Back to previous post: “To live is to war against the trolls.”

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Dysfunctional Families: Everybody lined up for the parade?

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

September 18, 2012

Open thread 177
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:26 PM *

Here’s a neat thing. A team at Harvard Medical School has used DNA to encode the text of a book. They’re playing around with the very high storage density that the medium provides.

The researchers claim that the cost of DNA coding is dropping so quickly that within five to 10 years it could be cheaper to store information using this method than in conventional digital devices.

They used a draft of a book they’d written themselves, and didn’t involve living organisms. While both of these are logical for a first attempt at something, questioning those choices opens up intriguing worlds of possibilities.

What if we could make DNA storage “compile”, as it were, and live inside our bodies? What book or books would you carry around encoded in your very cells? My well-stocked Kindle would suddenly seem bulky and inconvenient, if my library could be encoded in my fingernails. (Assuming I could find a reader that would work with that format, of course.)

Or would we start with a shorter text? How about the name of a beloved, set as a seal upon our nuclei? Smaller and more pervasive than a sailor’s MOM tattoo, less visible than the phoenix on my upper arm, more permanent than exchanged rings?

Continued from Open thread 176.

Continued in Open Thread 178.

Comments on Open thread 177:
#1 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 05:35 PM:

Yay! A new Open Thread! And there was much rejoicing.

Also, biological computers will be here in our lifetime...depending, of course.

#2 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 05:37 PM:

I'll start by noting that there may be less room for storage in the cell than people think, because most "junk DNA" isn't. A lot of it is coding for RNA that has biological functions.

#3 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 05:40 PM:

If hte book is released bu Amazon, will they update it, whether I want to our not?

#4 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 05:56 PM:

There was a story in Analog-or-Asimov's years ago about a man who devised a way of encoding text this way. He was a devout Muslim and he had the Qur'an written into his blood. When someone hit him (when he and his daughter were on Hajj) he informed them that by spilling his blood they had cast the Qur'an into the dust.

#5 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 06:14 PM:

An FB friend pointed me to this article on The Distress of the Privileged. I think it's really good, and explains a lot of the issues of privilege in simple but not condescending terms. It also proposes a path for dealing with privileged, distressed people.

#6 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 06:28 PM:

And if we did write something into our cells, what would be changed, what would be lost, what would be added, as the years went by? What would be indelibly written in our children's bodies, and in their children's? Would it be what we intended?

In less poetic but still science-squee-related news, NASA scientists are trying to test a theory that could lead to warp drive.

I only have a bachelor's degree in physics, nowhere near the physics I'd need to make any judgments about the plausibility of that work. But it's a fantastic thing to think about.

#7 ::: Tracey ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 06:39 PM:

I think it's creepy, and I don't see the point. Okay, you can carry a book around in your cells--but you can't read it or access it, so why bother?

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 06:52 PM:

The proper display device for a DNA encoded book would be a scroll of living parchment. When you grip it in your hands the text would appear in the font of your choice, in tasteful shades of melanin.

#9 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 07:05 PM:

Just think about not wanting to trim your nails and then breaking one. How do you get the book back if the nail is lost? ;)

#10 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 07:09 PM:

Could lead to the loss of the whole kingdom, Dave!

#11 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 07:16 PM:

What happens if you transfer the Necronomicon onto DNA?

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 07:16 PM:

I think I'd want a bunch of Samuel Johnson's nonfiction. He's always readable, and those sentences would go a long way toward compensating for a collagen deficiency.

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 07:22 PM:

#11: Oh, but it already is! The Mad Arab was just transcribing what was in our genes all along.

#14 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 07:23 PM:

DaveKuzminski @9: For want of a nail, the series was lost?

#15 ::: marc sobel ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 07:34 PM:

I am shocked at the poster for not even mentioning the problems of a proper cover

Also gives new meaning to the problem of choosing the right binding.

#16 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 07:51 PM:

Serge, it's like what happens if you photocopy it. It counts the same as reading it out loud.

#17 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 07:52 PM:

If you encode a book into your DNA, and then have kids, do they inherit the book?

What happens if you and your spouse each have a (different) book. Do your kids get random textual combinations?

#18 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 08:00 PM:

Avram @ 16:

Your kids get the sequels.

#19 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 08:04 PM:

Caroline #6: Sorry, but there's a brief disposal of the prospect: these guys are still talking about kilogram and megagram (metric ton) amounts of exotic matter. AFAIK, the total amount of exotic matter that's ever been produced is not even sufficient to qualify as microscopic. And AIUI, the types required have *never* been produced at all.

#20 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 08:19 PM:

Interesting. The extrapolation I immediately leap to, rather than having on-board storage, is self-replicating books. Now wouldn't that play merry hell with copyright law?

@10: Xopherrr!

#21 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 08:21 PM:

If you really want to hear about it, call me Ishmael.

#22 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 08:41 PM:

Hey, bike type people!

My roommate's parents got us an awesome, supergenerous birthday present - despite the fact that they are in no way obligated to buy me stuff. Each of us were gifted with one of these folding bikes. I suspect this is because they've both started biking as part of a fitness program and they really like it. Unfortunately, the bikes have a weight capacity of 220 lbs, when both of us clock in at around 235. Does anyone know how "serious" those numbers are? Will I crush the bike if I attempt to climb onto it? Can the bike be "hacked" to hold a larger person?

I'd kind of like to keep it and bike around a bit on streets where I feel safe, but not if I'm going to crush the poor bike... or look like I'm in a Shriners parade.

#23 ::: J. L. Mandelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 08:41 PM:

So, what's the news?

Nothing much. The ship with Bob Ritchie and Lori Walton's bodies arrived on Earth, so they'll be getting put to rest.

Ah hah! I had my fingers crossed this whole time. We're saved then!

What are you talking about?

Well, you know I have the secret battle station plans, and I performed Bob and Lori's autopsies...

So, what good is that? This may be the most advanced bio lab this side of Tau Ceti, but even you can't grow a hypernode transmitter in a vat, and you can't smuggle 100 exabytes of secret plans in a pair of corpses--

-- I can and did.

What? They put those bodies through a full nanometer scan before letting them through. If there were a single molecule which didn't belong in a human, or even the right molecules in the wrong place, that'd pick it up. And even if you get a few through, the holographic encoding of the plans means you have to smuggle all 100 exabytes or it's useless as none of it.

But the scanners don't check the DNA.

Sure they do. If the body's cells don't have the right amount of DNA in the right place, or if there's extra DNA in the wrong place, that'll cause a red light.

I meant they don't check the DNA *sequences*.

Well, no. Everyone's is different, and no one is going to smuggle DNA, it's thousands of times cheaper to make it yourself, even if you have only the most rudimentary equipment.

The makers of the scanners weren't thinking about smuggling information. After all, hypernode is going to be faster and cheaper than any ship. But when your enemy has control of all the hypernodes... Well, there are 3 billion base pairs in the human genome. Each cell has a copy of that genome. And there are 50 trillion cells in the body. And this equipment can replace each cell's DNA with a unique sequence. Those plans are written into their nuclei, redundantly many many times over. And when Earth checks their DNA against the stored records for identity verification, they'll discover sequences which aren't human, and don't even match any lifeform whatsoever.

So, we're going to be rescued by a pair of corpses, which you turned into digital media...

Yes, we're saved by the stateful dead.

#24 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 09:01 PM:

Home safe, albeit over an hour late due to storms delaying the train.

#25 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 10:05 PM:

Right there with you, Dave. Except I was two and a half hours late.

#26 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 10:36 PM:

Encoding in DNA? Bodies would no longer be anonymous, and even parts of bodies could be identified with certainty. Murders might be easier to solve, as detectives won't have to spend so much time on identifying corpses, and any bio evidence would also be clearly linkable to perpetrators.

In a more optimistic vein, we could write our medical histories into ourselves. No guessing at medications half remembered; no forgetting conditions given in confusing medical terminology.

On top of all that, I would never lack for reading material. To a reading addict, this is heaven. How many books could I pack into myself? Could I use these extra adipose cells? Why, I could be an entire library!

#27 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 10:52 PM:

I don't understand how one reads the books encoded in one's DNA.

#28 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 11:11 PM:

Nerdycellist #22: you shouldn't have a problem with the bikes. Published limits like this are usually more stringent than necessary, just for safety's sake. And for fear of litigation. There's a technical term for it, but I haven't had to use it in 20 years, so I've forgotten. Over-specced?

You're less than 10% over the stated limit, so crushing is unlikely. Wearing them out a little sooner is a possibility, but you'll likely not notice. Besides, you'll be losing weight anyway. Have fun!

#29 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 11:24 PM:

Thanks for all of your kind words and support. One of the challenges of Mom's death is that there is an amazing amount of administrivia that goes along with death and that sucks up a lot of the time one might want to spend mourning and remembering. Also, life goes on.

Elise, yes far too long. Finances haven't allowed for travel or cons for several years. {turns and waves in the vague direction of Mpl/StPl}.

Stefan Jones 176/922: No worries. You post went through while the gnomes were off studying gnomenclature (the lesson was a fascinating one about parts of a sundial).

#30 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 11:42 PM:

Open Thready shout-out to KayTei: I got your email! I am failing at responding. I'm not sure, but I think your IP dislikes my SMTP. I'm going to try again from a different SMTP. Meantime, the short answer is:

Tuesday, October 9 between 2:13 PM and midnight;
Tuesday, October 16 between 6:15 AM and 11:09 AM.
I like everything. Well, I don't like cilantro, but I can tolerate it.


#31 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 12:41 AM:

nerdycellist at #22:

As Tracie comments at #28, the bike likely is under-rated/over-specced. For light-duty riding (ie, no major curb-jumping, stunting, etc.) you're likely to have no issue so long as you keep the tires fully inflated.

I have noticed some three-wheel bike models available in different load ratings - the tires were different. If you ever blow a tire, you can probably find tires with a higher load rating, but I doubt you'll have a problem.

The main thing to check would be the pivot in the middle - the part that makes it a foldable bike. On any folding bike, that is a weak spot. Keep it tight when riding, and check it once in a while. The latch bolt might stretch, the hinge bolt might bend - they will be noticeably deformed before they fail outright, such is the nature of inexpensive bolts. It is very unlikely that you will actually see any problems here - I just mention it because that is where the force will be concentrated - those two bolts are what hold the two halves of the bike together.

That's an engineer's take, as an occasional rider. Others who ride far more often can give you tips on what to watch/listen out for that will tell you something needs to be tuned/tightened/adjusted/whatever.

Have fun!

#32 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:11 AM:

Nicole @ 30

I read your message on the open thread.
I'll send a note from my backup account.
I think that we can safely take as read
that restaurants serving Mexican are out.

I also see the dates you specified;
I think a dinner thing sounds pretty cool
But mornings find me sadly zombified,
My conversations sparkling just with drool.

My e-mail may be just a bit delayed;
I need to make myself be an adult.
Tonight I need to get affairs arranged,
So that tomorrow I can get results.

(I need a new shoulder-adult, for sure. This one is exhausted...)

#33 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:30 AM:

KayTei @32:

Let me not to the appreciation of tamales
Admit impediments. A taste for such is no taste
Which adapts not when it cilantro finds,
Nor refuses the pozole to peruse.

...I find a distaste for cilantro is much more often a problem in Thai cuisine than Mexican for me. Where in the latter it seems to know its place, blends in with the crowd, in the former it will rise up barking I AM CILANTRO! APPRECIATE ME! to the overshadowing of everything else on the plate. I quite like Mexican food. (My favorite Boulder joint, Casa Alvarez, seems partial to platos estilo Jalisco. Yum.) But then I also like a lot of things Thai restaurants serve too. I adore Korean cuisine. Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian and its neighbors, these are all lovely too. Basically, if you have a place you want to show off, I'm going to be an appreciative audience.

Email resent from my gmail. - if that doesn't work, I'll try resending to your backup account (once you send me an email from it, of course).

#34 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:52 AM:






And I can have my cats!!!!!

***Kermit flails***big shoe dance***20000kW grin***

#35 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:54 AM:






And I can have my cats!!!!!

***Kermit flails***big shoe dance***20000kW grin***

#36 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:56 AM:

Apologies for the duplicate post, I got a server error the first time, checked the main page in another tab, didn't see my comment and clicked again.

#37 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:59 AM:

Nicole @ 33

This is just to say
I have received
the e-mail
that was in
my inbox

and which
you were probably
for confirmation

Forgive me
this was audacious
so silly
and superfluous

#38 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 02:07 AM:

Syd - duplicate posting is worth it. YEAH!!! I am so happy for you and your cats!

#39 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 02:17 AM:

Good to hear, Syd -- and so glad you're getting your kittehs back!

#40 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 02:36 AM:

Ginger @ #26, According to JD Robb, the cops in 2050 NYC can do all that. It helps Eve Dallas and Peabody no end. ;)

#41 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 02:39 AM:

Yay Syd and cats!

#42 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 02:45 AM:

Syd can haz place! Syd can haz kittehs! Yay!

#43 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 02:57 AM:

Open thread. emergency preparedness meets cats. Contest open until the end of September.

#44 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 03:08 AM:

Syd @ 34

gleefully dwelling on cats...


#45 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 03:46 AM:

Ginger @26, if we're talking about reading DNA, then bodies are already not anonymous, as long as you've got DNA records on file somewhere. How does the book-encoding thing change that?

If you don't have a DNA record, the book encoding only helps if you happen to know what book the person encoded. Otherwise, imagine the chaos if there's one super-popular book, and fans of it start dying. "Jeez, Sarge, another body with Telemachus Sneezed encoded in its DNA."

#46 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:07 AM:

Syd @34:

A kitteh-compatible room and a job! That's fantastic! I'm so happy for you!

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:18 AM:

If you embed text in your DNA after you're born (or, if you're male, anywhere but the sperminiferous cells), then it won't get into your gametes, and thus won't get passed to your children. Indeed, making the change pervasive would be a lot harder than restricting its location.

I'd put it in the cells that create new fingernail. That way every cell in that nail would have the embedded information. Take a trimming and pop it in a reader, or poke a nail into a reader and have it shave off a cell or two, and there you go.

You could organize your collection by finger: left hand for nonfiction, right for fiction, for instance.

This does all require that one can put a good deal of DNA into a cell without harming it. If replacing DNA isn't an option, as per Vicki @2, then maybe a new DNA body could be introduced. It would want to be inert apart from dividing when the rest of the cell divides.

#48 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:18 AM:

Yay for Syd and her room and being able to have her cats!

jnh: Belated condolences.

Nerdycellist @22: Agreeing with the others - you're less than 10% over and I would expect the bikes to be over-specced by at least that percentage. I love my folding bike - it's sitting behind me on a train at the moment, having saved me the cost of a Zone 1 London Tube ticket.

#49 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 05:03 AM:

Tracie @ #28:

"Safety factor"? Usually somewhere on the order of 1.5x to 10x (the more likely a load-induced failure is to cause death, the higher the safety factor).

dcb @ #48:
Unfortunately, while dropping zone 1 off my ticket would drop the price down to ~£140 per month, it would realistically mean riding a bike all the way from Zone 3.

#50 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 05:46 AM:

2012 - First encoding of text into human DNA
2015 - DNA text widespread (DNAt)
2018 - First heritable DNA text (hDNAt)
2020 - hDNAt widespread
2028 - First evidence of hDNAt expression in humans
2060 - Dwarf/Goblin Wars, Wizengamot adds Imperius Curse to the Unforgivable list, foundation of Vulcan Science Academy

#51 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 06:21 AM:

Niall McAuley @ #50:

2029 - First hDNAt encoding of al Hazred's Necronomicon found in humans.
2030 - Necronomicon hDNAt starts spreading at a geometric rate

#52 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 08:31 AM:

Yay, Syd! Great news!

#53 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 08:40 AM:

hurray, Syd!

#54 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 08:57 AM:

...and a somewhat belated W00T! from all of us here in the Moose Operations Division to Syd + kitties.

Did I say "W00T!"?


(I'm sure those multiple exclamation marks are going to trigger a gnomish intervention, so here are some chocolate truffles in advance.)

#55 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 09:06 AM:

Hurray for Syd; I'm so glad of this news.

And nerdycellist @ 22--I'll repeat what the others have said--weight limits on bikes are conservative. I would get the wheels tensioned after riding a hundred miles or so--that really increases durability; other than that, I wouldn't worry about it.

And welcome to the bike-riders' world; my bike has been such a good thing over the past couple years.

#56 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 09:47 AM:

Woohoo Syd!!

#57 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:27 AM:

Syd: w00t w00t!!!eleventy!

Worth posting twice, worth celebrating twice!

#58 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:43 AM:

Syd (34&35): Hip-hip-HOORAY!!

#59 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:44 AM:

Bravo Syd!

#60 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:44 AM:

Lee #845 (Open Thread 176), belatedly, I and the Husband shall be at Fencon; he's running games Friday and Saturday night, and I expect to do a fair amount of panel-izing, and perhaps even a little filk.

This will be my second Real!Con!. I'm excited.

#61 ::: Jennifer Baughman has been gnomulated ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:48 AM:

I think I borked a URL; I'm sorry, gnomes! Have a bacon-cheddar scone and a fruit bowl?

#62 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:56 AM:

Hurray, Syd! And cats, too...

We may actually get Autumn here, and I'm wondering if our first frost will happen this month (I heard the 90 day locusts in June, which local folklore says we get frost three months later.)

The dogwood started changing color over two weeks ago, and the maples began last week. Seems early. Still have hummers coming to the feeders, and we have had both Monarchs and Black Swallowtails visiting the butterfly bushes.

Oooh, better get the tropical plants in soon.

#63 ::: ACW ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 11:24 AM:

Caroline @ #6:

I just read the warp-drive article, and I have to say, disappointedly, that my bullshit-meter is in the red zone. I realize it's NASA, but that's not a guarantee of anything: NASA made an explicit decision to throw a small amount of money at far-out propulsion concepts. So don't hold your breath waiting for interstellar probes.

#64 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 11:37 AM:

Yay, Syd!

#65 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 11:40 AM:

A few months ago I went to a reading by a poet (Christian Bok) who is working on having a poem encoded into the DNA of an extremophile bacterium. The idea being that the poem could outlast humanity, even through nuclear war or massive biosphere catastrophe.

(I was vaguely hoping that he would perform his poem by sneezing it at us, but no, he just read the text.)

He said the hard part was coming up with an encoding of DNA to the English alphabet such that, when the bacterium reverses his poem through RNA transcription to produce proteins, it generates a meaningful response-poem.

#66 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 11:52 AM:

Syd, that is AWESOME!

Everyone with bike advice - thank you. I was worried that we'd need to try and trade them for non-folding bikes, which are less practical for apartment living. We will go ahead and unpack them and take them out on a test ride hopefully this weekend. It's been awhile since I've been on a bike so I'll have to look like a wobbly idiot for a bit. Most streets around here terrify me, but my immediate neighborhood seems to be made for leisure biking. If I can do it without injury, I'll have to order a basket so I can go to the local Farmer's Market, which always seemed a tiny bit too far to walk (or at least far enough to excuse not walking) but kind of stupid to drive to and inconvenient to park.

Next up: a helmet that won't make me look like a circus bear.

#67 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 12:05 PM:

Encoding information in DNA sounds like an opportunity to retool The Illustrated Man. heh.

#68 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 12:36 PM:

Yay Syd!

Avram @45: What we have now is the ability to match DNA samples -- if we have both ante and post mortem. If you don't have any exterior information about the body, you don't know where to look for the comparison samples. If you can encode a book into DNA, you can encode other information like name, address, birth date -- no more lost kiddies? -- and the DNA reader could then spit this out upon request, perhaps with proof of law enforcement/warrant, to prevent criminal access to that.

If we can encode a book into DNA, we can develop the readers to decode them.

#69 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 12:37 PM:

Jennifer, #60: Do drop by and say hi to us in the dealer room. My partner has T-shirts and I have jewelry and tchotchkes, and we're usually on the wall at the other end from the main entrance. Dinner might also be an option, if that fits your schedule.

nerdycellist, #66: It's probably worth dropping by your local bike shop and getting them to make sure the bike is properly adjusted for you. Things like the angle of the handlebars and the height of the seat can make a tremendous difference to your comfort when riding -- and if it's not comfortable, you won't ride.

#70 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 12:44 PM:

Nerdycellist #66: what about this helmet?.

#71 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:15 PM:

Oh, well that helmet is just cute! Hmmm... helmet, basket, lock, bike adjustment... I'm thinking this gift is going to cost me a little.

#72 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:49 PM:

David Harmon @ 19 (and ACW @ 63): No need to apologize. As I implied, I was maintaining skepticism to start with, and it was pretty clear from what I could understand that the energy requirements to actually do it for a spaceship are way out there. I wasn't swallowing the "zomg people we have warp drive!" headline uncritically.

I guess I failed to communicate the skepticism with which I was regarding it, and the amount of "I understand this is still in the pie-in-the-sky realm but it's kinda neat that people are thinking about this and that NASA is throwing some small amount of money to cover their pie-in-the-sky bases" involved.

I'm still curious, however, about the very-small-scale thing they are planning to test in the lab, and their source of energy for that.

#73 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:50 PM:

I'm opinionated about bikes; I'm also cheap.

The four must-haves in my opinion are a helmet, a good lock, a good tail-light (I like my RadBot 1000), and a reflective vest. The helmet and reflective vest can come from Wal-mart; although it's not recommended, a used helmet is way better than no helmet. It will probably cost about $100 to get those things.

I think fitting you can do yourself, until you are riding a lot. If you are putting in 100+ miles a week, a professional fitting is well worth it; if you are putting in 20 or so, mostly in short rides, look at Sheldon Brown's tips and adjust it yourself. And find a bike co-op near you; bike coops are awesome.

Part of the joy of biking is that everyone looks ridiculous, so you can just not worry about how you look.

#74 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 01:53 PM:

on the subject of other interesting uses for DNA: a fracking fluid tracer using well-specific inert DNA strands.

#75 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 02:13 PM:

Congratulations Syd!

* * *
NPR ran a piece this morning about why 47% don't pay (net) income tax. It included a bit of Ronald Reagan speechifying about the Earned Income Tax Credit, and how it would help working class people and (paraphrasing) allow some to get off of the tax roles entirely. He said this in praise of the credit.

Astounding: Current day conservatives make Ronald Reagan look wise and compassionate.

#76 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 02:36 PM:

Yayyyyyyy Syd! *kermit flail*

Yay for emails that arrive intact! (And poot on spammers who get perfectly innocent IPs on other IPs' blacklists!)

#77 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 02:56 PM:

Stefan, #75: Someone elseNet mentioned a factoid to the effect of "if you ask the average conservative what the combined percentages of blacks and Hispanics in America add up to, their answer is generally right around 47%" -- IOW, the whole 47% thing is a giant racist dog-whistle. That's plausible (because one of the standard right-wing memes is that WHITES ARE ABOUT TO BECOME A MINORITY IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY OMG!!!), but I don't buy it without independent references. Would you (or anyone else) happen to have heard anything about this?

#78 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 03:24 PM:

Open threadiness, political season edition:

So, twice a week I read Colorado employment ads for the Audio Information Network of Colorado. Which is how I've come to notice the following phrasing showing up in nursing employment ads:

"Applies current evidence to own clinical practice and teaches evidence-based practice to nursing staff and to outreach audiences." (example copied from a Nurse Practitioner ad from Parallon Workforce Management Solutions.)

"Evidence-based practice"... would there be any need for such phrasing in an ad published in the 21st century, if not for the alarming and growing movement of people opposed to a fact-based, evidence-based approach to life and science and the world? Is this the industry's way of saying "Evolution-deniers, science-deniers, and fact-opposed individuals need not apply"?

It's sort of surreal running across that phrase -- I mean, of course modern medicine requires practitioners of evidence-based medicine, right? -- and this is the only speculation I have for why it pops up so often. Which depresses me a little.

#79 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 03:35 PM:

Nicole (78): I'm sure that someone who's actually in the medical field can explain more fully, but"evidence-based practice" seems to be an actual Thing. (The term sounded familiar, so I did a little googling.)

#80 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 03:36 PM:

Syd! That's wonderful! I'm so happy for you, and may things continue to improve.

#81 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 03:48 PM:

Way to go, Syd! Based on our two most recent datapoints, when do you achieve world domination? Start practicing your evil laugh!

#82 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:12 PM:

Yay Syd! Yay room! Yay kittehs! Great news. Syd, you rock.

#83 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:17 PM:

Nicole @#78, Mary Aileen @ #79: Evidence-Based Practice is indeed a Thing. You would think that all medical practice would be based on clinical evidence, but you would be wrong. (For example, it's really hard to get people to volunteer their kids for drug trials; so a lot of pediatric pharmacology is more or less best-guess-based-on-trials-done-on-adults.)

EBP, at least as practiced by the American Physical Therapy Association, does not mean you can't do it if there's no clinical evidence for it; it just means (I'm oversimplifying here) that if clinical evidence is available, you use it.

#84 ::: Lila got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:20 PM:

Only one link, to an article in the journal of the American Physical Therapy Association about Evidence-Based Practice.

I have sweet potato chips to share.

#85 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:26 PM:

"Evidence-based medicine" is basically Taylorisation as applied to medicine-especially around standardisation of best practices.

I'm in favor, but it has pretty much the standard set of problems and benefits that any replacement of craft production with standardized production does.

#86 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:36 PM:

Mary Aileen @79: Yup. As someone in the biomedical sciences, I hear a lot about evidence-based medicine. Essentially, it means taking into account current scientific and clinical research, as opposed to making treatment decisions based solely on the clinician's own personal knowledge and experience.

It was news to me that not all clinicians did this as a matter of course. But apparently some make decisions based on what they were taught in med school or what they've personally observed with previous patients, rather than using the latest research to inform their decisions. (What they were taught in med school was probably based on research, but that research may be years or decades old and may have been contradicted or modified by more recent findings.)

#87 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:37 PM:

Glad to hear it's a real thing and not a reaction to the current political climate. Thank you for undepressing me. (If only it were always that easy!)

#88 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:42 PM:

Re: Readable DNA — maybe we could add an extra chromosome for documentation.

ObSF: recall a story (though not title, author, or much in the way of plot) where some passing references to 'the human mandate' is later resolved to mean 'man-data' — before the human race started spreading to other planets, it was decided that our common cultural heritage should be encoded in our genes so the new civilizations would have a common ground. I believe the means to read out the data into memory was an element of the story as well.

#89 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 04:59 PM:

No resolution ever fell so flat
as this decree, though most sincerely meant
to bring all to their senses and repent
their every crime. Laid out upon the mat
as subjects proper for our daily chat
those matters upon which no true consent
has been achieved and on which we were lent
not enough time -- and, oh well, that’s that.
When we have signaled that the end is come
to all deception we receive no prize
but only grievances, a mighty store,
since at the last we find that no one’s dumb
who comes beneath the censure of our eyes
but each believes they truly know the score.

#90 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 05:08 PM:

Nicole LeBoeuf-Little@78 et seqq

Evidence Based Medicine does have
its critics too.

#91 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 05:13 PM:

Syd: That's great news!

#92 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 05:14 PM:

TNH #12: One thing I have promised myself to do is read Rasselas one of these days.

I owe it to Johnson to do so.

#93 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 05:17 PM:

HLN: Area man gets eye exam, including dilation for retinal exam. Severely blurred vision results. Staying home and typing very carefully. Heavy use of Ctrl-+ predicted.

Good news is that the little hole in area man's left retina is staying little. Eyedoc says it's not unusual or a cause for concern unless it gets bigger, but it's been a while and it's pretty stable. So that's all good. Area man pleased not to have to worry about going blind on top of other troubles.

#94 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 05:54 PM:

Among other things, evidence-based medicine leans heavily on randomized clinical trials. And one of the criticisms of it is a tendency to ignore plausibility in any other terms, such as whether something fits with the rest of what we know of physics and chemistry. The Science-Based Medicine blog has a lot on this, along with discussions of such things as (at the moment) pertussis and high-fructose corn syrup:

#95 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 06:17 PM:

Lee @ #77, that seems to come via David Frum at the Daily Beast from a study published in a Discover Magazine blog back in January of this year: "one consistent finding in social science is that Americans actually tend to overestimate the number of minorities."

#96 ::: Linkmeister in the clutches of gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 06:19 PM:

Two links probably got me. Care for a Slim Jim?

#97 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 06:26 PM:

praisegod barebones - Ah. Well, I think I'll read it later. I know a time-sink when I see one. But thanks for the link!

(I'm down to two hours again to do what I ought to have done by this time yesterday. Argh. Never tell a volunteer organization that you can write. They'll expect you to do it, and then where will you be? Two hours to revise the recruiting welcome packet, that's where.)

#98 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 07:47 PM:

The Republicans are showing an astonishing talent for alienating voters. I've never heard of anything like it. Are there comparable examples from history?

Should we spend a little time guessing consequences of a big win for Obama?

#99 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 07:51 PM:

Syd, belated congratulations! If anything deserved a double post this certainly does.

#100 ::: lorax has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 07:52 PM:

Probably too many consecutive spaces, unless it was the exclamation mark.

#101 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 08:02 PM:

Mitt Romney is a one-man circular firing squad.

#102 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 08:05 PM:

To further what SamChevre said back in 85: Evidence-based medicine is often used as a way to assume that the median is the range in treatment. "If 60% of the people get better when we do this, we'll keep doing this until you get better and not try anything else." Which might be fine, if everybody reacted the same way to all medicines and there weren't good reasons sometimes to think that an alternative might be better.

#103 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 08:44 PM:

albatross #101: There's this interesting piece in The Atlantic which compares Willard's level of wisdom unfavourably to Al Sharpton. When Al Sharpton is being made the standard of wisdom it is time for you to get out of the game.

#104 ::: Fragano Ledgister hath been Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 08:46 PM:

Would Their Lownesses like a shot or two of Appleton V/X?

#105 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 09:09 PM:

I'm just happy to hear that it's actually a real term of art in the industry, and a thing that reasoning people of good will can disagree on; and not Dog Whistling Against Ignorance.

And I am now fascinated to read all about it. Which I suppose is not the worse thing I could do while eating dinner and waiting for potential new roller derby recruits to walk in the door (hosting our recruiting Q&A tonight! Exciting!).

#106 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:02 PM:

An open-threaded sibling shout-out to my sister Linda Grimes and her new book.

In a Fix

#107 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:46 PM:

Waking This Morning

All things unravel, ties and sureties;
Yet they collapse to one, one thing alone -
Mere whisperings that might be in the trees,

And that was all. But there are no degrees,
No graduation there, no subtle tone;
All things unravel. Ties and sureties

Dissolve like dreams. Like dreams? But no, for these
Are dreams that stay, outlasting teeth and bone.
Mere whisperings that might be in the trees,

And forty years, or forty centuries,
Are gone. The dreams, and only they, live on.
All things unravel – ties and sureties

The most. What else remains? What memories?
The smell. It might have been a grave – my own.
Mere whisperings that might be in the trees

Were death, or nothing; and all sense agrees
That they were nothing, yet they stand like stone.
All things unravel. Ties and sureties –
Mere whispering that might be in the trees.

#108 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 10:47 PM:

Syd: Hip hip hooray!


#109 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 11:08 PM:

Syd, that is great news. I'd be heartbroken if my kitties were not with me.

Xopher, that is good news too.

Other news in my court: had a review/interview by a Rehab doctor this morning first thing. Best news for me is that it is the closest medical service I've gotten so far, less than five minutes from my house. I am walking better than expected, at least on a level surface. I did lose some strength in my good leg, but i know what to work toward before next week's start with regular PT next week. Second week of break-in wearing, no sign of trouble on my leg. Also saw prosthetist today and got an A-OK from him too, with a minor adjustment.

Onward and upward!

#110 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 11:11 PM:

I don't know if anyone else has mentioned it, but there is a new dictionary of Demotic.

#111 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 11:23 PM:

"Evidence-based medicine" was, in retrospect, probably a poor choice of terminology, but at the time the people who came up with it were a relatively powerless minority fighting against a medical establishment that thought that expertise was everything and that data was unimportant. To the extent that Ignorance was a target, it was "our ignorance", not "your ignorance" or "their ignorance". Early UK EBM, in particular, had definite left-wing tendencies and was also notable for taking patient concerns seriously (even when the patients were women). I think US EBM was always a bit more technocratic.

When it became clear how much money was involved, and how little support there was for some treatments, the bandwagon got jumped on. And now there is some tendency to change the basic premise from "We don't know if this works; we must find out", to "You can't prove this works; we won't pay for it". Even so, it was a big step forward.

[My mother was involved in the landmark 'Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth' project, the first comprehensive effort to collate all the evidence from randomised trials in an area of medicine.]

#112 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2012, 11:23 PM:

I've been gnomed.

Do gnomes like scones?

#113 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 12:42 AM:

Syd -- Wonderful!

Paula Helm Murray @ 109: Your progress sounds great. Glad to hear it.

#114 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 04:07 AM:

nerdycellist: forget the adjustment - you're going to have to adjust it (seat and handlebars) every time you unfold it and get on. If it doesn't have numbers/marks on the seat post, work out where you like the seat, then mark it with a Sharpie or other permanent pen - and re-mark every time it gets faded.

Re. bike-in-an-apartment. I was VERY lucky when I got my flat that I was on the ground floor right next to the cupboard-under-the-stairs which held the electricity metres and not much else. I was allowed to keep my bike in there, which saved a lot of hassle (the folding bike came much later).

Ingvar M @49: Sympathies. I'm lucky: I get the suburban train in to Charing Cross, then I cycle to e.g. Euston (as yesterday), to get a train heading north, or I use it to visit various reference libraries - all within zone 1 and none easily connected by Tube or bus.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @78: "Evidence Based Practice"/"Evidence based medicine" - oh, been answered already! Came into veterinary medicine after it became established in human medicine. There are still some people doing stuff a particular way because "it's always been done that way" or because "well Professor X taught me to do it like this and he must be right" without looking at whether there's new evidence that another way is better. Of course, as also indicated above, by itself, used blindly without clinical judgement as well, it's not the bees knees.

Xopher: great about the not-about-to-go-blind news.

Paula Helm Murray @109: Good to hear of positive progress - and more likely to follow, since it sounds like you're actually doing the recommended exercises. I was told while getting physiotherapy following a dislocated shoulder a while back, that most people progress slowly because they don't actually do the exercises they're told to do, as often as they're told to do them...

#115 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 04:28 AM:

Paula Helm Murray: Yay!

Xopher: Likewise, yay.

#116 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 05:00 AM:

dcb @ #114:

On the plus side, I can do my entire commute on a travel card, so could be worse (I could possibly get a mainline-train-only card to take me into Zone 1, but that would mean keeping an Oyster PAYG for any convenience transport and it turns out that the ~£60 per month is worth it). I have, however, considered trying to ride a bike all the way from home, to work, at least once in a while. It's under 20 miles, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

#117 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 08:02 AM:

Ingvar M @116: "It's under 20 miles, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?"!!! Yes, well... I've thought about cycling home on occasion, because it's only about 12 miles. Now, however, I'd be happier running that distance than cycling it. Might do it sometime (with assistance from my husband to bring back my laptop etc.).

#118 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 08:21 AM:

Dave Luckett #107: Excellent!

#119 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 09:03 AM:

tangled threads unfold
the next chapter of the book
expressed in my dreams

#120 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 09:25 AM:

Re: Cycling
I am a reluctant, anxious, learned-as-an-adult cyclist. John got me kind of used to doing it semi-regularly about ten years ago, and then we both quit doing it for about 8 years. Two weekends ago we attended a Kidical Mass event, with Beka in her seat, which is attached to my bike.

We biked to the Mass, which is about 2mi from our house.

1.5mi from our house, I had to get off and walk the bike the rest of the way, because my inner-thigh muscles were so exhausted they were twitching hard enough to throw off my steering. So I walked it .5mi to the park, put it on the kickstand, took the kid off her seat, and spent about 20min stretching and walking and trying not to feel like I was about to die.

The Mass stepped off and I was like, "Ok, we'll try it, we came all this way, we might as well." Apparently my recovery worked well enough to get me the remaining 2mi-ish of the Mass, with a few pauses here and there, before I again had to spend 45min stretching and walking and aaaaaaaagh.

Then we biked a short distance to McDonald's, ate lunch (while I sat on my ass resting), and then the 1.5-ish-mi home from there, by which point not only were my legs COMPLETELY DONE WITH ME, but certain areas in my epi-butt region were feeling very bruised from the saddle.

Clearly, I need to practice.

John, on the other hand, had his mom buy him a bike for his birthday (he had been bikeless for about 7yrs at that point) this year, and immediately started riding it 7.5mi each way to work for his commute several times a week.

The difference here is that I used to, reluctantly, bike a mile or two at a time when John bugged me, for a period of several months to a year, ten years ago.

He used to bike EVERYWHERE all the time from mid-grade-school until he came here to Chicago for college, straight on through meeting me, and THEN he took a ten-year break. His entire musculature is still shaped from cycling (he has very impressive and visible rocks in his calves, even in the trough of his activity period).

I am in no way as confident a cyclist as the 8yo who was riding in front of me the whole Mass. I want my daughter to grow up that competent on a bike. Therefore, I need to get my ass (and other parts) 'back' into a condition they never had. :->

I think next summer, John and I and Beka need to take some medium-long bike rides. Luckily, we live right near several Fairly Scenic trail-things.

#121 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 09:27 AM:

Re: Writing Terminology

I just ran across an interesting coinage that deserves to be wider known: infosalting. Will Wildman posits that it can be used instead of infodumping, and defines it as "sprinkling just enough facts into the flow of the story to keep people aware of what’s going on and bring out the rich flavours of the world they are exploring."

I think it's a sufficiently different concept than incluing to fascinate me, and be a useful word.

#122 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 10:07 AM:

I don't remember where someone on ML mentioned the xkcd of unusual size. I recommend spending some time with the original to get a sense of scale, ohg nsgre gung urer'f n unaql gbby naq n pbzcyrgr thvqr.

#123 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 10:09 AM:

@Abi, regarding the link to Jim Wright on the sidebar:

That was a powerful and amazing piece. I made it through the piece, but about the twentieth comment actually caused me to weep a little bit. Thanks for that link.

#124 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 10:09 AM:

I've been gnomed. Would their lownesses like some orange and rosemary-flavored chocolate?

#125 ::: Adel ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 10:32 AM:

Nancy @122 -

I spent at least a half hour with it last night after work, alternately groaning and giggling. Good fun at 2 AM! Thanks for the alternate links; now that I have a few more mental processes, I may give it another go.

#126 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 11:23 AM:

Fragano, I think it needs explaining, on second reading. Last night I dreamed of hitting the bottom of a wet slit trench, and maybe hearing a distant tearing of the leaves. I never knew what it was. In practice, it was nothing. Nothing. I was never in any danger.

And here am I forty years later, dreaming of it. I thought, what would it have been like to be my father, who went through four years of it, or maybe Tom Hancock, my sister's father-in-law? May he rest in real peace at last, for he used to wake up every week or so screaming as the tanks rolled over him again, outside Tobruk.

It was probably triggered by Finny's powerful #292 on the Return of the Evil Spelling Test. If you haven't read that, I recommend it. Lest we forget, dead set.

And here was I, just saying that you shouldn't have to explain verse. So I think I'll take that one back and try again. Odd how hard it is to say what really matters.

#127 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 11:56 AM:

Ingvar @ 116

I have, however, considered trying to ride a bike all the way from home, to work, at least once in a while. It's under 20 miles, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

The most likely thing that could go wrong would be a flat tire at the least convenient location on the route!

My best friend occasionally bikes in to work (we live in the same neighborhood and work at the same company). Her chosen route is ca. 30 miles but it involves some significant elevation changes. For reference: she only does this when she's in training for triathlons. I believe it involves setting her alarm for 3am.

I used to do a 10-mile loop on my lunch hour, totally flat.

So depending on your terrain and fitness level, you could easily be talking about a 2-hour commute at that distance. Definitely more in the category of "to prove I can" rather than a regular thing.

I use a fold-up bike as part of my commute because it's the only kind allowed on the BART train during commute hours and having the bike at work allows me more flexibility of movement than just taking the train.

#128 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 12:02 PM:

Elliot Mason at 120: have you considered replacing the saddle with a more comfortable (for you) design? A good bike shop should be able to help.

Paula: Yay!

#129 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 12:14 PM:

HLN: Local woman manages to arise early enough to get over to nearby open space with view of downtown to watch the Endeavour ferry flight pass over on its way from Houston to El Paso. "We'll never see anything like that again," says woman, with tears in her eyes. "Ave atque vale."

#130 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 01:00 PM:

obSF: Philip K. Dick's The Preserving Machine is a story about creating animals from encoded music, with a downbeat twist on the idea.

#131 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 01:07 PM:

I love reading the bike stories. I'm planning on assembling the beast and taking it around the block this weekend. I hope to work up to the 2 mile round trip to the Farmers Market by the peak of Nice Autumn Weather. That is as ambitious as I am willing to be, and even that might require a new saddle. I do wish I had this when I was doing public transit. Again, I'm just slightly too far from the nearest train station to make it convenient. Now, due to the dog's infirmities, the car is required for lunchtime walkies.

Now to find a decent cookbook that is diabetic-friendly without being punitive. I have high-ish blood sugar issues along with a deep desire to not eat fakey garbage. Have any of these cookbooks been written by people who actually like food?

#132 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 01:28 PM:

Elliott Mason @120: I spent six years at Girton College, Cambridge, which is about 2.5 miles from where my lectures were held. So I got pretty used to cycling, but rarely more than about four miles. Later I lived about 5.5 miles from work, and occasianally cycled maybe 7 miles (if I went into central London to the book store after work, then cycled straight home). So I'm very comfortable cycling, but I never got used to going long distances (and my butt starts to hurt if I do), nor cycling just for fun. In contast, in the last 18 months or so I've built up my running from doing a half-marathon once or twice a year to completing my first 50-mile trail race...

