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March 19, 2020

Open thread 223
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:01 PM * 1047 comments

So now the rest of the world is discovering virtual communities. I’m feeling very hipster; we were doing it before it was cool.

What are some of your favorite resources? I want to point out Jo Walton’s Decameron project on Patreon (free, but contributions encouraged) and Ada Palmer’s #SomethingBeautiful hashtag on Twitter.

As they say here in the Netherlands, sterkte, strength, in these difficult days. May we flatten the curve by sheer force of love. May wisdom dwell in the roofs of our mouths and slip out of our sleeves onto our keyboards. May we love what’s lost and love what is to come. May we repair what breaks, make it better than before. May we go ever onward.

Comments on Open thread 223:
#1 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2020, 04:55 PM:

Thank you, abi!

I don't have any good resources right now, except to say that if your local library is closed (as They Should Be!), check out their Twitter or Facebook feeds. Most libraries are posting lots of resources to get their patrons through social distancing.

#2 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2020, 06:53 PM:

Echoing the thanks to abi.

Mary Aileen, good thought on checking the library's feed.

Good wishes to all far and near.

#3 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2020, 07:46 PM:

I did put out a book on the Kindle store. title is "Castle of the Wolf". If you're on Kindle Unlimited you can read it for free. Wild escapist furry-dieselpunk adventure, with Anarchist, Nazis, ancient Gods, not-so-ancient Gods, and at least four witches who make gratuitous "Lili Marlene" references.

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2020, 08:37 PM:

Thanks, abi! (And thanks for cleaning up the mess in that other aisle!)

#5 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 11:22 AM:

Thanks, Abi!

I'm facing the prospect of not visiting family back in NY until a vaccine is available. Cancelling "vacation" plans to visit friends in Puerto Rico. Not sure if the game convention I was looking forward to will go on.


#6 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 12:43 PM:

Spending a lot of time at home, like (I hope!) most of the folks here. Reading more than I have for several years. Introducing Karen to various anime: DEATH NOTE, KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS are recent ones.

#7 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 06:49 PM:

I find myself spurred to connect with people as much as I can, much more than I typically do. Not having my two get-out-of-house days-- not counting work, but the two days I edit things and see friensd-- makes the other five feel more claustrophobic, and all the ways I can connect to people across town also work for people across the country. I know I can't get my usual social connection, so I'm overloading all the ones I've let fall a bit.

My husband bought a cheap euphonium on Amazon a few weeks ago and this past weekend bought 101 Disney Songs for Trumpet (he doesn't read bass clef). We are That House.

#9 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 07:18 PM:

Peng Shepherd started a Group Twitter Story.

I'm going to make up a prompt and tag an unsuspecting victim (I mean writer friend) to add to the tale, and they'll then tag another unsuspecting victim (I mean writer friend), until we have a storyshaped creation! Likely a very lopsided & nonsensical but hopefully hilarious one!

I stumbled into it via John Scalzi's Twitter feed.

(Twitter seems to have changed its threading behavior lately, so I can't figure out how to get to the actual story from the top post above. Here's a link to the most recent tweet I can see at the bottom, then scroll back to the top...?

Also, Captain Awkward has started an The Artist's Way (& Accountability Buddies) group over on Patreon. Not exactly sure of the intended duration, but I'm loving it (even though my participation has been spotty, due to ::waves hands around helplessly::).

#10 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 07:20 PM:

In other news, I've been typing furiously all week in a perhaps ergonomically sub-optimal set-up, and my arms and hands hurt.

#11 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 03:54 AM:

abi: thanks for the new thread.

Jacque@10: be careful! I know that I need my hands to be going down onto the keyboard, not up, or I start getting pain.

As a long-distance (ultramarathon) runner, I am in online communities swapping ideas for house-bound exercise. There's a set of exercises that can be done using no more equipment than the bottom stair: Home step/stair exercises. Happy to share other home-exercise ideas if they would be useful. Thankfully at the moment I'm still able to go out and run, but I know in some places that's now being discouraged/severely limited.

So far I've had two conferences cancelled, a couple of ultramarathons cancelled/postponed and I'm expecting to hear that another of my key races is being cancelled or postponed - and I have flights booked for that one and really hope the airline is going to be sensible.

#12 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 01:09 PM:

@10, Governor Pritzker of Illinois has enacted a Shelter In Place order for all non-essential personnel starting at 5:00 pm today. I've been working from home this last week, but I decided I'd best drive into the office and pick up all the various odds and ends of office supplies and pending files and suchlike that I might need for the next two or three weeks. (With my boss's blessing, naturally.) I turned down all the thermostats, put signs on the doors explaining that the office was closed and all mail and packages should be held pending the lifting of the governor's order, and left.

As I was locking the door, I last-minute decided that I'd almost forgotten one vital office supply -- a good office chair. I've been using a dining room chair and the ergonomics are awful and I risk carpel tunnel from not having arm rests. So I stuffed an office chair from a disused office into my car with the box of files and oddments. Fortunately, I have a Subaru Forester with a nice big cargo handling capacity.

#13 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 03:02 PM:

Mary Aileen @12: thank you - I forgot to do that!

#14 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 03:22 PM:

dcb (14): You're welcome!

Cassy B. (13): That chair was a brilliant idea. I'm glad it fit into your vehicle.

#15 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 03:39 PM:

Goodbye Rosie, the queen of Corona
No more me and Julio, down by the schoolyard

Inge has been suffering from a respiratory infection since shortly before she was discharged from hospital three weeks ago. It was probably acquired from another patient in the room who was (a) under droplet precautions, (b) suffering from dementia, and (c) therefore not paying attention to (a). Visitors to the room included someone who had traveled from Portugal, and one from the U.S. Inge has a congenital immune deficiency.

On Wednesday afternoon, Inge got a call from the agency that provides some in-home care for her. They told her that they would no longer provide care unless she was tested for the virus, and found to be negative. So we went to the testing centre in Ottawa, where she was told that she didn't meet their criteria. But they were concerned about her breathing difficulty, so they sent her to the hospital. After she got an X-ray, the doctor told her that she needed some medication, but that she didn't seem to be likely to have COVID-19... but that he was willing to have her tested if she wanted. I suggested that it would probably ease her concerns, as well as potentially cutting through the red tape of the home-care agency. He gave me a thumbs-up, and it was done.

The test isn't pleasant: a swab deep into the sinus cavities. But it was over with quickly enough, and now we're a few days into the expected 4-day turn-around for processing.

One of our neighbors dropped notes into the mailboxes of all of the home in the neighborhood, offering help if it was needed, and suggesting the creation of some kind of local-community support group. It's a lovely idea, though I feel bad that I can't contribute much to that in a positive way. What Inge most needs, at present, is social contact. We need to find a way for her to get that, even at a distance -- I've been nudging her about doing Skype with her sibs.

#16 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 04:08 PM:

So I've seen a few of what I understand are many speeches or tunes with which one can time handwashing, all (the ones I've seen) segmented under the same set of very simple drawings; examples range from the obvious (Lady Macbeth's "out, damned spot!" speech) through the less-obvious (the Litany against Fear from the original Dune) to the remotely ironic ("Sumer is icumin in"), which I've been using because I learned it a very long time ago and can still hear the rest of the Spring Revels chorus doing it around me (rather later). I decided to see what Wikipedia has to say about it, and surprised by the heat with which people have disputed the meaning of verteþ -- "linguistic Galahads" is one of the milder phrases used. I have no useful opinion on the matter (especially considering whose blog this is), but am amused that an ordinary little ditty should inspire so much debate.

@Cassy B: the Forester is indeed fortunate; I've found room for several things in a Prius but have never tried an assembled office chair. (We have a couple but they were bought flat-packed, probably at the original Staples.)

#17 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 05:30 PM:

CHip (17): I fit an armless office chair into a Hyundai Accent a couple of years ago. Upside down, it fit very neatly on the back seat. A chair with arms wouldn't have done as well, but I probably could have made it work.

#18 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 07:31 PM:

Cassie @12 good for you.

As it happens, my office was working remotely anyway because of a major renovation. So I already had at home files, supplies, and my big desk monitor. I also brought home a couple of office side chairs with arms that weren't going to be part of the new decor, one at a time in the back of a Prius with the back seat laid flat. Worked fine, thanks to the help of Awesome Garage Attendant, who refused a tip when I am sure schlepping furniture into cars is not part of his job description.

My husband will be working remotely beginning Monday. We have been using opposite sides of a repurposed breakfast room table as our desks, but if we're both there full time one of us may need to move. There is an unused desk upstairs in the room of daughter the elder, who has moved out.

I moved my laptop to the basement earlier today for a test Zoom session with some of my chorus (answer: socially great, musically a bust) Also, I rediscovered the fact that our wifi does not reach the basement well.

Privileged first world problems, to be sure. But still a necessary adjustment for us.

#19 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 09:11 PM:

WRT office chairs, I forsee a trip to my office at some point to retrieve my chair, keyboard & mouse. My home ergonomics are currently, um, suboptimal.

Joel Polowin @15: creation of some kind of local-community support group

This may be of some interest to you. It's a Mutual Aid 101: Toolkit (Google Doc) put out by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & folks.

#20 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 09:39 PM:

File:770 reminds me: happy eight-squared to our founder TNH!

#21 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2020, 11:52 PM:

@Chip: One timer I got from Tom Galloway was the opening monologue from ST:TOS or TNG. I posted that to my work Slack, and one of the devs asked if I had it memorized. I replied with an emoji called up by the alias :areyoukiddingme:.

#22 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 12:09 AM:

When I am cloned, start losing my self
Not so long from now
Will you still appreciate the two of me,
Send us flowers, take us to tea
Or when I'm four, or eight or sixteen,
Thirty-two or more
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?



#23 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 03:34 AM:

Am in a weird mood today, so I wrote this, which feigns to be an attempt by somebody from the Finder's Lodge to translate a song from outside the Valley. (That is, the Valley of the Na, in Always Coming Home by Le Guin.)

Heya, today is crazy-hot
As if the Sun had come to dance the Summer
People desire you, but you are unmoved
Delicate and beautiful, from outside the Valley
Your coming is a hinge in my life
And I think of you when I dance

If you said "Come with me, I'm homesick"
I would leave the Valley to go with you
I could form my life to your choices
The way the ocean follows the moon
The way water shapes stone
Turn toward me
Or stop talking to me

This I will tell you:
I wish you would not leave
I think of you constantly
Hear my songs
Feel the water going downstream in the Valley
Like water shaping stone

If you said "Come with me, I'm homesick"
I would leave the Valley to go with you
I could form my life to your choices
The way the ocean follows the moon
The way water shapes stone
Turn toward me
Or stop talking to me

#24 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 09:40 AM:

Re: working from home

On Friday the 13th, my office requested everyone work from home who was able to do so. I had already been working from home with my laptop on the dining room table while I recovered from my annual spring cold. I went into the office to get my monitors, docking station, and keyboard (mouse was already at home), but didn’t take my chair, as it won’t fit in my home work space.

My new setup is an L-shaped space created by reassembling my old college desk perpendicular to the dining room table. It’s 2 feet by 3 feet, and just the right height to tuck under the table. It’s now my primary work space with the monitors, keyboard, and mouse, while the laptop remains on the table.

I wish I had a better chair, though. It’s a cheap, small office chair (and so already better than the dining room chairs for long periods), but I’ve already had to fix it once when the seat came unbolted from the base. That’s when I discovered it only had 3 of its 4 bolts. But I can’t get anything much larger, or it won’t fit in my work space. (And it has to be from somewhere doing curbside delivery. I’m not currently going into stores, since I still have a slight cough.)

#25 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 10:47 AM:

Joel, I clicked thru to read the rest of your filk, and I hope you're happy with the huge groan your last line elicited.

#26 ::: Cadbury Moose declares post forgery in aisle #35 ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 02:08 PM:

Alan @ #25: Yes indeed, that was truly terrible. Joel should be ashamed of himself. (More likely to be well pleased though.)

#27 ::: Cadbury Moose groans in sympathy ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 02:10 PM:

Ooops! I do not declare post forgery in aisle #35, sorry. (Forgot to change the header.)

#28 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 04:22 PM:

Joel Polowin @22: ::applause:: Also: you saved us all from my compulsive YouTube link. And much more cleverly, too, I might add.

Happy happies, Teresa!!

In Social Lockdown news, I woke up this morning and realized that, given my propensity to get home at the end of the week and then not step foot out of the house again until Monday morning, I AM TOTALLY DOWN FOR THIS. For the next six weeks, except to get food, I DON'T HAVE TO GO ANYWHERE!!!


(Check back in with me at weekly intervals to see if this remains true ;-)

#29 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 06:41 PM:

Like Jacque, this isn't much of a change on my non-work days.... except for not being able to go out for dinner. I've probably used the stove as much in the last week as the two or three weeks before it. But not getting out to work is going to play hell with my physical condition -- I can walk on the local trail, but that doesn't include hauling things around like at work.

Also, of course, this is just the first week. This is going to get pretty old soon....

I did just order delivery for tonight; Amusingly, DoorDash identifies Burger King as "Mountain Valley Corporation", which I assume is their conglomerate identity.

#30 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 08:28 PM:

Free novella by Zen Cho (author of Sorcerer to the Crown)!

#31 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 09:12 PM:

@22: ceremonially holds nose and flees screaming into the night

#32 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 08:57 AM:

Joel @22: I think my upstairs neighbors heard me whooping. XD

#33 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 10:20 AM:

I've been working from home since last week. On the one hand, given all the uncertainty, I know I am fortunate to still have a job and that I can work from home with all that's going on, especially considering the lack of social safety net even in California. Also, I have a better monitor and keyboard at home than I do at work anyway.

On the other hand, I keep seeing all these posts about things to catch up on now that you're stuck at home, and I feel a bit left out.

On the other other hand, I am going to need to figure out a way to switch up the scenery in my home office, because otherwise I'm going to go stir crazy.

#34 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 12:04 PM:

Advice (from Peggy Noonan, of all people!):

If you have some cash, and know that you'll be patronizing a local business after this, buy a gift certificate now.

#35 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 12:15 PM:

My partner and I started a mailing list for our local friends to keep up with everyone and trade tips on coping. One of them is (still) stuck in Morocco. She's eighty-something, loves travelling, and 3 years ago broke some ribs falling off a camel, so of course she's the one stuck Very Far From Home.

I work from home normally, so at least I have a reasonable space already set up. If this is not your normal, give yourself some slack -- it takes time to adjust. Frequent short breaks help, especially if your ergonomics are poor as compared to your real office. Doing work stuff in your pjs is still Expert level, though.

(and a belated happy birthday to Teresa!)

#36 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 12:33 PM:

Re: me @22, I'm glad that you appreciate it. :-)

The first verse sat in my filk binder for about two years, IIRC, occasionally coming to my attention, before a second verse hit me. And I think it was almost a decade before the third verse came to me. One verse could stand alone, but two demanded a third, and it was a recurring source of annoyance and frustration. I was at a filk con when -- as usual -- I paged past the thing, and inspiration struck, but I had to wait until I got home to confirm that the number was correct.

#37 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 02:51 PM:

HLN: Area retiree hasn't gone totally insane yet.
My plans for celebrating a year in my new home--actually almost a month back--were disrupted, first by an unexpected nostalgia attack upon reading that my "old" river was in spate, and then...this damn mess.
At 64, bike-riding and CPAP-dependent, I am on the fuzzy edge of the vulnerable sector. All my friends and relations are older'n me, as are my neighbors in the place I live. As a bigtime introvert, I was never into the touchy-feely stuff, not even hugs, but I miss the morning coffee-time/chinwag, and just being able to walk into any bookstore or library without concern. The libraries here are shut; how soon will the bookstores follow?
I don't know if a person who hasn't been sick in any way for more than a year is inherently safer or not.
I am so glad I have some friends/family to email and talk on the phone with. And YouTube music, and a huge pile of books yet to go thru, plus certain projects. But it is a scary time--I don't know what's coming, I don't know how long it will last, I don't know if I will be alive when the year is out, or if I will still have all the people I like--and having so many bad people in power is stressing me perhaps the most. I once thought that when I grew up and moved out of the place where people bigger than me violated me in several ways, I'd be safe...I guess I was wrong.
I continue to try to adapt, and to be grateful for helpful things such as this site.

#38 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 04:03 PM:

Hi, all. I check in on the Fluorosphere frequently but never seem to have anything (I consider) interesting to contribute. Still don't, really, but thought I'd stop by and say hi.


So, I still have the job that got me out of the homeless shelter, and as of today I'm working from home 4 days a week--I'll be going in on Thursdays for the one piece of my job that can't be done remotely. I still live in the place I moved into in January 2013, so, still in a small space. No room for a desk, but my landlady loaned me a couple of TV trays and they...function...but it's not the most physically comfortable of setups. Also I'm going to need to remember to get up and move around MUCH more often.

On the other hand, I have a job that I can do remotely (mostly), for which I'm infinitely grateful. Without a car, grocery delivery has been my default for ages--although the order I set up a week ago Saturday that I *assumed* would arrive the next day was actually scheduled for delivery yesterday. Some canned goods got dropped (no surprise), as did the precautionary cough syrup (also not a surprise), but except for milk and fresh/frozen veg I think I'm good for a couple of weeks.

Dried beans and rice were all pretty much "not available at this time".

Overall, I'm cautious for myself and worried sick about my older friends; the one who's getting immunotherapy infusions every 3 weeks for the lung cancer she was diagnosed with 13 months ago, as well as other immunosuppressed friends; and my artist/musician/gig-economy friends, and I can't even imagine how worried they must be.

May all of you and all your loved ones and all the rest of us be as safe as possible and weather this with as little damage as possible.

Back to work I go...

#39 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 04:25 PM:

Hi, Syd!
Yeah, I was in my grocery Saturday - they'd gotten fresh produce, at least, though the frozen pizza and burritos were pretty much cleaned out. (I got the burritos I wanted - they're small and cheap, but they work for me.)

#40 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 05:37 PM:

Hi Syd! Best of luck getting the ergonomics worked out.

We've gotten most of what we needed from the grocery store; a few things I wanted were out but we'll adjust. I started a few months ago getting weekly deliveries from Hungry Harvest, a group that delivers produce that would otherwise be discarded - odd sizes, ugly, overstock, etc. For the duration they are offering some add-ons like bread, cheese sticks, and eggs, so I can get some of that without having to go out to the store.

#41 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 06:07 PM:

Welcome back, Syd!

* * *

I was just nattering on Twitter about the disappearance of flour. Guess: A combination of panic, and bored people who want to try making their own bread.

If I were REALLY crazy I could buy the 25 lb. sack of unbleached flour in the bulk food section of my local discount grocery . . . but I have enough for many loaves -- white and whole wheat -- of no-knead bread.

#42 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 06:10 PM:

Oh, it looks like president dumbf**k was impressed enough by the rantings of Fox News business cranks that he wants to dial back social distancing to save the economy.

The "everyone should catch the flu and get over it" theory, which I guess means "you won't miss grandma when you see how well your 401(k) is doing!"

#43 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 06:36 PM:

Anyone else like to borrow that remote control from Click and fast forward the country through the next three months?

#44 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 06:48 PM:

Steve C, I'm thinking almost 10 months, to January 20, 2021.

#45 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 07:35 PM:

stefan jones @42: and think of how well the funeral and mortuary sectors will do! It's a booming economy.

#46 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 08:19 PM:

Were you expecting consistent policy from the man who spent over a month calling it fake news before claiming that we have always been at war with the coronavirus?

#47 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 12:23 AM:

Not exactly a new resource, but I've been reaching out to friends via email, text, phone, and video calls much more in the past week. Part of that is a desire for connection while being physically bounded (on top of having moved a fair distance not very long ago); and, part of it, conversely, is that the spread of the virus has made me think all the more of friends and family who are far away and also affected.

Also, video calls have now apparently reached a stage where I can use them without paying more attention to the software than the conversation (although the entire world getting on the same servers all at once has put a bit of a strain on the systems).

#48 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 07:10 AM:

I am getting distinctly antsy from the lack of both physical activity and contact with people (I don't need much, but I need some!). I have been giving and receiving phone calls with family and friends.

My family has apparently banded together to make sure I don't need to go shopping ever, which is gratifying but also annoying somehow. (I'm not 60 yet, but I am a long-time smoker, so high-risk.)

Meanwhile, I'm more worried about my septuagenarian boss & his wife, and the volunteers at the bookshop. My parents are of similar age but healthier than Boss, and they're solidly set up at home, with external support from my sister's family. (Mom's not actually a survivalist, but she's totally the one you'd want stocking your shelter. ;-) )

On the phone, Boss was talking about reopening the shop next week (via me, my fellow 50s-year-old and the youngsters), though I would be working upstairs out of the way. I pointed out as kindly as I could that this thing wouldn't even be close to over by then.

#49 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 05:56 PM:

Syd: great to hear from you.

Joel Polowin @22, Jenny Islander @23: thank you for sharing those.

Starting to get twitchy at the idea that I might have my running curtailed. Trying to get into the habit of a 15-20 minute morning yoga session, but it's really not the same as a good long run. Not helped by the fact that due to various circumstances beyond my control I've effectively been in approach-to-deadline/deadline day for the past five weeks. But I'm lucky: I have a good home office set-up, my husband also has a study where he can work from home, we both have jobs where working from home is possible.

Keep safe, everyone.

#50 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 07:22 PM:

My local yarn store closed its physical location over a week ago, but they have someone present to take phone calls and arrange purchases-- shipped, delivered locally, and porch pickup at their store. It's been a really good way to kind of keep in touch. I called and ordered a couple yards of, "You know the really pink fabric line with the phones and pop bottles and balloon animals? Do you still have the balloon animal one? Okay, pop bottles then," as well as, "The really little bundles of Linzee's latest fabric."

The bookstore could probably do something like that. Porch pickup is a great thing.

#51 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 07:34 PM:

Diatryma @ 50:

The yarn stores in my area that had still been open in some form all had to close at the end of the day on Monday this week. One of them is normally closed on Monday, but opened for a few hours so people could get last minute knitting and sewing supplies. I think the email said they’d do pick ups this Thursday (although I’m not quite sure how that will work with non-essential businesses closed).

Meanwhile, the yarn store closest to me is planning on launching a new website and online store at the beginning of April. Last night I beta tested it on my laptop. Tonight I’m going to repeat the process on my tablet. I’m also trying to figure out if I want her to ship my yarn, or hold it until we’re allowed out again and I can pick it up. (She’ll also refund anyone who doesn’t actually want to order, but her yarn is gorgeous and this is a good excuse to buy more.)

#52 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 07:53 PM:

Syd, good to hear from you!

Diatryma #50: Alas, my used-book store has no online presence, nor even an inventory of our contents.

#53 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 08:03 PM:

My LYS closed at the end of January - they retired. But they have a Ravelry group.

#54 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 05:45 AM:

CoNZealand is going virtual.

Very SFnal!

#55 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 12:17 PM:

Dreamhaven books is online, and has an interesting special: Grab bag for $10 ($2.50+7.50 shipping) we will send you approximately two and a half pounds of specially-selected lightly-used paperbacks in one of a selection of genres. That is between 5 and 10 books. There will be no duplicates, although this is not guaranteed if you buy more than one package.
(I hope this isn't too much like advertising. Greg has been very involved in the local fannish community for a long time.)

