actual hot meals every night at 11 pm, but that didn't survive contact with the hotel. Darn it. So sandwiches and cold salads of various sorts will have to do. One thing we DO have is large ice tables, and we don't need to plug them in!

And for those who can/are willing to pay for food, there's the Illinois Center, and possibly food trucks if we can lure them in. Chicago has just passed an ordinance allowing food trucks to cook and otherwise prepare food on the truck; the previous ordinance didn't even allow them to season it there. But there's a 2 hour standing limit, and a 200 foot from ground level restaurants restriction, enforced by GPS and large fines, so food trucks will be a (ahem) moving target.

And, of course, there's always the various downtown restaurants.

There WILL be free wifi in all public spaces. There will NOT be places to plug anything in to charge, though. If you need to charge something, plan to use your (or a friend's) room.

#428 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 09:45 PM:

A free-thinking Independent libertarian on Usenet is asking for evidence that a theater full of armed patrons would do anything but swiftly dispatch the evildoer with a single, well-aimed shot. Are there counterexamples (apart from the Giffords shooting) where an on-site armed person or persons did more harm than good? Google only wants to talk about things that just happened.

#429 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2012, 10:38 PM:

Kip W #428: The terms you want to search for are "friendly fire" or "blue-on-blue."

I list several here:

#430 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 12:17 AM:

The ping pong balls on the mousetraps were what I thought of, too, though from an early film rather than Kip's link.

There were complaints that a setup mimicking a nuclear chain reaction was too dense for shooter/mall scenarios.

What about a similar setup using fewer mousetraps and randomly-scattered standing paper dolls? Cut them doubled, hinged at the top, so they're stable but could be knocked down.

Not that this would convince the mah-gun/mah-manhood crowd.

#431 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 10:13 AM:

The independent freethinker who asked for incidents subsequently dismissed them as anecdotes proving nothing, and then told one of his own about how this one guy grabbed the gun and killed all the bad guys, k-pow k-pow eh-eh-eh-eh-eht!

He's killfiled now, for another reason having to do with civility.

#432 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 10:28 AM:

Happy 19th Wedding Anniversary, Abi and Martin!!!

#433 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 10:28 AM:

Happy 19th Wedding Anniversary, Abi and Martin!!!

#434 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 10:29 AM:

Happy 19th Wedding Anniversary, Abi and Martin!!!

#435 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 10:36 AM:

Three times? Strewth!

Happy anniversary!

#436 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 10:55 AM:

Kip & Serge -- it was like a hip-hip-hooray, repeated thrice.

Happy anniversary, y'all!

#437 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 11:30 AM:

Y'know about Rambo fantasies? They're fantasies. Rambo is a character played by an actor, with a writer, a director, a stunt double, a digital-matte artist, and special-effects technicians on his side. And the ability to do a retake.

Better to take advice from Murphy's Laws of Combat, including:

Don't worry about the bullet with your name on it. Worry about the bullet marked 'To Whom It May Concern.'

Incoming fire has the right of way.

Friendly fire isn't.

Don't look conspicuous, it draws fire.

Never draw fire, it irritates everyone around you.

#438 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 11:31 AM:

Six years and four months per cheer! Thank you, Serge!

I'm still somewhat surprised that all this time has passed. I guess time does fly when you're having fun.

#439 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 11:45 AM:

Happy anniversary, Abi.

#440 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 11:58 AM:

P J Evans @409: I didn't see anything like that in the preview chapters; it's good.

I don't have the proofreading superpower, but I've so far spotted: one case where two words were transposed, and one possible case of an edo where a sentence fragment was left out (unless I just failed to parse what was there, which is too possible.)

Lee @412: Remind you of anyone?

Well, except that Robbins innovated the practice, so I expect the "reminder" should go the other way. At least Robbins crew had trained professionals onsite in case of cock-up. This, however, should not be construed as me defending him. I've never encountered him personally, and nothing I've heard has moved me to do so. Quite the contrary, actually.

P J Evans @415: I wouldn't trust him any farther than I could throw him.

IMHO, that would be trusting him too far.

Xopher HalfTongue @417: but man...flames. Actual flaming burning logs.

Well, if my daddy had the right of it, the flames are not the hottest part of the fire. It's the glowing coals. Leastways, that's what you're going for when making a cookin' fire. You try to roast your meat in the flames, mostly what you get is sooty tar-tar.

Stefan Jones @423: Leverage ... I hope they get another season, or at least do a spinoff.

Well, according to Wikipedia, Season 5 just premiered on 7/15. Is that what you meant?

Happy anniversary, abi & Martin!

#441 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 12:00 PM:

Caroline @436: I assumed that the threefoldness was proof of its veracity.

#442 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 12:09 PM:

Gefeliciteerd met uw jubileum, abi & Martin. (and thank you, Google Translate).

#443 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 12:29 PM:

@442: Yes, gefiltefish jubiliee!!

#444 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 01:42 PM:

Re: human wall for candelight vigil tonight

Can anyone give specifics on where (presumably the theater) and time to meet? What to bring (candle in cup?). About how long it's expected to last?

DASFAns (Denver Area SF Ass'n) and others want to help.

#445 ::: LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 01:52 PM:

Spoilery question on the Bujold ARC:

Guvf znl or pbashfvba sebz ernqvat gur qnea guvat gbb dhvpxyl, ohg vf gurer na rkcynangvba sbe jul Neny qbrfa'g frrz gb or qrnq? Ur'f abg n punenpgre, ohg jura Grw ybbxf Vina hc bayvar rneyl ba, fur ernqf na ragel ba Neny gung qbrfa'g zragvba uvz orvat qrnq, naq Zvyrf trgf ersreerq gb nf Ybeq Ibexbfvtna engure guna Pbhag Ibexbfvtna. Qvq V zvff fbzr rkcynangvba, be vf guvf gur xvaq bs guvat gung trgf svkrq orgjrra NEP naq gur choyvfurq obbx?

Actually, I suppose it's not very spoilery -- nothing really to do with the events of the book.

#446 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 02:12 PM:

LizardBreath @445:

V qba'g xabj. Gurer ner n pbhcyr bs ersreraprf gb Neny'f pbagvahrq rkvfgrapr va gur grkg, naq Zvyrf vf ersreerq gb nf Ybeq Ibexbfvtna engure guna Pbhag Ibexbfvtna.

Znegva naq V jrer jbaqrevat vs guvf gbbx cynpr orsber Pelbohea, ohg gurer'f ab ersrerapr gb Vina'f zneevntr va gurer gung V pna erpnyy.

Vg'f n zlfgrel.

#447 ::: LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 02:20 PM:

cynpr orsber Pelbohea

Gung'f tbg gb or vg -- V qba'g xabj jul V qvqa'g guvax bs vg. V'z cerggl fher Vina'f abg zragvbarq nf zneevrq va Pelbohea, ohg ur'f uneqyl zragvbarq ng nyy, fb vg jbhyqa'g or fgenatr sbe vg abg gb unir pbzr hc.

Abj V jbaqre jul vg znqr frafr gb jevgr gurz bhg bs beqre yvxr gung -- znlor fur'f tbg cynaf sbe trggvat gur arkg trarengvba bs xvqf va fbzr cnegvphyne ntr eryngvbafuvc gb rnpu bgure, naq fur arrqf gb trg Vina naq Grw ercebqhpvat ba fbzr fpurqhyr?

#448 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 02:46 PM:

I don't think this is spoilerish, but just in case ...

V jnf qryvtugrq gung gur raqvat frrzrq irel bcra gb frdhryf. Gur raqvat bs Pelbohea nyybjrq sbe zber obbxf (Ab "Nyy qvr. Bu, gur rzonenffzrag"), ohg qvqa'g rapbhentr zr gb rkcrpg nal zber.

#449 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 02:49 PM:

A ROT 13 question. I assume that with practice I could learn to read ROT 13. Have any of you done this? How long does it take?

#450 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 03:05 PM:

Bruce H @449: I wonder whether it'd be faster or slower than learning to read WingDings? I used to be in a group that used "put the text in WingDings font" as their secret-message/spoiler mechanism, and surprisingly fast a lot of regulars could apparently read it without the cutpasting I needed to do.

#451 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 03:20 PM:

Bruce H @449: I've been playing at it, but haven't really tried. I mostly just try to translate a few letters, then give up and copy it to a translator.

#452 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 03:22 PM:


Slower than learning WingDings, I think. I (briefly) was able to read WingDings slowly and painfully. I've never been able to read Rot-13. Rot-13 simply overloads the character set too much for me. Easier to learn something new than ignore something old, for me.

#453 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 03:47 PM:

LizardBreath @447: Abj V jbaqre jul vg znqr frafr gb jevgr gurz bhg bs beqre yvxr gung

Zl frafr vf gung Ohwbyq unf arire orra cnegvphyneyl shffl nobhg zngpuvat cho beqre gb fgbel beqre.

#454 ::: LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 03:47 PM:

449: I don't know, but I was amused to notice that an important four-letter string from the last few comments rot13's into an anagram of itself.

#455 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 04:22 PM:

LizardBreath @454:
I was amused to notice that an important four-letter string from the last few comments rot13's into an anagram of itself.

So it does. Neat.

#456 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 04:32 PM:

Old news that may explain the chronology a bit:

LMB: I am working on a project with the file title Ivan: His Booke at present. It takes place a year or so after Diplomatic Immunity, when Ivan is about 35, and so will be a prequel to CryoBurn. No contract, no deadline, and, at the moment, no last half. It is far enough along that it demands its own completion, regardless of, well, anything. We’ll see how that goes. If there becomes anything to announce, I’ll announce it in my blog on MySpace.

(From a November 2010 interview here.

#457 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 04:48 PM:

Liked the Particle on moderating panels. Left a longish note there.

#458 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 05:49 PM:

Cally Soukup @ 452

>> Slower than learning WingDings, I think.

That would be my guess, too. Learning Cyrillic was somewhere in between, lots of familiar symbols, a few with different values to add confusion.

#459 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 05:56 PM:

Sally Ride has died.

#460 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 05:58 PM:

I bet the reason (spoilers about Ivan's book) uvf zneevntr jnfa'g zragvbarq va Pelbohea vf gung fur qvqa'g xabj jura fur jnf jevgvat Pelbohea gung Vina jnf nyernql zneevrq, vs lbh frr jung V zrna.

#461 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 07:20 PM:

Very slightly spoilery, about timing in the Bujold book: Fbzrjurer va gur svefg puncgre be gjb, znqr vg rkcyvpvg gung guvf vf frg nobhg n lrne nsgre Qvcybzngvp Vzzhavgl, jura Vina erzrzoref hasbaqyl gur nyzbfg-jne jvgu gur Prgntnaqnaf, fgbccrq ol uvf pbhfva gur Nhqvgbe naq fnvq Nhqvgbe'f jvsr. Fb lrf, orsber Pelbohea.

#462 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 07:24 PM:

Re: ROT 13 -- for a while I was able to read ROT 1 and ROT 25 fairly fluently; I was part of an online community on CompuServe where very small sawdust imps used to post... and they were so small they used the previous letter, not being able to stretch to the correct ones. Then someone came in as a giant...

#463 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 08:03 PM:

The announcement on the Sally Ride Science website says "In addition to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country."

The "partner of 27 years" part doesn't appear to have been public knowledge previously. Here's a 2009 American Library Association interview with Ride and O'Shaughnessy, where the two women, co-authors of several books, are described as "good friends".

#464 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 08:12 PM:

Good news: the NCAA has come down on Penn State like a ton of bricks.

$60,000,000 fine, banned from post-season play for 4 years, loss of 20 football scholarships per year for 4 years, and -- perhaps most importantly in the long run -- they have voided all Penn State victories for the past 14 years, the period during when Paterno and other administrators knew what was going on and did nothing.

Killer quote from NCAA president Mark Emmert: "One of the grave dangers stemming from our love of sports is that the sports themselves can become too big to fail, indeed, too big to even challenge. The result can be an erosion of academic values that are replaced by the value of hero worship and winning at all cost."

I've been saying similar things for a long time; I never thought I'd hear something like that from someone in sports. I wonder what Tank McNamara will be doing for the next few weeks?

#465 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 08:51 PM:

I don't have much of a throwing arm; my range with a ball is about 10 feet.

#466 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 08:54 PM:

re: vigil
Fred Phelps et. al. never showed.

#467 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 08:58 PM:

Mildly local news: a friend of area man--a professional calligrapher--is profiled in the local newspaper. His calligraphy is beautiful.

One of our prized possessions is a framed copy of our wedding vows, which he gave us as a wedding present.

#468 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 09:01 PM:

Happy Anniversary abi & Martin!

#469 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 09:16 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @463: I saw someone on Twitter saying she was the first gay person in space; as a pedant I pointed out that she was the first person in space in the category "currently known to have been gay". It'll be interesting over the next few decades to find out if she really was the first.

#470 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 09:24 PM:

Lee #464: Holy cow... there must be a mushroom cloud over their football stadium! Not saying they're wrong, mind you... maybe they'll even start a trend with this calling out of 500-pound gorillas!

#471 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 10:46 PM:

Re : the NCAA fine on Penn State...

So where does that money go? Does the NCAA get to keep it? ( because.... Whoa, that looks like a major conflict of interests by being both the regluatory body and the beneficiary.) The victims? A scholarship fund? A big ol' Bonfire of the Vanities?

And given that I work for a big athletic school and am all too aware of the havoc the teams' institutionalized bad behavior can cause, the loss of scholarships for four years strikes me as punishing entirely innocent bystanders ( in that the incoming frosh who would have benefitted are, at this moment, both entirely unrelated and as of today, up the creek for their tuition, which is due next month).

I realize that the four year suspension makes sense -- time for the toxic culture to compost into decent mulch -- but I've had a number of academically gifted students who managed tuition only thanks to their small, third-string, athletic scholarships. Other schools will court the exceptional athletes, but I fear that the "merely" hard-working and truly amateur ones will be the ones most hurt.

#472 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 11:28 PM:

David Harmon @470, from your keyboard to Allah's inbox. There are too damned many entities that have been declared (or are quietly presumed) to be "too big to fail" and treated as sacred cows rather than being informed that too big to fail means too big to continue, period.

#473 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 11:34 PM:

Well, well, well... They're rebooting "Blake's Seven", and 'they' include Martin Campbell, better known as the director of "Casino Royale" and of "The Mask of Zorro".

#474 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 11:48 PM:

CZEdwards, #471: The article I linked notes that the fine (which will be collected in installments over the next 5 years) will go to charities that provide assistance for abused children. The Big Ten has said that they're going to do the same thing with what would have been Penn State's share of bowl money for the next 5 years. Seems appropriate.

David H., #472: Sadly, I think the only reason it happened this time was that the offenses involved male-on-male pedophilia. That seems to be about the only thing that even the 1% won't put up with these days.

#475 ::: Raul Flugens, Duty Gnome ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 11:50 PM:

Yes, there's a spam flood. We're on it. No need for new reports for a bit.

Raul Flugens, Duty Gnome

#476 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2012, 11:52 PM:

Raul Flugens @ 475,

Oh, thank ghu. I was getting really sick of making reports; probably almost as sick as you were of reading them. {wry} Would you like some Moose Tracks Ice Cream to keep your strength up?

#477 ::: Raul Flugens, Duty Gnome ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 12:21 AM:

Looks like the filters are holding.

In excess of 200 spams in a matter of minutes there.

We have taken the unusual step of hiding the spam reports. You'll still see them if you check your "View All Posts" however.

Raul Flugens, Duty Gnome

#478 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 12:36 AM:

Would that I were a gnome, that I might share the Moose Tracks Ice Cream (which happens to be mah fave)!

Many thanks to the gnomes and mods for keeping the Fluorosphere safe from spammers!

#479 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 01:05 AM:

Raul Flugens, Duty Gnome @ 477: We have taken the unusual step of hiding the spam reports.

That's nice. During an influx, they muddy things up.

#480 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 02:02 AM:

I would have no problem with hiding the spam reports at all times. It doesn't seem to me that they contribute much. (And I say this as one who posts them often.)

#481 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 03:32 AM:

Regarding (in)visible spam reports, I do use them as a way to check which spam already has a report attached to it.

Which is not to say they have to remain visible all the time, either though.

Crazy(and ready to offer the gnomes some Cava, chilled, when they have a chance to relax off-duty - no gnoming necessary, even!)Soph

#482 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 07:41 AM:

Raul Flugens, Overworked Duty Gnome @477,

I'm glad you hid the spam reports; I wasn't looking forward to wading through all the dozens of reports that I made this morning. Not to mention the ones from the rest of the Fluorosphere.

Sid @478,

I'd be happy to email you some virtual Moose Tracks. My favorite, too. Especially when it's CHOCOLATE Moose Tracks. It might melt in transit, of course; those email servers run hot....

#483 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 07:44 AM:

Me @482, That is to say, I made the spam reports last night, but I'd have to wade through them this morning. I hate it when I accidentally write ambiguously.

#484 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 09:23 AM:

Re: Penn State

It looks like the NCAA and Big Ten are going to allow any Penn State football player to transfer to another school -- no loss of eligibility and they will be able to play immediately. Also, any player who signed a letter of intent to play at Penn State in 2012 will be released from that committment should they so desire.

#485 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 12:11 PM:

Has anyone else noticed the article on about Craigslist as a measure of viable local communities? It's a fascinating example of emerging information that wasn't planned -- the Invisible Hand at work!

#486 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 12:51 PM:

Serge Broom @473: Well, well, well... They're rebooting "Blake's Seven",

Oh, feh. I wish they'd just re-issue the original.

#487 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 02:32 PM:

Cassy B @483: Yes, a truly cultured person never writes anything that is ambiguous -- unintentionally . . . .

#488 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 02:39 PM:

jacque @ 486... "Blake's 7" is available on DVD. In Europe, true, but one can play that region's DVDs on a laptop with the free software VLC.

#489 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 02:48 PM:

John M. Burt @487: Quite. Ambiguous writing should be reserved for poetry and for obligatory thank-yous for unwelcome gifts.

#490 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 03:00 PM:


"I have read your book, and much like it."

#491 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 03:02 PM:

Albatross @490: {snork} Exactly.