#133 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 01:57 PM:

albatross @101: Ouch! :)

#134 ::: torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 06:30 PM:

Much belated pleased noises for Syd and Xopher and Paula :)

As far as the biking... a very useful rule of thumb is that you can bike about 3-5 times as far as you can walk. If a 1 mile walk is far and difficult for you, a 3-5 mile bike ride will be challenging, even once you have a comfortable saddle and your butt gets used to biking. Just like any other activity, building up sloooooowly is good. If you're me and a 5 mile walk is something you do because you're pissed off at the bus for taking 30-60 minutes to arrive, then 15-25 miles are likely to be quite doable. (note: not FAST)

I also think a transit pass is one of the best flat tire kits available. Biking is a lot less daunting when you can get a ride to the bike shop when you get a flat. And friendly mechanics are a godsend. I'm pretty mechanically inclined, and I *can* handle a lot of bike stuff easily myself. But my regular local shop has nice mechanics who will happily fix stuff for me if I come in with weird noises, and I don't get the girl treatment or the noob treatment. So I try to make sure they get plenty of business from us to make sure they stick around.

#135 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 07:06 PM:

Elliott @ 121 - At some point, I "coined" a term (or independently came up with an already-in-use term) myself - "infosneak," getting worldbuilding information across to the reader without them quite realizing you've done so. Like, those details in the dialogue that the reader picks up on as part of dialogue, but that also go to work fleshing out the reader's almost subconscious internal picture of the world it's happening in.

I may like "infosalt" better. Gonna chew on it for a while.

Having gotten my one-way train fare to Portland last week, today I've finally gotten my one-way train fare *back*. This is an important detail. (There is a certain under-the-surface insecurity that keeps me from entirely relaxing between purchase A and purchase B.)

#136 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 08:40 PM:

Elliott @121 & Nicole @135: Some years back, I tried out "infosprinkle". I think there's value in the imagery--sprinkling vs dumping--for which salting is marginally less obvious*. OTOH, the sound of "infosalt" (or "infosneak") may work better.

*because you sometimes dump salt in when cooking

#137 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 11:22 PM:

As far as the biking... a very useful rule of thumb is that you can bike about 3-5 times as far as you can walk.

Add in the hills around here, and my track record is nearly the opposite. I can bike perhaps a quarter or a third as far as I can easily walk, depending on how steep and how long the hills on that route are. I keep thinking I should bike more (we're having particularly lovely weather) and then I just can't stand the thought of being such a wimp. What I should do is train on the stationary bikes at the gym, I suppose, but I like rowing so much better.

#138 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2012, 11:52 PM:

Several of my co-workers go on power-rides at lunch. Several miles into western slopes of Portland's West Hills. It's exercise biking, strenuous and fast. On a few occasions they've come back battered and road rash'd.

I'm not tempted to join them, but commuting is a possibility, at least in moderate weather.

#139 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 01:44 AM:

Request for good thoughts, Feline Variety:

Our (marginally younger) little old cat-boy is headed for surgery tomorrow, to remove a lump from his chest. From there, after biopsy, we'll know if we're looking at full feline hospice, or woot! treatable! or somewhere in between. Fuzzy is a venerable 19.5 years old, long past even his extended warranty, so even going under gas is a risk, but he's still happy and content, as long as I'm not being a cruel barbarian who forces him to wear CLOTHES*, take BATHS!!** and committing capricious acts of combing. Promising him treaties in the aftermath is not improving my cred with him, alas.

I do believe that he has made the next connection - this adventure in human nonsense will probably mean pills. For the past several days, he has been picking one bit of kibble from his dish, cheeking it, then spitting it out. He's practicing his technique. This gives me significant hope -- if he has the mental acuity to practice his pill avoidance routine, he is neither too feeble nor too pained to thwart the can slaves.

* Indeed, Fuzzy is wearing a collection of small dog concert tee-shirts and me-made muscle shirts to keep him from messing with his annoying spot. To us, he looks quite fetching in his Grateful Dead or Punk Will Never Die therapy shirts. He is mortified.

** since he can't bath himself under the shirt, I must do so, and I use too much water and a Scrooge like paucity of tongue. And we shall not mention the comb at all. Pure trauma, says he.

#140 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 02:06 AM:

From abi's links: Klein is absolutely right to focus on the Romney's abdication of responsibility nonsense.

What I can't figure out is why illegal immigrants aren't ideal people for at least some conservatives. Taking initiative to improve their lives. Check. Doing large quantities of honest work. Check. Not putting up with government nonsense which prevents doing the right thing. Check. Family values. Check. What's not to like?

#141 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 04:09 AM:

HelenS @137: Now, using a rowing machine REALLY makes my butt hurt. Why do rowing machine seats have zero padding?

CZEdwards @139: Good thoughts for little old boy-cat; 19.5 years is very good, but obviously more would be better! We're presently hopeful that my stepmother's cat has an abscessed anal gland rather than a tumour - waiting to see if it heals properly on the antibiotics.

Nancy Lebovitz @140: Oh, I'm SO glad I didn't have a mouthful of liquid when I read that or my keyboard would be dripping!

#142 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 04:28 AM:

Nerdycellist: as a cyclist, and one who has been trained as an engineer, I wouldn't be too worried about the weight limit, in general. The one thing that I would keep an eye on is the seat post. The folder has a long seat post, and that increases the stress on it. It's also a particularly unpleasant thing to have fail on you. I'd classify it as something to watch, not something to panic about.

I've been a cyclist for a long time, and my body has been shaped to it. There was a time when I was younger that I'd rather ride 10 miles than walk one. My wife is not. She has always found it difficult to ride more than few miles, unless it's on the back of the tandem. I wound up taking a few years off riding when the kids were young, and it was humbling getting back into it again. Where once I decided to do the one day STP (200 miles) on one days notice, I was having trouble doing more than a 10 mile ride ( though to be fair, all roads from my house go uphill right away). It does come back, with work, but I fear that the difference between the 30 yr me and the 40 yr me is as much as the being out of shape part.

#143 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 04:33 AM:

CZEdwards @139. I hope you and your kitty do well.

#144 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 06:42 AM:

And meanwhile, the Ig Nobels have been awarded.

#145 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 09:38 AM:

In response to crazysoph on another thread:

I forget what this particular form is called (if you google 'HTML codes' you can probably find tables of this sort of stuff), but "ampersand lt (for 'less than') semi-colon" will do it.

With the extra spaces, & lt ;

Put it all together and take out the spaces, you get <

And that you can put together with a / to make faux html codes </pedant>.

#146 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 09:45 AM:

CZEdwards, good thoughts from here!

Nancy @ #140, not to mention paying FICA taxes into the accounts of other people whose social security numbers they've borrowed. Someone's getting a nice bonus there.

#147 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 10:28 AM:

Has chrome search been less useful lately for other people?

I'm getting a huge block sponsored links followed by much less useful search results. Actually using google gets the usual high quality google search.

#148 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 10:42 AM:

Elliott @121: "Infosalting" sounds a lot like "incluing" to me.

#149 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 11:08 AM:

There's a photo of my Hugo Ceremony handiwork right HERE...

#150 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 11:35 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #140: You've forgotten two key items:

Most of them are (1) the wrong colour and (2) speak the wrong language(s).

From time to time I get addressed in bad Spanish and shock my interlocutors by responding in good English (granted, the accent with which I reply shocks them since they can't associate it with my appearance).

#151 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 12:42 PM:

Fragano @150, Nancy Lebovitz @140: I'd posit it's even simpler than that - they needed a discrete group to target who couldn't easily strike back.

#152 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 03:15 PM:

Because of health issues, a family member is trying to eat a very low-fat diet, mostly vegetarian plus skim milk and fish. I'd like to give him a cookbook for Christmas--any recommendations? This one looks promising, but some of the more negative reviews give me pause. It would have to be something currently in print and readily available in the US.

#153 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 03:28 PM:

Mary Aileen @152, we have been reasonably satisfied with several of the Ornish diet cookbooks.

#154 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 03:40 PM:

OtterB (153): Thanks. Ornish is spot-on; that's the diet advice he's following. I'll have to check (subtly/discreetly) to see which he already has.

Any other suggestions?

#155 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 03:49 PM:

Mary Aileen, you might also try the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat cookbook. I don't have that particular one, but I'm happy with my other Moosewood books, and it sounds like it's targeting the right type of cuisine.

#156 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 04:02 PM:

Rob Rusick @145: Because I am a crazed nitpicker, I will point out that you can leave out the spaces and not have to say "take out the spaces" if you ampersand-escape the ampersand: you type &amp;lt;, and &lt; comes out.

#157 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 04:21 PM:

OtterB (155): Yes, the Moosewood one looks promising. Thanks again.

#158 ::: Marc Mielke ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 05:00 PM:

This brings to mind the recent story about how sperm can hold ~40 MB. That's a lot of ebooks.

Question might be how you get new books encoded into you, and how they get updated...

#159 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 05:05 PM:

Serge Broom @149: Hey! Good job!

#160 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 05:06 PM:

Dave Luckett @107: Nicely wrought!

Everybody else: Hafta run and do stuff. Gah.

#161 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 05:07 PM:

Mark Mielke @158: "how they get updated"
Easy. You jack in.

Okay, NOW I run and go do stuff.

#162 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 05:57 PM:

#156 ::: David Goldfarb

Don't get too creative with escape sequences, David. Moveable Type classified your post as spam.

A whole lot of other escape sequences will light up my filters.

#163 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 07:17 PM:

dcb @ 159... Thanks!

#164 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2012, 08:12 PM:

I passed the "no squeeing, no awww-ing and no sighing" test until I got to the first two comments. I snickered and giggled a lot, though. About halfway through, I thought that Teresa needed to see

#165 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 09:34 AM:

Did we lose some comments last night? I posted one that isn't showing up any more, and I thought I remembered one or two other new ones. This was before Jim's Election thread went up. And it's odd that there aren't any new comments after 9:27 PM yesterday.

#166 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 09:36 AM:

Okay, that posted....

Victoria's link in #164 is just the ticket if you need more cute in your life. (It's probably more fun if you don't try to hold in the "Awww"s.)

#167 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 09:53 AM:

When I got up this morning at 6am EDT, Making Light was down. I suspect this has something to do with the lack of overnight comments.

#168 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 09:58 AM:

We migrated to a newer, faster, bigger server last night. As I understand it, as the DNS info propagated we become visible again.

I reposted my election piece this morning because, while it was (apparently) showing from out front, the post was blank in the back-end. Beats me how that worked.

#169 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:08 AM:

Jim (168): Thanks for the explanation. My lost post was just chit-chat, responding to Victoria's link.

#170 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:17 AM:

Jim @168, that explains why I had a 404 error while Cally was seeing ML just fine. Thanks for the explanation; I thought I had a weird DNS problem (although I was able to get to other sites with no problem; hence the "weird" part.)

#171 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:53 AM:

Congrats on the server move! I weren't really worried. :-)

(It it occur to me that's what it might be, mainly because the symptoms so resembled those displayed by my own sites when my IP migrated all its hosted domains. But speculating about feeding the gnomes too many cookies was fun!)

#172 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:54 AM:

Last call for DC-area fluorospherians ... Ginger, Michael I, and I are meeting at noon tomorrow on the mall and going to hear Lois McMaster Bujold speak at the National Book Festival at 12:55. A couple of other locals had competing commitments, but anybody who's available is welcome.

#173 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:55 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz@140: You left out the "small business owner" checkbox. Enterprising, motivated people who can't work at a large number of occupations often start small, otherwise legal businesses, often serving their communities.

#174 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 11:41 AM:

#150 ::: Fragano Ledgister:

I think it would play out pretty much the same if the US were getting a lot of eastern European immigrants. (White skin, different language.)

If there were a lot of British or Australian immigrants, I have no idea.

I think the anti-immigrant folks who are worried about cultural dilution underestimate how attractive being American is for a lot of people.

#173 ::: David Wald:

You're right.

#175 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:17 PM:

I don't know a diabetic cookbook, but I do have this handy link: Making the Glycemic Index Work For You. It's a good set of rules that give you a general idea of how to lower the glycemic index of your foods. I particularly like how vinegar and olive oil are both ways to help lower the glycemic index of your meal as a whole—put that vinaigrette on your salad! (Mmmm.)

#176 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:51 PM:

nerdycellist @131: I'm very fond of Weightwatchers cookbooks. The processed food sold under the brandname is as bad as any of that ilk, but their recipes are often good. They rely on herbs, spices, vegetables and fruit for lots of flavor. A lot of their recipes are on the website — here are some examples.

Why, yes, there's a nip of fall in the air, and butternut squash is a favorite of mine!

#177 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:28 PM:

Serge, 149: Congratulations, that's gorgeous!

#178 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:42 PM:

Diabetes cookbooks: "Blood Sugar" by Michael Moore, top professional chef and diabetic.

I recommend most of what he writes, although my personal tastes run more to the classic than his.

#179 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:43 PM:

Crabitty. Made an appointment for my first oil Change (sounds like it should be held at the Fisher Price Service Bay) with very specific offer on price, noted several places in emails and confirmation. Was prepared for the synthetic oil upsell and ready to go. Got there and was informed that appointments are evidently meaningless and it would take a minimum of two hours. What the hell - I had nothing better to do and I brought a book.

Once the service rep got me out of the car and at the desk, he opens his big binder and is disappointed to tell me that my cheap-ass Honda Fit requires the fancy synthetic oil. Really. No "it really is better to use the synthetic" (which I know), no wheedling insistent upsell with vague threats of imminent mechanical failure, catastrophe and plague if I didn't use the expensive oil, just the requirement that I only consent to a service 3x more than the one I requested and there would be no alternative.

Does he think my tits render me incapable of reading my owner's manual? Or that I am dumb? I had them fill up my tires and left. Phone and written complaints to the service manager and Corporate pending.

#180 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 02:04 PM:

TexAnne @ 177... Thanks! By the way, the fabric that covered the Kremlin (as the whole affair came to be called) was the work of costumers Pierre and Sandy Pettinger. Kudos to them!

#181 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 04:05 PM:

nerdycellist @ #179, I'm interested in your description of your Honda Fit as cheap. I was looking into those, and even test-drove one, but I found $20K (with dealer markup and destination charges) too rich for my blood and wallet. The used Fits I found (very few) were priced so closely to the new ones that it made no sense to even look at them.

Then a neighbor of my sister's rehabbed a 2005 Mini and offered me a deal I couldn't refuse. It was so cheap I even sprung for vanity plates.

#183 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 04:18 PM:

nerdycellist @179, my Subaru *does* require the expensive synthetic oil, but the car dealership told me this upfront when I bought the car. And it only required oil changes about half as often (7500 miles recommended, not 3000), so the extra cost isn't actually that much worse.

#184 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 05:15 PM:

@Dave Luckett - that's exactly the kind of cookbook I was looking for. It's now on the wishlist. I've actually done a fair job lowering my blood sugar by learning to cook and eat new things, which leads me to believe I can do even better with a bit more direction. I still hatehatehate the concept of "diet".

As far as oil change costs go, the dealership are insisting my car requires Synthetic oil, which is not true. It requires "premium" oil, but the cost of the "premium" was certainly less than the synthetic. Between that and the fact that they had my make/model info when I made the appointment at the cheap price I do feel there is a certain amount of (infuriating) shady behavior. I suspect that shadiness would have been missing if I were of a different gender.

The dealership that's actually closer to me has an oil change with my "premium" oil at a much fairer price, and is lower than their price for a synthetic oil change.

On another transportation note, I assembled my new folding bike! It actually does feel pretty sturdy. Adjusting the seat to the appropriate height (short) I am not especially worried about bending the post with my generous avoirdupois. Unfortunately, I do believe the tires will need a little more air for safe operation. Since I'm already in the market for a rechargeable air compressor for the car (otherwise known as Shuttlecraft Paczek) I think I will just borrow a bike pump from a neighbor. Already looking forward to taking it around the block. I did discover that all the bicycles my roommate has ever ridden had coaster breaks. I am already a more advanced rider than she is.

#185 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 06:05 PM:

Victoria @164: You had me at "hedgehog."

#186 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 08:15 PM:


Announcing: Micromini Fluoroklatch Potential! (The Sacramento Edition)


I'll be passing through Sacramento on Tuesday, October 9th, roughly between 3 PM and midnight, thanks to a comfortably long Amtrak layover.

KayTei and I are making dinner plans. (Actually, KayTei is making dinner plans. I am showing up, ready to be surprised and delighted.)

Who else wants in?

(I'll also be passing through on my way back on the following Tuesday the 16th, but that'll be more brunch-ish: 6AM-11AM. If that suits anyone's schedule, I'd love to meet up with said anyone as well.)

#187 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 09:39 PM:

HLN: Area man delighted to find long lost reference. Brother seeks another.

Part I: In a recent online exchange a college friend referred to a quote that I've always loved:

"Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship"
She didn't remember the source, but I've always remembered this being attributed by one of my professors to Gershom Scholem (which made sense since Scholem made a career of studying Jewish mysticism). I realized that, unlike when I was in college, we now have Google, The Universal (if imperfect) Memory, which allowed me to find that my decades-old remembered attribution was half right: the best-attested version of the quote is Saul Lieberman introducing Gershom Scholem (not necessarily in an entirely complimentary way).

Part We: When I described this to my brother he mentioned a fragment of Ogden Nash or Nash-like verse he was trying to find an attribution for, and Google has failed us. (That is, Google just turns up someone quoting the verse without attribution.) Since AKICIML, the verse in question starts:

The bivalve mollusk is deemed a treat
Toward which treat-lovers hustle,
Yet it's not the scallop itself they eat,
But the scallop's adductor muscle…
Can anyone point to the actual source?

#188 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 11:49 PM:

Google Books tells me that verse is quoted in Oceanography: An Introduction by Dale E. Ingmanson and William J. Wallace. Alas, they don't display the page (page 389 of the paperback if you must know) on which it appears.

Amazon doesn't have the "Look Inside The Book" feature enabled for this book.

So, I can't tell if they attribute it. Maybe your library has/can get a copy?

#189 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 12:00 AM:

Okay, have an attribution now: from The Old Dog Barks Backwards, by Odgen Nash.

Don't have the original text yet.

#190 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 12:05 AM:

Nicole @ 186

KayTei is trying to locate reasonable options. That's a few steps below "making plans." :D

I don't suppose people would believe me if I asserted that early October is totally summer and as a result, outdoor evening picnics are totally a doable thing...

#191 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 12:14 AM:

KayTei @190 - KayTei is trying to locate reasonable options. That's a few steps below "making plans." :D

"It's like a plan. It's a thing. Respect the thing."

Plans are in process of being made. Identifying options is part of the process. Hey, when I use the present progressive, I mean it!

I don't suppose people would believe me if I asserted that early October is totally summer and as a result, outdoor evening picnics are totally a doable thing...

That sounds like a lovely option, actually. We could pot-luck. I could hit a grocery store on my way out of the station, or a take-out place with yummy appetizers to share, and bring that to the picnic spot.

#192 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 01:15 AM:

David Wald and Jim Macdonald @187 & 189

I have, in my hot little hands, a battered and falling apart copy of "The Old Dog Barks Backwards".

Page 32

The Scallop

The bivalve mollusk is deemed a treat
Toward which treat-lovers hustle,
Yet it's not the scallop itself they eat,
But the scallop's adductor muscle.
My craving for pot is none of the time,
And for alcohol, sporadic,
But I cannot conceal from the scallop that I'm
An adductor muscle addic.

--Ogden Nash

#193 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 02:04 AM:

Cally for the win!

#194 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 04:09 AM:

"These people are precious to me."

Oh, Doctor!

#195 ::: Fragano Ledgister hath been Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 01:09 PM:

I am engaged in the perennial task of grading. This involves learning new things. This is one of them:

For instance, recent revolutions in countries such as Egypt and Libya, partially spurred by the texts and writings of educated revolutionists distributed through various mediums throughout the world demonstrate what can be achieved by a few people in today’s world who deliver an appealing message to masses of people in a relatively short timespan.

The role of telepathic and/or aetherial transmission of information in recent political events is new to me. Perhaps someone in the Fluorosphere can shed more light on the subject.

#196 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 01:24 PM:

Don't see anything in the queue from you Fragano....

#197 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 01:27 PM:

Jim Macdonald #196: Sorry, Jim. I'm forgetting to check the name line. It's entirely my fault.

#198 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 03:13 PM:

Jim and Cally: I thank you, and my brother thanks you. I felt foolish after Jim's first comment for not thinking of Google Books myself; but since Jim's research led to Cally turning up with the actual book I'm glad I posted the question anyway.

#199 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 04:33 PM:

David @198

I regret to say that I forgot to type a comma after the word "time" in the phrase "none of the time". When transcribing text after midnight that sort of thing will happen. (If a moderator wanted to go in and add that comma for the benefit of future searchers-for-the-poem, it wouldn't break my heart.)

But I literally didn't have to even get out of my computer chair to reach the book.

#200 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 04:37 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @195: Well, the Ouija board is a well known method of receiving text messages. Also should not be used while driving.

#201 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 04:38 PM:

My brain hurts trying to parse that sentence. A few more commas wouldn't hurt. (Neither would rewriting it so the most important part isn't split in two pieces.)

#202 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 04:47 PM:

Regarding Abi's Parhelion "Artist Takes Every Drug Known to Man", I note his comment: Within weeks I became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage.

My first thought was "drug FUD", but then I saw what he'd been taking.... two bottles¹ of cough syrup? Bath salts? Computer duster? And all these in the same few weeks? No wonder....

¹ Back in my college years, I tried "Robo" myself, but I only took two ounces. That wasn't a trip, it was a toxic overdose. The visuals were pretty spectacular, but there were none of the accompanying mental-state changes of a "trip", and I could feel my liver screaming for help the whole time.

#203 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 05:11 PM:

Cally 199


#204 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 06:00 PM:

Dave Harmon (202): I once accidentally took two tablespoons of cough syrup instead of two teaspoons (misread the label--what can I say?). Fortunately, I went straight to bed afterwards. I don't recall hallucinating, but loopy doesn't begin to cover it.

#205 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 06:05 PM:

Thanks, Jim. I dislike perpetrating misinformation, even by so much (or so little) as a comma.

#206 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 08:16 PM:

Cally@199: At least as far as I'm concerned, the value of your contribution is not scaled by the distance you had to reach to provide it.

(The background, in case anyone is curious, is that my brother wrote a crossword for the New York Times a couple of years ago. In later discussions of that puzzle he wanted to use this verse as an example of the word "adduct", but he couldn't find the reference. He brought this up when I mentioned my own discovery of a long lost attribution.)

#207 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 01:44 AM:

Mary Aileen@152, Tassajara Cooking may not be exactly what you're looking for, but it's always been one of my favorites. It's more about how to get to know ingredients and techniques and how they turn into food and meals than it is about actual recipes, but if you're trying to learn to cook around significant limitations, it may be useful.

#208 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 01:44 AM:

nerdycellist @ 179

I have the service people at my dealership trained not to pull that crap on me. But then, I usually tell them what's wrong with my car when I make the appointment. (My Father The Mechanic only bought second hand cars that sooner or later, usually sooner, needed to be repaired. Usually while I and my sisters were in college. It then was a case of 1) Call Dad 2) describe the problem and/or imitate the noise 3) receive instructions on how to fix it and/or what to buy. 4)fix it ourselves or wait for Dad to come down with the necessary tools to fix it himself (and we all had/have a small basic toolkit in our trunks.)

The thing that really made me notorious with the services crews was the time my fan belt was going out. I recognized the sound for what it was, and scheduled a repair. I told Steve The Service Guy "My belt is going out and needs to be replaced. It might need to be tightened, but I doubt it. Oh, and the goo the guys over in the quick service bay put on them to keep them from slipping in the first place wore off after about three months. Don't put anymore of it on."

Steve The Service Guy asked why I thought that. "Because it makes this sound, IYEEEIYEEEIYEEE!" Stunned silence on the phone line, then Steve the Service Guy asked, demanded really, that I make that sound again. So I obliged "IYEEEIYEEEIYEEE!"

Steve The Service Guy says ooohkay and has me come in the next day. As I pull up, belts screetching wildly, I see he has a dumfounded look on his face and greets me, not with his usual good morning, but with "It really does make that sound."

That was about five years ago. I found out last fall that the shop guys keep passing the story around. Their newest mechanic, when I took my car to get winterized, told me in a tone usually reserved for rockstars, "I heard about you over in the main shop!"

Apparently, a woman who knows basic repair and maintenance is memorable enough on her own, but being able to accurately mimic a sick car? That must be the stuff of legends. Also? Asking a newbie mechanic "Just how hard were you accelerating to get it to make that sound? Because normal acceleration in my little four-banger doesn't make the crankshaft sound like it's going out," ensured no one has tried to sell me on an up charge since. (this was after The Fan Belt Incident so I'm pretty sure the old timers set the new guy up.)

All you really have to do to back those kind of guys down is demonstrate, politely, and directly to their face, that you know your stuff. Or have read the owners manual. Or both.

When buying a car, I found the quickest way to shut the salesman up or make him take me seriously, was to pop the hood and start checking the fluids on a used car. It really knocks them off balance.

#209 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 01:55 AM:

Dave Harmon@202, the big risk with cough syrup actually is toxic overdose, not from the dextromethorphan (which isn't exactly safe, due to temperature regulation issues as well as disorientation), but from the other active ingredients that most cough syrups have, especially acetaminophen and pseudoephedrine (or its politically correct phenylephrine replacement.) They also often contain expectorants, which tend to be very unpleasant if you take too much. Usual sources such as Erowid have more technical discussions on it.

#210 ::: Bill Stewart waves at the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 01:59 AM:

Hi, Gnomes! Sorry if the discussion about drug safety and side effects looked too much like a message from canned meat purveyors.

I had some caraway sour cream at a street fair food vendor the other day, and it was sufficiently wonderful that I'm trying to make some at home - you're welcome to a taste.

#211 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:30 AM:

Bill Stewart (207): That sounds like an interesting book, although not what I'm looking for in this case. Thanks for the recommendation.

#212 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:52 AM:

Cassy has a dealership service anecdote that would fit well here, but I'll be nice and let her tell it.

#213 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 12:06 PM:

MEK is being taken off the terrorist organization list, after a few years of prominent US ex-politicians, lobbyists, and journalists getting paid to advocate on their behalf. Oddly, none of these people were charged with providing material support to a terrorist group.

Before we joined in the bombing in Libya (I still don't really understand why, but rationality isn't an obvious component of our foreign policy), a whole bunch of prominent US and UK politicians and journalists had also gone to Libya, met with Gadafi, written op eds, etc.

The lesson here is that a shocking number of prominent people, who spend their times in front of TV cameras and are taken seriously, are basically prostitutes--for enough money, they'll take the side of a wide range of questionable countries and companies and organizations. Alongside this, there's the older lesson--laws don't really apply to the important people the way they do to everyone else. If you're some Muslim nobody in New York, you can do hard time for selling satellite decoders that allow people to get a Hamas-produced channel. (This really happened.) But if you're a prominent journalist, yu can cash checks from and openly advocate for a listed terrorist group, without the slightest fear of consequences.

#214 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 12:21 PM:

Cally @212, it's not a "dealership service anecdote", it's a dealership service RANT.

The Toyota dealership service department in my home town are, at best, incompetent, and, at worst, thieves. The trouble started when I had them check my Corolla (at a little over 40K miles) before a long road trip. I told them it would be a long trip, and I wanted assurance that hoses, belts, etc. were fine. All was reported good. I went on said road trip, and noticed an odd clicking noise. It developed that there was little or no oil in the crankcase. I limped along, adding a quart of oil per fillup, until I got home. Brought it into the dealership. They determined it required a head gasket. (It was now a few weeks out of warranty.) I grit my teeth and paid. A month later (I was now religiously checking the oil) I noticed I was losing oil again. No obvious black smoke. I brought it back. Initially the service department told me (over the phone) that it was "within specifications" for the car to be burning that much oil. Aghast, I told my husband what they'd told me. He marched into the dealership, and when a salesman approached him, asked, LOUDLY, if it was true what the service department had told us that, after said service department did a head gasket replacement after only 45,000 miles, it was "within specifications" for his wife's five-year-old Corolla to burn a quart of oil per fill-up. Did I mention this was, not shouted, but LOUD? Every customer on the sales floor turned and stared. The dealership backed down. They agreed to do another head gasket. During which they discovered that the cylinders were scored, which, apparently, they should have seen the first time around. We weren't charged for labor, but we were charged for parts. Not to mention needing a rental car for several days.

So then I notice a different noise. I'm getting paranoid about this car by now (it was a complete lemon; I'm sure it must have been built the day after a holiday when all the workers had hangovers) so I brought it to the dealership (rather than the local oil change place) for the next scheduled oil change. I mentioned it was running a little noisy, in a casual sort of fashion. They said and did nothing. When I picked it up, I asked if there were any problems and they said no.

Noise persisted and got louder. I brought it back again. This time I specifically mentioned the noise. After several hours in the waiting room (thank ghod for my Sony reader; I finished two books) I was told it was the tensioning arm on the A/C belt. They fixed it for a hundred bucks or so. Noise went away. For about 2000 miles.

I brought it back to the same dealership, at this point out of morbid curiosity, or perhaps masochism, as much as anything else. I mentioned the noise without mentioning the history. After a couple of hours (yay, e-reader!) they came back and told me it was the air conditioning belt tensioner and it would cost a hundred bucks or so. I said, "You mean, the same tensioner you repaired a couple of months ago?" They waived the fee, but I'm morally certain they would not have if I hadn't pointed that out.

Thieves or incompetents. Or both.

When I finally ditched that car (it had all kinds of STUPID stuff break on it, too; the automatic window on one side was defective; the center console/armrest broke off. The hood latch started sticking to the point where I couldn't reliably close the hood, which was a problem because I was still obsessively checking the oil...) I looked at every single dealership in the area EXCEPT Toyota. I'll never buy another car from them again. I'm sure there are caring and ethical dealerships out there, but the one I'd have to deal with is not.

Sorry for the wall-of-text. Can you tell this is a sore point for me, even years later?

On a happier note, I've very pleased with my one-year-old Suburu Forester, even though I hate SUVs. It's small enough not to trigger the hatred (footprint is about 2" longer and 1" wider than that Corolla), and yet big enough to be practical. I can transport sheets of plywood! And haul a 2000# trailer! Yay!

#215 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 12:35 PM:

Nancy, #140: For conservatives with enough money, that's actually true. Consider: (1) they can't vote for Democrats, (2) they work cheaper than citizens, (3) they have no legal rights, and therefore no recourse if you abuse them (economically or physically).

They just can't say it, is all.

nerdycellist, #179: That sucks, and is one of the many reasons why I'm glad my partner does all of our automotive maintenance. Do you perhaps have a mechanically-inclined friend who'd be willing to do yours in exchange for food or other considerations?

Victoria, #208: That sounds remarkably like my partner's relationship with his daughter, until she decided she was tired of driving beaters and budgeted for a new car.

#216 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 12:44 PM:

Cassy @ 214

I should note that my Toyota dealership, about ten miles away from yours, has always been helpful and competent. Even if the salesman was croggled that I really DID want manual window controls. (I've driven in a blizzard in a company car whose electric window broke in the open position. At least human muscles can feel when something's getting off-track and STOP, rather than completely offtracking the window the way the electric motor so helpfully did!)

#217 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 01:27 PM:

Thanks for the car repair commiseration. I spoke with the roommate's dad, who's a mechanic, a little more about the oil. Even the need for premium stuff is questionable. The old specs were for 5W20, the new specs recommend 0W20. The 0W20 does not come in a full organic - it can either be a blend or full synthetic. The difference between 0W and 5W has to do with how the engine starts in supercold weather, which we don't do in Los Angeles. Furthermore, he says that full synthetic is mostly used at or after the second oil change. So while my roommate got them to put the 5W in her new Civic, also despite the owner's manual recs, with a plainspoken "My dad's a mechanic..." I suspect the service advisor would have been completely written up for that breach. I will take it to the less shady Dealer service place, as it remains that the Other Dealer out and out lied to me, and their scheduling software is also misleading.

The thing that kills me is that the Sales portion of this particular Dealership is pretty great. Both of us had no problems getting the cars we wanted for a fair price. The service department, however, sucks eggs. On the other hand, I test drove a car at the Dealership my roommate used to have her car serviced when she wasn't going to her independent mechanic and the Sales people were creepy while the service department was reasonable.

Believe me, if I didn't live in an apartment with lease stipulations against car repair, I'd be learning to change the oil myself. All my friends seem to be in the same boat as well, so no bartering delicious baked goods and/or fair payment for the oil change. I do have a great non-Dealership mechanic who is fair and reasonable, but he doesn't take appointments and his fairness means he services pretty much every Honda in the greater Los Angeles area. There is literally a line around the block for his shop about 5 minutes before he opens. If the Dealership ever says I've got major repairs not under warranty, I will bring it to the independent mechanic for a second opinion and any necessary repair. But the wait time is a little difficult for just an oil change.

I do think it's bullshit that I'm supposed to dance around with vague threats and greater-than-average car repair knowledge just to avoid being taken advantage of. This kind of chicanery didn't happen when we had our furniture reupholstered, our 70's era sewing machine in for a cleaning and overhaul, or when I bring my beater cello to the luthier for minor (and major) tweaks. Why is it acceptable in the car repair business?

#218 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 01:56 PM:
Why is it acceptable in the car repair business?

Big, "yeah, for sure!"

When I found a mechanic who was not only super-knowledgable but also super-reliable--and who would tell me bluntly over the phone whether or not he thought a weekend dubber could handle a given problem...and give me advice on how to do it--well. Well, well.

I have sent all the business I can his way. That kind of mechanic ought to be rewarded.

#219 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 04:19 PM:

#215 ::: Lee

You don't have to be especially rich to afford a nanny or a little construction.

I'm not convinced that the Republicans have a coherent ideology or plan-- it's true that being able to hire cheap labor is advantageous for some rich people, but then how do you explain the Republican state governments which have made a serious, effective effort to drive away illegal immigrants?

#220 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 04:35 PM:

Back from Fencon, and Lee, I *must* apologize, I didn't actually make it to the back of the dealer's room. Husband and I were going to head back that way after he finished his talk with the Texas Triffid guy (husband LOVES carnivorous plants, and I foresee a birthday present), and that was when the bratty teenager pulled the fire alarm. (Husband found out who did it and reported it, btw.) And between helping out in the game room and dealing with Husbandly insomnia and my pre-con-crud, we didn't get back in time to do the full tour. :(

#221 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 05:22 PM:

CZEdwards @139: committing capricious acts of combing.

We may have had this conversation, in which case, please ignore, but my nephew-kitty Simon gives the "Furminator" high marks. I'm late to the game, but please convey my good thoughts to Mr. Boy-Cat.

Serge Broom @149: Oo! Shiny!

Mary Aileen @152: I'm very much in love with my Raw Food Fast Food "cook" book by Philip McCluskey. The recipes are, in fact, fast. (10 minutes or less in most cases.) And very tasty. (This from a dedicated carnivore.)

Victoria @164: I lost it on the first photo. (I haz no squee resistance.) I trust that everyone here knows about

#222 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 05:29 PM:

Stupid random question which I am asking here because it has a higher proportion of New Yorkers than my regular internet stomping grounds:

What is the level of fine/punishment one could expect for fraudulently claiming a disabled parking permit in New York?

#223 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 06:49 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #219: how do you explain the Republican state governments which have made a serious, effective effort to drive away illegal immigrants?

First of all, I'd challenge "effective" -- AFAIK, they're at best limiting the numbers. But the side effects are what they're looking for: The many who stay or sneak in, are kept solidly outside the law, and barred from all sorts of government services, including (in practice) much of the protection of law. That's what the Republicans want... a class of people who can be worked at starvation wages (without benefits), scapegoated when convenient, and generally abused in the best interests of Business.

#224 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 06:55 PM:

Cassy B. @ #214 wrote about a Corolla that started using massive quantities of oil and had scored cylinders at around the 40K mile mark.

Did that happen to be a 1998-2001 or so Corolla?

The "prevailing wisdom" on that model range Corolla and associated Chevy/Geo Prizm (both built on the same assembly line at the NUMMI plant, with the same engines, etc.) is that there was a design defect with the engine. Toyota actually put in a "quiet recall" where they upped the engine warranty to around 100K miles. (My mechanic found the paperwork for that extended warranty.) Original owner would get a new, re-designed replacement engine if it had the problem. Chevy owners (and 2nd/3rd/etc. owners) were left out on that one. Something about the engine design caused it to run the oil a bit hotter than it should. The overheating of the oil causes it to break down, eventually leading to scorching, then carbonizing some of the oil, making the rings stick, causing massive oil consumption and blow-by, sometimes even breaking rings - which would lead to scored cylinders. The recommended 5,000 or 7,500 mile oil change interval in the original manuals on those cars was too long - this mal-designed engine is one of the few that really, truly needs the oil changed every 3,000 miles to live under normal US driving habits (if you read the manual, the usual US in-city commuting style falls under "abuse"). The manuals were fixed when the problem was noticed, but other than the few who got the extra warranty thing, most folks suffered if the problem occurred. A lighter driving style and/or cooler environment and/or manual trans or other variations can make it run cool enough that the big problem doesn't occur, but they do burn a bit more oil than others even so. (Yes, YMMV!) It is worth noting that there are no rebuilt or re-manufactured engines available for that model year string from reputable suppliers. New re-designed one or used runner from a wreck, that's all.

Later model years had a re-designed engine with more oil-drainback holes in the piston behind the oil control rings (among other changes) so the oil didn't stick around in the hot spots as long. I found some papers about the engine re-design a while back, but I did not save them. They are online, though. Nothing in them talks about fixing the oil consumption problem, but it is there if you see the engineering changes and read between the lines.

If you search around on the web you'll find it a rather widespread problem. I have also heard the "up to 1 quart every 1,000 miles" as acceptable oil usage for a new vehicle under warranty, for various makes.

Truly, finding a trustworthy mechanic - be they at a dealer or an independent shop - is one of the best things you can do for your car if you'd rather not be your own mechanic. I'd do more of my own work, but regular maintenance on a "commuter slave" of a 1999 Chevy Prizm (I'm a lucky guy - I have one that has not developed the oil consumption problem at the 141K mark. My mechanic says I'll probably want to replace it, sometime in the next 70,000 miles or so!) is *boring*. I'll save my mechanical aptitude for something interesting, like my motorcycle or an FJ-40 or other hobby vehicle. Plus, my mechanic does a full oil change, fluid top-off, etc. including lubing the door hinges for $20, so I won't really save any money doing it myself when I factor in the time it takes. I do do things like fix the hood latch, and some minor bodywork, etc. that it isn't worth paying for. (Car value is low enough that just having to paint the front end of the car would total it.)

As for the 0W-20 vs 5W-20, the 0W rating is, as mentioned, for cold starts - the "W" is for Winter. The byproduct of requiring the 0W oil is that you get at least a synthetic blend ("Premium") or full synthetic oil, with the lower running friction that comes along with it, as well as the ability to tolerate higher engine temps. These are both important for meeting CAFE standards in new cars.

#225 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 07:17 PM:

Jacque (221): Thanks, but I don't think that's quite what I'm looking for.

#226 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 07:29 PM:

Jennifer, #220: Not to worry. I do appreciate your telling me, though -- I was concerned that perhaps you had come by while I was away from the table. We might be back up there in November for WhoFest -- not decided yet, but if it works out I'll post about it here.

And THANK YOU to your husband for reporting the idiot who thinks false fire alarms are funny. May said idiot find it an expensive lesson.

#227 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 07:58 PM:

And speaking of circular firing squads, Romney has shot off a couple more feet. This on top of blaming Obama for the problems with his (Romney's) campaign!
We'll know it's all over when he starts singing "Daisy, Daisy" in a slower and slower voice.

#228 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 08:42 PM:

Bruce Cohen: SPORFLE!

Thank you for making me appreciate being old enough to get that reference!

#229 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 08:48 PM:

Just back in town from a weekend of intensive band practice; very productive, both for the band stuff and because I was with people deeply invested in helping me find my creative-self again. No we don't have an album; we do have a concert at OVFF this year, which is what we're rehearsing towards, and coming out simultaneous to that concert, a 10-year retrospective DVD with a lot of previously-unavailable material, concert videos, etc.

Most gobsmacking thing that happened: I shared a short piece of fiction I wrote in 2006, and the instant reaction was, "That's publishable. You should start submitting it around."

I'm still kind of shaking when I think about it. I mean, yay, but … intimidating? And surprising? Gaaaah. :-> Email me (via rot13 --> 2ryyf2grrf@tznvy.pbz ) if you'd like to read it ahead of any, gulp, possible publication. Bonus points for knowledgeable feedback pursuant to such publication, if you want, but I won't clog up the thread. (Is there a relevant ML thread about 'oh dear ghu I've written something I want to send around, now what'?)

torrilin @134 said: As far as the biking... a very useful rule of thumb is that you can bike about 3-5 times as far as you can walk. If a 1 mile walk is far and difficult for you, a 3-5 mile bike ride will be challenging, even once you have a comfortable saddle and your butt gets used to biking.

Well, considering I can walk 7-10mi for fun and not really notice it in my legs, I'm guessing once I build up the appropriate muscles I'll be up to nearly indefinite biking. However, my work-to-exhaustion-repeatedly trip a couple weekends ago proves to me there are muscles intimately involved in the pedaling process that I have not previously been inuring to use. :-> This weekend I did find some good stretches that affect them, though, so after my next ride I'll know what to throw at them when they're twitchy.

Chicago is, for the record, the next best thing to flat.

#230 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 09:13 PM:

The worst part of doing your own oil changes is that it's hard to find a place to take the used oil.

Actually, living in LA, you could go with 10W - I used 10W40 for years with no problem. Unless you're going to spend time in the mountains in winter....

#231 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 09:58 PM:

Cally Soukup #216, cajunfj40 @ #224: When I bought my now-former car, it was a '97 Geo Sedan, and one of the big selling points for me was that it had windows that cranked open and shut. I'd been driving my dad's old Chrysler, and that sucker's power windows seemed to break once a year, either passenger-side or driver's-side.