#56 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 04:10 PM:

Hi, Syd!! ::wavewave::

Doug @54: Wow! Hey, this means I can potentially go, after all! Whee!!

#57 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 05:23 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 22: is that a known covert language, and if so what is it called? Castilian Double Dutch, maybe? And I join the groans at your filk...

Dave Harmon @ 29: Wikipedia says that Burger Thing is now a part of Restaurant Brands International, and that 99.7% of the outlets are privately franchised -- but they don't say how many franchises are owned by to-purpose corporations instead of individually; maybe that's what "Mountain Valley" is. And now I'm reminded of a juvenile jape titled Three Men on Third, not the anecdote collection Google returns but a novel about a California high-school baseball team in the "Tri-Valley Coast Mountain League". (When I was in school I'd read almost anything non-compulsorily put in front of me as the library was six miles away; this was a present from possibly my only friend in junior high.)

Tom Whitmore @ 45: if the Cheetoh had his way, the only mortuaries doing well would be the ones with backhoes; there are times I think he can't count beyond one, and I'm not sure he can even do that with his clothes on.

Congratulations to Syd on getting and maintaining a job that allows working from home.

Beggars in Spam moment: it took multiple comments for me to realize the crafters among you were talking about y-a-r-n stores, not y-a-m stores. (No, I had no idea how a yam store would sell enough to survive.) Sometimes no serifs can be as bad as overdone ones.

Locally, I was one of the last people in the just-down-the-street YMCA before it closed 10 days ago; they already had do-not-cross tape outside the door when I left, although they were going to try to provide childcare for working parents. (This has now been disallowed except for children of critical workers.) OTOH, I'm in a sufficiently spread-out area (lot size something over 1000sf for a two-family) that people aren't so densely packed as in the pictures today's paper ran of people in Boston's "Emerald Necklace"; brisk walks, with hills, remain possible for exercise. All my sympathies to the people in tighter situations; I don't know what I would have done if this had happened 38 years ago, when my PCP told me I should lose some of the too much weight I'd put on too abruptly but I was living much closer to the center of town.

#58 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 08:06 PM:

Hello everyone. Greetings from the Boston area where the state has me working from home.

So far I am managing.

The thing I miss most is live music. One of my favorite singers had a gig cancelled and did a video concert from home. One of the open mikes I go to is having a virtual meeting.

The thing that frustrates me is the extinguishing of public space. How can we have community if people do not have places to go together? How will the public space make a comeback when it does?

Will things be less public and more walled-garden-by-invitation when they revive?

#59 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 08:10 PM:

Hello everyone. Greetings from the Boston area where the state has me working from home.

So far I am managing.

The thing I miss most is live music. One of my favorite singers had a gig cancelled and did a video concert from home. One of the open mikes I go to is having a virtual meeting.

The thing that frustrates me is the extinguishing of public space. How can we have community if people do not have places to go together? How will the public space make a comeback when it does?

Will things be less public and more walled-garden-by-invitation when they revive?

#60 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 08:26 PM:

Magenta, thank you for that mystery package link!

#61 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 11:21 PM:

CHip @57 - It's Owl's extremely wise spelling from Winnie The Pooh.

#62 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 11:35 PM:

Erik Nelson @58/9: There's a virtual SF convention going on on FaceBook (Concellation) -- I'm not on FB, but my partner Karen is and she's been just blown away at how well they're recreating a lot of the experiences of various conventions. She's currently at a virtual meeting of a local readings series for SF, normally held at the Racer Cafe -- it seems to be going very well. I think this may actually make public spaces more vibrant when they return: in part because more people can get to any given online venue than will ever get there in person.

#63 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 02:45 AM:

Here in New Zealand we've had the first day of (at least) four weeks' national shutdown. It seems to have been well organised and to be going ok, though there are various stores taking an ambitious view on what counts as 'essential services'.

#64 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 04:50 AM:


If you are thinking of the chain I think you are thinking of, they have stocked up large on Easter-themed product, that will be very hard to shift once the shutdown comes off after Easter. So they want to stay open to shift it while it is still current (cynical? moi?).

J Homes

#65 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 08:17 AM:

The above is where I tweeted a review I found of John M. Ford's first novel (in Science Fiction Chronicle, 1981)

#66 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 12:35 PM:

Liquor stores are apparently essential services in some Texas cities.

Actually, I can kinda understand that.

#67 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 01:15 PM:

Steve C. @66: Liquor stores are also considered "essential" here in Ontario. Inge points out that without access to alcohol, a lot of people would be going into withdrawal. And of course it will help some people to cope with a stressful situation. This leads me to wonder about how the incidence of active alcoholism -- that is, not counting alcoholics who are "dry" -- will change over the next few months. In Ontario, licensed cannabis stores have also been deemed to be essential services.

Tobacco is still available from at least some grocery stores. I think that all of the drug stores in my region have stopped selling it, though they carry nicotine-based products.

#68 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 02:27 PM:

Liquor stores are listed as essential here in Maryland also. It was pointed out in an online discussion that in some rural or high-poverty urban areas, the liquor store does double duty as a grocery.

#69 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 03:56 PM:

Booze is essential here, too: in areas where supermarkets are dry, liquor stores are allowed to operate. And a wine chain emailed me yesterday to say they have been allowed to start online ordering.

I think it makes sense: with alcohol legally available you have some extra workers and shoppers exposed (in, hopefully, a controlled way), but with it not legally available you reduce the chance that the lockdown will be respected.

NZ has been trying to get community buy-in on government actions, which I think has been important.

#70 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 06:10 PM:

... and I -did- have a job that I could do from home. As of 1st April my job will be on hold. I will still get c.80% of salary for the momentt, under the government scheme, and I'm planning to use the time to do some writing I've been wanting to do (non-fiction, running-related) but it's come as a bit of a shock.

#71 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 08:34 PM:

Colorado issued a blanket liquor license to restaurants offering take-out, in the hopes that the extra income will help keep them afloat.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering about the status of my favorite hardware store, because I'm needing a new carbon insert for the HEPA filter I have running so I don't have to share (as much of) my downstairs vaping, smoking, pot, dabbing, smudging, incense, and whatever other toxic crap they're emitting.

WRT liquor stores—it might also be pointed out that Everclear was available even after the grocery/pharmacies had been stripped bare of household disinfectants....

Meanwhile, Captain Awkward is participating in a Story Telling thing that's happening tonight on Zoom, and I also have to figure Zoom out for my county assembly on Saturday, but I have really just f'ing had enough of unfamiliar computer software today, and I keep slapping up against "allow access to your microphone."

Toddler-me: "I don' wanna! WAAAAaaaahhhh!!"

#72 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 09:37 AM:

Jacque @71 If it helps, Zoom needs access to your microphone so you can participate in meetings, but when you connect with it you can immediately mute your microphone and only turn it on when you want to be heard. (As any number of new-to-this people have discovered when every throat-clearing, ringing phone, or barking dog has them "speaking" in a meeting until they learn to mute themselves routinely.)

Not to discount the toddler-me feeling, which is easily triggered by One More New Thing when there's already way, way too much. Mine says "This is too hard! I give up!"

#73 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 09:48 AM:

I'm extremely blessed to be a civilian at a gov't medical lab, now working full time from home (I'm not a scientist, I just push electrons as admin support). It's nice to work without pants, and the worst problem I'm facing right now is the complete lack of an ergonomically correct setup or room to have one - though I do badly miss my monitors from work. I'm perfectly happy to stay home by myself.

But I have elderly parents who are staying mostly home for now, but keep talking about maybe going to the store; and a friend with two kids who's about to go through five months of chemo in the midst of all this.

I feel like I'm watching that bit in - I think it's Return of the Jedi - where a Star Destroyer crashes, point first, into the Death Star. Slow-motion disaster and no way to do anything about it.

#74 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 12:19 PM:

Jacque @71 - FWIW, my local Home Depot is staying open (albeit with reduced hours) so people can do emergency home-repair stuff. I doubt if they'll be refusing to stock items that can't plausibly fall under that category, though obviously the supply chain may fail for such. Small businesses... well, local emergency regs will vary.

#75 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 12:35 PM:

Ursula Vernon and Kevin Sonney of this parish had a lovely podcast last week: Productivity Alchemy Episode 139 – So now you work from home. They also cover pandemic anxiety.

OtterB: I've also recently worked out that when Toddler-Me comes out, it means I'm overtired and need to eat/rest/bathe. That Todder-Me is out much of every day says some fairly depressing things about my self-care.

Quill: Yeah, I've got a couple of folks I'm worried about. One is a Bay-Area fan who is house-bound, late-60s, and disabled, and doesn't appear to have any local support, even to the extent of making grocery runs when the deliveries are fully booked. I don't know them at all well, so I've hesitated to call out the County Mounties in my circle (which overlaps heavily with their circle, or so I would have thought), so that's a thing.

Then there's another fan friend on (I think) the east coast who recently lost a parent they'd been caring for ("and then things got worse" O.O), and also expresses a lack of nearby support. I'm debating offering them space here with me if the need arises. Which would be suboptimal for numerous reasons (not least because they're asthmatic and my house is Allergen Central, not to mention now's maybe not the time to try a cross-country road trip), but at least it'd be a roof?

Nothing as scary as your friend, though (so far as I know), ghods be thanked. I wish (for all the good it does) your friend well.

#76 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 12:41 PM:

Oh yeah, and OtterB, thanks for the reassurances wrt Zoom. Obvious, once I'd had some food and a night's sleep, but: toddler. : )

Joel: Yeah, their website suggests one can do online/phone orders with curbside pickups, of which I will probably avail myself. And I worry about them. Having them out of commission would feel a lot like losing an arm, frankly. I Really Hope local officialdom correctly classifies them as Essential Services. At the same time, I'm personally invested in them Staying Safe.

#77 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 01:17 PM:

One other toddler-tip for Zoom, Jacque (which a lot of non-toddlers seem to have missed): in the upper right quadrant of the screen there's a little icon that looks like nine dots in a square. If you click on that, you can change the screen-view so that you can see all the participants at once, rather than just the one who's talking. This is very useful.

#78 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 02:48 PM:

Tom Whitmore@77: Yes, the "Brady Bunch" view (actually called "gallery", I think). I like it much more than the speaker-focused view when the call isn't specifically a presentation.

One other useful setting available to people hosting Zoom calls (that I wish more of them used) specifies that everyone joining the call starts out muted. (The down side is making sure everyone has clear instructions for unmuting.)

#79 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 07:12 PM:

#77, #78

One weird trick for Zoom: if you're muted and hold down the spacebar, it temporarily unmutes you.

Also, I have discovered, which is a collaborative whiteboard application, so I'll be able to do math with my research students. Or, which is paid but not all that expensive.

#80 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 08:54 PM:

Excellent Zoom tips, all, thank you!

#81 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 01:13 AM:

Zoom has a setting in Preferences that says, "Automatically mute me when I join a meeting". I highly recommend it.

Also the virtual background feature works quite well. I've sideloaded a bunch of European vacation photographs to my work laptop. You can also find images online of things like the bridge of the Enterprise-D, or the 12th Doctor's TARDIS interior.

#82 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 06:57 AM:

Thanks for the ZOOM tips, my cousin just brought it up to set up a family chat, and my response was much like Jacques'.

#83 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 09:02 AM:

Also re Zoom, one group I belong to had a 30-minute "newbie" time with a couple of experienced people online ahead of the actual meeting. This was really helpful for letting people work through muting/unmuting, gallery view, background, etc., at a comfortable pace.

I also like the virtual background since I have no good place to put the computer where the background isn't cluttered. (I feel for the person on Ask A Manager who said that she hosted an entire work meeting with a lacy nightgown hung up to dry in view behind her.) I have a nice Hawaii photo on mine at the moment. One of my work colleagues signed into a meeting with a background of a 1960-70s era computer room with big tape drives, etc.

#84 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 11:44 AM:

The way my computer is set up, the webcam picks up a wall of bookcases behind me. Quite appropriate for library Zoom meetings!

Tom's tip about putting all the participants on the screen at once, instead of just the one who's talking, is very helpful. Thank you.

#85 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 11:50 AM:

Coincidentally, Elliott Mason just shared these Zoom tips over on Facebook. They repeat some of what's here, but in more detail.

#86 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 01:40 PM:

Day 8 of effective isolation, so I can hope I dodged the bullet on the last rather crazy shopping trip before the full lockdown in the UK. Partly thing were changing so fast that a lot of people were unsure. Since then the local buses have vanished, but the village does still have a shop. Many villages in England have nothing.

I'm doing OK. The advice from the NHS says 14 days from known exposure to be sure of no infection. We should be starting to see some benefit from the lockdown after that long.

I am glad I started building stocks of food when I did. But I am a country boy. Here I am on the internet, and I sometimes feel very old-fashioned. But a little story...

Early one morning, Lincolnshire, the middle of a war, schoolboys helping harvest potatoes, RAF bombers returning to base, some of them very obviously damaged. Very obviously...

"They're going to crash..."

"What if..." I'm told the bomber was very low, next-field low.

"We run over and get them out." says one of the schoolboys.

It didn't crash.

That was a story my father told me. He was there. We're all watching something like that bomber.

#87 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 03:16 PM:

Coworker just emailed out a batch of #StayHome memes. The very first one had a before: slender person reaching into the fridge. After: fat person, reaching into the fridge.

I replied with "Let's please not with the body shaming. It's never appropriate, and especially not right now. Thanks."

And, boy oh boy did they get defensive. Functional equivalent of "I didn't create these! It's just a joke!" (This is someone who's struggling with their weight. This is also someone who is generally kind and considerate.)

So that was a thing. How's your day going?

#88 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 03:31 PM:

My crafting group, which typically meets at the local yarn and fabric store, has had its second drop-in get-together over Zoom. The store owner was there as well, keeping it on in the background while she did shop business, much like she does with the group on a normal day. But she also took pictures of the shop so we could use them as our Zoom backgrounds if we wanted.

#89 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 03:56 PM:

I just discovered that the Internet Archive has the Classics Illustrated collection available for download. This Boomer is delighted.

#90 ::: Norvin ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 11:30 PM:

One of today's little acts of cruelty: the Secretary of the Interior has ruled that the Wampanoag of eastern Massachusetts, though they are still a federally recognized tribe, are not to be allowed to establish a reservation.

Why not? One theory says: because part of the deal that got the Wampanoag their federal recognition was the changing of state law to allow a limited number of casinos in Massachusetts--because at least some of the Wampanoag wanted to have a tribal casino. But they cannot have a tribal casino without a reservation, so by denying them a reservation, we make sure that the Massachusetts casinos will all belong know, the right sort of people. White people.

#91 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 11:55 PM:

@89: Apparently they're also pirating ebooks and giving them away for free. :(

#92 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2020, 06:27 PM:

Steve C @ 66: I hear Texas also thinks that gun stores are essential, unlike many of the states that are allowing that evaluation of liquor stores. In MA there's fuss over liquor stores being allowed but recreational pot stores not being, with a side of "They're too crowded!" (because the state didn't move expeditiously when a referendum overruled the legislature, approving legalization).

OtterB @ 83: at least the nightgown was behind her; I hear there's a story going around about someone peeling to sit on the pot without thinking that their camera was still live -- although that's the sort of story that will circulate even if not true. I did a gaming session recently where a couple of people had backgrounds, and found the way bits of their heads phased in and out to be very distracting -- although the ~7yo son of one of them was obviously fascinated with the way bits of him appeared and disappeared.

Norvin @ 90: I've been watching this slow-motion train wreck ever since a referendum approved a very limited set of casinos; I don't trust anyone in the Cheetoh's cabinet, but I'm not convinced the Post reporter spent enough time with this story -- and his report talks about a lot beside racism. There are a lot of people outside MA's biggest cities who are less interested in the race of possible developers than in the changes any development would bring; I watched this happening just outside Boston on primary day (3 weeks ago), when there was a lot of bull from people objecting to a transit-oriented residential development.

#93 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2020, 07:07 PM:

@Chip, someone at work sent me a link to a video of that stream. Dunno if it was real or staged, however. "Jennifer" brought the phone with her to the bathroom and put it on the floor (presumably propped against the wall?) next to her as she peeled off her slacks and sat on the toilet. (The video was grainy enough not to see any prurient details; it could have been a set-up and she could easily be wearing a body-stocking.) The thing that strikes me as especially suspect is that you could see her, in profile, sitting on the toilet... wouldn't most people lie the phone flat? Or have it in front of her so she could see the faces?

#94 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2020, 07:17 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 65: any idea who wrote the text in that snapshot? I have a suspicion, but I'm surprised that someone who liked Mike's short stories had trouble with the book; the "horror of being obvious" was also visible at shorter lengths. OTOH, a skim of credits in From the End of the Twentieth Century suggests that the very early stories were a little simpler -- not surprising considering what Scithers told a Paracon audience he was looking for. (Asimov's might have dithered along for quite a while if Dozois hadn't been given the editor's chair.)

#95 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2020, 12:34 PM:

Another success in my ongoing search for recipes that six people with non-congruent lists of unsafe foods can eat!

Trim all surface fat from 1 lb. round steak or roast (caribou, moose, or beef). Cut into strips, as for stir-fry. Brown on medium-high heat in large skillet in 2 tablespoons mild-tasting oil. Turn heat to Medium, add 2 medium onions cut into short slivers and a heaping spoonful of minced garlic, cover, and leave until the onions are soft (check at about 8 minutes).

Send some to the person who can't eat soy or tomatoes so that she can use it to make her own supper. Now add 1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce and 3/4 cup water. Bring just to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut 1 large bell pepper (any color) into short slivers. Drain an 8-oz. can of mushrooms into a bowl, measure, and add water to make 1 cup + 2 tablespoons; then chop the mushrooms into small pieces. Stir 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch into the mushroom juice-water mixture and set aside. Also open 2 cans low-sodium diced tomatoes. When the timer beeps, add all of this to the pan, stir, bring just to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered until the pepper strips are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Serve with rice, a plain steamed vegetable, and either pickles or salad.

#96 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2020, 02:06 PM:

I've gotten mushrooms on sale, sliced them and nuked them until brown, draining the juice and saving it for other uses. I freeze both for later use. (Juice goes in 2-ounce containers.)

#97 ::: Quill ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2020, 03:08 PM:

Jacque @75: Thank you. And I yours; I'm not sure a cross-country trip would work well at the moment, unless it were a true last resort.

#98 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 10:15 AM:

P J Evans @ 96: there's a recipe for wow-wow sauce somewhere in the nonfiction related to Discworld (possibly a quiz book); it calls for "mushroom essence", made by salting mushrooms and collecting the resulting liquid. I wonder whether the liquid released by nuking would serve.

#99 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 10:52 AM:

@96: You could replace the canned mushrooms with chopped fresh mushrooms and some extra oil and cook them along with the onions, but in that case I would replace the can liquid with good broth (vegetable, chicken, or beef). It's hard to get good fresh mushrooms here and they're always expensive, so I go with canned.

#100 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 01:35 PM:

CHip @98: That is in Nanny Ogg's Cookbook :)

#101 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 04:20 PM:

Excellent paper defining the REALLY Habitable Zone, i.e., the zone in which an exoplanet is capable of supporting the ingredients of a Gin and Tonic:

#102 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 04:47 PM:

Worth noting: You can sing Dylan's "Isis" very handily in waltz meter to the tune of "The Cowboy's Lament". Also, here is a version of Robyn Hitchcock's plague song "Lady Waters & the Hooded One" by me, on tin-can cello:

#103 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 04:51 PM:

One other thing: April is the foolest month, breeding/ Jokers from the dead ground, mixing/ Pranks and despair, stirring/ Silliness in the spring rain.

#104 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 06:29 PM:

I think that might be a bit on the salty side.

(Someday I ought to try making mushroom catsup.)

#105 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2020, 11:34 AM:

Just a note to appreciate Patrick's link to "So Much Cooking". I'd missed that story till I saw it here. It's been good reading.

#106 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2020, 01:51 PM:


Another winner as I cook my way through my "To Be Tried" archive!

You need:
1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of any surface fat and silverskin
Salt (do not omit)
A bottle of low-sodium soy sauce
A jar of hoisin sauce
A bottle of balsamic vinegar (the supermarket version)
A bottle of mild-flavored oil (I use canola)
Either 3 garlic cloves or a jar of minced garlic
Half of a large Napa cabbage (about 1 1/2 lb)
A large bell pepper
A handful of fresh chives
Wok, chef's knife, cutting board, plates for staging ingredients, small bowl for mixing the sauce, measuring spoons, paper towels.
Freshly cooked or reheated rice.

Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces, stage it on a plate, and salt it lightly.

Scrub the cutting board. Mince the garlic (if using whole cloves) or measure and set aside as much garlic as you like; I used a tablespoon. Then sliver the cabbage and pepper, rinse in a colander, and set aside. Finally, mince the chives, add half to the colander, and set the rest aside separately.

Mix generous 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce, scant 4 tablespoons soy sauce, half tablespoon balsamic vinegar; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil on H in wok, stir-fry garlic until lightly browned (about 30 seconds), take it up, and wipe the outside of the wok.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil on H, stir-fry the pork just until cooked through, take it up, and wipe the wok again. (Some people enjoy the drama of flames on the outside of the wok. I don't!)

Heat 1 more tablespoon oil on H. Add the cabbage, chives, and pepper strips, salt them lightly, and stir-fry just until the cabbage starts to wilt. Return the garlic and pork to the pan (send some to the person with most of the allergies at this point).

Scrape the thick sauce into the pan and stir until everything is hot again. Now take off the heat and let stand for 2 minutes. A surprising amount of thin sauce will form around the ingredients.

Sprinkle with the uncooked chives. Serve with rice. Serves six generously as a complete meal.

(I had never tried hoisin sauce before, so the licorice was a bit startling. But it's delicious, and reheats beautifully.)

#107 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2020, 04:54 PM:

Word of the Day: absquatulate: slang. DECAMP, ABSCOND

Showed up in an article I was reading, and is so delightfully silly I had to share.

#108 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2020, 06:01 PM:


My home's a safe where I keep safe inside;
Distance and loneness my vault. I guard my skin
See no one, go nowhere. Here I hide
To help my chance that virus won't creep in.

Millions like me, fending for themselves,
Each one alone within their self-scribed space,
Must venture now and then to empty shelves
And view a screen to find a friendly face.

One by one, the commons quarantine:
Wash our hands of meetings, lock our doors,
And passers on the street leave space between
Their paths, recalibrating social mores.

I know it's right, and still it pangs my heart
To pull together from so far apart.

March 2020

#109 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2020, 07:09 AM:

#55 ::: Magenta Griffith

My random batch of science fiction books has arrived from Dreamhaven!

I'm very pleased with it.

The only book I didn't know anything about is The Alpha Trap by Stuart J. Byrne. It seems to be wildly over-written with a lot of negative emotions, and might just suit my mood nicely.

Search the Sky by Pohl and Kornbluth-- I remember the dystopias fondly, especially the gerontocracy.

The Sodom and Gomorrah Business by Malzberg-- Malzberg was way too depressing for my tastes during the New Wave, but I'll at least look at it.

Cryptozooic by Aldiss. I have a faint memory of not liking it way back when, but the back cover looks interesting. I'll try it, my tastes have changed to some extent.

The Complete Venus Equilateral by George O. Smith. Another one who wasn't one of my favorites back when, but for being too dry rather than too depressing. I'll see how it looks now.