#492 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 04:44 PM:

Paraphrase of Edsger Dykstra, because I can't find the reference.

Ambiguity is the programmer's friend. If a specification is sufficiently ambiguous, any program at all can meet it.

#493 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 05:17 PM:

Jacque @486: There are users on and other places who have uploaded probably-not-very-legal copies of all the episodes.

#494 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 07:15 PM:

::sulky pout:: What I don't understand is why Netflix doesn't pick up the original Blake's 7. I mean, for my money, it's at least as good as the Doctor Who of similar era. And they've taken on other stuff of much lower quality. ::/sulky pout::

In related news, I'm going to look into Serge's free download thing with much interest. I have other Region 2 DVDs which I can watche, because I pressed my old iBook into service for the purpose. But I'm all for being able to do stuff on my current Mac.

BTW, serious thanks to whoever it was that put up a pointer to Pixelmator. Took me a bit to get used to it, and there are still a few points of functionality I miss, but for 3% of the cost, it's a damn good substitute for Photoshop.

#495 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 07:27 PM:

Jacque @494: Netflix only shows US viewers US-released/regioned DVDs. Blake's 7 has never, to my knowledge, gotten a US release, so Netflix has nothing to show us.

It's also why they have a weird random assortment of Old Who, because not all Old Who has been released on US DVD, and none of it in season sets.

#496 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 10:55 PM:

My FB friend says

Now that my evil Facebook news feed has sucked me into the vortex of several pointless arguments, one observation. There is nothing more content-free than noting how wonderful it is that people in America can disagree. The only thing worse is saying that it's what makes our country great. Just. Don't. Do. It. Ever.
I don't have to tell you what I said, do I? But I will anyway:
I don't agree, but isn't that what makes America great?
Some things you just have to say.

#497 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 11:14 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @496: You are a wicked, wicked person. I think that's what I like about you.

#498 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 11:29 PM:

Bruce H at 292:
For certain values of ambiguous.

#499 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2012, 11:43 PM:

AKICIML: Does anyone have experience with book repair (and specifically with hinge tape)?

I have a (large) hardback with a stitched binding, and one of the end papers that attaches the boards to the book block has ripped along the hinge.

The book block itself is fine, and the cover seems fine except for having come adrift from the pages in front.

It looks like a job for hinge reinforcement/repair tape, but I have no idea which sources are good. Does anyone have a preferred brand/width/style?

Or should I be approaching the repair from a completely different direction?

#500 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 01:31 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 495:

because not all Old Who has been released on US DVD, and none of it in season sets.

At least one such set exists: the Key to Time episodes that were the last hurrah of the 4th doctor. I bought a copy a few years back, because they're pretty close to my most favorite episode. Tom Baker is my favorite Doctor, and the episode "The Androids of Tara" from the Key to Time was the first episode of the Doctor I ever saw.

#501 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 02:25 AM:

I've been musing lately on the idea of "Who would have been cast as the various Doctors if DOCTOR WHO had been an American television series instead of British?"

Assuming the general run of the series would be similar, the earlier Doctors would be older, a little more serious, a little crankier. Newer doctors (the Tom Baker equivalent and successors) would be younger and more eccentric. Traits in common would be an off-kilter personality and generally off-fashion tastes in clothing.

For one of the older Doctors, I was envisioning Milburn Stone, who played Doc Adams on GUMSMOKE. Another possibility would be Sam Jaffe, who played Casey's mentor on the BEN CASEY medical drama.

The newer Doctors? Names that come to mind include Jon Astin (THE ADDAMS FAMILY), Pat Harrington ("Schneider" on ONE DAY AT A TIME), and -- oh, how could we NOT cast this guy? -- Pee-Wee Herman.

Other suggestions?

(Why, yes, I am occasionally deranged. Why do you ask?)

#502 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 08:13 AM:

The best source of information is probably a librarian, but I have bookmarks for a couple of places:

#503 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 08:47 AM:

Patrick said yesterday (or possibly the day before) something about how excellent a Doctor Helen Mirren would make. I agreed, saying that there's only one woman I'd rather see as Doctor, and that's Judi Dench. At that point, I think both of us experienced imagination-bliss.

Wish I could find some photographs of the final entry in the CONvergence masquerade, which featured all doctors as female characters in high Victoriana, and a TARDIS likewise. (The TARDIS's dress and veil were amazing, and perfectly TARDIS-blue. I'd never seen a hat with a square veil before, and it worked marvellously well.)

#504 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 08:52 AM:

Oh, hey, yeah, I should have said: I'm around the NYC area for a while, in between jaunts to conventions and far-flung friends' houses. Anybody interested in a get-together? Patrick and Teresa and I were just remarking last night that we hadn't been to a certain local drinking establishment with an excellent mixologist for far too long. Maybe we could set up a rendezvous, if there's any interest.

#505 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 09:47 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 501... Sam Jaffe, who played Casey's mentor on the BEN CASEY medical drama

...and Professor Barnhardt on "The Day the Earth Stood Still".

#506 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 09:49 AM:

elise @ 503... I wouldn't mind seeing Amanda Pays as the Doctor. It wouldn't be the first time she played a scientist.

#507 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 10:15 AM:

Bruce Cohen @500: That just shows my point, though; that's a storyline set, not a season set. The BBC mostly seems to release their US old-Who sets around storylines, or particular bad guys (there are a couple different 'Dalek samplers', as it were), or some kind of theme that multiple episodes from several doctors appear to fit.

They have had no interest as of yet in releasing them either by year-of-original-airing, or 'everything we have from the Third Doctor in chronological order'/etc type sets.

#508 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 10:16 AM:

My vote for a female Doctor would be Terry Farrell—she played Jadzia Dax on Deep Space Nine.

#509 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 10:29 AM:

How about Claudia Black as the Doctor?
(Be still, my heart.)

#510 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 10:38 AM:

Serge @509:
How about Claudia Black as the Doctor?

Oh, now. Yes, that one.

Mira Furlan?

#511 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 10:42 AM:

abi... Mira Furlan? Yes!

#512 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 10:49 AM:

I've found a few shots of the Victorian steampunk female Doctor Whos:

Here's the whole set. (Tumblr belongs to the woman playing Doctor Ten.)

Not all of these are from that costuming group, but the Tardis is there in her blue gown, and several groups of the Doctors.

It was really, really impressive in person.

#513 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 10:55 AM:

Diana Rigg would make an excellent Doctor, I think.

This coming Saturday, July 28th, the Paley Center in NYC will be showing "Death to the Daleks" with Pertwee and Sarah Jane.

My teen and I went to last month's screening (Peter Davison and Daleks) but I'll be going to this one solo as she will be away. Haven't decided yet if I'm staying for the screening of The Canterville Ghost and the live interview with Sheldon Harnick that will follow.

Anyway, if anyone is interested, I'm always happy to have company.

#514 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 11:17 AM:

Another possibility for an American version of DOCTOR WHO: Dick Van Dyke

Hey, he even had to deal with an alien invasion on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW once.

#516 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 11:25 AM:

Normally, it's against my policy to walk my dog when strapping young men in bullet-proof police vests carrying assault rifles are exiting unmarked SUVs, but a dog's gotta go when a dog's gotta go, right?

One of the nice gentlemen putting away his gun told us that it was safe to walk the dog. Also, we called the non-emergency number to confirm that, yes, these were actual police. They were no longer around our apartment complex when I left this morning, but their vehicles still were. I wonder if I'll ever know what the hell was going on?

#517 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 11:26 AM:

Also, to back up my suggestion of Pee-Wee Herman as the Doctor, I remind people of this exchange from PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE:

Pee-wee: There's a lotta things about me you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand.

Dottie: I don't understand.

Pee-wee: You don't wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel. So long, Dott.

#518 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 12:12 PM:

Elliott Mason @ #507: That just shows my point, though; that's a storyline set, not a season set.

It's a storyline set and a season set. The storyline in question happens to be coextensive with the sixteenth season.

#519 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 12:16 PM:

And just one more about alternate Doctors:

Serge suggested Claudia Black for a female Doctor in #509.

I stumbled across a list of aliases used by the Doctor. One of the aliases used by the Sixth Doctor was...

...Claudius Dark.


#520 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 12:16 PM:

elise @ #512:

Having counted off the TARDIS and all eleven Doctors, there appears to be one lady left over. From the circular motif on her skirt, I'm wondering if she's a Dalek.

#521 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 12:16 PM:

Paul A @518: My point being, it is the only set that contains a whole season and nothing else ... and only because it is a single long storyline. Which means they're not choosing eps to group together because of seasonality (or even internal chronology), but because of topic, plotline, or theme, regardless of when-aired or which-doctor.

#522 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 12:33 PM:

Stephen Sample @499

I worked for the conservation department at my college...

That's a fairly common kind of damage. Here's what I would do:

1. Cut a piece of muslin about 1/2 an inch shorter than the book spine and wide enough to reach from the midpoint of the spine to about an inch past the edge of the board.

2. Gently loosen the end paper from the board and peel back. A table knife works well for this. Pull the end paper back about 2 inches.

3. Mix Elmer's School Glue (or similar) with enough water to make it possible to brush it onto the exposed board and the spine. You don't want it real watery, just thin enough to brush a thin layer on smoothly. Note: This is not acid free glue so if the book is valuable you'll want to get proper librarian's glue.

4. Apply glue to the exposed board and glue down the muslin being sure to get it smooth. Weight and allow to dry.

5. Apply glue to the spine and glue down muslin. Allow to dry with the cover open and a brick or another book putting pressure on the spine to ensure a good bond.

6. Re-glue the end paper and allow to dry open with a weight on the end paper.

7. Cut a small strip of regular 20# printer paper as long as the end paper and about 2 inches wide. Fold in half lengthwise, spread glue on the edge of the endpaper and the edge of the last sheet in the book. Place the paper hinge on the glue, smooth, weight and allow to dry.

It's a bunch of steps but that thinned glue dries fairly quickly and the repair is quite strong.


#523 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 12:44 PM:

Kyndra @522 - just to confirm: regular old cotton muslin from the fabric store?

#524 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 12:55 PM:

Paul A @520: Well spotted! She is indeed a Dalek.

#525 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 12:56 PM:

Naomi @523

Yes. I prefer unbleached but either will do.


#526 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 01:08 PM:

Kyndra @522:

That's a good explanation of the process!

If I were to add one teeny thing to it, it would be that it might be a good idea to protect the book block from moisture during step 7. Ordinary kitchen waxed paper slipped between the first and second (or second-to-last and last) pages of the book should do the trick.

#527 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 01:26 PM:

abi @526

I knew I was forgetting something! Yes, waxed paper is invaluable in book repair.


#528 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 01:31 PM:

Kyndra @527:
waxed paper is invaluable in book repair.

Yep. Which is why my husband, when he goes on a baking kick, usually ends up raiding my bindery for his emergency fallback waxed paper supplies.

He's got better at placating me with cookies and restocking my supply as well as his, but There Were Incidents...

#529 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 01:37 PM:

Singularly unfortunate timing for the "Broom Hilda" strip today.


#530 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 02:02 PM:

Kip @529: If I understand the process properly, the strips are submitted at LEAST a week in advance, and more usually at least two weeks in advance. The artist must be beside himself.

#531 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 02:19 PM:

Thought of another female Doctor candidate while cycling home: Carrie Fisher.

#532 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 02:48 PM:

Cassy, the editors of those sites should have had some kind of sense.

#533 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 03:05 PM:

After seeing Helen Mirren as Prospera in Julie Taymor's "The Tempest", I eagerly await her turn as the Doctor. Another actor who ought to do well is Amanda Tapping (what the hell, she's English and has spent a good part of her career playing an American, so she should get to choose which side of the pond she wants to play on).

#534 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 03:19 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @532: One would think that they could, at the very least, NOT RUN the cartoon that day, which a notice claiming "technical difficulties" or something. Or that the artist could scramble to provide an alternate cartoon -- or an alternate last panel -- although I honestly don't know the lead time required to get a cartoon print-ready from submission to running. If it were that day, or the next day, it would be an extremely unfortunate coincidence. But the artist (and the editors) have had not quite a week to say "oh-my-ghod-we-have-to-DO-something-about-this". Which is a longwinded way to say, I agree with you.

#535 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 03:32 PM:

Well, Tapping is mostly Canadian. But I love the idea of her as the Doctor!

#536 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 03:36 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @501: American DOCTOR WHO?

Whoopi Goldberg!

#537 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 05:30 PM:

Good grief! My fillos from the 70s ("What Is a Cinder Block? / Decorative!) are coming true!

#538 ::: Kip W, gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 05:31 PM:

For a BB link about cinder blocks.

#539 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 05:32 PM:

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Enver Gjokaj (Victor from Dollhouse) as a potential Doctor. His versatility would make a lot of sense for the Doctor.

#540 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 06:06 PM:

Tom Whitmore @539:

I, at least, was listing actresses whom I would like to see in the role. Gjokaj doesn't really make that list...

#541 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 07:04 PM:

Joanna Lumley played the Doctor in 1999.
Would her doing it again be absolutely fabulous?

#542 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 10:00 PM:

Kyndra and Abi: thanks! I think I've got that. Sort of.

In no particular order then:

  • In Step 5, is the spine I'm gluing the muslin to the cloth-and-paper piece that curves around between the cover boards, outside the page block, or the back of the page block itself?

    • If the muslin just reinforces that outside hinge, I see how to put that together and weight it down, but I don't see how it's helping strength-wise.

    • If the muslin attaches the board to the back of the page block (which a little Googling suggests is sometimes called the spine and sometimes called the backbone?), inside the cloth spine, I definitely see how i would strengthen things, but I'm not sure how the weighting-the-spine-down-with-the-cover-open is supposed to work.

      Does the other book just press up against the back of the outer spine, and the front-board-and-muslin then lie down, open, on top of that?

      Also, could you reverse Steps 4 and 5? It seems like it would be easier to glue the muslin to the page block, and then glue the cover board to the other half of the muslin, than the reverse.

  • Does the fiber content of the paper make a big difference to the strength of the hinge in Step 7? The book (Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder) is about 1.5 kg and 29x23x3cm (wider than it is tall), so the spine is pretty short for the weight.

    I'm happy to make my own hinge tape, but I wasn't sure whether I should try to find stronger rag paper of some kind, given the potentially higher stress on the short-edge hinge.

The book isn't particularly valuable, other than for sentimental reasons and being generally awesome. It's still in print and is less than $30.

But I'd like to be able to keep reading my copy for 40 years, so I don't want to make a repair that won't hold up to normal reading, or damage the book 20 years down the line.

#543 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2012, 10:05 PM:

Me @542: In case it helps with explanations, here is a picture of the book spine and the torn hinge

#544 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:49 AM:

#105 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom (sorry for the long delay):

I'd be wary about this myself. Anytime you're trying to negotiate based on monthly payment rather than price to someone who's paid a commission (as most mortgage brokers, car salespeople, etc. are), the person you're working with has strong incentive to work out an arrangement that optimizes for payment size/overall cost ratio, *not* for low cost and risk.
A lot of the mortgages in the bubble were like that. The quoted monthly payments were low, but the mortgages that went with them were variable rate, had temporarily discounted "teaser" terms, had very inflated closing costs (sometimes rolled into the principal to make them harder to notice), had negative equity terms (so you actually fell further behind in your debt every month), or had onerous balloon-payments or very sensitive penalty trip-wires that could easily blow up in your face a few years down the road. But they all enabled a broker to sell an expensive mortgage for what looked like a low monthly payment up front.
Oops. I should probably have specified that I always think in terms of fixed-rate mortgages, so the terms were set aside from the amount. I keep forgetting about the dicey stuff, since that was one of our first stipulations and thus not a continuing issue.

#545 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 01:24 AM:

American or other nontraditional Doctors Who (so to speak), past/present:

Ross Martin
Leonard Nimoy
Majel Barrett Roddenberry (especially in Lwaxana Troi mode)
John Noble
Paterson Joseph (the Marquis de Carabas in the original BBC Neverwhere
Hugo Weaving
Laurence Fishburne
Conchata Ferrell
Jada Pinkett-Smith
Gina Torres
Jodie Foster

In full agreement with suggestions of Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren, Terry Farrell, Claudia Black, Carrie Fisher and Whoopi Goldberg.

#546 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 01:29 AM:

Kip W @ 529/Xopher HalfTongue @ 532: Go Comics is not running that 'gunshots in a movie' strip, so it seems that some comics sites are paying more attention.

#547 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 06:00 AM:

janetl @ #546:

Though if you scroll down to the comments section, there's evidence that they were displaying the movie theatre strip at some point.

#548 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 09:49 AM:

Stephen @542

Just getting ready to do the children's homeschool lessons with them now, but I actually have a book with the same damage that I need to fix. I'll do that this afternoon and take some pictures of the process and post them...


#549 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 10:36 AM:

Anybody besides me think that Claudia Christian would make a great Doctor?

#550 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 11:38 AM:

An American actor I'd love to see as the Doctor...
Tommy Lee Jones

Let's watch the Master try to mess with *him*.

#551 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 11:47 AM:

Keanu Reeves?

Just say "Whoa!", or should that be Woe?

#552 ::: Whoa! Cadbury Moose has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 11:49 AM:

I have some cocoa-dusted truffles for the duty gnomes.

[The duty gnomes are pleased with your sacrifice. "Whoa!" (with the exclamation mark) is indeed a Word of Power. -- Maour DeGrowf, Duty Gnome]

#553 ::: Cadbury Moose has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 11:50 AM:

Twice! (I think I used the "W" word.)

#554 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:17 PM:

Twitter is down. Disgusted with myself that this actually bothers me.

#555 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:19 PM:

More seriously, I'm going through Farscape Rewatch withdrawal. I guess Scott K. Andrews must be on vacation.

#556 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:20 PM:

Mention of Dollhouse reminded me of Dichen Lachman, who I think would make a good Doctor or a good companion.

As for Hugo Weaving, I think he would be even better utilized as The Master, acting in deeply evil Agent Smith mode.

#557 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:25 PM:

Dichen Lachman as the Doctor with Enver Gjokaj as a Companion! That would be highly squeeworthy.