That's not to say the Geo's manual window mechanism didn't break, but $100 to fix that was a lot better than $300 per power window on that Chrysler.

I never had the problem with my Geo that cajunfj40 describes in #224. I just sold it with 55,000 on it; it had given me very little trouble, but its body was going to need a lot of work and getting Mom's wheelchair into its trunk was really a hassle. So I got a Mini and a travel-weight wheelchair.

#232 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 09:59 PM:

I've lost well over a week of free time to the Narnia deconstructions someone linked to in the previous open thread. They're wonderful stuff, and the comment threads are too. Well worth the time suck! I'm both fascinated by the commentary and kind of sad that I'll never be able to read the series uncritically again. (And now I know why my husband, who picked up The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as an adult, was so entirely unimpressed.)

#233 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:09 PM:

Bruce, #227: I wonder if someone could suggest that song to the Romney campaign as a way to portray him being down-to-earth and likeable?

P J Evans, #230: Any Auto Zone will take used oil for proper disposal. I would bet that other major auto-parts chains do as well.

#234 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:10 PM:

Cajunfj40 @ 224
The "prevailing wisdom" on that model range Corolla and associated Chevy/Geo Prizm (both built on the same assembly line at the NUMMI plant, with the same engines, etc.) is that there was a design defect with the engine.

I *knew* that dealership were thieves. It was a 2002 Corolla. And I paid over a thousand dollars for a head gasket (TWO head gaskets) that I now find out was probably under warranty. <fume>

Never, never, ever buying from that dealership again. And warning everyone I know likewise.

#235 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:11 PM:

Linkmeister @ #231:

IIRC, the '97 Geo Prizm, being based on the 7th gen Corolla vs. the 8th gen like the one I had, would not have the oil consumption problem. Different engine.

I also liked that my '99 had no power anything when I bought it - nothing extra to break and annoy me. The A/C went on me, but my mechanic says that this generation Prizm/Corolla will go through 2 or 3 condenser cores in 200K miles and he fixed it for less than half what everyone else wanted, and it has a 1 year warranty on the fix, too. It ought to hold up until I get rid of it. Needs tires and a bit of rust touch up, but still gets 33+mpg, up to 40mpg if I try real hard at it.

Next best thing to manual-crank windows was something I've only ever seen once: a car that had a crank in the trunk-mounted toolkit for if the power windows failed. You used another tool from the kit to pop off the little round trim doohicky on the inner door panel, inserted the crank, and cranked away. Mid 80's BMW 3-series. The new ones don't have that anymore.

#236 ::: cajunfj40 hath been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:12 PM:

Gnomes need a car looked at?

#237 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:47 PM:

Lee, I take my current car in to the dealer, since it doesn't have much inside in the way of user-serviceable parts. The Corolla I usually took to a reliable mechanic, since it was easier than trying to deal with everything, especially after it passed 15 years old. (That was before 'Auto Zone' and oil-change shops.)

#238 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 11:53 PM:

Regarding Patrick edge-notched cards particle:

I remember seeing an InDeck type product in a game store, circa late 70s.

The cards were character cards, for Dungeons & Dragons and similar games.

The gimmick was that the system would let you quickly select a character for a particular adventure. e.g., Warrior with a Archery Skills or some-such.

The kit came in a ziploc bag. It had a metal hook, like a big safety pin. If there was a hole punch, I don't remember it.

I don't remember the name of the product.

#239 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 12:59 AM:

Nicole, KayTei, Sacramento meetup: Oh yeah. I'm interested.

If you're talking picnic, may I suggest Old Sacramento? It's about three blocks from the Amtrak station, and has suitable pretty areas and character.

Regarding the second date—maybe. I think I'm driving up to Oregon the *next* day, but I'll want to check on that.

#240 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 01:13 AM:

If anyone's interested, the photo illustrating Mr. Patrick's Sidelight, We're All In This Together," By A Republican Standing In Four Feet Of Floodwater is the Edgewood Yacht Club's clubhouse being struck by the storm surge from Hurricane Carol in 1954.

The Edgewood clubhouse survived the storm, but the nearby Rhode Island Yacht Club's clubhouse did not.

#241 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 01:30 AM:

B. Durbin

I admit, when we talked about opening it up, yours was the name that came immediately to mind. :D

I was also thinking about a picnic, in that area over by the railroad museum, but then I got locked up in trying to describe it. I dunno. Sometimes I overachieve myself out of coherency.

But I'm also thinking that given recent weather weirdness, it might not be a bad idea to have a backup bar in mind. At that point, I'm down to guessing and research; Old Sac is not my usual stompin' grounds for that sort of thing.

#242 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 02:09 AM:

Re the Particle called "Writer's Block" -- does anyone else find it ironic that the article was published by the Huffington Post, which doesn't pay for articles (AFAIK)? Complain about being a member of the working poor, and give away your work for free. What's wrong with this picture?

#243 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 05:18 AM:

WARNING: potentially triggering - there's some nasty stuff described in the linked article.

You may have already seen this, as it's been floating around Twitter since yesterday - it's just sometimes hard to know how far something has spread. Anyway, here's a well-written piece called Meeting A Troll, detailing the harassment the writer suffered, and what they did about it, ending with meeting their troll.

What struck me, apart from the grace of the author, was 'The Troll sat there for a moment and said "I don't know. I don't know. I'm sorry. It was like a game thing."'

#244 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 08:23 AM:

cajunfj40 @235, My Suburu has a sunroof, and I was pleased to discover that in the event of motor failure I can crank it shut with an allen wrench. This makes me feel warm and happy, because a giant hole-in-the-roof in winter (or spring/fall torrential rains) would not be a Good Thing. Needless to say, I have an appropriately-sized allen wrench stashed in a cubby in the trunk. I'm always glad when engineers actually consider failure-recovery modes....

#245 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 08:36 AM:

Mike McHugh @ #243: powerful stuff indeed. Where does that kind of random hate COME from??

#246 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 08:38 AM:

Stefan Jones #238: The funny thing is this guy turning up some old stuff and confidently pronouncing it "Dead Media" -- so, among the comments he gets dozens of "Hey, I used that", several "I'm still using that"... and at least half a dozen "Hey, I know what I can use that for, right now".

#247 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 11:06 AM:

Charlie Stross @222: What is the level of fine/punishment one could expect for fraudulently claiming a disabled parking permit in New York?

If they're caught by the Dept of Ironic Punishments, they get their legs broken (but then they're allowed to keep the permit).

#248 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 11:13 AM:

Cassy B. @#244, what year/model Subaru? What mpg do you average? I'm collecting a list of decently engineered vehicles to look for when I finally desire to replace my current one. Btw, my mechanic mentioned that certain Subaru engines need some "special coolant additive" (fancy name for radiator stop leak) every other year to avoid certain kinds of head gasket leaks. I can ask for more specifics next time I have a car in.

#249 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 11:38 AM:

cajunfj40 @ 248, it's a 2011 Suburu Forester (the middle trim package (which is confusingly called "Premium" -- the actual highest-end package is called "Limited", if memory serves; base model is "Touring")

According to the handy-dandy MPG calculator built into the dashboard, on my daily commute (6 miles, lots of stoplights and a couple of train tracks with, often, stops for trains) I reliably get about 21 MPG. On the highway I get 27 or 28 -- I've seen it go above 30 MPG but that's rare. I've not actually pulled a trailer yet so I have no idea how badly that will impact MPG, but obviously it won't help.

I bought this car in part because I knew I'd have to occasionally haul a trailer; all the vehicles I found with 2000#+ towing capacity ran at similar MPG ratings, at least in my budget (couldn't afford the fancy hybrids). I *hate* SUVs (probably because local SUV drivers tend to be rude, clueless, and terrible at d/o/c/k/i/n/g parking <wry> ) but I found that (relatively) small crossovers don't push the same psychological buttons with me. My Forester drives and handles like a car, not a truck, and fits into the same small parking spaces as my Corolla did. And it's kind of nice to sit a little higher and be able to see a little farther in traffic.

It's got a nice solid "thunk" when you shut the doors; in a year I've detected no leaks from the ginormous sunroof; it's got *heated seats*! (I live in a cold climate; I would never have predicted how much I love this. I have to wear dresses to work...); the rear seats fold completely flat for cargo, with no stupid pass-through hole but actual wall-to-wall cargo space. The driver's seat is electronically adjustable and conformable in all kinds of directions; passenger's seat adjusts the old-fashioned way.

It's got all-wheel drive, but I haven't used it much yet because we only had two fairly insignificant snowfalls all last winter, so I can't speak to how well it handles in Actual Snow (6" or more). Does fine on wet roads, and much better on potholes than my old Corolla (although, to be fair, that's probably a function of tire size). You can manually shift if you want to. (So far, that's not been an issue. I live in Very Flat country, and we've not had significant snow as mentioned above.) I hear it's a popular car for going off-roading so I'm guessing (without data) that it's good on hills and bad roads.

I'd very much like information on the "special coolant additive" and if my car is one that may require it. (After living with a lemon for nine years, I'm a little twitchy about car maintenance.)

#250 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 11:54 AM:

My car (manual, diesel) isn't an SUV and I'm not trying to tow anything, but: I regret that I only average about 60 mpg in both suburban and long-distance driving (although I've been up to 80 mpg on a few journeys). How on earth do you manage with vehicles which only do 20-30 mpg? How do you afford the gas?

#251 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 12:58 PM:

dcb@250: The usual answer begins:

Step#1: Live in a country where gas is unusually inexpensive.

#252 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 01:21 PM:

@250 dcb, 251, David Wald: Yeah, that - and the different gallon sizes.

30mpUSg = 35mpUKg = 70mp cost of UKg.
(from this comparison site )

#253 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 02:41 PM:

DCB @ 250, What Mycroft said about gallon size differentials, and what David said about price. Mix in inadequate public transportation, and one does what one needs to do... I get nearly 9 km/liter on average on my day-to-day commute, if that helps with the conversion.

The lowest-mpg car on the market that anyone I know drives gets about 50 mpg in normal commuting driving (that would be the Prius). Can't tow with a Prius, alas, and hybrid SUVs cost a mint.

#254 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 03:10 PM:

On the other hand, since Great Britain is about the size of Vancouver Island, frequently the swings-and-roundabouts calculations have an additional component.

For instance, I'm driving to Kalispell, Montana this weekend. 500 miles round trip, a fair bit of it mountain driving. Which is a fair bit of petrol no matter what I'm driving.

I do wish we could get some of the euro-style cars over here with the euro-style gas mileages. But too many people want their Suburban Assault Vehicles, and *everybody* wants to be higher than traffic so they can see.

#255 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 03:39 PM:

dcb @250: Add in also that if you're going out to buy a car in the US right now, and let's say you've got right around $10K to spend ... you'll probably end up with something a few years old, at minimum, and even in the BRAND NEW cars, the ones being advertised as having amazingly 'good' or 'fuel-efficient' mileage mostly make 35mpg on the highway.

I wish I were kidding.

I saw a commercial for a fancy awesome luxury sedan (not the huge kind), that is HYBRID specifically TO GIVE IT EFFICIENCY, and it makes 40mpg on the highway.

Even the Prius itself barely makes 60mpg, or my friend's does (it's not the Very Newest Prius, it's a 2008 I think). I can't imagine being able to afford a 60mpg car, while simultaneously being disgusted that 80mpg cars aren't widely available on the market (21ST CENTURY, PEOPLE!!!!?!!).

SUVs usually barely crack 20mpg (the hybrids can sometimes make it as high as 30mpg, but rarely).

Note: my info is mostly coming from the car commercials I cannot avoid, so (a) the manufacturers are trying to make themselves sound good and (b) sampling bias.

#256 ::: ACW ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 04:18 PM:

Mike McHugh @ #243: thank you very much for that link. In a sense it suffers a little from being a Starfish Story ("It made a difference to that one."), and I wonder what percentage of trolling is analogous to the story Traynor recounts. My intuition is that it's small. But still -- yeah, it made a difference to that one.

#257 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 05:03 PM:

My little car advertises 28 city and 35 highway. I'd say it falls somewhere between a compact and a station wagon as far as size is concerned. It's great for ikea trips, costco excursions, or just plain hauling odd shaped stuff, like the ironing board that would not have fit in my roommate's Civic coupe at all. I might have gone with something a little smaller, but I needed 4 doors for the gimp dog. Also, while I don't want to drive a big car - indeed, this is the largest I feel comfortable driving at all - I'd worry about being punted around like a soccer ball in any kind of accident with the yahoos in their Tahoes and Escalades (driver only, no passengers) in a SmartCar or similar.

It's used almost exclusively for city driving - 6 miles with hills to work, and 6 miles back. I normally do this twice a day to accommodate Ardala's mid-day dog walk. I drive like a grandma, and I can only seem to get 26.2 MPG out of it. The roommate suggests maybe more reckless driving will improve my mileage.

#258 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 05:57 PM:

I'd like to ask the community here for suggestions:

A few days ago, I took a customer survey for PayPal. I have never been personally harmed by them, but I have seen a lot of horror stories, one memorable one here even, and for that reason I don't trust them at all, and never use them where there's any other option at all, and I said so.

Today, I got an email from someone there asking if she could call me about that survey, for more feedback. I'd like to have a list of example stories to tell, and the only ones I have now are Regretsy, the violin episode, and Minecraft.

It's probably not going to make much of a difference, but I think it would be nice to send them five or six good examples of reasons their brand is toxic, and why making their site easier to use won't change that. Does anyone have any good suggestions?

#259 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 06:04 PM:

Okay, so why do the manufacturers not make fuel efficient cars in the USA when the SAME MANUFACTURERS DO make fuel efficient cars for sale in Europe?

(I'll admit I was forgetting the difference in the size of the gallon when I wrote, and that should have been 50 mpg suburban, 60 mpg long-distance for my car.)

#260 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 06:28 PM:

dcb @259: Because "people don't want them" or "nobody will buy them". I really, really wish I were kidding. Even when I go up to people whose job is to sell me cars, they insist I don't want what I want.

There is a general assumption by car-makers and the people who hold forth about marketing truths that "American consumers" want cars that 'feel safe,' meaning they're big and tall and wide, and that they want cars 'with power,' meaning excessively high horsepower and the ability to go from a standstill to VERY VERY FAST instantaneously.

The former leads to large, heavy bodies; the latter to a great reluctance to reduce cylinders or otherwise design engines to have QUITE ADEQUATE power but no more than that.

There is also the plain fact that, if not forced to attain high minimums, US carmakers see no reason not to put in cheaper-to-build, less efficient engines, even if the same companies only use higher-efficiency, lower-emissions engines in Europe.

And as to why we don't have a proliferation of consumer-level diesel-burning cars, it's a combination of "no one would buy them because diesel is weird" and the fact that the US diesel-fuel supply, in general, is absolutely filthy and sulfuric compared to what is legal to sell in Europe, so just switching everybody over to diesel-burning equivalent cars would actually lead to MORE air pollution.

There is some movement to tighten up diesel cleanliness minimums in national regulation, to allow rollout of more diesel-burning (especially all-vegetable-derived or mostly-recycled biodiesel: McDonalds would REALLY LIKE to be able to sell the output of their fryers that they currently have to pay to have hauled away) consumer-level cars, but there is pushback from all the usual interests that push back against federal regulation, or any regulations at all on petroleum industries.

#261 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 07:13 PM:

dcb, Mycroft, others on mileage:
The magic word nobody spotted in dcb's first comment on the subject is "diesel".

Diesel oil is much more energy dense per gallon than gasoline (which is why commercial trucks, boats, etc. use it) and in addition, diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline engines. US EPA ratings for diesel sedans at are mostly in the 30-43 mpg range. Combine that with the different gallon size and I think the difference is explained.

(The US almost entirely stopped buying diesel cars in the 1970s-1980s, partly due to pollution regulations - it was hard to make diesels meet the new air standards, but that's since been solved.)

#262 ::: Clifton has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 07:14 PM:

Here it is, Tuesday afternoon, and I'm gnomed again.

#263 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 07:15 PM:

Elliot, on the "still annoying but slightly less homicide-inspiring" end of the fuel efficiency information is that the other demand that car manufacturers have to deal with is the safety end, and the plain fact of the matter is that heavier cars are safer, even in single-car accidents. So part of the fuel-efficiency issue is that the safety improvements we've made in the last twenty years have almost entirely offset the gains in fuel efficiency.

And in the gallery of The Law of Unintended Consequences is the fuel efficiency laws. I'm sure you remember the old-style station wagon that sat six or eight people plus all of their luggage. New station wagons are usually little more than extended hatchbacks with four doors, but the need for the old style of station wagon didn't go away. Parents with two kids still need those extra seats for their kids' friends, or people have a carpool, or whatever... but those old-style station wagons never managed to get over the fuel-efficiency standard humps. So those people who still needed one went to SUVs, which fell under truck laws, which didn't need to hit the same standards of fuel efficiency.

In a backhanded way, fuel-efficiency laws became responsible for the rise of the SUV. Great idea; lousy unintended consequences.

NB: When we looked for our big vehicle, I mandated at least 20MPG. We ended up with a Ford Freestyle, which is what I call "the unholy mating of a station wagon with a Ford Explorer." It does what we need it to do, but if we could have a third car (people-mover and stuff-mover being the first two priorities), I would want a tiny little commuter car with great MPG.

Sacramento meetup: Rio City Cafe? It has a covered patio over the water. I have little doubt that it will be sunny, though, since it's generally mid-month you really have to start worrying. (Yes, we do need rain, why do you ask?)

#264 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 07:36 PM:

OK, now the thing I came here to say:

There's a young woman who could really use all your good wishes today and in the coming weeks: I took my hanai daughter to the ER last night, because she told me she had tried to overdose on ibuprofen the previous night and again that morning. It turns out it was actually acetaminophen, which could have turned out incredibly badly - much worse than simply dying. The blood and urine tests at the ER showed her system managed to clear both doses, amazingly, and showed no sign of liver damage. (If she'd taken them both at once, she might not have done so well.) The ER MD wouldn't release her on her own say-so, not surprisingly, and found a spot for her at an inpatient psychiatric facility here.

Since the beginning of the year, she had to withdraw from school due to depression, has been trying to find a job but unable to, and has been further depressed about that and blaming herself. She had stopped taking some of her meds last year, most of the remainder over a month ago, and had stopped going to see her therapist, and then didn't refill her [not-to-be-named-here ADD med] when it expired and didn't go to her scheduled psychiatrist appointment, and then just kept going downhill.... She hasn't been telling us anything about how she's been feeling, probably because she's ashamed, and because she doesn't want to be a burden, and because all her instincts/impulses are to withdraw. We've been watching and worrying and feeling helpless, but we didn't know it was bad enough for her to make an actual serious attempt, let alone three. (She told me there was an earlier attempt last week, that time with ibuprofen.)

I'll be seeing her this evening; hopefully they'll be able to put together a workable plan to get her back to the point it's safe for her to be out of there. Thank god Hawaii has something like a health-care system, and she has insurance coverage as a former ward of the state; I don't know what we'd be doing in most states of the US, other than going crazy ourselves.

#265 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 08:06 PM:

Elliot@260: There is a general assumption by car-makers and the people who hold forth about marketing truths that "American consumers" want cars that 'feel safe,' meaning they're big and tall and wide, and that they want cars 'with power,' meaning excessively high horsepower and the ability to go from a standstill to VERY VERY FAST instantaneously.

It's practically part of the brand, and not just with American consumers -- years ago, when we were living in Panamá, one of the local auto dealerships had a huge billboard up with a picture of a Cadillac or a Lincoln Mercury or somesuch, and a line inviting their customers to try out "el poder y la grandeza del auto Americano".

If it's poder and grandeza that you're after, fuel efficiency is not going to be in the cards.

#266 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 08:07 PM:

"heavier cars are safer"...than lighter cars built to the same safety standard. I can't imagine the Smart4Two being *less safe* in an accident than a 1979 Chevy Impala (especially having seen some of the crash tests BMW did with those things).

And yes, when there are lots of heavier cars on the road, the lighter car is at a disadvantage. Of course, if *everybody* is driving a Ford Fiesta...

Heavier cars *feel* safer, as do taller cars (because the driver can see over everybody else. Of course, everybody else is blocked by this driver, so they get taller cars, and then nobody can see over anybody again). And feel is more important than is, when you're selling someone their second-largest purchase, especially if they're going to be driving their kids.

I will grant that the need for a station wagon hasn't gone away. And that's frankly frustrating, because the station wagon *worked*. Even normal SUVs can't carry what the station wagon did, so now, for those odd days, you're looking to borrow your friend's pickup. Or it's more than the odd days, and now you have to own one (and now where do you put the other three passengers the 50% of the time you need that and not cargo space?) Ask anyone who's bought a couple of sheets of drywall or 4'x8' plywood in the last 10 years (but only once or twice!).

Similarly, American cars need their big engines, because the little 4-banger that makes the Fiesta peppy enough for practical purposes makes the Toyota Rav-4 accelerate like the brick it is, especially if there's ever a hill.

But everybody here who's griping is right. You can't sell a commuter car in North America. You can't sell a subcompact, either. And it is easier and cheaper to distribute the cost of safety $4.30/gal at a time rather than $1500 at purchase for as-safe-but-lighter and as-safe-but-more-efficient technology.

And with gas as cheap as it is here (I gripe that it's gone up from 72p to 77p/litre this week), people know that they want to save money on gas, but they also know they won't amortize $5000 over the life of their car.

#267 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 08:28 PM:

Clifton: all sympathetic wishes going out to you and the young lady. I'm glad to head that she didn't damage her liver and that she's getting help.

#268 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 08:42 PM:

B. Durbin @262: Heavier cars are safer when they're being hit by very, very heavy cars. The latest run of Smart models are exceptionally lightweight and basically BOUNCE after being thrown great distances, but have a serious interior roll-cage all around the passenger compartment, so as long as you're seatbelted in and the airbags go off, teh passengers are fine.

The real solution is to reduce the number of enormous Suburban Assault Vehicles on the road, so the hit-ers become lighter-weight, so the hit-ees don't have to be ARMORED TANKS anymore ... but that's not going to happen quickly.

#269 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 08:56 PM:

Mycroft, #266: Another thing that's being overlooked in the discussion: minivans. For people who used to need the big station wagons, a minivan does most of the same thing, plus its center of gravity is lower than an SUV's, it generally gets better mileage, and you'll pay much less in insurance. Get the right kind, and you can even change out the seats for different kinds of use. My Pontiac Montana holds 6 people plus a fair amount of luggage in full-on passenger mode -- but it will also haul all the gear for 4 6-foot con dealer tables in cargo mode (only the 2 front seats installed). But SUVs are hot and trendy, while minivans are seen as dowdy.

The one problem with the Montana is that it's got a long wheelbase, which makes it a bit unwieldy as an around-town car. If we had enough money to get another vehicle, I'd want a Scion XB, the original box-on-wheels style (which means we'd have to find a used one, but we'd be doing that anyhow). Those will still haul a useful amount of Stuff, but are much easier to maneuver in close quarters or to park.

And speaking of gas prices, I think the pre-election price spike has already started. Look for the cost of American gas to reach an all-time high right around the first of November.

#270 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 09:06 PM:

Lee @269: Minivans have even worse fuel efficiency than SUVs, though, and the ones I've driven have had HIGHER centers of gravity (as in, they felt tippier on steep turns), as well as handling worse than SUVs.

A minivan is not an adequate replacement for an old three-rows-of-seats (or has-wayback) station wagon, IMHO.

Scions sell really well to a lot of people who have very specific, odd needs relating to space and their car (from 'the driver is in a wheelchair' to 'I am a realtor and my passenger seat needs to be a file cabinet and computer workstation' to 'my small business means I am making deliveries of odd-shaped fragile things constantly' and beyond).

#271 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 09:36 PM:

3000 mile oil changes? Do you guys never actually run your engines warm or something?

The service interval on my car is supposedly 12 months or 16000km (10000 miles). I think that's a bit too far, so I change at 10000km (6200 miles) - which corresponds to about a full year's driving for me. I use fully synthetic though - the extra cost is a mere trifle compared to the petrol it guzzles :-P

#272 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 09:40 PM:

I took a look at the costs of being poor, and then read some of the other entries... I don't know quite what to say about the one describing arugula and sushi being both fads, and recent.

Even if I accept the premise they are faddish, and arose from a desire to have more "gourmet" food, I recall that change in American eating styles, and (allowing that Los Angeles might have seen it a bit sooner than than the inland areas of the country), it's still going on 20 years.

Which means the description being given "As I stated earlier, the “arugula” fad is rather recent," seems a bit blinkered, as the writer is (probably) in her early 20s, and so the, relative abundance of arugula (and I wonder at the quotation marks), and sushi has been extant most of her life.

I also wonder at the grading on those assignments (it seems to be a blog for a class on globalisation; I don't think I'd have noticed that if it weren't for a conversation with a friend's brother recently), because the amount of unsupported/unelaborated argument: Did the first writer really think a single radish weighs in at eight ounces, and they are described as being, "drier". If he'd taken a shot of them on the scale I'd be happier with the writing.

It feels lazy (and maybe that's the journalist in me). I've lived in both parts of town, where a 3 mile round trip would get me to a Safeway, and tomatoes at 2.99 a lb, onions at 1.49, or a stop on my way home would get me one of each, for a total of $2, or a bag of chips for 1.99 The markup in the poorer parts of town is hideous, and the options for fresh food terrible.

But I don't think he makes as convincing a case as exists.

#273 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 09:59 PM:

We had a set of these. Outside of being on fairly lightweight card stock, it was pretty neat. Came in a little plastic (think polyethylene) box that held the cards and the needle.

#274 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 10:09 PM:

Giving you another data point: I drive and '02 Prius, and it averages 45mpg, with mostly relatively short city trips. Driving to the Bay Area from Los Angeles uses less than 20 gallons round trip.

#275 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 10:15 PM:

Safety and heavier cars:

There's an analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (pdf) showing that

(a) the largest and heaviest cars have about half the death rate per million registrations of the smallest cars made at the same time

(b) even so, the smallest cars made in 2005-8 are as safe as the largest cars made in 1985-8 were at the same age.

#276 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 10:16 PM:

Terry, I wonder what they'd say if they knew arugula was around in the Renaissance; its English name is 'rocket'. (For some reason, it lost popularity in northern Europe, but stayed popular in Italy.)

#277 ::: thomas was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 10:16 PM:

Ginger cookies for Their Lownesses?

#278 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 10:44 PM:

Thanks, Rikibeth. It helps to have somewhere supportive to post this. (Especially since we don't have much of a social life right now, as my wife and I have both been feeling harried to the point of barely coping.)

#279 ::: Clifton has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 10:46 PM:

Gnomed again. Oh, those scrupulous and cautious gnomes! Care to share some trail mix with walnuts, figs, and apricots?

#280 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 11:42 PM:

I think they'd say that was fine... if one is french, or something. What amused me was the sense of parochialism... they didn't notice it until recently, ergo it was new and, "faddish", so it wasn't all that big a deal.

Or something. He said the same thing about sushi.

#281 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 11:43 PM:

Sorry, she said. I forgot it was a group/class blog.

#282 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 11:45 PM:

Clifton @ 264

I hope everything goes well. It sounds like the right things are in motion, so I'll hope for them to stay on a good track.

B. Durbin @ 263

I'm open if they are... (Yeah, I just figure this way we have plans in case the weather freakouts continue into this fall - WHAT was last spring about, anyway?)

#283 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 11:56 PM:

Me, I drove 4wd vehicles when they were clumsy, boxy, built on truck chassis, required muscle to wrestle - basic units with engines designed for torque down low - Austin Champs and the old Landrovers. Now I look at the pristine gods of the road that I see in the supermarket carpark. Chrome bullbars, yet. Heavily tinted windows, to ensure that you can't see over, around, or through them. But, oh boy, can you see them? Can you what? They glitter. They dazzle. Not a scratch on them, never been off the bitumen. Toorak tractors, an Australianism that it would be tedious to explain. Look at moi, look at moi, look at moi. (That's moi pronounced "moy", not "mwa".)

There's something to this conspicuous consumption lark, you know.

#284 ::: Dave Luckett has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 11:57 PM:

Possibly for being ungracious. Alas, I have only coffee.

#285 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 12:16 AM:

I think the first time I had sushi was in 1979, at O-sho's. I recall a roll-your-own-sushi party, too, maybe the next year. (Well, fandom....)

#286 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 01:15 AM:

I think I recall tasting sushi in 1959 (I was 6 and my parents had just moved), and not really liking it. I learned better. That, or restaurants got better....

#287 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 02:15 AM:

Clifton: Sending good thoughts your way.

Car thread: I was one of 5 children, and recall all of us crammed into a Ford Galaxy in the 1960s. It worked — because there were no car seats, booster seats, or even seat belts. As the smallest, I road in front, on the bench seat between my parents, with no seat belt. We actually do need at least somewhat bigger cars today in order to accommodate the change in attitude about safety. That said, I think it's nuts how many trips are one person in a gigantic SUV.

I drive a Prius, and rent a pickup from Zipcar when I need to haul something. I know Portland, Oregon is non-standard, but while I see a plenty of SUVs on the road here, I see a lot of small cars, too. We even have quite a few Smart cars. A lot of those are from the Car2Go car rental service. It just has a few locations in the States, but I see it's also in some cities around the world. A service like that makes it a lot more feasible to take the bus or train downtown for work, and still be able to run an errand in the middle of the day, or for a household like mine, where my husband and I manage to share one car.

I've also discovered the beauty that is a taxicab. I used to not think of them, because they are "too expensive." Spending $10 to $15 every once in while when there isn't a bus that goes where I need to, or the bus won't get me there in time, is a pittance compared to what I used to spend to have a second car on hand all time!

#288 ::: janetl has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 02:17 AM:

I blame in on early training in typing. I was taught to hit the space bar twice after every period, and I've never broken the habit. Once I start editing something, the odds of getting 3 spaces in a row is all too high.

No baked goods on offer, but I do have ripe pears and peaches!

#289 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 07:24 AM:

While is is true that a bigger, heavier car designed to the same safety standards is safer than a tiny light car in the same accident, the kinds of accidents these different cars may have can be different.

Rollover accidents are 10 times as likely to kill the people in a car as an accident where the car stays on its wheels. SUVs are twice as likely to roll over in an accident as cars.

Many such accidents are single-vehicle, driver-loses-control crashes, and the relatively bad handling of an SUV vs. a car makes single vehicle accidents more likely if they are driven in the same way. Experienced drivers may allow for this, and corner more slowly, allow greater braking distances etc, but people expecting an SUV to be just like a car but safer may not.

#290 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 11:41 AM:

Niall McAuley @ 289: Not only are top-heavy SUVs more likely to roll over, but people may drive more dangerously in them. Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says about Us) by Tom Vanderbilt cites a study that looked at driving behavior. If I'm remembering correctly, the observers watched people pulling up to a stop sign in London, and categorized the vehicle type and what the driver was doing. People in SUVs were much more likely to (1) not wear a seat belt, (2) talk on a cell phone, and (3) drive faster and be less careful about looking both ways before proceeding. It was judged to be part of the general trend to behave in a more risky manner when we feel safer.

#291 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 11:43 AM:

The thing that makes me very leery of buying a bigger car 'to be safer' is that bigger cars (especially SUVs) are far more likely to kill people IN THE OTHER CAR than smaller cars, and that's just a guilt-trip I know I couldn't handle. At all.

#292 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 12:00 PM:

Elliott, #270: Minivans have even worse fuel efficiency than SUVs

Forbes says otherwise. Minivans typically get better gas mileage than comparably-sized SUVs.

As to the center-of-gravity thing... I suspect that's your personal perception. You can see by looking that the typical SUV sits much higher off the ground than the typical minivan, which means it's going to have a higher center of gravity unless there's some serious weight below the floor level.

Agreed, neither the minivan nor the SUV is a perfect replacement for the old banana-boat station wagons, but IMO the minivan comes significantly closer.

janetl, #288: Heh. That's one of the good things to come out of my never having taken a typing class -- I never got into that habit, which makes no logical sense to me.

#293 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 12:57 PM:

Lee @292: In re typing two spaces after a period, if you're using fixed-width fonts it makes it significantly easier to read large blocks of text, since it puts a little extra whitespace between sentences than is between words.

Nowadays 99% of the stuff we make has automatic non-monospacing built into the fonts, so doublespacing after periods is a stupid behavioral relic of The Bad Old Days Before Computers Did It For Us.

There are other behaviors in this category, of course. :->

#294 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 01:01 PM:

Hit 'send' too early.

Also, Lee @292: Interesting that my anecdata is so out of sync with actual reality. Maybe it's just the minivans I have encountered? Rarely have I driven one that got better than about 12mpg, whereas most SUVs I've driven get a lot closer to 20mpg, and some break 20.

For reference, the ENTIRELY BUILT OUT OF CAST IRON 1983 Chevy Suburban that was 'my first car' got, with careful driving, about 10mpg on the highway. Because of this experience, I keep feeling like there is absolutely no excuse for any modern-built, FUEL-INJECTED, computer-run-engine, lightweight-new-body-materials car on the market to have fuel efficiency as bad as my old stamped-steel, carbureted behemoth.

Just saw another ad on Hulu for a new 'luxury' car (the ad with Shaq in it) touting 36mpg as if it is some ZOMG BIG NUMBER. No. 36mpg-ish should be (if I ran the world) basically the lowest mpg you are ALLOWED to manufacture and sell a car, having, short of pickup trucks and other vehicles that have genuine reasons to have crappy fuel economy.

36mpg is barely not crappy. Why is it being marketed as super-effcient? Super-efficient would be 90mpg. We have the technology, people ...

#295 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 01:01 PM:

Open Thread: I just sent a note to McMillan Audio - I've been listening to the audiobook version of Midst Toil & Tribulation and keep getting jarred out the story by the newest narrator with internal inconsistencies and mispronunciations. This morning was Mar-Sahl-Les for Marseilles. Audiobook people, I seriously recommend grabbing the print version on this one.

#296 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 02:51 PM:

re driving: I've driven a lot of vehicles (in a lot of configurations).

I prefer a sedan of moderate size (a Prius is ok, but I'd like a little more pick-up, not so much for lights, but for passing). SUV's feel terrible to me. Not stable, hard to get in and out of, difficult sight lines (I dislike looking through a large interior space; too many intermediate distractions).

Trucks aren't bad, they have some of the same entry problems, but tend to be more stable (unless they have a shell the CG is a lot lower than the sightline would imply).

Vans, too big inside, feel very tippy.

Sports cars... fun to drive, not great for every day; though some of the larger ones (e.g. Dodge Daytona) aren't too bad.

Minivans. Closer to van for sense of size, less tippy. Handle better than vans/SUVs. Same problems of larger interior sightlines.

Motorcycles... different class of beast altogether.

Hummvee.... Has it's moments. Very stable, can go over anything. Not so comfy.

Hummer: Never been in one, can't pay me to own one.

All in all, I dislike SUVs because they make it a lot harder to see the road in the vehicles I prefer (trucks are great when hauling things [lots of camping gear, bales of hay, horses, lumber, plumbing supplies, arms and armor, etc], but day to day give me a Jetta sized beast, if a motorcycle isn't practical). I dislike big trucks for the same reason.

I also (though it may be confirmation bias) the sense that people who drive them tend to be assholes on the road (this is also true of overpowered sports cars; the drivers seem to be frustrated they can't drive 140 MPH, so they changes lanes like maniacs to get the same sense of speed at 80 MPH).

#297 ::: Terry Karney has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 02:52 PM:

something about cars, that or I still put too many spaces after sentences.

#298 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 02:53 PM:

P J: What I think it is is lack of awareness. Even if we take as a given that the entrepôts of new food for the US are LA, NYC, SF (one might add a couple of others, but I don't think it matters for the purpose of the discussion), even in those areas there will be pockets where the intrusion of new foods is slower.

I can still find parts of LA where sushi isn't a known food (but the lengua tacos are to die for). If the students who wrote these pieces are from places where arugula, raddichio, sushi, dim-sum, banh mi, phô aren't around, then it's possible they started seeing reference to them when they were in HS, and so decided they were, "new".

Because yeah, I saw my first references to sushi in the latter '70s, and probably had my first chance to eat it in the early '80s.

Jon and I were talking about it last night, and he (living in Northampton, Mass) heard about sushi when he was in high school, and tried it when he got to college. That's the '90s.

And that, I think, is the thing; what we grow up with is normal and we tend to think everyone (who isn't "foreign") eats/likes the same things.

#299 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 04:12 PM:

272, 276, 280, When I was a kid (well over 50 years ago), every granny's garden had some rocket. It's not an exotic. I always figured calling it "arugula" was someone-in-marketing's bright idea to sell it to people who would be impressed with a foreign name.

#300 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 04:14 PM:

Huh. I've been gnomed. I have no idea why, and nothing to offer for a bribe. Scuse me, a refreshment.

#301 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 05:52 PM:

If you're reading reams of mono-spaced font vs variable-width font, the double-space after a period makes more sense:

The quick red fox jumped over the lazy brown dog.  But the dog didn't care, 
not because he was lazy, but because he was reaming about porter house 
steaks.  The fox was annoyed, however, because he was trying to show off 
how Quick and Red he was.


The quick red fox jumped over the lazy brown dog. But the dog didn't care, because he was dreaming about porter house steaks. The fox was annoyed, however, because he was trying to show off how Quick and Red he was.

(My demonstration assumes, of course, that your browser displays <pre>-formatted text in some variant of Courier.)

#302 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 05:53 PM:

... aaaand of course, Elliott got there first.

#303 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 06:12 PM:

Jacque, #301: Yes, I've heard that explanation before. But in your Courier-formatted example, the extra spaces still stand out and Look Wrong to me.

Tangentially related, for some reason my e-mail client interprets two spaces as a capital A with a circumflex when I'm replying to something. Now that's annoying!

#304 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 06:16 PM:

Yeah, it Looks Wrong to me now, too, but that's because I haven't dealt with stone-age manuscripts in donkey's years.

Actually, the Real Authorities on the relative merits of double-spaces-between-sentences would be Our Kind Hosts, having read, presumably, Mountains of Manuscripts over the years.

#306 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 07:04 PM:

Jim: ...but not very well. :-)

#307 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 07:12 PM:

Double-space after a full stop seems to be a US thing. ISTR having that discussion elsewhere, and nobody else had heard of it. That includes me, who learned touch-typing on a typewriter.

#308 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 07:23 PM:

The whole thing with spacing:

Two spaces after a period is called American spacing (no spaces before punctuation marks, double space after colons and semi-colons and between sentences).

There's also English spacing (no spaces before punctuation marks, single space after punctuation marks, single space between sentences) and Continental spacing (single space before and after punctuation marks, single space between sentences).

#309 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 08:45 PM:

I learned to single space after a semicolon in my typing class. It's far enough back that I generally just use one space any more, for everything.

#310 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 08:50 PM:

Huh. I guess I know a hybrid: single space after all punctuation except the end of a sentence, which gets two. It makes things easier for me to read. Every once in a while, I'll read a book where something is wrong with the spacing, and it takes me a page or so to get used to the sentences being all strung together. I like my breaks and white space. I'm also pro-semicolon.

#311 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 10:16 PM:

Chorus: Arugula, arugula, arugula... (continues throughout)

Soloist: In the village, in Greenwich Village, the yuppies eat tonight! (2ce)
Radiiiiiiiii-dii-dii-dii-dii, dii-dii-dicchio!

#312 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 10:24 PM:

Jim Macdonald @308, I learned a slight variation from what you describe as American spacing, back (mumble) years ago when I learned to type in typing class on a manual typewriter. No spaces before punctuation; two spaces after a period, question mark, exclamation point, or colon; one space after a comma or semicolon.

#313 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 10:38 PM:

Xopher: I wonder what the appropriate organic pest control method is for earworms.

#314 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 10:52 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @311: And you're going to post this to YouTube when...? (Have I mentioned lately that you're an Evil Child? ;->)

#315 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 11:06 PM:

Heh. "Goosed by the Numinous." That's a great way to put it. So, yeah. Okay, here: I'll start.

I've been poking at this stuff, since long before I had any words to put to it. I grew up in a pretty non-denominational household. No clue what opinions my dad had about spirituality; he never talked about it. My mom was devout, but in her own, very private way.

Me, I began my seeking after reading Mary Stewart's Crystal Cave. Coming into adulthood, I had a flickering sense of the presence of some sort, keeping watch over me. (But definitely a presence of the lower-case sort.)

But the most dramatic shift came when, one time back in the mid-late '90s, I was having a bad time. I made the mistake of mentioning my mood to one of my coworkers, an Evangelical Christian. She dragged me into my office, closed the door, and proceeded to pray over me. I was pretty annoyed and offended, mainly because I hadn't consented to this spiritual intervention.

But, boundaries aside, the prayer actually seemed to work. My state the next day was, flip! much better. So I started looking at this prayer thing much more carefully.

Probably the weirdest experience I ever had, though, was the first time I got an answer:

I was laying in bed one night, praying, wailing over all the things I'd failed to accomplish and the things I still struggled with. Why wasn't I further along in my development? I asked.

"Because you're right where you're supposed to be," came the Answer.

#316 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 11:36 PM:

KayTei: "WHAT was last spring about, anyway?"

My first or second summer after college (mid-90s), I returned after putting all of my cold-weather clothing into storage, because you'd never need that in a Sacramento summer. Had to borrow a sweater from my mom after it stayed cold clear into June, as in highs in the low 60s. There was also the time (2005?) that I was painting my parents' living room ceiling while they were on a trip and I could not get adequate light, since we were having major thunderstorms for the better part of two weeks. On the bright side, I discovered that if you put dirty painting supplies under a running downspout they get clean with no further work from you.* I think that was the year I was joking about Sacramento giving up spring for Lent.

The weather goes wonky about every five to seven years, I've noticed. Just long enough to have the last time fade from the collective consciousness. Same thing with big windstorms. (The last time one came around, I remember the local weather guy saying "Winds will be 80-100 mph in Donner Pass. If you go there, you will die." Weather guys aren't usually quite that blunt...)

*Over gravel, thirty feet away from the gutters. FWIW.