The Age of the Pussyfoot by Pohl. Read and liked back when, will try again.

The 9th Galaxy Reader, edited by Pohl. A good assortment. Some classics I remember, some that look unfamiliar.

City at World's End by Edmond Hamilton. Not one of my favorite authors, but still could be fun.

All that for $10!

The amount of Pohl suggests that they were pulled from an alphabetized stash.

#110 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2020, 09:15 AM:

An excellent short story (realistic horror but not about disease): "Flash Flood" by Silas Ralston (my youngest kid, whose day job is managing a planetary science lab).

#111 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2020, 04:01 PM:

P J Evans @ 104: my recollection is quite vague; maybe it specified some sort of large-grain salt (which wouldn't dissolve as quickly). I do remember that mushroom essence was only one ingredient in the sauce, which may have had enough other ingredients that the needed amount of salt wouldn't be too much for the finished sauce. A little more research tells me that "wow-wow sauce" is a real English dish under that name (rather than a changed one like most of Nanny Ogg's recipes, judging by remarks in the Discworld wiki), made of a number of ingredients including mushroom ketchup -- which is described elsewhere as mushrooms salted until they yield liquid, then boiled in the liquid until reduced to a paste. Given that the recipe goes back over two centuries and was used for boiled beef (the original recipe includes some of the boiling liquid), or maybe otherwise overcooked meat, a lot of salt might be considered a net win.

Dave Harmon @ 107: I ran across that very recently, and not for the first time; it seems a favorite word for writers to put in the mouths of rogues.

Kip Williams @ 108: yes. I reread The Stars My Destination last year, and Foyle's last rant keeps popping in my mind:

You goof like pigs, is all. You got the most in you, and you use the least ... Got a million in you and spend pennies. Got a genius in you and think crazies. Got a heart in you and feel empties ... Take a war to make you spend. Take a jam to make you think. Take a challenge to make you great. Rest of the time you sit around lazy, you.
We hope this time enough people will think, even as we get spectacular examples of those who don't. (My partner, who spent 2 decades in insurance, was chortling this morning over the cancellation of the insurance policy of the idiot evangelical who got arrested by a Florida sheriff for holding a mass service despite social distancing.)

#112 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2020, 04:07 PM:

I heard about the insurance company and that church, too - more of those idjit churches should be hearing from their insurers like that.
At least two car insurers are going to send customers rebates because of the stay-home orders, in some states anyway.

#113 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2020, 04:38 PM:

Kip Williams #108: Haunting. May I share it? With attribution, of course.

#114 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2020, 06:20 PM:

I'd missed that about the pastor's insurance. It does seem appropriate.

#115 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2020, 07:51 PM:

CHip @111, mushroom discussion: 18th century re-enactor YouTuber does Mushroom Catsup :)

#116 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2020, 10:05 PM:

Dave Harmon #113, yes, you may. Thanks for asking.

I also read this in a video on Twitter a few days ago:

#117 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2020, 11:50 AM:

I made a loaf of sourdough bread from starter. ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!

#118 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2020, 07:51 PM:

Congratulations to elise - she's been nominated for Best Fan Artist!

#119 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2020, 11:22 AM:

Chip @ #111, thanks for the heads-up on that insurance story! Insurance, like farming, is one of those professions that enforce frequent contact with external reality.

estelendur @ #115, I love Jon Townsend. The Bob Ross of 18th-c. cooking! Also he's how I learned about Michael Twitty:

stefan @ #117, woohooo!!

PJ @ #118, Adding my congratulations to elise--this makes me so happy!

#120 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2020, 07:22 PM:

Here's a fresh one from this morning.


Well, come on, ladies, kids, and men:
Dumb ol' Don's dropped the ball again,
Endangering folks like me and you,
Empowerin' covfefe flu,
So pack up your lives 'n' put on a mask--
We're facin' up our biggest task!

And it's one, two, three, what're we dyin' for?
Don't touch me, I gotta keep clean!
Next stop is quarantine.
And it's five, six, seven, keep your distance, guy!
Maybe you don't have a clue, but WHOOPS! I don't wanna die.

Hey, Senate Gops you're moving fast.
Don't dare dump those doomed stocks last!
Gotta pick up more drug stocks now;
Folks'll pay for their meds somehow,
And a crisis like this is the time to act
To keep your ol' wallet packed!

And it's one, two, three...

Well, come on, FEMA, don't be late!
It's time to step right to that plate,
And deny requests from states of blue
That don't kowtow to You-Know-Who,
And if they find supplies somehow
Jump in there an' grab 'em now!

And it's one, two, three...

Come on, deniers across the land:
Touch someone with your ungloved hand.
Come on, churches, don't hesitate:
Infect your flocks, before it's too late.
You know they're all as dumb as rocks:
So quarantine 'em in a box!

And it's one, two, three...

[ttto: Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin-To-Die Rag by Country Joe McDonald]

#121 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2020, 10:33 PM:

And in large part TTTO Muskrat Ramble by Kid Ory.

#122 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2020, 10:55 PM:

Boy howdy, it does at that. I was thinking the tune reminded me of something else... I think... but Muskrat Ramble puts it right out of my mind, if it was ever there.

#123 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2020, 11:55 AM:

PJ Evans @ 112: I got email from my insurer (not one of the first two) a couple of days ago. Not a lot of money (15% of 2 months' cost) considering that I'm driving ~95% less than I would normally be, but nothing to sniff at.

estelendur @ 115: interesting! The references I found looked as if everything were reduced (macerated?) to a thin paste (looking a bit more viscous than typical tomato ketchup), where this version separates the liquid (but keeps the dried mushrooms to sprinkle on dishes). Maybe I'll try that.

Kip Williams @ 120: Brilliant! (even though I was unfamiliar enough with the source that I didn't catch on until the chorus).

AKICIML: for some reason I've had the musical of The Secret Garden knocking around my mind, and I'm remembering a comment (which I would swear was made here, albeit many years ago) about a (probably set-concluding) book which went on so much about somebody's eyes that the commenter was expecting to hear a chorus of "Lily's Hazel Eyes". Either the song title or reference was more convoluted or the comment was buried deeper than ere did Google sound, because a simple Google search for "hazel eyes" in ML finds only somebody's mention of their own eye color. Does anyone remember this? Can anyone find it, or think of what it might have been in reference to?

#124 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2020, 03:33 PM:

Mad props from everyone in my little circle to whoever wrote that COVFEFEVIRUS RAG filk of Country Joe. We are not worthy.

I wish had more useful things to contribute here, but I'm not doing well with text-only online virtual communities anymore. I do wish everyone here well, and I wish I were better able to maintain a semblance of normal civility. Still lurking. And missing the camaraderie.

#125 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2020, 04:53 PM:

CHip @123: The original song title is simply “Lily’s Eyes”, if that helps; I wonder if the book comment might’ve been wrt Harry Potter....

#126 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2020, 07:05 PM:

#124: I wrote it. If I run something by someone else, I give attribution.

#127 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2020, 09:06 PM:

"Lily's Eyes" is from the musical version of The Secret Garden. Really takes liberties with the book, but Mandy Patinkin + Robert Westenburg do an amazing duet.

#128 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2020, 09:38 PM:

There’s also a fantastic all-female performance of “Lily’s Eyes” onYouTube, by Uzo Aduba (of whom I mostly know as Bismuth from “Steven Universe”) and Rachel Bay Jones (not otherwise unknown to me, but I’m pretty out of touch with recent entertainment).

It’s from the “Broadway Backwards” series, which specializes in gender-swapped perfornances— their versions of “Dear Theodosia” and “have a Little Priest” are also amazing. Speaking of which, the same sponsoring organization also staged the original cast of _Hamilton_ performing a very special tribute to _Sweeney Todd_....

#129 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2020, 08:09 AM:

Apropos of nothing, but thought some folks here would enjoy this: "subway map" of the Roman roads of Britain:

#130 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2020, 05:33 PM:

The original source of the Roman Britain map is here.

Roman Britain Tube Map

The image can be enlarged to a much more readable size than the Twitter version.

#131 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2020, 10:27 AM:


Starting a new loaf of sourdough bread.


#132 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2020, 02:02 PM:

...I don't think you're supposed to administer it nasally...?

#133 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2020, 02:46 PM:

Kip @126, thanks for confirming. I'll be sure to credit you if I ever make a copy. (So far, I've just forwarded links to the original.)

#134 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2020, 04:01 PM:

I went to work this morning, though the order was "Stay home."
My services are vital: they would know if I was gone.
Two months ago they screamed at me for something or another
But now they all applaud me while they're safely under cover.
Entitlement, entitlement! Entitled I must be
For not believing that they all respect me finally.
Respect me finally, yeah, respect me finally,
Let's see how they treat me next year--respect me, finally?

When Congress said they'd pass a bill, I knew what it would be:
The corporations got a pile, with pennies left for me.
They break the unions, gerrymander, try to stop our voices,
And say that if we're sick and broke, we must have made bad choices.
Entitlement, entitlement! How dare we want fair pay,
But it's "Heroes of the country" with a virus on the way.
A virus on the way, yeah, a virus on the way,
O it's "Heroes of the country" with a virus on the way.

Hey, ain't it funny how they give us each other to blame
While they're the ones who pass the bills that ‮wercs‬ us all the same?
I wonder what would happen if we made friends with our neighbors
And used our democratic power to get fair pay for labor.
Entitlement, entitlement! The ones who keep us poor
Send us to deadly danger and call this our finest hour.
Is this our finest hour, is this our finest hour?
Did we earn more than their praises after this, our finest hour?

No matter where we come from, we all do the vital jobs
And keep them safe and healthy while they call us lazy slobs.
They applaud us and they laud us when their ‮ssa‬ is on the line,
But we know that they'll deport us when they think that they'll be fine.
Entitlement, entitlement! We worked hard for this dream.
We paid up all our taxes--can the rich folks say the same?
No, they can't say the same, no, they can't say the same!
And they call us the takers when they cannot say the same.

Do they think a parade will pay the massive debt they owe?
Do they think we don't notice all the scummy things they do?
We need fair pay, we need time off, we need security,
We need to get together to save this democracy.
Entitlement, entitlement! Say we're the ones to blame
And pick our pockets while they do it--that's their little game.
When the offices are open, when the hot zones have gone cold,
Keep an eye on how they treat us--and don't let yourselves be fooled!

(end with a few bars of "Solidarity Forever" or "The Union Maid")

#135 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2020, 05:21 PM:

Jenny Islander #134: Brava!

#136 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2020, 06:14 PM:

Julie L. @ 125: I guessed an hour after posting that the last Potter was the source; the puzzle always solves itself when the solver backs away from it. I foolishly hadn't checked the CD jacket for the proper title, which couldn't have helped my search.

AKICIML-sub-two, aka now I'm looking for a tool: typing
gets nothing but an offer to search for
     lily's eyes:nielsen
, which also gets nothing relevant (hits with one or the other, or sometimes both with wide separation). Any suggestions on refining this? I'm sure Julie has the right of this, but a lesson in how to fish could be helpful downstream.

Jenny Islander @ 134: Brava! I can also imagine George Turner applauding from beyond the grave; his appreciation for "Tommy" shows through in a number of his works

#137 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2020, 06:26 PM:

Lila @ 129: indeed neat, although I hadn't realized the Romans built a road all the way up to Perth.

#138 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2020, 08:54 PM:

I have just rewatched the "Make a plan to vote" videos with Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Teresa's Particles.

Great reminders, great to watch again -- even if they didn't actually work last time, they're still pretty marvelous. And it's good to have a laugh during the lockdown.

#139 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2020, 12:47 AM:

CHip #136: It looks like the search query was missing the "site:" keyword. Try:

#140 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2020, 10:47 AM:

Jenny Islander @134, wonderful

#141 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2020, 05:19 PM:

Jenny Islander @134: that's really good.

#142 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2020, 07:30 PM:

For it's Jenny this, and Jenny that,
An' Chuck the rotter off!
But it's saviour of 'er country
When the bosses start to cough!

#143 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2020, 05:40 PM:

TomB@139: that's it! Thank you. I think I had the template correct at one point and munged it during use; I now have multiple copies and hope I won't break it again.

Kip Williams @ 142: cute -- at least for certain bosses; one wonders whether anyone will listen to cries for help from (e.g.) Bolsonaro or Lukashenko if they get sick, or just mimic them like the disco flashback in Airplane. (Yes, my mind is off its leash; I've been rereading the extracted Mike.)

#144 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2020, 11:50 PM:

I've been walking around the neighborhood a lot for exercise. (What I could do since being one of the last people out of the nearby Y before it closed down 5.5 weeks ago.) My partner confirms my impression that there are an unusual, not to say inordinate, number of robins about. (She's been up only for walking for several years; I got in the habit of more vigorous exercise when my job moved out of bicycle range, so I didn't have a good baseline.) They're migratory, which suggests they're not just survivors of a relatively mild winter; has anyone else noticed this and speculated on why they're so abundant? Other common birds don't seem any more common; I did meet a turkey that was strolling down the local main drag a few days ago -- first I've seen in so thoroughly built-over a setting, although they're found anywhere there's a bit of green in a built-up area and this was in between business districts.

#145 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2020, 11:59 PM:

Recommended just for strange: the UK National Theatre, which had been doing showings in movie houses of recordings of its plays, has made some of them available via their channel on YouTube. Their Jane Eyre (an exercise in reusing a fixed set and cast) may have rolled off by now, but my partner says it mostly follows the book (and gets in much more than the movie of ~9 years ago); in Treasure Island, "Jim" is short for "Jemima", and there are other defiances of Stevenson Jr.'s request, plus assorted strange changes, some almost-parody moments, and a truly strange Ben Gunn (more like what you'd expect from a social person who was marooned some years ago).

#146 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2020, 10:21 AM:

@144, I've noticed that there are more robins about myself, but I've ascribed it to a rebounding of the population after it was decimated by the West Nile virus several years back. (There was a few years when I hardly ever saw a robin or a corvid at all.)

I could, of course, be wrong. But (American) robins, at least the ones I've seen, seem to be fearless around humans (rather like pigeons) and so I wouldn't expect a huge behavior change from them with fewer humans out-and-about.

#147 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2020, 02:12 PM:

I saw a wren outside my window this morning. That's the first one I've seen in this area - I assume they've been hiding in the shrubbery.

#148 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2020, 06:47 PM:

Walking around Houston I feel like I've seen the normal mix of birds: lots of great-tailed grackles, some pigeons, starlings, robins, mockingbirds, lots of little brown sparrows. I'll hear a cardinal occasionally.

#149 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2020, 01:48 AM:

Jenny Islander @134 - Brava! Another follow-up could be "Which Side Are You On?"

#150 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2020, 12:25 PM:

David Goldfarb @148 -

Jays, mockingbirds and grackles have been noisy around my house. More than the usual number of anoles, lizarding along the walls. You can usually tell by the cats inside standing stock still staring at the dinosaurs through the patio window.

#151 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2020, 02:23 PM:

An addition to my @145: NT Live's latest email says that next week their YouTube channel will be running the Frankenstein in which Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate in the two principle roles. Twelfth Night (currently playing) has good speaking, contemporary setting, and an incredible set, and makes the group that prank Malvolia (the most visible cross-casting) look like dreadful people.

@146: interesting; I'd missed that there had been a population drop. Perhaps I would have noticed had I been doing more varied walking -- trying to cycle through all of the local streets instead of just taking majors to specific destinations -- over some years.

#152 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2020, 01:20 PM:

AKICIML: I have set a toe over on the dark side, downloading a Kindle reader to my laptop in order to read library and/or free e-books that aren't in better formats. (I have problems of flexibility with both Adobe's reader and the direct-in-my-browser display, and Overdrive no longer offers software for Windows 7. (No, I'm not upgrading a machine that holds too much of my sanity when I don't know how long making the system usable would take.)) My question is how to get rid of annotations other people seem to have left in the e-books; the underlined sections aren't as horrifying as scribbles in a physical book, but they're distracting. I thought annotations were personal -- the it's-almost-overdue email from Amazon says that any I made will be remembered -- but the first book I read had scattered underlines when I opened it. Any thoughts?

#153 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2020, 07:40 PM:

CHip @152, I vaguely remember Kindle having a "show popular highlights" setting that I thought was turned off by default, but maybe that's changed?

#154 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2020, 02:08 AM:

They are personal-ish, like your search history: I can't look up a list of your annotations or searches, but Amazon and Google know how many people highlighted that or searched for this.

There is indeed an option, as Jeremy says, in the Kindle app. I'm not sure where it lives in the desktop version.

#155 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2020, 06:34 PM:

AKICIML - Foodie Edition:

This weekend we made Mexican style pulled pork in our slow cooker. Being in a slow cooker, there was a lot of liquid, which turned into a lot of a mole style sauce. Most of it got used to dress the pork after shredding, but there’s still a generous cup of it in my freezer.

Any suggestions for what I can make with the leftover sauce? Neither of us care for food that is swimming in sauce, but tossed to coat is fine.

#156 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2020, 07:27 PM:

HLN: Area retiree has had a nightmare of being somewhere in public and realizing that self is without a mask.
Whatever happened to just being naked??

#157 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2020, 05:51 PM:

@155: I would save it for a Tired Day and also have some frozen skinless boneless chicken on hand (because it cooks quickly and easily). Saute', poach, or pressure cook the chicken; slice; dress with some of the sauce (refreeze the rest); and serve with tortillas or rice and some salad stuff or microwaved veggies or a melon. So you get dinner in about half an hour, and then you can go collapse.

#158 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2020, 03:45 AM:

Jenny Islander #134, great!

#155: goes nicely in pumpkin soup

#159 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2020, 03:48 AM:

May Day:

From San Diego up to Maine, in every mine and mill

#160 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2020, 12:37 PM:

Another entry in my ongoing quest to cook dinner for six people who have partially intersecting lists of things they cannot or must not eat.

Stroganoff Stew (Beef Daube with Mushrooms and Onions)

NOTE: This is a "white" stew. Do not brown any of the ingredients.

1 to 2 pounds lean beef, such as bottom round steak
Black pepper
2 medium yellow, white, or sweet onions
1 8 oz. can mushrooms
Beef, chicken, and/or vegetable broth and/or water
Any mustard that sounds tasty
1 pound boiling potatoes (optional)
Fat-free plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, or use full-fat yogurt or thick sour cream if you can

Small stew pot
Cutting board
Kitchen and paring knives
Tasting spoons
Small bowl and sturdy spoon

Trim any surface fat from the meat and discard. Cube the meat. Sprinkle with cornstarch and a lot of pepper. Place it in the pot.

Cut the onions into short slivers and put them in.

Open the can of mushrooms and drain it into the pot. Dice the mushrooms if you are cooking for somebody who has texture issues. Put them into the pot.

Pour in broth and/or water to submerge the meat. Add a generous squirt of mustard, bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 hour.

At this point you can trim (do not peel) the potatoes and cut them into chunks. (Here is where I take some stew out, season as at the end of this recipe, and send it to the person who can't eat potatoes or dairy, with a caution that it may need more cooking.) Add to the pot, put in more broth or water if needed to submerge them, bring to a boil again, cover, reduce the heat, and cook 30 minutes more. Or don't add potatoes and instead cook the stew for an hour and a half total without them.

Put a spoonful of cornstarch--about 2 tablespoons--into the small bowl. Dollop in some yogurt or sour cream, about a cup and a half, and stir well. Ladle in some hot stew, stir, pour this into the pot, add lots of dill, stir again, heat through, adjust the seasoning with more pepper, and serve.

You can cook potatoes separately, or try white or brown rice, egg noodles, or short pasta. Serve with something crisp (I did celery sticks last night, but you could get fancier). Makes excellent leftovers, which I am eating now.

#161 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2020, 02:45 PM:

Ah, yes: the "Moonmoth" nightmare.

Thanks for the various suggestions on Kindle highlighting. There is no toothed wheel (the usual symbol for tools); a bit of experimentation with a "Show Notebook" button has allowed me to make underlining that I didn't previously see appear, but now that it's on (for a book that didn't previously show it) I'm not finding a way to turn it off -- restarting Kindle doesn't shift it, and a rollover claims I can get a submenu by hitting Space but that doesn't actually do anything. If I'd actually paid money for any Kindle-format e-books (rather than getting them from the library) I would not be happy with this; I wonder whether HSAR decided not to bother bringing the downloaded product up to the mark, on the grounds that its uses were less profitable for them.

So how many others have been seeing unusual weather? The Boston Globe reports that the month just past was only the 19th-coldest April by average, but it was consistently cold: in a century and a half of recording keeping, every other April has managed to beat this month's high (62F). They also claim that the low was only 31F, which seems strange when there was snowfall not immediately melting on one day and frost on another, but the official recording point is probably closer to the heart of Boston than I am -- or perhaps at the airport, which abuts the "bay" and may therefore see less-extreme temperatures than inland.

#162 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2020, 05:36 PM:

thomas @ #158:
Pumpkin soup, you say? I’ve never made it, but it sounds tasty. Would the mole be instead of the usual aromatics, or in addition to them?

#163 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2020, 11:03 AM:

CHip @161, I haven't checked the record books, but Ann Arbor got at least five different snowfalls in April (approximately none of which stuck), as well as two graupel-falls (a new word to me: like soft hail or snow pellets), which I think is more consistently cold than April has been any time I remember. Weirdly, just about all of that happened in the later two-thirds of the month...

#164 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2020, 06:07 PM:

This is the chilliest spring I remember for Philadelphia.

#165 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2020, 06:32 PM:

It was an unusually cool April in L.A - up until the last week.

#166 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2020, 11:11 PM:

Obviously, the decreases in travel caused by the virus-based restrictions have led to the reversal of global warming! Yay!

But seriously, I hope that one positive outcome of the pandemic will be to teach people that teleconferencing and remote working are more feasible than they'd thought before, with a long-term decrease in business travel and commuting.

#167 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2020, 05:03 AM:

Joel Polowin @166: " I hope that one positive outcome of the pandemic will be to teach people that teleconferencing and remote working are more feasible than they'd thought before, with a long-term decrease in business travel and commuting." Me too. I was talking with someone who, in normal times, has to travel from the UK to the Netherlands at least once a month for meetings. Basically loses 3 days each time, due to travel, and the monetary costs are travel, hotels, eating out... At the moment they are managing all of it by remote meetings, and he's going to be arguing to keep it that way afterwards: it's cheaper and more efficient(and he doesn't have to be away from home). However, those who see that sort of travel, with business-class flights/1st class train travel, staying in top-end hotels, going out for lunch and lavish dinners as important perks of their jobs, and going to be less enthusiastic.

As for commuting: my husband has gained about 15 hours per week at the moment, with no commuting. He's keen to see if he can keep most of that (I was working from home 4 days a week anyway, and found that about right for me).

And if there -are- fewer people flying here and there for business, then fewer flights will be needed, so we don't need to keep expanding air capacity. From an ecological standpoint I think that's good.

#168 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2020, 12:07 PM:

Happy Star Wars Day, everybody! May the Fourth be with you!

I'm celebrating by rereading my favorites from the Tatooine Slave Culture tag at AO3. (The gist: Anakin having been born into slavery should not have been put in for local color and then forgotten. It is the seed for an entire alternate universe in which he remembers his birth culture and acts accordingly. Dukkra ba dukkra!)