#558 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:26 PM:

Xopher @ 554:

The error message I'm getting from Twitter is mildly amusing: they don't seem to have coded an error message for this problem, whatever it is:

Twitter is currently down for <%= reason %>.

We expect to be back in <%= deadline %>. For more information, check out Twitter Status. Thanks for your patience!
#559 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:28 PM:

Yep, I got that too. But I linked to the message page, where they'll (I think) post the resolution when it occurs.

#560 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 12:28 PM:

Paul A. @547, I think GoComics is where I got the strip in the first place. It seems to still be up at Comic Strip Nation. (To tie it in with the Twitter reference, I found out about it from somebody's tweet.)

#561 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 01:55 PM:

Twitter is back, but there's no update on the status page as to what was wrong.

#562 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 01:59 PM:

Thank you Bruce. I had been updating that page as my way of checking! Won't make that mistake again.

#563 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 02:22 PM:

Xopher @ 554: if it makes you feel any better: I am not only irritated that this bothers me, but also oddly non-plussed that I can't find out what people are saying about the situation on Twitter...

#564 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 02:33 PM:

Dichen Lachman has actually appeared in the Doctor Who universe: to wit, in Torchwood: Miracle Day. I instantly recognized her distinctive appearance, but it took me a while to actually place her as one of the actors in Dollhouse.

#565 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 02:34 PM:

Huh. Just finished watching Milk, starting in on the Special Features, which include an interview with Frank Robinson. Watching, I'm thinking, "He looks familiar." Vaguely fannish association in my mind. Hop over to IMDB, call up the page for Milk, read, read, read, "Frank M. Robinson ... Himself." Frank M. Robinson. Wow. That name sure sounds familiar. Over to Google, thence to Wikipedia ... "is an American science fiction writer." Ah. Right. Google also provides his homepage. "Contact Mr. Robinson ... c/o TOR Books" *snort!*

Hee. "We're everywhere, for your convenience." ::grin::

#566 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 02:40 PM:

Bruce Cohen @556: Agent Smith

Which, by association, makes me think of Will Smith. (Can't you just see him with a Tom Baker-style scarf?)

#567 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 02:53 PM:

Stephen @542

Here's a link to the tutorial I posted on my blog this afternoon...hope it helps...K

#568 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 02:57 PM:

praisegod barebones @563: This time around, I managed to stop myself with a "Wait, that won't work" before actually typing up a "Twitter is down!" tweet and trying to post it. This time.

#569 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 03:22 PM:

Now they've updated the outage page. Well, I got retweeted by Brian Lehrer and found an old acquaintance. Not a total loss.

#570 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 03:33 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Albuquerque man to have dinner with lady from the North Pole. Well, Tania Clucas, who used to hang out here, does live in the town of North Pole, Alaska.

#571 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 04:11 PM:

Xopher @557 -- squeeing with you!

Jacque @565 -- I made myself obnoxious with Karen by calling Frank after we got out of Milk because it was So Cool seeing him on the big screen. It didn't help that his number is one of those I only had in brain-memory....

Amusingly, they made him get a SAG card because a few of his ad-libs were almost good enough to get into the final film. When we're in the same place, have me tell you the story of Sean Penn tossing him a question in character on film.... Or better yet, ask him if you see him.

#572 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 06:37 PM:

Kendra @567: that does indeed help. I'll pick up some library glue and we'll do bookbinding (well, repair) as a school project next week.


#573 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 07:01 PM:

Tom Whitmore @571: I will do both, because it's bound to be a good story.

#574 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 08:18 PM:

Xopher @554, wow, it's been a while.

I can remember the days when Twitter went down so often that someone built where you could check (just in case you thought you might be having local trouble getting through), and Twitter got popular enough that when it went down, IsTwitterDown got taken down by the volume of people checking, and someone else started

(More generally useful versions of the same concept: and Though the latter is claiming that Twitter is down right now, which it doesn't seem to be. Still, it's got pretty graphs.)

#575 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 08:20 PM:

HLN: Area woman gets notice of once favorite musical group* going on tour. Area woman considers when she last saw said group**.

Area woman realizes she is officially old.

* New Order
** as a teenager, in '92 or '93.

#576 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 09:47 PM:

czedwards @575 -- they've been touring in the US for a while. I'm personally bummed because Chumbawamba have called it quits before I ever got the chance to see them live. This is a band which did songs about Darwin, eBay and the Iraq war, homophobia, Ian Ballantine's great aunt Emma Goldman, a comparison of Molotov and Linux, Edison's contribution to rap music and more. All while maintaining a real love of music. In their own way, they're incredibly important. If I were to start a band, I'd do covers of their works.

And I hope the gnomes enjoy listening to the songs I've linked to.

Steer a course for a brave new world of common sense and wonder!

#577 ::: Tom Whitmore brings the gnomes songs ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 09:50 PM:

An expected gnoming, with multiple links to some great songs.

#578 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 10:20 PM:

Local man sees someone who was a teenager in the early 90s claiming to be old, laughs bitterly.

#579 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 11:08 PM:

CZEdwards, #575: One of my friends and I are making plans to go see Three Dog Night at one of the casinos in Louisiana. The last time I saw them was at the TN State Fair my freshman year of college, which would have been 1973. You think you feel old? :-)

#580 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 11:21 PM:

We saw Jethro Tull one time, at the GTE Amphitheater in Virginia Beach (around 2000). They gave a great show, with more new stuff than old, and for the encore they delivered a beautifully straight, cornball rendition of "What a Wonderful World." I would love like hell to have a recording of that.

#581 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2012, 11:56 PM:

I went to a Beatles concert, in 1966. You think you feel old? [*snerk* if you kids are going to be on the lawn, at least dance!]

#582 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 12:50 AM:

P J Evans @580:

Where's Don Fitch when one needs him?

(Saw the Beatles in '65. Saw Pete Seeger when he still had a voice. Whippersnappers!)

#583 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 12:52 AM:

P J Evans 580: Same year, Rolling Stones.

Hell no, I don't feel old.

#584 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 01:02 AM:

Uh, I sang backup for Kenny Loggins when he opened for the Dalai Lama at the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993. Does that count? Arlo Guthrie was there too, but I just rode an elevator with him.

I was in Michigan, and a classical music freak, until 1982 (of course I was a classical music freak longer than that). So no pop musicians really. Oh, I met Stevie Wonder, but that was because he was visiting an old classmate of his from the Michigan School for the Blind, who was a coworker of mine at the time. That would have been...1977? 78?

Sometime around then I met Krzystof Penderecki backstage after a concert he conducted with the Detroit Symphony.

#585 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 01:34 AM:

I guess I'm just a young sprout, having seen the Pink Floyd Atom Heart Mother tour at one of the 4 shows in the US with a full, live chorus. That would be 1969, at the Fillmore in SF. Oh, and Crosby Stills Nash and Young at some protest marches in SF in 1969 or so (where my mother also marched against the war, which was in Vietnam back then). The kids didn't stay off the lawn at those protests.

And did I tell you about Leonard Cohen telling people to join him on the stage at the Berkeley Community Theater, which I did?

#586 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 02:19 AM:

Saw Jefferson Airplane at an arena in San Diego in 1972. The audience wanted them to play "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love" but they wanted to play new material and did. Crowd somewhat displeased.

Saw CSN with Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Jimmy Buffett when they did a benefit for victims of Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

#587 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 02:55 AM:

We've been talking about Dr. Who casting.

Mary Tamm has died. She played the original Romana in the "Key to Time" season.

#588 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 05:30 AM:

CZEdwards @575: as a teenager, in '92 or '93.... Area woman realizes she is officially old.

Um ... no.

"But I'm older than I've ever been before in my life!"

Er, well, okay, point.

#589 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 05:35 AM:

Xopher HalfTongue @584: Okay, now you're just showing off.   :)

#590 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 05:49 AM:

And meanwhile, the racoon kids have gotten stuck in the dumpster again. Trash truck came yesterday morning; they can damn well get themselves out this time.

#591 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 07:14 AM:

Tom Whitmore @576 I saw Chumbawamba in 94 or 95*, at the Brixton Academy if memory serves me correctly. The stage was filled with people, instruments and less traditional sound making equipment. Also a big mirror. Special guests kept turning up, most of whom I'd actually heard of. I have a feeling that the singing of the encore of Timebomb was done by an Elvis impersonator, but that could be a trick of memory. (Perhaps not, this is probably that version)

* During the 9 months or so of my life when I was cool.

#592 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 08:04 AM:

I was thinking that he could out-old all of us.

#593 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 08:24 AM:

My concert-going is an odd mix. I have fairly pop taste in music.

With my mother, I saw Frank Sinatra in 1977 at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. A year or so before that, a high school friend and I had gone to see Barry Manilow at the small theater at Madison Square Garden.

In college, I saw Al Stewart (The Year of the Cat tour) in the college's gym.

A year or so later, I saw the Eurythmics on a barge in the Hudson River.

Saw The Moody Blues at Radio City Music Hall and Yes at Madison Square Garden (the big stage that time).

Interspersed with all this were assorted classical performances.

Then nothing for decades, until I took my teen to see Lady Gaga when she did a morning appearance on Good Morning America.

This list really shows that I prefer the theater, lol!

#594 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 10:07 AM:

1969: Petula Clark at the Ohio State Fair, when admission to the concerts was free.

And I met Mohammed Ali in an elevator at Rivercon in 1975. He was being charmed by Sally's lab rat, Melissa.

#595 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 10:08 AM:

Comparing personal histories of concert-going can be fun: surprising divergences and unexpected commonalities can both be enjoyable. There's also the possibility of vicarious enjoyment, or whatever the term for it should be: while I felt sharply wistful when Mike told me about seeing Alan Rickman as Valmont in Les Liasons Dangereuses, the sharpness was soothed by the delight of getting to hear him tell me about it.

#596 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 10:16 AM:

My first concert was Simon & Garfunkel in Nebraska in 1968. I also heard Pete Seeger when he still had a voice (which ran out, so he whistled until that ran out, then played his banjo, and finally sang a little bit again). John Denver, post Mitchell Trio, did a gig at our college (for which I helped run lighting) and came to a party at my sister-in-law-to-be's place. He was interesting to talk with. His backup guys could only crab that they wanted beer (which we hadn't thought to provide, and by then the store was closed*) and troll unsuccessfully for feminine company.

Hang on while I look for my cane. Why was I looking for my cane?

* it really was a small town

#597 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 10:29 AM:

I must admit that my first concert was the Bee Gees, at some point in the early to mid 70s, at Constitution Hall.

I think I've told this story here before, but I heard (not saw) Bruce Springsteen in the mid-70s when he performed at Virginia Tech. I didn't attend the concert, but I was working on a project at the computer center located essentially beneath the stage, and I heard it quite well.

And I saw Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof at the Kennedy Center, also in the mid-70s.

And Joan Baez on a riverboat in New Orleans, probably in the late 70s.

#598 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 10:48 AM:

I think it was 1962 (could have been 1963) when I first heard Pete Seeger play live: it was at an Easter march in New York organized by SANE -- Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. Seeger came weaving through the crowd with his twelve string guitar and started to lead us all in song. It was my first political action; I was still in high school. (I've always been proud of my parents, who were philosophically liberal but never active, for making no objection when I told them I wanted to march.)

He's one of my heroes.

#599 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 11:13 AM:

elise @595: I saw that production of Liaisons too; it was amazing, even from the very last row. I've seen Rickman 3 times on stage and it's always been amazing. Liaisons (with friends), Private Lives (with my mom), and Seminar (with my daughter).

Someone asked me the other day if I remembered the first Broadway show I'd ever seen. I said I couldn't tell you in what order I saw them, but my first three shows (all seen in 1971-2) were Paul Sills' Story Theater (with Paul Sand), Two by Two (with Danny Kaye), and 1776.

I am well aware that I have been quite privileged when it comes to theater because of where I live, some decent luck over the years, and getting an early start thanks to my parents; it sounds like bragging when I talk about it, so I mostly don't.

#600 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 11:16 AM:

Double take while scanning the "recent comments" list. Jacque sees SP*M on The Internet, finder of lost things struck me as amusing, as my eye skipped the clause after the comma. "There's SP*M on the internet" is right up there with "Someone is wrong on the internet."

#601 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 02:03 PM:

The only stage play I recall seeing was Vincent Price playing Oscar Wilde in DIVERSIONS and DELIGHTS.

Our friend Jan Lockett was in the chorus of the Tucson Opera Company. (Or was that Arizona Opera Company? It was quite some years ago.) So we got free tickets courtesy of her to several of the Phoenix performances; MADAME BUTTERFLY and Verdi's MACBETH.

Speaking of Vincent Price... at work, when the night shifts get really boring and hard to stay awake for, I'm allowed to listen to radio as long as I'm only using one earbud. Lately, I've been using InTuneRadio to listen to some of the old-time-radio stations. Which included Vincent Price as THE SAINT, which he portrayed well.

The best old-radio show I've heard has been GUNSMOKE; decent writing and William Conrad leading a capable cast.

I've been less impressed by the old radio sitcoms. I remember seeing some of the old television episodes of THE LIFE OF RILEY as a kid, but I don't remember William Bendix playing Chester Riley as totally moronic as the radio version does.

#602 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 02:05 PM:

The only stage play I recall seeing was Vincent Price playing Oscar Wilde in DIVERSIONS and DELIGHTS.

Our friend Jan Lockett was in the chorus of the Tucson Opera Company. (Or was that Arizona Opera Company? It was quite some years ago.) So we got free tickets courtesy of her to several of the Phoenix performances; MADAME BUTTERFLY and Verdi's MACBETH.

Speaking of Vincent Price... at work, when the night shifts get really boring and hard to stay awake for, I'm allowed to listen to radio as long as I'm only using one earbud. Lately, I've been using InTuneRadio to listen to some of the old-time-radio stations. Which included Vincent Price as THE SAINT, which he portrayed well.

The best old-radio show I've heard has been GUNSMOKE; decent writing and William Conrad leading a capable cast.

I've been less impressed by the old radio sitcoms. I remember seeing some of the old television episodes of THE LIFE OF RILEY as a kid, but I don't remember William Bendix playing Chester Riley as totally moronic as the radio version does.

#603 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 03:12 PM:

Hmm, talk of stage plays and The Internet, finder of lost things somehow reminded me of a play my parents took me to when I was a teenager (I have unusual and wonderful parents!). This was in the late 1970s or very early 1980s, at McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ. I think Mariette Hartley played one of the leads, though I'm not 100% certain about that part (I remember thinking it was an odd role for "the Polaroid lady"). It was a comedy. The title was "Section 9", about a secret division of the CIA that trained agents to be homosexual. The trainees' mission was to retrieve a secret formula that a mad scientist had tattooed on his penis before he both went rogue and came out of the closet. Most of the 2nd half of the play was set in a Turkish bath, with lots of slapstick, madcap chases, mistaken identity, and several bits of physical comedy involving a CIA flunkey wearing a radio-telephone under his towel, with a 2 foot long telescoping antenna.

I sometimes wonder whether I actually saw it, or if it was all a dream. I've never been able to find any further information about it.

#604 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 04:11 PM:

Yay! "abi is on the case and doesn't need more spam notifications." Whew. That was grueling.

Thank GODS for abi and the others.

#605 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 04:12 PM:

Annnnnd resetting my name to its non-spam setting.

#606 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 04:13 PM:

Xopher @604: Indeed. I've modded forums, but never have had to fumigate like Abi and Jim and the hardworking gnomes do.

#607 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 04:18 PM:

Just so y'all know -- I will be unpublishing the spam notifications as well.

#608 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 04:34 PM:

Good. I only put anything in the text space because it won't post otherwise; my spam notifications are by design disposable unless I say something clever—which I never do during an onslaught like this one.

#609 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 04:44 PM:

Abi @607: Here's a question; if there are a host of identical spams, obviously a large-scale attack... after the first few of each type are identified, do you need additional spam reports to aid in cleanup? Or do they just clutter the board further?

(I'm talking about spams which cut-and-paste the exact same phrase in dozens of separate posts, as per this last attack, which had (if I counted correctly) only four different texts.)

#610 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 04:46 PM:

Addendum: what Xopher said goes for me, too; I have no personal attachment to my spam reports.

#611 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 04:52 PM:

Cassy B @610:

After the first few, it's probably not worth flagging further. Jim and I both do regular scans of the last-1000 comments for the word "spam" (thus not "potted meat product" or the like); we'll catch 'em.

There were a total of six message texts, from eight usernames. Furthermore, a survey of the internet says this spam set does not use word-variants.

So, among waves (and it's still ongoing, by the way), a relatively easy one to block.

#612 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 05:02 PM:

Melissa Singer @599: OMG Danny Kaye. ::sigh:: Was that the performance where he broke his leg during the run, and had to do the latter half with a cast and crutches?

He was always on my People I Wanna Have Lunch With list. Did you ever see his performance directing the (I think) NY Phil for the Retired Musicians Fund (that aired—I think—during the '70s), or something like that. First time I've ever experienced something being too funny. I was completely exhausted by intermission.

OtterB @600: Jacque sees SP*M on The Internet"

"Can you maybe be a leetle bit more specific?"  :)

abi: Likewise me with disposable spam reports.

#613 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 05:20 PM:

Sometimes, the spam reports (particularly ones in rhymed verse) are things of beauty and joys forever.

The gnomes are going to have some nice fudge now, I think. Yes, fudge. And root beer. (Scones are all very well, but not all-the-time-every-day.)

#614 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 05:40 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @601, AOL on Gunsmoke! I've been listening to them pretty frequently, averaging one per day. The half-hour length is perfect for listening while I do my stretches.

Radio comedy is hard to find. I have Bob & Ray, and Goon Show, and I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, all of which I paid a nominal sum for at OTRCAT. This was before I found and all the free stuff. They have Henry Morgan over at archive as well, and CBS radio projects — the drama's good, the humor's so arch as to be painful. The best half hour is the adaptation of "The Little Prince," narrated by Raymond Burr, starring Richard Beals, with a cast that includes Hans Conried.

Radio philosophy is another thing. The Shep Archives have thousands of hours of Jean Shepherd programs in mp3. I don't know if they're as easy to locate and download now. At one time, I spent a number of nights downloading every single show they had. They've no doubt added some, but it would take searching to figure out which ones.