#317 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 12:13 AM:

I learned "two spaces after a period" from the 1980s version of the Air Force writing (and other communications) manual The Tongue and Quill, which is dedicated to "every man and woman in today's Air Force who will ever sling ink at paper, pound a keyboard, give a briefing, or staff a package to support the mission." The current version is nowhere near as funny as the version I used, which was larded with New Yorker cartoons.

#318 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 02:17 AM:

Lila 313: Oops. Sorry.

Jacque round(π×10²): You haven't, but thanks! *bows evilly*

#319 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 03:21 AM:

Jacque @315:

I think I'll be posting a separate thread for that, but possibly not until the weekend. I think it would thrive best in its own place, basically.

#320 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 07:32 AM:

Xopher: It's okay (she said womanfully), I can take it. I come from the era when Organic Gardening was edited by Mike McGrath and Mothra was the Pest of the Month for April. (A letter published in a subsequent issue included the lyrics to the Mothra Summoning Song).

#321 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 08:55 AM:

I have to say that our "fly partway/drive the rest" vacations out to my in-laws in Montana were well-aided by the availability of rental SUVs. They are reasonably capacious, can handle all that driving up into the mountains (which is something that a lot of smaller cars do poorly), and can deal with the not entirely on-road parts. At least when we did this last, the rental places did not want to rent a van to you to take out of state. I wouldn't have one around town, and I'm betting my Chrysler LHS is a better snow car than most SUVs these days (heavy rear, very low CG, monster wide tires, FWD).

BTW it appears that the EPA ratings have gotten rather conservative. They claim my Kia should get 32 MPG on the highway; it actually gets about 36. I'm pretty sure we get better mileage from the Chrysler than they say we ought to, as well.

#322 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 09:01 AM:

re 276: Well, besides most people thinking that this is a rocket, there's also the problem that there are four different plants commonly called "rocket", and probably most Americans think of this one, while Brits may be more likely to think of this one.

#323 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 09:46 AM:

Jacque @#315, Abi@#319

Looking forward to that thread.

#325 ::: Niall McAuley in Headline Ban Gnome Shock Outrage ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 09:51 AM:

at what would be #324, if not Gnomed

#326 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 09:52 AM:

Strike that, reverse it.

#327 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 11:09 AM:

C. Wingate @ 321: I'm betting my Chrysler LHS is a better snow car than most SUVs these days (heavy rear, very low CG, monster wide tires, FWD).

I used to have a Toyota Tercel. Front wheel drive, skinny tires, underpowered — it was great on snow. Not deep snow, obviously, but if it had enough clearance, it handled great. It didn't weigh much, but the weight it had was the engine over the drive wheels. I once got back to the ski area parking lot to find it snowed in a bit, and rocking back and forth wasn't getting me backed out of the parking place. I opened the door, pushed with my left foot while giving it a tiny bit of gas, and it backed right up. Little tin can for the win!

#328 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 12:14 PM:

Jacque at 315: petitionary prayer for myself has always seemed somewhat wrong to me. Jesus says outright that we should ask for what we need, but my intellect always comes up with "reasons" why this is silly, unnecessary, implausible, etc. etc. (What about all those people who pray and don't get what they want? Huh? Huh?)

I have no problem praying for other people. But for myself -- urgh.

However, every once in a while, common sense and naked need combine, and I ask. And more often then not, my prayer is answered. Sometimes the answer is the little voice in my head that murmurs, You don't really want this, you want this. Sometimes, very clearly, the answer is No. Once, in a moment of serious financial need, it was a unexpected check. My monkey minds keeps yammering at me about this -- reasons, excuses, theological bullshit -- but there it is. We're supposed to ask.

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you find, you get what you need." Jagger & Richards, layin' it down.

#329 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 12:29 PM:


Monte-Carlo rallies.

And, when I was young and foolish, I used to regularly out-run a Golf GTi through one of the local twisty bits, driving a Mini with a bog-standard 850cc engine.

That engine, you use the gearbox and you rev it hard.

#330 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 01:22 PM:

Lizzy L @328: I find that I just plain forget to ask for what I want. Which is dumb, because the Universe has made it abundantly clear that Asking is the first step.

I very rarely ask for "stuff," as those requests seem to go unanswered. And, anyway, I too am charry of asking for things for myself. However, a form of prayer that I have found highly effective is of the form: "Here's what I want to do. What do I need to do to achieve it?" Or, "I want to do this, but I've been unsuccessful so far. How do I need to think about this differently?"

Usually I get an answer within twenty-four hours, very frequently from a direction I had completely failed to anticipate.

It's pretty rare that I get an actual Answer answer. But usually an idea / event / comment / piece of information will come to my attention that very neatly fulfils my query. Kinda spooky, actually.

#331 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 02:20 PM:

Elliott Mason @293: Even with proportional-width fonts, it's not an unreasonable typesetting choice to put a bit of extra space between sentences, although a full double (two em) space is a bit much. Formatting software isn't perfect at distinguishing sentence ends from other uses of full stops, though, which makes it problematic to automatically insert (much) space when you can't depend on human intervention.

#332 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 02:53 PM:

I have just come across the phrase, "warmer than a Jan dockie's starboard oggie pocket".

#333 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 03:11 PM:

"warmer than a Jan dockie's starboard oggie pocket"

Anyone care to unpack this?

#334 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 03:57 PM:

Jacque @315, Lizzy @328:

I've now set up the thread I promised to for this discussion.

#335 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:35 PM:

Neither of those look like the plant I think of as arugula/rocket.

#336 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:54 PM:

Niall McAuley @324: “The Iron Man statue is the only known illustration of a human figure to be carved into a meteorite.”

I would have said it was a meteorite carved into a human figure, but then the sense of that reversed on me too.

#337 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 05:32 PM:

Rob Rusick @336,

I would have said it was a meteorite carved into a human figure, but then the sense of that reversed on me too.

"A meteorite carved into the shape of a human figure," perhaps?

#338 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 07:23 PM:

Cassy B. #337: Perhaps "The only human-figure sculpture known to be made out of meteoric material?"

#339 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 07:29 PM:

"Don't Call Me Shirley" Department

A transcript of the 1957 movie Zero Hour with the dialog that was used verbatim in
Airplane! in boldface (and some bonus snarky commentary).

Much of the scene with Joey in the cockpit is taken directly from the original "serious" movie.
The co-pilot in Zero Hour was played by a running back for the LA Rams.

#340 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 03:02 AM:

Elliott Mason@294 - Minivans getting 12mpg? Something's wrong. My full-sized Chevy Van got about 16-18mpg on its first engine, and 13 on its second, and it was the passenger van with seats for 8 plus cargo, not the work-van. I replaced it about a year ago when the transmission died, inconveniently just before most of the manufacturers came out with their new-model engines. If Toyota was still making an updated version of my 1985 Tercel wagon I'd probably have gotten that. I looked at a Nissan Cube as a replacement (mpg was something like 25, too low), as well as Prius and various hatchbacks, ended up getting a Kia Soul (Hamstermobile, ~33mpg.) The Cube isn't quite a full minivan, but it really did seem to be bigger on the inside.

The amortized cost of gas is about $1million/mpg (assuming $5/gallon and car lifetime of 200K miles, or $4 and 250K - the numbers are debatable, but close, and the product is so round and shiny I had to keep it.) So a 50mpg Prius will cost $20K in gas, and the Kia's $30K for gas was about balanced by the difference in prices. A 20mpg car would cost $50K in gas, which was silly, and apparently I should have replaced the van a few years earlier when I started commuting.

#341 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 09:34 AM:

I only know what mpg my older cars got because we logged our gas receipts and did the division once every couple of months. NOwadays of course the car keeps a running total and can display it on the dash -- very convenient for having competitive 'high scores' among all the drivers. :->

When I was driving my grandmother's big wallowing (built ca. 1991) land-boat, I could tell when John had been driving it, because he drives a lot more aggressively than I do, especially on starts-from-still, and he does a lot more accelerating-towards-red-lights than I do. I'd spend a month babing that sucker all the way up close to 20 and then suddenly I'd get in it to take my grandma to the doctor and the dash said 12 and I had a KHAAAAAAAN! fist-shake moment.

#342 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 10:02 AM:

WRT gas mileage, way back in a prior millenium, I owned a '68 Lincoln Continental. This yacht had a 460 V8 with a four-barrel carb, drank only premium leaded, and got 8 miles per gallon. When it died back in 1977, I sold it for $150.

#343 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 10:22 AM:

Carol asked (at half a beast):

"warmer than a Jan dockie's starboard oggie pocket"

Anyone care to unpack this?

Not really, it's British Navy slang:

Dockie = dockyard worker.
Jan (from Janner) = Plymouth
Starboard = right hand side when facing forwards.
Oggie = Cornish Pasty

(This moose suspects that "oggie pocket" refers to a coat pocket big enough to keep your lunch (a cornish pasty) in.)

So: "warmer than a Plymouth Dockyard worker's right hand pocket" - the implication being that they always have their hands in their pockets and therefore do no work.

That would be my interpretation, anyway. Jim may know better (unless any of the commentariat are ex (or current) RN).

#344 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 11:58 AM:

Cadbury Moose re: interesting phrase
Thank you!

I'm delighted to learn that a Cornish pastie (and I know how to pronounce that) may be a species of oggie.

Also enjoyed "at half the beast"

#346 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 12:11 PM:

Half a pound of flour and lard
Makes a lovely slagger
Just enough for you and me
Go bugger Jagger.

Oh how happy us must be
When we comes to the west country
Where the oggies grow on trees
Go bugger Jagger.

#347 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 12:29 PM:

Steve C., #342: Heh. That's what I used to hear described as "it'll pass anything but a gas station". Of course, that wasn't as much of an issue when gas was 27¢ per gallon...

#348 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 01:37 PM:

Re the parhelion "This Is Your Artist on Drugs," is it a coincidence that I recognize in some of the drug-influenced self-portraits styles that I first encountered when I went back East to college? People paid a lot for them, but they always looked to me like someone attempting to paint or draw the things they had seen in bad dreams or fatigue-induced hallucinations. Maybe some of the artists had of the substance partaken--?

#349 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 04:28 PM:

Okay, so there's a reason I'm confused about Graham Greene.

#350 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 04:39 PM:

Clifton @ 264: I neglected to post until now. But I am thinking about your hanai daughter and hoping she feels better soon. I'm relieved that she told you in time to get to the hospital, that she didn't have permanent liver damage, and that she's able to get the medical care she needs.

Lots of good thoughts going out to her. And to you too.

#351 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 05:27 PM:

A bit of a hodge-podge "awesomeness from elseweb" post, in the half an hour before the rain lets up and I can go home:

A really smart, thought-provoking post from Steve Randy Waldman at Interfluidity on "Rational Astrologies." "A rational astrology is a set of beliefs which one rationally behaves as if were true, regardless of whether they are in fact....We invent and sustain astrologies because we require them, not because they are true."

Sheldon Brown on "Bicycling and Pain", for guidance on adjusting bikes.

Two good posts on poverty:
one from Aunt B at Tiny Cat Pants.

a person I know professionally pulled me aside one day and said, “Your family has a lot of experience with drug addicts. Could anyone in your family recommend a good rehab facility?” and I blurted out “My family doesn’t go to rehab. They go to jail.” And then I was mortified and angry with myself for having said that.

And one from Megan Mcardle, which lines up very very well with my experience and observation:

People with impulse control problems, mental illness, drug and alcohol addictions, are very, very disproportionately likely to end up poor.... So even though these people remain a minority in poor neighborhoods, poor neighborhoods nonetheless have a lot more of them than more affluent communities....More importantly, poor people have to put up with it, because they have a limited number of other neighborhoods to choose from, most of which have the same constellation of problems.

#352 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 05:49 PM:

SamChevre: wow, that Tiny Cat Pants post hits hard.

#353 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 05:59 PM:

Oil change successfully completed by Alternate Dealership @ a well-disclosed fair price $15 less than Icky Dealership. It was done in less time than estimated, and when I mentioned considering the full synthetic for the next change, they actively tried to "down-sell" me. "Oh, this is a high quality blend; you won't need to pay extra for the full synthetic." They've got my business.

#354 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 06:56 PM:

Stopping in to update with good news...

D is doing vastly better mentally and emotionally and is back home with us again, as of this morning. (Right now my wife is home with her, as she has bronchitis from the latest virus going around, and now pneumonia.) D spent roughly 3 days in involuntary committal, which she had not wanted, but needed, and ended up appreciating it.

The therapy helped, especially group - she was in a space where she very much needed to hear that other people felt just as bad as that too and had gotten through it somehow. The main thing, though, is that they right away got her back on a small dose of her [ADD med, begins with 'A'], and suddenly she could reason better again, emotions went from a hurricane of depression to manageable sadness or even happiness, and so on. She has a temporary 'scrip to hold her over until she can see her regular doc again, which we're trying to get set up ASAP, and she is now willing to consider going back on a mood stabilizer again.

And the other thing of course, is she got to both hear and see yet again that we love her, we're not giving up on her, and we're not going to let go of her when she's sinking.

I hope she'll also be willing to talk to us sooner if/when things start going wrong again.

#355 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 08:11 PM:

Clifton, that's very good news!

#356 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 09:10 PM:

Clifton... Glad to hear!

#357 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 10:26 PM:

SamChevre @ 351 - That "rational astrologies" link was well worth reading. It parallels some of the thoughts I've had about how intellect and logic, no matter how crucial, do not begin to fully define the human creature. While they are certainly aspects of our makeup, our emotional makeup and the way we function as members of groups are more telling.

#358 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 12:49 AM:

Clifton: Hooray for good news!

#359 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 09:36 AM:

Open Thread question:

Is Ravelry collapsing under its own weight? The proper place to check would be there, but it's difficult, as over the past couple weeks, downloads have been taking increasingly longer, with many graphics failing to load. For several days, only the skeletal place-holding text has been coming through.

Is anyone else having trouble?

#360 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 12:19 PM:

Chris Kluwe, writer of marvelous takedowns of anti-gay bigots, famous gamer (his Twitter is @ChrisWarcraft), bass player for Tripping Icarus, goes on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me to play Not My Job. Probably because he's also a punter for the MN Vikings, but that's not important.

#361 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 01:05 PM:

Wow. A proof has been published (on ArXiv, back in 2010!) that markets can be efficient if and only if P=NP.

If you buy a beer for a graduate student or someone with a graduate degree in computer science, you can probably get a good in-depth explanation of what that means, but meanwhile here's the short version:

  • If they are, pigs can fly.

This won't affect true believers, but if the proof gets some broader distribution and holds up on examination, it will be interesting to see how it affects academic economics: will they try to ignore it, or face the challenge of starting over and trying to draw new conclusions without one of the major assumptions underpinning the whole discipline.

Eventually that might even trickle down to the free market advocates.

#362 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 02:17 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 359

Ravelry is working normally for me. Sometimes people have trouble that is resolved by clearing your browser's cache. Here's some tips for fixing various problems with Ravelry.

If that doesn't work, you might want to report it in the September Bug Thread in the "For the Love of Ravelry" group.

#363 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 03:43 PM:

Clifton, glad for the good news!

#364 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 03:54 PM:

IIRC, Murray Rothbard, at least, said that markets were always chasing efficiency but could never achieve it because what would be perfectly efficient kept changing.

#365 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 04:28 PM:

Herbert Lom passed away.
I have to watch 1983's "The Dead Zone" again.

#366 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 04:56 PM:

Michael O'Hare (Commander Sinclair on B5) has died. He was only 60 years old... and that ties for the oldest death among the B5 cast out of 4 to date. (The others: Jeff Conaway, 60; Andreas Katsulas, 59; Richard Biggs, 44.)

JMS is reported to have tweeted, "Go pick on someone else's cast!" One can hardly blame him.

#367 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 06:20 PM:

Serge Broom #365: All I can think of is the twitching face as Peter Sellers's Clouseau does it yet again. For quite a few values of it.

#368 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 06:47 PM:

Lee @ 366... I know I'm getting old when I think that dying at 60 is to die too early.

#369 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 06:49 PM:

Fragano @ 367... Lom had a long career, didn't he? I rather liked him as the Phantom of the Opera in the Hammer Films version. (The only flaw is that Michael Gough's villain never got to pay for what he'd done.)

#370 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 09:27 PM:

Lee #366: I agree with the Great Maker on that.

Serge #368: I'm completely of accord with you on that.

#371 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 09:27 PM:

Shameless self-promotion: I'm starting to set up social media accounts for my pen name, Julian Griffith. No, the novel's not sold yet, but I'm hoping, and I figured it was as well to grab the name.

So if you see a Julian Griffith or variant thereof friending you, it's me. And please feel free to go ahead and do the same if I haven't gotten to you yet!

#372 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 09:28 PM:

Serge #369: Lom had a long career, and he was a superb actor.

#373 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 10:26 PM:

Not spoiling anything, but (Doctor Who stuff) gung raqvat jnf whfg gbgny, ebggra ohyyfuvg. Vg jnf rzbgvbany naq jryy npgrq, ohg vg jnf n ybnq bs penc naq ybpxf bhg n ybg bs tbbq fgbel cbffvovyvgvrf. V'z shevbhf ng Zbssrg sbe gung.

#374 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 11:23 PM:

Naomi at 362 re: Ravelry

Thanks, Naomi. I worked through all the suggestions from the links you gave, purged cookies and caches (rebooting at every stage), and have confirmed that Casey et. al. are going to need to monkey with it from their end. Apparently whatever knocked things off the rails refuses to let me sign out.

That's the only site giving difficulties, and Kaspersky says my system is clean.

I'm jonesing for my knitting fixes, though.

#375 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 11:42 PM:

Jacque @#349

I heard the actor interviewed once; he said his mother has a sense of humour -- he has a brother named Lorne.

#376 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 01:07 AM:

Rikibeth @ 371... No, the novel's not sold yet, but I'm hoping

So do I, so do I. I've read some of your work and I say you're one fine writer.

#377 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 04:26 AM:

HLN: Local woman discovers that her muscle memory apparently has a category for "round things at about elbow height that give access to cross threshholds." This category is revealed when her hands attempt to activate the cross-walk light button by inserting the key to her front door lock.

#378 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 05:04 AM:

Carol Kimball @ 374


I trust you've either commented on the thread I linked (if you're able to) or used the Contact form at the bottom to report the issue, or both. I will say that it's generally best to report things like this on the bug threads (if nothing else because it will sometimes prompt others to say "oh, I thought I was the only one!" which helps to narrow down the problem. However, it is the weekend, so while Casey reads that thread regularly, he might not get to reading it until Monday.

I wish I undertood why these problems crop up occasionally. (i just do volunteer Ravelry help sporadically and not in any organized way.) There've been a few times when it's somehow been a problem with a given ISP. I read this month's bug report thread and saw there there were two Australians reporting issues with sporadic slowness; are you by any chance in Australia?

#379 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 05:11 AM:

Carol Kimball @ 374

Just occurred to me: If you have a Twitter account, Ravelry has an account there.

#380 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 09:48 AM:

Naomi, re: Ravelry

Nope, cannot enter anything on the site, and don't have Twitter or Facebook accounts.

I emailed Casey at [obvious name] dot com.

My email is pneby.xvzonyy@rneguyvax.arg
if you'd let me send you the details privately so you could post them on Ravelry for me.

I appreciate your caring about this.

#381 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 10:31 AM:

Serge @376: Thank you!

#382 ::: Rikibeth has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 10:34 AM:

I have gingergold apple crisp. With ice cream, it's dessert; without ice cream, I'm calling it breakfast.

I suppose that a simple "thank you!" with no other text around it looks like spam? Well, in any case, thank you, Serge, and I'd offer you apple crisp, too.

[Yes, "Thank you!" gets a second look, because 99% of the time it's spam. -- JDM]

#383 ::: Rikibeth has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 10:35 AM:

Again? Perhaps the gnomes would prefer vegan minestrone to apple crisp?

#384 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 11:22 AM:

Lee @366: that's much too young. And I'd missed hearing about Richard Biggs's death - and that was WAY too young.

Clifton @354: Great to hear the good news.

Jacque @377: If I (for whatever reason) forget to put my bicycle lock on when I leave my bike in the garage, I tend to put it on when I go to take it out (move lock from position A to position B. Never mind that it's already in the correct position and doesn't need moving...

#385 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 11:59 AM:

Rikibeth @ 381...

"Ain'it the truth!"
- the Cowardly Lion.

I'm game for apple crisp and/or vegan minestrone.

#386 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 12:01 PM:

The info on Fathom's double bill of Frankenstein/The Bride of Frankenstein is pretty neat, but what's even better is the digitally restored Lawrence of Arabia on October 4th.

#387 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 12:02 PM:

In the HLN vein:

House was robbed on Wednesday. And several days later, I find that what's causing the most stress is not the sense of violation (it's more a mild nervousness), nor the lack of items (which is mostly annoying now that I got the biggest issue there fixed), but the massive heap of paperwork involved in dealing with all this.

I can cope with the robbery. Listing all the stolen items for two separate organizations in minute detail with as much info as possible, changing all my passwords, and notifying a dozen different organizations about the security breach may yet reduce me to a twitching ball of whimpering goo.

At least I'll finally get some use out of all the Greek I've been working on lately. Alas, alas! Miserable me! O wretched woman, suffering under the waves of troubles, in a house of misfortune!

#388 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 12:47 PM:

Carol Kimball-

I'm glad to help; I just sent you an email. And I completely understand.

#389 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 01:29 PM:

Amsterdam police do harm reduction

Compare that with these cops in Amsterdam who were giving breathelizer tests to the public when a couple a Dutch girl and and American guy, who had been drinking went through the police roadblock and breathed into the tube:

““What would have happened if you had failed, Irma?” I asked.
“They would have pulled me over and asked me to step out of the car and go eat or walk, or do something, and then come back and take it again until I was under the limit for safety.”
I am thinking. “This isn’t real.” But it was and it is. In Amsterdam, the focus is on prevention of problems via cooperation between the people and its government to provide safety for its people. It is a quite different relationship here in the USA.”
#390 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 01:48 PM:

Help! I have a AKICIML request. I'm singing in the choir for an event tonight, the premiere of a beautiful sacred work, and I've been sick all week with a vicious head cold. I've been resting, not using my voice, taking meds*, and taking good care of myself, and I still can't sing. At rehearsals yesterday I could never tell what was going to come out of my mouth when I opened it: a passable note, a squeak or nothing at all. The performance is tonight and I could really, really use recommendations on a) anything I can do last-minute to beef up my voice and get through this one performance, and b) anything to keep me from coughing during the concert (other than the obvious method of keeping a heavy-duty cough drop in my mouth).

I'm singing first soprano and there are only about 20-25 people total in the choir, so it's vital for those of us carrying the melody to be audible. Speaking of which, it's the oddest thing: There are four people in my choir section (including me), all competent singers with beautiful voices, but if I'm not singing with them they get hesitant and don't come in on our entrances. I don't know if it's a timidity thing or what, but it's frustrating. This is an interfaith event -- I'm sort of an outsider, and most of the participants are of a faith I don't share -- and especially now that I can't trust my voice, I don't want them to consider me the unofficial section leader and wait for me to come in before making their entrance. There's not much I can do about that part of it, though, except encourage them beforehand not to depend on me.

*Not sure which terms the gnomes might find tasty, but I've been taking masses of vitamin C, Mucinex, Cold-Eeze and Airborne.

#391 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 01:57 PM:

Persephone: Personal trauma follows. If your voice is that unpredictable right now, you're at risk of losing your singing voice completely. It happened to me; I couldn't sing a note for almost two years, and I'm still a tenor instead of a second soprano half the time. Are you absolutely certain this concert is worth the risk?

If you are, drink gallons of ginger tea: freshly grated ginger root, boiling water, honey, steeped until it's a poisonous yellow.

#392 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 02:00 PM:

Persephone (390): I haven't tried it, but I hear good things about tea* with honey and lemon for sore throats. Steam's good for stuffy noses. Cough, I dunno.

*or hot water

#393 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 02:12 PM:

Persephone -- check the label on the Cold-ez, if it has an antihistamine, discontinue use -- it could be drying you out too much and thus taking away the voice. Mucinex is ok, but step up your fluid intake while you're using it.

The best thing to bring the voice back is hot fluids, tea or lemon juice with honey,* chicken broth, and so on. If you haven't been doing so, try to drink at least 8 ounces of some fluid every hour.

If you're having nasal congestion, get a Neti-pot. Washing out the stuff that's probably draining down the back of your poor throat is a good idea, as it plays hell with the vocal cords.

Steam -- either a vaporizer/humidifier or failing that, turn on the shower in the bathroom.

*Some folks would add whisky to help deaden any pain in the throat, but alcohol is drying so not a good idea.

#394 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 02:17 PM:

TexAnne @391: Guh. That's terrifying. If I thought the other sopranos would actually come in when they're supposed to, I'd just bow out. (And at this point I resent just a little the fact that they've essentially placed responsibility on the shoulders of someone who's clearly not well. That's probably not a fair reaction, but I'm not feeling all that fair right now.)

Part of the problem is that my voice range is extremely high and I have little to no low range. And the majority of the first soprano part is in a range that takes a lot of energy for me to sing. (From the E above middle C to the C above middle C.) I'm considering singing only the major entrances* and the final two sections (the ones that are higher and within my comfortable range) in the hopes it'll keep the first sopranos from imploding.

And now I'm so, so glad I didn't actually get the soprano solo I auditioned for.

*As in, come in for the first two measures and then start lip syncing.

#395 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 02:23 PM:

TexAnne, Mary Aileen, Lori Coulson, thanks for the reminders about tea and liquid intake too. Alcohol is definitely out, yes, but I could be getting more liquids and I have perfectly good decaf hot tea downstairs that's great with honey and lemon. I don't have time to run out for ginger, but I love ginger tea and wish I'd thought of it earlier.

The one good thing about this cold (if there's anything good about a cold) is that the nasal congestion and drip have been minimal. The main problems are the chest tightness and cough. I'll get in some steam time before I leave and am running off to make tea right now! It's funny how you can know things on an academic level and then forget all about them the moment you get sick.

The active ingredient on the Cold-Eeze box is Zincum Gluconicum 2X. Phew.

#396 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 02:34 PM:

Persephone: My best advice: Stay home.

#397 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 02:39 PM:

Fade Manley @ 387: Yikes! Good thoughts going out to you. Having to do so much paperwork after such a shock is just mean.

Clifton @ 354: That is good news. Relieved to hear that she's able to access her meds again, in particular.

I'm also hopeful that if things start going wrong again, she'll feel able to talk to you earlier. While I've not been in her exact position, I've been in the position of waiting until things were really bad to ask for help. Then I got help and felt better. When things started getting bad again, I had the experience of having asked for help before and gotten it, so I was much quicker to ask for it again -- knowing who to ask, what to say, what to expect, made it much easier. I hope things are similar for your hanai daughter.

HLN: You know how everyone always says sharp knives are safer than dull ones? I personally verified this yesterday, by trying to cut up raw bacon with a too-dull chef's knife, having the knife slip, and ending up with a nice slice in my left index fingertip.

I washed it well with soap and water and bandaged it up. I don't think it's deep or large enough to need stitches (though it bled impressively), and I'm up to date on my tetanus shot.

Today I went out and purchased an electric knife sharpener and sharpened the knife in question. It took rather more honing than the manual suggested; must have been really dull. But it seems to be sharp now. It passed the manual's sharpness test of holding a piece of paper up by the top edge, then cutting down from the top edge with the knife. If the knife cuts the paper without tearing it, then it's sharp enough, apparently.

So, PSA: Keep your kitchen knives sharp, or they will have their revenge.

#398 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 02:49 PM:

HLN: Local man has decided to follow the lead of several acquaintances and do a synchronised re-read of A Night in the Lonesome October, reading each chapter on the day in October on which it is set. The re-read is scheduled to commence shortly, with local man planning to read the prologue as soon as he gets off the computer.

#399 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 03:03 PM:

Jim @396, we're probably edging into DFD territory on this one, but now that I'm feeling responsible for the section (no matter whether it's actually true or should be true), I'll be going. I'm hoping the path of least actual voice output (just singing on entrances and when they need a little boost) will also be the path of least harm to everyone in this scenario.

In hindsight, of course, I should have dropped out entirely the minute I realized the cold would be a doozy. But this is the first one I've had since I started singing again a couple of years ago, and I foolishly thought that if I took three days off work and took excellent care of myself (which happened), I'd be recovered by now (which...didn't).

#400 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 03:10 PM:

I've had good results from hot cranberry juice when a) the only thing really wrong with me was my voice and b) what was wrong was not that my voice just didn't make any sound, but that it was low and coarse and liquidy.

#401 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 03:17 PM:

Serge @385: If you ever come to Connecticut, I'll be happy to feed you!

Fade, I hope all the hassle with the paperwork is done soon!

Persephone, I hope you get through the concert with no damage to your voice. I think you'd be totally justified in only singing the entrances.

#402 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 03:33 PM:

After last night's episode of Doctor Who, there is obvious scope for a fan-fic involving a New York publisher and River Song.

#403 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 04:06 PM:

After last night's episode of Doctor Who, there is obvious scope for a fan-fic in which the characters aren't utterly but selectively stupid.

#404 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 04:44 PM:

Persephone - I had a similar disaster for my first Holy Week, wherein I was not only being baptized, but was solo-ing on both the mass and the anthem. I did all the hot-tea-with-lemon things, and also a variation on the neti pot; it's the same idea, but it's administered via squeezy bottle rather than pot. Because of the shape of my nose, I find the neti pots difficult to get at the right angle. The nice thing about that liquid is that it helps keep your sinuses moist.

#405 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 06:15 PM:

Jacque @377


More than once I've found myself trying to exit a secured area at work by holding my badge up to the light switch.

#406 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 06:47 PM:

Open thready complaint:

I (XL male, 43 years old) may not be the target audience for cool T-shirts anymore.

Why else would they print them on American Apparel shirts, where an XL is (barely) L on males? The female shirts are even worse.

#407 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 06:56 PM:

Persephone @399: My family's last-minute voice-fixer measure involves enough hot water to make a generous cup of tea, and a good bit of table salt. Stir the latter into the former until it plain quits dissolving, dropping to the bottom instead even when vigorously stirred. (Those of you who have attended seders will recognize this solution, though at Passover it's served cold.)

Then go into a bathroom, blow on it until it's cool enough for you to take it into your mouth without burnination, and gargle thoroughly and deeply with small mouthfuls of it until the mug is gone.

The first mouthful will taste HORRIBLE and you'll probably spit-take reject the first few tries, because, well, it's nasty. But it's really, really good at un-inflaming throat tissues, because osmosis works: hypersalty water sucks the water (and the swelling) out of your anatomy. After you've accustomed yourself to the taste and sensation, try to relax your throat and encourage the gargle to go as deep as you can reasonably manage, short of choking yourself or otherwise harming, obviously.

Plus, the very hot saline solution irrigation also loosens phlegm off your mucous membranes physically, and the repeated gargle-and-spit motion helps flush it out and get rid of it.

This can take me from croaking and in pain to 'able to sing a concert' in about ten minutes of making really, really disgusting noises in a bathroom. But don't try to push it; after the performance you did it for, curl up, rehydrate, and rest your voice, or you might overstrain it.

#408 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 07:16 PM:

Caroline @397: So, PSA: Keep your kitchen knives sharp, or they will have their revenge.

OTOH, peeling mangos is really much more efficient with a dull knife.

#409 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 07:21 PM:

Bruce H. @405: More than once I've found myself trying to exit a secured area at work by holding my badge up to the light switch.

Things aren't effective at moving your computer cursor around the screen: cameras. Camera cases. Cigarette packs.

Though for truly brain-frying results, nothing beats a television remote.

#410 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 08:19 PM:

HLN: rather than filling boxes with assorted odds and ends to cart to Goodwill, I decided to try an experiment: I carted the odds and ends (including some shabby but still usable furniture) out to my driveway, and stuck up a FREE sign.

That was about 7 hours ago. 90% of the stuff is gone (including all the furniture.) What's left will fill one box. Experiment successful. Lizzy happy.

#411 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 08:29 PM:

Occasionally I find myself reaching for the stick shift on the floor (in my 02 Prius). Or for the water faucet handles in the restrooms at work (where they installed motion-sensitive fixtures last year). At least the rebuilt galleys only have motion-sensitive soap dispensers.

#412 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 08:35 PM:

Jacque @409: Things aren't effective at moving your computer cursor around the screen: cameras. Camera cases. Cigarette packs.

I have also discovered that jabbing a word in a book I'm reading does not, in fact, produce a handy dictionary definition for me, if I'm reading it in hardcopy. More's the pity.

#413 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 08:48 PM:

Silly, you have to double-jab it.

#414 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 09:02 PM:

PJ Evans @411: My (3.5yo) daughter assumes most everything is wave-your-hand-to-work-it, like public washroom faucets and hand dryers. Unless there's an obvious handle, she waves her hand under it first, and then looks for manipulables.

She's rather put out by the self-flushing toilets, though, because she likes to flush it HERSELF.

In other news, she will never know a world before multi-touch-interface touchscreens and ubiquitous operated-by-infrared appliances. What a brave new world we live in.

#415 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 09:17 PM:

Jacque @409:
>> Things aren't effective ...

Calculator. Cell phone. Hand held pulse oximeter. (The latter is especially pernicious because it has a wire going to the sensor; makes it look even more like a mouse to the peripheral vision.)

Also frustratingly ineffective: trying to click the physical buttons at the bottom of your monitor with the mouse cursor.

Xopher HalfTongue @413
>> Silly, you have to double-jab it.

The day will come ...

#416 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 09:19 PM:

If they're like the ones we have at work, there's a little button next to the sensor that will do the trick. (No, I'm not impressed by them. Why do you ask?)

#417 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 09:45 PM:

I keep forgetting to turn off the faucet at home because I'm so used to the motion sensing ones at work.

#418 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 09:50 PM:

P J Evans @416: Yes, but usually they flush before she's ready to go jab the button (often, if I'm the one Producing while she Spectates, before I'm even done recombobulating clothing).

I am horribly mean and do not permit her to flush it AGAIN just for the satisfaction.

#419 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 10:14 PM:

418Yes, they do seem to be a little too eager to flush, sometimes even before you sit down to Produce. (And sometimes they flush twice after. Not saving water, which was the stated reason for the installation.)

#420 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 10:56 PM:

P J Evans, #419: That may have been the stated reason, but I suspect the actual reason is to cut down on the number of toilets-left-unflushed. I can't be the only person who prefers to use another stall if the first one I look into wasn't flushed by the last user, even though I know that all I really need to do is flush it myself.

#421 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 11:20 PM:

That - is still a problem. Not exactly the same problem, but. Yeah.

#422 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 06:46 AM:

Misreading of the day: due to a lack of coffee I misread an article describing the Three Basic Plots - man v man, man v universe and man v self, or, as the article updated it, "(wo)man v (wo)man, (wo)man v universe and (wo)man v self".

The three basic plots are not, but should be:
wolfman v wolfman
wolfman v universe
wolfman v self.

#423 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 07:02 AM:

ajay @ 422... Does 'v' stand for 'vampire'? And what if we add Lou Abbott & Elvis Costello to the mix?

#424 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 07:36 AM:


Xnera Tvyyna unq rkcerffrq gur bcvavba gung Nzl'f svany rcvfbqr fubhyq or n qrsvavgviryl SVANY rcvfbqr.

Naq nethnoyl gur bayl jnl rvgure gur Qbpgbe be gur Cbaqf jrer rire ernyyl tbvat gb fgbc geniryvat jvgu rnpu bgure vf vs gurl fvzcyl pbhyqa'g. Naq gur bcgvba Zbssng pubfr vf bar bs gur yrnfg hacyrnfnag jnlf bs neenatvat gung.

#425 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 08:02 AM:

Eric Hobsbawm has died at 95. That's a great mind stilled at last.

#426 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 08:42 AM:

Dave Bell #402: River Song meets TNH?

#427 ::: David Hodson ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 09:39 AM:

Bruce H. @ 415: After one very long working day, I found myself trying to click on a post-it note stuck to my monitor.

#428 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 09:54 AM:

Serge @423

OK, so can you tell me the name of the medical professional?

#429 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 11:08 AM:

re sharp vs dull in knives.

Sharp knives to better at going where you want them to. A freshly sharpened knife is, however, much better at going where you tell it to than it was when it was less sharp.

If it's been some time since it was sharp, you will have gained habits to cope. These tend to be a tighter grip, and more force. The first tends to make it harder to aim the knife, the second compounds the errors of the first, esp. when the knife is sharp.

So be a bit careful of truly dull knife which has been recently sharpened.

Regarding muscle memory... the wide brakes on automatic transmissions make lousy substitutes for the clutch.

#430 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 11:16 AM:

Muscle memory - mine is trying to unlock my car door by waving my office badge at it.

#431 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 11:41 AM:

Put the Netflix in the mailbox, and the trash in the dumpster.

#432 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 11:48 AM:

Jacque @409: Things aren't effective at moving your computer cursor

Most frustratingly ineffective: a mouse attached to a different computer. This gets past even the first, "Wait, am I really moving the mouse?" check.

#433 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 11:56 AM:

Also on expectations of machinery, a multi-step confusion: I learned to drive with automatic transmissions, and for a long time that's all I drove. Sometime in my 20s I learned to drive a friend's car with a manual transmission, and part of that education was getting an ear for how fast the engine was revving. Then for a long while after that I was back to automatics, but I now found myself listening to the engine and learning when to expect a gear shift.

So, one day, after all this, I'm driving a car with a manual transmission, hearing the engine revving a bit high, and finding myself thinking at the car, "come on, you can shift any time now..."

#434 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 12:48 PM:

OtterB #430:

I keep waving the car's keyfob at the house door.

#435 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 12:51 PM:

David Wald @432: Too funny! I was thinking about this exact thing this morning.

Every once in a while, when I'm in too much of a hurry, I put the boys back in the wrong cages. Last time it happened, I put Yeti in Woofie's cage. It took weeks for either of them to be willing to even go near their bedrooms (a corner of the cage with a towel draped over it), because there's monsters in there!

#436 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 01:12 PM:

#314 et seq

On infrared gadgets - I once walked into a hotel bathroom still wearing a retroreflective vest from cycling to the event. I was surprised at the number of devices that promptly activated; my assumption is that under normal conditions, pulses from tap A have very little reflected energy arriving at the sensor for tap B, but given a moderate amount of efficient reflector, they did.

Anyone else experience this? Anyone know much about the IR reflectance of safety reflectors in general?

#437 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 01:36 PM:

Jacque @435: One of my grandmothers had a VERY PARTICULAR little fluffdog. She literally could not rearrange her furniture after getting him. She tried moving the kitchen trashcan to the other side of her back door, and every SINGLE time he came into the room he would go into a flurry of barking at it, as if it were a ZOMG BURGLAAAAAAAR KILL WITH FIRE!!!!

It sounds stupid to let a 15lb mobile dustmop dictate your interior design choices, but training him out of it certainly wasn't working, so ...

#438 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 01:37 PM:

Henry Troup @436: Not precisely the same thing, but when I was working at O'Hare Airport I came to notice that there were certain individual faucets that would not react if what was covering the user's bellybutton was plain black. If you could open your jacket and show it a striped shirt or something, it'd work -- but plain black? Nope. You were a ninja, it could not see you. Usually only one tap in any given bathroom.

#439 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 01:59 PM:

Elliott Mason @437: It sounds stupid to let a 15lb mobile dustmop dictate your interior design choices

No stupider than letting a 2.5lb RODENT regulate your daily schedule.

#440 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 02:09 PM:

Terry @ 429

So be a bit careful of truly dull knife which has been recently sharpened.

And be very careful of "helpful" housemates who sharpen your knives without telling you. Though, to be fair, if I'd been chopping vegetables in the kitchen rather than butchering livestock in the back yard the unexpected ease of cutting would have been in a less critical direction.

Still, it gave me one of my favorite ER stories. The one where I responded to the intake desk clerk's horrified look by glancing down at the front of my coveralls and reassuring her, "Don't worry, most of that's not my blood!"

#441 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 03:13 PM:

Elliott (438): A friend of mine once foiled a con hotel's automatic doors by wearing all black. Oddly, the effect was somewhat intermittent; when we were trying to demonstrate the effect to a con official, the doors opened for him four times in a row before cooperating and remaining closed.

#442 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 03:27 PM:

Jacque : 431: And orange juice into the glass, milk onto the cereal...

David Wald @432: Oh yes! Keyboard as well.

#443 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 03:45 PM:

I regularly attempt to open my mailbox with the front door key, and then can't figure out why the key doesn't fit.

The one that really tends to bite me in the butt, though, is my autopilot. Once I've driven somewhere enough times, going there becomes a habit and it's hard to go anywhere else. Running an errand on the way home from work is a huge pain because my brain doesn't want to turn into the shopping center, it wants to go straight down the highway toward home, and I have to be hyper-present the whole time I'm driving in order to make that one turn. Otherwise I'm suddenly pulling up in front of the house and realizing I forgot to pick up kitty litter for the third time this week.

Thanks so much to everyone who offered comments, quick fixes and other advice re. voice care yesterday. The cautions and warnings were just as useful, too, as a good reminder that it's okay to be cautious about your own health and just because that one tenor was all "What, you've been sick for a week and still sound like that?" doesn't mean you should just pretend you're fine.

The concert went all right. I sang the entrances, all of the final number, and some places in between that felt reasonably comfortable. People afterward said the soprano ones sounded kind of thin, but oh well. I didn't do any further damage to my voice, as far as I can tell, so I'm satisfied with that.

#444 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 03:46 PM:

Mary Aileen@#441, Elliott@#438

It occurs to me that my garage light is similar except it uses passive IR. That sometimes doesn't work until the car door is opened. Recently when it was foggy - water vapor doesn't pass a lot of IR, and the outside of the car was pretty wet as well, car was not detected. (The hood has an insulating blanket, so it's not very warm.)

The plain black probably doesn't reflect much in any wavelength.

I wonder if I know anyone with night vision goggles?