#169 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2020, 01:01 PM:

And it's the fiftieth anniversary of the Kent State Massacre. Let us not forget, while the innocent are being passively killed, that sometimes it's been active here in the US.

#170 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2020, 10:19 PM:

Which ones would you recommend?

#171 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2020, 11:40 AM:

@170: Anything by Fialleril. They dug deeply into the culture of chattel slavery and created an organic culture and language for the slaves on Tatooine, originating the Tatooine Slave Culture tag. For example, "Dukkra ba dukkra" may be translated as "Freedom or death," but you will notice that there are only two words in that sentence. This is analogous to American slaves using the Jordan River, and rivers in general, as metaphors for both freedom (get across the river into a non-slaveholding state) and death (which involves entry into another state, in which slavery no longer exists). One more river to cross.

The series isn't all grim, but it doesn't sugarcoat the effects of slavery on culture and pysche.

#172 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2020, 12:40 PM:


#173 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2020, 05:05 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 166: NPR reported this morning that For [SSA] Federal Employees, Telework Means Productivity Is Up, Their Backlog Is Down -- despite Trump's belief that WFH is a benefit that employees should have to trade for.

dcb @ 167: And if there -are- fewer people flying here and there for business, then fewer flights will be needed, so we don't need to keep expanding air capacity. It will be interesting to see how that works out. I read some months ago about a plan for a 3rd independent runway at Heathrow (despite the communities that would have to be dismantled, not just suffer under increased noise); a story within the last week said that BA may not restore Gatwick service after the world has gotten back to the newest normal, which left me wondering whether the Heathrow expansion will be formally axed or just pushed off over and over again.

#174 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2020, 06:32 PM:

CHip @173: <business_guy>If companies can get employees to pay for something that benefits the employers, why shouldn't they?</business_guy>

#175 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2020, 12:40 AM:

Sooooo my 16-year-old's latest video on her Youtube channel leads with an F-bomb. When asked why, she informed me that if she does not curse like a sailor, the Youtube algorithm will probably classify her channel as "kid-friendly" and automatically demonetize it and remove her community tab.


#176 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2020, 07:59 AM:

CHip, I have a sneaking suspicion the desire to turn Heathrow into a single giant hub goes along with a desire to shut down Gatwick and Stansted, so threats to shut down services at Gatwick don't count as evidence that enthusiasm for Heathrow Runway 3 is going away.

Moving from the particular to the general, in my dealings with libertarians I often find they have a naive belief that naturally-evolving unregulated systems will spread out and equalise in a nice way, while my experience of the natural world tells me that bunching up, clumping, inequality and other nasty effects are frequent natural phenomena.

#177 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2020, 05:17 PM:

Jenny Islander #175: The revenge of unintended consequences....

So, I seem to have a new species of lizard by my door -- clearly not the five-lined skinks I'm used to. This is rather larger than the skinks were, a smooth dark grey-brown but with a red head or lower heard (two different individuals, I'm pretty sure.) Interestingly, I don't see them on the Virginia Herpetological site....

#178 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2020, 05:38 PM:

After reviewing the pictures, maybe not two separate individuals, just different angles. Also the body color came out as a more even gray with black speckles that weren't so obvious by eye. (I do lurve my zoom lens).

Having revived my ImageShack account:

#179 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2020, 08:06 PM:

Pretty skink!
(I suspect it's just a color variation on the usual one.)

#180 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2020, 12:57 AM:

Systemic anal metaplasia: when cells throughout someone's body turn into bits of asshole.

Probably doesn't exist except metaphorically.

#181 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2020, 11:24 AM:

Dave Harmon (#178):

That looks a lot like a Broad-headed Skink:

I've spotted them in Maryland in exactly the same sort of habitat described there (low woodland hills on the Eastern Shore (i.e. right on the bluffs overlooking the Bay), in late May.)

#182 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2020, 12:24 PM:

ICYMI: the WH is blocking the CDC's reopening plans for business. The link to the plan (17-pages) is here:

Spread it around!

#183 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2020, 12:30 PM:

lorax #181: It does look similar, and the article you link specifically mentions the red jaw.

This fellow was living (or at least hiding) under my air-conditioning unit next to my doorway. Putting together hints from the article, I'd guess that he'd come down from the trees (and perhaps down South) to find a mate.

#184 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2020, 06:50 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 180: oh, like the induhvidual who posted (under the wipers of a number of cars, including one belonging to a nurse) flyers reading ~"Stop calling medics heroes! Soldiers are the only heroes!" (The original went on at much greater length.) IIRC my partner found a picture of this being relayed around Facebook. Don't ask me what I think should happen to this person -- I might be cross enough to go into detail.

#185 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2020, 10:05 PM:

Chip #184: I've got a simple one: They should get their Covid treatment from a field medic.

#186 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2020, 09:51 AM:

Whoa: Zach Weiner-Smith has just tweeted out "Beowulf: Abridged Beyond the Point of Usefulness" and it is dare-I-say epic.

Then Scyld died. Done death-dealing he went to God.
So they filled a boat with stuff, set Scyld inside,
Said some good speeches, sunk it undersea.
Blades, bullion, battle-gear. Best burial ever.

#187 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2020, 09:54 AM:

Ugh, not sure what that errant hyphen is doing. It's Weinersmith

#188 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2020, 09:57 AM:

Dave Harmon @178: re. skinks - lovely photo. Info online suggests that in the five-lined skink both the blue colour and the stripes fade with age, and that males develop a red lower head in the breeding season - so maybe what you have there is an older adult male?

#189 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2020, 07:37 PM:

dcb #188: It is faintly possible, but this was also notably larger than the other, clearly five-lined skinks I've seen. I don't know if the darker speckles on the side are diagnostic either way.

#190 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2020, 08:17 PM:

What I'm seeing is that adult male skinks in both species lose the striping with age, but the males have the most noticeable red heads in breeding season, and they're bigger than the females.

#191 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2020, 03:04 AM:

Hello open thread,

I saw this, and thought of you.

That is all.

More later, possibly. Possibly very later.



#192 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2020, 01:04 PM:

HLN: Area filker posts his own COVID-19 parody video. He is somewhat relieved that he can now try to get it out of his brain.

#193 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2020, 12:21 PM:

Joel Polowin @192: Thank you for sharing your filk - I enjoyed it.

#195 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2020, 05:11 PM:

Jacque -- Yes, I'd heard his version, and it made me twitchy because by changing only the few words that he did, he'd made the song no longer make a lot of sense. Or so it seemed to me. "Don't touch me, I won't touch you" isn't consistent with "Hurting runs off my shoulders / How can I hurt when holding you?"

#196 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2020, 11:57 PM:

NESFA Press Physical Book Discount for COVID-19 Period
NESFA is discounting some print editions; might check out Making Book and Making Conversation as well as Lifelode

#197 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2020, 01:41 PM:

oh, fun! There's a Murderbot novella scheduled for next spring!

#198 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2020, 10:55 PM:

More on the NESFA thing here.

I find it entertaining that they don't mention it at all on the website. But I suppose it's a 'if you know, you know' thing.

#199 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2020, 09:18 AM:

AKICIML Alert in re domain registrations:

If one has a word, and one wants to register some variations on that word, and make these registrations across several top-level domain, is there a particular service one would use, one which is not overly expensive or overly cumbersome?

Asking for a friend, and that friend is me.

#200 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2020, 02:46 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 185: good one! Printable suggestions I've also heard include getting a fighter jock to set the MAGAT's broken leg, or just refusing to treat them because it's too dangerous.

#201 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2020, 03:12 PM:

Meanwhile, Republican state Secretaries of State are having to paddle madly to back down on the Republican premise that making voting easier supports fraud: 'It's Partly On Me': GOP Official Says Fraud Warnings Hamper Vote-By-Mail Push.

#202 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2020, 09:20 AM:

Congrats to Jo Walton on her book Tooth And Claw being Tor's free book this month. I hope it inspires many many people to buy many many of her other books!

#203 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2020, 12:43 PM:

New Bujold novella. "The Physicians of Vilnoc".

Book 8 in the Penric & Desdemona series.

#204 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2020, 05:54 PM:

Wondering how Bartleby would feel about working from home.

#205 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2020, 06:04 PM:

I think he would choose not to.

#206 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2020, 12:50 AM:

I'm watching a PBS show about eagles RN and there's this guy, Lloyd Buck, who's had a golden eagle named Tilly for 20 years. Every time he's on camera with her it's obvious that this is as close as humankind can come to being best friends with a dragon, and also obvious that he knows it.

The bits where Tilly consents to carry a camera on her back, so you can look down at her head and wings as she soars, should be used as reference for a Dragonriders of Pern movie or series.

#207 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2020, 10:06 PM:

Michael I. (203): Thanks! I had missed that one.

#208 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2020, 06:29 PM:

Cassie B @202: People in North America, anyway - the rest of us can't join the TOR book club, alas!

#209 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2020, 02:32 AM:

So our early-'80s electric range is finally beginning to wear out, and I am ripping my hair out trying to replace the thing. Does anybody know where I can find an oven with four burners on top that is:

*Electric coil, NOT smoothtop/conduction--I don't want to buy all new cookware or special cleaners
*Ideally completely computer free--no, not even a digital clock or timer! I have 4 kitchen timers and 3 clocks already!
*If I can't escape useless digital features entirely, I want one that is 100 percent guaranteed NOT to have online capability, even the kind the manufacturer thinks is not worth mentioning (why the hell would a range need updates?!)
*Not humongous--I have already figured out that the pros still get ranges that just cook things, but I don't have room for a professional-size range

#210 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2020, 02:35 AM:

Also, I don't need special oven-cleaning features. I can clean it myself with baking soda and vinegar. I don't need a super convection oven either. I am just. Baking. A. Ham.

#211 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2020, 08:26 AM:

Jenny @209/210:

I just searched on one of the big-box websites (the blue one), and I found several that meet your criteria. I saw cook tops (no oven) in 30" and 24" with nothing fancy, and ranges (with oven) in 30" with nothing fancy.

#212 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2020, 12:35 PM:

Every one I have seen on those sites comes with one-touch this and digital that, and none of them promises that the computer won't screw up the function of the oven when it inevitably loses sectors or needs an update or something. That's the part I am still worried about. We have a car that has digital this and that, and now that the computer is too old to update, the gear shift indicator is useless.

I want to make the oven hot, and then put something into it, and set the timer I already have (not the one built into the thing that gets hot--seriously why are they putting computers into things that get hot?!), and go do laundry, and come back in when the timer rings and take the item out. No keep-warm. No self-shutoff. Just make hot and cook.

#213 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2020, 05:50 PM:

The second result I got for "24" range" was this one:

It sure looks like every sensor there is hardwired, not computerized. Not even a clock. No preheat beeper, nothing.

#214 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2020, 07:23 PM:

I checked the website for a local appliance store - I got my fridge there, discounted because it's slightly dinged - and they have "coil stoves": GE, Whirlpool, Hotpoint, Amana. You can at least compare models.|ER:ER20RC|ER:ER30RC|ER:ER36A

#215 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2020, 02:57 PM:


#216 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2020, 06:51 PM:

Oven thread: thank you from here, also. I'm down to two functioning burners, and have needed to replace mine for a while, now, with identical criteria to Jenny Islander's.

#217 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2020, 07:52 PM:

OVEN: I'm sorry, but I can't let you bake. I am detecting a significant level of alcohol on your breath.

HUMAN: I'm trying to bake bread. You're detecting the bread dough.

OVEN: Sez you. Heard that before.

HUMAN: Anyway, what difference would that make? Even if it were true, which it isn't?

OVEN: It's a safety feature. Didn't you watch the instructional video?

#218 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 10:37 AM:

Whoa, check this out: "A visit from St. Nicholas" to the tune of "The Cowboy's Lament".

#219 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 11:24 AM:

Uncle Hugos (oldest SF bookstore in the country) and Uncle Edgars in Minneapolis were destroyed last night. There are credible reports that out of state white supremacists were responsible this and many other the places burned in the last two nights - minority businesses, the public library, other community centers. I am too distraught to think clearly.

#220 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 01:08 PM:

Magenta Griffith @#219, that's horrible! I have fond memories of both those stores from my one-and-only visit to Elise. How horrible that even protests against white supremacist violence are being hijacked by white supremacist violence.

#221 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 01:15 PM:

If not by them, then by white anarchists - similar goal: burn it all down.
I hope there will be a fund/restock drive to replace them.

#222 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 04:52 PM:

Speaking as a white anarchist, our goals are not similar to white supremacists, thank you very much. And even my most misguided kin are generally capable of distinguishing between minority businesses and, say, banks and cop shops. Do you have any reason to believe that, or is it just uninformed speculation?

#223 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 05:48 PM:

Devin, white guys carrying hammers and non-COVID masks aren't standard at peaceful protests. The state is saying that at least 80% of those they've arrested so far are from outside the area, including outside the state. There are reports of people on FB urging others to come to MN and loot.

#224 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 06:06 PM: is kind of like Amazon in that I would not generally consider ordering from there, but they have lots of information about the brands. I think as long as the range has knobs you can just ignore the digital clock and what not -- it doesn't matter if those break. Ditto the self-cleaning feature: just don't use it (it makes horrible fumes anyway, being essentially a way to cremate the crap in the oven, plus possibly heat up electronic bits more than usual). So something like this ought to be okay:

Personally I really, really want an induction range, and could afford the Frigidaire models, but they refuse to make one in white, which ticks me off. (I would be okay with stainless, but my husband, who currently does most of the cooking, would rather cook on two burners forever than have a stove that didn't match the fridge and dishwasher. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ At least it is green of us not to replace something that doesn't absolutely have to be replaced, I suppose.)

#225 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 06:52 PM:

P J Evans @ 223

Yes, with you so far. Where you lose me is the leap to "therefore they are anarchists" and/or "anarchists love fire, are chill with white supremacy, and hate bookstores, so it was probably them."

Everything you've described is very well explained by the original offered thesis: white supremacist provocateurs. I don't understand why you've leapt to suggest that it might be anarchists instead, given that the actions taken seem very well aligned with white supremacist provocation and less well-aligned with even the dumbest and worst black-bloc types.

On a similar note, police are VERY quick to blame anarchists (or at least their straw-man visions of such) and equally slow to blame white supremacists. The only official claim of "radical" or leftist provocation that I've seen comes from noted liar William Barr. (Admittedly, I didn't go deep, but I didn't see those claims in Frey's or Walz's prominent statements.)

When you say "anarchist" do you actually mean anarchists, or is that just a word you picked to represent some asshole who likes broken glass? Because we're actual people with real beliefs, we do hate cops, but only some of us like broken glass and even those ones hate white supremacy and wouldn't generally rank independent bookstores or minority-owned businesses as targets.

#226 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 08:24 PM:

Possibly not - but they have similar methods. And clothing.

#227 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 09:54 PM:

In happier news... the Hugo Packet is out! And only two of the novels appear to be excerpts...

#228 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2020, 12:23 AM:

Devin, what terminology would you find appropriate to describe people who enjoy smashing stuff specifically as part of a fight against law and order, and/or trying to stir up race conflict with the aim of working towards a perceived inevitable race war?

#229 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2020, 11:57 PM:

Among other things, Boogaloo Bois.

#230 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2020, 08:22 AM:

kate, my husband, whose summer wardrobe consists of dozens of Aloha shirts, is dismayed and appalled that the Boogaloo Bois are turning such shirts into symbols of far-right racism.

#231 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2020, 04:38 PM:

Joel, why not "black bloc" (for "those anarchists who use black bloc tactics but not the rest") and "white supremacist" (because I don't really give a shit what other, non-violent* white supremacists think of that) respectively?

My problem is that there really don't seem to be any anarchists (black bloc or otherwise) involved. So asking "what would you call [Group probably responsible] and/or [Group that wasn't there]" is a hell of a leading question. Sorta one of those "Hitler and Gandhi both wanted the British out of India" things: sure yeah, there are a few tactical similarities but the differences are much, much deeper.

I understand how someone could be exasperated and disdainful of, or furious at, black-bloc-ists. It makes me sad that some people, apparently, just can't tell the difference between Leo Tolstoy or David Graeber (anarchists) and Timothy McVeigh or James Alex Fields (white supremacists).

If you need some flash cards, here's how to tell apart two prominent anarchist and/or white supremacist organizations: in spite of similar clothing and methods(?) the Aryan Brotherhood are the guys who do murders in prisons, while Food Not Bombs are the guys who feed people in parks.

*Though, as an anarchist, I would argue that the effort to enforce white supremacy with the coercive force of the state cannot be "non-violent."

#232 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2020, 08:47 PM:

And more in the thread up and down from that.

#233 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2020, 09:23 PM:

PJ Evans @232, further down in that thread the tweeter says "A final note as I continue my walk away from downtown: some of the graffiti reads like a teenager trying to be edgy." It also reminds me of "Blacks Rule".

#234 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2020, 10:20 PM:

That was in reference to the "666" and some of the other graffiti. The ACAB and circled-A tags are anarchists - and frequently white-supremacist - tags. (I've seen "edgy teenager" tags in my own area. They go for trying to shock people with "satanic" stuff.)

#235 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2020, 11:09 PM:

There used to be a sidelight about packing bug-out bags. How can I find it? Things in Minneapolis were quiet last night, and I hope tonight, but the Resident seems to be intent on making things worse. I don't know what we would do or where we would go, but we might have to go and figure out where later. I started to pack a bag but my brain is mush the last few days.

#236 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2020, 11:31 PM:

Emergency Premaredness Redux includes links to earlier versions.

#237 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2020, 11:33 PM:

That's "preparedness" rather than "premaredness", but the link is good.

#238 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2020, 01:15 AM:

It looks like those are pictures from DC? At least, one of the captions refers to the White House, dunno, is there another one in Minneapolis?

But okay. Your weird move to deflect blame from white supremacists by suggesting that it might be anarchists instead is vindicated because somebody did tag a circle-A in another city.

Honestly, I'm done. The black bloc crowd ain't even my sort and I don't need to defend them (they ain't racists, but lots of them are idiots). You jumped to blame anarchists in the absence of any facts, that's pretty weird and it makes me sad, but I guess you're sticking to it.

#239 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2020, 02:50 PM:

news from Minneapolis: The fundraiser for Uncle Hugo's is up.

#240 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2020, 02:48 PM:

On a completely different note, I want to complain about Safeway's self-checkout system. I tried it once; never again.

Who is this thing even for?

People with social anxiety, headaches, or other reasons to keep their head down and get out? The thing blibber-blabbers everything you are buying to anybody within earshot!

People who need to get out quickly? Even if you turn off the computer voice, you can't scan items any faster than the computer can talk. Walmart has integrated their self-checkout system into their POS software without slowing......everything.......down. Why can't Safeway?

Senior citizens or other people who are physically unsteady or in chronic pain? I mean, sure, there's no line. BUT--if you're tax exempt, you have to have an employee do an override for every single item. Also, the big inviting metal plate on the right side is NOT for setting up your bags where you can reach them. No, no, you apparently have to pile up all of your groceries on the plate, put the bags into your cart, then rearrange the pile of things you checked out in order to find the non-squashable items and put them into the bottoms of the bags, put the more squashable things on top, etc., while the computer constantly babbles at you about how you're upsetting it.

Never again. I should've just stood in line. It would have taken less time, even with two carts ahead of mine.

#241 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2020, 06:38 PM:

Jenny Islander and Jacque, re: stovetops.
I've got a smooth glass top stove, which we got after the previous stove died. I don't think I'd get one again, but it is not super annoying, except that you have to keep it a lot cleaner than a conventional electric stove, though that is not hard. 95%+ of the cleaning is just the purple nylon scrubby pad, dry or with water; sometimes I have to break out the Ceramabrite cleaner soap/abrasive, but one bottle of that lasts me about a year. (With a white cooktop, which we have, burned on stuff is really visible, but it takes a while to cool down after cooking so you can clean it, which generally turns into "just before the next time I cook" instead.)

Unlike inductive stovetops, most of my cookware works just fine; I can't use rough-bottom pans like most cast iron, and it's not great for small things like stove-top exploding mokka pot coffee makers that work ok on electric-coil stoves. Otherwise, it's identical to cooking on any other electric stovetop. (I prefer gas for cooking, but I prefer electric for not making the whole house smell like gas, and not exploding and stuff, and my current place doesn't have gas piping so it wasn't a choice.)

Digital electronics are so cheap that it's pretty hard to avoid digital interfaces these days, but they don't self-destruct anywhere near as fast as analog electromechanical clocks on stoves normally do. (I deal with the too-many-clocks problem by turning off the one on the microwave, which is easy to turn off, and only setting the one on the oven, which is easy to set.) The timer on mine tends to get a bit confused with times over 60 minutes, and sometimes the display shows the temperature the oven actually has, while other times it shows the temperature you're asking it to heat up to, but it's a lot more precise than a mechanical dial even if it may or may not be more accurate.

#242 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2020, 08:10 PM:

I go to Ralph's, where the self-check may or may not have the voice stuff turned on. It doesn't have a revolving anything, it only occasionally decides it needs help from a live person with a key, and it seem to think you're going to put stuff straight into a bag, though it only likes plastic bags. (It can't tare worth anything.)
I can check nearly as fast as the people paid to do it.

#243 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2020, 01:36 AM:

Jenny Islander, P J Evans,

Every self checkout I've ever used has an option where you say "I have a bag", it invites you to put it on the plate and say you've done so, and you're away. AFAIK it doesn't care what sort of bag.

I've never encountered one that says out loud what you're buying. I am having difficulty imaging why this would be even an option, let alone inescapable.

Fortunately we have nothing where the tax rate depends on the purchaser, so I hardly ever need a supervisor unless either I'm buying beer or there's a problem.

J Homes.

#244 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2020, 02:14 AM:

@243: The Safeway self-checkout has an option for "Skip Bagging." You have to push it for every single item that is too big to put into a bag, and the limit is 4. But you aren't bagging the items that are small enough to bag, eitherrrrr??????????? I guesssssss??????? Because if I put a bag on the big flat metal thing the computer starts complaining again. And if I take stuff OFF the big flat metal thing to put it into a bag that is NOT on the metal thing, the computer starts complaining again.

None of what I was trying to do made any sense to the computer. I was trying to do this:

0. Enter Club Card number on same keypad I always use
1. Take items from cart one at a time, heaviest first because bagging
2. Swipe an item, wait for the beep
3. Put it in the bag, which I have, obviously, placed right on the other side of the swipey thing
4. Repeat until bag is full
5. When bag is full, remove bag, replace with empty bag, begin again at step 1
6. When all items have been checked out, pay.

Every single step of this, except payment, had a problem. I am apparently supposed to do something not this, which is obvious to somebody not me.

#245 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2020, 02:54 AM:

My husband just explained that you're supposed to get all of your empty bags ready, set them up on the big flat metal thing, THEN start checking out.

But nowhere on the display does it tell you to do this, and the person whose job it was to watch the machines that day didn't tell me that either.

Also you can only buy as much stuff as you can fit into a line of previously set up bags on the metal-thing-that-is-a-scale-here-but-not-over-there-and-there-is-no-boundary-marker.

#246 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2020, 02:59 AM:

Glass-top stoves: I grew up with one. ::shrug:: Don't really get the point. Given that you need special cleaner & optimally special cookware (we had the fancy corning flat-bottom stuff), I really really don't get the point. I'm old; I just want the thing I'm used to, that works.