Jacque @612: You're probably better off with your mental image of Danny Kaye. People who have reason to know, and who wouldn't make this up say that he was hell to work with and (how shall I put this?) not a nice person offstage.

#615 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 05:47 PM:

Would the gnomes like this bit of blueberry ice cream? I think I can get more at the Greenmarket tomorrow morning.

#616 ::: Primrose Sherburne Novakoski, Duty Gnome ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 05:59 PM:

Blueberry ice cream! Fudge! Root beer!

Sounds of contentment echo between the glass and the steel.

#617 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 06:29 PM:

We're about half-way through the parading of the the Olympic teams, and the BBC commentator knew that there was a place called Bikini in the Marshall Islands, but didn't know if it was connected to swimsuits.

#618 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 06:37 PM:

Dave Bell @617: Oh, dear. Did s/he at least know it was connected to H-bomb tests?

#619 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 07:02 PM:

Jacque @612: That was indeed the show where he broke his leg. I _think_ we saw it _before_ but I'm not sure; all the clips I've seen of the performance are from after and they have muzzled my memories.

I am pretty sure that I have seen every Kaye film and tv performance at least once. He was one of my early gods. And I have a copy of this:

And I claimed my father's set of Danny Kaye 45s when dad died.

#620 ::: Orino Drongle, Duty Gnome ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 08:36 PM:

The Spamming Men

Doctah Dre -- headphone

Viagra for the Old Guy


We are the spamming men
We are the SEO men
Posting to web logs
Comments without sense. Alas!
Our random verbiage when
We advert designer togs
And tungsten rings for less
With all-directory access
Or pictures of a MILF’s ass
Such are our jobs.

Offer without need, words without grammar,
Punctuation off, link without syntax;

Those who have read,
With their own eyes, dozens of web logs
Know us -- instantly -- not as real
Commenters, but only
As the spamming men
The SEO men.


Bots that post a well-worn phrase
Out in the web logs
These do not appear:
Cialis in generic form
All now are filtered.
Suitcase by Louis Vuitton
While Nike shoes inform
And this norm
Is the Net's gluten
More stickily off-kiltered
As to discourse harm..

Let me post again
Out in the web logs
Also let me use
Such phony-sounding names as
Ball mill, cone crush, xbm,
In the block
Where user names should go
No, really --

Not going to get posted
Out in the web logs.


This is the Wordpress
This is the Blogger
Here the comment threads
Are open, here they receive
The adverts from a random bot
So we do our harm.

Can we remain
Out in the web logs
Posting all night
When the mods mostly are
Seeking the sense to form
Filters of great cunningness?
We never doing less
Send reams of pixel blight


The sense is not here
There is no sense
As we do our harm
Spam is our doing.
This sour breath of web logs

In the last non-capcha'd threads
We bot-swarm the web logs
And avoid sense
As we squeeze out the last juice from Google.

Mindless, unless
A.I. appears
To the Net's great harm
Recombinant phrase
Out in the web logs
The job only
Of spamming men.


We’ll flood threads at Making Light
Making Light Making Light
We’ll flood threads at Making Light
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And implementation
Between the DARPA
And the webzine
Fall green-card lawyers

For Thine is the Scrapebox

Between the question
And the answer
Between the Kodak
And the webcam
Fall green-card lawyers

Life is far too short

Between the search
And the finding
Between the keypress
And the printout
Between the joke
And the punchline
Fall green-card lawyers

For Thine is the Scrapebox

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the weblog ends
This is the way the weblog ends
This is the way the weblog ends
Not with a sigh but a spam flood.

#621 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 08:49 PM:

My parents had tickets to the San Francisco Civic Light Opera for ten or twelve years - long enough that they had front row balcony seats. I got to see 'Little Me' with Sid Caesar.

#622 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 09:24 PM:

Orino Drongle, Duty Gnome @620: Applause! (And a dish of Chocolate Moose Tracks ice cream. I'd offer a plum to go with it, but they all seem to have vanished mysteriously.)

#623 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 09:37 PM:

Jacque @612: OMG Danny Kaye [..] He was always on my People I Wanna Have Lunch With list.

Mark Evanier, as much a fan as you as he tells it, also says that people who worked with Kaye don't seem to have liked him much. A telling quote from Vincent Price: "Yes, it amuses me how many people thought I was like the monster in the Edgar Allan Poe movies and thought Danny Kaye was a nice man."

The link is titled 'Today's Video Link' (originally posted 11/07/2010) and in addition to Evanier's story had a link to an episode of The Danny Kaye Show which had run on CBS; but the story is amended with the note that the video is no longer available. Still an interesting read — apparently The Danny Kaye Show was the immediate predecessor to The Carol Burnett Show.

#624 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 09:53 PM:

Rob @623: I'd heard that too, about Kaye. Also he apparently tried to have sex with everyone he met, male or female.

Not the first person whose work I like who isn't necessarily a nice person.

#625 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2012, 10:19 PM:

O gnomes: there is homemade ginger-peach ice cream and frozen figs, as well.

#626 ::: Raul Flugens, Duty Gnome ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 12:03 AM:

New spam wave.

On it.

Raul Flugens, Duty Gnome

#627 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 01:12 AM:

I have now seen the Olympic opening ceremonies through the Ps in the Parade of Nations (the kid melted down and we had to leave the house of our Friend With Cable); the commentators universally mispronounced country names (Cape VURD, luh-SOW-thow, far too many others to remember), and often didn't know howlingly obvious things about the countries. They'd clearly been fed cue-cards with interesting tips about certain athletes, though, so it wasn't a complete and total loss.

My favorite bit to this point (and I am SO DISAPPOINTED we didn't get to stay to see the (rot13ed) cnenpuhgvat Dhrra-jvgu-Wnzrf-Obaq fxvg I was told to expect by NPR) has got to be Rowan Atkinson's bit.

We fast-forwarded a lot of the Frankie-and-June thing, because the person owning the house I was sitting in found it stroboscopic enough to be painful a lot of the time, and thought about 60% of the music played throughout was "horrible and noisy". I don't know that I disagree. The bed-ballet with the children in the first bit was lovely, though, and we really liked watching Beckham cvybg gur gbepu-fcrrqobng haqre gur oevqtr jvgu gur sverjbexf.

#628 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 01:14 AM:

Hyperlocal news... On the first day of his 18th year working for the same outfit, man receives promotion from new boss. Man keeps in mind that with great power comes great responsibility, and promises not to make his minions KNEEL before him! Really, he won't.

#629 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 01:32 AM:

Cassie B. @618

The swimsuit was named in 1946, immediately after the A-bomb tests. Apparently there was an earlier one-piece called the "atome" and the two-piece bikini "split the atom".

#630 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 01:34 AM:

Melissa Singer @ 624:

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about Danny Kaye, and he said pretty much the same thing, that Kaye was egotistical, a perfectionist, and extremely hard to work with, and that he was sexually voracious. My friend has been a professional musician for a long time and heard this from a colleague who had worked with Kaye several times.

And yet he was an amazing performer and a great comedian with a sense of timing that has rarely been equaled.

Re: theater and concerts. The first formal concert I ever saw was Pete Seeger, around 1963, though I saw a lot of folk musicians perform at demonstrations and marches throughout the early '60s. I really didn't get into rock until later; I think the first rock group I saw live was the Grateful Dead playing in a club in Philadelphia in 1968 to an audience of a couple of hundred people. I'm not sure about the first play I saw; I think it was "Advise and Consent", sometime around 1961 or '62, or it may have been Hal Holbrook doing his Mark Twain one man show, around the same time.

#631 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 02:27 AM:

Dabe B., #629: The version I heard was that the bikini was supposed to have had much the same effect on the men who saw a woman wearing one that the bomb test did on the island.

Tangent: One of the best things about living in current times is that there is no One True Way about hemlines any more. Women who want to wear miniskirts can find them, but I can also find my preferred mid-calf length, and anything in between. I think this development pretty much traces back to the Maxiskirt Fail in the early 70s, when women who had dutifully been hemming their skirts shorter and shorter looked at the designers' decision to force them to discard their entire wardrobe and said not just no but HELL no. Like many other things, that first step was the hardest, and after that... well, it got easier to stay independent.

#632 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 02:28 AM:

Agh, the ohnosecond! That's Dave @629, sorry!

#633 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 02:52 AM:

Lee @ 631: Men's hair length seems to have been freed from rules, somewhat, too.

#634 ::: lexicat ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 05:25 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 627

The rot13'd bit was quite amusing, but my family and I thought Rowan Atkinson's bit was much better - we laughed all through it. Some parts of the Opening Ceremony I found to be rather boring, and I was disappointed that they didn't show the whole parade of nations (probably because it was a replay - the live broadcast was at 5.30am here in Australia) which I thought was disrespectful.

#635 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 09:05 AM:

Elliot @627: the rot-13'd bit you missed was before the Parade of Nations. I found a piece of it on YouTube (I'm not sure how to embed links, so I'll just paste it; sorry, gnomes!)

There's a bit where Obaq zrrgf gur Dhrra which happens before this video clip starts, but the only video I found which had it had subtitles in a language I don't recognize and was dubbed with dialogue that didn't happen.... The actual dialogue was (if memory serves) Obaq fnlvat fbzrguvat yvxr "Vg'f gvzr, lbhe Znwrfgl." V qba'g erpnyy gur Dhrra fnlvat nalguvat ng nyy.

#636 ::: Cassy B. has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 09:06 AM:

My first gnoming! (I shouldn't have copy-pasted a YouTube video, I suppose....)

[One of the filters for last night's heavy machinery spam run caught you. I'll rejig it. — Idumea Abbeville Cheves, Duty Gnome]

#637 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 09:09 AM:

Lexicat @634: My husband groaned when he heard the words "Chariots of Fire" and made comments about the London Symphony Orchestra being demeaned by having to play it... and then Atkinson started his bit. Gotta love the British sense of humor. (My husband did wish they'd had room in the program for a Monty Python reference...)

#638 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 10:20 AM:

#635 Cassie B.

And all for naught! Already, an hour later, "This video has been removed by the user."

#639 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 11:04 AM:

There are a number of other versions of that video up if you search by opening ceremonies and the character(s) in question.

#640 ::: Cassy B. has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 11:05 AM:

I used the keywords "olympics bond queen" in my video search. (sans quote marks, of course.) Someone else may put something up briefly before the Omnipotent NBC Legal Board pulls it down again....

Be aware there is little or no dialogue; any links with dialogue past what was rot13'd in my post above have been dubbed.


#641 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 11:07 AM:

ACK! Not gnomed. My apologies. The name field didn't reset. So sorry.

#642 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 11:43 AM:

Serge at 628: Congratulations!

#643 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 11:59 AM:

Cassy B. @640 and thereabouts.

While that video might be restricted to UK-only by the BBC, one place on the BBC Website where it can be seen is here. That's a piece about how it was made, as well as the video itself.

Video title is "Happy & Glorious", but that doesn't work well for searches. There doesn't appear to be an official version on YouTube.

No Corgi was harmed during the making of the video.

#644 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 12:30 PM:

Lizzy L @ 642... Thanks!

#645 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 02:26 PM:

Lee @631: Maxiskirt Fail in the early 70s

Granted, I wasn't all that plugged into mainstream culture back then (though I was, ironically, at my most fashionably compliant), but my recollection was that mini/maxi broke down into roughly two cultural camps: mini was mainstream and maxi tended to be hippie/counterculture.

But I'm right there with you about the current hemline agnosticism. Likewise hairlength and style, both for men and women. One wonders if we've left those cultural mandates behind for good?

Dave Bell @643: Oh, how deeply lame. Every single Google hit for the Bond/QEII vid produces the Skyfall trailer.

Dear IOC,


Just sayin'


#646 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 02:51 PM:

Rob Rusick @623: I went back and re-read the piece by Evanier, and he's right. Kaye would have probably been an awesome Willy Wonka. I don't like a lot of his output, and I love the job Wilder did ("Well! Two naughty, nasty children gone! Three good, kind children left!"), but Kaye's large set of talents would have fit the part frighteningly well.

#647 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 05:20 PM:

Haven't seen it yet but the NBC deletion of the 7/7 memorial piece makes me think this one is going to be another "If it isn't a USA thing we won't show it" special. And announcers making jokes because they don't know who Tim-Berners Lee is has got to be a new example of lame.

#648 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 05:45 PM:

General Zod #628: Congratulations!

#649 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 05:56 PM:

Bruce E Durocher II @647:

I, personally, want to see if Bob Costas had anything to do with NBC's decision not to show the 7/7 bit. Costas has been publicly pissed as all get out over the IOC's decision not to have a minute of silence to remember the Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists at the Munich Olympics 40 years ago (including mentioning it when Israel marched in during the Parade of Nations). I could see him arguing against showing the 7/7 memorial on the grounds that it's not right to honor one set of victims while ignoring another. However, I have absolutely no foundation for this supposition.

#650 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 05:59 PM:

AKICIML: OK, one of the stupider the-world-is-ending-in-2012 theories I've heard goes like this:

On December 21st, there will be a huge coronal mass ejection from the sun. It will take 12 minutes to get here, and it will [fry us all, destroy all technology, be the devil, can't remember exactly what].
The reason I can't remember what they said it would do is that I caught my intellect on the idea of something getting from the Sun to the Earth in 12 minutes.

Is it really possible? The Sun is ~8 light-minutes away, so light gets there in about that time. For the CME to get here in 12 minutes, it would have to be moving at ~67% of c.

So my question is this: does anything move at 67% of c? A lot of things move AT c; most other things move a lot slower. How fast does a CME travel?

#651 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 06:48 PM:


Charged particles ejected by the sun, as opposed to actual sunlight, would travel fairly fast, but slower than light.

12 minutes is an awfully specific figure, but that is less silly than the notion of predicting the exact month, much less day, of a CME that would specifically hit Earth.

There is a whole budding "prepper" submovement whose disaster-of-choice is an infrastructure-frying-CME. Others are worried about the Yellowstone Supervolcano. Others, Ebola or the Avian Flu.

#652 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 06:55 PM:

Best estimate I can find has the plasma peaking at 1,000,000 m/s. That's about 1/300c so around 40 hours to hit the Earth.
But presumably a satanic cme has added oomph?

#653 ::: General Zod ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 07:47 PM:

Fragano @ 648... I plan to rule in a benevolent manner that will not cause stress to knees.

#654 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 08:07 PM:

Dinosaur sodomy, apparently. SFW, unless you fall off your chair.

#655 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 08:08 PM:

The Wikipedia article suggests that the term CME refers not solely to the plasma mass but also to the burst of cosmic rays which is emitted at the same time. I think that 2/3 c is about right for that, although the idea of predicting a precise number is silly. A quick skim through Wikipedia turns up that solar energetic particles can travel at as much as 4/5 c, and that a solar flare on Jan. 20, 2005 released a storm of protons at 1/3 c.

#656 ::: Tracie is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 08:10 PM:

Fried chicken, guys? Really good southern fried chicken, with potato salad and corn on the side.

#657 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 08:28 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @601

May I recommend Crime Classics? Remarkably snarky for the 1950s crime reenactments. You can find them here:

for single episodes, or here

for a zip file of all of them.

#658 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 09:28 PM:

Stefan 651: There is a whole budding "prepper" submovement whose disaster-of-choice is an infrastructure-frying-CME.

Yep! Those are the ones we were laughing at last night!

Thanks, Stefan, Andy, DavidS, for the answers.

#659 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 09:29 PM:

I didn't watch the Olympic opening ceremonies (not sure if I even could've), but I enjoyed Warren Ellis's comments on Twitter:

"Points to Danny Boyle for a genuinely creepy start to the opening ceremony. It's all some kind of hideous fucking Summoning [...] I will pay serious money for it to end with Ken Branagh inside the Wicker Man. [...] The Queen has summoned the armed forces and is announcing that everyone in the stadium must die to activate the hidden gods of Albion. [...] Am holding out for the final part, where the Tardis appears in a five-ring halo of purifying flame and John Barrowman has sex with everybody"

#660 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 09:49 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 651 writes:

"Others are worried about the Yellowstone Supervolcano. Others, Ebola or the Avian Flu."

For a moment I read that as "Others are worried about the Yellowstone Supervolcano, Otters, Ebola or the Avian Flu."

Then my imagination started wondering what an Otter Apocalypse would be like. Though apparently others have too.

#661 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 09:52 PM:

Next time there's something where John Barrowman has sex with everybody, I hope I hear about it in time to be on site.

#662 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 09:59 PM:

I'm old enough that when I saw Kenny Rogers in concert, he sang some acid rock. ("I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.")

#663 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 10:35 PM:

Xopher, if you get advance notice, tweet it at me? That is high on the list of Things I'd Like To See, no question.

#664 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2012, 10:39 PM:

Avram: that sounds better than the opening ceremonies I actually saw . . . .

ditto on John Barrowman (who seems to be about 12, internally, which I just find wonderful--so nice to see someone enjoying his life)

Do we all know that the BBC coverage was opened by Benedict Cumberbatch? My teen, and apparently a large part of tumblr, exploded in delight as a result.

#665 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 12:10 AM:

The complete Bond and the Queen thing appears to be available here:

How long it remains up shall be seen.

#666 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 01:07 AM:

Oh, that's adorable. The corgis: "We haz a ROYAL Qte."

(HRM really bears a frightening resemblance to my mother.)

#667 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 06:47 AM:

Opening ceremony subthread:

It felt almost as though the NHS bit of the opening ceremony was evidence that Danny Boyle had been chosen, (retroactively of course) as a way of saying f(u) to Mitt Romney. (An Anglo-Saxon messenger showing a bit of Anglo-Saxon attitude?)

#668 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 06:56 AM:

Opening ceremony subthread:

It felt almost as though the NHS bit of the opening ceremony was evidence that Danny Boyle had been chosen, (retroactively of course) as a way of saying f(u) to Mitt Romney. (An Anglo-Saxon messenger showing a bit of Anglo-Saxon attitude?)

#669 ::: praisegod barebones caught by gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 06:59 AM:

Fresh cherries and newlypicked hazelnuts?