#445 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 04:08 PM:

Mary Aileen @441: The building my daughter's daycare/school is in clearly made a policy decision -- when she was tiny, she could run headlong for the automatic doors. THey'd open, and we'd be on the chase trying to get to her before she entered the driveway out front.

Then one day she ran for it and bounced off the doors -- the sensor is now aimed higher (about the head-height of an 8-year-old), and shorter kids cannot trigger it. YAAAAAAY!

#446 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 04:15 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 445... I think the old Star Trek had a blooper of Captain Kirk colliding with one of his ship's cabin doors not opening fast enough for our determined hero.

#447 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 04:18 PM:

Michael 424: Zl ceboyrz vf gung vg jnf qbar fghcvqyl, jvgu boivbhf jnlf bhg gung nal aba-fghcvq crefba jbhyq unir gubhtug bs, naq hfrq jevgreyl svng gb fnl "ab, ab, jba'g jbex V'Z ABG YVFGRAVAT YN YN YN."

dcb 442: And orange juice into the glass, milk onto the cereal...

Milk onto the cereal, and not the other way around, unless you're a Charlie Stross character.

#448 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 04:21 PM:

Serge, the blooper reel has many, many of those. It happened a lot, and back then such things were considered endlessly funny. Or maybe it was that everyone hated Shatner and loved watching him thud against the door...except he's not the only one it happened to, even in the blooper reel.

#449 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 04:30 PM:

Serge @446: That's because the old prop doors were actually operated by stagehands with ropes (presumably behind the wall somewhere, out of direct eyeshot of the actors), so if you jumped your cue a bit, well, no whooshy. :-> On Next Gen at least some of them were IR-operated.

#450 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 04:52 PM:

Elliott (445): The back (i.e., most often used) door at my former library had a sensor that mainly responded to sideways motion and also wouldn't pick up short people. So people who walked straight at the door wouldn't always trigger it and neither would children or people in wheelchairs. The staff frequently had to go over and wave at the sensor to get the door to open.

#451 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 04:56 PM:

Score one for the anti-vaxxers. :-\

#452 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 05:16 PM:

dcb @442: Oh yes! Keyboard as well.

Unless you're working in vi. Then you get to enjoy switching back and forth between that and MS Word. Word to vi, not a problem. The other way? Not so much.

Xopher HalfTongue @447: Milk onto the cereal, and not the other way around, unless you're a Charlie Stross character

—or me. 'S how I keep my cereal from getting soggy. Bowl full of milk; pour in a few bites-ful of cereal, eat. Pour in a few more ... works great!

#453 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 05:27 PM:

Jacque @ 451

I'm wondering if anyone knows how much protection 1 dose of pertussis vaccine gives in the short term. In other words, if everyone who is unvaccinated got their first dose of vaccine, would that help significantly? Or would it make no real difference until they had gotten all three. (My interest is not entirely academic, as our 4-month-old hasn't yet gotten his full series of vaccines.)

#454 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 05:36 PM:

It is not something I have thought about, but we are in a world where Star Trek sliding doors are a commonplace. We also have Bluetooth earpieces for mobile phones, mobile phones themselves, and touch tablets.

#455 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 05:58 PM:

dave Bell @ 454... Yes, but *our* sliding doors don't go whoosh. :-(

#456 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 05:59 PM:

Dave Bell @454: I just finished rewatching Star Trek: Voyager, and I had to keep reminding myself that not only were the "Pads" they were carrying around not iPads, but that they predated iPads by a considerable margin.

#457 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 06:32 PM:

Serge & Xopher: And one of the B5 blooper reels has a shot of Majel Barrett bouncing off a door that didn't open fast enough, and saying, "It's okay -- I'm used to it!"

Jacque, #456: And canonically, they're not pads but PADDs. Portable something something Devices. And Kirk can make notes on it with the equivalent of a write-on-screen stylus.

#458 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 06:33 PM:

Star Trek invented a lot of basic designs.

But I also heard the following conversation after a performance of Apollo at NYCB. You need to know that there are three Muses with three Muse names* and each carrying her symbol.

Dad: Which of the dancing ladies did you like best?
Small Child: The one with the iPad!
(One of the Muses had a tablet as her symbol.)

*Putting it that way because Balanchine had no idea which Muses were in charge of what, and made up his own attributions.

#459 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 06:53 PM:

SamChevre #453

The first dose provides very little protection; you need the second.

Things are different for some other vaccines, especially live-virus ones such as polio (where each dose gives robust protection but only against one strain, so you need at least three doses to get all the strains).

#460 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 08:12 PM:

#455 ::: Serge Broom

Considering how cheap electronics are, it wouldn't be a big deal to add a whoosh.

#461 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 09:31 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #460, Heck, you can probably get a "whoosh" in ringtone format.

#462 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 10:31 PM:

I'd been driving a five-speed stick for several years, and had to drive my father into town for something in the pickup. Four-speed transmission, and geared way low - it hit fourth gear at around 30, instead of the 40 that I was used to. (Yes, driving stick does involve hearing the engine telling you what it's doing.)

#463 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 12:42 AM:

Jacque @451: Yikes. My sister-in-law was hospitalized earlier this year from what we thought were asthma complications but which turned out to be pertussis. She is a big believer in vaccination (as are all the members of my family), but it just goes to show why we need to have everybody vaccinated, because for some people, the vaccine doesn't take.

Incidentally, the other person I know who had pertussis while vaccinated was my husband, her brother. Making a note of this in regards to our kids.

#464 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 06:22 AM:

Here's a Youtube clip of Poole and Bowman using their iPads in 1969 or 2001, depending on how you look at it.

#465 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 09:34 AM:

Anyone here going to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing this week in Baltimore, USA? I'll be there and maybe we could grab a beverage -- email me (address is on my site).

#466 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 09:40 AM:

Barry Commoner has died.

If you haven't read Small is Beautiful or The Closing Circle, I recommend that you take a look.

#467 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 11:30 AM:

B. Durbin @463: She is a big believer in vaccination

When I hacked a hole in my hand a couple of years ago and went to the ER for stitches, the PA, as he was setting up his tray, said, "Are you up to date on your tetanus shot?" "I, um—" (counts on fingers) "Er, maybe not." "Do you want a booster?" "Sure." "Do you want the pertussis vaccination, too? Please take the pertussis vaccination." (He managed to sound stern and make puppy-dog eyes, simultaneously.)

It' seems that Boulder County is a hot-spot for pertussis. Which is embarrassing, because we have an affluent, highly-educated population, who should bloody-well know better.

(I did get the pertussis vac, Jim. ;->)

#468 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 11:54 AM:

Seems like the *NHs have been kind of thin on the ground, of late. I hope this signals that they are busy, but otherwise well...?

#469 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 07:25 PM:

Henry Troup #444 - depending on what you are looking for, digital cameras are usually sensitive into the IR, so you can see some odd effects with them. Or you can alter a cheap webcam by removing the filter that is on the front of them so that they can see near IR.
I'm not sure night vision goggles would help, most of them are light amplification rather than IR detectors.

#470 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 07:30 PM:

I just got my flu shot this week, together with tetanus and pertussis jabs, so the sub-thread on this topic is very à propos. My GP stuck her head back in the exam room as I was getting dressed and asked "Do you want the pertussis shot as well?" "Of course," I replied.

Thanks to one of the periodic rearrangements that Emory does, I was examined in a room with the most godawful chocolate-box western lake photorealist paintings as decoration. For years, the examination room I was taken to had a fake-antique map of part of the English midlands, and a historico-touristy map of the Ville de Québec with fascinating stock phrases ("honneur à Montcalm", "ici tomba Montgomery") as well as the coats of arms of Montcalm, Wolfe the dauntless hero, and various other historical figures.

#471 ::: MilesToGo ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 02:10 AM:

I have more open thready doggerel to share.

Merlin’s Youth

Not a dragon nor a princess born,
No avaricious heart within me yearns.
No object of desire am I to men.
The world’s actors’ truths instead I scry;
I detect in chat, in voice, in hands,
Ambition, motive, loyalty, and vice.
Once upon a time in far-off lands,
A kind man filled my plate and flagon full,
And asked I speak to him my thoughts upon
His magistrates, his councilors, his peons.
I told him truth, and only some of that.
He called me wizard just before he left,
Dissolving bonds of fealty with a word,
To seek his princess in another castle.

What longing is allowed a man of station,
Who, old before his time, hath ne’er engaged
The hard pursuit and conquest of a dragon,
The gentle wooing of a virgin maiden,
Nor bargained with a sharp-tongued haughty princess,
Nor led an army into foreign lands?
The idiocies of youth are not forgiv’n
In a man perceived out of his prime.
From tower window high above I watch
Hero in his youth when he has one,
Yearn anon for that which he has not.
Let dotage be the youth I never had;
Then shall I dragons slay and maidens lay,
Lest now I grieve that which I’ll never know.

#472 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 03:00 AM:

re pertussis: Most adults are no longer protected (or at best weakly) because it wears off.

#473 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 09:44 AM:

Where did "Correlation and Causation: Still Just Good Friends" go? There are comments for it in the sidebar...

#474 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 10:37 AM:

Clicking on one of those comments gives a Woe! Page Not Found! error.

#475 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 10:53 AM:

I first 'saw' remote control flashes when we were trying out the Fisher-Price cheapo video camera back in the 90s. Now, any digital camera will show you those. I keep meaning to see if Sarah will find that at all interesting, or if she just takes it for granted like most everything else in life.

#476 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 10:54 AM:

(I'm all curious about correlation and causation too, now. It's still sitting there in my Google Reader, with the first sentence or so showing, tantalizingly. Pity I can't make it show me complete entries for this feed.)

#477 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 10:57 AM:

But clicking (view all by) me shows my last comment on the vanished thread does exist.

#478 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 11:23 AM:

No! We have always been at war with...sorry, wrong script there.

Actually, the correlation/causation post escaped from its cage and got onstage a little before it was ready. It's been yanked back behind the curtain for some more loving attention.

Apologies for the inconvenience. These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

#479 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 11:26 AM:

Following guthrie @ 469, on IR photography:

Most digital cameras have built-in IR blocking filters precisely because the sensors are sensitive to IR, and the IR signal can cause unintended/unwanted effects in the images. If you can get a hold of an old, cheap/free digital camera (so that you don't have to worry if you break it), you can try removing the IR filter and replacing it with a filter that blocks visible light but passes IR.

You can mock up a filter that blocks visible light but passes IR by stacking red and blue gels. (This is one of those things that should have been blindingly obvious, but I didn't think about it until I saw that tweet.)

I've not yet tried this myself, but it seems like a neat idea.

#480 ::: Caroline is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 11:28 AM:

Would the gnomes like to sit down for a cup of coffee? It's 100% Kona coffee, and I have coconut-milk creamer.

#481 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Correlation/Causation did look to be the superposition of two blog posts, one about seeing internet blowhards or thoughtful commentators depending on your outlook, and the other about particle physics.

I thought there was some sort of Schrödinger's hamster thing going on with it.

#482 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 12:40 PM:

I *have* tried stacking gels like that, but I haven't taken photographs through them. I wore them in goggles. It's not *exactly* like seeing in infrared, but it has a lot of the weird IR-photo qualities -- bright leaves against a dark sky, etc.

(I was working off this AmSci article: It has gel recipes and stuff.)

#483 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 01:14 PM:

I'm not sure night vision goggles would help, most of them are light amplification rather than IR detectors.

Yes and no: they use CCD image intensification that is sensitive into the near IR. So you can get IR torches and cylume light sticks which are invisible to the naked eye but show up on night vision goggles.

What they aren't sensitive to is far IR - which is heat. For that you need thermal imaging kit, which is different and more expensive. But night-vision, like digital cameras, can see visual-spectrum and near-IR.

#484 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 03:15 PM:

For those in the Fluorosphere and inner orbits who are looking for jobs, remember to check with your local clerk and recorder's offices, many of whom are staffing up for the elections about now.

#485 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 04:17 PM:

From Amnesty International: Presidential Debate Bingo cards.

#486 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 04:17 PM:

I've been using the proofreading font in Jim's Diffraction for some time. It's especially useful for telling the difference between 1, I, and l, not to mention O and 0, which can be difficult or impossible in some fonts. Distributed Proofreaders, as you probably know, takes OCRed scans of books and turns them into ebooks for Project Gutenberg. OCR can't always tell the difference between "arid" and "and", and so DP runs five sets of human eyes over the scans and OCR; three for letters and numbers, and two for formatting.

On the other hand, we do acknowledge that it really is an UGLY font....

#487 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 07:45 PM:

Jacque, Lee, re Star Trek PADDs -- it's also interesting to note that at least one of the precursors of the modern tablet PC, the Palm Pilot, was described by its designers as directly inspired by ST's PADDs, to the extent that its user interface intentionally copied aspects of the look of the computer displays seen in ST:TNG.

#488 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 09:57 AM:

This is just to say

I have forgotten
to put
the plums
in the icebox

#489 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 10:31 AM:

This is just to say

I have eaten
the pluots
in the

Do not forgive me
I put them
in the first

#490 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 11:02 AM:

abi @478: Just fyi, I saw later that the post shows up in my LJ feed. I suspect that can't be helped, but I don't really know.

#491 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 11:06 AM:

This just say
I ate brains
In head
You saving
For later

Sorry but
They good
So warm
You find out

#492 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 11:06 AM:

This is just to say
I resent the hell out of
whoever cut down the plum tree
by the apartments three blocks over
It is unforgiveable
Those plums saved me some grocery money
A city without trees
isn't fit for a dog

#493 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 01:02 PM:

The hold music on the customer service line was an instrumental version of Weird Al's "eBay" (or, more likely, of whatever the original of it was). I'm going to be earwormed for the rest of the day.

#494 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 01:20 PM:

Jules @487: Palm Pilot ... user interface intentionally copied aspects of the look of the computer displays seen in ST:TNG.

I'm working my way through ST: Enterprise. I laugh at the opening titles, every time I see the clip of the roll-out of the shuttle Enterprise. If memory serves, it was so-named in direct response to fan pressure. A lovely touch of self self reference reference. Or something. (This is the one series of the franchise that I've notice actually acknowledges the existence of "science fiction novels.")

#495 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 01:50 PM:

Lee @493: the original was by the Backstreet Boys.

#496 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 06:03 PM:

Jo Walton has won the British Fantasy Award and got a long interview in The Guardian! Congratulations both to Jo and her editor. (My personal bet is that it won't get the World Fantasy Award, but I'd be glad to be proven wrong.)

#497 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 06:33 PM:

Cool! Stephen Colbert describes his D&D career:

#498 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 07:13 PM:

This is just to say
I got tired of everyone bitching about the plums
and bought some more at the market.
They're in the icebox next to the broccoli
that no one will eat.
Save some for me this time, please.

#499 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 07:16 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 460:

Note that there is a nascent industry developing sound effects for electric cars so pedestrians and bicyclists can hear them coming.

#500 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 07:43 PM:

Bruce Cohen @499: I am giggling at the thought of pulling up to my local mechanic while emitting TARDIS noises.

#502 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 08:42 PM:

Gnomed again.

#503 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 12:12 AM:

Re: proofreading font.

Judging by the sample in that post, OCR is a hitherto unexplored (by me, at least) source of accidental poetry. Men from Prance, indeed.

#504 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 12:59 AM:

You know those invitations to take a survey that stores put on receipts?

A few minutes ago I took one, for a visit to Fred Meyer that I made yesterday.

The first screen of the survey proper asks you to check boxes for each department you visited. I looked over the receipt. Dairy for the milk I bought, check. Packaged foods for the peanut butter, check. Produce for the salad fixings, check. Meat for the two small steaks I bought . . . WAIT!

It suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't packed away any steaks the previous day.

With a sick certainty, I went to my car, opened the trunk, I felt the bottom of the bag containing the cookies I bought for the department cookie jar.

Yeah. Sure enough. The clerk had neatly packed the steaks in a plastic bag, and put them at the bottom of a sack which otherwise contained nothing but cookies.


#505 ::: Stefan Jones, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 01:00 AM:

I don't know which word of power I used. The post concerned a frustrating retail experience.

#506 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 02:36 AM:

Bruce #503

Language Log had some wonderful examples. Perhaps my favorite:
Fear not your toes, though they are strong,
The conquest doth to you belong;

#507 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 03:46 AM:

And a link from the piece about Jo Walton (to whom, congratulations) to this: Fantasy Literacy Pin-up Calendar

and hence to
Last unicorn
Mercy Thompson

#508 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 08:43 AM:

In news which may be of interest here, there's a state senate race in Maine where World of Warcraft has become an "issue".

Because reasons, is why!

I'd post this in the ELection 2012 thread, but the sheer silliness of such an approach seemed to make it a better fit here. How many millions of people play this game (advertised on television here in the US) worldwide?

#509 ::: fidelio has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 08:45 AM:

No only did I mention a massively popular online MMRPG, I also included a link (to a BBC newstory) which mentions it.

I abase myself and offer tropical fruit trail mix to Their Lownesses.

#510 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 10:04 AM:

...after years of playing with that poem about plums, it has just now suddenly occurred to me that "icebox" is a word referring to something equivalent to a fridge, not a freezer. And the only reason I realized this is because while I could believe in frozen plums, who would freeze fresh broccoli at home?

Epiphanies: often less useful than one might hope.

#511 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 11:34 AM:

fidelio, #508: This reminds me of the last mayor's race in Houston, where the Democratic candidate kept talking about her plans for approaching various issues, and the Republican candidate's campaign essentially consisted of saying, "But she's a LESBIAN!" over and over again. He lost.

Fade, #510: Icebox. My mother was old enough to have grown up in a house with an icebox, and she still sometimes said that instead of "refrigerator". The term survives today primarily in phrases like "icebox cake" and "icebox pie" -- referring to recipes that require no heating.

#512 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 11:43 AM:

Fade @ 510

Yes, home freezing came much later than iceboxes. Iceboxes were essentially insulated cupboards in which you placed a block of ice (which the iceman brought in his wagon every few days (or a week?); you had a sign that you put in your window with how many pounds of ice you wanted delivered: 25, 50, 75 or 100. You just turned the sign so the right number was up. Bear in mind that most people bought milk and meat daily (and the butcher's boy and milkman delivered them right to your door), so refrigerating overnight wasn't as much of an issue. And there were no pre-frozen foods.

When the first home refrigerators were sold, the ones that freezer ice compartments had tiny little ones, because naturally, the only thing that a homeowner would ever want or need to freeze would be ice cubes for their drinks, right?

This is all a generalization from living in the suburbs and listening to my grandparents, of course; more rural areas probably didn't have icemen.

#513 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 11:57 AM:

I never had an icebox, but my mom called the refrigerator that when I was a child. And I remember those refrigerators with the little tiny freezers.

#514 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 12:21 PM:

#513 Extreme ditto. Identical.

#515 ::: EMR ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 12:25 PM:

Hi--lurker here. Have a quick (maybe quick) question.

I'm writing an essay and need a really good, really representative example of an As You Know, Bob passage (preferably longer than a line or two but not extremely long) from early sf. By "early" I mean magazine-era, 30s or maybe 40s, rather than, say, Verne or Wells.

A look at the relevant anthologies on my shelves didn't come up with anything very useful...

Anyone have any suggestions?

#516 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 12:43 PM:

I'd always assumed that the 'icebox' in the poem was a refrigerator and that the narrator, like many people, was using the old term for the new thing.

Old iceboxes can be very pretty; we have a beautiful wooden one that we bought at an antique store and use for a liquor cabinet. The top portion, where the ice was supposed to go, is lined with metal; the lower portion is just wood.

#517 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 12:49 PM:

EMR @515

I don't have any examples, but a search term you might find useful is "expository lump".

#518 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 01:11 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz@501: I second the recommendation of that post. The opening paragraph alone is worth it.

#519 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 01:56 PM:

EMR @ 515 -

TVTropes has a some good examples. Check the Literature section.

#520 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 02:15 PM:

My friend Dorian made this nifty "choose your own adventure" style all text sci-fi game. I'm kvelling.

There are blobs. From space.

#521 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 02:23 PM:

We used to visit a camping site where we used iceboxes (there was no electricity on-site). So they're not entirely obsolete even today.

#522 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 02:37 PM:

When you think about it, travel coolers are just portable iceboxes. We use bags of icecubes now, instead of big blocks of ice, because cubes are what's available, and the insulation's better, but those are just minor details.

#523 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 02:50 PM:

Bruce H #517

Also "infodump".

#524 ::: EMR ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 02:59 PM:

Oops, I should have said: I've tried googling, but all I really come up with is examples made up on the spot to explain what AYKB is, not actual examples from actual stories. Probably just my google skills failing me, but...

Hmm, TV Tropes has some good examples, but most of them seem to be either from the wrong era for my purposes or not quite representative as standalones...I'll keep looking.

Thanks for the help though!

#525 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 03:10 PM:

Mary Aileen @522: Bags of icecubes melt much more quickly than block ice. Much larger surface area for a given volume. Bag ice is better for chilling things; block ice is better for keeping them cold.

#526 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 03:18 PM:

National Lampoon writer Ed Subitzky wrote one of the most exquisite bits of infodump fiction called "An Evening in 1973," where Bill Smithers is living his ordinary life, and explaining each and every bit of it as he goes along, out loud. My favorite passage goes something like this (quoted from memory, back in February, right here):

"Quite a device, this pen," said John Jones. "Truly a marvel of 1973!" He goes on and on about how it contains a reservoir of hardened plastic which is melted from a pressure signal at the pen's tip, and then dispenses just enough liquefied plastic to write perfectly. "Why, I remember a long time ago when pens used to jam and leak all the time!" said John Jones.

"Things sure are different in 1973!" said Bill Smithers, grinning.

Now that I've located my box of Lampoons (a side benefit of having to move everything upstairs because of mold issues), I should scan the whole article. When I found it, the first thing I did was type out all of their insidious parody version of "Vespers" by A.A. Milne, which I've been searching for for ages.

#527 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 03:21 PM:

I wrote this earlier today, at the request of "Nehemiah Scudder" at the Comics Curmudgeon, who provided the title and basic conceit:

ttto: Paperback Writer (Lennon/McCartney)

Pasty basement dwellers, won't you view my blog?
I had eighty hits last week, just see the log.
All my teachers told me, stick with what you know,
But I don't know joe, so I'm gonna be an internet writer,
Internet writer!

When I watch a movie or a TV show,
How's it make me feel? People need to know!
Got strong opinions, I hold nothing back,
I'm a little cracked, and I'm gonna be an internet writer,
Internet writer!

(Internet… writer… internet… writer)(use as necessary)

Got my thumb on the pulse of the intertubes,*
And an eye that catches any kind of boobs,
My friends all say that I'm a crazy stitch,
Some day I'll be rich, cuz I'm gonna be an internet writer,
Internet writer!

I can update often, I've got time to spend.
Please retweet my twitters, be my facebook friend!
Put my link up on your blogroll too,
I'll link back to you, man, I'm gonna be an internet writer,
Internet writer!

Gonna build my influence, and when I'm big
I'll be read at Reddit, I'll be dug at Digg,
Drudge and aintitcool will defer to me,
And they'll all agree, I'm the king of all teh internets writers,
Internet writer!!

new words ©2012 by Kip Williams

* A significant line. The thumb has its own pulse, which can be confused for the pulse it's supposed to be taking. Plus it fits the meter.

#528 ::: Kip W, begnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 03:23 PM:

They're out to GET me, because I speak the TRUTH!

But do have some plums. They're right ... D'OHHHH!

#529 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 03:58 PM:

Mary Aileen @522:

Block ice is still available some places, though less so than bag ice, and it's far better at keeping things cold. (When I used to go camping in Arizona in the summer, we always used block ice.) Bags of ice cubes are good for chilling a cooler of beer and soda for parties but not really for much more than that.

The insulation certainly is better, though.

#530 ::: lorax has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 04:00 PM:

My posts seem to enjoy the company of the gnomes, and I suspect they sneak in multiple spaces at the slightest provocation. I have some homemade bread, with homemade strawberry jam, available for Their Lownesses.

#531 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 05:52 PM:

Mary Aileen, #522: By preference, we use frozen bottles of water or juice. This has several advantages: (1) they don't melt as quickly as ice cubes; (2) as they do melt down, you have cold drinks; (3) they don't make a big watery mess in the bottom of the cooler, or get into things that shouldn't get wet.

Obviously it's not always possible to use frozen bottles, especially on a long camping trip. But when we have the option, we find them to be the best choice by far. They're especially useful for keeping fruit and deli meat and cheese fresh in the cooler during cons, because we generally stay in hotels that offer a mini-fridge in the room, which makes it possible to re-freeze the bottles overnight.

#532 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 08:51 PM:

My parents bought a cabin in the mountains from the brother of a family friend. It came with no electricity or running water, and an icebox. So we learned about How Iceboxes Work. (First improvement: a Servel fridge running on bottled gas. Second improvement: a water line from the meter at the corner to the cabin, so we didn't have to trundle the wheelbarrow with a milkcan full of water a couple hundred yards.)

#533 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 09:58 PM:

Antique Appliances, in Clayton, Georgia restores and sells working antique appliances. For a lot of money. Their showroom is no longer open to walk-ins on weekends (which is when I get up there), but they have a big show room viewable through the glass store front. They'll turn that old icebox from your great-great-aunt's back shed into a working electric refrigerator (or gas, if you want). My favorite appliance was a fire-engine red restored high end gas range from the 1910s. 6 burners, 2 ovens, warming drawers, broiler and griddle.

My grandmother did not have an icebox within my father's memory, but down in the basement was an old monitor top refrigerator. I don't remember it working, but it may have worked when it was exiled to the basement.

#534 ::: Tracie is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2012, 10:00 PM:

Dear gnomes: please look in the old monitor top refrigerator. There's left over (but home made) chicken salad and half a carton of strawberries. And sweet tea.

#535 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 12:00 AM:


I feel very lucky. This week, I have had the privilege of choosing between two job offers received a day apart. Very comparable offers, for similarly sized company sites/team sizes, with interesting products and good folks to work with. I picked one, and the other said congratulations, wished me good luck, and said to keep in touch in case I wanted to move on in the future. Even the place I'm contracting for right now is happy for me, even though I gave 2 weeks notice basically right after finishing my training.

I feel so relieved, anxious, happy, lots of other emotions. (Plus a head cold that just totally took off this evening!)

Best of all, I did it without having to fake up a false front to present at interviews - no tie, no jacket, kept the (neatened) beard and ponytail and just let my interest and enthusiasm for the potential projects show through. Hot dang, do I feel lucky. Heck of an ego boost, I can tell you that for certain. I can't say that a coat or tie would have hurt my chances, but I was nervous enough as it is - if I had to wear clothes that made me even more nervous, it might not have helped. YMMV, but be yourself. (Note, engineering field, advanced level, not sales/marketing/management - other disciplines have different cultures, and if you're being interviewed by my Dad wear a full on business suit and be clean shaven and have a neat, short haircut!)

It was quite a shock when I got laid off back in July after over a decade with the same company. Very humbling as well - folks I worked with bent over backwards contacting folks they knew to see what was available. I'll be trawling through the last few months of e-mail and making sure I send thanks where they are due. I don't know if I even mentioned it here. All the movement towards these offers only really spun up in the last month, month and a half. The first month I was too gobsmacked to do more than the usual search, e-mail, sign up on-line, etc. That time there, getting over that hump, that's where the folks I've worked with really helped with, they got me a few calls that helped me from totally losing it. As it is, I fell off the planet for a good 2-3 weeks.

I want to say something here about the state of the safety net for economic downturns, but I don't have a good way to phrase it. One should not have to rely on luck to keep one's head above water.

You know that advice "they" give you, to network? Apparently, it means asking folks you've worked with and/or done business with to recommend you to folks they know at companies you are applying for a job at. It can be hard (can be? was! very! and scary!) to come right out and ask for such help directly, but boy howdy does it work. Also - those recruiters that call every now and then, when you already have a job you like? Be nice to them, and occasionally go to an interview at some place they're trying to get you hired at. Someday they might call you when you don't have a job.

Gah, the introvert in me is screaming that I'm boasting in an unseemly manner and that I should cease and desist. But I just had to share the "hot dang, new job!" vibes, in hopes that it helps those who are still looking keep at it and keep their hopes up. I know that hearing Syd get a new job helped me out!

BTW, if anyone is or knows of a Senior R&D Engineer with injection molding experience, preferably in Class 2 single use medical disposables, I know of a potentially open position (not sure if the company I turned down had a second candidate on track or not). There's plenty of engineering contract work in Minneapolis right now, too. If you know long term human implantable silicone, the contract position I'm leaving in 2 weeks will need someone as well. No guarantees for 2013 on that one though. My 'nick at the usual Google place. Happy to pass your name along/tell you what I know.

#536 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 12:22 AM:

EMR: they're from the 1950's, but if you want mind-numbing examples of AYK,B infodump, try the following search "Lionel Fanthorpe Badger Books" Short background: Fanthorpe was writing one 158 page book every twelve days on average for very little money. To get them to length he specialized in creative misuse of the thesaurus. Here's part of the climactic explanation from "Galaxy 666" by "Pel Toro" (one of the Badger pseudonyms): "Our universe is straight-forward; this one is whimsical, fanciful and fantastic. This is a temperamental galaxy, an hysterical galaxy, a mad galaxy. This is an insane, freakish, wanton, erratic, inconsistent galaxy; it's a completely unreasonable galaxy. It's undisciplined, refractory, uncertain and unpredictable. It's a volatile galaxy, a mercurial galaxy." Considering that we've spent the past 136 pages seeing everything described above, I'd argue that we're in classic "As you know, Bob" territory.

#537 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II has been Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 12:25 AM:

Probably because I quoted a paragraph of "Galaxy two times 333." If they'd like I will ask Jon Singer to make them a white frosting cake with Poi holding the layers together like he made for me after I told him about the piece of one I ate while in Hawaii.

#538 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 03:54 AM:


I'm rewatching the Once Upon a Time episode, "Skin Deep." I just noticed that the flower company name on the side of the truck is "Game of Thorns." Aaack!

#539 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 04:22 AM:

cajunfj40: Didn't seem at all unseemly to me. Congratulations!

#540 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 10:22 AM:

Cajunfj40, awesome! I am so happy to see other people getting jobs.

#541 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 10:53 AM:

HLN: I think I saw our last hummingbird of the season on Monday.

The fun thing -- she was chasing and eating the no-see-ums in the backyard. It's the first time I've seen one catching bugs.

We'll take the last feeder in on Monday if we don't see any more hummers this weekend. We've increased the number of seed feeders out in the yard, and I saw my first Carolina Wren of the season yesterday.

The goldfinches are moulting, and one left us a feather in the seed tray out back.

#542 ::: Lori Coulson has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 10:55 AM:

Not sure what I tripped, but have some coffee?

#543 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 11:32 AM:

cajunfj40 @ 535: Congratulations on your new job! (I've been at mine for over twenty years; I truly dread the prospect of job-hunting, so I've very deliberately NICE to the boss's son who will no doubt will eventually take over...)

#544 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Re: iceboxes. I have one in my basement. It belonged to my husband's family; they gave it to us after a flood mostly-submerged it. The thing was built solid as a rock (and weighs like one!); it has a paper Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval dated 1908 in the top zinc-lined ice compartment (fortunately just above the flood line). The finish was destroyed in the flood, so I sanded and refinished it; to my amusement, I found that it was built out of mediocre-quality (not furniture quality) wood, probably pine, full of knots... then painted and finished with a faux-woodgrain finish to LOOK like fine furniture. Which I figured out how to reproduce more-or less accurately. (Yes, I know refinishing antiques is a no-no, but this one had flood damage, as I said.) We use it for a liquor cabinet. Although after a five-day power outage I was seriously considering reusing it for its original purpose....

#545 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 11:46 AM:

Jacque: "It seems that Boulder County is a hot-spot for pertussis. Which is embarrassing, because we have an affluent, highly-educated population, who should bloody-well know better."

Boulder, Whidby Island, and San Diego are three areas that I know of where anti-vaccination levels are very high. All three areas are affluent and highly-educated, but as we know, education does not indicate common sense. I suspect that in many cases, these are folk who never learned how to distinguish real information from chaff, and they take the word of the Jenny McCarthys over actual experts. Or perhaps they aren't evaluating the risks properly, and a .00001% chance of an adverse reaction to a vaccine overwhelms the .01% actual chance of an adverse reaction to the disease.

Or—and I've actually seen people write like this—they overstate the value of modern medicine. "Oh, those diseases won't kill us now, we've got modern medicine." Indeed, modern medicine has given us the tools to fight these diseases. They're called vaccines. Measles still has an adverse rate of one to three per thousand cases—that's brain damage or death, in case you're wondering. It's worse without modern medicine, but even our best medicine isn't as good as not getting the disease to begin with.

#546 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 11:58 AM:

"Those diseases won't kill us now..."

I see that every year after someone loses a family member (often a child) to influenza. The media publishes the number of flu deaths, and CDC tries valiantly to get the word out, but the public puts their fingers in their ears, and chants "lalala we can't hear you."

I'm beginning to think that adults who don't get their children vaccinated should be prosecuted for neglect for failing to do so. And if the child dies of a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccination, then those parents should be tried for negligent homicide.

#547 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 12:30 PM:

AFAICT the only really good reason to not get kids vaccinated is that the kid is allergic to one or more of the components in the vaccine. In other words: actual medical reasons, not parental beliefs.

#548 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 02:15 PM:

A few years ago I learned that I had no immunity to chickenpox, despite having been exposed as a child. I take immunosuppressants. I was told that I couldn't safely get the vaccine, and that if I ever caught chicken pox, I'd probably end up on a respirator.

~2 years ago, I DID catch it. No respirator, but I did end up in the hospital.

People who don't protect their kids, talk others out of getting vaccinated, go out in public knowing that they have a contagious illness, or hold "pox parties" scare the crap out of me.

#549 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 03:37 PM:

Those who have read Cryoburn will probably be interested in this fic. It's a "missing scene" fic describing what happens immediately after that last line, and it's pitch-perfect.

#550 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 03:38 PM:

Must have been a Word of Power, but I have no idea what.

#551 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 04:14 PM:

Lee, thanks for the link.

#552 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 04:28 PM:

You're right - that one is right on.

#553 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 04:52 PM:

Re: The Sacramento Micromini Fluoroklatsch

I'm off work at 3:30, which is maybe a 15 minute walk from Old Sac. Do we want to meet outside the Railroad Museum (which is my usual default) or does anyone have a preferred location?

#554 ::: janetl sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 05:33 PM:

Lee @ 549: Thanks for the link.

#555 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 09:39 PM:

Just wanted to do my annual PSA: it's been four years since Scraps had his stroke. I continue to urge everyone to get their blood pressure checked regularly.

(Did I ever mention here that the last new doctor he saw in NYC looked at his charts and said, "Wow! I've never seen anyone with a bleed as big as your walking under his own power afterwards!"?)

Also, for anyone wondering, he has managed to put over 100,000 pieces of music on the household network. Right now, he is tracking music from 1988.

#556 ::: Tom B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 11:47 PM:

Velma, I am very glad to hear this. I haven't been around much, and have wondered how you both were doing since that bad, bad day.

#557 ::: Tom B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2012, 11:56 PM:

On a different topic -

Jo Walton fans in SoCal, attention! We are forced to move cross-country soon, and so we shed belongings. This includes copies of Jo's THE KING'S PEACE and THE KING'S NAME, early works of hers.

Being fond of Jo's work, I want these to go to someone who'll give them a loving home. I'm under the impression they're scarce, but I know the Luminariat will be quick to tell me if that's wrong.

You'd have to come to Long Beach or nearby to get them. Don't have time to ship. Advise tom dawt barclay1 (no, not 2 or 3, they're imposters) at verizon dawt net. If no one takes them, they go to the lunchroom table at a Trader Joe's, where labors a young friend.

#558 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2012, 01:06 AM:

Tom B -- they're not especially scarce in paperback or hardcover (the internet has made book scouting so much less interesting!). Copies can be had for under $5 including shipping.

That doesn't mean there aren't folks here who would be very glad to have them!

#559 ::: Tom B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2012, 01:54 AM:

Bravo, sir.

#560 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2012, 01:25 PM:

This is just to say

william carlos williams
is a selfish prat,
and does not deserve
who buy nice things,

and will certainly
have to get
his own supper
And it will be cold.

#561 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2012, 04:05 PM:

Fade Manley @510 "And the only reason I realized this is because while I could believe in frozen plums, who would freeze fresh broccoli at home?"

We would. And do, whenever the garden is producing broccoli faster than we can eat it.

That is (part of) what a freezer is for.

J Homes.

#562 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 09:36 AM:

I'm in the train station in Denver, minutes from boarding. Glad I pulled up the Open Thread!

#553 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: Re: The Sacramento Micromini Fluoroklatsch... I'm off work at 3:30, which is maybe a 15 minute walk from Old Sac. Do we want to meet outside the Railroad Museum (which is my usual default) or does anyone have a preferred location?

This sounds like a good plan. Please to email me your cell phone number so I can call you if the train is running late!

(Of course, you can check the status of Train 5 into SAC on Tuesday to see for yourself if it's late.)

#563 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 11:32 AM:

Open-Threadly language noodling:

Does anyone else here occasionally make up new, non-standard past tense verbs? Sometimes I do it deliberately, for humorous effect*, other times it just sort of happens.

This weekend I started using 'stutch' as the past tense/past participle of 'stitch'. And this morning 'swutch' (past tense of 'switch') just fell out of my mouth.

*example: 'shave' --> 'shove', 'have shoven'

#564 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 11:50 AM:

Mary Aileen, yes. Willard R. Espy calls these "musclebound verbs."

#565 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 12:33 PM:


Anybody know where I can find a ~2ft-long fish pillow? I've found this, but it's much too big to wield handily, and I have some humans that are in need of...disciplining.

#567 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 12:54 PM:

Fade Manley @510: Epiphanies: often less useful than one might hope.

Thank you for that (once I got the toast out of my nose). My local human population has been ... tiresome, of late. I needed that laugh.

#568 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 01:53 PM:

Okay, here's some fun! Over the weekend, I watched Alien Seige (scifi B movie—think V only with human blood instead of water, and aliens with blonde eyebrows instead of lizards).

Why did I watch this thing? Well, because the alien leader was played by one Gregor Paslawsky, who was a classmate of mine in high school acting and theatre classes. I had such a crush on him....

#569 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 01:53 PM:

Fruit smoothy?

#570 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 02:13 PM:

Ardala swam in the Big Girl Pool on Saturday! The video shows her first paddle across the pool. In her four subsequent paddles, she got happier and happier, taking treats with aplomb and swimming so fast her therapist could hardly keep up. No one expected her to do so well. Shaun, our favorite Physical Therapist, says there was no indication that she was gimpy when she swam. We hope this means that continued work will enable her to walk on all four feet again.

In related news, Sunday Ardala enjoyed the Blessing of the Animals. She was much better behaved than her first St. Francis day celebration, did not shake off the holy water this time, and barked only at the appropriate time, rather than during the sermon as before. This time was the refrain of the last verse of the opening hymn - "All Creatures of Our God And King"; she gave the "Alleluias" a good try.

#571 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:13 PM:

Did you know that, not only did the Most Interesting Man in the World once played a Red Shirt on "Star Trek", but said Red Shirt was still alive at the end of the episode?

#572 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:23 PM:

pericat, #560: Bravo! And yes.

Mary Aileen, #563: I don't do it myself, but I have picked up "knat" as the past tense of "knit" from various knitters of my acquaintance.

#573 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:24 PM:

Jacque @567: I have never before gotten someone to snort toast! I feel as if I have now contributed a bit more to the betterment of humanity, in some small way.

#574 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:36 PM:

Serge Broom @572, are you telling us that he doesn't always play a redshirt on Star Trek, but when he does, he's still alive at the end of the episode?

#575 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:37 PM:

Correcting me @ 562 - Or, rather, call/text my cell phone from your cell phone, rather than email, because we can't count on train station being right outside a wifi hotspot like the Glenwood Springs. (The hotspot in question is an inviting looking pub which the conductor always has to warn passengers not to go visit unless they want to risk missing the All Aboard call.)

Along either I-70 on Hwy 6, exit 119 in Colorado is simply called "No Name". This seemed a fact worth sharing.

#576 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:39 PM:

ps. Email received thank you!

#577 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:40 PM:

PPS. Post gnomed whilst reporting email received, thank you! I have a PBJ made with a friend's homemade raspberry freezer jam, don't make me use it!

#578 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:40 PM:

John M Burt @ 573... Yes indeed.

#579 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little has been gnomed while reporting on the gnoming ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:41 PM:

PPPS. Post gnomed reporting on post gnomed while reporting on e--

--you know what? That's probably a Phrase of Power. Translated: KayTei, I have managed to retrieve your missive from the inbox during this brief station stop. Thank you!

#580 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little has been gnomed while reporting on the gnoming of the gnome-reporting ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:42 PM:


[You're too grateful. Makes people suspicious, and makes gnomes want to keep you around. —Idumea Cowper Arbacoochee, Duty Gnome]

#581 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:51 PM:

HLN: Area woman finally gets tired of the increasingly fuzzy world around her and acquires reading glasses.

Now the fuss about retina displays makes sense. Also, it's fun to be able to glare at my kids over the tops of them...makes them giggle.

#582 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:54 PM:

Mary Aileen #662, Xopher #564:

Anything to offset creeping "-ed" of verbs that shouldn't get it. Frex, "shined", "weaved". When *did* that start?

#583 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 04:11 PM:

joann (579): When *did* that start?

I'm not sure when that stort*, but it's been going on for quite a while.

*just kidding**
**yes, this comment *is* only an excuse to make that joke

#584 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 04:20 PM:

joann @ 579

"Shined" as the past of shine is old--the KJV (1611) uses it. "Out of Sion the perfection of beautie, God hath shined.

#585 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 04:30 PM:

Jacque @565 wrt fish pillows: How about these?

#586 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 05:07 PM:

abi @578: Also, it's fun to be able to glare at my kids over the tops of them...makes them giggle.