Self check-out: you want me to do that job, you damn well pay me to do that job. 'Cept I don't want that job; I'd much rather hire somebody. 'Sides, that's my rare social interaction for the week. Why would I trade that in for a badly designed machine?

Yes, I'm feeling grumpy and annoyed with the world, can you tell?

#247 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2020, 03:05 AM:

@246: I like the self-checkouts at Walmart for the opposite reason. They are fast and quiet and placed so that you can't see anybody else while you use one. When I am out of dealing with people juice, I love that I can just scan and go.

They also don't care whether you bag your stuff or throw it back in the cart or stick it in your pockets or what, as long as you pay.

#248 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2020, 03:55 AM:

Jacque @ 246: my husband generally agrees with you regarding who is/ is not being paid to to do the checkout job. I'll use them if I'm in a hurry and have a relatively small number of things to go through (a basket yes, a trolley, no).

Here in the UK, there's no tax rate thing to cope with, so that's not relevant. There's no voice saying what you're putting in - I presume that's supposed to help those with visual problems? If you want to bag as you go, you need to put all your bags on first and tell the machine. Used to be a real problem if you had cloth rather than plastic bags*, as the machines were not set up to tare for that much weight, but they've improved that over the years. I still don't try to make them accept my cycle panniers. And occasionally if I'm in a store I don't use regularly I can't work out which side I'm supposed to put my basket and which side I'm supposed to put the scanned stuff...

And you're not supposed to remove -anything- from the weighing area until you've finished. Then the moment you've paid a recorded voice starts asking you to remove stuff. Repeatedly. Which is irritating if you now have to take the time to put into cycle panniers with heavy stuff at the bottom, etc.

*I've been given loads of cloth shoulder bags at conferences, including rescuing ones where other people have taken them from the various exhibitors and then dumped them (that sort of waste really annoys me - I've gained a variety of other stuff that way as well). We have dozens of bags, and have distributed to family. They last for years, and I think that even if I get a new job in which I no longer go to the sort of conferences where so many exhibitors hand out bags, we will have enough to last us for the rest of our lives.

#249 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2020, 01:34 PM:

The reason we did a glass-top stove this time was that with a conventional electric stove, when you have a big spill, it's a mess to take things apart and clean it up. (If it's a small spill, the burner rings take care of catching it.) And we got white instead of black because the counters it's next to are white, so every speck on it shows. It's a tradeoff between the occasional big cleanup we knew vs. the constant small cleanup we hadn't really expected.

Self-checkout - the bag handling was a constant problem, back when we were allowed to bring our own. Probably 1/3 of the time I'd have something that needed a manager, whether it was beer or something that didn't scan or a vegetable or whatever. These days I make rare large trips to grocery stores instead of many small ones, so I especially prefer skilled cashiers.

#250 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2020, 05:05 PM:

On reflection, I think the opt-out voice system on the Safeway self-checkout machines, while technically an aid to the visually impaired, was programmed by people who don't realize how annoying it is to be sold something after you already bought it.

Example: I swipe a can of cat food. The machine says, "Fancy Feast. Beef Feast. Classic Pate'. Price, 95 cents. Club Card savings, 25 cents. Your price, 70 cents." THEN you are allowed to swipe the next can.

And if your cat eats 2-3 cans a day, you get to listen to this spiel at least 14 times. And so does everybody around you.

The thing is, you don't actually NEED any of it. Here's a better thing:

You swipe it. Because blind does not mean insensible, you of course have developed your own ways to figure out what you took off the shelf. The computer does not have to reassure you that you are not holding a can of shoe polish or Sterno. In fact, the computer only says, "Next please," when it's time to swipe the next item.

At the end of the transaction, you push the Done button. The computer says, "Your total is. $XX.XX. You saved. $XX.XX. To query an item, press the Q button." It then waits until you dig out whatever you want to query (which you probably set to one side on the scale thingy anyway). NOW it will recite everything about the item for you. After you query the items you weren't sure about, you push Done again and pay.

#251 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2020, 09:34 AM:

Jenny Islander @250:

The self-checkout machines at my local Wegmans merely announces the price, not full details. In your example, the machine would merely say "95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; 95, cents; Do you have any coupons? Total is 5 dollars, 29, cents. Select method of payment. Please follow the instructions on the card reader. Thank you, please take your receipt."

Or something like that. It doesn't announce what each item is, but it does announce the price. It's also quiet enough that I can't really hear what others are doing

I don't use it often, as I feel it is slower than a cashier, and it doesn't pack my bags. It's fine for one or two items, but if I have a cart of items, I'll go to a human checkout. If I had 14 cans of Beef Feast-flavored Fancy Feast, I'd definitely skip the self-checkout.

I think merely saying "Next" after each item wouldn't provide enough feedback. If I hear it say "two, forty-five" when I scan a can of cat food, I'd realize there is a problem, either with how it scanned or with what I bought.

#252 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2020, 01:27 PM:

@251: That would indeed be much better.

#253 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2020, 03:06 PM:

Glass-top stove: Have one, like it, have had them for years and years now. The big pro: Never having to try and clean cooked on crud off a heating element. Cons: Pale in comparison.

Self-checkout: Proud of my ability to use one, always annoyed when I have to call the attendant over. However, they're there for the purpose of eliminating paying jobs, so I usually aim for a checkout counter with a person working there.

#254 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2020, 04:54 PM:

The most talk I normally get from the self-check is "Weigh your. Bananas." (code 4011 - I used to buy them often.)

Seen in the back window of a pickup truck this morning: "Praise the Lowered"

#255 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2020, 10:37 AM:

P J Evans #254:

Was it a low-rider?

#256 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2020, 11:15 AM:

Not that I could see. (I did, in fact, look.)

#257 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2020, 11:48 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 240: I learned to feed any checkout (human or automated) the non-squashable items first, so they'd go in the bottoms of bags. My observation on automated checkouts is that they are frequently designed to look good while satisfying bean-counters' paranoias, rather than to be useful -- and that some companies appear to go cheap even so: northeast chain Stop&Shop, for instance, took some years to be able to parse coupons that had the two-level barcodes (that IIRC existed when S&S first put in automated checkouts). OTOH, they did at least start providing check-as-you-go handhelds, which don't talk (covering one of your issues) and which go through automated checkout very quickly (a few seconds for it to retrieve and display the data); now maybe they'll learn to have a line just for people who use these devices, so everyone who still scans at point of checkout won't slow those of us who could be done quickly. And they don't have weight-on-the-plate issues because they just converted standard aisles instead of building a special area with compact stations; the conveyor belt carries everything under some sort of secondary scanner to pile up in the bagging area (until too much piles up, at which point it tells you to bag things to make room).

#258 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2020, 12:30 PM:

@257: I do the same, and also separate the chill-and-freeze and request that they be bagged separately (in case I get home and hit my limit of steps for the day right after I put away the frozen and perishable items). But the Safeway checkout stations appear to have been designed, as you say, for bean-counters. They could solve a couple of issues immediately simply by making two laminated signs: one on the keypad above the credit card slot reading "Use Keypad On Screen," and one above the screen reading "Set Up All Bags on the Scale Simultaneously Before Checking Out." Neither of these is noted in the oh-so-helpful electronic display.

#259 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2020, 05:30 PM:

I have another winner in my ongoing quest for dinner recipes that will feed six people who have partially intersecting lists of foods they cannot and/or should not eat. This one is by Alaskan cookbook author Gordon R. Nelson, who found himself pushed to innovate by the peculiar mix of ingredients available in deeply rural Alaska. This is my slight modification of his recipe.

HEINE CREEK BEEF BOWLS (Note: If you have children in the house, call it "Alaskan potage" instead, or you will have to listen to them chortle about "heinie crack" all evening. Guess how I know.)

Take 1 1/4 pounds TOTAL ground venison (moose preferred), extremely lean ground beef, and/or canned or cooked kidney beans with their canning or cooking liquid.

Saute the meat in whatever cooking fat you have in a large skillet. Take it up.

Saute a diced large onion, a diced bell pepper (any color) or carrot, and a generous spoonful of minced garlic until just tender, adding more cooking fat if needed.

Sprinkle the vegetables with plenty of dried basil and black pepper. Stir until fragrant.

Return the meat to the pan; add the beans and liquid along with 1 15-ounce can golden hominy and its liquid. The mixture should be very sloppy, but not quite soupy. Add and remove liquid (using broth, water, or wine) until you get the right consistency, then add more pepper and basil.

Bring to a brisk simmer, then simmer 10 minutes. Taste and balance the heat using something with a floral kick, such as ground chiles (not chili powder), cayenne, good hot sauce, or ground lavender.

Serve in bowls. Nelson suggests having plenty of bread on hand. I think it would be great with crumbled saltines or ladled over barley.

Note: The seasonings sound weird and taste odd at first, but they create a wonderful warm feeling in your belly--we are having an older kind of summer this year, with lows in the 40s--and a pleasant aftertaste.

#260 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2020, 07:24 PM:

So I had an...interesting end to my workweek.

My boss and a volunteer at the non-profit where I work got to talking. Both are middle-aged white men, both earnest and sincere, kind and thoughtful, scrupulous and prudent.

And they started in on how all lives should matter, and why should black lives be singled out, and how can making sure that black people are protected help anybody else, and if protecting black people's rights to just live their lives will eventually result in better human rights for everybody why don't we start with All Lives Matter, and they just sounded so honestly bewildered by it all.

And I was too upset to be coherent, so I kept my head down and didn't say what I wanted to say, which was, "Because we've had decades of people who look like us earnestly saying that all lives matter, and we look right past the little asterisk followed by the words 'except yours.' Because you can say that you don't see color, but anybody who is affected by that asterisk damn well sees it. Because, Brian, nobody is ever gonna shoot your daughter for holding a bag of Skittles and get away with it using the argument that her attempts to save her own life were a threat."

I've already argued with these people, these nice earnest kindly people, regarding why there SHOULD BE at least one step between "tell the neurodivergent man to do something he cannot parse" and "taze him." They actually think that that is acceptable baseline behavior for cops. Never even considered that there ought to be something else on the checklist, before I brought it up. Because, I guess, the cops didn't actually shoot him.

And now they're both solemnly agreeing that all lives matter, and I am just so tired.

#261 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2020, 08:13 PM:

@Jenny Islander,

I don't know if it will help in future such instances of well-meaning cluelessness, but I do like one example I encountered recently. "If someone tells you we need to save the rainforests, do you reply that we need to save ALL forests?"

All forests matter. But only some forests are under immediate threat.

#262 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2020, 11:52 AM:

I'm not fond of the slogan "Black lives matter!" for precisely that reason: it's not unreasonable to be concerned about all lives. But slogans need to be short and punchy, and "All lives matter, but black lives are under especial threat!" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

#263 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2020, 04:10 PM:

Glad to see all the fake Christians are having strokes and are in a rage because the Supremes ruled that the civil rights laws also apply to LGBTQ folks.

#264 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2020, 04:14 AM:

"All lives matter" is like "all men are created equal": an admirable sentiment that we abjectly fail to live up to.

#265 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2020, 10:56 AM:

@Jenny Islander: I'm trying to come up with something in the form "All lives are matter, but some are more matter than others", but that would probably also require too much explanation; ISTM that far more people think they know the meaning of "Orwellian" than can actually recognize any of his points. Worse, if the people you were listening to were being so earnest, subtle sarcasm -- the fact that you're telling them that the state of the world is not what they believe it to be -- seems unlikely to penetrate.

#266 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2020, 12:13 PM:

I was thinking, "If your neighbor says, 'My house is full of killer bees, please help me,' you don't reply that all houses matter."

#267 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2020, 12:14 PM:

Thinking just now, not back then.

#268 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2020, 04:22 AM:

Joel #262: I don't have a problem with "Black Lives Matter", but how about "Black Lives Matter Too!"?

J Homes #243: My supermarket checkout will let you say you have a bag, and it works for an empty cloth bag, but it seems to have something (?a weight limit) that means my bike panniers need to be Officially Approved.

On food discoveries: I have found that spanakopita is enormously better as cheese and greens pie, where the greens aren't just spinach but also carrot tops, arugula, chard, sorrel, parsley, whatever. Genuine or imitation feta does seem to be better than other cheeses, though.

#269 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2020, 09:02 AM:

@268 thomas, in my opinion, "Black Lives Matter, Too" puts black lives as an afterthought. Which, alas, they already are.

I much prefer the simple "Black Lives Matter." Because they do, and all too frequently, they haven't been treated as if they do.

#270 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2020, 12:25 PM:

thomas @268: I share Cassy @269's objection. The "too" makes the black lives secondary.

#271 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2020, 11:18 AM:

Plus I'm not going to quibble about the slogan Black people have chosen. I'm white. If my primary participation in the civil rights movement is as an armchair copyeditor, I am not being the person I try to be.

#272 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2020, 08:32 AM:

The time for "Black Lives Matter Too" is in dialog. Some people can't be reached; others can. If you can bring someone resistant to the slogan around to supporting the sentiment by conceding the slogan isn't perfect? That's a crack in the dam.

You usually have to wait for the bursting. Them's the breaks. But the bursting does happen, and history can hurry it up.

I don't care for literal roller coasters. This one has its moments.

#273 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2020, 03:01 AM:

I am beginning to think Trump may not serve out his term. He'll resign for 'health reasons' and he and his entire family will flee to Russia.

#274 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2020, 10:53 AM:

@Robert Glaub, that would require him behaving in a rational manner. I honestly think his ego is too large to admit he might not be re-elected. And he's convinced that while he's President, he's completely immune from all consequences whatsoever. The impeachment acquittal proved that to him.

Of course, I'm now starting to have actual, rational, not middle-of-the-sleepless-night worries that Trump might not willingly hand over power if* he does lose the election.

*I hope "when", but I was honestly shocked he won the first time.

#275 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2020, 11:30 AM:


Trump would have no legal standing not to leave office.


The likelihood that he could bully the military or what-not to defend him looks likely now then ever.

And after what Americans did last month in reaction to the injustice done to ONE MAN:

If Congress or the courts doesn't do what it takes to , we hit the streets and SHUT THE F%&ING COUNTRY DOWN.


#276 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2020, 11:31 AM:

("takes to get him out of office")

#277 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2020, 01:04 PM:

Diatryma @271: On the whole, I agree with you. But I think there can -- carefully, respectfully -- be room to explain to people that their message isn't reaching their target demographic, and why. If someone challenged me to say "Black lives matter", I might, depending on the situation, say something like "Black lives matter. May I clarify my position slightly?"

Robert Glaub @273: Why would Trump do that? I haven't seen anything from or about him recently that would suggest it. People were saying about him even before his winning the candidacy for the last election that he didn't really want the job, and I can't fathom why. He's got near-total control of the U.S. (at least in his own mind), near-absolute power, and responsibility is for losers and underlings (who are by definition losers). He's got a horde of followers who hang on his every word, and a cadre of senior political supporters who are working on something like the sunk-cost fallacy as applied to ethics and reputation.

Now if he could be persuaded to keep taking dangerous quack cures, or perhaps comes in close contact with an asymptomatic COVID carrier, you might have something.

#278 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2020, 03:39 PM:

Joel Polowin #277: But I think there can ... be room to explain to people that their message isn't reaching their target demographic

And of course you're sure that you're that target demographic.... I could be snarky at length here, but really, who needs that? I'm not black either, but I am on the edge of a couple of other groups who've suffered from police aggression (hearing-impaired and autistic).

BLM is a rallying cry. It's not about persuading the white folks that just maybe black folks shouldn't be shot for Failure To Cringe. It's about awakening their own base, and perhaps convincing the "complacent whites" that there's (still) a problem here, and the longer they try to blow off dealing with the problem, the worse things will get.

The old choice between MLK and Malcom X is still around: Ignore the peaceful protests for long enough, and eventually the victims give up on peaceful protest... but that doesn't mean they give up on justice.

#279 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2020, 03:50 PM:

Joel Polowin #277: Also, more to the point: The proper response to a cri de coeur does not include critiquing the presentation.

#280 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2020, 05:35 PM:

I think that "Black lives matter!" is both a rallying cry and an attempt to persuade. I wouldn't attempt to critique it except in a discussion about tactics; I'm certainly not going to bring it up in a conversation that seemed to involve any kind of antagonism. That would indeed be Not Helping.

I was struck by a CNN clip of Rep. Eric Salwell attempting to get any of his GOP colleagues to say the phrase "Black lives matter". Failure. How hard would it have been to say something like "Black lives matter. Of course, all lives matter"? But for all of those people, it seemed better to stick with an awkward silence, or the "all lives matter" rebuff, than to say those three words.

#281 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2020, 08:35 AM:

@280, I'm not surprised. I'd bet a nickel that those Republicans assumed that if they said the words "Black lives matter" on camera, in ANY context, that their political opponents would clip that soundbite and use it to primary them.

#282 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2020, 10:05 AM:

Cassy B. #281: And it says a lot that they considered that a threat to their political futures.

#283 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2020, 08:31 AM:

Wow, it's been a day in SFF Twitter, hasn't it?

#284 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2020, 12:11 PM:

@Doug: I'm not sure what I missed.

#285 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2020, 02:47 PM:

Even a brief explanation would help - while I read people on twitter, I'm not regularly reading whatever threads he's talking about.

#286 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2020, 08:24 PM:

AKICIML: I grew up watching GE College Bowl (and even applied to a college because I'd seen their team smoke all comers); I suspect I'm not alone among older MLers in this. For some reason the theme has been earworming me recently; does anyone know whether it was original or picked up from elsewhere (cf Monty Python's Flying Circus using "The Liberty Bell"), and in either case who composed it?

#287 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2020, 12:50 AM:

CHip: A quick google turned up this page which gives a title for the march as "The Second Elizabeth" and credits it to a composer named Don Reid, who was apparently also a co-producer of the television show.

#288 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2020, 02:57 AM:

284, 285: Several (numerous?) SFF authors being revealed as having patterns of sexually harassing behavior. Agents and publishers ending relationships, fallout probably still continuing. Scalzi wrote about it here; search the names he mentions on Twitter and you'll find a lot of discussion and more shoes dropping.

#289 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2020, 07:44 AM:

How can any real American support Trump after he did nothing after finding out that the Russians put bounties on American troops?

#290 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2020, 02:06 PM:

#289: Current story is that he wasn't briefed.

Whether an investigation shows a) he was briefed, and lied, or b) he wasn't briefed for an embarrassing reason . . . it wouldn't look good.

#291 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2020, 03:28 PM:

It would have been in his PDB, dumbed down so he could understand it - and he made FIVE calls to Putin in less than a month after that, so he *was* told about it.
(Note that all the people denyign that he was informed either weren't at the WH at the time, or have a long track record of saying what he wants.

#292 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2020, 06:34 PM:


Anyone who's still a Trump supporter has already accepted worse.

(That said, I don't think most Trump supporters are even going to hear about this.)

#293 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2020, 08:32 PM:

I've finally managed to finish and post another filk video: "The COVID Connection".

#294 ::: Sunflower ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2020, 01:09 AM:

Joel @293: That was delightful, and you do a fine Kermit impression!

Open threadiness: I thought some folks of this parish might like Colour Your Own Medieval Manuscript!, at the Durham Priory Library Recreated project.

#295 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2020, 09:28 AM:

Beware of a Reichstag Fire scenario.

#296 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2020, 02:33 PM:

Robert Glaub @295: That's more or less what's going on with a lot of the damage "associated with" the Black Lives Matter protests. Fires and all.

The current U.S. virus trends remind me of what happens when someone is prescribed antibiotics for an infection, but doesn't take them consistently enough, and discontinues them as soon as that person feels better rather than taking the full course to make sure the infection is stamped out.

#297 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2020, 12:57 PM:

@289ff: the latest version I've seen is that the person who gave him a verbal briefing was known for being able to "handle" him -- rather like a parent or teacher with a difficult child. It may be true that she left this out expecting that he'd ignore it (as not fitting his worldview*) and any following data about anything else that morning. It's known that he is ... inattentive ... to the written briefing.

We've had juvenile presidents in the recent past, but nobody who so thoroughly mimics the portion of the population that would fail Civics and thereby draws their support. I've wondered over some time whether there might have been a way to keep the U.S. off the track where outrage was substituted for thought; considering the right's bugbears, i wonder whether finding Rush Limbaugh sexually abusing a minor 30-40 years ago would make a difference, but that turns into Omelas -- with speculation instead of evidence (e.g., how many weeds would have sprung up in his absence?).

* cf the recollected scene in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest in which whites discard the young Bromden's statement of how effective his living space is because it just doesn't fit their preconceptions.

#298 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2020, 01:20 PM:

David Goldfarb: your Google-fu is superior to mine; I barely got to the music itself amid a plethora of sports citations. Judging by the date, this was composed for the show rather than for either of the big dates of Elizabeth II (married 2 years before, crowned 4 years after); I wonder whether there was any thought-connection, or it was just the 2nd piece he gave that title to (connected to the NJ city?).

#299 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2020, 02:22 PM:

AKICIML, computer edition: I got a push update for Windows 10 this morning. When it was done, there was a new icon pinned to my toolbar. Windows congratulated me on possessing the latest greatest version of Edge and told me to get started with it, with no opt-out. The next thing to click would have ported everything over from Firefox. Luckily the opt-out features were back on, so I could close out of Edge and unpin it from my toolbar.

So. Anybody know what this latest update may be doing in the background even if I never use Edge? If so, how do I turn that stuff off?

#300 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2020, 08:35 PM:

There should be a list of updates in Settings. You can search the Microsoft knowledge base for the update ID. It is possible to find the details of what is in the update. It's not easy, but it is possible.

Microsoft is pushing Edge to replace Internet Explorer. You can feel confident that the new browser you are currently not using is much better than the old browser you were previously not using.

#301 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2020, 10:39 PM:

My current boss used to be a beta tester for Microsoft.

His standard for office use is Firefox.

#302 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2020, 10:54 PM:

I mostly use Firefox, but there are sites that don't work with it, so I have PaleMoon. And some stuff defaults to whatever Windows has installed - I can't change those, so I'm using Internet Exploder.

#303 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2020, 02:48 AM:

There was a time when users of my company's product were on various versions of IE as a super-majority. The most recent stats I've seen have a supermajority, yeah...but for Chrome now. Users of Edge are now outnumbering those of IE11. I've said plenty of times that we ought to stop supporting IE, and it was always a "yeah, like that'll ever happen" joke. Now, maybe not so much of a joke....

(Supporting IE costs us noticeably extra. That's one thing when 70% of your user base is using it, and quite another when the number is 12%.)

#304 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2020, 12:05 PM:

I'd been using Edge, which Windows had pushed at me, but when I took my laptop to Best Buy's Geek Squad, they said they un-recommended Edge and said it was notoriously bad and insecure. I've been on Firefox ever since, occasionally using a second browser for one reason or another. I think it was IE, but I didn't reinstall it last time they wiped my system, so I can't be sure of it.

#305 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2020, 01:55 AM:

I found the New! Improved! Edge update particularly irksome because I actively tried to prevent that sucker from installing. Windows said "I have to restart to finish an update!" and I said "Like hell you do; I don't use Edge, why should I update it?" and downloaded the troubleshooter app that's supposed to let you ignore updates you don't want. I swear I checked the dratted checkbox for "Hide this update", but the next time I restarted, blast if it hadn't updated its dratted self anyway.