#670 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 07:10 AM:

Useful coinages from my twitter-feed: i'Postrophe: a superfluous apostrophe inserted into a word by an Apple device.

iPastrophe (h/t Xopher Halftongue): a disaster caused by Apple's auto-correct

#671 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 09:42 AM:

Tracie #654: I damn' near did fall off my chair. Personally, I blame George Takei. He took the Enterprise too close to the wrong asteroid during one of those trips back in time.

#672 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 09:47 AM:

I will not comment on BoingBoing comment threads, I will not comment on BoingBoing comment threads, I will not comment on BoingBoing comment threads, I will not comment on BoingBoing comment threads!!!


There is a news item there about a writer who has been told by Apple that her marketing guide cannot be published by Apple because it mentions Amazon. One commenter has come out with this beauty: "All I read is that she is trying to profit from the known annoying process of apple submissions. Bots find links, reject app telling her of links, she resubmits and people find extra banned content and reject it. She gets pissed and pulls all her work from the Apple store. What's that going to do? Make Apple think twice? No it's going to give her a story to pitch, which features her work." And how does one write a useful marketing guide to e-books without mentioning what is arguably the largest market on the planet? Do tell, I'm dying to know.

If I got an account over there, I'd have to get a shirt made that the gnomes wouldn't like: it would start with "w" three times, followed by a period, then xkcd, then another period, then the domain com, then a slash, then the number 386 followed by another slash. And this would not be good--I have to sleep sometime.

#673 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 09:50 AM:

Avram #659: The opening ceremony was a paean to multicultural Britain (even the opening Green & Pleasant village scene had black and Asian participants). That's my country.

Praisegod Barebones #667: Boyle's, ahem, Irish. About as Anglo-Saxon as I am (and my surname's Middle English).

#674 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 10:37 AM:

This article manages to be disturbing on about three levels at once. Untraceable money in politics, targeted ads based on God knows how much bought and sold and leaked information about you, potentially targeting ads based on tracking what you read online. Yuck.

#675 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 11:33 AM:

Lizzy L... Fragano... After it became official that our team would be divided into three subteams, one of them headed by yours truly, one of our contractors paid me a great compliment - she expressed great disappointment that the boss had not assigned her to my team.

#676 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 12:30 PM:

There's a piece from the Choreographer of the "Abide With Me" segment, which NBC didn't show, on the BBC Website.

They also have a report from one of the volunteer performers.

#677 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 12:35 PM:

If I got an account over there, I'd have to get a shirt made that the gnomes wouldn't like: it would start with "w" three times, followed by a period, then xkcd, then another period, then the domain com, then a slash, then the number 386 followed by another slash. And this would not be good--I have to sleep sometime.

The gnomes have no problem with

#678 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 12:47 PM:

Jim @677: The gnomes have no problem with

More than any other sentient beings on the planet, they must be aware that Someone Is Wrong On The Internet. {wry}

#679 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 12:47 PM:

Fragano @673

There is genetic evidence, from such things as mitochondrial DNA, that the split between "celtic" and "non-celtic" goes back to the last Ice Age. Northern Europe was repopulated from two main sources: Northern Spain and the Balkans. The Spanish line followed the Atlantic coast. The Balkan genes arrived across what eventually became the North Sea.

All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third. All these differ from each other in language, customs and laws. The Garonne River separates the Gauls from the Aquitani; the River Marne and the River Seine separate them from the Belgae.

It's the Belgae who were related to the tribes of SE England. The idea that the Celts in Britain were pushed west by the Anglo-Saxons doesn't fit with what can be inferred from Gaius Julius Caesar's account.

#680 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 01:39 PM:

Dave Bell #679: Since half my ancestry is from northwest Spain, I'm definitely in the "Celtic" line (certainly according to the ideas of nineteenth-century Galician nationalists).

#681 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 01:52 PM:

Dave Bell @ 669... All Gaul is divided into three parts

Fortunately one village still resists.

#682 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 02:18 PM:

Melissa Singer @ #664, Here's the estimable Mr. Cumberbach's opening to the BBC coverage of the OCs:

#683 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 07:24 PM:

Serge: Fortunately one village still resists.

My wife complains every time I mutter "Toute la Gaule est divisée en quatre parties."

#684 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 07:27 PM:

Jim McDonald: The gnomes have no problem with

Oh, good. I must have misremembered a discussion on links being offensive to them if there was a slash at the end and extended that to links in general.

#685 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 08:36 PM:

I am just back from the Alpha Young Writers Workshop.

I have not read much of anything online for more than a week.

It's going to take me a bit of time to catch up; please bear with me as I dig through ten days of open thread.

And Alpha? Amazing as usual.

#686 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2012, 09:11 PM:

Welcome back, Diatryma...

#687 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 02:43 PM:

Okay, since my query here on keeping up with housekeeping was so delightfully successful (Yay, frontloading! Yay!), let me toss this question out:

Have any sugar addicts here been successful with implementing healthier eating habits? If so, how'd ya do it?

#688 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 03:01 PM:

Jacque @687: I have, more or less. I went from eating all the sugar I wanted all the time at the slightest whim (SWEETS FOR THE SWEETS GOD) to being fairly responsible about it. I'm not entirely sure my route is the one to recommend, but:

1) To start with, I cut processed sugar almost entirely out of my diet for several weeks. I could only really do this with the help of my spouse, who would remind me of the restriction. I also did some of this by swapping to artificial sweeteners for various things, so that I could still hit the 'tastes sweet' craving occasionally without actually having processed sugar, and by allowing myself natural, unprocessed sugars. (Fruit: okay. Milk: okay. Fruit juice: right out.) If you're not a fan of artificial sweeteners, that makes this harder... But on the other hand, if you don't like the way they taste, they're also a less appealing substitute, and easier to not overdo in turn.

2) Then, I started easing up a little. I could have a little bit of a dessert if it was a really good one. I could have a spoonful of sugar in coffee once in a while as a treat. I deliberately avoided cheap sugary things; if I was going to allow myself any chocolate, it would be a $5 artisan chocolate bar, doled out one square at a time, not a Twix bar. The financial issue kept me from indulging too heavily.

3) ...and frankly, I just lost my taste for sugary and cheap things the more I stayed away from them. I still love desserts, but they have to be good ones; cheap chocolate tastes nasty now. The balance of deliberate indulgences ("Once a week I can have whatever dessert I want") and focusing on high-quality food ("Heeeey, this sandwich I made at home actually tastes better than that McDonald's burger!") meant that I didn't go batty from complete deprivation--I don't have the patience to simply eschew something I like FOREVER, no matter how good for me it is--and also that I slowly changed my own preferences. The more high-quality food I ate, the more I preferred it, and the less attractive the cheap stuff became.

Of course, all of this assumes both the time and finances being available to shift things around. To an extent one can substitute for the other--buying very healthy pre-made food isn't cheap, and making inexpensive healthy delicious food isn't fast--but overall, I found a strict deprivation period followed by focusing on high-quality occasional indulgences worked for me.

#689 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 03:06 PM:

Jacque @687: I used to be a candy fanatic/chocaholic. When I had to go on a lower sodium diet, my sweet tooth nearly vanished. I don't know why decreasing salt in my diet would also decrease my taste for sugar, but there you go.

#690 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 03:19 PM:

Melissa: this may be utter hooey, but I heard a proponent of macrobiotics once say that a properly balanced diet should provide similar levels of salty and sweet foods -- they were using things like sweet potatoes and kelp salad for examples, but if the principle is sound, then it ought to carry over to a diet based on other foods. If you were eating intuitively but with a high baseline sodium intake, then it would follow that you craved sweets, right?

Again, might be utter hooey, but might serve to explain it.

#691 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 03:33 PM:

Salty/sweet. Actually, I vaguely remember reading some research a while back that salt and sweet tend to be extreme ends of a pendulum; excess of one does tend to provoke craving for the other. I'd forgotten about that.

A major challenge with going the straight-up deprivation route is that, right now, I'm relying very heavily on sweets (at least I'm generally pretty choosey about which sweets—but doesn't address quantity) for emotional support.

Whatever strategy I implement is going to have to accomodate considerable self-nurturing, or it's just not going to work.

I'm making some miniscule progress on bringing my physical fitness back up to speed, but that's slow going.

And I'm whacking away at my professional development, which will likely mitigate the trapped/worthless feelings I'm struggling with these days. But this, also, is not going to be a short-term solution.

#692 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 03:45 PM:

Any chance of an Olympics-watching-and-kibitzing thread? Or should I just babble here? :->

#693 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 04:12 PM:

"Let me show you something that will make you feel young as when the world was new."

One could easily take the story apart, but it was neat, seeing the local rep theater's "The Wrath of Khan" late-night showing.

#694 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 04:13 PM:


Alexandr Vinokurov!

Ryan Lochte!

Dana Vollmer!

Marianne Vos!

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings!

And women's volleybsll in general, and synchro diving, and my teen was watching the women's water polo not too long ago.

I'm starting to regret that I'll be on vacation next week and away from a tv during a lot of the track and field competition.

And I keep wanting to watch online while I'm at work. which would be bad. very bad.

#695 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 04:27 PM:

Jacque @687 Partially successful here. I did much what Fade Manley @688 reported: I quit cold turkey. In my case the incentive was that a slowly-creeping blood sugar level crept up into the pre-diabetic range. So I pretty much quit refined carbs (sugar or flour) and white potatoes. Lean meats, lowfat dairy, fruit, veggies, eggs, nuts (almonds and the occasional peanut butter), beans, some higher-carb veggies like corn or sweet potatoes, healthy oils in salad dressing and the like. Thinking of the insulin response got me past the "it's okay to have a little" which works fine for lots of people but puts my foot on the banana peel. As long as it wasn't staring me in the face, I found that when I wasn't having it, I didn't miss it all that much. I had dessert very rarely, for something special - e.g. our favorite ice cream stand at the beach but otherwise

Over about 6 months I lost 60 pounds.

I count this as only partly successful, because then Thanksgiving came along, and a checkup with the doctor showed the blood sugar much improved, and I fell off the wagon and haven't successfully gotten back on it. Have regained half the weight. Sigh. Trying again starting yesterday (what a timely question!)

Something else for comfort is necessary for me (reading on a different floor from the kitchen works well), as is something positive to think about. By something positive, I mean positive growth in some way. Thinking "don't eat this, don't eat this, don't eat this" is like trying not to think about pink elephants. Find something that's a positive step, either with your fitness or with your art or with something else in your life that will show growth if you put effort into it, and think about that more than food.

I also found writing down everything I at was helpful for the first couple of months.

#696 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 04:38 PM:

#692 ::: Elliott Mason

Any chance of an Olympics-watching-and-kibitzing thread? Or should I just babble here? :->

Your wish is my command!

#697 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 05:10 PM:

Jacque @ 687

It seems that what works depends some on underlying metabolism and reasons, so I'll put mine up front.

I love carbs, and I feel better when I get plenty of carbs. My issue was blood sugar stability, not weight or problematically high blood sugar.

I decided that I was drinking enough sugar that was not benefiting me back last winter. At that point, I was using a couple pounds of sugar a week in my coffee. (That was most of my sugar intake.)

For Lent, I decided just to avoid sugar altogether. (That's fairly common for me--it's the right balance of harmless and disruptive.) This year, instead of avoiding coffee, I deliberately drank my coffee black (which I've never liked.)

After Lent, I decided that I'd drink sweetened coffee at home, and at the coffee shop--but not at work, which is where I drink 90% of my coffee.

The things I had to watch, and that made it easier, were: getting enough carbs, and NOT drinking because I wanted sugar. (Substituting alcohol for sugar is not for me an improvement.) Also, sugar is a good stimulant for salivation and for appetite; I have to pay more attention to remembering to eat, and if I'm craving sugar, something that un-dries my mouth often helps (black coffee will do that for me).

#698 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 05:54 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @673 D'oh. (I should also say that when I formulated the thought that turned into that comment, I hadn't realised quite how poisonous a term 'Anglo-Saxon' can be in American political discourse. To my ears, the more immediately brings to mind Lewis Carroll and ' 1066 and All That' than the phrase 'White Anglo-Saxon Protestant', say.)

#699 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 06:46 PM:


I drink green and oolong teas at work, because I don't want 2 spoonfuls of sugar in each cup of them. If I drank only blacks, I'd be having about 8 spoonfuls of sugar every day.

#700 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 06:58 PM:

On of the things I'm not sure what to do with is that I love tea with sugar. If it doesn't have sugar, I have no interest in tea at all.

Drinking sugared tea is more of a "habit," especially at work. I just need a Something to get through the next hour, and sugared tea comes to hand. The simplest strategy would be to just Not Drink Tea, but then I spend the entire day with "I want some tea" muttering away in my head. I usually cave just to shut up the muttering, because otherwise it becomes all consuming.

#701 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 07:44 PM:


At one point I gave up refined sugar for a year. I was able to give up most of it with no problem, but sugared tea? Well, I had the same trouble you have.

I solved it by gradually reducing how much sugar I would put in a cup of tea. I also switched to drinking higher quality tea with more flavor to it, and to adding more milk. (which yes, increases sweetness mildly).

Or could you use stevia for the purpose?

#702 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 08:26 PM:

Praisegod Barebones #698: Some of us brought up in England might have negative attitudes towards the term 'Anglo-Saxon'. I do, a bit, ever since a teacher at a school I attended in Balham made 'Saxon' an answer in a crossword puzzle she constructed. The riddle was 'One of our ancestors'. As the Saxons were not prominent among my ancestors I found that somewhat offputting.

Anglo-Saxon attitudes do seem rather persistent among the more conservative Americans, however.

#703 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 09:38 PM:

English history is filled with Saxon violence.

#704 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 09:47 PM:

Boo hiss! (That's a really terrible pun. Thanks!)

#705 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 11:33 PM:

Jacque, #687: I've been backing away from sugar by using several of the same tricks Fade talks about. Portion control -- 1 piece of decent chocolate per day instead of routinely snacking on cheaper stuff. Fruit rather than sweet snack foods (and still portion control -- 8 or 10 cherries rather than a couple of handfuls). Iced tea, I just gradually cut back on the amount I was using, until now I can drink it straight. Soft drinks, I went over to unsweetened flavored fizzy water (look for it with the mixers, not in the drinks aisle), which have the same mouth-feel as soda and enough flavor not to taste like drinking soda water. Bonus here -- I discovered that after not drinking HFCS-sweetened drinks for several months, I can actually tolerate some diet drinks, especially those sweetened with sucralose (but also Diet Coke, which is useful when I'm at a con).

I do allow myself occasional indulgences. At convention room parties, I'll eat M&Ms and Oreos (both of which are off the grocery list now). If I'm with a bunch of friends going to a good dessert place, I'll order a slice of something in a to-go container, eat about 1/3 of it there, and take the rest home to consume over the course of a few days (portion control again).

Also, I changed some of my habits. Instead of keeping sweet snacks by the computer (where I spend a lot of my time), I make myself have to get up and go into the other room to get them, which makes me think about what I'm doing rather than just eating by reflex -- which in turn gives me a chance to say, "Not now." What I keep by the computer now is dry-roasted peanuts. And as noted, I don't buy foods that would tempt me to sugar-binge any more. If it's not in the house, I can't eat it!

and @700: That sounds like tea is going to be a Major Issue for you. Do you buy canned/bottled tea or brew your own and add sugar? If the latter, you can try what I did -- add a little less than usual and get used to that, then cut back a bit more, etc. I used to not like unsweetened tea either, but now I do. If it's bitter, sometimes adding lemon juice will help, or drinking it British-style with milk (yes, even iced tea).

#706 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 11:34 PM:

Oops. Perhaps Their Lowlinesses would like some iced tea?

#707 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:04 AM:

HLN: Local area woman's mother passes, quickly, painlessly, and in the presence of her children.

#708 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:07 AM:

KayTei @707:

Heartfelt condolences. I'm glad that it was quick and painless, and that you were there, but I'm so sorry for your loss.

#709 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:07 AM:

Kay Tei @707, what abi said. I'm sorry for your loss.

#710 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:39 AM:

KaiTei @707: My condolences.

#711 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:42 AM:

KayTei: My condolences.

#712 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:52 AM:

KayTei: my condolences. Good to hear that it was swift, painless, and that family was there.

#713 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 08:35 AM:


My condolences; may the Lord bless you with grace, and her with perpetual light.

#714 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 08:41 AM:

Jacque @ 700

Sugared tea--that sounds very like my issue with coffee. What worked for me was to drink unsweetened coffee (diluted with water) for 6 weeks, deliberately. I still like sweetened coffee much better and drink it on special occasions, but I find unsweetened satisfactory for drinking at work.

For tea, I find jasmine tea palatable without sugar. Again, not as good--but drinkable.

#715 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 09:18 AM:

KayTei: More condolences. I'm glad it was painless and circled by loved ones.

#716 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 09:23 AM:

KayTei: my condolences, and a sigh of relief for the manner of her passing.

#717 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 09:31 AM:

Jacque: While I still drink sweetened (hot) tea, I did manage to convert from sugar to honey*, and to cut down the amount, by the gradual reduction method. Although I have also backslid a bit (I veered from 1/2 tsp to 2/3 or 3/4 per big mug a couple of times) so it's not perfect. But these days a full tsp. gives me an "ick, too sweet" feeling.

I also tend to refill a half-drunk mug without re-sweetening it. It seems usually to fool my brain: but there's already honey in; it's sweet enough."

I should probably try cutting the refined sugars and salts, too... I've been noticing that the urge to snack or dessert is rising. And with the baby partly on solids, the extra calories wanted for breastfeeding are decreasing.

* I believe that for dietary purposes there's no effective difference, so this is no good for your purpose, but I did notice it feels easier on the throat. Also the change in flavour made a smaller amount useful.

#718 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 09:48 AM:

KayTei: More condolences. Take care of yourself in the days ahead.

#719 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:16 AM:

KayTei: condolences. May her memory be a blessing.

#720 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:37 AM:

KayTei @707: I'm sorry for your loss. It sounds like a peaceful departure, at least.

#721 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:54 AM:

KayTei, #707: My condolences on your loss. May she be remembered well.