This is my one regret about not wearing glasses. A client left a pair at the front desk a couple of years ago. I will occasionally grab them for the purpose of Looking Over.

Julie L @582: Yes!! That's exactly what I want! (Now if I can just enter the correct continent in the shipping information. Sheesh.) Too bad it won't be here by tomorrow. I have a feeling it would be really useful at the meeting. ::sigh::

(I had a proper fish pillow, bought at the local hardware store, but I sent it to a friend who needed a fish pillow even more than I did.)

#587 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 05:22 PM:

HLN: Woman sits through job-required first-aid training. Woman amazes teacher with her knowledge of Stuff She Parrots From Uncle Jim's Lessons. When pressed, woman mumbles something about "I hang around with EMTs sometimes," feeling that "uh, I learned it on the Internet*" might be taken amiss.

*from here, and also from the LJ of the late and fictional Daphne Worth of Shadow Unit.

#588 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 05:32 PM:

EMR at #515:

Gary Westfahl points out an "As you know, Bob" example: a passage from "Piracy Preferred" by John W. Campbell, Jr.

It's not a strong example of telling the listeners something they already know, but it does include the phrase "as you know" followed by a mighty dose of scientific jargon.

This story was included in the "fix-up" The Black Star Passes. (This electronic version has a little trouble on the subscripts for the chemical formula.)

#589 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 05:56 PM:

SamChevre #581:

Yes, but "hath shined" is a perfect tense, whereas I'm talking simple past, as in "Dave shined in the 4th quarter" instead of "Dave shone".

#590 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 06:14 PM:

joann #586:

Dave shined shoes in the 4th quarter if he's a shoeshiner; frankly, his performance shone.

#591 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 07:07 PM:

"The Angry Beavers" animated show from, I think, Nickelodeon, had an episode I liked where one character was scaring the enzymes out of himself by staying up late and watching 50s monster movies. What was particularly brilliant is that the only things we ever saw in the movies were guys in suits standing around explaining stuff, unless they were driving somewhere and explaining stuff. Somebody there really understands these movies.

#592 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 07:26 PM:

Lee @ 549:

Wow. Pitch perfect indeed.

#594 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 08:47 PM:

Joann @ 586

The first thing that comes to mind is that great political insult that Clay, "like a rotten mackerel by moonlight, both shined and stank."

But original KJV, and Tyndale, use "shined" as a simple past in the story of Paul on the road to Damascus.

I'm fascinated by language--I hope I'm not seeming obsessive. You just got me to pay attention to something I knew, but didn't ever think about before.

#595 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 08:56 PM:

Cool, and they have a box turtle too (under 'marine animals: go figure)!

#596 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 09:13 PM:

Julie L. @582 (link to fish pillows for Jacque)

AND if you choose the (current) third article for sale, as you whack someone with it, you can mutter "have a crappie day!".

#597 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 09:20 PM:

Carol Kimball @593: I am one of the schoolchildren who got to vote on Illinois' official State Fish choice.

The Blue Crappie won by a landslide. The voters were exclusively between the ages of 7 and 12, so go figure.

(Note to foreigners: it's pronounced 'craaaaaah-pee,' to rhyme with pop-see)

#598 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 09:42 PM:

TexAnne @ 584... Congratulations to local woman!

#599 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 10:33 PM:

re "icebox". I always pictured an actual icebox.

#600 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 10:34 PM:

Caroline: You can also by IR passing filters from Cokin and Wratten. It's a standard filter for IR sensitive emulsions used in film cameras.

RE NVGs. I wore them in Iraq; the world seen through them was different. I saw pieces of distant battle; the traces of heat left in the inky night, pricked out against a sea of hazy green. Some other poor bastards' moments of raptured fear, traced out so only I could see; as through a glass, very, darkly.

I also saw stars I'll not likely see again; those I knew lost in the ocean of them all, as well as the faint tracery of meteors too dim to make out with naked eyes.

It was as if I could see the land of faery, for no one else could see it with me.

#601 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 11:05 PM:

joann @ 579

Anything to offset creeping "-ed" of verbs that shouldn't get it. Frex, "shined", "weaved". When *did* that start?

It started a lot longer ago than you might think. For example, the verb "to knead" was originally a strong verb in the same class as "eat". (I guess that would make it "I knead, I knade, I have kneaden".) The weak forms (per the OED) seem to start appearing around the 15th century with the strong forms phasing out by around the early 17th.

In other cases, the confusion of forms derives from a verb that originally existed in both weak and strong forms with related but distinct meanings. A good example of this is "dive". Old English had two verbs "to dive": one a strong, intransitive verb meaning "to dive, to plunge oneself, to sink" (I dive into the pool, I dove into the pool, I have diven into the pool); the other a weak causitive transitive verb meaning "to cause to be plunged (into liquid), to dip (something), to submerge (something)" (I dive the submarine, I dived the submarine, I have dived the submarine). By the 12th century, the two forms were getting confused and within a couple centuries the strong declension had become obsolete. The modern re-adoption of "dove" as the past tense is purely by analogy to, e.g., "drive/drove" rather than a survival of the original strong declension.

A similar case that went in the other directions, but where the distinction has survived in special usage is "to hang", where the strong intransitive (I hang from the monkey bars, I hung from the monkey bars) spread to the causative transitive sense (I hang the ham in the smokehouse, I hung the ham in the smokehouse), except in special formulaic senses (I hang criminals on the gallows, I hanged a criminal on the gallows). Again, the confusion/shift took place mostly around the Middle-Early Modern English period.

One driving force in the shift of strong verbs to weak forms was probably the fact that borrowed words were always taken up as weak (except for a very few exceptions by analogy), so the vast quantity of French and Latin roots taken into Middle English contributed to this process (especially given that they also drove out many of the original strong verbs of germanic origin).

#602 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 11:21 PM:

Terry @597: That's beautifully evocative, and haunting.

WRT more fish pillows-- I am delighted to see that this site has a plush humuhumunukunukuapua’a, but alas, it doesn't seem to be large enough for Jacque's fish-slapping requirements.

#603 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 12:50 AM:

I don't have a passage handy, but Poul Anderson would have characters explain things other characters already knew in the hope that it would have a calming effect.

#604 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 01:04 AM:

Julie: I was trying to do two things, capture the sense of it, and evoke Rutger Hauer's character's speech in Blade Runner

It was... different, and memorable.

#605 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 02:50 AM:

Julie L @ #599, I'm surprised to see that if you want to buy products from the site with the Humu and other Hawaii bean bag toys you'll send a check to Missouri (if you're not using plastic). I'm adding this to my list of things that make me say "hmmm."

#606 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 09:21 AM:

Linkmeister @602, years ago my mother-in-law sent us chocolate-covered macadamia nuts from Hawaii. When I looked at the box, it had been packaged in Illinois just about three blocks away from the office I work at....

#607 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 09:30 AM:

Sam Chevre @591--I'd never encountered that comment on Henry Clay before, only the original version, the hyperliterate and cantankerous John Randolph of Roanoke's comment on his colleague, Edward Livingston of New York: "He is a man of spendid abilities, and utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks like rotten mackerel by moonlight," which was not a statement in the past tense.

Randolph did get into Clay more than once, and even went to the point of fighting a duel with him, but he doesn't seem to have been in the habit of repurposing his insults for new targets, so someone must have decided it was too good a slam to let it lie idle.

#608 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 10:15 AM:

SamChevre, Heather Rose Jones, Brenda Kalt:

And thanks for reminding *me* yet again that language is even more fraught with history and edge cases than one could possibly imagine.

#609 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 12:27 PM:

Linkmeister @602: I used to have a job booking people into some condos in Maui, working from northern Colorado. Answered the phone "Aloha..."

Sometimes people asked what the weather was like, so I'd look out the window and tell them the snow was beginning to melt.

I never did get to see the place.

#610 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 03:01 PM:

HLN: Local woman embarks upon research into domestic hot water systems and boilers for building heat. Wishes for luck and wisdom are solicited.

#611 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 03:02 PM:

HLN Addendum: yes, this is related to the fish pillow quest.

#612 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 03:32 PM:

Boilers for tea-size amounts or bath-size amounts, Jacque? We're very happy with our Zojirushi for immediate tea-temperature water (and yes, it does have different settings: 140, 195, and 205 F).

#613 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little has been gnomed while reporting on the gnoming of the gnome-reporting ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 04:36 PM:

I will attempt not to be too grateful here (thanks, Gnomes!) but... my train into Sacramento was a whole 45 minutes early, which NEVER happens. I understand I may see the rare KayTei in the semi-wild in a few hours? And a B. Durbin?

Maybe be hanging out at a Starbucks near the station between now and then. Made a friend on the train who may be hanging out with me. All things are good things, including the weather.

#614 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 05:12 PM:

According to a Pew Research Center survey, 20% of Americans have no religious affiliation. This is being mischaracterized as being "nonreligious" in some quarters, but if you look at the breakdown it's not quite that: many of them say they're "spiritual," that they "believe in God," or that they "pray every day."

Here's the writeup in the Religion News Service. There's a link on that page to the Pew report, but the RNS does some significant work in making it easy to understand, so I'm linking their writeup.

The thing that gets me about this is that Protestants are no longer the majority in the US. That's a significant change, even if they're still a large plurality.

Less seriously, since they're calling it the "Rise of the Nones," they're two days late publishing their study!

#615 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 05:16 PM:

Tom Whitmore @609: Boilers for tea-size amounts or bath-size amounts, Jacque?

Building-size amounts. ::whimper::

#616 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 05:53 PM:

@Jacque: Are you replacing an old system that filled radiators with hot water?

#617 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 05:58 PM:

There are apparently a couple of things going on. One is the heating system (baseboard heat, if I understand aright). The other is the system (I think) that supplies hot water to kitchen and bathroom taps. Our populace has been queried about which one we feel should be replaced first. This is because the person who is actually in charge of making this decision is clueless.

I guess he's taking a page from my book in that if one is ignorant, bringing more brains into play may clarify the question.

(Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we are collectively looking into bringing on board someone who is, like, not clueless. Which is a fraught discussion in its own right.)

#618 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 07:33 PM:

You'll be seeing me later rather than sooner, I'm afraid, due to some bad brain weather on the part of Evil Rob. I can't leave him alone with the kids in this state because THEY'RE both a bit fragile right now, and I don't need their meltdowns starting one on his part.

#619 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 09:03 PM:

Kip W @ #606, in the winter you can occasionally see snow on Mauna Kea on the Big Island so it wasn't quite a Romney-lie.

#620 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 09:03 PM:

Me @ #616, From Maui, I mean.

#621 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2012, 11:54 AM:

B. Durbin: Good luck. May the Force be with you.

#622 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2012, 11:56 AM:

WRT boiler questions: seems that someone with a clue has spoken up. ::whew!::

#623 ::: TexAnne sees spam EVERYWHERE ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2012, 07:56 PM:

I offer the gnomes a strengthening tonic (aka spiced hot chocolate) as they shovel out the Augean stables.

#624 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2012, 09:14 PM:

Wow. I wrote something on FaceBook the other day about Peter S Beagle and how I was embarassed at never having read any of his stories, and mentionned his St-TNG episode "Sarek" being one of the memorable ones. Guess who posted a comment tonight on that minithread? Again, wow.

#625 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2012, 09:27 PM:

Peter's a right personable gent, and a genuinely kind man, Serge. Not surprised to hear he commented!

#626 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2012, 09:35 PM:

Tom Whitmore... I can well believe that.

#627 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2012, 09:54 PM:

Mysterious deaths in the Urals-- in 1959, nine campers abandoned their camp and most of their clothing, walked a distance in the cold, and froze to death. They were also mysteriously injured and there were high levels of radioactivity in their clothing.

It sounds like a case for.... Jim Macdonald!

#628 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2012, 09:56 PM:

Gnomed. It wouldn't surprise me if their Lownesses are grabbing everything because of the spam tsunami.

How would they feel about some decent chocolate from Whole Foods and a few comforting, appreciative words?

#629 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2012, 12:41 AM:

Hyper[not-so]local news: Micromini Sacramento Fluoroklatch a success. Burgers nommed. Beer drunk. Babies dandled. Candy sampled. Ghostbusters rewritten for relevance: "If B. Durbin offers tomato salad, Ray, you say yes."

We apologize for the late reporting. Amtrak's Coastal Starlight does indeed have wi-fi, but they reserve it for 1st class passengers. Also reserved for the 1st class passengers are the 2:30 PM wine tastings, which they nevertheless announced on the PA throughout the train to taunt those of us in coach. Well, I'll show them.

Local but pleasantly displaced woman succeeds at car rental, drive through incredible traffic and construction up I-205 and down 14 E, checks into hotel, is adequately fed in tiny Mexican-style kitchen counter restaurant in Stevenson, WA. Stevenson is small and so compact they put the cross-fit gym in the same building with the funeral parlor. They have a slow-food bar and grill on the waterfront. It's named after the roman numeral representation of its address, so you know it's good. Local but pleasantly displaced woman puts that off for another night due to lack of cook on premises this particular Wednesday. Hence the Chile Colorado plate at the Mexican kitchen counter around the corner.

Local but pleasantly displaced woman exchanges texts with new train-going friend, who reports similar success in reaching all hoped-for destination conditions. Wishes for enjoyable weekend exchanged, along with intentions to regroup on return train Monday.

Local but pleasantly displaced woman puts self to bed. It is a real bed. A real hot bath was involved as well. Camping out in Amtrak coach is all well and good, but it requires real beds and real baths being reintroduced real soon into one's life.

*waves, collapses, snores*

#630 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little, gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2012, 12:42 AM:

Oh, gnomes. I shall never understand you. Also, all the tomato salad got et up. There is none left for you!

#631 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2012, 02:25 AM:

Nancy @624

You should check what Jim has said about hypothermia. People do apparently feel unbearably hot, and take their clothes off. And he may even have mentioned that incident.

#632 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2012, 09:44 AM:

Yes, for the two who died of hypothermia. The ones who died of traumatic injuries that "no man" could have inflicted are harder to explain, as is the radiation.

I don't think it was UFOs, which some seem to be trying to imply ("bright flying spheres"). Probably some kind of military exercise that they ran into by mistake.

#633 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2012, 06:19 PM:

HLN: Local woman enjoys the non-Newtonianness of banana Laffy Taffy.

#634 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2012, 11:12 PM:

Yes, the military experimental weaponry theory seems to hold water in absence of further evidence. You can bet that you'd run from that pretty quickly.

We're at the very end of tomato season, at least until the weather heats up again as it is apt to do. I'm actually hoping I can get the last few tomatoes soon so I can rip the plant out of the ground and start prepping that garden bed for winter (instead of my usual "Crp, it's January" realization. Besides, Evil Rob wants peas this year and they're a winter crop for this area.)

#635 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2012, 11:26 PM:

There's always green tomato pie - when the tomatoes are full-size and just about to turn, but the weather changes so they won't ripen.

#636 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 01:03 AM:

631/632: Or fried green tomatoes, also for tomatoes that are well-grown but not going to ripen. Slice them about 1/4" thick, dredge them in your choice of breading, and saute or deep-fry as desired. The main difference between a full-sized green tomato and a full-sized ripe one is hardness, and frying softens up the green ones very nicely. Buttermilk on the side is optional.

#637 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 02:00 AM:

A Snprobbx friend gives this quote:

Number of students who picked 'A. Decorating with dulcimers is more patriotic' as the correct translation of 'Dulce et decorum est / Pro patria mori': 9 (out of 43). Oh why oh why did I ever quit drinking?
                        —Julie Kane, Professor of English, Louisiana Poet Laureate

#638 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 03:20 AM:

I've been messing around with serious volumes of writing for several years, and some of you guys have been quite complimentary about the samples I've posted here. I start off every 1st November attacking the challenge of Nanowrimo, and, a few days before the end of the month, I hit the target of 50,000 words.

I confess that they do not have to be good words.

The only writing I did at school, and it was barely taught, was the exam-question essay, a regurgitation of facts that could be scribbled in a half hour.

It is not the same.

So November comes around again, and I know I can do it. I know I can tell a story that is that long, and I can organise my life to keep going. And, right now, I am wondering whether it is worth bothering. I am wondering if I have a story to tell. I am even wondering, not for the first time, if I have bipolar tendencies, because I am finding it hard to be enthusiastic about anything.

Things have been adding up. The cat is dead. There is the petty bureaucratic humiliations being imposed on the poor by the politicians. For me, there has been a streak of escapism in my stories, but this year I can't find that anywhere.

And then there is the whole hassle of ebook publishing being run through American corporates, which would force me to struggle with the complexities of international tax treaties, before I even know whether I would earn anything.

OH, what to do! What to do!

#639 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 03:26 AM:

Xopher @634

I know of the poem which uses that line, and I was startled by the TV program, not a recent one, which used a translation of the words in a voice-over recitation.

It didn't feel clumsy, in terms of poesy or sense, but I felt the loss.

#640 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 09:18 AM:

Antonia T. Tiger @635, Sincere condolences on the death of your cat.

#641 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 09:21 AM:

Xopher @634, I've never taken a Latin class in my life and remember hardly any of my highschool French, but I'll take a stab at it: "It is sweet and decorious (?) to die for one's country." (No dulcimers that I can see....) How'd I do?

#642 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 10:19 AM:

Let me try: "It is sweet and proper to die for one's country..."

Yeah, right. Is it Veteran's Day yet?

#643 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 11:21 AM:

Lori #639: Exactly a month away.

And with respect to dulce et decorum est... It is necessary for a strong nation to have citizens who are willing to die for their country. I also think it is absolutely required that those making the decisions to send such people out on the sharp end have enough respect for their lives so as not to do so without sufficient cause.

#644 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 11:52 AM:

I was trying for sarcasm -- I am an Air Force brat, and every generation on both sides of my family tree has had someone (usually more than one) who has served. My brother was in the Coast Guard, and if I'd had better vision, I'd have chosen the Air Force like my Dad.

Yes, it is desirable that a nation have people willing to die for it. In my opinion, that duty should not include being the world's police force. AFAIC we should be bringing all our troops home, and putting bases back in the USA. If we're going to spend money on defense, then it should be spent HERE in the USA.

Maybe other countries would not be so anxious to get nuclear weapons if the USA would mind its own business. I don't blame them for wanting nukes -- because WE are the only nation who has ever dropped an atom bomb on another country. It may have been necessary, I am not so certain it was right.

That lovely Latin line is trotted out every time someone in Congress gets delusions of empire. It's about time someone shut it down.

#645 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 11:58 AM:

Mea culpa -- I am allowing my frustration with the current political shenanigans to get to me.

Moderators, if you want to remove the above post please do so.

I think I'll go check my blood pressure.

#646 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 12:04 PM:

Lori Coulson #639/641: I thought Wilfred Owen gassed it 96 years ago:

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie;
Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

#647 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 12:36 PM:

Fragano, ah, that was what was haunting the back of my brain this morning. Could not make my memory give me the poet's name or more than a couple of lines of the poem.


#648 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 12:41 PM:

I'm sorry, Lori, I wasn't criticizing--rather, I think we're entirely in agreement! *hugs* I have family and friends who served, and who are proud of their service; I was speaking out of concern for them and for all the men and women like them.

The U.S., in this century, has been far too eager to engage in imperialism and foreign adventurism, and we're paying the price for it now.

#649 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 01:02 PM:

Yeah, Owen, rather than Horace, is what that Latin phrase brings to mind for me. I have also been watching a copy of the 1960s TV series The Great War which is mostly film and photographs from the time.

Some of the episodes are on You Tube. That particular one covers the recruiting and training of Kitchener's New Army. My Grandfather was lucky, he missed the First Day of the Somme.

I wouldn't be surprised if I had some third-hand PTSD scars from that war, via my father.

My father picked up a few of these songs from him.

I shall have to check if the War Poets exhibition is still running in Second Life

#650 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 01:28 PM:

An old friend of mine (my 8th grade locker partner, no less!) passed away on Tuesday from cancer. Author of a line I quote periodically, "F---in' I'm stayin' f---in here; f--- you f---ers!"* and also a master of darts, pool, and most any other game of coordination**, even after losing his right hand many years ago in a construction accident, Dave was a great guy to hang around with, and he always deserved better than he got.

I'll never see him again, or even hear about what he's been up to. God damn it.

* This was, for him, a simple statement of fact, devoid of rancor.
** With no apparent effort, he just won at everything. When hitting the middle of the 'baseball' dart board from the other side of the basement room got boring for him, he took to throwing it over the cross beam that held up the rafters and still hit Home Runs.

#651 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 01:52 PM:

Oh, hell, Kip. I am so sorry.

#652 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 02:13 PM:

Jennifer, #640: It is also important for everyone (not just those serving) to remember that being willing to risk dying for your country does not make a person morally superior to anyone else. Those women in England who went around handing "cowardice flowers" to young men who hadn't enlisted in WWII? That's just wrong, for the same reasons that any other kind of emotional blackmail is wrong.

Also, the "dulce et decorum" argument applies equally well to the Japanese kamikazes, or to suicide bombers in today's Middle East. So it strikes me as being fundamentally flawed to begin with.

Kip, #647: My condolences on your loss.

#653 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 02:29 PM:

Kip W @647: {{hugs}}

#654 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 03:44 PM:

Kip #647: I'm so sorry for your loss. Your friend Dave sounds like he was quite a character (in the best of ways).

Lee #649:

It is also important for everyone (not just those serving) to remember that being willing to risk dying for your country does not make a person morally superior to anyone else.

Gack. My initial #640 comment was written in a bit of haste, and I should have laid out my thoughts further in it.

Auden, I think, had it right: dulce et decorum is a lie; but it's a lie with a bit of truth in it. The lie is that all wars are worth such sacrifice; the truth is that war is occasionally necessary (or "proper"), and in such cases, people willing to fight are needed.

"Sweet" implies an eagerness to spend one's life which I consider dangerous and revolting. It is sometimes necessary (and tragic); those who do should be honored, but not worshiped, and those who don't should not be maligned. (As a brief aside, our culture doesn't idolize people like firefighters and EMTs, who also face threats to life and limb, in the same way it does soldiers--I have some thoughts as to why, but they're very much off topic.)

"Proper" is defined by leadership, whether that be government, religious leaders, military chain of command, etc. In my opinion, the most "proper" war is principally defensive (or as close to such as is possible in an imperfect world), but in reality, that decision is made, at least in the U.S., by our elected representatives. "Proper" also includes the methods considered acceptable in waging said war.

Suicide bombers and kamikaze pilots are examples in which the willingness of some to fight and die for their cause is perverted into the belief that it is necessary, not just to die, but to take their enemies with them--suicide bombers believe they will be rewarded in the afterlife; kamikaze pilots considered it their divine and patriotic duty.

In such cases, it's not just the individual that should be held accountable; the system (culture, etc.) should also be held responsible. Which comes back around to the "same old lie"--a system of leadership that finds value in perpetuating the lie isn't likely to be receptive to criticism, unless they have no choice.

#655 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 05:20 PM:

Good grief, I was just posting making fun of a) students' ignorance and b) that very funny (I thought) mistranslation! I didn't mean to start a whole thing, only to amuse!

I'm really sorry.

I think it's clear from Fragano's quoting of it that the Owen poem is about the dying itself, and how it's anything but sweet or fitting (much less "decorous," which is evoked by the Latin word 'decorum', even though that's not the correct translation).

Wilfred Owen was the greatest war poet of the English language. He was killed shortly before the Armistice that ended WWI. He said that his poetry was "not about heroes. English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them...My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity."

Btw, the Kamikaze were not the fanatics they were portrayed to be. Let's just say there was great use of coercion and threat to get them into those planes.

Kip, I'm sorry for your loss.

#656 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 06:50 PM:

Yikes. I'm sorry, then! (Xopher, thanks for the heads-up about the kamikaze; I suspected some peer pressure and coercion would have been involved, but it sounds like I underestimated it.)

And the mistranslation was pretty funny...

#657 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 07:32 PM:

Open Thready--

Sometimes I terrify myself.

Rereading the original Moose Festival thread from 2008, I was Chutneyed by the repeated mentions of stuffed two-headed calves. So that goes on my list of stuffed animals to make some time. (That's not the terrifying part.)

Then I decided that, if the two-headed calf works out, I might make a Cerberus, too. (That's not the terrifying part, either.)

(Here's the terrifying part.) Later, my brain ran 'Cerberus' through a few times and came up with Care-Bear-us, the three-headed guardian of the Underworld.


#658 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 07:59 PM:

Okay. I will never sleep again.

#659 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 08:52 PM:

Lila (655): Was that directed at me? :)

#660 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 09:48 PM:

I'm sorry for your loss, Kip.

#661 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 11:33 PM:

Mary Aileen @654, I read your post out loud to my husband (who does not read this site), and he instantly said, "I'd buy one." <grin> I'm married to a geek who likes puns. (We have a stuffed griffin named "Gus" after the Mercury 7 astronaut...)

#662 ::: Cassy B. has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2012, 11:34 PM:

...whilst expressing appreciation for Care Bear punniness. Chocolate chip cookie dough icecream?

#663 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 01:03 AM:

My raccoon hand puppet is named Sheldon.

If you had a raccoon and his two sons being attacked by a serpent, you could title it Raoccoön.

#664 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 03:04 AM:

Xopher @ #660:

There is now a voice in my head singing "By the Light of the Silver Raccoon".

I am sure that this is somehow all your fault.

#665 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 03:24 AM:

Back in the late 70s, I used to work for a guy who'd considered volunteering to be a kamikaze pilot. He'd been in college at the time, and his professor talked him out of it, but it was doing his bit to defend his country during the war and support the Emperor. Another one of our managers had a number tattooed on his arm. I had just missed the Vietnam draft by getting a high number in the last lottery. I wish I could say that war was over and behind us, but we've got yet another generation being taught that it's a good thing and they should go do their duty to their country.

#666 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 03:27 AM:

On a lighter note, given the Ex Urbe thread, I also knew Lucrezia Borgia, but she only acquired that nickname answering the suggestion box at the college dining hall and wasn't really a notorious poisoner.

#667 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 06:12 AM:

Xopher: If you had a raccoon and his two sons being attacked by a serpent, you could title it Raoccoön.

If they all gathered together afterwards and gave their version of events, would you call it Raccômon?

#668 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 07:12 AM:

My workplace, the Wikimedia Foundation (the nonprofit that keeps Wikipedia going), wants to hire a release manager, and I thought people in here might know someone, given all the project managers and QA folks who hang out on Making Light.

We've shifted our release practices from a slow multi-month cycle (seriously) to a two-week cycle for core improvements and scheduled deployment windows for smaller changes. Getting bugfixes and new features to our readers and editors faster and communicating better about it is good, and we need to do even better at it -- we have the beginnings of a continuous integration infrastructure, and we need help getting there. And we're doing this in the context of everything being open source and open to volunteer contribution.

We're looking for great communicators who can learn quickly, who have done this kind of work in the past, and who have strong software engineering backgrounds. San Francisco local candidates preferred, telecommuting might work. More details.

#669 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 08:24 AM:

SUBNORMALITY has done another of their "online poster": "The Floor Plan Of The Mind". Posted here rather than Open Thread because of the "internal chatter" aspect and our interest in psychology.

Also available with Java pan & zoom.

#670 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 08:34 AM:

OK, I guess I wound up putting it here instead of DFD by accident. Wotevva...

#671 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 09:59 AM:

David, what a very cool pic!

#672 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 10:14 AM:

Kip, my condolences -- he sounds like a great guy.

Jennifer, Xopher, I understand -- the problem with being in a swing state is the avalanche of political ads we're getting -- I've gotten to the point where I want to dig a hole in a hillside and pull the dirt in behind me.

Presidential elections leave me with a very fragile temper and ruins one of my favorite times of year. Thankfully, OVFF is in a couple of weeks which should sweeten my mood. But this year my birthday will mean 24 more hours of political stuff to endure -- sigh.

Thanks everyone for being so kind, especially when I've been a bitch.

#673 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 10:48 AM:

I'm not in a swing state, but there are two incumbent Congresscritters running for the one seat in my district, neither of whom, IMO, is worth it. (And they nearly got into an actual fight the other night.)
I am so ready for election season to be over.

#674 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 11:33 AM:

Mary Aileen @ #656: yes. ;-)

Kip: I'm sorry for your loss. When someone's sort of part of your mental landscape, it makes their loss hit that much harder.

Re election: Paul Broun. Unopposed. I feel ill. And on behalf of my district, I apologize to everyone.

#675 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 12:16 PM:

Kip, I'm sorry to hear.

Nicole @ 626
It was charming. Glad to hear the rest of your trip was enjoyable. Did your train-friend continue to encounter random weirdnesses, or was that a local phenomenon?

#676 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 01:25 PM:

It occurs to me that I haven't mentioned this yet, but one of my hiking buddies has been diagnozed with cancer. Metastatic. :-( He seems to be handling it pretty well, but the prognosis is not good.

#677 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 03:47 PM:

Open Threadiness: John Scalzi asks on Twitter what the Latin is for 'hardly any sodomy' (he claims he's asking for a friend). Now 'hardly any' is an eccentric English construction, so maybe going from 'virtually no sodomy' or 'almost no sodomy' would be better.

A couple of things about this:
1. Google Translate is not your friend on ML (probably I could just have emailed abi, but hey).
2. I'm asking because we have a deep bench in classical languages here.
3. I can't believe I just used a sports metaphor.

#678 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 03:49 PM:

Ohnosecond: I replaced the 'here' in #1 with "on ML..." and I meant to replace the 'here' on #2. It makes a lot more sense that way. So it should be

A couple of things about this:
1. Google Translate is not your friend here.
2. I'm asking because we have a deep bench in classical languages on ML (probably I could just have emailed abi, but hey).
3. I can't believe I just used a sports metaphor.

#679 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 04:30 PM:

Xopher, the translation I offered was "vix ullum pedicantum", assuming that he wanted a noun phrase; it's a fairly literal translation, but Latin loves its litotes, so "hardly any" for "some" isn't that unusual. I could also go with "non nullum" for "not none", which comes to about the same thing.

#680 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 04:40 PM:

Fade, I hadn't known you followed Scalzi, and didn't see your response to him.

#681 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 04:50 PM:

Thanks, everybody.

#682 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 08:15 PM:

Lila #671 Re election: Paul Broun. Unopposed. I feel ill. And on behalf of my district, I apologize to everyone.

Our only hope, in a district redrawn to be Democrat-proof, is for the Republican Party to become so embarrassed by him that they support a less obviously loony opponent in the next primary.

And for those who aren't in Broun's district, it is worth noting that he was originally elected in the runoff of a special open (all-party) primary because voters -- including some Democrats -- held their noses and voted for him. His opponent, the anointed of the party, was worse. And Broun had not wandered off into his own special reality yet, as far as anyone knew.

Paul Broun received his undergraduate degree and MD from respectable institutions, and did his residencies at respectable hospitals. He wasn't always like this. As far as we know.

#683 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2012, 09:16 PM:

Tracie: Gerrymanders R Us. And yes, he was either less crazy or he hid it better.

#684 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 02:45 AM:

Condolences, Kip, Dave, Antonia.

KayTei @ 672:

If you're referring to the camera incident, I don't *think* anything remotely as weird occurred after that. Though on the Denver-to-Sac leg, we overheard the coach attendants talking about something to do with zombie apocalypse preparedness, which got us talking about the possibilities of a zombie movie in which the survivors' last stand is on a moving Amtrak train. Those things seem like fairly solid bases, but I supposed the usual weaknesses would be in refeuling/resupplying stops and back-up maneuvers.

Thank you for bringing me to Evangeline's, btw. That mask stayed where it was put all through the dance despite all the usual motion and sweating that involves. I shall have to peek in on Tuesday and give them my regards.

#685 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 12:35 PM:

Nicole @ 681

Yes, well, mostly the camera incident. I just wondered. He had that indefinable something.

I would think a train would be too vulnerable to roadblocks; then they could overwhelm you with a mob of zombies. I'm thinking as soon as they topple your train-car, you're in a much more awkward position, along with the chance of people being injured.

#686 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 01:54 PM:

Felix Baumgartber is about to jump.

#687 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 02:00 PM:

Depressurising the capsule now.

#688 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 02:04 PM:

The balloon is slowly sinking now, waiting for the pressures to match

Door open

#689 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 02:07 PM:


#690 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 02:12 PM:

Chute open

#691 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 02:17 PM:

And landed

#692 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 02:31 PM:

Dave Bell @ 688: I glad he's OK!

Local news & commentary: I went to Portland's book festival, Wordstock, this weekend. I had fun, made some serendipitous book & author discoveries — as usual. This year. the Tin House booth had bingo cards that you played to win a free copy. That was really fun. The categories included:
Portland based comic
friendly librarian
literary tattoo
someone praising the smell of the printed page

You were supposed to take pictures to prove your finds (it was really a combination bingo/scavenger hunt), and everyone was really friendly and helpful. It was disturbingly easy to find a literary tattoo. The logo of a press? Really?

I do have one piece of advice for publishers/bookstores/authors: No matter how beautiful, witty, or inspirational your promotional bookmark is, if you laminate it, I won't use it. Laminated bookmarks fall out of the book and lose my place. So save your money, and leave off the slippery coating! Or am I an outlier on this one?

#693 ::: janetl has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 02:33 PM:

Two links, and a propensity to type more than 1 space after a period; however, it occurs to me that the name of a particular game might be the issue.

Would their lowliness like some pomegranate seeds?

#694 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 03:29 PM:

Nicole @681, have you by chance read Dreadnought by Cherie Priest? It features a zombie attack on a (steampunk) train. It's a sequel to Boneshaker but other than lacking the setting-establishing details it should stand alone reasonably well.

#695 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 09:50 PM:

When I went to the grocery store today, the exotic fruit section had in a couple of Buddha's Hand citrons. I've been toying with the idea of trying my hand (as it were) at candying one. So I took the plunge and bought one -- wish me luck!

#696 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 09:51 PM:

OK, really upset now. Does anyone understand how this works, or have any suggestions about what I can do about it?

Today I got a message from my friend M. I replied. Then I got a message from a total stranger (a number I'd never seen before) saying "You're going to hell." Naturally I was annoyed by that and a conversation ensued.

Apparently M sent his message to a group. Every reply anyone sent also went to the whole group. The stranger was replying to M (and it was not at all an unreasonable thing to say, considering the original message).

I have an old, dumb phone. I can't afford a data plan right now (I have no job). I can't upgrade to something more modern. My phone has only one way to Reply to a text message, and does not tell me if a message I got came as part of a group message.

I'm upset by this because any time I Reply to a text, my reply could be going to a bunch of people I don't know! The "Message Info" on my phone shows only the sender, and only one person on my reply, even though this total stranger got my reply too.

Is this really how it works now? Am I just screwed? How can I keep from sending messages to people I don't know without even knowing I'm doing it? I'm not really willing to start a new message every time I text someone.

#697 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 11:22 PM:

Appeal to the assembled cooks/bakers:

My grandmother used to make honigkuchen--German honey cake--every Christmas. (Think lebkuchen or stollen.) When her health began to fail, she gave my mother a copy of the recipe; we made it a few times, but we never remembered to start it early enough for the necessary aging, so it just wasn't the same. Then we lost the recipe.

The recipes I can find online or in German cookbooks vary quite a bit. But I now have in my possession a recipe pamphlet that used to belong to my grandmother; the "honey cake" recipe is annotated in her handwriting, so it should be the right one. (I hope.) So I'm going to try to make it this year--in mid-November, so that it has the requisite six weeks to age.

But there's a problem.

The recipe calls for candied orange and lemon peel. For complicated* reasons, I can't use that. I may be able to substitute dried fruit**--what kinds would be best? Any ideas?

(If memory serves, my grandmother used to use generic mixed candied fruit, instead of the candied citrus peel. So there is precedent for substituting.)

*having to do with weird food allergies
**apparently some people make fruitcake with dried fruit, instead of candied

#698 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 11:53 PM:

Candied lemon peel will be aromatic and sweet without being too sour. A bunch of dried fruits should fit that bill; apricots, currants, maybe prunes. Pineapple. Maybe even kiwi or mango.

(I'd be pleased to get a look at the recipe.)

#699 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 12:08 AM:

Xopher HalfTongue @693: I've never heard of group SMS, and I'm rather alarmed at the idea that I could reply to a message and have it go to people I didn't expect to. Searching for group texting, I see website services and special applications to do it, but they broadcast out to a group -- they don't broadcast coming back. I'm really curious how that worked.

#700 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 12:25 AM:

re 694/695: It will depend on what the exact fruit allergy is. If the problem is sulfites then most dried fruit will be a problem. Otherwise from a texture point of view I would recommend dried mango or papaya.

BTW, if anyone knows of a source for genuine dried currants (not those Zante things) I'd love to know about it. We used to get them from TJs but they haven't carried them in several years, and Ann's never did (and they just moved to Minnesota, dang it).

#701 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 01:30 AM:

janetl @ 689: My friend in Portland told me about Wordstock; he said, "In addition to being opposite the Great American Beer Fest, the conference you're going to is also making you miss Wordstock." (I'm in Portland right now. On said friend's air mattress. I leave town tomorrow morning. The conference I was at was Sirens, in Stevenson, WA -- about an hour's drive down the Columbia Gorge.) I'm glad to hear about it from someone who went, since I could not be there myself!

Apparently I also missed out on a local werewolf convention. Howlcon, or something like that? So says the sign on the lamppost I passed this afternoon after we visited the game store.

C. Wingate @ 697: The Pearl Street Whole Foods in Boulder carries good (to my tastes) dried currants in their bulk section. I use them every year in my fruitcake. (Along with dried strawberries, dates, figs, golden raisins, sour cherries, and papaya. Like Mary Aileen says, some people do use dried fruit in their fruitcake. :-) No idea how useful a datapoint that is for you though.

lorax @ 691: Would you believe those two books are in fact on my to-be-read list? Except I jumped line and went right ahead into the, I believe, unrelated novel by the same author, Fathom. I am entirely unsurprised to hear that a steampunk zombie novel would involve a train. (The objection KayTei raises sounds like a reasonable one; I'll be interested to read whether it is an issue in Dreadnought.)

#702 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 09:14 AM:

Andrew Plotkin (695): Thanks. What about cherries? I was thinking about a mix of pineapple, cherries, and/or apricots.

C. Wingate (697): The problem is indeed sulfites. I think I can get non-sulfited dried fruit at Trader Joe's, but I haven't gone and scrutinized labels yet. TJ's website is frustratingly vague about exact ingredients, but "no artificial preservatives" sounds promising.

I'm baking the honigkuchen in two pans. I may add the fruit after I've separated the batter; that way I could use candied peel in one pan and dried fruit in the other. Or I might decide that's too much trouble and expense.

#703 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 10:32 AM:

Mary Aileen @699

Newman's Own Organics has a line of sulfite-free dried fruit. If you can't find them stocked locally, your health food store might be able to order them, or you might be able to source them online.

I also found an online vendor selling candied lemon and orange peel strips that specifically list the ingredients and say they do not use sulfur. Click through to product descriptions: they specifically say their recipe contains only sugar, glucose, and citrus peels. They're a bit expensive, but seem legitimate.

#704 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 10:34 AM:

Mary Aileen @699

Newman's Own Organics has a line of sulfite-free dried fruit. If you can't find them stocked locally, your health food store might be able to order them, or you might be able to source them online.

I also found an online vendor selling candied lemon and orange peels that specifically list the ingredients and say they do not use sulfur. Click through to product descriptions: they say their recipe contains only sugar, glucose, and citrus peels. They're a bit expensive, but seem legitimate.

#705 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 11:19 AM:

Xopher at 693: Hm. My understanding is that group texts are a (relatively) new object with the explosion in smartphones in the last few years. I find them similarly irritating - my iPhone will show me the entire recipient list, but not without an extra click - by default, I'll see who sent me the text, not who else is in the chain. This doesn't solve you problem, unfortunately (I've had the unenviable experience of sending responses to my brother which were mildly profane, and having them CCed to my dad... no one was particularly put out by it, but still)

#706 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 11:32 AM:


We dream of seizing summertime
to grab, with outstretched hands, the light
of life and other days too far
advanced to comprehend.

we're wedged within our cubes of gray
sit stoned and stone-faced while, inside,
our spirits wither on the vine
we sleep the summer's dreaming time

we should attend our sun-grown souls,
grow {pregnant | heavy } with yet unformed fruit--
we'll gather all our will and then:
We seize the dreaming summertime!

It's not perfect, of course. This is only the second time in two years that I've managed something I'm happy enough to release into the wild.

Constructive criticism welcome!

#707 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 11:38 AM:

Leah Miller (700/701): Thanks! Those online prices are comparable to King Arthur Flour Company's candied peel, which is reasonably pure but does have sulfur dioxide*. I would have to choose lemon or orange, though; I only need four ounces total, and at those prices I'm not buying two eight-ounce packages. (King Arthur sells eight ounces of mixed peel for that price.)

I'm pretty sure I've seen the Newman's Own dried fruit locally, too; that packaging looks familiar.

*My mother's not positive she's allergic to sulfur dioxide, but it's not worth the risk.

#709 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 11:52 AM:

re 704: A word about using dried fruit, from one who makes a monster fruitcake every year: you need to consider how the rehydration of baking these things is going to affect the product. Raisins, cherries, and cranberries are going to plump up quite a bit; more fibrous fruits like apricot and mango are going to stay firm.

If you don't mind going high-church, you can candy your own peels. I must confess I've never done it.

#710 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 12:18 PM:

C. Wingate (706): The fruit gets chopped fairly finely. Would that make a difference in how much it plumps up? Hmmmm, it probably means that I'd want to chop it even finer, so that the plumped-up pieces aren't too big.

I don't have the spoons to even contemplate candying my own peels.

#711 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 12:19 PM:

Candying orange peels is time-consuming and a bit messy, but pretty straightforward. There aren't any tricky bits or very specific temperatures as in fudge or caramel making. Totally doable, especially since you're already planning to start well ahead to give the cake time to age.

#712 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 12:45 PM:

Tiger Spot (708): Once again, I don't have the spoons to even contemplate candying my own peels.