I noted with extreme displeasure the lack of any opt-out option on the "Get started!" popup, and was relieved that the second window in the sequence wasn't quite as unfriendly.

Alas, my Dell has been having, for a few months now, terrible soundcard reactions to being rebooted; there will be awful lag-stutter on the Realtek sound driver (no matter which version, and I've tried quite a few) until I let it connect to and play music over the Chevy Volt's stereo via Bluetooth for some bigger-than-a-breadbox amount of time I have yet to pinpoint. Only the car's Bluetooth will do the trick; there will be good playback over my Bluetooth headphones, but when I turn them off, sound over the speakers or line-out remains dreadful. But bring the laptop along as my car sound system for my Friday errands, and when I get home the speaker sound will be just fine again.

It's the damnedest thing. It's like my laptop is a fretful infant who only calms down if I take it for a drive. In any case, this is why I don't want to restart my laptop without a good darn reason. Updating Edge was definitely not a good darn reason.

#306 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2020, 11:56 AM:

(belatedly) Joel Polowin: I'm impressed not just by the voice but by the lip-syncing to some slippery rhythms; a local has been emailing clips of 60's not-quite-#1's and 40's chanteuses, and I've been noticing how many are out of sync with their recordings.

#307 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2020, 01:31 PM:

#305: Orwell knew. "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a Dell rebooting in your face--forever."

#308 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2020, 05:23 PM:

CHip @ 306 - Depending on one's point of view, I cheated, did things the hard way, or made appropriate use of technology. I started by ripping the audio of the original work into Audacity, then identified the segments containing each syllable, then recorded my own vocals, then added sound clips of each of my words to a new Audacity track, sliding each word to match the original as well as I could. It was tedious, but it got me where I wanted to be. I was getting very tired of trying to match the accent perfectly, and finally got to the point of "it's good enough".

Those few seconds of hand-puppetry that bookend the piece took ridiculously long. I kept seeing details that I hated, such as reflections in the sunglasses, but that process involved setting the camera up in the back yard, recording lots of takes (an awkward process of holding the glasses as high as I could while keeping my body out of view), then transferring the data to my computer for editing via a flaky USB connection. Then seeing something in 1080 resolution on a big monitor that wasn't visible on the camera's tiny screen.

I'm currently in hospital waiting for *more* spinal surgery. I was biking to see my sweetie face-to-face for the first time in two weeks, as she's been in a retirement home's mandatory quarantine time -- convalescent care for her, caregiver respite for me. On the way, I got hit by a car. This is *ridiculous*.

#309 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2020, 06:10 PM:

Joel Polowin @308: Sympathies and best wishes for speedy recovery and seeing your sweetie soon. Also: great job on that video!

#310 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2020, 07:25 PM:

@307: *snrk*

@308: Ouch. Best wishes for a speedy recovery and a swift reunion!

#311 ::: corinna n ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2020, 02:59 AM:

Hello all: I'm posting to try to ask the hive mind here to help me confirm that a piece of "prayer" attributed to Antoine de Saint Exupery is not really his work? Or am I wrong and just hung up on a bad translation plus people adding stuff to it?

I've tried pasting the contents into plagiarism checkers online and only get blog entries from this and that blog as a reposting, so I do not know where this post comes from. I only have this sense of revulsion that this doesn't seem to have the lyricism of Exupery.

Content warning: glurge-y

"Lord, I’m not praying for miracles and visions; I’m only asking for strength for my days. Teach me the art of small steps.

Make me wise and resourceful, so that I can find important discoveries and experiences among the diversity of days. Help me use my time better. Present me with the sense to be able to judge whether something is important or not.

I pray for the power of discipline and moderation, not only to run throughout my life, but also to live my days reasonably, and observe unexpected pleasures and heights.

Save me from the naive belief that everything in life has to go smoothly. Give me the sober recognition that difficulties, failures, fiascos, and setbacks are given to us by life itself to make us grow and mature.

Send me the right person at the right moment, who will have enough courage and love to utter the truth! I know that many problems solve themselves, so please teach me patience.

You know how much we need friendship. Make me worthy of this nicest, most beautiful, hardest, riskiest and most fragile gift of life. Give me enough imagination to be able to share with someone a little bit of warmth, in the right place, at the Right time, with words or with silence.

Spare me the fear of missing out on life. Do not give me the things I desire, but the things I need.

Teach me the art of taking small steps...In Jesus name amen"

#312 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2020, 01:33 PM:

Nothing like that is on his Wikiquote page.

#313 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2020, 07:34 PM:

My pinned tweet--original in words, if not sentiment--is somewhat shorter:

"Left foot. Right foot. If not there yet, repeat."

In fact, I did a longer version of that just today at New Pals.

But here's my post from yesterday, and I'm even prouder of that. Especially in this distinguished and discriminating company.

#314 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2020, 09:17 PM:

Joel Polowin, ouch! Best wishes for uneventful surgery and swift recovery.

#315 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2020, 09:34 PM:

The first round of surgery -- decompression and fusion, C6-C7 cervical vertebrae -- has been accomplished. I'm wearing one of those collar things to keep my neck relatively immobilized, for about 6 weeks. I'll probably be going home in a week or so, and come back for more work in about 2 weeks to deal with the fracture at the base of my left ocular socket.

This is not what I had in mind for caregiver respite. I mean, yes, I'm focusing on my own needs instead of Inge's, but I'd been thinking more in terms of working on a couple of projects and getting myself back into mental/emotional shape to go back to work. Not this major physical healing crap. I gather that my mother is looking into doing liaison with the police, finding out the details that they've got, letting them know about the bike-helmet video I've got. At least I don't have to fret about that.

#316 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2020, 12:53 PM:

Heal up quick, Joel!

#317 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2020, 05:14 PM:

Henry Kaiser's weekly concert this week is 75% SF-related: a requiem for Gene Wolfe, a new version of his rendition of Daniel Pinkwater's The Devil in the Drain, and a musing on Antarctica with a quote from Kim Stanley Robinson at the start. I thought some here would like to see it!

#318 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2020, 05:28 PM:

Joel @315, no, doesn't sound like recommended respite. About three years ago, when my husband and I had what we refer to as the medical year from hell, he was just home from the hospital after a bad fall from a ladder and marginally able to take care of himself, when I had to go into the hospital for IV antibiotics for a bad abcess on my leg. As it happened, that was the week our daughter with intellectual disabilities was away at summer camp. Not much respite, but at least we didn't have to worry about who was taking care of her when neither of us could.

#319 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2020, 09:03 AM:

Joel Polowin @315: glad to hear the update - sounds like the first round of surgery went okay; good luck for the next one. Also good to hear that your mother is dealing with the police stuff for you.

#320 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2020, 05:00 PM:

There's something delightful about stumbling over a previously unknown facet of a former special interest. Yesterday I found out that along with tiny chickens, huge chickens, fuzzy chickens, bald chickens, chickens with tails 15 feet long, chickens that are black within and without, and chickens that lay colored eggs--there are also musical chickens. A breed called the Ayam Pelung produces prolonged calls that one writer compares to the improvisations of a fado singer. I think they sound like particularly sweet-voiced coonhounds. Their owners hold singing-chicken contests, and the champions are worth big bucks.

#321 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2020, 06:22 PM:

Karen ran across an app for the iPhone which may have gone away called "Pickin' Chickens," which was designed to help people decide what kinds of chickens to keep. No idea if "singing" was one of hte criteria one could enter!

#322 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2020, 07:52 PM:

Joel@315: Glad to hear that what shouldn't have been necessary was at least relatively routine, although having to come back for more sounds less than ideal. (Can you at least tell anyone who complains about your being stiff-necked that you have a good reason?) Here's hoping your video and your mother's help finds the induhvidual responsible.

@308: that's impressive -- I wouldn't have had the patience even if I had the tools. And you were matching someone else's voice, instead of just imitating what you'd recorded yourself.

#323 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2020, 08:04 PM:

Kip Williams @ 313: your "yesterday" was just as awful (in various senses) as you wanted it to be.

#324 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2020, 04:44 PM:

Joel Polowin #308: Ow ow ow. Wishing you a speedy and successful recovery.

Edge: So, Microsoft finally got around to replacing their notoriously insecure and unstable browser... so, apparently they've replaced it with a newly insecure and unstable browser. This is why I stick to Linux.

#325 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2020, 05:16 PM:

Dave Harmon @324: I gather that Edge for Linux will be coming later this year.


#326 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2020, 12:02 PM:

Scotland Yard knew that if they ever needed a solution that was costly and flawed, they could always go to the Great Detective's other brother, Microsoft Holmes.

#327 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2020, 12:30 AM:

Saw the trailer for Star Trek: Lower Decks. For me it was five seconds of "Wheee! A lower-decks episode except it's a SERIES!" and 2-minutes-something of "Oh."

The theme, apparently, is "Lookit these LEWSERS on their LEWSER ship doing LEWSER missions with their LEWSER ranks and LEWSER friends. It's funnayyyy!"

Except. The trailer presents a cramped command deck on a little ship, and I go, "Wooo! They're in a little ship in Starfleet!" It focuses on rank-and-filers, and I go, "Oh, man, they're rank-and-filers in Starfleet!" They go on follow-up missions, and I say, "Yes! Follow-up missions where we can see more about that new life and those new civilizations! In Starfleet!"

Laughing at everybody who doesn't get to be on the big deck in the flagship =/= comedy. It's just fictionalized punching down.

I'll go rewatch Worf's wedding, or that time Riker "helpfully" tried to get Picard some action, or "The Trouble with Tribbles." They're actually funny.

#328 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2020, 12:46 PM:

So any Fluorospherians "attending" Worldcon? Any interest in a GoL?

#329 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2020, 01:06 PM:

I'm working on CoNZealand -- not sure (as usual!) if I'll be able to get to any gathering, but I'd be glad to hear of one!

#330 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2020, 06:22 PM:

Jenny Islander @327 - I just watched the Lower Decks trailer. Wow, that looks dismal. Especially if one assumes that this is supposed to be a "best bits" presentation intended to enthuse their target audience.

#331 ::: alisea ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2020, 01:12 AM:

I'll be at CoNZealand, hopefully not working all the hours, and I'd love to have a GoL. Setting a time that works for all might be hard, though. I'm 10 hours behind New Zealand, and the time shifting will be brutal as is.

#332 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2020, 12:57 PM:

Open Thread thing: If you were the person who a) worked access with me at LonCon and b) told me you write M/M romances, please email me at [first name above][Tolkien's halflings' name for one of themselves] at Google's email service.

I have just gotten into M/M romance, but have forgotten your authorial name.

#333 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2020, 06:01 PM:

alisea: 20 hours (or is it 18? I'm confused*) behind NZ, here. Not as brutal, since I'm a night owl anyway, & NZDT core business hours very approximately line up with MDT 2nd shift (if you just shuffle the day of the week one forward).

But it's gonna be weird. Moreso since the person I'm going "with" is running EDT.

I keep thinking of the folks working on the Mars rovers, who have to work on a "Sol" of 24hr 37min. Talk about your "varied shift." (OTOH, I've read some science that suggests humans, if disconnected from the standard circadian cues, tend to drift towards a 25 hour day. So maybe we're all Martians at heart?)

* 2pm Today MDT = 8am Tomorrow NZDT

#334 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2020, 06:35 PM:

Jacque, #328:

I've just joined Conzealand. They're putting me on three panels. The timeslots are reasonable, late afternoon or evening in my timezone (CDT).

So yeah, I'd love to converse with you and other Fluorospherians. Praisegod Barebones has indicated we might cross paths again.

At this point, I'm vague on the mechanics of everything. How might a Gathering of Light be arranged? Will there be parties? How would I attend one? Will there be hucksters? How do I shop, or shmooze with a dealer? Will there be an art show?

These questions have probably been kicked around somewhere, but I haven't done my homework yet.

#335 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2020, 10:07 PM:

Bill: Soooo many questions!

Catching up on CNZ email is on my list for this weekend. My first-order understanding is that they'll have Discord, uh, "channels?" for discussion, like Zoom for panels. I've also seen YouTube & Twitch mentioned.

I confess, I have no idea what this is going to look like. (Given that I'm still picturing work staff meetings at our big conference room, and am always bemused by the Brady-Bunch array of people in their living rooms....)

#336 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2020, 10:35 PM:

Zoom for the programs, Discord for meeting folks, a virtual Dealer's Room and Art Show, more -- we're still working the kinks out.

#337 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2020, 10:48 PM:

I'm working on CoNZealand. Will definitely be there. A gathering would be great.

There is a CoNZealand signup form for fan parties. That is how you get an official "party suite." Or, if someone has a paid Zoom account, they could host a gathering. That is the equivalent of having a room party or a shared meal, depending on when you schedule it.

I will be shifting to New Zealand Standard Time for the convention. It's going to be a great trip. I can pretend to fly there first class.

#338 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2020, 11:25 AM:

Kip Williams @ 326: grooooaann.

Jacque @ 333: I have also seen reports of that day-stretching, although I haven't tried to read any of the papers themselves. The surprising thing is that (IIrC) the Earth's day used to be shorter -- although I don't know whether it was shorter in anything resembling evolutionary time. I could handwave the stretching by saying the Sun will always be there to wake you up while being alert after sundown is difficult, but that's just a UUSWAG. I wonder whether anyone has studied other primates, or any other mammals that sleep in blocks rather than bits (e.g., probably not cats) if there are any such.

@TomB: a pretend flight is easy, but pretending to be in opposite weather seems more difficult. I know August is cooling weather for more-northerly parts of North America (e.g., occasionally below freezing overnight in early August when I was canoe-camping near Lake Temagami (latitude ~47), but in Boston it often feels like the most oppressive time -- vs my memory of somebody at Aussiecon 2 talking about it having been seriously cold in NZ before getting to the con. Make sure to try the best dishes on your flight....

#339 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2020, 10:19 AM:

Bored celebrities get really silly...

The Princess Bride, Quarantine fan-film edition. And yes, the original's director is on-board.

#340 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2020, 07:59 PM:

@Dave Harmon, what is Quibi? Is it a free app or a paid one? I know nothing about it...

#341 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2020, 09:57 AM:

I had likewise not heard about Quibi before this, but it appears to be a streaming service targeted for phone-friendly media, especially serial shorts. The app store offers it as a "free" app with in-app purchases, and their ad offers "two weeks free", so I assume there's a subscription plan. They also have a website at the obvious URL.

Gamespot has a lengthy article which says $5/mo for add supported, $8/mo for add-free; it also talks about a longer 90-day free trial, but that article seems to be from a few months ago -- their own ad on the Apple Store says 2 weeks.

#342 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2020, 12:20 PM:

Addendum: This reviewer seems pretty unenthused about the service. I'm not pitching the service, I was just amused by the Princess Bride project.

#344 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2020, 04:45 PM:

And reading through old threads brought me to this article about "The Right Man".

Yeah, there's Trump again. Nothing new under the sun....

#345 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2020, 10:30 PM:

Jacque @333 and CHip @338

While living at the Oregon coast for a summer marine biology program a long time ago, I once precessed all the way around the clock, getting later every day for waking and sleeping.

Just like the tides. Lunar time.

And more recently, taking anthropology, learned that there is supposed to have been a bottleneck in human prehistory, a time when the breeding population was down to about 6000 people.

Now if those few people were living on a coast, and shellfish like mussels were a major source of their food, (which could explain the human dietary requirement for iodine, unlike, I think, other land mammals), following a lunar schedule, and so being ready to go out collecting at low tides, would be perfectly reasonable...

A picture of the South African coast in a documentary mentioning the fossil finds in South African coastal caves, looked, to my intertidal-familiar eyes, like mussel-covered rocks all the way out. A long way out, a shallow slope.

Easy food for the picking.
Even at a not very large low tide, between the lowest lows at new and full moon.

#346 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2020, 11:40 AM:

Wrt to circadian rhythms, I think the most likely case is that we evolved rhythms close enough to be corrected by celestial rhythms, and then stopped (no environmental stressor (and no survival or breeding advantage) to make us more precise than that).

BUT Story Idea: why are humans on Gnsfts-3 extraordinarily happy, healthy, and productive? Turns out it has 25-hour days, and their brains don't have to keep adjusting.

#347 ::: Aquila1nz ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2020, 08:18 PM:

I'll be attending CoNZealand, I was so very excited about it taking place in NZ, and now, well it isn't so much.

But I've been getting more excited again seeing the programme and everything. I'd love to take part in a Making Light gathering.

#348 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2020, 09:46 PM:

MinaW: That's very interesting! Also has a certain resonance with the "water ape" theory of human evolution.

#349 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2020, 01:47 PM:

Ancient humans cooked roots as well as mussels. Yes, moules-frites.

#350 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2020, 09:26 PM:

Jacque @ 348 Yes, as a marine biology student, and having learned that that theory was originated by a marine biologist recently returned from an expedition, who saw a list of human anatomical anomalies, and said "Those are all characteristic of marine animals", I have always been interested in that theory. The requirement for iodine in the diet could have originated as I just hypothesized in the more recent bottleneck, as the anthropology teacher said, but it ought to be explained, one way or another. None of that theory's promoters mention our lunar circadian rhythm, I think.

#351 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2020, 10:56 PM:

Worldcon Opening Ceremonies: we need a lightbulb emoji for the Flourosphere.

#352 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2020, 01:22 AM:

Really interesting article that relates to community, moderation, and bullying: ,a href="">The impact of toxic influencers on communities. Fascinating dynamics!

#353 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2020, 01:22 AM:

Really interesting article that relates to community, moderation, and bullying: The impact of toxic influencers on communities. Fascinating dynamics!

#354 ::: Tom Whitmorerequests cleanup from the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2020, 01:24 AM:

The first of those two was erroneous and I didn't notice in time to stop it. It could be removed to everyone's benefit. Thank you!

#355 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2020, 01:11 AM:

Tom @353: That's an excellent article, and very much one for my collection - thank you!

(Yes, I am enough of a geek of cat-herding meta that I have a collection. Much of it came from ML, either onsite or linked, as one might expect.)

#356 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2020, 03:42 PM:

After reading Bruce Baugh's discussion of Earthsea on facebook, I reread it after some decades. It's better than I'd previously noticed.

Part of it is just how good all the stuff about boats is, and when I say good I mean it was vivid and plausible. I don't have the background to judge whether it's accurate, but it also gives the feel of a world where travel is possible, but generally time and effort-consuming.

Le Guin doesn't get credit for being a horror writer, but there are a number of sections which are quite horrific. I'm wondering whether her later work had less of Things Which Are Just Plain Bad.

The emotional material is better drawn than I'd noticed-- how things blew up between Ged and Jasper is very plausible.

There's a lot about the Kargish empire which I hadn't noticed.

While Le Guin doesn't romanticize Vikings at all, the attack on Ged's village has a lot of alliteration-- classic Viking verse method, though she doesn't use the rhythm. I'm not quoting it because I don't have an electronic copy to paste from, but maybe someone else does? It's just a couple of long paragraphs.

There also a mention of doors of ivory and horn at the entrance to Roke. I didn't know about the Greek pun. I thought it was just about low-tech cloudy windows made of flattened animal horn.

I'm still not sure whether the gebbeth being part of Jed actually makes sense. I did find it interesting that he was followed by a shadow even before he made his big mistake.

It's amazing how much is in the book considering how short it is. About 200 pages in the original paperback. I'll say it again-- one of the charms of golden age sf is how efficient it was.

I'm reading The Books of Earthsea-- all the Earthsea material, which is five novels and a bunch of short stories, beautifully illustrated by Charles Vess. The book is unwieldy, but manageable.

#357 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2020, 04:54 PM:

@356: Le Guin's prose is how I want to write when I grow up.

She takes it to the next level in one of the stories in Always Coming Home, "Dira." You have to have digested the entire book to really get this little horror narrative. (So, yes, she did keep on writing psychological horror.) As in the Earthsea books, she packs a lot into a small space. "Dira" is only a few pages long, but it plays on many of the fears of the Kesh: stumbling over poisoned remains of the bad old days, leaving the known paths, hunger ("they are not a thin people," notes Le Guin), breakdown of the social fabric, progressive disease, foreign attitudes of male dominance, doing something that makes oneself and others vulnerable to disease, and "being spoken by sickness" (=having a colonized mind). I didn't feel its impact until I had read ACH several times, and then--whoof!

#358 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2020, 06:06 PM:

So Traitor Trump wants to delay the election. The very same people who were screaming that Obama was going to cancel the election and become a dictator are now urging Trump to do the very same thing.

#359 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2020, 07:43 PM:

One of the founders of the Federalist Society has written that Trmp should be impeached for that.
(Apparently that tweet gored his ox.)

#360 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2020, 07:58 PM:

"This time, Cthulhu's gone TOO FAR!" says acolyte.

#361 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2020, 09:46 PM:

For whose who are interested, Chicago will host the 2022 Worldcon.

#362 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2020, 01:07 PM:

P J 361: The best thing about that is that the alternative was even worse.

(That feeling is familiar somehow...I wonder why?)

#363 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2020, 01:30 PM:

Trumps "delay the election" thing blew up in his face, spectacularly.

The "dominate" thing in Portland turned out to be a horrible liability as well.

I am so glad that that the big putz's vanity would prevent him from doing the one thing which would improve his "ratings:" Say nothing.

#364 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2020, 08:24 PM:

Congratulations to elise!

#365 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2020, 01:23 AM:

Also congratulations to VP graduate Arkady Martine!

#366 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2020, 01:55 AM:

Hooray for Elise!

#367 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2020, 02:38 AM:

Seeing the reports this morning, it sounds as though GRRM writes speeches the way he writes books: he can never reach a conclusion.

#368 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2020, 11:18 AM:

I stopped watching, because it was too much GRRM and not enough Hugo. (I was following via Mary Robinette Kowal's twitter.)

#369 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2020, 02:51 PM:

I didn't see the ceremony, but I've been hearing a lot about GRRM's running on. (There have also been comments about his encomium for Campbell....) I wonder whether having an audience to cough, shuffle, etc. (or crew to glare from the wings) would have made any difference.

#370 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2020, 03:38 PM:

I think that having real-time angry people talking to the staff during the ceremony would have helped; the moderators for the streaming chat room were not initially sympathetic to criticism. I would like to see a pie chart of how many times GRRM said the names of dead white men (and Campbell in particular) vs the nominees. His refusal to use correct pronunciations also led to a completely new way of saying my last name.

I didn't watch the entire thing because I have better things to do with my scheduled sleep time than listen to two hours of why the seventies, and the people one particular old white man met, were great, but I recommend watching the winners' speeches. RF Kuang's in particular, in the context of this award ceremony with these major problems*, is phenomenal.

*I'm not willing to call them errors. This wasn't incompetence.

What was really cool was the brief explanation of the Hugo base. I would have watched more of that.

#371 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2020, 03:53 PM:

File 770 has a post about the bases, which really are beautiful, especially with the rocket in place.

#372 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2020, 04:59 PM:

It's possible that in working on a mastercut of tonight's #HugoAwards, I cut a THREE HOUR & THIRTY-FIVE MINUTE CEREMONY down to 1:41:02 *JUST* by cutting out Martin & Silverberg.
For those playing along at home, that means tonight's host talked for ONE HOUR & FIFTY-FOUR MINUTES

#373 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2020, 09:40 PM:

There is something sublimely pleasurable about suddenly realizing that at last you have the right tool for the job.