SamChevre, #714: Good point about jasmine tea! Also flavored tea of other sorts, such as orange or peach, as long as it's not artificial flavoring (which is likely to be high in sugar). Ahmad makes a rosehip/cherry tea that's fabulous -- it's a little overwhelming on its own, but we use it mixed with plain tea in our tea-maker.

Buying good tea makes a tremendous difference, and it doesn't have to be expensive. Look for it in groceries that cater to the Asian market -- you'll find the same "boutique brands" sold in the specialty aisle at Kroger, but for half the price.

#722 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 11:22 AM:

KayTei, I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm glad that it was as peaceful and comfortable as possible for her, and for you.

#723 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 11:25 AM:

KayTei @707: More condolences. I'm glad it was as gentle as such things can be,

#724 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 11:30 AM:

Another article about posers; this one in data science. (May I just note that Mathbabe--Cathy O'Neil--is the best blog/blogger I've discovered this year.)

It seems related-to, but different from, some of the discussions in the "how to have a problem" thread.

#725 ::: SamChevre has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 11:35 AM:

A link to a blog is likely at fault.

Gnomes, I have a raw onion and some cold black coffee.

I'm sorry, but today I'm a programmer, not a cook.

#726 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 11:44 AM:

KayTei @ 707: My condolences on your loss. May your memories of her be a comfort.

#727 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 12:30 PM:

Jacque: Liquorice tea (I have various herbal/spice blends including liquorice, and an oolong tea with liquorice) is very sweet. Worth trying? Perhaps not if you have high blood pressure (in some countries there are warnings on the packets not too drink too much due to this, in other countries, nothing).

KayTei @ 707: Condolences for your loss, but very glad to hear that the end was quick and painless and that the family could be there.

Food cravings in general: on a couple of occasions, I've found that allowing myself to eat as much as I wanted

#728 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 12:33 PM:

Okay, let's try the last part of that again:

Food cravings in general: on a couple of occasions, I've found that allowing myself to eat as much as I wanted of something "bad"* just ONCE could then reduce the craving such that I still liked it but I was perfectly happy only having small amounts, occasionally.

* red liquorice sticks was the best example - I ate a 2 lb bag in the course of a few hours.

#729 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:03 PM:

KayTei, it sounds like a gentle passing, but I'm sorry for your loss.

#730 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 04:19 PM:

Re sugar: I envy those of you who can eat "just a little" chocolate. CanNOT do it. If it's in the house, I eat until it's gone. So I can't buy chocolate at all.

These days I restrict, but have not eliminated, sugar and most, though not all, non-vegetable carbs in my food choices. (I eat some bread, and brown rice.) I feel better not eating sugar. My mother was an insulin taking diabetic for 35 years, and I want to keep my blood sugar low. I do eat fruit (not fruit juice) and low-fat Greek yogurt with real sugar in it. I have no confidence in artificial sweeteners, so I don't buy foods with sugar substitutes.

I do get sugar cravings, and sometimes I give in to them. (Ice cream!) I wish I could figure out how to make them go away.

#731 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 05:57 PM:

Lee @705: I brew my own tea, and add sugar. I have done the thing of slowly reducing the amount of sugar over time, and it's somewhat successful, but there's definitely a lower limit below which I'm just not interested in drinking the tea at all. Adding lemon doesn't help. Also, I'm all about the black tea; flavored teas just annoy me, and if I have to make trips to special shops, it's not gonna happen.

I have stevia in the house; it shares the problem that I have with most low-cal sweetners: it tastes nasty.

Knock on wood, I'm actually pretty disciplined in my storage habits: I don't keep snacks by my computer at all (and don't eat at work outside of mealtimes). If I want something to eat, I have to get up and go get it. Ironically, at home, I have to be careful or I just forget to eat until I fall over.

What kills me (aside from the tea) is that, at least once a day, MUST HAVE SUGAR, in the form of ice cream or something.

I can (and have) cut sugar out of my diet completely, but it's hard. If I go tee-total, then even a little slip will tip me off the wagon. And it becomes this big exhausting Will Power issue. (Though, cutting it out partially is, in some ways harder.)

Lizzy L @730: If [chocolate is] in the house

"Liiiizzy. Oh ... Liiiiiizzy...."

I don't have as much trouble with that as I used to, mostly because I just don't keep chocolate in the house.

#732 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 05:59 PM:

KayTei: My sympathies. It's a goodness to be with them when they go, and even better if they go quietly and comfortably.

#733 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:35 PM:

KayTei #707: My condolences.

#734 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:43 PM:

KayTei, I'll add my condolences.

#735 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:44 PM:

Idle open-threaded punning -

Would there be a market for a Dalek-shaped loofah, which when used would say EXFOLIATE!

#736 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:46 PM:

I don't know if this would work for anyone else (and I haven't tried it myself), but a co-worker who's cutting way back on carbs has started putting a Good Earth Sweet & Spicy tea bag in his coffee.

#737 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:49 PM:

KayTei, I'm sorry for your loss.

#738 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 08:48 PM:


#739 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 08:55 PM:

Ground cinnamon, if used in sufficient quantity, sweetens bitter liquids. Harney & Sons has a cinnamon black tea which is very like drinking Red Hots. If you put the cinnamon on top of your coffee grounds, though, be careful that it doesn't overflow. Wet cinnamon is as mucilaginous as okra.

And KayTei, I'm very sorry for your loss.

#740 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 09:48 PM:

KayTei, I'm sorry for your loss.

#741 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:53 PM:

I buy my tea from Coffee Bean Direct, and they offer some flavored teas. Previously I'd bought Tiramisu tea (black tea flavored with cocoa) from Stash, but they don't sell large quantities at the prices that Coffee Bean does. (Tiramisu tea is more delicious than I originally imagined, but if you like teas and chocolates, you can give that a try.)

#742 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 11:04 PM:

KayTei, my condolences to you and your family. Glad it was peaceful.

#743 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 05:03 AM:

Open Threadiness: Is it just Rowling's mega-fame, or is there precedent for this? And what is it that makes the Finns so (apparently) unreliable, anyway...?

#744 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 08:02 AM:

Russ @743

There's something that doesn't make sense about the story. It's apparently going to have to be an insanely rushed translation to meet the deadline the Finnish publisher has set to get the translation, and text will need most of the usual editing before it goes to the printer. It looks pretty stupid if they knew the timing when they bought the rights.

So who is playing silly beggars?

#745 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 10:10 AM:

I just received my first hateful comment on my blog. Since the comment is related to a post featuring music criticism, this means it's time to celebrate--someone is taking me seriously!


#746 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 10:13 AM:

Re: Cinnamon in coffee -- Penzey's sells crumbled cinnamon which works very well when combined with ground coffee. You don't get the gel-ing effect that happens with powdered cinnamon.

#747 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 10:45 AM:

KayTei@707--my sympathies. I'm sorry you all have had to go through this, and I'm glad it was no worse than it was.

#748 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 11:13 AM:

KayTei: My condolences.

#749 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 11:16 AM:

There are novels that have had immense effects on individual readers. For some people, for example, Samuel Butler's Erehwon was extraordinary liberatory.

For me, two novels by Gore Vidal had transformative impact on my life. One was Julian, which I first read at fourteen. The other, which I read in my mid-30s, was Creation. Julian made concrete all the doubts I had been entertaining about Christianity. Creation, which makes an intriguing point about a key possibility at a turning point of the Axial Age, led me to an interest in Confucius and Chinese thought which has become an important part of my teaching.

#750 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:17 PM:

Steve C. @735

Thank you very much for your submission. We regret that it does not meet our needs at this time. Please keep us in mind for future efforts.


#751 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 03:06 PM:

I tried to cut out as much sugar as possible from my diet; turns out that I can get by on unsweetened black/green/fancy fruit-flavoured tea (actually, teas flavoured with citrus fruits successfully fool me into thinking that I'm having sugary tea). But the biggest decline in my sugar usage comes from cutting out the three or four apples I used to eat at work every day. Having eliminated a few ounces of sugar that way, I allow myself to drift back to sweetened tea or coffee when I feel like it.

Switching to fish with potatoes and vegetables as a regular evening meal (instead of horrific supermarket pizzas and pies) has done me a power of good. A tin of mackerel or sardines is as tasty as junk food and I don't feel as though I'm making a laborious sacrifice by having it. If you're a creature of habit like I am, you just have to drive yourself into a rut of good habits rather than bad ones.

#752 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 03:15 PM:

Condolences, KayTei. Long-distance imaginary hugs, if you want 'em.

Open thread in the chronological proximity to cons: I'm a couple months slow on the uptake, but I have just discovered that World Horror Con 2013 will be in New Orleans (Hotel Monteleone). In mid-June, oddly enough. This is not a thing I can *not* go to. It's way early to plan gatherings of light, perhaps, but if anyone else is making plans to go, I wouldn't mind hearing about it.

#753 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 03:41 PM:

#751: "horrific supermarket pizzas and pies"

When I learned about my high cholesterol, I ditched and never returned to eating those things. Man, it would be SO EASY. I make batches of pastas and casseroles whose ingredients I control for entrees.

Is much salt used to process canned sardines, herring, and mackerel? Oily fish are supposed to be pretty healthy, but there's no sense overdoing the salt. Never really tried canned mackerel, but I occasionally mash up sardines or kippers and eat them on those thick Wasa crackers.

Or put mashed up sardines in hot sauce or mustard sauce on top of rice.

#754 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 03:52 PM:

KayTei, I'm sorry for your loss.

#755 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 07:02 PM:

Stefan Jones@753: just looked at a tin of mackerel (drained mass 90g) that I have to hand, and the salt content is about 0.5g. It tastes much saltier than it is. (Another dodge that I've found easy: I used to drench my food in table salt; now I drench it in black pepper. Much better for me and just as savoury.)

#756 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 08:05 PM:

AKCiML: If I were looking for a free or free-trial-able computer program (preferably Mac-capable) that I could use to arrange a lot of little similar ovals in a particular design to make an image, that was less cumbersome to use than MSPaint, does anyone have a suggestion?

#757 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 08:58 PM:

HLN: Local woman bounces in seat on learning that her teen fandom is coming back. 10 minutes later, same woman learns that the series is going to be remade as just another cheekbones and guns prime time thing. Or, Beauty and the Beast is getting the seaQuest treatment. For those who never saw seaQuest, this means cutting out anybody over 30 or under 20, then cutting the remaining characters away from the community that drove a lot of the plots in earlier seasons/series, then having lots of people shoot and/or kiss and/or look scared in lieu of dialogue, then acting bewildered when the thing tanks.

Also, the earlier series was aimed at people who read Dickens, Swinburne, and the Brownings when they wanted romance. The new series is aimed at people who read Twilight when they want romance. Yyyyeaaaahhhhno.

#758 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 09:19 PM:

Elliott, I would use Visio on a Windows PC for that. But that's just me using a tool I'm familiar with from other uses.

#759 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 09:36 PM:


Open Office is free and has a pretty decent drawing program, nothing fancy, but workable. For what you're describing, it is probably fine. There are Mac and Windows and Linux versions, and it's open source.

#760 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 10:00 PM:

There's also LibreOffice, which is pretty much the same program. (Apparently Adobe owns the rights to OpenOffice.) It isn't quite as easy to use as MSOffice, but it's free.

#761 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 10:10 PM:

I know how to do that quite easily in InDesign, but while Mac-capable it's not exactly free. I could even do it using the color copier we had at work (it had a "repeat" function that would let you select an area and fill up the page with it). You might try taking the image to some local copy shop; if business is slow, they might be able to do what you want for relatively cheap.

#762 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 10:46 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 757: I always liked to say that Beauty and the Beast was my innoculation against Twilight. I feel like it fed the same romantic teen girl id, only not with empty calories. Or at least less empty calories; not all the episodes have aged as well as each other, I have to admit. Still, even if it's cherries jubilee rather than a nutritious veggie medly, it's still a sad come-down for someone to rewrite it into a Hostess Twinkie and a pair of Peeps.

On the other paw, I just read Team Human and adored it. It lovingly makes fun of the entire vampire subgenre, with specific scenes that obviously recall Twilight (Chapter Three: The Allure Of The Vampire In The Lunchroom, if I remember correctly), and then after I think it's going to be just an enjoyable satirical romp it turns around and makes me cry for minutes on end between the final chapters. It's so very good for the heart. Go, read, enjoy!

#763 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 10:46 PM:

I have LibreOffice, but I never considered using it for that. I HAVE done basically just this in Quark, but I can't afford a Quark license right now.

#764 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 11:46 PM:

Elliott@756: Assuming GIMP for Mac has the same functionality as GIMP for Windows, I'd use that. The trick is to start with a small image just big enough to draw one occurrence of your pattern including desired space between repeats. Select all and copy. Go to the pattern selection area and clipboard contents will be one of the choices. Set the bucket fill option to pattern. Then open your larger image and use the bucket fill.

#765 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 04:26 AM:

There's a Dr Who trailer up on the BBC website.

I hope non-UK users can see this

It is, at the moment, more prominent on the homepage than are the Olympics.

#766 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 06:25 AM:

Jacque @687

One thing which worked well for me in weaning myself off a lot of sugary stuff was giving myself permission to have it whenever I wanted and as much as I wanted. Since my main reason for wanting sugary stuff was because I equated it with "forbidden food" (one of the after-effects of ten years of attempted weight-loss dieting[1]), taking away the "forbidden" label (and proving this to myself by making sure there were always lollies in the house for a period of months) did the trick. Yes, I gorged myself for the first few weeks, but then the shine wore off, and it was just Another One of Those Things.

I do tend to eat more overly-sweet foods in winter than summer, but most of the time, I'm actually more interested in spicy than sweet.

If you're using sweet stuff for emotional support (as you mention in #691), then "de-criminalising" the sweets may also help as well, because by giving yourself permission to eat as much sweet stuff as you want, you're also giving yourself permission to need as much support as you need. Again, this is something which helped me, because a lot of the sweet eating I was doing was also comfort eating. By effectively giving myself permission to get as much comfort as I needed, I stopped needing as much (my subconscious mind picked up the hint, I think). One thing I'd also recommend: if you're using sweet things as comfort food, get yourself the best quality stuff you can, and don't bother with artificially sweetened versions. Artificial sweeteners don't work in comfort food for the same reason comfort food doesn't actually replace real psychological comfort - it's replacing what you actually need with what you can get that's closest. So if you're comforting yourself, go all out. Good quality chocolate, proper sucrose as the sugar (i.e. cane sugar, not corn syrup), and give yourself permission to enjoy what you're having.

If you're trying to give up tea, drink boiling water instead. I tend to do this lately, because if I drink enough tea to keep me warm all day (long story involving low income and high energy prices elided to avoid boredom) I wind up jittering across the room by about 3pm. The hot water keeps me warm (I warm my hands around the mug, and the liquid warms me from the inside), keeps me hydrated (always a problem in winter, since I'm also prone to sinus headaches if I dry out too much), and stops me from eating as much as well (it's something warm, something vaguely filling, and something to do with my hands, as well as a reason to get out of the computer chair and actually move around the room). Plus, if it goes cold, well, room temperature water doesn't taste anywhere near as 'orrible as room temperature tea or cold hot chocolate.

[1] I'm never sure whether to count my diets as successful or not. On the one hand, I always lost the weight (I lost the same five kilograms over and over and over). On the other hand, every time it found me again, it brought friends (leading to me quitting dieting when I'd effectively doubled my starting weight - I went from about 50kg to 100kg).

#767 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 08:37 AM:

I got so far behind last month that I skipped right over Open Thread 174, and have only now gone back to read it.

Therefore, this is dragging up something from the dead past, but I really have to register my bemusement at Bill Higgins' #249, on the subject of how Wikipedia handles misspellings of famous authors' name.

Specifically, the bit where he lists the recognised variants of Neil Gaiman's name, from "Nail gaiman" to "Niel Gaiman", then immediately continues "Oddly, Niel Gaiman does not appear on this list..."

#768 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 09:04 AM:

Elliott Mason@765: I would probably use Inkscape, which is a vector image editor, for something like that. Specifically, the Object > Align and Distribute function.

#769 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 02:38 PM:

Elliott Mason @756: free or free-trial-able computer program (preferably Mac-capable)

I'm totally in love with Pixelmator, which does have a free trial, and is (rather unbelievably) dirt cheap to buy: $15. It's an absolutely plausible Photoshop substitute. (In fact, I used it to make this this.)

One possible downside for your purpose: it is raster rather than spline. (Now if they'd just come up with an Illustrator equivalent.)

#770 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 02:44 PM:

Oh yeah: Pixelmator is Mac-only, far as I can tell.

And: Inkscape ... ? (Ears grow points....)

#771 ::: Jacque bin gnomed! ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 02:45 PM:

A bit of light salad, perhaps?

#772 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 03:33 PM:

This article has the feel of science fiction, to me. Nobody really understands these computer programs and how they interact, and they have the potential to wreck our economy. If someone developed an AI type algorithm which generated new HFT programs over time and learned from their successes and failures, and then "woke up" in the sense of deciding to serve its own interests instead of its creators', what would that look like?

#773 ::: albatross, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 03:34 PM:

And all I have is some freshly-brewed coffee. Hope the gnomes are in the mood for it!

#774 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 04:40 PM:

For those curious, I ended up doing my diagrams in LibreOffice's spreadsheet functionality, because I tried to use its drawing thing and bounced really hard and terrified off its interface (I have GUI Issues, it's a known bug). So I found a bunch of appropriately-shaped characters in the dregs of Unicode and used those.

#775 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 04:42 PM:

albatross @772:

Specifically, science fiction by ML regular Charlie Stross.

J Homes.

#776 ::: russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 05:55 PM:

I just wanted to thank the folks up around #445 for their discretion in ROT13'ing. I have literally just finished Cryoburn*

Va n irel erny jnl vg raqf gur fgbel gung ortna va Pbeqryvn'f Ubabhe, and my eyes are not dry. Somebody in the original recommendation commented that LMB gets better as the saga went on; I cannot disagree.

*After being put on to the whole series by this very site a couple of years ago (the whole "here's the back catalogue for free - now buy the new one" thing worked pretty well on me...)