#713 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 01:06 PM:

Lori #669: You have my sympathies and hugs. I have the opposite problem; since I live in the Austin Free Socialist Republic, I get very few ads. Won't keep me from voting, but it's an irritation. Frankly, I'd like to have a constitutional amendment that gets rid of the Electoral College entirely; failing that, that mandates proportional representation.

I also apologize if I stepped on any raw nerves; I had a bout of really bad brainweather last week, and looking back at some of my posts, I was not communicating at my best.

#714 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 01:07 PM:

Mary Aileen @709

Hmm, the "do-it-yourself" line of discussion has made me think of another possible source: etsy. And lo, this seller lists a variety of candied citrus peels, and expresses a willingness to do custom orders - if you wanted to request a mix of orange and lemon, they'd probably be happy to oblige. They have some good feedback related specifically to their candied peels, which is promising. Just another possibility.

#715 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 01:58 PM:

Leah Miller (711): Thank you, that does look promising. I would have to set up an Etsy account, but that's a fairly minor consideration.

#716 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 02:17 PM:

Somewhat Local News:

The police in Purmerend, a city a few kilometers to the north of us, received a report of a crocodile in the undergrowth. Given that the report came in at 11:00 on a Saturday evening, they were rather dubious, but went to investigate.

It turned out that there was indeed a 2-meter long crocodile in the bushes. The police approached it with caution. The reptile had, however, been to the taxidermist at some point on its journey from whatever river it called home to the shrubbery of Noord-Holland, and was therefore entirely uninterested in them.

It now resides at the police station. I suspect it's worn at least one uniform hat for at least one photo since its arrival there.

Its future is unclear.

#717 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 02:22 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @698: I'd heard of Sirens, but didn't realize it was nearby. Your options in Portland last weekend included Wordstock, Howl Con, and the tattoo expo. We were really living up to our Portlandia reputation!

October 21-2 is Portland Cocktail Week, which makes us look more cosmopolitan. Though, alas, there was a Portlandia skit all about over-the-top cocktail madness in a Portland bar.

#718 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 02:22 PM:

re 707 et al: I have found a source for dried black currants on-line.

WRT their use in this recipe, they are pretty small (not as small as zantes though). You could perhaps get away with not chopping them. They do plump up a bit but not as much as raisins.

#719 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 02:25 PM:

re 705: Did anyone ever expect to see Yale University Press citing a positive review from the Fortean Times?

#720 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 02:49 PM:

My daughter has been creating a game: Weeping Angels Tag.

There are three types of player: Companions (Rorys and Amys), the Doctor, and the Angel.

If the Angel tags a Companion, they count to five. If the Doctor comes before the count is done, they can heal the Companion with a pretend sonic screwdriver; if not, the Companion becomes the Angel and the Angel rejoins the game.

If the Angel is pursuing someone, they can stop it by looking at it. But for every blink they blink, the Angel gets to take a step forward. And if they turn and run, the Angel runs after them.

The Doctor can change places with either the Angel or a Companion by gesturing at them with the imaginary sonic screwdriver.

Of course, she's explaining all of this in Dutch to a bunch of kids who have never seen Dr Who, and have only the faintest notion what the heck she's on about. But they're hungry for a new game, and it's turning out to be fun.

#721 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 02:50 PM:

Abi @ 713... Heheheh

#722 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 04:16 PM:

abi: that sounds like fun! My daughter babysits for some kids who are au courant with Dr. Who. Hmmmmmmm.

#723 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 05:54 PM:

I was and am able to send group texts from my very dumb, very old flip phone; I found it useful in 2010 when I was a census crew supervisor. It just gave me the option to add multiple recipients when I picked "to." However, the return texts only came back to me. Possibly the "reply to all" feature is a smartphone default. Xopher, were your return texts to the "burn in hell" fellow remarked upon by anyone else, like the original sender?

#724 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 06:04 PM:

Mary Aileen 707, 709: Great sympathy with no spoons for candying. I don't have any spoons for any food projects these days, but even when I did I was put off by my annoying candy book. Other books have you add a little sugar every day; the ACB version requires the use of a syrup-density refractometer. No kidding. That book is designed to make people think they can't possibly do things.

abi 713: This story made me want to a) put something very odd in the bushes and see what happens and b) make my own visit to the taxidermist. (Imagine finding a stuffed Xopher in the bushes! I'd be surprised if they put me up in the cop shop.)

ibid. 717: That's terrific! Like Lila, I may know some kids who'd like to play that game. I'm disappointed to hear that DW isn't available in The Netherlands, though. One question: when the Angel successfully tags a Companion, by "rejoins the game" do you mean the Angel becomes a Companion again?

Rikibeth 720: No, but he said he'd gotten my responses to the original sender, and I've now realized that I got responses to the original sender from another person too (but this one I knew, so I didn't notice...he was just sending me an odd text).

#725 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 07:04 PM:

Hyperlocal news: I've started a reading group for Moonwise.

I'll also be putting my update posts on my livejournal.

#726 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 07:05 PM:


I offer a cheese plate.

#727 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2012, 07:49 PM:

For god's sake, don't eat the plums!
They're a toxicology experiment,
To see if the cold of the icebox
Inhibits the deadly fungus inside.
Don't even open the box they're in.
Just to be on the safe side,
I'm putting this on the fridge.

I hope the note stays up
And doesn't fall underneath,
Because if you eat any of them,
You've ten, maybe fifteen minutes:
So quick, so hot, and so dead.

#728 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 01:23 AM:

Kip W @ 727: I just got back from the SFWA Northwest Reading Series in Portland, where we heard Jay Lake, M.K. Hobson, and Seanan McGuire.

After spending some time with Seanan, your poem really resonates...

#729 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 01:30 AM:

AKICML: In a big department store/catalog company, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, is there such a thing as a sample room, or am I remembering something else? That is, do the buyers for one department say, "Okay, we're soliciting samples for next year's Candles and Home Scents lines, please send them here between these dates and we'll pick the ones we want and let you know?" It is entirely possible that I am remembering something else.

#730 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 01:37 AM:


Hm, if I wanted to make sure to avoid the reply all option on my dumb trak phone (dumb...yet it looks like an original series star trek communicator and i remember when those phones were amazing...) would be to not hit reply, but instead start a new message and then aim it at the intended recipient. Slow and annoying option, but it reclaims control.

#731 ::: Mea has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 01:38 AM:

Sorry for the bad punctuation

#732 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 01:44 AM:

Wish me luck: I just hit "send" on the e-mail conveying my novel manuscript to the first publisher on my list. (Rather than relying on luck, I'm actually counting on it being a Damn Good Story, but the luck can't hurt.)

#733 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 02:03 AM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 731: Luck! 4-leaf clover! Break a leg!

#734 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 02:46 AM:

Xopher @724:

If the Angel tags someone and turns them into an Angel, then yes, they become a Companion again. Though it would also be an interesting game if that didn't happen—just less one for the schoolyard and more one for a convention.

One can watch DW in the Netherlands (indeed, we do; the Beeb is part of our cable package). But it's not captioned into Dutch, and these kids are still a year or two short of starting their English studies.

#735 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 08:37 AM:

Janetl@728, I saw Seanan McGuire at Chicon (and will see her again in a few weeks at WindyCon) -- she was on a epidemiology panel and she was rather disturbingly gleeful about Ebola and plague and Dengue Fever; you're absolutely right about Kip's poem and Seanan.

#736 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 08:49 AM:

Re: Angel Tag.

There's a scene in The Orphanage at the beginning of the movie, where the children are playing a variety of tag where a group of children are approaching the counting child, but freeze when she looks.

The theme is picked up elsewhere in this ghost movie — I tried looking for a clip, but the only thing I could find was as short cut in the trailer. There, you don't see the children freeze — you do see them creeping up on the girl with her back to them counting eyes covered face to a tree.

The Orphanage and Blink both came out in 2007, so I don't think the movie was an inspiration to Moffat.

#737 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 08:51 AM:

abi #720: Egads. Hmm. What about Angel vs. Doctor? And what keeps the Doctor from just guarding all the Companions?

#738 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 08:52 AM:

Haven't got much beyond breakfast cereal here.

#739 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 09:02 AM:

Dave @737,

Think like a ten-year-old; there's not enough running-around-and-screaming-with-laughter if the Doctor just sits and guards the Companions... <grin>

#740 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 09:30 AM:

Heather Rose, may all circumstances align as fortunately as possible!

#741 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 09:37 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 712

Trying to talk someone into doing something they don't have the spoons for is not always a good idea, so apologies in advance.

BUT--the aggravating and messy part of candying citrus peel is drying it. If you are using it in a fruitcake you can entirely skip that step. Just put peels in water to cover, soak overnight, bring to a boil, drain, re-cover with cold water, bring to a boil again, drain and rinse(if you use grapefruit you'll probably want to blanch another time or two). Make a 3/1 sugar syrup to cover them, and boil till transucent (an hour or so.)

The fruitcake I love best--black cake--has dried cherries and figs in it, but they are soaked in rum, then pureed and added to the batter.

#742 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 09:49 AM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 732: Wishing you the very best of luck! I'm in the same position myself, so I can imagine the anxiety and hope involved.

#743 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 09:50 AM:

Dave @737:

If the Angel gets the Doctor, the person who was previously Doctor becomes Doctor again, and has a five-count to un-Angel the Doctor.

This iteration of the game also happens to have a Watcher*, because one of the kids is in the middle of an asthma+cold episode and can't run. So she cannot be tagged, and can stare down the Angel for a ten-count while others get away.

It is, of course, all just an excuse for running around and shrieking, as Cassy B @739 points out.

* I know, wrong Angel...

#744 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 11:44 AM:

SamChevre (741): I am trying very hard not to scream at you with frustration. I didn't even read your instructions about how supposedly easy candying fruit is; I was too busy trying not to freak out at the very thought of doing ONE MORE THING. Next time, please please PLEASE take me at my word when I say I can't even contemplate doing something. I meant PRECISELY that.

Don't make me sorry that I posted here asking for help. I hesitated before doing so because I feared exactly that kind of maladvice.

#745 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 05:41 PM:

And you repeated it when someone tried before. And I was worried about MY reply, which wasn't even trying to get you to do anything.

#746 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 07:05 PM:

abi #743: First thought: OK... Coming back to it later: Wait, what if the first Doctor gets zapped? I guess in any case, if the Doctor doesn't get rescued, the Angel becomes the next Doctor, and vice versa?

#747 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2012, 07:30 PM:

Xopher (745): No, your reply made it clear that you *did* get it. It was reassuring, even. So don't worry about it.

#748 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2012, 01:21 AM:

David Harmon @746:

Yes, then the Angel is the Doctor and the Doctor the Angel. Of course, that makes a problem whenever an ex-Doctor Angel is menacing a Doctor.

I guess Doctors just live more dangerously than everyone else.

#749 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2012, 08:08 AM:

'two dozen, to go'

#750 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2012, 12:00 PM:

On Iron Age pigs: (vegetarians, avert your eyes)

My brother-in-law Francis, who farmed down in the West Australian Great Southern region, bred pigs for a speciality butcher. The requirements were very, very precise and very demanding. They had to be raised in open paddocks, with only open styes and rootling wallows. Stocking density was far below usual commercial practice. Their food was precisely formulated, and mostly grain, with no dairy or meat meal. They could be given no antibiotics or artificial supplements whatsoever. They must have open range and space. The breed was a Tamworth-Landrace cross, but on this regime they were lean and active, square and chunky.

The intention was to use them for coppa and maybe prosciutto, but Francis kept one or two back for Christmas dinner.

My God, they were the best pork I've ever tasted in my life, and not just because it was lean. It was tender as a kiss and full of flavour, and my sister's spicy plum sauce with wattle berries was out of this world, to go with them.

If people ate like this in the Iron Age, there's something to be said for the Iron Age, is all I can say.

#751 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2012, 12:38 PM:

A source for Iron Age Pig pork in North America.

The sound of it is that these folks have open land for the pigs to roam.

The smallest quantity available seems to be a half-carcass. Teresa, what are your plans for Christmas dinner?

#753 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2012, 02:18 PM:

Dave @750: No dairy? I suppose, for Iron Age, that makes sense, but my period of interest tends later, and ISTR that it was fairly common practice to give surplus whey, or soured milk not wanted for human consumption (as yogurt/clabber/creme friache/what have you) to the pigs.

I would LOVE to taste it, though. When I was in France in 1987, I tasted actual wild boar -- not farmed, but hunted by one of the extended family -- and it was one of the most amazing things I've tasted in my life.

#754 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2012, 11:51 PM:

Binder reviews on Amazon.

#755 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2012, 01:00 AM:

In the where else shall I toot my horn?

After much thinking, and inertia, and reluctance to leave the familiar I have started a wordpress blog to supplant, more or less, my Lj.

Better than salt money has moved.

#756 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2012, 01:55 AM:

Chutney Alert: David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, just said on the Leonard Lopate show that he'd "love to read a piece of science fiction written in the language of Melville." That's Melville, not Miéville. Pointing this out so that those of you with a talent for pastiche may be chutneyed.

No, no, don't thank me. Honestly, I don't NEED those soup greens! Ooof. *runs*

#757 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2012, 02:59 AM:

Um. Hasn't Miéville already done this? I suppose it's more fantasy than SF.

#758 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2012, 03:04 AM:

Rikibeth: When I was in France in 1987, I tasted actual wild boar

A market near me sells pork from wild-hunted feral pigs. I've only had the bacon pieces, but it's wonderful (if a little chewy).

#759 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2012, 03:10 AM:

My (work, statistics outreach) blog has been linked from an overheated comment thread about the binders full of women. The person who linked it was looking for evidence that women take more sick leave than men. The post they reference actually talks about why this doesn't explain pay differences between men and women.

Eh. It's traffic. And they might learn something.

#760 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2012, 11:12 PM:

This is brilliant. The true method that Mitt Romney used to get those binders full of women:

And In the Darkness Bind Them!

#761 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 12:39 AM:

I've now gotten around to candying that Buddha's Hand. I used the recipe from Instructables. Some recipes suggested blanching the fruit first, and others said that wasn't necessary. I didn't, because I'm lazy.

The Instructables site said that cooking down the syrup would take about 45 minutes; it actually took me a lot closer to two hours. I used the "soft threads in ice water" test from that page, and it definitely wasn't done before then.

It was interesting to me how the peel started more green than yellow, and turned yellow as it cooked, and then sort of disappeared. Some of the pieces are darker in color than others, and those are the ones that started with peel on them; the pure pith is lighter.

The result has an interesting interplay of sweet, sour, and floral, with a little bit of bitterness, especially where there was peel. I suspect that blanching in water would have reduced the latter. It's growing on me a bit as I eat it, but it remains to be seen whether I'll do it again.

#762 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 05:37 AM:

Binders full of women, meet the Amazon reviewers.

I fully expect a gnoming for this.

#763 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 08:40 AM:

Paul Duncanson @762--Even the gnomes think it's funny.

#764 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 10:09 AM:

Hallowe'en is coming up and I am thinking (thanks to a dream I had last night) about vampires. A friend points out that the reason vampires cannot be seen in Bram Stoker-era mirrors is that the mirrors are backed with (holy) silver; contemporary mirrors should reflect vampires. I don't really keep up with the literature; can anyone here tell me if this issue is addressed in modern vampire stories? Also: this must also be the reason why you can't take a photograph of a vampire, since the film is made with silver, so digital photography would (I think) be able to capture vampires. But are there any vampire films which honor the convention that you can't photograph a vampire, by having the vampire be invisible on the movie's film? Seems like this would be tricky to pull off.

#765 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 10:49 AM:

Hm. If it's the silver, I'd think the vampire would still have light-reflecting properties that keep the image of the background from reaching the camera film, so vampires should leave a black silhouette on photos, and something similar with mirrors.

#766 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 10:58 AM:
But are there any vampire films which honor the convention that you can't photograph a vampire, by having the vampire be invisible on the movie's film?

I've seen films in which they are invisible on film (even digital--the recent and quite decent remake of Fright Night) but none in which they are so meta as to admit that the vampire would not photograph upon the film used in the film you are watching.

(seems to me that would work best with the "found footage" genre... in fact, that would be quite creepy, done right)

#767 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 11:34 AM:

This is brilliant . . . a list of clever little "life hacks" in photographic form.

Some are kind of esoteric, but most look quite practical.

#768 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 12:12 PM:

but would the vampires be *audible*? That i think would make the difference between an "Are they all crazy?" trope and another whole kind of creepiness. Or maybe their voice would distort, so the words are lost, but there are audial (and visual?) artifacts left that can't entirely be explained away...

#769 ::: Lenora Rose Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 12:13 PM:

Possibly due to erratic capitalization and punctuation, possibly not...

#770 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 01:04 PM:

Re: Teresa's particle about website comments and community management:

I found this blog post an interesting discussion. She starts and ends with very different ideas than I have on all kinds of stuff, but she also has seriously thought this through and has some nice insights on the overlap between free speech, community standards, and power.

#771 ::: albatross has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 01:04 PM:

Gnomed again.

#772 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 01:41 PM:

The Modesto Kid #764: Relatively few that I recall -- sometimes you get "oh, that's just a myth" from the vamp, and occasionally you get mirrors penetrating a glamour. Part of that may be that silver (or even gold) just isn't as "special" as it once was, at least since the New World mines put so much more into the global supply.

(I'll note that "quicksilver" (mercury) mirrors should also not qualify, along with other non-silver mirrors.)

#773 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 03:56 PM:

Dave @772:

An awful lot of that American silver got to Eurasia well before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula or anyone made a movie about anything.

Come to think, how often does the fictional vampire's clothing reflect in mirrors, or produce a photographic image? A reflection of a respectably dressed man (especially in the era when gloves were unremarkable) missing only the head would be noteworthy. Perhaps more attention-getting than someone not reflecting in a mirror: "why don't I see so-and-so in the mirror?" takes more attention than "wait a minute, that hat is floating on nothing."

#774 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 03:57 PM:

Dave @772:

An awful lot of that American silver got to Eurasia well before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula or anyone made a movie about anything.

Come to think, how often does the fictional vampire's clothing reflect in mirrors, or produce a photographic image? A reflection of a respectably dressed man (especially in the era when gloves were unremarkable) missing only the head would be noteworthy. Perhaps more attention-getting than someone not reflecting in a mirror: "why don't I see so-and-so in the mirror?" takes more attention than "wait a minute, that hat is floating on nothing."

#775 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 04:59 PM:

Vicki #773: Another theory shot to hell by inconvenient history. ;-)

Questions about an empty suit of clothes in the mirror are another issue altogether: I'd say they represent a very different attitude toward the world than the mythic idea that silver refuses to reflect a demon. (In the Christian tale, silver was granted power against evil when it protested its use in the betrayal of Christ. Of course, it had been the "moon's metal" long before Christianity....)

#776 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 08:05 PM:

The conversation about travelogues made me think that some people might find my little sister's posts about Kenya interesting. I've linked the first one--keep going newer, as there are currently 6. (Just for introduction--my baby sister is writing; she's in Kenya, helping my sister Dinah with her new baby Alina; Eddy is Dinah's (Luo) husband.)

#777 ::: SamChevre has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 08:06 PM:

Probably for linking to an iffy site.

#778 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 08:54 PM:

I've seen instructions for silvering mirrors, ad it involves mercury. (Somewhere in one of my boxes is an old CRC handbook with all kinds of neat stuff, like silvering mirrors and developing solutions for photographs, for astronomers.)

#779 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 10:06 PM:

The mercury makes an amalgam with the silver, which is much easier to spread onto the glass. There are other methods for making mirrors, but that one works very well.

#780 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 11:25 PM:

I love my dog - really, I do, as evidenced by my continuing poverty due to paying for her physical therapy, plus vet, food, treats, extra gas for my daily commute home just for her piddle breaks, etc. etc. But since Sunday when my roommate left for her week of semi-vacation she has been driving me screaming up a wall. Damn furball's got latent herding instinct and the bark of a dog thrice her size. She just will not shut the fuck up. Doesn't want to be petted, doesn't want to be cuddled. No squeaking, no playing. She can (of course) be bribed with food. Sometimes she can keep herself silent with a bully stick for about 20 minutes before she gets bored. The thundershirt calmed her yesterday, but today it's just another thing for me to wrestle her into while she gets up the energy to bark some more.

At the moment, I've put her in her x-pen in my roommate's room, shut the door and then locked the front door. She thinks I've gone out, and is therefore silent. I'm not a dog behaviorist, but I think she's concerned that she's lost a "sheep" and wants to make sure she doesn't lose the other one. Her x-pen is where she doesn't have to keep track of us. However, if she hears me futzing around cleaning (as I need to do in preparation for a big party I'm hosting tomorrow) she'll begin the barking again.

And once again, I curse my roommate for being allergic to cats.

#781 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 11:58 PM:

Some of you may know Danny Lieberman, a NYC fan. I'm told he died today. They just moved him to hospice yesterday, so this is sooner than I expected it to happen.

#782 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 12:17 AM:

I just saw the news on one of the e-lists. It makes me sad. Danny dreamed big for science fiction fandom back in the Millenium Philcon days, and I'm grateful to him for believing in me when I was physically at one of the worst points in my life. He never let his fame in the s-f community get in the way of simple friendship.

#783 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 01:01 AM:

#764, et seq.:

In the TV series Ultraviolet, the rule was that the image of a vampire could not be captured by any means: no reflection, invisible on video, inaudible on recordings or over the telephone, you can't even take their fingerprints. I think that was mainly a pragmatic decision to give them a fighting chance against modern crimefighting techniques and CCTV (and to give us the memorable scene where a vampire holds a telephone conversation using a laptop with text-to-speech), and I don't recall that the writer ever tried to justify it.

In Barbara Hambly's vampire novels, vampires possess a baseline glamour that enables them to pass as living breathing humans, and they avoid mirrors not because they aren't reflected but because they are: the mirror shows what they really look like.

#784 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 02:51 AM:

Xopher @781 -- saw that myself, on SMOFS. Apparently from leukemia. He was definitely a good man.

#785 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 11:24 AM:

Danny was terribly frail when our mutual friend Carol and I visited him in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. He showed us all his pictures from biking events. At that time I thought (and I had the impression he thought) he might be going home at some point, though perhaps this was wishful thinking on my part.

Then Thursday, hospice, which let me know the earlier hope had been naïve. But I was still surprised to hear of his death yesterday; I didn't think it would be so soon.

#786 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 12:49 PM:

On lighter matters:

I've just read Narnia for the first time this week, and I'm a) an adult and b)not a Christian and never have been, so I'm not really the target audience (a friend who was raised RC and read the series as a child resonated to the whole thing much better...with the exception of the last book, which is a retelling of the Book of Revelation, which isn't (or wasn't) emphasized in the RCC).

All the Narnia books are portal fantasies, obviously, but some have more in the way of stakes than others. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the stakes are all in the portal world, except for the worry that the characters, especially Edmund, might die. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, nothing much appears to be at stake at all. There are brief episodes of slight danger, but they're all "learning experiences," and there's no real crisis even in Narnia, just Caspian's oath. It's kind of a yawn.

In the movie of VDT, they fix this by having a crisis that's killing (maybe) people in the kingdom, and that they have to solve. The solution involves the collection of some fairly random plot tokens, but it's much more engaging than the book. (The character development of Eustace is much better done, too.)

It still doesn't affect Earth or England at all, but it's engaging, more than the book is (and I'm one who generally prefers books to movies).

The book with the highest Earth-England stakes is the prequel, The Magician's Nephew, in which Diggory hopes to get fruit from the Land of Youth to heal his dying mother. I made the mistake of reading it first, and it was pretty stupid. It's even stupider when you realize that he's just using it for a lame-ass explanation of things like the Lamppost and the White Witch, which really, really don't need explaining IMO.

SO: Stakes. If the stakes are engaging, they don't have to be connected to the real world. And even some fairly dire real-world stakes won't save an ill-conceived or poorly-executed book.

Can we play "true but misleading spoilers"? Here's mine for Narnia: Gur bar punenpgre jub qravrf Aneavn naq cergraqf vg'f nyy n puvyqvfu tnzr vf gur bayl bar jub fheivirf gur obbxf. Rirelbar ryfr qvrf.

Regarding vampires, I think the idea that silver affects vampires is just a silly mistake. It's been retconned depending on the origin theory of vampires (one of the silliest: Judas was the first vampire, the Thirty Pieces of Silver are the reason silver is cursed for vampires).

I've seen at least one series where photography on film didn't show vampires, but digital photography did. It was one of the vampire-detective series, but I can't remember which one (there are several). Perhaps because of silver-nitrate film?

(Did you know that silver-nitrate film was invented in the east in the early middle ages? They noticed its photoreactive properties, but didn't have cameras. In the west we had cameras but no film.)

#787 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 01:45 PM:

Argh. The Narnia part was supposed to be in the Portal Fantasy thread. Reposting there, with apologies.

#788 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 03:49 PM:

nerdycellist @780, I am in deep sympathy with you re: noisy critters. The bedroom I am renting, and in which the cats and I therefore abide for the nonce, is upstairs in front--alongside the front door--while my landlady and her spouse have their bedroom downstairs in back. (As best I can figure, based on the fact my room is on "ground" level with the garage, upslope if you will, while the lower floor is on ground level downslope.)

All of which is leading to I have no idea how audible the cats' shenanigans are to the landpersons and two of the furballs were on a tear last night. Not their loudest, I don't think, but still--it's a convenient living situation at the moment, and so far they aren't giving me a "have all but one cat out of here by X, or you ALL have to leave" deadline, and I hope to avoid cat noise leading to a deadline.

Love them, SO glad to be in the same room with them and them NOT in cages at the vet's, but still, WTF cats??!?!!?

#789 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 03:52 PM:

Open threadiness: In the Pacific Northwest, we often have glorious summers — very little rain, not too hot, not humid. This is our consolation for grey, dark, soggy fall, winter and spring. I often hear people say, "Oh, but it's not like it rains hard all that time. It's mostly just a mist that you don't even need an umbrella for1"

This is post is just to say Do No Believe These Liars.

True, the rain doesn't pour down every day for months on end (except in the rain forest along the coast), but it's often worthy of an umbrella. It's been pouring the last few days, as shown by .

#790 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 03:54 PM:

.. as shown by Ward Cunnigham's rain gauge.

#791 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 04:11 PM:

Apropos of I'm not quite sure what, if anything... I have located the nearest walking-distance branch of Chain Coffee Shop Named for a Fictional Character (not sure if their name might be a Word of Power at the mo') near my current digs, and have spent many pleasant hours there. Just now, at the counter to pick up my coffee, I happened to glance at a guy who was similarly waiting and noticed he was wearing a midnight-blue brocade vest. This not being something I see often, and midnight blue being one of my favorite colors, I said, "Love your vest!" as I went past him. He looked startled but pleased, thanked me, and I set my stuff down on my table preparatory to freshening up.

When I came out of the room appointed for that purpose and went to the doctor-your-beverage bar, he was there, and in the brief time I'd been out of sight, he'd created a paper rose out of a napkin, which he handed to me with a grin, and then off he went, saying over his shoulder, "And it even smells real!"

And it does!

#792 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 05:48 PM:

Syd - I've lived in many apartment buildings and never once been disturbed by the skitterings of kitties. I've also not noticed any particularly loud meow-ings. Even at their most galumphing, they tend to be stealthy little predators - at least compared to a loud, barky thing. Ardala's in the back again. She's barked a couple of times to let me know she's not best pleased to be separated from the Human, but I think on the whole she finds it a relief. Her x-pen, like many dogs' crates, is her safe space. I'll reintroduce her when my friend comes over to help me set up. At least then my friend can occupy the dog while I activate the Scary Vacuum Monster.

Haven't gotten a whole lot of RSVPs, though whether that's due to lack of RSVP protocol or people not coming I have no idea. All I know is that I'm making about two gallons of mai tais and I hope I don't have leftovers! Anyone in SoCal want to hang out with a bunch of drunk episcopalian choristers?

#793 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 07:56 PM:

Syd @788: The only time my neighbors have noticed my cats (past or current) is when both my and the neighbors' kitchen windows were open. Yes, this is an old building with thick walls, but apparently one double-glazed window is enough to keep the sound in, or out.

As nerdycellist says, cats tend to be stealthy little predators, and they're small: even if they aren't making the serious effort to be quiet, a cat doesn't have the mass to go *thump* on the floor the way a large dog can.

#794 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 09:26 PM:

Vicki: Agree on cat quietness, but I think it is the stealthiness rather than the mass.

My parents' house had possums in the roof (the cute but evil brushtail possum, not the horrible dead rat things in the US). They're about the same mass as cats, but you could definitely hear them galloping about on the ceiling.

#795 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 10:39 PM:

Re cats overhead: if they're having an attack of the dashabout, it's definitely possible to hear them overhead. When I had a 2-story condo in Nashville, my now-ex and I would occasionally look up and say, "I thought cats were supposed to be light-footed!" as the Herd of Thundering Elephants went by upstairs. Mileage obviously varies, but I wouldn't worry unless somebody says something. They are not as loud as small children overhead.

#796 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 11:09 PM:

Hey, look! The comment ID numbers have gone up an order of magnitude!

#797 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 11:16 PM:

In the good news/bad news department ... I just made my final visit to my (late) grandmother's house to collect what I want of her remaining stuff. I wish I'd had more lead time and could have done it on a more convenient-to-my-schedule day, but it's done.

Aside from an assortment of somewhat random-seeming items☂, what I took were photos and documents of family-historian interest, since I am that in my generation.

I am one of the last members of the family to go through the house and dibs stuff, and it amazes me what nobody else bothered to/cared to take, including tintypes of my great-great-great-grandparents in their marriage clothing. They may have purposely left them for me, but still -- the thrift store is being called to haul away anything left in two days.

I'm very glad I took the extra time (however little I could spare it today, for a variety of reasons) to go through every corner, every closet, every drawer, because I kept finding random shoved stashes of VERY old photographs. Like, every woman in them is clearly corseted, old. Many of these collections of photos merely put into plastic grocery bags *shudder*. Additionally, in the very bottom of one of her drawers, under a few folded sweaters, I found an enormously large-format print of my parents' wedding photo. They divorced acrimoniously about 33 years ago, so it's sort of heartwarming and also weird that she kept it ... and hid it.

I also found a sizable cardboard (box originally used to package a 'Hatch' brand union suit of long underwear; really cool printed front on the box) that is completely full of really good-quality, well-preserved photos ... of people that I have NO IDEA who they are.

Jesus wept, as it were. At least, he would if he were a family historian.

When I finally get around to doing The Scanning Project, I can show the unknowns to the oldest still-extant members of the family, I suppose. If they're still alive by then. And if those individuals recognize the photos. Also, I didn't look at them in detail (see above: no time today), just to figure out what to save, what to leave; it's possible that when I do scan all the ID'ed photos I may start recognizing some faces in the unknown shots. I hope so.

I'm still glad I saved them from being thrown out. Even if they are simultaneously exhilarating (awesome historical photos!!) and frustrating.

One of the unlabeleds has always been on my grandmother's wall (in a succession of houses), and I'm very familiar with it ... but don't know who it is. It turns out to be photographically printed/reproduced directly onto a ceramic disc -- very cool! Many generations of my family were, apparently, obsessed with Awesome New Photo Tech. Another photo, one of the few framed without glass in front of it (ARGH ARGH be careful when packing to not scratch), is printed directly on a metal plate.

☂ Including a rolling-but-stops-when-you-stand-on-it stool, a kid-size chair and some small toys for Beka, a few individual books, some hand towels (also used for padding on other items), a full set of 15x15 dominoes, and a tall metal balance-bars scale that formerly lived in my grandma's medical office for decades, to give an idea of scope. I only took things that were (a) sufficiently awesome or useful, (b) small and I knew right where they'd live/how I'd use 'em, and (c) would have been moderately to very expensive to purchase ourselves in a few years when we decided we wanted one.

#798 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2012, 11:40 PM:

Paul A.@796: Looks like P.J. Evans got #999999 (on the "O Tannenbaum" thread) and #1000000 is not available in the "New Back Threads" listing -- I guess that most likely it was spam caught by the gnomes.

#799 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 06:43 AM:

Elliott Mason #797: Regarding unknown photos, my stepmother still has an "Other People's Ancestors" wall decorated with fancy-frame Old Photos she and Dad got from tag-sales and auctions. (The family photos are on a couple of other walls.) Of course, your elder family members may well remember if your grandmother did that sort of thing.

#800 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 06:50 AM:

still having coffee...

#801 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 10:02 AM:

My grandmother had a box o mostly-unlabeled photos. (One of the labeled ones was a Shorthorn cow named Collynie Belle.)

#802 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 10:06 AM:

I can't speak to cats overhead, but squirrels have amazingly thumpy little feet, and they're much smaller. On the other hand, they're scampering around the attic space, which has no flooring.

#803 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 11:23 AM:

Mary Aileen @ #802

You need to get the squirrels out of your attic as they are a destructive pest and have been known to chew through electrical insulation and cause fires.

They're rats with fluffy tails and good PR.

#804 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 01:28 PM:

Since 11/11 is coming up, let me ask the this knowledgeable assembly to recommend a freely-screenable* film of any sort on Wilfred Owen particularly, or on the WWI poets generally.

#805 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 01:34 PM:

Cadbury Moose (803): Thanks, but the situation is under control. The major squirrel infestation was last winter, not now. (It was the final straw that killed my lingering desire for a house.) The pest control guy trapped and evicted them, and the roofer plugged the holes. We did have one get in again a few weeks ago, but the roofer came back and repaired that breach as well.

#806 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 01:57 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer @804: A quick google on "Wilfred Owen video" pulled up this short (6 minute) video -- did you want something longer?

#807 ::: older ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 02:11 PM:

janetl (789)-- I grew up in Oregon, manymany years ago. I never owned a raincoat, nor an umbrella, nor did anyone else I knew, until I was an adult. At some point the weather changed, and rain, as we now know it, was introduced.

Before that, it was always the mist, as described above. But it was a *lot* of mist. It was enough to keep things famously green, and was said to be especially good for the complexion -- the famous "Oregon sunshine".

I'm not surprised that people are still saying it -- I was involved for years with zines, and before that with small alternative schools. They were listed in all kinds of places, and I learned that a listing Never Dies ...

#808 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 03:04 PM:

Paul A. @796 & David Goldfarb @798: Oh crud! I was just about to ask if anyone else using the mlcommenttagger script noticed it broke in an odd manner yesterday. While I can no longer precisely recall which post it broke on, the timing is sufficiently close to give me a strong suspicion it can't handle seven-digit comment IDs.

#809 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 03:36 PM:

Goodbye, George McGovern. Thanks for trying.

#810 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 03:56 PM:

GlendaP #808: My instance is now marking comments read as soon as they appear, rather than waiting until the next time. Is that what you're talking about? I think it did start yesterday or thereabouts.

#812 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 04:31 PM:

Glenda @808, Dave @810: Mine is too, which is annoying--the black-on-gray for "comments [it thinks] I have already seen" is harder for me to read than black-on-white. So the script isn't just useless, but mildly worse than useless.

#813 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 04:38 PM:

Syd @788: A cartoon of a woman with cats, talking to her friend: "My cats are more WTF than LOL."

#814 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 05:30 PM:

Dave Harmon @810 & Vicki @812: Yes. When I first saw it yesterday afternoon, each thread had one or two comments properly in white with the following comments in grey. Since then, they're all grey.

#815 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 05:35 PM:

Cats overhead: The only time I've known someone to be annoyed by the cat upstairs there were two factors:
1. The floor was not carpeted.
2. The people gave the cat a large glass marble every morning, when they arose at 6am. I think the floors of those apartments were linoleum over concrete, and there weren't dropped ceilings with acoustical tile to muffle things a bit. The sound of that hard glass marble rolling on the hard floor carried through the ceiling very clearly. The cat would bat it about a bit, then ignore it for awhile, then pounce again...

With carpet, most cat movement isn't audible. The occasional mad dash with leaps and bounds can be loud, but in any cats of mine, these have been very brief.

My current cats include one who imagines himself a Mighty Hunter. Note that he's not allowed outside, and has consequently never stalked anything larger than a house fly. He will carry his favorite toy into the bedroom, stand over it, and yowl his fierce cry. I don't know why his hunting dominance only needs to be proclaimed shortly after I go to bed, but that pattern was true of his predecessors, too.

*I just looked it up, and it is called a Moppy Kickeroo. Which I suppose is as good a description as any. I believe the important factors are that it contains catnip, it makes crinkly noises, and it's big enough that you can simultaneously bite it with your enormous teeth and disembowel it with the vicious claws on your mighty back feet. Roar!

#816 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 05:49 PM:

re: it's possible that when I do scan all the ID'ed photos I may start recognizing some faces in the unknown shots. I hope so.

When I spent time going through (mostly my grandmother's) photos, gaps filled. Family members who were initially uninterested, if not actively discouraging (if they didn't care, why should I?), also added bits.

Those who remain unrecognized can be treasured for their clothes/hairstyles - or interesting mustaches, goatees, Imperials, sideburns, etc.

#817 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 05:58 PM:

I reached a milestone yesterday -- I have now taken more than 10,000 pictures with my little pocket digicam, in a little less than 4 years; it was an early Yulegift from my partner in 2008.

I've been thinking about getting a replacement, not because it's wearing out, but simply because you can get so much more functionality for the same form factor and price now, and I use it enough that upgrading seems worthwhile. I'd be looking for something around the same size (3.5" x 2" by a little under 1" thick), at a price point of $200 or less. I don't think I need to spec out features, because the ones I use most are all going to be standard. Recommendations?

#818 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 06:49 PM:

The only time a cat woke me, she was walking across my face.

She kept her claws retracted.

#819 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 07:44 PM:

What Tom @ #809 said.

I know he never had much of a chance back in '72, but every time I heard an interview with McGovern I'd feel a pang of "What Might Have Been" pain.

* * *
Well. Unless something really good comes up within a few days, I'm going to be making an offer on a townhouse. Wish me strength.

#820 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 08:05 PM:


Our senior cat has, since the adoption of our junior cat two years ago, completely divorced my husband. Before the late elder kitty passed, current senior cat was His Cat; now she won't suffer his presence. Not only this, but she has decided I am the grandest most magnificent thing since canned tuna, and wants to be in bodily contact with me at all times.

This includes sleeping where I sleep. I wake up most days with a face full of furry cat ass, because senior cat wants the pillow. Even if I'm using it at the time.

#821 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 08:37 PM:

Best of luck, Stefan! May the results be wonderful.

#822 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2012, 10:42 PM:


I want to make a Jacob's Ladder in the form of a ray gun. I've already determined that a stun gun doesn't have high enough amperage - should I buy a kit, or start from scratch? Can I run one off of regular batteries, or will I need something closer to a car battery?

And of course the big problem is that the last time I did electronics I was using solder-free breadboards in high school, so I'm going to need to learn as I go.

(I may have already asked this, and will probably continue to ask about once a year until I actually complete the project. Sorry about that.)

#823 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 12:14 AM:

Abi@716, re stuffed crocodiles and police -
During the 80s and early 90s I worked in a large glass box in the middle of a field in New Jersey, which had a large pond in front. Since we were on the Atlantic Flyway, there were geese that visited, and increasing numbers of them stuck around, so driving or biking past the front entrance meant you had to avoid geese. At one point our company president moved his office to our building, and got tired of being held up by stubborn vicious fauna when he arrived, so he told somebody to Do Something about them. Can't live with them, can't shoot them, so one day we came to work and found the front pond occupied by a few dozen styrofoam swans. Apparently, geese and swans don't get along, so the geese stayed away for a couple of weeks. A few days later I was talking with the building security manager about other things, and he said he'd had to go out the next morning in the company rowboat and retrieve the rubber octopus and killer whale that had joined the tacky swans. "They're sitting in my office closet, in case anybody wants to come and get them back."

By midwinter, the pond had frozen over, and the geese had kicked the heads off most of the swans and decided it was more comfortable to sit on them than to stand around on the ice. But the octopus and killer whale were still sitting unclaimed in the back of Ray's closet.

#824 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 01:12 AM:

Lee @ 817: I can't suggest a camera. I haven't looked at them lately. My first question to anyone talking about buying a camera is whether they're sure that their phone (or their next phone) won't do a good enough job, and spare them carrying two things.

My last new camera was probably 4 years ago. I was startled by how much better the color quality was, but the real win was optical image stabilization. With my previous camera, I'd often get a warning that the light was too low, and if I took it anyway, the picture was likely to be blurry. With stabilization, the newer camera could take pictures in much lower light (same longer exposure, but not ruined by my wobbly hands to the same degree).

#825 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 01:51 AM:

Lee @ 817 : My favorite little cameras are whatever Canon currently makes in that formfactor (the roughly-the-size-of-a-deck-of-cards, costs ~$200). Three labmates of mine, back in Nashville, got identical ones and loved them.

In other local news, I'm taking my Oral Qualifying Examination to become a PhD Candidate on Tuesday morning (I'm a grad student now; if I pass, I can advance to candidacy). Kind of scary; I've been studying for two months straight... and I want my life back. My Amazing Girlfriend has hers two weeks after I do, and we want our lives back so badly...

#826 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 02:33 AM:

Carol Kimball @816 said, in re my old-unlabeled-photos stash:Those who remain unrecognized can be treasured for their clothes/hairstyles - or interesting mustaches, goatees, Imperials, sideburns, etc.

There are quite a lot of shots that are simply beautiful portraiture, for sure. And one of the bags of Really Really Old ones includes enough other items to assure me that the Ellsworth County (KS) Historical Society is going to be getting a full set of high-res scans once I have some, as all the indications are that they pertain to residents of Wilson right after the turn of the century, or a little earlier.

Heck, the Historical Society might have labeled photos of some of the same people, which would help. If not, I'm sure they wouldn't turn down the donation.

#827 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 08:19 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe: best of luck to you both!

My husband and I got snowed in at my brother's house while he was studying for his oral prelims. It was kind of like sharing a cave with a bear. So I have some inkling of the stress levels the two of you must be dealing with!

#828 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 10:02 AM:

A rather interesting piece on moderation here:

#829 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 10:06 AM:

Hyperlocal news...
Seen yesterday on a car's back windshield.