Let me explain. Beginning the day I got hired at my current job two years ago, I have spent about half of my workday working around various hurdles: slow software because the hardware doesn't really support it, software written for some other type of work environment that has to be sorta looked at sideways to work for us, outdated software that nobody wanted to pay to update, procedures that could be done in one program spread across three (all of which have modules for every procedure but NEVER MIND)...and let's not forget that the stuff they were having me do was often redundant while things that badly needed doing were going undone (and I didn't have the knowledge base to realize this).

When my boss was hired about one year in, my working situation absolutely boggled him, and he has spent quite a bit of his time fixing it.

Today, he got to work a minute after I did, and walked in grinning. "You know that program I just bought, that I was hoping would fix problems 1 and 2? Watch this." He then sat down at my workstation and demonstrated how the new program fixes problems 1 through 5 inclusive. Then I was grinning.

It's just. I was keeping the check register in Excel, the membership directory was in Word, the member contribution database was in an unsupported program, the numbered accounts were on a printout on my desk, financial reports were created in Quickbooks using business accounting and converted to fund accounting--the type we should be using--by squinting at them real hard, the checks were all handwritten, and the payroll was outsourced. But when we get up to speed--and we will be up to speed very soon--I'll be able to do it all, from my desk. (The treasurer will do payroll because division of finance. AND I WON'T HAVE TO HANDWRITE MY OWN PAYCHECKS ANYMORE!) And then I'll be able to pick up tasks that I should have been doing all along but wasn't, because not enough hours in the day.

It's like I was running in galoshes and suddenly I'm wearing Keds. I love this thing!

#374 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2020, 10:34 AM:

373: Hip, hip, hurray!

#375 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2020, 12:10 PM:

There are no words strong enough to express that joy of finally being able to do one's proper work. Congratulations!

#376 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2020, 04:37 PM:

I see a few issues. Some screens display some kind of code ($ampersand$ or similar) between words I type, but only if I mouse over them; also, there's a calculation that the spreadsheet used to do for us at the end of the month that will have to be done manually. But as my boss said today, "I have not yet figured out a way to break this thing."

I mean. If you enter an amount in the wrong column or account? And delete that and create a new entry for the correct column/account? As soon as you click in the field where the amount is supposed to go, the amount you deleted will appear.

I want to take all of the programmers and beta testers out to dinner.

#377 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2020, 05:14 PM:

Jenny Islander @373: Fantastic! How wonderful to have a boss who cares and wants to fix things.

#378 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2020, 06:17 PM:

A few bugs are to be expected, but on the whole, this sounds like a great improvement.
(I went through a transition of a paper-based inventory-management system to a computer-based one, and it would have been wonderful if management had ever stopped to think that maybe "just like on paper" wasn't a good goal.)

#379 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2020, 08:03 PM:

My other big work project just now is transferring all of the files to a numbered file system with a printed file guide, so that anybody in our ever-rotating cast of volunteers can find stuff and everybody knows exactly where stuff goes. Note that I am actually the first paid occupant of this position in a long time. A previous volunteer holder of this position was one of those people who can't accept that they're getting older and sicker, and I have gotten into the files from those years this week.

Checks written but never sent. Letters accompanying returned checks explaining that they are duplicates. One fat file containing four copies of some things that only needed to be copied once, but no copies of other things of the same kind. Random stuff thrown into a folder--credit union dividend statements next to old bills next to a Christmas letter from a former volunteer who moved away--this apparently was what they did when they needed their desk clean and couldn't deal with the items on it, because I keep finding folders like this. Three different payroll folders for the same year, filed in three different places in the same drawer. There was a stack of blank lined legal pads and notebooks old enough to have been there at the time, but they kept their notes on random odd-shaped scraps of paper taped into an appointment book...

I feel like I'm clearing out the hoarded-up home of an elderly relative.

#380 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2020, 09:44 PM:

In a sense, you are.
(I've salvaged stuff from work, at various times. Metallic-glaze (non-microwaveable) ceramic mugs that someone left behind. A few useful/interesting books. Some usable software packages - for DOS.)

#381 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2020, 04:52 AM:

Maybe the big question from the fuss over the Hugo ceremony is "Are the Retro Hugos a good idea?"

There's arguments both ways, and while the pro/fan split is still something of an illusion I can see differences in how we recognise the two groups.

I'll venture that an award for fan writing is essentially internal, a part of our collective history. The awards for professionally published writing are a contemporary snapshot of the genre for today, which warps into a reward for a whole career after 75 years.

Maybe the Retro Hugos should just be the nomination list? That's what we remember. Can we really choose a best?

#382 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2020, 05:07 PM:

@381: I like the idea of developing a nomination list based on then-current cultural trends, guessing which titles would have won at the time ditto, and also picking winners for today. That's how Jess Nevins structured the Victorian Hugos series at io9. (Sometimes, Nevins points out, the winner would have been the awful jingoistic bigoted drivel, not the classic people still read.)

#383 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2020, 05:48 PM:

Bruce Pelz, who created the Retro Hugos, decided a few years later that they had been a "funny once". A few Worldcons that had the chance have not awarded them, but it's not been uniform.

Interesting would be to set up a parallel track of awards which would nominate and award status to all SF from 50 years ago regardless of whether there were Hugos awarded that year or not.

#384 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2020, 01:56 PM:

Dave Bell @381: my take on the Retros ever since 2001 (when even the greedy Freas admitted he'd done no genre work for the relevant year, as did Silverberg) is that all of the body-of-work awards should be junked (not just the fan awards), because there's just too much to pick over to get a reasonable picture of the year. I'm not that enthused about the current best do-er awards, but at least people are more likely to have seen their work through the year instead of needing to catch up after the shortlist is announced.

Tom Whitmore @383: Re-dos (not just for 50 years back, but for any N*25 years back not re-done as allowed for the current Retros) would let us override the execrable They'd Rather Be Right -- but I'd rather just dump the whole mishegoss.

Jenny Islander @various: so what is this paragon of software?
Also: was the previous person's work ever acceptable? I wouldn't be caught dead volunteering for such because I know I'm wretchedly disorganized, but this sounds as much like somebody filling a job nobody else would do at all as somebody losing competence.

further on the Hugos: GRRM wrote an excessively long File:770 comment containing (among debatable material and one piece of appalling condescension) the claim that he'd never been given a pronunciation guide, and that he admired Picacio for going around the ready room in San Jose (?) taking notes to make sure pronunciations were correct -- which GRRM couldn't have done. IIRC it's been confirmed that somebody else collected the info and didn't pass it on. There's also been a comment from ~concom that the intended tech crew crumped 3 days before the show, which would account for the ridiculous delays in all of the handoffs in the short section I watched (Best Series, because I'd been told Kowal was good).

#385 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2020, 07:47 PM:

My take on retro Hugos. I was always hoping it would be given to works not honored at the time, but we now see as important, worthy of recognition. This would include writing by women and people of color. I notice that this years nominees (for 1945) include Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, and Mary Gnaedinger. I have no way of knowing if any of the nominees were people of color or LGBTQ, because fewer books had jacket pictures, and stories had none. We know who *wasn't* a POC, but people "passed" and "stayed in the closet" a lot more in 1945 than now.

#386 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2020, 08:16 PM:

@384: The older files from this person's tenure are reasonably well organized. But they hung on for years after the wheels started to come off--it's notoriously hard to fire a volunteer...

#387 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2020, 06:46 PM:

AKICIML, cookery edition: Could somebody who has experience using a steamer basket, which is brand new territory for me, fact-check this recipe for me? It's from Larousse Gastronomique, so you'd think it would be the cat's pajamas. But it seems kind of...bland? And potentially mushy?

Here's the paraphrase I wrote down:

Cut ham into stir-fry strips and set aside.

Remove outer leaves [I assume this is because they are typically battered] from a head of bok choy. Slice the inner leaves into stir-fry strips.

Trim any withered parts from a bunch of scallions and julienne them, white and green parts together.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet and brown the cabbage. Transfer to a steaming basket. Add scallions, steam 30 (thirty) minutes. Stir in ham; steam 4-5 minutes more.

This is described as "a la Pekinoise," but ofc. this might not literally mean in the style of Beijing.

Also, previous experience suggests that the cabbage will disgorge a lot of juice during cooking. Am I expected to discard it?

#388 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 10:47 AM:

So, in the course of working in my bookstore's storeroom, I have been turning up occasional patches of old SF fanzines. In anyone is interested in purchasing one of these patches, they can contact me at my name above (bound by an underscore) at Earthink's network.

So far I have found:
AMRA vol II, #44-59. (1973)

Science Fiction Studies, varying numbers of issues 2-4 (1 copy), 5-7, 9-11 (1974-1977). -#7 has le Guin “American SF and the Other”

Cross Plains issues 2 and 3 (1974)

Wierdbook #1-#13 + supplement, 1953-1978

The Argosy: April, June 1905

#389 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 01:00 PM:

Perhaps a university archive would be interested-- I know the University of Iowa has a fanzine archive. I don't have better contact information than you'd be able to find, though.

#390 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 01:18 PM:

Those were all pretty much semi-prozines. getting some bookstore distribution -- and are commoner than most pure fanzinse. Most archives are already going to have copies. But it doesn't hurt to check -- UC Riverside's Eaton Collection is a large one, Texas A&M is also interested in fanzines, and I'm sure there are more.

A quick way to turn them around is eBay, which does have an active fanzine-buying base. And those would fall in the "moderately desirable" category.

WEIRDBOOK actually starts in 1968 -- at least according to Owings&Chalker, and in this case I believe them -- I'll check my copies later to make sure. Will post if I'm wrong. #13 had a hardcover edition -- is this what you found there? It's a fairly small edition if so, and more desirable than the paperback.

#391 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 04:48 PM:

For something completely different:

Karen bought the version of SANDMAN. She's never read the comics; I'm really familiar with them, as some of you know.

I am blown away. I continually am astonished at how well this evokes the comics, while still being very much its own form. Karen is finding it a transformational story. We're only two issues in; I already know what I intend to nominate, and hopefully vote for, in the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo next year. Long Form, of course -- with the individual issues running quite long, I have no idea how many people will actually finish listening to it! Just checking the Audible listing -- this is only 10 hours, so I'm actually quite certain that it's just PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES.

Go. Listen. Be amazed.

#392 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 06:15 PM:

For various reasons connected with Judge Dee, Bridge of Birds, TV Tropes, and a recent trilogy by the Seawasp, I find myself wondering what would be the best English version of Journey to the West. Any suggestions?

#393 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 06:15 PM:

For various reasons connected with Judge Dee, Bridge of Birds, TV Tropes, and a recent trilogy by the Seawasp, I find myself wondering what would be the best English version of Journey to the West. Any suggestions?

#394 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 07:08 PM:

Tom Whitmore #390: Thanks for the info! I've passed it on; given the situation and the people involved, I suspect eBay is their most likely destination.

#395 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 09:37 PM:

Jenny Islander @387: That sounds like way too much cooking for the bok choi - just sauteeing it long enough to brown it seems like a lot, never mind 35 minutes of steaming. (For comparison, I steamed a broccoli crown whole just yesterday, for maybe 15 minutes, at most - 10 minutes as suggested in Joy of Cooking, plus some extra time because the lid didn't fit tightly over the broccoli, fork-testing at intervals; this came out a bit softer than my preferred 'tender-crisp, emphasis on tender'.)

For those ingredients, I wouldn't steam at all, just toss the lot in a skillet (or saute pan or wok) together (probably with a generous sprinkle of garlic powder) and stir-fry/saute until tender - around five minutes, I'd guess, maybe a little longer depending how tender or crunchy you want the thicker slices of bok choi.

#396 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2020, 02:40 AM:

@395: That's what I'm thinking, and what I'll probably make tomorrow night. It sounds like a good meal for a busy day.

I bought a steaming basket anyway, and I'm glad I did because the bottom element in our ancient steel behemoth of an oven cut out AGAIN. I was planning to cook some halibut somebody gave us, but baking it is out--guess I'll try steaming it instead!

#397 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2020, 07:32 AM:

Jenny Islander @#356

I'm sure your oven did that just for the halibut.

#398 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2020, 10:43 PM:

I often saute greens for a bit and then put fish fillets on top and put the top on the frying pan to steam the fish and finish the greens at the same time. I invented (or "unvented" as Elizabeth Zimmermann would say) that technique for sole, as I was always overcooking it and having it stick to the pan, but it also works with meatier fish, as long as the greens are substantial enough to stand up to a little extra steaming. I especially like gai lan (Chinese broccoli) or yu choy, often with sliced leek or onion wedges. Cabbage also works.

#399 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2020, 11:04 PM:

The results of my experiment were good. I augmented the bok choy with about 12 ounces of sturdier vegetables, cut the scallions (3 bunches because I had them to use up) into rounds instead of julienne, and stir-fried the lot in canola oil, starting with the sturdiest ingredients and gradually adding the others. Both the ham and the bok choy gave off a lot of juice. All of the vegetables are deliciously perfumed with that savory, sweet ham taste.

#400 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2020, 11:06 PM:

I've done fish wrapped in foil with seasonings/greens/sauce - you can put it in the oven, and it will steam as a package. Works with cod and halibut.

#401 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2020, 10:29 PM:

This guy did an analysis of the USPS emblem, and the eagle is doing about mach 4.9

#402 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2020, 07:21 PM:

I am hearing rumors that Trump might ask Putin to oversee the election.

#403 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2020, 04:24 PM:

Robert Glaub @402: If he does, it'll be done in a way that [he thinks] he can pass off as a "joke" if/when people object.

#404 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2020, 04:46 PM:

When I was in the IC I read an account of one of our military jets having a close encounter with a UFO. The pilot said that he saw a humanoid figure in the cupola giving him the bird as it zoomed by.

#405 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2020, 05:43 PM:

You've got a Trojan. Tracksmail.

#406 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2020, 06:44 PM:

Tony Zbaraschuk @ #393, I don't know about "best", but this is the version I read and fell in love with: (this is the revised edition: I think I have the unrevised previous one).

#407 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2020, 11:57 AM:

Lila: Many thanks; I've checked out the link and it looks good. Truly, all knowledge is contained on Making Light!

#408 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2020, 02:25 PM:

So I went to Lowes(*) some days ago for some bits and bobs for house maintenance, and was appalled.

I have this vague recollection of an NPR columnist grumbling about pumpkin spice already being available as a coffee flavoring (with hype like "The flavor you've been waiting for!") at Starbucks/Dunkin/whatever-chain-you-might patronize. All briefly amusing, I thought, but what's it to me? -- I drink coffee extremely rarely, and never from stands. But when I walked into Lowe's, I was faced -- more, confronted -- with an assortment of figures that appeared to represent Halloween. (Skeletons and pumpkins are kind of obvious, but I'm not sure I'd have placed the Big Bad Wolf -- or maybe it was his horrifying badder brother -- without them.)

Halloween. In the middle of August, over 10 weeks before the event. Early enough that I got an email yesterday advertising swimming-pool supplies. One thinks of the Gahan Wilson cartoon of a couple of witches looking at such a display and grumbling that it's disgusting how they commercialize everything. Wave foot, stamp cane.

(*) Home Depot is within hiking distance even with the back access cut off by apartment construction, but too much of their income goes to Republican candidates and a Trump supporter.

#409 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2020, 03:27 PM:

I've been seeing Hallowe'en stuff for a couple of weeks, mostly candy but a few other things. I heard a couple of people talking about it on the radio, IIRC -- something along the lines of trick-or-treating being impossible this year, so retailers are trying to extend the season backwards.

#410 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2020, 04:05 PM:

I've been busy doing some magical thinking.

Laura is bearing down on the Houston area, or perhaps a bit east. So I was at Home Depot today and picked up some propane cylinders for the Coleman stove we bought eight years ago and never used.

Back in 2008, we were without power for eight days courtesy of a bad boy named Ike. This time if that happens, I'll at least be able to grill some burgers or heat a pot of beans.

A half-dozen people at Home Depot had carts loaded with Ryobi 6500 watt generators (at $799 each). I'm pretty sure that part of the logic driving the sale is that it feels like if you're prepared, then the storm is psychically urged to move on down the road.

The winds will probably start arriving late Wednesday.

#411 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2020, 04:34 PM:

CHip (Skeletons and pumpkins are kind of obvious, but I'm not sure I'd have placed the Big Bad Wolf...

I just watched a Halloween episode of Teen Wolf the other night, and three 8(about)-year-olds come up to a big muscley guy getting out of his pickup and yell "Trick or Treat!" He then turns and gives them a stern look.

They freeze and cower. Slowly he reaches into the front seat of the truck - an indrawn breath - pulls out a bag of candy, and gives some to each of them.

They're still standing there staring, so he goes werewolf face (fangs, glowing eyes) and snarls at them, and they run away screaming. He chuckles and goes about his business.

#412 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2020, 09:24 PM:

Chip, there are worse things to come:

#413 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2020, 12:59 AM:

So every day I look at to see what the latest COVID-19 stats are. And every day it serves up ads. Some of those ads are bought by the Trump campaign. (It's possible to tell.) One of them today asked: "Who is the better president? Obama or Trump?" and I can't help thinking that's like asking, "Which is the more livable city? New York or Pripyat?"

#414 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2020, 11:43 AM:

P J Evans @ 412: While I have no objection to the principle (though as a vegetarian, I'm not keen on some of the details), I'm strongly reminded of the chewing gum in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

#415 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2020, 02:07 PM:

Joel, I'm going to try to avoid that one. I have no problem with normal candy corn, including the pumpkin-shaped stuff, but that one is out beyond the two-sigma point on the normal curve.

#416 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2020, 03:30 PM:

Joel 414: Candy corn isn't really suitable for vegetarians anyway, regardless of flavor. It's typically made with gelatin.

#417 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2020, 04:27 PM:

David Goldfarb@413

Well, Pripyat has lower rents and less traffic, so... impossible to say if bad or good?

#418 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2020, 06:19 PM:

Sugar, corn syrup, natural and artificial flavorings (unspecified details), gelatin, and sesame oil, besides all the presumably-safe colors.
(I really wonder about the sesame oil.)

#419 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2020, 07:37 PM:

Joel Polowin: that actually makes a perverse sort of sense, if I think in B-school terms.

Steve C: a 6500-watt generator seems like overkill to this northerner, but I suppose people will want A/C in the aftermath.

P J Evans: not going to click on that link. Especially not right after dinner. No sir. Mama may have raised a fool, but not that big a one.

(later) Yeah, sesame oil seems a very strange thing for a cheap candy. If only we had Doc Smith here -- he could probably find a colleague to explain it.

AKICIML: May I have a moment of silence for my last bottle (maybe the last in Greater Boston, possibly the last drinkable anywhere) of Goose Island Honkers Ale? A reasonable representation of an English bitter, and a true miracle: a beer brewed west of the Appalachians, but with old-style hops rather than the western monstrosities that taste to me like grapefruit peels boiled in pine tar. (A local critic keeps talking about "bringing out the citrus flavor". If I want citrus in my beer I'll order a Corona with a slice of lime.)
There. Thank you. Now: is there anyone else on this list who likes English bitter, and if so what are you drinking? One NE brand after another has gone under (or is otherwise unsuitable -- Maine brewpub Gritty McDuff's has a nice line of English-like beers, but the bottled bitter (sometimes available in Boston) isn't much like what they have on tap). I tried a Fuller's ESB a couple of days ago, and it was wonderful -- but it's gotten as pricy as Sam Smith's. Any recommendations for something available in New England? Maybe even something brewed in the US?

#420 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2020, 10:00 PM:

Xopher: I didn't know (or didn't recall) that gelatine was a component of "candy corn" -- I thought that it was a sort of fudge-like, stiff-fondant candy, rather than a gummy candy? I haven't tried it in years. At any rate, I generally check ingredients before I eat, and I did notice that this particular version has gelatine.

Toasted sesame oil makes sense for giving a baked-caramelized savory kind of flavour component. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a component of the "turkey" and "sweet potato pie" candies, and also possibly the "carrot" ones.

#421 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2020, 02:29 PM:

Joel 420: Yeah, I thought it was fondant too, until I checked. I wonder if it could be done with fondant and...pectin, maybe?

I know there are vegan marshmallows (mainly for the kosher market), but I wonder if there are vegan candy corns?

#422 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2020, 02:40 PM:

I got a bunch with no gelatin. I'm astonished to discover that Jelly Belly is one of them.

But they have "confectioner's glaze," which is one of those dodgy terms you have to look up to be sure. Nearly missed it. It's bug juice.

#423 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2020, 06:19 PM:

The candy corn one says "confectioner's glaze (shellac)". Which means you get to look up shellac, if you didn't already know it. (It's a purified version, used for food and drugs.)

#424 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2020, 08:32 PM:

CHip @408: About five years ago my grocery store had a go with putting up their Christmas merch right about this time of year. That lasted about a week; apparently I was not the only one who write them a scathing customer review.

In years since, holiday decor/merch has been blessedly nonexistant, beyond a little tinsel hung around the customer service desk. Took me a while to even notice, which is a good thing.

Meanwhile: ObRef pumpkin spice (sound on).

#425 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2020, 10:16 AM:

Went into Lowe's the other day, looking for a couple replacement plastic "wicker" chairs for the front porch, and all the patio furniture has already been replaced with Halloween stuff. I wasn't really expecting this until Labor Day, but jumping the gun by a week or two is no surprise.

As previously noted, Halloween is a monster holiday in Austin, always a big deal in my neighborhood (we get hundreds of kids on our street), lawn decor is a fair-size thing year-round, and I suspect everyone is going all out this year. (I'm certainly gonna dig out the giant lit-up purple spider web.) Some people are already trying to figure out how to have a Covid-safe trick-or-treat, but I have my doubts ...

#426 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2020, 03:47 PM:

I can't figure out how to manage crowds exactly, but the six or so kids I expect to turn up on my street will get Trick or Yeeted king-sized candy (because there will be six of them and why not?)

#427 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2020, 07:48 PM:

I have written a program that attempts to re-emvowel disemvowelled text.

It turned:
just because you're on their side doesn't mean they're on your side

jestee abacus yore una thro sado disunite mano athyria ne yare sid

It does a search of the word list to find words that have the same combination of consonants, and selects randomly between the possibilities (I e it could have picked joust instead of jestee.)

I am not sure this is useful, but you are welcome to use it if it is.

#428 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2020, 10:02 PM:

I grew up reading Andre Norton, traveling with the Patrol as they ventured among the starlanes, landing their sleek silvery rockets on their own tailfire. I also fell headlong in love with Anne McCaffrey's Ship Who Sang and eagerly devoured every sequel, riding with the brainships. And there were other sleek silver rockets, on magazine and paperback covers, or inked in black and white on pulp pages.

Today I watched a sleek silver rocket leap high into the sky and come gracefully down on a target painted on the ground, landing on its own tailfire. And it was real. Yes, it's just the first stage of the rocket, and yes, there have been other successful burns, but this one sent the rocket so high you could barely see it shining, and then brought it down again like a Lipizzaner horse applying precision to tonnage, without any need for a catcher's mitt or a water buffer. This is really happening.