#777 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 08:25 PM:

russ @776: my eyes are not dry

Right between the eyes, wot? Out of the blue, and yet not unexpected. Not unlike life, eh?

#778 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 08:46 PM:

I got its 'Draw' section to work by trial and error - it's not nearly as cooperative as is should be. Of course, I was doing it without reading whatever documentation it has. (I don't normally use the drawing stuff in MS Office, either. I have a decent paint program, after all.)

#779 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 10:18 PM:










(stuff I tweeted yesterday)

#780 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 10:18 PM:


#781 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 10:26 PM:


#782 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 11:21 PM:


#783 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 12:10 AM:


#784 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 01:01 AM:

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who offered support, and I'm sorry I took so long to reply.

#785 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 02:03 AM:


#786 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 04:15 AM:

Jacque @ #777 (The number of my bus to work!)

It's the penultimate sentence that gets me.

Every time.

#787 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 04:39 AM:

The NTK version:


#788 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 07:11 AM:


#789 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 08:02 AM:

Steve C @788: A friend of mine was raving about having just finished Cryoburn but finding the ending deeply unsatisfying.

"But what about the drabbles?" I said. "What drabbles?" was the reply, and my jaw nearly hurt itself bouncing off the floor.

Apparently if one is not already a total completist it is easy to write-off the end matter as probably marketing materials from the publisher and skip them ... so now when I"m recommending it I'm certain to mention you need to read EVERY PAGE between the covers.

#790 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 08:44 AM:

Jacque@770: See . It's free, open-source, and has most of the capabilities of Illustrator (although it can't do gradient mesh or 3D revolve). I've been using it for years, and I find it better than Illustrator for the most common use cases (simple shape drawing).

#791 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 10:27 AM:

#753, #755 If you like garlic, I've found it useful in places where I used to use salt. Lemon juice and vinegar perk a lot of things up too, esp. homemade soups + salad dressings.

#792 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 11:48 AM:

Elliott Mason, please email me.
carol [tod] kimball [ta] earthlink [tod] net

#793 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 07:23 PM:

When I took my kittens to the vet for their shots a few weeks back, she mentioned that the fact that the bottom of Lan's ribcage ends outwards rather than inwards (i.e. comes to a point) *could* mean he has an inverted sternum, although it's most likely a benign birth defect.

Has anyone had any experience dealing with such things? The vet recommended a set of X-rays (c.a. $200), but she didn't indicate that the diagnosis would do much good. Poking around online, it looks like, if Lan does have one, he's got a very mild case -- at 18 weeks, he's definitely thriving. His sister is far more energetic than he is, but I assume that's mostly his personality -- he can beat her in a fight, but he doesn't see the point of balls or other throw-toys. The only thing that *does* worry me is that sometimes when he exerts himself, he pants for a minute or two. Though again, it's summer.

The vet indicated that I might want to find out before he gets neutered. Does anyone have any advice about this sort of thing? The vets around here are atrociously expensive, and I'm not entirely convinced that everything they recommend is necessary.

I'm rather torn about what to do. I'd appreciate *any* kind of advice from anyone with some experience who isn't in a position to make money off their recommendation.

#794 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 07:31 PM:

I want to make something special to bring to the company picnic next week.

So I'm making bacon brownies. Brownies that use bacon fat instead of vegetable oil.

I'm going to cut the pan into veeerrrrry small squares.

#795 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 08:07 PM:

Stefan Jones (794): Those sound nummy! Just make sure you label them very clearly.

#796 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 09:13 PM:

LMM @793: I'd never heard of this, so I googled a bit: here's one bit of info, suggesting that it often (but not always) fixes itself; this one has pictures and stuff about diagnosis, and looks like a reliable site to me. This one is fairly technical, and will help sort out different thoracic abnormalities. The first is light; the other two have a lot more detail, including prognosis. They'll help you figure out whether your vet is doing a good job on this one.

#797 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 11:02 PM:


#798 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 01:15 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 789: I loved the drabbles at the end of Cyroburn. (I did feel compelled to count the words in one of them.) I went to a reading by Bujold, and when I brought my books up to sign, I mentioned how much I liked them. She said thank you, and that opinions were divided.


#799 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 02:48 AM:


#800 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 08:18 AM:

There is a new Opera 12 upgrade out, fixing a bug with Microsoft's new way of doing email. If you need it, you need it, but everyone else should be careful. I have had odd things happen, and I can't pin the cause down.

#801 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 08:18 AM:

There is a new Opera 12 upgrade out, fixing a bug with Microsoft's new way of doing email. If you need it, you need it, but everyone else should be careful. I have had odd things happen, and I can't pin the cause down.

#802 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 08:21 AM:

Dave Bell @800:

Can you describe some of the odd things you've had happen?

I know the weird feeling that there's a bug somewhere lurking, and how hard it can be to pin down symptoms. But any pointers to what areas are iffy would be of interest.

#803 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 08:36 AM:

Abi @802

It could be just a coincidence of timing (and it could be in Windows) but...

1: Every mouse-click was opening the page in a new tab.

2: Other oddities were consistent with the Ctrl key being stuck on, but only in Opera.

A reboot did get things back to normal. But will they stay that way?

#804 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 10:04 AM:

“Their components are not allowed inside the event zone,” Andrea Davis, spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department, told the Tampa Bay Times. “Also their heads have been used to hide weapons and other matter, fecal matter.”

My many thanks to Mary Robinette Kowal for bringing to our attention why puppets won't be allowed within the Republican Convention.

#805 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 10:14 AM:

Serge Broom (804): “Their components are not allowed inside the event zone,”

So, no string, no sticks, no foam--? The puppeteers of my acquaintance are taking this as a challenge. Also pointing out that that means no string on parcels, no sticks for holding up signs, etc. But of course this ban won't apply to the delegates, oh no, just to those evil puppeteers.

#806 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 10:24 AM:

@804,805: I hate to go for the obvious, but I can think of better ways to hide fecal matter.

#807 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 11:17 AM:

If they don't allow sh*theads, and they don't allow puppets, that means that none of them can come.

#808 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 11:39 AM:

Protesters in NYC aren't allowed to bring puppets of GOP politicians into most of the city. Why?

“...their heads have been used to hide ... fecal matter.”

Ah. Too realistic.

#809 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 11:43 AM:

Open-thready randomness:

This morning's Language Log post brings up the amusing (and long-overdue) specter of the subjects of a published anthropological case-study suing the anthropologist for defamation and just downright making up his facts. (The Language Log post is focused on using corpus linguistics to demonstrate the unlikelihood that the quotes attributed to the subjects bear any resemblance to what the might have said -- purely in terms of grammar and vocabulary, let along content. But since it's the window through which the item came to my attention, I'll stick to using it as the link. It links further to more legal-oriented discussions.)

#811 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 12:54 PM:

@796: Thank you. Based on the pictures, it doesn't look like that's what Lan has. Like I said, he pants sometimes and he sneezes far more frequently than one might expect from a cat, but his sternum doesn't seem to dip in.

#812 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 01:22 PM:

[Cryoburn spoilers in Rot13 - you have been warned!]
Cadbury Moose @ 786: I presume you mean "Gur zna unf pneevrq zr fvapr V jnf svir lrnef byq, nafjrerq gur Rzcrebe bs Oneenlne. "Vg'f zl ghea." Yes, that gets me as well - in addition to the single, shocking moment of "Pbhag Ibexbfvtna, fve?"

Elliott Mason @789: My jaw dropped reading that anecdote. I mean, that section is clearly labelled "Aftermaths" so I'd think most people would recognise it was story, not bumf!

Re. the book as a whole, I thought it was fascinating that (in my opinion) vg jnf znvayl nobhg, abg Zvyrf, ohg uvf rssrpgf, vagragvbany naq bgurejvfr, ba gur crbcyr nebhaq uvz.

#813 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 05:09 PM:

*throws popcorn at Kip and Eric*

C'mon guys, not in the open thread, please.

#814 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 05:12 PM:

Re: Drabbles in Cryoburn

Are these online somewhere? I can't find my copy of the book.

#815 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 10:45 PM:

Bruce, they (all but Memory) were online, but it appears that they've been pulled. The Cryroburn cd was redistributable, but apparently there's been a snag with that.

It now occurs to me that I have no idea if I can copy out of an iBooks book.

#816 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 10:58 PM:

I guess I can copy/paste. It's kind of a pain, but it does work. It really prefers to highlight, and spanning pages is a pain.

I really do like the iPad, but for all the customizations I have on my desktops. Frex: a rot 13 bookmarklet. Adding bookmarklets to safari mobile is non obvious.

Anyway, I could email them if given a destination.

#817 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2012, 11:10 PM:

KayTei: I don't get it.

#818 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:54 AM:

>> ... I could email them ...

Thank you for the very gracious offer, but I'll keep looking for the book.

#819 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:26 AM:

Kip W @ 817: I assumed that Kay Tei's comment at 813 meant that she thought that the comments about puppets at the convention were too dismissively partisan. But that's just my reading.

#820 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:51 AM:

Kip W @ 817

janetl's 819 got it in one. I was looking at 807 and 808, and really hoping it wasn't going to spark a longer series of similarly insulting posts. Sorry I wasn't more specific.

#821 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 10:58 AM:

Could someone clarify what's on topic, then? Or where an appropriate thread may be found?

#822 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 11:39 AM:

Today I was writing comments for a blog where I am a chronic commenter. Experience has taught me not to write drafts right in the box provided, but to compose in TextEdit and not lose everything in one keystroke.

This morning, TextEdit's icon in my Dock started jumping up and down — "Ooh! Ooh!" — to tell me that it couldn't auto-save. Turns out it couldn't save any which way, and it came to me that the program had been open for many days and was probably getting cranky.

I needed to park the text somewhere while I rebooted TextEdit, but didn't want to trust it to the clipboard. Solution: I sent it to myself in Gmail. Ta da!

It seems pretty boring like that, but I thought it had at least the nugget of a worthwhile idea in it, so there you go. Also, I am fearlessly writing this in the box provided by Making Light, which indicates to me that this kind of thing hasn't happened to me here yet. A tribute to unseen hands!

#823 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 11:48 AM:

Kip, I'm guessing that generalized political insults are problematic here.

The difficulty is that when your own side's insults are pervasive among the people you know, using them just seems like a cross between justified attack and social bonding.

In a way, I didn't understand the issue until I read a fairly right-wing blog where people were very upset at being insulted by left-wingers and didn't seem to notice how insulting they (the majority on the blog) were being. I don't think they were pretending to not notice, they just couldn't register that their insults would affect human beings.

From another angle, I'm a libertarian, and the likes of 'libertoonian' and 'glibertarian' just leave me not wanting to engage.

I don't know how moderators intend to handle insults towards specific public figures. I'm guessing there will be some limits which involve remembering that even very dangerous and/or stupid public figures are still human beings.

#824 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:00 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 789:

A thousand thanks for reminding me about the drabbles; I had completely forgotten them since reading Cryoburn almost a year ago. After re-reading the drabbles just now I don't know how they weren't indelibly branded in my brain. At least 3 of them brought tears to my eyes, the last one especially (much as I understand the dramatic and narrative reasons why it's necessary, I sometimes find the limited view we get of Gregor's character disappointing).

#825 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:08 PM:

Nancy, I took a dig at people who were trying (successfully, apparently) to shut down any form of speech they didn't care for over a wide area, mostly using their own absurd and overwrought words.

#826 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:09 PM:

Open threadery: I'm a fan of advice columns. I read Dear Abby and Ann Landers back in the day. I love Savage Love -- you can get the daily letter in a phone app -- and Miss Manners. I somehow missed Dear Sugar, which takes the advice column to some emotional and writing high I'd never imagined. It appears on The Rumpus website, but a compilation was published recently as Tiny Beautiful Things. The author's name, Cheryl Strayed, was revealed for the first time when the book was published. It's a wonderful book.

#827 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:13 PM:

Kip W @ 822: I love how Mac OS X Dock icons jump up and down when they need to tell you something. Whoever programmed that did an excellent job of animating that "Ooh! Ooh!" body language. Such a nice bit of user interface design, there.

#828 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:13 PM:

Note to myself... Don't bring up anything anymore about puppets. Not even "Fireball XL-5".

#829 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:51 PM:

Bruce H. @818: The e-book is available from Baen - non DRM, multiple formats, $6. I've bought most/all of them as e-books as well as in dead tree (well, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance we only have as the eARC so far, but I'm sure we'll buy a paper version some time as well, once it's available).

When my husband and I amalgamated our book collections, this was the one series where we kept both sets, so we'd have lending copies but always have a full set in the house.

#830 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:56 PM:

Kip W:

Does calling Republican politicians shitheads make us smarter, wiser, or more joyful? Not smarter or wiser, as far as I can see. Its true that there is an important and nuanced discussion to be had about censorship and parody. There are fair critiques to be made about the excuses used to avoid that discussion. But I don't think your one-liner quite reaches that level of discourse.

More joyful? Maybe. But is it a healthy kind of joy, or is it the malicious joy of having gotten a good zinger in? Does it build us up by building us up, or by tearing the other guys down?

I'd reread Nancy Lebovitz @823, because she's got the right of it. When we indulge in mindless insults of The Other Side, we make it harder to learn from one another. And that makes us, as a country, less smart, less wise, and less joyful.

Just please don't, OK?

#831 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:57 PM:

Caroline #827:

The jumping Dock icons strike me as a bit Clippie-ish, but not so much as to be offensive. While we're on the subject, is there a setting to switch the text and background colors of those popup reminders and notifications, as I notice--and read--black on white a *lot* better than the reverse that's presented?

(New Mac owner as of a month ago.)

#832 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 01:11 PM:

I'll toss in my vote for more civility in political discourse. Not that it's the only civility that matters, obviously, but when the conversation turns to name-calling, I tune out. And that includes when the people who are nominally on my side call Libertarians or Republicans names ("Rethuglicans," etc).

#833 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 01:19 PM:


"While we're on the subject, is there a setting to switch the text and background colors of those popup reminders"

I'm afraid not. Apple software generally doesn't offer preferences for presentation (color, font, etc) -- unless it's text you're composing yourself.

(, happily, is an exception to the rule. But I use Terminal more than most Mac users.)

(If there *were* a preference, you would already have found it in the System Preferences under Notifications.)

#834 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 01:33 PM:

I have never liked the derogatory distortion-names ("Rethuglican", "Libertoonian", etc). But I *have* become a fan of precise, *articulate* incivility in political discourse. E.g., saying that the Republicans in this country have willingly become the party of institutionalized racism.

Such statements are as much beyond the pale as calling them shitheads; a public figure who said either, flat-out, would get the same torrent of (institutional) abuse, de-legitimization, and shaming -- for "incivility". But I daily regret the lack of them.

(I am too conflict-averse to be the one who says them, nearly ever. So much the less for me.)

#836 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:11 PM:

For anyone who missed it: the Walling decision was overturned and Readercon just released an official apology. Link.

#837 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:21 PM:

Re: Readercon reversal

Wow, that's the best news of the day (so far).

#838 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:22 PM:

...which, of your kindness, we will not discuss until the thread reopens under the care of someone with more spoons for the conversation than I currently have.

#839 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:33 PM:

I thought I was reacting against a cowardly shutdown of dissent.

No more cries from my heart. I'll go mope.

#840 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:43 PM:

Nancy @823, in my experience, "glibertarian" isn't an insult hurled at libertarians in general, but rather a description of the sort of person who justifies right-wing politics by repeating libertarian rhetoric. Y'know, the "pot-smoking non-religious conservative" stereotype.

"Libertoonian" and "Rethuglican", on the other hand, I read as signals that the writer/speaker doesn't have anything actually new or interesting to say.

#841 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:44 PM:

Kip, might I suggest you pick another time to dig in your heels about moderatorial intervention? It might, if you look around what's been going on the site in the last few days, become clear to you that this is not a very good...not a very kindly...time to put this much energy into an argument about a one-line snark.

#842 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 02:53 PM:

My apologies to all for posting the comment that started this.

#843 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 03:02 PM:

I am finished, as I said.

#844 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 03:08 PM:

Yesterday, I saw a man walking down the sidewalk with his kids. He was wearing a t-shirt with a big yellow happy face, above the face in large type "No More" and below it "Liberals". It made me feel sad, that someone engaged in normal, every-day life, wanted me completely gone from political life. And I realized that at times I've been similarly dismissive of people I disagreee with, though I'm typically too shy to do it quite so publicly.

I don't have any sort of answer, but I now have a slightly different emotional perspective on the problem.

#845 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 03:16 PM:

Not-quite-hyper-local-news: the temperature in Portland reached 90F for the first time this year, and just to be show-offy, surged to 100. Official heat advisories, gasps, and wailing ensued. One local resident took a stoical stand, saying "The Portland Art Museum is a lovely, climate controlled place to visit on a hot day, and I like an excuse to eat ice-cream." She neglected to mention that her own house has air-conditioning, unlike many in this area with typically modate temperatures, making her calm acceptance less than heroic.

#846 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 03:19 PM:

Do we need a distraction?

How to capture Cinderella's Castle, the USMC Way

This does seem a rather heavy-handed approach.

#847 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 03:51 PM:

@838: Sorry. I tried not to comment on it; I figured it was just worth noting on a skiffy board.

#848 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 04:03 PM:

LMM @847:

No, it's worth noting. It's just that none of the mods are really in a position to give any discussion of it the care and attention that it needs right at the moment.

#849 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 04:39 PM:

Testing... I've just been gnomed three times on the Olympics thread, and want to see if it happens here too.

#850 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 04:44 PM:

Freed your comment. Using your Twitter link as your URL trips our spam filters.

#851 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 04:54 PM:

Thanks, abi.

I've clearly got a dodgy cookie somewhere, my browser seems to auto-fill that field on some threads but not others. Strange...

#852 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 04:56 PM:

Did the search box on the front page of Making Light disappear, or am I just missing it?

#853 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 05:02 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) @ 835: Oh, my, I just glanced at the article you linked to! The authors think we should eat more bugs, and they'll get there "through the psychological persuasion of product branding. In the short-term, I intend to target the 'cultural elite' in niche food markets to spark interest and shift people's values"

This got me thinking about what elite could sway me to eat bugs. I'm a huge fan of Michael Pollan's books and food — I gobble each one up as it's published — but I don't think he could do it. Hors d'oeuvres at a cocktail party where most of the attendees were Olympic water polo players in their uniforms? Hmmm ... no. A romantic dinner with George Clooney? Possibly.