"Go X-men - Jason"

#830 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 12:27 PM:

janetl, #824: Thanks, but there are two problems with that. First off, I don't have a smartphone and don't intend to have one anytime soon. Secondly, my experience with using other people's smartphones-with-camera is that they're clunky and awkward by comparison -- not "the tool for the job" for my purposes. I haven't had any issues with carrying my little digicam; it has its own case on the strap of my belt-pack.

Now that I've thought about it, there is one feature I want to call out: quick response-and-recovery time. The one thing about my current camera that's sometimes annoying is that there's about a second's delay between pushing the button and the picture being taken, and several seconds for it to reset for the next picture -- I can't just go "snap, snap, snap" and get a series of closely-spaced shots. This isn't a huge issue (and I've gotten pretty good at knowing when to press the button to get the shot I want), but there are times when it's a pain.

Benjamin, #825: Thanks for the recommendation, and best of luck to both of you on your exams!

#831 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 12:59 PM:

Lila @ 827 and Lee @ 830: Thanks!

"Sharing a cave with a bear" is kind of an awesome play on words - we're at UC Berkeley, which has a bear as a mascot...

#832 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 02:43 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 767, that lifehacks post is wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

#833 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 03:16 PM:

#817: I'll second the Canon nomination. You really can't go wrong with their pocket cameras.

I have two cameras of note. An "ancient" Nikon pocket camera I bought at Goodwill for $10, and a "faux DSLR" Fuji with a big 18x zoom lens and many features (bought reconditioned).

The pocket camera is my take-everywhere camera. It has a 3x zoom and 5 mp resolution. I wouldn't want to do fine nature photography with it, but it is a splendid jack-of-all-trades.

The Fuji tends to stay in the house. I use it to document projects or pictures of things I'm auctioning off. If I were visiting a natural wonder I'd take it with me.

#834 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 05:55 PM:

Holy crap. Speaking of cameras and photos... I keep an eye on my Flickr stats, and the usual pattern is 2-10 views per day unless I've posted new photos in the last couple of days, when it will spike up into the 100-200 range. There have been occasional flurries into the 400s when somebody posted a link in an active group.

Today... I have nearly 2,400 views, and 97% are from something marked as "Unknown Source", so I can't figure out what caused it. And it's a wide spread, not just my RenFaire pictures from the weekend -- a whole bunch of photos and videos, with none of them having more than 10 views each.

Anybody have speculations as to what's going on with this?

#835 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 06:14 PM:

#834: Aliens, sampling our culture before the K'q*heeeEEEEN Horde drops its memetic enforcement units on Thursday morning.

#836 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 06:41 PM:

Lee: Another Canon teeny-camera fan here--I got one in July, and I've been having a terrific time going snap-snap-snap with it.

#837 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 07:23 PM:

I am going to deeply embarrass myself and link to this picture to my digital camera accumulation:

More than half of these came from thrift stores. Two are such garbage that I wouldn't even bother re-donating them.

I've added once since I took this picture. Another Goodwill $5 special.

#838 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 07:52 PM:

shadowsong #822:

I want to make a Jacob's Ladder in the form of a ray gun. I've already determined that a stun gun doesn't have high enough amperage - should I buy a kit, or start from scratch?

Jacob's ladders propagate the arc by heat rising, the arc won't propagate horizontally. They are more about voltage than current, but the voltages and currents involved are quite dangerous. I have built one using a small neon sign transformer, which is high-voltage but limits the current once conduction starts, delayed slightly by the lag-time of the magnetics (this is what a ballast transformer does). To do a ray-gun you need to fake it. I've seen a version of the ladder done with small tubular filament bulbs. I've thought about doing one with little tubular flash bulbs like were/are(?) in throwaway film cameras. But you're not going to easily get that real traveling arc feel without a lot of work.

#839 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 08:33 PM:

hyperlocal knitting mystery:

Switching yarns usually leaves two tails to weave in, one from the old skein, the other from the new. But this time there are *three* tails! Where the heck could the third one have come from?

#840 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 08:49 PM:

Lee, you might check Consumer Reports for their pint-and-shoot camera ratings. They have information on how long it takes for the shutter to trip after you push the button, and how long after you turn it on until you can actually take a picture.

#841 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 09:59 PM:

shadowsong, jnh #838: If air motion is the key, how about enclosing the arc in a tube with a fan-driven air stream?

If this has the desired effect, then it could also have the additional benefits of providing control of the speed of the arc's motion, cooling for the electronics, and the necessary safety (by enclosing the electrodes and arc).

(I tried to see if someone already did this, but the Google results for Jacob’s Ladder fan aren't very relevant…)

(IANAElectricalEngineer. This is uninformed speculation. Don't follow this suggestion without appropriate review.)

#842 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 11:37 PM:

I've been happier with the (one) lumix camera point and shoot that we've had than the 3 canon ones prior to it. The battery on the lumix lasts a long time, long enough for us to forget how long it's been since it was charged. The canons (which all used AA batteries) would tend to complain about the batteries within a few shots, especially with my NiMH rechargables (which were totally solid for other uses, like in flashes). The enloop style low discharge ones worked a bit better, but they never had the life of the little, expensive, proprietary one in the lumix.

#843 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 11:42 PM:

MLCommentTagger script: Even though I have no Javascript experience, I put my rusty coding skills to use poking at it. I found the problem: the comment numbers are being handled as strings, so that '999999' compares higher than '1000000'.

I have a working version of the script with a rather kludgey fix. I'm sure someone who knows what they're doing could do it much more elegantly, but I would be happy to share mine. Email tyraqncsrvssre (ROT13) at the place of the google.

#844 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2012, 11:48 PM:

Potential New Cat has now decided that I am an acceptable sort of seat that can administer head scritching. It only took 15 minutes or so to go from hiding behind my under desk computer to sitting on my lap.

Her current owner wants to relocate her away from two friendly, but very high energy, small dogs that like to chase her. We are looking for a cat companion for Daphne, who's never lived in a house without other cats until we lost Dougal a couple of months ago. So far though, Daphne is not impressed.

#845 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 12:00 AM:

HLN: Area man's former boss emails him to say his work needs a tech writer, asks area man for resume. Area man sends it.

Area man actively solicits good thoughts, prayers, and appropriate magic.

#846 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 12:01 AM:

eric @844: Do you have experience with introducing a new cat into the household? Would you like some tips, or would you like to find your own way (which will very likely work just fine)?

#847 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 12:12 AM:

Happy to do what I can, Xopher. I've got my Quals in the morning, but I'll do what I can.

#848 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 12:24 AM:

Xopher, fingers crossed for you.

#849 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 01:25 AM:

Prayers from here, Xopher, and many good wishes.

#850 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 01:33 AM:

Good luck, Xopher -- and Benjamin, too.

#851 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 01:38 AM:

Good thoughts sent, Xopher, and strong good wishes.

#852 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 02:14 AM:

Xopher @845, Benjamin @847:

I'll say a word for you both.

#853 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 02:24 AM:

Tom: Thanks, I think we've got a plan for the integration. Get PNC comfortable with us and the house by staying in one closed room for a few days (my office, it's the only door that can be kept reliably closed, and there's no carpet to tear up from under the door). Include some visits from Daphne, as she likes this room too. My part in this is apparently scritcher in chief and human pincushion. It's already going better than the kitten's introduction, which involved them hiding under and behind the couch for the better part of a week, and getting hissed at by a not happy 18 lb cat. Those parts may be related.

Good Luck, Xopher. It's already a good sign when someone you've worked with asks you for your resume.

Benjamin, Good luck on your exams. Pretty soon it'll all be over, except for the reading, the research, and the writing, and the defense and that stuff.

#854 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 06:54 AM:

Xopher @ 845... Good thoughts on their way.

#855 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 07:48 AM:

Prayers for Xopher and for Benjamin

#856 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 08:55 AM:

Xopher and Benjamin: Words said. Good luck!

#857 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 09:39 AM:

Xopher: I give you what blessing I can. Go get 'em.

#858 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 10:44 AM:

Xopher #845/Benjamin #847: Best of luck.

#859 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 10:59 AM:

Xopher, Benjamin -- words said, energy sent -- and "May the Force be with you..."

#860 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 11:22 AM:

Xopher: good luck. Benjamin: good luck, with a bonus "if I can do it, you can do it."

#861 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 11:27 AM:

Xopher and Benjamin, may all go well.

#862 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 11:38 AM:

eric @842: The canons (which all used AA batteries) would tend to complain about the batteries within a few shots,

I bought rechargeable batteries (Duracell, I think) at the computer store when I bought my camera. Had a devil of a time with this problem. Finally got sick of it, and went down to the redoubtable McGuckin's, and they put me onto Rayovac Hybrids. Haven't had a lick of trouble since.

#863 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 11:41 AM:

Xopher and Benjamin, onward and forward to success!

#864 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 01:11 PM:

Xopher, Benjamin, and Amazing Girlfriend, I wish you all the best of luck!

#865 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 01:23 PM:

eric @853 -- sounds as if you have it well in hand. We've been integrating a 16 yr old male cat into a household of 4 mature (8-11 yr old) females, and it sounds as if you're using a very similar technique. It takes time, and it seems to work pretty well.

Benjamin and FG -- sounds as if you're on track, and ready to go. Knock 'em dead!

#866 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 02:45 PM:

#839 ::: Mary Aileen

hyperlocal knitting mystery: [...] *three* tails! Where the heck could the third one have come from?

Did you do a long-tail cast on by using both ends of a ball? - that's given me three and confusion. Photos front and back?

#867 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 02:47 PM:

Xopher, I've been throwing fond thoughts into the aether for you this morning anyway, making your tofu "foie gras".

So, general good wishes to all and adding myself to the pile on(s), specifically.

#868 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 02:52 PM:

And I've passed my Qualifying Exam - my committee has things they want me to do going forward as a graduate student, but that's fine. I passed.

#869 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 03:05 PM:

Carol Kimball (866): No, it was just the normal way of starting a new skein when the old one ran out. I did have a bit wrap itself around the needle so that it looked like an extra stitch. A tiny thread snapped when I pulled that out, but if I somehow managed to break the yarn in the process, there should have been four ends not three. (I think...) And all the tails were firmly attached when I tugged on them. No pictures available, I'm afraid; I already wove in the ends. ::shrug:: It's a mystery.

Benjamin Wolfe (868): Congratulations!

#870 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 03:57 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ #868: Hooray!

#871 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 07:44 PM:

Benjamin@868: Congratulations!

(My orals committee told me that I was a trifle weak on genre theory. I agreed with them and solemnly promised to amend the fault going forward. Which was, of course, a great big fib; I don't think I gave genre theory another moment's thought for roughly three decades.)

#872 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 08:03 PM:

Xopher: prayers and best wishes for you.

Benjamin: Yay!

#873 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 08:37 PM:

Benjamin, congratulations (and best wishes for the next stage)!

Yesterday's APOD, for those who may have missed the Very Large Vehicle being moved.

#874 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 09:31 PM:

Please pray, send healing energies, think good thoughts -- we are a diverse group here -- for Katie Morton, who is receiving a new heart tonight. Katie is a young mother, with a new baby. she is a fan and SCA member. She is always smiling.

#875 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 09:54 PM:

Haven't been on since that last...thanks everyone, and retroactive good wishes for Benjamin. Now, congratulations to Benjamin.

#876 ::: Xopher HalfTongue is with gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 10:06 PM:

Ellipses, maybe?

#877 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 10:09 PM:

Xopher: Good juju being wafted your way.

Re: Lifehacks. Some of these I even figured out for myself. Why didn't it occur to me that they were tips?

Re: the unlabeled. I have a box or two of completely unlabeled family photographs, tintypes, salt prints, and daguerrotypes. A source at the George Eastman House said I could probably scan or photograph them without them instantly turning black. I need to get some copied that way so I can send them to my youngest aunt, who may have an idea.

Re: particle on fandoms. Driving home, I turned the radio on in the middle of All Things Considered, and they were talking about Don McNeill's Breakfast Club. I lit up inside as the memories from the clips they were playing came back — right to my spine. All the segments and regular spots of the show that I used to hear every morning on Mom's radio in the 60s, all the way up to the minute of quiet organ music and Don's wish that we might all have a moment of silent prayer, "each in his own words, each in his own way: pray for a world united in peace." And then, of course, the announcer came on and said the words that meant Don was dead, and I wasn't prepared for it at all and my eyes filled up with tears right there at the light at Warwick and J. Clyde Morris Blvds.

#878 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2012, 10:13 PM:

Healing power to smiling mom,* send, send, send. OM TARE TUTARE TURE SVAHA.

*An it be her own will.

#879 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 12:43 AM:

Xopher: if you're the man for the job, I hope you get it.

In re recent TNH particle: maybe a bit too contemptuous of Facebook? (I don't read widely on Facebook; I have about 100 friends connected through greater fan circles.) I'm not a great fan of Facebook as a source for eloquent, well-reasoned rhetoric, but I occasionally try to provide something along those lines when a friend (or friend of a friend) appears to be venturing into territory that feels sloppily unpleasant.

To me, that's part of what fandom is about. And I regard my participation in Facebook as an extension of participation in the classic fandom some of us were once part of. I suppose that for people who consume more of it than I do, that link may have more relevance. (For me, it's still more like browsing through a fanzine letter column, where contributors are known friends. Don't feed trolls is still a good working policy, to me. I don't like to put down Facebook, itself, as a troll-fest -- although I share common qualms about it as a corporate entity.)

#880 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 01:06 AM:

Xopher, good-job mojo is go!

Additional mojo of the passing-qualifying-exams sort for The Amazing Girlfriend, should she wish it; and of the health-and-healing variety for smiling mom, should she also wish it.

#881 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 06:46 AM:

My birthday yesterday went reasonably well.... I had a nice breakfast with my sister, and we got to catch up with each other's lives without either of us having to Dash Off Somewhere. Then I found that the Obama campaign had brought in Bruce Springsteen for a free mini-concert in the afternoon. :-)

I'd had the Cake Party with family a few days ago, because Mom is at an art retreat this week. Nice little lobster dinner w/ parents and sister's family... my younger nephew's card was headlined "See the Amazing David Perform" -- when you opened it, his cut-out drawing of me could flip around a string "wire". Yep, that kid's a budding inventor alright. (He's also doing gymnastics, which is why he had me doing them.)

#882 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 08:00 AM:

Tracie @ #874, prayers, tears and hope from here. Please keep us posted.

#883 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 09:41 AM:

re 878: The reason I increasingly have hidden posts from Facebook friends who put out a lot of political comments is that it is very quickly evident that the purpose of these statements is subcommunity reinforcement, and not any kind of actual dialogue. You aren't actually supposed to engage such posts; you're supposed to "like" them or otherwise make approving noises. It's way too close to telling racial jokes at parties, with the insinuation that we're here among friends and can thus speak the Truth. I won't be that kind of captive audience.

#884 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 10:01 AM:

C., I was freaked out by your comment "re 878" until I realized a renumbering had taken place, and the comment you're referring to is currently 879.

#885 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 01:55 PM:

Does anyone else occasionally, or often, find reading The Onion to be incredibly sad?

#886 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 02:37 PM:

John A Arkansawyer, yes, and I have the same reaction to The Daily Show, too.

#887 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 03:52 PM:

TNH's Indigestion particle:

Sadly, the rumor that Cervantes mentions Orca-Cola in Parte Primera y Segunda del Ingenioso Hidalgo D. Quixote de la Mancha
turns out not to be true.

#888 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 04:09 PM:

Sometimes the Onion makes me angry by making jokes that misguided people could take as true and act upon with violence.

And we know people are at least that stupid. Remember the town whose people hit the streets to keep a convention of pediatricians from meeting there? "I don't see why those people should have a convention at all."

The Daily Show, not so much. What makes me sad about TDS is the stupidity they're talking about and the blatant lies told by Faux News and other branches of the GOP.

#890 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 04:46 PM:

Gnomed again. One link to a respectable blog.

Whole wheat spaghetti with shitake mushrooms and prima donna cheese?

#891 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 05:13 PM:

HLN: Voted early at lunchtime today. (Believe it or not, this is not going to be a political post.)

I really like that my county uses the kind of ballots where you fill in ovals next to your choice. I always derived a strange sense of satisfaction from filling in bubbles on standardized tests, and I derive the same strange satisfaction from filling in bubbles on my ballot. It just feels so tidy.

After so many years of programming from school standardized tests that one must only use Number 2 pencils to fill in bubbles, it feels very transgressive to use the black pens provided in the voting booths. But that just adds to the fun for me.

And then they gave me a sticker. Yay!

The "I Voted" sticker also got me free pizza from one of the groups tabling outside the student center. Unexpected bonus!

In other election-related news, you too can have fun with data nerdery. North Carolina publishes voting statistics every day, and the Civitas Institute have put together quite a nice graphical interface to the raw data. It starts out with statewide numbers. You can click on pretty much anything to drill down into the data in different ways. Very cool. (I'm aware that the Civitas Institute is partisan, but their voting-stats tool is not.)

#892 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 05:15 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe #868: Congratulations. That's a giant hurdle jumped.

#893 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 05:25 PM:

Random: the German word for 'famine' is apparently 'Hungersnot'. That's not hung-ger-snot, much as it looks like it, but hoong-airs-note ("dire need of hunger"). Childishly giggling anyway.

#894 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 06:25 PM:

Random earworm:

do doo be-do-do


#895 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 06:39 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 894, you made me go find this...

#896 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 06:43 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @868: Congrats; hope all is well going forward. Good luck for a similar outcome for your girlfriend.

Xopher: Good thoughts going your way.

Good thoughts for Katie as well.

#897 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 07:23 PM:

Cassy B (895): Yep!

#898 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 07:48 PM:

Re: shadowsong @#822:
"I want to make a Jacob's Ladder in the form of a ray gun."

Dang, sounds like a fun project!

jnh @#838 covers the main bits - traditional Jacob's Ladders (like the one in my basement made from an old 15,000 volt neon sign transformer - big sized one, too) have the arc rising due to it's own heat, so they work vertically. "Faking it" with some tubular bulbs is an idea as well - more later.

Kevin Reid @#841 speculated about using a fan in a tube.

I would suggest building a bog-standard outlet-powered Jacob's Ladder as your first trial run, to get an idea of how it works, etc. and to get familiar with the hazards of the high voltage. Find a neon sign shop and ask if they have any older transformers - I got mine pretty cheap, and they basically gave me the metal box it mounts in, the glass insulators that mount into the top, and some lengths of wire. Mention what you want to do, and if they're cool, they'll be wowed and want to help.

The basic transformer-based circuit is no more involved to build than stripping wire and using some wire nuts. Use coathanger wire (sand off the enamel/paint/whatever) for the electrodes. You want about a 1/4" gap at the closest point between the two electrodes, less for smaller (lower voltage) transformers, more for bigger transformers. You'll have to play with it a bit - easy to bend the electrodes (with it off!!!).  

If you'd rather go the kit route, there are some I've seen that use an automotive 12V ignition coil for the transformer, and a circuit to run it. Might have to solder the bits to the board, though.

Once you have a working bench model, you can try various tube/fan/etc. combos to see if you can get horizontal traveling sparks to happen. Experiment with SCIENCE!

A variation on the "fake it" idea that jnh offered: There are little toy "Plasma Globe" things around - the glass sphere with neat blue fronds waving around inside that track your hands when you touch the glass. They don't care what angle they are held at. Some are even USB powered - that's 5V DC, very low power too. Find a medium-sized one (say a 3"-5" globe) that runs off of a "wall wart" plug-in DC power supply, or batteries. Hack it open and disconnect the sphere. Hook up a tubular light bulb in place of the sphere - hook either or both of the screw base or the point at the bottom of the base to the output of the circuit where the sphere hooked up. Play around with different bulbs to see what effects you get. You should get a neat light show in the bulb. Any metal on the outside of the bulb will tend to draw the internal sparks, so you can either have the bulb tip open or make the bulb part of the raygun barrel and have a metal tip, which would tend to concentrate the sparks as heading towards the tip. A bit of trickery with a switch that connects or disconnects the metal tip to the rest of the body of the gun could allow you to switch between "random direction light show" and "directed at tip".

Have fun!

#899 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 08:11 PM:

Xopher: Best of luck.

Benajamin: Happy, happy, Joy, Joy.

#900 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 09:26 PM:

Thank you for your prayers, thoughts and energy. Keep 'em coming. Katie is out of her final surgery, new heart installed, failed hardware and backup defibrillator removed, and all closed up. Now the waiting and healing.

Katie suffered a heart attack while delivering her new baby (who is doing fine). After months of hospitalization and rehab, she was released, only to have her ventricular assist device fail days later. Miraculously, a donor heart was found almost immediately. Prayers and thanks to the donor and their family for this gift.

#901 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2012, 10:57 PM:

cajunfj40 @898:

i was considering going the plasma globe route once the whole "heat rising" problem was pointed out, but wanted a plasma TUBE and they appeared to be prohibitively expensive. now i'm wondering why custom glass is blown for plasma globes instead of just using tubular lightbulbs.

do you think i could swap in ANY tubular lightbulb? i wonder what a plasma globe made with a blacklight would look like...

#902 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 12:01 AM:

What makes me sad when reading The Onion is the occasional (maybe not all that occasional) stories that aren't funny, just sad, very sad, intentionally sad, and often horrible.

Here's an example. I don't think that's failed humor; the sadness is deliberate.

It brings two things to mind: The improv sketch Martin Mull did on Saturday Night Live, and this piece by Sandra Bernhardt on the Richard Pryor Show about meeting a woman in the park.

#903 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 04:59 AM:

Here in the UK, and the EU, Amazon has been playing fast and loose with tax liabilities for years. Apart from Corporation Taxes (which are difficult to assess for multi-national businesses even without any trickery) they have been taking advantage of the rules on the VAT system. Please note that I am not an accountant, although I have a working familiarity of the VAT system from past business activity.

1: Books in the US are zero-rated. The way the system works, a publisher or bookseller can reclaim the VAT they pay on supplies to their business.

2: EU rules mean that VAT has to be paid on e-books, and similar electronic goods such as music and Apps, in the country they are delivered from. If they come from outside the EU, the VAT rate is that of the country they are delivered to.

3: Amazon delivers electronic goods from an EU country, Luxembourg, which charges a very low VAT rate.

The following is a summary of an article from The Guardian

4: Amazon have been forcing UK publishers to give them a discount on ebooks equal to the UK's 20% VAT rate. We don't know if they have been also reclaiming VAT as the system allows, because of the 3% VAT they charge on the sale, but I would expect them to run a competent accounting operation that would do this as a matter of course.

5: The EU commission has told the Luxembourg government that such a low rate is illegal under EU law. The legal to-and-fro isn't over yet, but Amazon might have to pay 15%

6: From my own experience of doing VAT on zero-rated products, Amazon's reported behaviour could very well attract the attention of auditors. And they'd want to check on the UK-based publishing companies. "We pay the VAT" discounts are discounts: the VAT is still levied on the reduced price. The reported contract is odd enough to attract checks.

#904 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 07:49 AM:

Pardon a trivial question (dashed off before I head to work):

I just bought an LED TV (brand Element) from the local Target - it was being offered with a slight discount.

It has one bad pixel in the upper left, which shows as a red spot on a dark field - on a light background it is less noticeable.

Is this a 'take it back to the store' defect? Is it 'you bought a cheap TV, you have to expect minor defects'? Are the odds that the next TV off the shelf will have a similar defect?

One of the reasons I'd prefer to buy something like this from a local store is that I could turn around and return it in person rather than deal with having to ship it back.

Look forward to some feedback, which I won't be able to review until after I get back home.

#905 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 12:31 PM:

re the make a bed diffraction: There is an oddity in it, which I understand the origin of (it makes the image more plainly, "ARMY", but the effect (to an old soldier) is unsettling.

The bed shown is of someone who died.

It's an old tradition, but you only show the U.S. on the blanket of a bed which isn't occupied. If someone dies, you remake the bed; the personal effects will remain until Graves Registration (or whomever has the responsibility in the local unit) collects them to be sent to the next of kin.

Honest, it was the first thing I noticed.

Now, speaking as someone who had beds you could bounce a quarter off of, the article is good, but most beds can't be made to do it, because the ability to tension the blanket isn't there.

1: The blanket has to be of a sort that can be made that taut (wool army blankets are good for that).

2: The bed has to able to let you set that much tension.

3: The bed has to be made so the tension can be maintained.

Army bunks have "S" shaped springs, which run side to side. We used those to set/anchor the tension.

Making a bed takes maybe three minutes (which includes, at least per every unit SOP I ever saw with Army bedding, an extra step... taking the other blanket and "casing the pillow", so that nothing which isn't blanket is showing. Learning how to make that work was the real trick).

Getting to bounce a quarter takes another 2-five minutes; after you have the knack.

Worrying that your drill sergeant wouldn't be satisfied... meant that everyone was sort of randomly tightening the blanket until mess call.

Because the drill was get up, make the bed, go to PT, come back, dress; perform barracks duties (latrine/bay/hallway/classroom cleaning) and tighten bunks.

Then it was chow. From there on out you usually didn't see your rack until after retreat, sometimes not until well after Tattoo, or even Taps (Reveille happened during PT, i.e. calisthenics).

If your bed didn't pass muster, you might have a note, you might find it spread all over the floor.

#906 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 01:40 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @902: I sometimes say that The Onion is one of the best short story zines out there right now, and that's one of the articles I think about when I say so.

#907 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 01:56 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 904: It usually depends on the store; I know most online retailers require more than one bad pixel to authorize a return, but I've no idea what brick and mortar policies are. To a large degree, I would treat it as an accepted risk with a cheap TV (the Amazing Girlfriend and I have a cheap-but-huge Westinghouse ourselves - it has its quirks but does what we need).

On an unrelated topic: thank you everyone for the congratulations - it feels great to be done.

#908 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 05:56 PM:

Former boss called today, and we chatted. This isn't going to be a quick process, but BOY does it sound promising.

#909 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 06:21 PM:

Meanwhile, I'm a little freaked out by something else.

Many years ago, I wrote (well, sort of wrote) a poem. It was a channeling experience, where I felt as if ideas were being put into my head by someone else (specifically the Dark God). I then put them into words. When the poem was published (in a collection of material about the God) the attribution was "through [my real name]."

It was eventually published as a poster by some people I knew who ran an occult shop. After that, everyone assumed it was in the public domain and published it all over the web. I'm OK with that, though I wish they'd get the words right (they misname one of the gods pretty consistently, because of the font the poster was in).

I'm over all that. It's all background.

Today I was looking for some texts about Wicca for a friend, and Googled the poem. I discovered that not only has the Folk Process continued to...alter the poem (I'm being carefully neutral here) but someone adapted part of it as a song lyric!

That struck me as actually kind of cool. I looked up the group and played the song on YouTube...and unfortunately it's that kind of screamy super-metal, or maybe that counts as punk rock, where it sounds like the singer has been gargling Drano™. The lyrics were completely unintelligible.

Also, they seem to think it's Satanic or something. Frankly I'm insulted. (The group is something called Vörnagar if that means anything. Yeah, that's a heavy-metal umlaut. Another of their songs is called "Power Violence Holocaust.")

#910 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 06:37 PM:

@Xopher: I hope the job thang pans out, however long it takes.

The poem => poster => CULTURAL CLOUD => obnoxious misinterpretation deal . . . that would certainly weird me out.

#911 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 06:43 PM:

HLN: Man plans to fly (AA) from Miami to Tampa tomorrow about 9:00 am, weather permitting, to attend Necronomicon.

#912 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 06:50 PM:

AKICIML: On my laptop (running Mountain Lion, as opposed to the iMac which is just Lion) after the most recent update of Safari, it won't run Java applets. It just says "Missing plugin". I tried downloading and installing Java; I went to the Preferences pane and made sure that "enable Java" was on. No dice. The Java control panel doesn't seem to have anything useful either. Searching the web didn't find anything that helped. Anyone?

#913 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 07:22 PM:

Sign of the times:

A house I was looking at -- made an offer on, actually -- got turned into a rental. The owner had to relocate to London. I can't imagine feeling comfortable having such a large investment in others' hands an ocean and a continent away. Are rental management firms that reliable?

#914 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 07:47 PM:

Once more I am marking papers. The results of this are, shall we say, less than optimal.

"Women who did not necessarily attend church faintly were often suspected of practicing another religion that was not in god’s favor."

The same student also asked me to "Imagine how many women in today's society would be dead or shunned from a land if religion still ruled this country." I am having a hard time not thinking of her as Auntie Climax.

#915 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 08:03 PM:

Stefan Jones #913. I did that. It's not so much that I'm comfortable with it as uncomfortable with pricing it low enough to get a quick sale in the middle of a crash. I've got good tenants, and will probably try to sell when they leave.

#916 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 08:14 PM:

iamnothing (911): Have a good time at the con!

#917 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 10:08 PM:

Am packing for self for weekend trip to OVFF (I get to drive seven hours by myself! Each way! Wheeee!), and for kid for overnight sleepover at Gunga's.

Everything else I definitely NEEDED to get done by this weekend IS done, except loading the dishwasher, and some rearrangement in the spare room that I wanted to get done, but didn't NEED to.

Hip hip hooray and whee, I guess. So tired.

#918 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 11:18 PM:

Elliott, I hope you have a great time!

#919 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 11:20 PM:

912: David, did you find this?

The thread there suggests installing this version of Java.

#920 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2012, 11:58 PM:

No, I didn't find that. But it doesn't help. I tried installing that version of Java; I tried downloading and installing the Java Developer's Kit rather than just the Java Runtime Environment. None of it seems to make a bit of difference.

#921 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 01:36 AM:

re: Amazon

How long before somebody hits them with RICO?

#922 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 04:50 AM:

Mary Aileen @916 Thanks! It looks like there'll be a bit of rain.

#923 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 10:42 AM:

Elliott Mason @917 - Have fun. I was planning to go to OVFF right up until I saw the predictions for Hurricane Sandy, which seem to indicate that I'd be stuck in the Columbus airport for a day or more waiting for NYC airports to reopen (and that even if I left early Sunday it might be too late). I've decided discretion is the better part of valor, as much as I'll miss the singing.

#924 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 12:18 PM:

Anyone know a source for tool archeology? I just won an eBay auction that included an "E-Z Bendit Tool" from Ardor Mfg. Co. with no instructions, which the December 1958 Popular Science describes as "a $1.49 jig with curved guides for bending and crimping hangers for use on perforated hardboard." Doing a Google Search shows the auction I won that included it, the PS page, and another auction for one some time ago. Any suggestions as to where I might find an instruction sheet on how to use this thing? It's usefully marked "Pat." but with no patent number so I'm not sure how to come at it from that direction...

#925 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 01:15 PM:

When I was a kid, I found psychohistory mildly depressing. It seemed to imply that nothing I did would make any difference. (Yes, I should have realized it was just a science fictional notion.) I suspect that people who aren't depressed identify with Hari Seldon.

Later, I started a button business and concluded that while large organizations might have a lot of inertia, you actually could make decisions at the beginning of things.

More recently, I ran into the plausible idea from Nassim Taleb that people become less predictable as they become more numerous.

This seems reasonable to me-- if you have more people, they're more likely to invent things. The sf classics about prediction (Foundation, the Dorsai books) have weirdly slow technological innovation.

#926 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 01:38 PM:

Bruce #924: Any chance to get a photo of it? (I think my dad had one of those in his model-making tools, and if so I know how to use it.)

#927 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 02:39 PM:

HLN: area man very proud of his kids, who apparently aspire to be Jim. The almost-3-year-old decided to pretend he had been in an accident in his racecar, and had a broken arm. After transport in a bike trailer "ambulance" , he was examined by his 4-year-old sister, the aspiring "doctor who works on arms and legs", and by his 5-year-old brother, who said he had been in an accident, so he might have a concussion, and shone a flashlight in his eyes to check. (And then told his mother that Bill might have a concussion, because his eyes didn't change. It was noted that this exam was taking place outdoors, at noon, so the light was similar; this explanation was accepted.)

#928 ::: SamChevre has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 02:45 PM:

My intentions were amusing,
But the gnomes take much abusing,
Every day.

Spam from here and everywhither
Trolls and germs and worms that slither
Makes the talking wilt and wither,
Like an ass' bray.

But my intentions were amusing;
I have taken no abusing
Yet today.

#930 ::: albatross has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 03:02 PM:


#931 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 04:03 PM:

Bruce #924: Any chance to get a photo of it? (I think my dad had one of those in his model-making tools, and if so I know how to use it.)

#932 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 05:13 PM:

The BBC made several adaptions of M. R. James ghost stories with Robert Powell as the storyteller. One or two of them may be found on YouTube, and I commend to your attention "The Mezzotint".

The credits surprised me

#933 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 05:15 PM:

re 909: My wife gets occasional requests to record "Song of the Shield Wall" (lyrics by someone else here...). We are not sure whether some of these people are just tone-deaf, or whether years of unsupervised transmission among assorted medievalists have mangled it that badly, but the correspondence between what they sing and what she sings is disappointingly low.

#934 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 06:12 PM:

Well. My low-ball offer on a second townhowz was accepted within a couple of hours. I'm getting a house^H^H^H^H^Hdebt!

Of course, being a fan, I'm going to assume that there's something wrong. Not "termite" wrong, or "leaking roof" wrong, but "howling purple vortex of evil in pantry" wrong, or "Grave of Indian medicine man under slab" wrong.

#935 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 06:15 PM:

Stefan Jones @934, Congratulations! (Be sure to get a housing inspection; it may not catch the Portal to the Abyss in the crawlspace, but at least it should bring black mold or dry rot or bad wiring to your attention....)

#936 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 06:17 PM:

Open-threaded lightly political comment - I think the best take on things I've seen lately was in, of all places, the latest Vanity Card from Chuck Lorre, exec producer of The Big Bang Theory and other shows.

Vanity Card

#937 ::: Steve C has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 06:19 PM:

And I tried to escape notice....

#938 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 06:46 PM:

Stefan Jones (934): Congratulations! My your new home be all you hope and nothing you fear.

#939 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 06:47 PM:

me (938): The ohnosecond: May, not My.

#940 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 07:27 PM:

Stefan, congratulations! May any ghosts or vortices associated with your house be entirely benign.

#941 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 07:51 PM:

The inspection is on Monday. The mortgage folks take that seriously. I'm going to make the inspector earn his money, and maybe show me how I might cables to an antenna in an attic.

#942 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 07:52 PM:

Jim: sure, but the link is hellaciously long:

It's the one to the right on #13--the auction was for a Vinkemulder, and the E-Z Bendit came along for the ride.

#943 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 08:02 PM:

#936 ::: Steve C.

For what it's worth, I've read that there was a significant amount of chaos in Nazi Germany. Hitler didn't trust his government not to conspire against him, so he had competing agencies in charge of the same things. Is this accurate?

#944 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 09:57 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #943 -

I don't know. Hitler's war-making overshadows so much I have no idea of the competence of his government in other areas. In any event, a massive war is a recipe for chaos.

Still, I think Lorre's main point is valid. I think the US social and political framework is pretty solid. It doesn't change easily, and it's really big country with a lot of inertia. And it's big. There's still room, thank ghu, for a person to get lost in.

#945 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 10:11 PM:

Bruce #942

Okay, referring to this photo: E-Z Bendit Tool

Take some 3/16" aluminum wire. Push it straight in from the left, so the end fits in the little open-topped socket (beside the letter "E"). Bend the wire down, so that it forms a 90-degree bend.

Now, shift the wire so that the butt-end is still in that little socket but the rest of the wire extends up through the small gap along the top edge of the tool. Bend the wire to the left. This forms the two 90-degree bends that hook into the pegboard.

Now take your wire and decide if you want the bottom to be at a 90-degree angle, or be a curve. Use the right-hand end of the tool for this.

If you want your hook to stick straight out from the pegboard, lay it in the left-most groove (closest to the letter "L") and bend the wire.

If you want the bottom of your pegboard hook to curve, use the next opening and bend the wire around the semi-circular form.

You can get a very nice little upward pointing hook by laying the wire in the straight groove (with the Z bend to the bottom), then bending the wire to the right, and continuing to bend it around the right half of the semi-circle.

Cut off the wire when you're done bending it.

Heavy gloves help.

Search terms for more history on this tool include "hand tools for bending or shaping aluminum wire into hooks," application serial No. 59,591, filed September 26, 1958.

#946 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2012, 11:16 PM:

Jim: THANK YOU! That makes good sense, and explains what the little semi-circle on the back is: for forming smaller hooks. I'll get some wire and try it out.

#948 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2012, 01:15 PM:

For those who are interested, one of ST-TNG's few memorable episodes "Measure of a Man" will be shown in select theaters on November 29. This is the *restored* episode, with all the footage put back in that they had filmed but cut out because of TV's length restrictions, adding up to 75 minutes.

#949 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2012, 11:18 PM:

Question for the hivemind.

Barring a bad report from the house inspector, or a financial disaster that wipes out my down-payment fund, I'll be moving into a new (to me) home in mid December.

I've been in my current apartment for just short of eleven years.

Now, I have great respect for other's property, and I don't have a high opinion of folks who leave a mess, be it dog crap or a filthy apartment.

But . . . given my long tenancy, to what extent should I clean up things that will almost certainly be replaced?

* As I understand it, carpets in rentals get replaced every five years. The one in my carpet was not new when I moved in. I can see giving it a good vaccuuming . . . but shampooing and destaining?

* The linoleum in the kitchen would need replacing even if it weren't for the Flaming Wok Disaster of '05. It has dings and dents. Sweep it up, sure . . . but mop and wax?

* I know that the standard paint job has changed from Off White to a handsome warm light coffee. I'll certainly fill in the holes where print frames had hung . . . but do I wash the baseboards? Somehow clean up the dirty-water spatters where my dog Kira shook herself off?

I don't have much of a deposit to lose, but even if I wrote it off I'd like to know how much WORK I should be putting in, when I've also got a whole house to set up.

#950 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 12:30 AM:

In case anyone's wondering, the correct way to break up a dog fight is NOT to try and pry the aggressor's jaws off your pup's muzzle. On the plus side, Ardala is unharmed. On the minus side... well, it was only a $5 copay and a $20 antibiotic.
(the correct way is evidently to grab the aggressor's back legs and "wheelbarrow" him away.)

#951 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 12:48 AM:

#950: The one time Kira bit someone was when a guy tried to break up a fight. (His dog got jealous of Kira playing with her big "brother" dog.)

The guy was totally understanding. I asked him if we were OK, and he shrugged it off. ("Now I know why you're not supposed to break up a dog fight.")

That may have been the last time I took Kira to a dog park.

#952 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 12:49 AM:

Stefan @ 949

Are you on such terms with your landlord that you could draw up an agreement about what items you can ignore? For example, I agree with you about there being no point in shampooing/stain-lifting the carpets if they'r going to be torn out, but also agree that vacuuming is called for (because any dirt/debris in the carpet might get spread around in the tear-out process). Similarly, spackling holes, yes; painting walls, no. But there's no substitute for clear and amicable communication, if that's an option. Items that might grate if viewed as apathy/neglect might be perfectly acceptable as negotiated items.

#953 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 02:24 AM:

Stefan @ 949

I agree with Heather. Wen I moved out of my apartment, I asked my landlord and we came to an agreement on what I would do, and what I would get back.

Of course, I first looked up the relevant law for my jurisdiction, so I knew to mention things like the law required annual interest payments on the deposit (that the landlord had not been doing) and what was and was not reasonable to withhold. It was easy because Berkeley has a rent control board that posts those things. Including how long untilnnew paint is expected, etc. So, negotiate from strength, and make a proposal that minimizes your work.

Also, It might be harder to negotiate if your landlord is big and corporat instead of an individual.

#954 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 10:53 AM:

Abi, Leinster Garden Parhelion: Ben Aaronovich put them in one* of his Peter Grant books.

*"one" because a) it's a plot point and b) if I don't say which, people will read all of them mwahahaha, seriously they're SO GOOD.

#955 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 11:56 AM:

Seconding TexAnne's recommendation I loved those books!

#956 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 12:23 PM:

Some states have mandates about replacing carpet and painting after a certain number of years or renters. When we moved out of our apartment, we knew that the carpet was up for replacement so we didn't try to clean it (and the manager said that was fine, since they ripped it right out.) Check the local code on such things, and if it works that way, make sure your landlord understands that.

#957 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 03:07 PM:

@929: Ye ghods, albatross, thank you so much! Ice cream and chocolate sauce down the windpipe and up the nose. And that's just from reading the link.

Jeez, do I dare actually read the linked-to page? (How would I explain it to the EMTs?)

#958 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 03:47 PM:

nerdycellist @950: In case anyone's wondering, the correct way to break up a dog fight is NOT to try and pry the aggressor's jaws off your pup's muzzle.

Likewise, it is inadvisable to break up a guinea pig fight by grabbing the victim to rescue him from the attackers. Er, at least, without very heavy gloves. That go to the shoulder.

Likewise, it's probably a good idea to get one's antibiotics sooner than three days afterwards. Urm.

#959 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 04:51 PM:

Thanks for input RE apartment cleaning.

I'll talk to the apartment manager after the closing on the new house*. I could phrase it as "I've got thirty days. How could I concentrate my cleaning efforts to best help you get the apartment ready for the next tenant."

Interest on my deposit? Hah! After two ownership changes, I'm lucky they still know about it.

* If everything goes well. I'm not assuming anything.

#960 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 06:17 PM:

Joss Whedon endorses Mitt Romney!!!
Because of the looming Zombie Apocalypse.

#961 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2012, 08:18 PM:

So, the other day, the Ex called to discuss the schedule for the Son, and then told me she's "seeing someone". Both the FG and I had a nice laugh. I very carefully did not suggest a double date. The Son apparently told her "Finally!", for which she punched his arm -- and which he demonstrated upon me. "Like this," he said.

In other news, the earth goes around the sun. Grass is green, dogs and cats are living in harmony, and tea with milk is good.

#962 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2012, 10:55 AM:

In other news, Open Thread 178 is open.

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, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.