What elite could work for you?

#854 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 05:10 PM:

Kayjayoh @ 852: I don't see a search box.

#855 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 06:07 PM:

The search box Went Away awhile ago.

I miss it, occasionally.

There was probably a good back-end reason, though.

#856 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 06:13 PM:

Caroline @827: Mac's "Ooh! Ooh!"

I fell over laughing the first time I saw that. And the "Whfff!" with cloud when you pull something out of the dock.

I finally killed the "Spung!!" when you drop a file into a folder, though. That was just annoying, and not especially useful.

(I confess a fondness for the Windows Search doggie. The "help" paperclip...not so much.)

#857 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 06:27 PM:

Jacque, there's another helpful animal out there as well. Behold: Help Cat!

(Video is less than a minute long.)

#858 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 07:15 PM:

Kip W @ 857: That's funny! I recall having a Windows program — years ago — in which a cat would appear at the top of the screen, hop onto the top of a window and stroll back and forth. It would hop down to the next window, finally disappearing off the bottom of the screen.

#859 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 09:43 PM:

Apropos of nothing in this thread or even on this site, I swear: Is there such a thing as topic-blindness? Are there really some people who can't tell when something is off-topic, or when their conversation has gone totally off the rails?

Someone on another site is really being kind of...bonkery about the topic of the thread.

#860 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 09:49 PM:


One can respond directly to the post one just read, or even the last three posts, while being wildly off the beam of the last *twenty* posts. Small scale, large scale. Your social context is what your eyes are focussed on.

(Arguably I just did that here, replying to Nancy's comment without scrolling back to see what had triggered what had triggered Nancy's comment.)

#861 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 09:51 PM:

(Er, meant "Nicole" there. Nancy was farther up the chain.)

#862 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:22 AM:

It was bound to happen... An XKCD wedding cake...

#863 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:33 AM:

We have a Mars landing!

#864 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:57 AM:

Mom and I watched the stream of Curiosity's landing together, and are delighted together. Such a great thing.

#865 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 01:58 AM:


So glad it landed OK.

#866 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 07:25 AM:

Serge Broom @ 862: Those of us still resisting assimilation by Facebook can't see the cake; what did it look like?

#867 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 07:59 AM:

While the search box is gone from the front page, you can get to it via the 404 page -- just type into your browser's address bar "", and it will put you on a page with a search engine.

#868 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 11:09 AM:

Cassy B. @ #866:

The cake is white, adorned in black and red icing with the text of the xkcd cartoon "Useless", and the bride-and-groom on top are stick figures.

(Incidentally, I didn't have any trouble seeing the image, and if Facebook has succeeded in assimilating me it was without my knowledge nor due to any action of my own.)

#869 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 12:24 PM:

That cake URL does not require a Facebook account, but it does require Javascript. Alternate:

(The #! URL thing was a *bad* idea.)

#870 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 02:21 PM:

Jim, your new 'Diffraction' link (How to Eat Fire) is a bit broken by superfluous stuff at the start.

#872 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 03:45 PM:

Paul A @ 868: Apparently it wasn't because it was Facebook; it was because it was Java.

Andrew Plotkin @869: Thanks! Cute cake.

#873 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 03:56 PM:

A great big THANK YOU to whichever fine Fluorospherian first mentioned Girl Genius. I finally got around to reading it online last week, have reached Vol. 7, page 42, and am having a riotously good time.

But can anyone explain exactly why Agatha has to spend so much "screen" time practically falling out of her clothes? Just curious.

Back to see how she fixes the coffee engine. Hey...I want a coffee engine! :)

#874 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 04:01 PM:

Because Phil Foglio enjoys drawing chesty women who are falling out of their clothes? Just a guess, mind you.

#875 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 04:05 PM:

HLN: area woman successfully completes her own birthday cake; uses cake flour and caster sugar to improve texture, fills with homemade salted caramel sauce and covers in dark chocolate ganache. In related news, despite cake-loving guests, area woman still left with a minor surplus of cake. "Over half a pound of 72% cacao Belgian chocolate and the majority of a canister of Scharffenberger cocoa gave their lives for the creation of this cake." She hopes cake is consumed by pastry loving co-workers, but despairs that extra salted caramel sauce will ever be finished. Toward that end, vanilla ice cream will be purchased.

#876 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 04:09 PM:

Nerdycellist @875: If I lived anywhere near you, I can guarantee that you wouldn't need to worry about a pastry surplus!

#877 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 05:56 PM:

***thinks*** Well, David Goldfarb @ 874, that is a distinct possibility, I suppose...

nerdycellist @ 875, what Cassy B said! ***salted caramel sauce over vanilla ice cream***mops drool off keyboard***

#878 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 09:57 PM:

Actually, from what I've read in interviews, the whole point of Girl Genius was to give Phil Foglio the maximum possible scope for drawing things he liked to draw. Kaja noticed that Phil often doodled airships and cool clanky machines; she then sat down with him and worked out a world and story that put those things to use. "Can you do that?" Phil was heard to say. "Isn't that some sort of cheating?" I personally think that energy and enthusiasm is very visible in the strip.

#879 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 11:24 PM:

HLN: Local woman finishes 78500-word historical romance novel she began in March.

And finds a title.

And sends the file to the writer who pushed her into doing it.

And starts worrying about query letters.

"The strangest thing," she was heard to say, "is that there isn't anything I need to research for it any more."

#880 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 11:31 PM:

>> Because Phil Foglio enjoys drawing chesty women who are falling out of their clothes?

Anybody remember Liberty Meadows?

#881 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 12:48 AM:

Rikibeth @879, yes, and then you stumble across an item that you would add to your notes for the project only . . . it's done!

Well, on to the next one, right?

#882 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 01:03 AM:

John -- I'm waiting at least a week before I start on the sequel! Beyond the rough outline I have already, that is.

Yeah, I started getting sequel bunnies about halfway through. Once I realized that this was a Napoleonic-era Lancelot/Arthur/Guinevere that for once would end happily, the sequel became obvious: bring in Mordred to start trouble.

Except in this case Mordred is a brother-in-law whose son has just been bumped lower in the succession.


However, maybe if I ask nicely, the National Trust has floor plans of Ham House they'd be willing to send me. I'll still need those for the sequel.

#883 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 04:55 AM:

AKICIML: "10 manuscript pages (double-spaced typed 12 pt font with 1 inch margins)" = how many words? (Approx.)

#884 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 05:55 AM:

Syd #873. Bruce H. #880: ...or his old comic in Dragon, What's New With Phil & Dixie?.

I do note that just as with What's New, the undress is at least lampshaded. And in GG, the cheesecake does back off a bit once Agatha's out of that awkward "kindling" stage....

#885 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 08:25 AM:

dcb@883: "10 manuscript pages (double-spaced typed 12 pt font with 1 inch margins)" = how many words? (Approx.)

To a very rough level of approximation, about 2500-3000 words.

Things that will influence the count: typeface (mono or proportional), length of typical paragraphs, the presence or absence of dialogue.

#886 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 09:23 AM:

The BBC is reporting that the astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell has died. I recall him as the chief populariser of science in my childhood.

#887 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 09:44 AM:

Debra Doyle @885: Thank you! That's really helpful.

#888 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 10:04 AM:

Minuscule vs. miniscule. Of interest because of the spelling reference.

#889 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 10:08 AM:

Debra Doyle @885: Thank you! That's really helpful.

#890 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 10:16 AM:

Liberty Meadows runs daily on the Darkgate Comics Slurper, which gets it from somewhere else that's running it. It's reruns now, right? Beautiful art.

Also no longer with us: violinist Ruggiero Ricci, 94. I still remember stepping out during the interval of a play at Lincoln Center (in Fort Collins, not that other one) and hearing the notes of the finale of the Brahms violin concerto coming from another room and mentally kicking myself for going to see my roommate that night instead of going to hear Ricci and doing the play later. Or earlier. Or whatever. I considered just staying out there in the hall for the remainder of the piece, too. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

#891 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 12:30 PM:

Andrew Plotkin #833: Apple software generally doesn't offer preferences for presentation (color, font, etc)

Unfortunate. I would have called that an accessibility issue.

My only other Mac dislike right now is the apparent lack of a GoScreen-like (or Gnome-like) virtual desktop pager widget that is visible-and-clickable from all desktops/spaces. Having to first click onto Mission Control or make arcane gestures does not render things more simple.

#892 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 02:08 PM:

Well, that's annoying, Lee. But I suppose we have to accept it.

I hate it though, because it loses the parallel to 'majuscule'. I would say that 'miniscule' should never be used in reference to a script, which is the only place 'majuscule' is used. I'll also note that my spelling checker knows 'miniscule' but not 'majuscule', which only adds to my irritation.

On the other hand, I can now add 'majuscule' to my list of correctly-spelled words that spill chuckers balk at, alongside 'insolation'.

#893 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 02:48 PM:

HLN, weird edition:

I got up this morning to discover the back gate, shed door, and back bike shed doors open. (We have both a shed and a bike shed.) The bike shed was also short one bike: Martin's fairly ordinary Dutch bike. Leaving the house, I bumped into our next door neighbor, who was also poorer by one (much nicer) cycle. We shook our heads and went to our various destinations.

I came home this evening to hear that Martin had reported the theft to the police. Bike theft is, of course, as common as canals here; the police took the report but didn't promise to do anything about it.

Then, after dinner, the doorbell rang. It was our next door neighbor, saying he'd been asking up and down the street to see if anyone else was missing anything. And it turns out that a guest of the people a couple of doors down saw four bicycles standing around behind the row of fences that defines our back gardens. He called the police, who came in force and silence.

The miscreants fled on our two bikes, but left two behind. No more bikes appear to be missing in the area, so it's now thought that they came to the village on the bikes they left behind. They're probably stolen, most likely from Amsterdam.

The police declined to collect them from the neighbors. They have enough untraceable stolen bikes, thank you very much. They didn't so much suggest as kinda hint around that the neighbors just keep them, or alternatively, sell them or otherwise dispose of them.

The neighbors don't want the bikes. So they let us take one. It's a much better bike than the one that was stolen, though it needs some minor repairs and a lock or two.

Upshot: bike upgrade by theft.

#894 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 03:28 PM:

abi, I'm reminded of the incident in Good News from Planet Earth, where during the night "a gang of Dadaist punks had broken into his car and installed an expensive stereo."

#895 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 03:42 PM:

abi, I'm reminded of the incident in Good News from Planet Earth, where during the night "a gang of Dadaist punks had broken into his car and installed an expensive stereo."

#896 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 03:47 PM:

abi - At one point my car got stolen; when the police found it a few days later, the people who'd stolen it had cleaned out the trash and left a couple of minor things that I thought were fun (a Klutz games pamphlet for car use, for one). Not quite as good, but close.

#897 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 04:04 PM:

Taken in by an error message.

#898 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 04:07 PM:

Lee @889: I read that miniscule vs. minuscule page, and then poked around on the site for a few minutes reading about spelling reform. That led me to an article about relative rates of dyslexia in English, French, and Italian, which claimed that English has 1,120 ways of writing 40 sounds, while Italian has 40 ways of writing 33 sounds.

My first thought was if we're going to reform English spelling so we spell words the way they're pronounced, that means we'll have to agree how to pronounce them! In other words, we'll have to pick a dialect/accent of English (extant or created for the purpose) which will get phonetic spelling, and other dialects will be relegated to second-class status.

#899 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 04:35 PM:


So, I had my tires and tubes replaced three weeks ago, because the fancy new tires I got last year were starting to visibly fall apart.

Kevlar tires, Fancy-Duty Slime-Tube™ tubes ... And my back tire went flat yesterday (after feeling low for most of the time since I got them replaced). (At least it had the grace to wait to go resolutely pfffft until I got home.)

Have I mentioned that I'm sick unto death of flat tires?

Now looking into airless tires....

#900 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 04:54 PM:

Kip: Yeah, I got that error, too. The gnomes feeling overworked, perhaps?

#901 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 04:56 PM:

Kip: Yeah, I got that error, too. The gnomes feeling overworked, perhaps?

#902 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 05:02 PM:

Jeremy, even if we all spoke one dialect, we would lose a lot of information value by spelling phonetically. Consider the words 'electric' and 'electricity' as one example.

#903 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 05:51 PM:

Xopher @ 902

Re: loss of content from alternate spellings

Yeah, but there's such broad irregularization going on anyway. I feel like rigid formalism had its shot, and is now being progressively moderated by practical approximacy and a jury-rigged, tool-kit-based approach to spelling and wordification. I'm not sure it's a complete loss; I think you lose some connections through alternate spellings, but gain different connections from the increasing trend toward splicing things together in new and interesting ways...

Also, don't you find that certain "misspellings" give you a much clearer insight into the writer's mind and the lenses they're using to view the world? "Reigning things in" is a really societally interesting shift.

"Minuscule" surprises me, though. I would have said "miniscule" is the dominant spelling. Live and learn...

#904 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 05:59 PM:

abi, #893: That's similar to the way we got our current lawnmower. The old one (and several bikes) were stolen out of the back yard*, and when my partner went to the City Surplus website he found a much better mower going for a pittance.

* That was in fact the second such theft we'd had in a matter of months, and provided the impetus for completely securing the back yard -- something which had previously kept sliding down the priority list.

#905 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 06:13 PM:

KayTei: Fair enough, but I was really speaking specifically about spelling "reform" designed to make spellings "more regular" by making them phonetic. Another example would be "phoneticizing" the spelling of -tion words, which would end up having endings that match the word 'shun'—a false relationship that would confuse the kids. It goes on.

#906 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 06:35 PM:

Birthday present - presumably from the parental units - has been received; cuisinart ice cream maker! The bowl is freezing now, so ice cream production may commence as soon as tomorrow after work. Going to look for a nice kulfi recipe involving cardamon and cinnamon.

#907 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 07:47 PM:

Highway robbery in Texas, perhaps less of it in the future.

#908 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 07:47 PM:

Highway robbery in Texas, perhaps less of it in the future.

#909 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 07:48 PM:

890: Rats. Ricci's recordings of the Bach partitas and sonatas for unaccompanied violin were among the first CDs I ever bought. They helped me stay relatively sane through my MA.

#910 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 08:22 PM:

TexAnne, I recently made the hard choice to replace Ricci's recording of those on my iPod with Sergiu Luca, who was my 'imprint' for the pieces. There's not a darn thing wrong with Ricci's recording, and there are lots of things right, but I'd been wanting to hear Luca again for more than a year, and I finally splurged on a new recording for the purpose.

Ricci's also my imprint for the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, and some day I'll put that recording onto my pod. It's hard to be objective about it, but to me, the versions I've heard that don't take the (apparently authorized) cuts sound sort of roundabout. I'll need to have some more listens to evaluate it more clearly, I think.

I've enjoyed Ricci's album of Chopin nocturnes, transcribed by various hands (including his) for violin and piano. Now that I'm reminded of it, I might listen to it tonight.

#911 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 08:28 PM:

albatross, #906: That's good news for every traveling vendor in Texas. Now if we can just get Collinsville (IL) and Tennessee under control again...

#912 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 09:16 PM:

Nerdycellist, I have a similar ice cream maker. My advice after a couple years of light use: a cold freezer is amazing. Getting the bowl as cold as you can makes a big difference, and putting clingwrap over the intake funnel helps too. Get some containers big enough for a single batch, and some big enough for a double. And make a double batch of chocolate and peanut butter cup ice cream, including way more peanut butter cups than they say, and have some at room temperature to mix in after with the chocolate sauce.

#913 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 11:59 PM:

Patrick Farley is getting busy again.

This is his suggested reboot of Cloverfield:

#914 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 12:31 AM:

Xopher @ 905

Well, it's a nice intellectual exercise... I guess I just think we're more likely to get there by way of informality and illiteracy than by intent.

#915 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 01:02 AM:

A moment of silence for Judith Crist, whose TV Guide movie reviews made her the first movie critic I knew by name.

#916 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 01:07 AM:

And now, a metaphor for the behavior of markets. Saw this at Pilobolus tonight. The part that made me think of markets starts at about 2:00.

WARNING: Pachelbel's Canon in D. Those who are enraged by that piece should disable sound before clicking.

#917 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 02:20 AM:

I bought an Italian 50cc motorbike with a Harley Davidson label on it for $150 back in 1967. It was stolen out of our carport a few months later.

The kicker? We had insured it for $175.

#918 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 09:36 AM:

Via Twitter: Jo gets a WFA nomination!

#919 ::: TexAnne is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 09:38 AM:

One gleeful link about Jo's World Fantasy nomination. Here is some rose tea in a real tetsubin while we reread Among Others.

#920 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 11:19 AM:

They fixed that one FAST. Is that a new Gnome Olympic record?

#921 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 11:30 AM:

Xopher HalfTongue@916

There are people enraged by Canon in D? That's a piece of lore I was unaware of. Although its true I don't generally move in musical circles; perhaps the reaction is specific to those most likely to have been over-exposed?

#922 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 11:40 AM:

Russ (921): Overexposure to a piece of music can certainly do that. One summer when we were teens, my sister decided to learn Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" on piano. After listening to the first movement of that over and over and over again for months, I took a serious dislike to that beautiful music. It was a good ten years before I could stand to listen to it at all.

#923 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 11:48 AM:

Russ @921 -

TNH posted a recent particle called "Pachelbel Rant", which points to a Youtube video of a comedy routine. As a cellist, I can only say that I heartily agree with the sentiments professed by that video, and am only semi-joking when I thank Xopher for his Pachelbel Trigger Warning.

(shorter Pachelbel Rant: eight. fucking. notes. forever.)

#924 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 01:23 PM:

Patelson's, the late lamented fabulous music store in NYC, had a cartoon taped to the counter. The caption was "Prisoner of Pachelbel," and it showed a prisoner in a cell with a speaker saying, "For your listening pleasure, we again present Pachelbel's Canon..."

(I'll bet they were pronouncing it "pockle bell," too.)

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.