#429 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2020, 01:47 PM:

Jenny Islander's eloquence in #428 also brings to mind something Arlan Andrews, himself an SF writer, said about an earlier rocket, the DC-X:

“The first true spaceship will take off and land the way God and Robert Heinlein intended—spewing a long column of flame, thrusting its entire body into the heavens without dropping off any parts along the way. And it will land in similar fashion ... lowering itself on roaring rockets until the fiery exhaust splashes the landing pad, finally relaxing on its hydraulic legs in the heavy embrace of Mother Earth.”

Dr. Andrews says he first used this phrase in "Single Stage to Infinity," Analog, June 1993.

Space people loved to quote it, back in the Nineties, and though the DC-X has faded into history, "the way God and Robert Heinlein intended" has found new life as SpaceX started attempting to land its re-usable stages.

It is often misattributed to someone else, but such is the risk an aphorist runs.

#430 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2020, 02:13 AM:

I really should have mentioned it here earlier.
I can't even claim to have been too torn up with grief, not this entire time. I just didn't.
You might or might not recall posts from last year and years preceding by "Older", also known as "Older and Better", and "Still Hot".
She was also known as Kathleen S. Burt, my wife of 35 years, who died in February of this year.
She had glioblastoma multiforme. I was alarmed to see the CAT scan's revelation of a tumor pressing on her Broca's Area, but what made the case hopeless was the "multiforme" part: there were swarms of little tumors all over her brain.
It wasn't painful. It didn't take long. She died holding my hand.
It could have been worse.

#431 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2020, 09:41 AM:

@John M. Burt, I am so sorry for your loss. From her posts here, I know she was a charming and intelligent woman, and she will be missed. Sincere condolences.

#432 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2020, 10:33 AM:

May the memories of better times keep you warm.

#433 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2020, 11:23 AM:

John M. Burt, I'm sorry for your loss. I wish I had better words. Reading this makes me empty.

#434 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2020, 12:32 PM:

John M. Burt, I'm so sorry. I remember her posts well. She always had interesting and insightful things to say.

#435 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2020, 12:36 PM:

Condolences from here too. She was a credit to this community.

#436 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2020, 04:03 PM:

Sympathy and condolences.

#437 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2020, 09:05 PM:

John M. Burt - I am so very sorry. I remember her fondly, and the thought of never seeing her posting here again is heartbreaking.

#438 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2020, 11:19 PM:

My thanks to all of you for your replies.
I wish I could show them to Kathe. She would have very much liked to see them.

[Darn, I should have thought of it...announced her death before she died, so I could show your replies to her....]

#439 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2020, 02:44 AM:

According to Trump my parents were losers and suckers. My dad landed on Omaha Beach in the first wave. My mom was in the regular Navy and was in inspector in an ordnance plant.

#440 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2020, 09:24 AM:

John, I always liked her comments. I am sorry for your loss.

#441 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2020, 12:07 PM:

Deepest condolences, John.

#442 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2020, 12:23 PM:

Condolences John, May her memories be a blessing and a comfort in times of worry.

#443 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2020, 04:03 PM:

Robert Glaub @439: they're only losers and suckers if they got wounded or killed. There were fine people who lived through being in the military (on both sides, of course).

Remember to vote this year, everyone. Both sides say the fate of our country depends on it; it's one of the few things they agree on. And I know which version of this country I'd rather live in.

#444 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2020, 05:00 PM:

John M. Burt: My condolences. I do indeed remember posts by 'Older' and always found them worth reading. May her memory be a blessing.

#445 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2020, 09:01 AM:

John, she was a very valued member of this community. I'm so sorry for your loss, and ours.

#446 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2020, 10:43 PM:

My condolences, John.

#447 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2020, 09:50 AM:

very sorry to hear that

#448 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2020, 07:58 PM:

Diatryma@426: a friend gives away full-size candybars at a high-traffic location:
2018 prep
2017 prep
Unfortunately he hasn't posted results recently, but I've helped a few times and IIRC he's never gotten to 7:30 -- there are seriously fancy displays in nearby houses, but fullsize candy draws the hordes.

#449 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2020, 05:09 PM:

Jenny Islander @387, that description of "a la Pekinoise" sounded to me like "Fry the stuff in a wok and put it on a steam table to serve", but I'm glad it turned out rather better than that.

#450 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2020, 05:24 PM:

Things have been getting really alien around here.
- Four years ago we left modern America for Sinclair Lewis's "It Can't Happen Here"
- Six months ago everything turned into a Mira Grant novel, except the bad guys are also idiots.
- Yesterday the sky was dark and orange and it never really turned into daytime*. Even weirder for my wife, who'd been up late reading, slept til early afternoon, and woke up to what didn't feel like day.
- Today the Furnace was visible through The Enclouding, but just barely, enough to get Pink Floyd stuck in my head**, and the localized earthquakes (street construction as part of the new apartments going up next door and some sidewalk repair here) have been constant.

*Much of California is still on fire, and while our side of the hills wasn't, a bunch of fannish and music friends on the Santa Cruz side had to evacuate for a week or two; most are back now, though I don't know if that includes Chris Garcia. This time, instead of being all smoke, it's fog and low clouds with the smoke above them, leaving a non-Earth-like sky that's much darker and angrier-looking that the previous smoke we've gotten.
** "The sun is the same, in a relative way, ...", especially since the new Dune preview was using chunks of Eclipse as theme music.

Oh, well, the German band I'm in will be doing a zoom thing tonight, for the first time since the shutdowns; maybe they'll be playing some different tunes.

#451 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2020, 05:36 PM:

CHip@419, a while back Patrick mentioned an English Mild ale, and while I haven't had one before, I tried brewing something vaguely like it, and I'm thinking of doing more of an ESB-type thing after the weather cools down.

I really like the "grapefruit peels boiled in pine tar" beers, and they generally work better for our summer weather here, which is usually too hot for English-style yeasts to be happy. I didn't get the bread-baking bug that bit lots of other people this year, but brewing is sort of a wetter version of that, and I've been doing occasional 1-gallon batches which my kitchen stove can handle. And the local beer store has reopened for "pick up orders at the door" business, so I was able to restock a few things I was out of and buy too many kinds of hops.

#452 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2020, 07:30 PM:

In L.A. the light is yellow - we got no sun to speak of today, because "marine layer" AKA fog - and the air smells like an ashtray. The smoke is from much farther north - the Creek Fire, the Dolan Fire, and points all the way up to Portland, I think.

Frisbie and his wife, near Stayton, are still at stage 2, "be prepared to get out". They let the cats out of the back room today, but the cats want to stay in the house.

#453 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2020, 08:24 PM:

John M. Burt #430: My condolences and sympathies. I've just been rereading some of the old Dysfunctional Families threads, and was impressed anew with her character and wisdom.

#454 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2020, 08:38 PM:

P J Evans #423: The candy corn one says "confectioner's glaze (shellac)". Which means you get to look up shellac, if you didn't already know it.

I just looked it up, and discovered "something [I] knew that isn't so". Apparently shellac s made from the discarded cocoons of the beetle, rather than the beetle themselves. Would that mean it counts as vegetarian, but still not vegan?

#455 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2020, 09:38 PM:

"Shellac is scraped from the bark of the trees where the female lac bug, Kerria lacca (order Hemiptera, family Kerriidae, also known as Laccifer lacca), secretes it to form a tunnel-like tube as it traverses the branches of the tree. Though these tunnels are sometimes referred to as "cocoons", they are not cocoons in the entomological sense."

So it's a bug product, but not a bug. Like beeswax, maybe?

#456 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2020, 01:38 AM:

Condolences, John M. Burt.

And sorry to be bringing more bad news. Filker Naomi Pardue has taken her own life. Tonight's Pixel Scroll on File 770 has a link to Tom Smith's Facebook post breaking the news.

#457 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2020, 09:54 AM:

Dave Harman @454: Apparently the people harvesting the shellac commonly incidentally harvest the lac bugs and their eggs along with the shellac. So vegetarians will differ in their opinion regarding its acceptability and vegans will probably reject it.

#458 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2020, 12:00 PM:

My sympathies for those who knew the people we have lost.
Here in Skagitropolis--all right, Mt. Vernon Wa.--we are bracing for "another one of those"--i.e., conditions of harmful smoke from distant fires. As if I wasn't already concerned with not-so-distant ones that might occur. Making a pack-list, putting my CDs on my hard drive and so on. I and closest relative both live on the edge of wooded areas.
Said relative seems not much concerned and hasn't made any plans of their own, going on about how I shouldn't worry and I have to keep telling them I am not worrying, I am thinking ahead.
Pain-in-the-butt high humidity is added to the smoke threat and I don't know if these influence each other or not.
It's been a long 6 months. I miss my libraries and bookstores the most.
However, I was making toast at relative's house the other week and put the last, single piece in and when it was done, the toaster launched it upward and clear so it landed nicely right * in * the * other * slot.

#459 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2020, 12:53 PM:

Give that toaster a prize!

(I have friends in Oregon who have been at stage-2 alert all week.)

#460 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2020, 01:07 PM:

I am in Washington County, OR.

The nearest big fires are in Clackamas County, which is kitty-corner to the southeast.

We're getting the smoke, though. Current air quality readings for my zip code are "Very Unhealthy."

The forecast, unnervingly, reads "Tomorrow: Not Available."

#461 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2020, 05:36 PM:

19 years ago today I was pulling the broken, burnt bodies of friends out of the rubble of the Pentagon.

#462 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2020, 08:01 PM:

...Happy birthday, Xopher?

#463 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2020, 09:08 PM:

@449: That may have been what the chef was trying to duplicate. I'm glad I just stir-fried everything, because it's super fast, everybody in this allergy pit can eat it, and it has therefore been added to my rotation of busy-day dinners.

#464 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2020, 11:44 PM:

dcb @457:

I would expect vegans to reject shellac/confectioner's glaze even if the harvesters didn't get any actual bugs or larvae in their collection. While shellac isn't intentionally made from the insects themselves, it is still an animal product, like honey or silk.

Vegetarians have a variety of opinions. This vegetarian, for instance, doesn't get upset or concerned about carmine dye, while others actively avoid it.

#465 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2020, 11:16 AM:


Yes, Xopher got some birthday wishes on Twitter.

* * *
Ye Gods.

Oregon's rocketry club cancelled its big yearly launch in Sheridan, OR.

Out of curiosity, I checked the air quality index:

The 7 am and 8 am readings both read "Beyond Index."

#466 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2020, 02:00 PM:

Friends live near Stayton, southeast of Salem. The particulate index there is ... about 500. They need N95s just to go outside. (It's about 170 where I live, in the northwest San Fernando Valley. We can smell smoke.)

#467 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2020, 02:13 PM:

In Seattle, our particulates have been between 180 and 250 for the last few days -- 220 at the moment. The day is overcast and brown, rather than the usual gray -- still, sullen and muffled. Karen described it as the anteroom of hell -- and we're waiting for our number to be called.

#468 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2020, 04:03 PM:

Tom, I've been looking at the GOES views of the west (and the entire lower 48). The smoke goes out to sea and then catches the jet stream, coming southwest, and then northeast across New Mexico headed toward the Great Lakes.
(There's a list of views, each of which gets highlighted on the map so you can match it to what you want.)

#469 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2020, 04:04 PM:

Dang. That's "coming southeast"

#470 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2020, 07:05 PM:

I lived in Casper, Wyoming, the summer of 1988--the year half of Yellowstone burned. We were 200+ miles downwind, and the sky was orange for weeks. I can't imagine what it's like to be so close.

#471 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2020, 11:11 AM:

Here in Skagitropolis, it's about 190. It looks like fog but it isn't. The otherwise welcome coolness I know I'd better not go out in, the silence as if it had snowed...a picture of a scarlet sunset clear over in Britain. It's just plain creepy, and worse coming on top of the virus, the election approaching, a relative finding "clever" ways to nag me about my weight, etc. Supposedly it will get better in a day or so, but right now time itself feels stagnant and soiled.
You all hang in there.

#472 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2020, 12:54 PM:

Buddha Buck @466 re. me @464: Yes, that's what I was saying - vegans would reject it as an animal product; some vegetarians might accept it as being produced by an animal while others might object to due to animals being killed incidentally (or others might not mind that because they don't feel the same way about invertebrates). Apologies if I was unclear.

#473 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2020, 02:08 PM:

I remembered I had a paint respirator, and have been using it on my dog walks. Sadly, nothing I can do for the dog other than limit time outside.

Last night Hillsboro, OR was "Hazardous" (as it was the night before). Back down to "Very Unhealthy," just beneath the "Hazardous" limit.

One of the things keeping me sane during coronavirus times is going out for long walks with the dog. This current situation is just awful.

#474 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2020, 06:33 PM:

<hugs> if welcome and best wishes to all who are in hazard range of smoke or fire.

I've been smelling woodsmoke intermittently here in Illinois, 2000 miles away. It's not backyard barbeques; it smells like campfires. I'm pretty sure it's California/Oregon/Washington etc.

#475 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2020, 01:52 PM:

Dave 454, P J 455: That's enough of a difference to put it on the edible list for this vegetarian.

Robert 481: I'm so very sorry.

David 462: Thanks. It wasn't so bad this year.

Buddha 464: Yes, and also it's not like there's a sharp dividing line between vegetarians and vegans. As for me, I'm ovolacto, and never stopped eating honey (which, face it, is going to have bee parts in it), so the lacquer is fine with me now that I know it isn't concentrated body parts.

Also, what dcb said at 472.

Cassy 474: Yes. Good wishes of safety and protection for all of you in the fire and smoke zones, an it be your own will.

#476 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2020, 03:14 PM:

Bill Stewart @ 450: the discoloration is not restricted to the West; today a friend in Wisconsin published a picture very much like Beth Meacham's orange-sun-on-gray from a couple of days ago. I'm just wondering what the sky will be like here (Boston) in another couple of days, given the broad front on which the left coast is burning. Meanwhile, I read in the NYTimes (and even the BBC) that assorted paranoid nutjobs are claiming the Oregon fires were started by antifa (or maybe they call it Antifa, as if it were defined enough to rate a capital letter). I suspect Callenbach never realized how reactionary sentiments were outside the big cities even in the not-SoCal territory where he set Ecotopia.

Bill Stewart @ 451: western hops are most visible on this coast in allegedly English-style beers -- "IPA"s are what everyone is brewing locally or importing from the rest of the US. I don't remember tasting a lager with western hops -- I'd think the mutant taste would be even more overwhelming absent the side-products of ale yeast/temperatures -- but everyone has their own tastes. And wrt heat vs yeast, most ESBs are good for long enough that they can be drunk until such time as they can be brewed again -- IFF you have enough bottles/kegs/.... (My consumption has gone way down, and I haven't brewed in almost 20 years, but I remember brewing and either drinking or handing out something like 40 gallons the first year I did homebrewing. I reused lots of bottles.)
I will try almost anything (although I really should have passed on the peppermint-apricot beer one short-lived brewpub came up with), and am waiting impatiently for mass dining to be safe enough (by my old-age standards) that I can go back to Jack's Abby -- but my main beer taste was formed by several years of change ringing, when we would go afterwards (especially if we had guests from across the pond) to Commonwealth, which brewed a small but wonderful collection of Yorkshire-style ales. (They are much missed -- got driven under when a local brewpub chain opened a place with more variety -- blueberry lager?!? -- half as far from the basketball/hockey/... arena.)

Angiportus Librarysaver @ 458: ISTM that sometimes the universe does something visibly cool just to show everyone it can.

Best hopes to everyone around the burning lands; we can hope our next President will think of dealing with unemployment via a new WPA, to do proofing, clearing, and maybe even preWhite-style controlled burns to reduce future risks.

#477 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2020, 03:21 PM:

And for news of other disasters:

Long-term Filers may remember discussions based on Terry Carney(sp?)'s experience as a no-contact interrogator (for the US military?), and the unreliability of information obtained by brutality. NPR reports that an FBI interrogator has reissued his 2011 work as The Black Banners (Declassified): How Torture Derailed The War On Terror After 9/11, with details the CIA previously censored -- including key info that he got before their cowboys' actions stopped the flow.

Going back even further, there was much discussion in 2005 not just of hurricane damage (IIRC, we had Filers in New Orleans at the time) but also how remarkable the year was, getting 6 letters into the Greek alphabet before the year ended. Wikipedia says this year has broken records for early use of late names by larger and larger margins: Sally, now headed for NoLA, was named 20 days earlier than the previous record-holder for the letter 'S', and Vicky was 21 days earlier than the 20th-named-storm record. Any bets how many Greek letters we'll need this year? Note that the end of the Roman alphabet isn't used, so after Wilfred we're forward into the past (alphabet).

#478 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2020, 01:06 PM:

CHip 477: I guess they used Yves, Yvonne, Zack, and Zenobia and couldn't think of any more.

#479 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2020, 01:36 PM:

There's Yarborough and Yantis....

#480 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2020, 04:38 PM:

Rustle up a copy of Seuss' "On Beyond Zebra". That might help if we still run short on storm names [printable ones, that is].
Stay safe.

#481 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2020, 08:22 PM:

1.) The front page seems to be broken, without formatting.

2.) Various complaints about GoodReads, pitching The StoryGraph as an upstart competitor. What do people here think?

Why Goodreads is bad for books.

#482 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2020, 09:43 AM:

I'm sorry
I ate
The purple cow
You were saving
For breakfast.
I thought
It was a plum

-- Bruce Adelsohn

Philadelphia: Yesterday had a high haze, no particular color. Surprisingly cool for the time of year. Today, it's too overcast to tell, but still chilly for September.

The air quality is alright so far.

#483 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2020, 02:00 PM:

I don't think I posted this one yet. It's part of my irregular series of tests of recipes that six people can eat when most of them have partially intersecting lists of things they can't eat. Also, it's so freaking easy.

You need a slow cooker, a kitchen knife, a cutting board, a couple of forks, and something to pour water with.

Start in the morning.

If you have a ham bone, use that. Otherwise buy a ham hock or--more expensive, but easiest of all--a vacuum-packed ham slice AKA ham steak, preferably one with a slice of bone in it. Put that in the bottom of your cooker and turn it on Low. If you are using an Instant Pot or other multi-function cooker, set it on Saute for now. Or if you have a simple slow cooker and some time, put it on High and cover it.

Dump a pound of green split peas into the water-pouring-thing, or use a sieve if you have one. Rinse the peas and pick out anything that looks gross. Put the washed peas on top of the ham slice.

Now dice 2 medium onions, or use pre-cut frozen onions; you might also try onion flakes. Put them in.

You also need 2 outer or 3 inner stalks of celery, diced. I have never seen these available frozen, so I am afraid that some chopping will be involved.

Pour in two quarts of water.

If you are using an Instant Pot or what have you, wait until it seethes, then hit Cancel and set the pot to slow cook all day with the valve open. If you set a slow cooker on High, wait until it seethes, then switch the heat to Low. If using a cooker on Low, just cover it--but be aware that for best flavor you should be starting this dish about the time the school buses are on the street.

And then just go about your business.

Shortly before dinnertime, lift out the bone or ham hock, if using, and strip the meat off, using the forks. Put bite-sized pieces of defatted meat, and also the ultra-tenderized gristle if you like that, back into the pot. The marrow, if any, is cook's treat. If you started with a ham slice, just fish out the bone with one fork, then pull the meat apart with two, fishing out any fatty bits.

Stir, taste for salt, and serve. Hearty eaters may appreciate something on the side, such as Goldfish crackers, oyster crackers, whole-grain bread, or perhaps rice.

Reheats beautifully, and still tastes good even if everything tastes awful because you're sick.

#484 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2020, 07:32 PM:

A cooking trick I stumbled on, if you HATE chopping onions, like I do, and a course chop is sufficient for your needs....

Peel off the paper as usual, cutting off top and bottom of the onion. Cut the onion in half vertically. Place the onion halves on your cutting board. Take an apple slicer/corer (you know, the bladed device that slices an apple into eight slices with the core cut out) and use it on the onion halves.

It's quick, it's easy, you'll have very little tearing (although you might want to close your eyes as you bear down on the corer) and as a special bonus some of the onion pieces (that would be where the core was if it were an apple) will be perfectly circular. <grin>

Obviously this won't work if you need finely diced onion. But I was chopping an onion for a stew and the apple corer caught my eye, and the rest is history....

#485 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2020, 08:16 PM:

RIP, RBG. Damn.

#486 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2020, 11:07 PM:

The NPR news story I read said that among her last words were a desire that her place not be filled till after the election. If only there were the slightest chance that the people in this government would respect a dying woman's wishes.

#487 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2020, 11:20 PM:

Susan Collins has already come out saying that she thinks the delay is appropriate. There may be some backlash that leads to it -- but then, they'll just put someone up after the election and before the inauguration.

#488 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2020, 11:07 AM:

They don't have that much time - the next session of Congress starts Jan 3. Collins likely won't be there.

#489 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2020, 11:30 AM:

I can absolutely picture McConnell convening a lame-duck Senate session to push though a Supreme Court nominee before inauguration day, if Trump loses and/or the Democrats take the Senate.

Because "elections have consequences" ... but only for other people.

The prospect terrifies me.

#490 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2020, 10:04 PM:

Whether Collins is ousted is very much up in the air -- she's behind in the polls, but other incumbents have come back from similar deficits. (In interviews quoted in the Boston Globe, Maine residents were worrying about the leverage they'd lose in the Senate if she were replaced by a newbie.) OTOH, Murkowski has said flatly that the vote should wait on the election -- and she has enough impatience with the Republican right (having come back from being primaried) that she's unlikely to fold. Two more and there's a chance -- and Romney isn't happy with Trump in general, and Martha McSally (down in the polls) could legally be replaced immediately if she loses (although I'm not betting on a Republican governor doing that even if it gives his state a seniority edge). We'll all cross our fingers for fairness -- including not accepting the nominee of a lame duck.

Meanwhile, my partner just showed me somebody's picture of the Fearless Girl statue with an RBG collar added.

Meanwhile^2, the storms continue to come; Beta is 39 days earlier than the only other Beta.

#491 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2020, 01:32 PM:

If they confirm a new justice before the election, and Biden wins in a landslide, Trump could file a suit saying he doesn't have to leave office with the legal reasoning "I don' wanna," and the Supreme Court will rule 5-4 in his favor.

Kavanaugh will write the opinion, which will read, in full: "He don' hafta if he don' wanna."

#492 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2020, 05:39 PM:

This moose knows damn-all about the U.S. political system, but...

Xopher @ #491

If they try that and have lost control of the Senate (due to the aforementioned landslide), presumably the sensible approach would be to impeach Kavanaugh for the things they can definitely nail him for. Appoint Merrick Garland (if he's available and still wants the position), and consider expanding the bench by two non-partisan justices.

_Then_ they can impeach Trump. (Followed by McConnell for misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance in office, along with any other glaring examples.)

A bill to roll-back all of Trumps changes would not go amiss after that but is probably impractical, but start with the important stuff.

Meanwhile, here in the UK we need to get rid of Perfidious Johnson and his cabinet, and put our own house in order.


#493 ::: MIchael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2020, 06:43 PM:

Cadbury Moose@492

The problem is that it takes a 2/3rd vote in the Senate to remove either a President or a Supreme Court judge. And there is no plausible outcome where the Democrats have a 2/3rd majority.

#494 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2020, 06:58 PM:

Popping out of lurkerdom -- times are ugly. I've been listening to this, possibly the most beautiful piece of music I've ever heard, for about a month now, and I thought I'd share it. It's the final part of Christopher Tin's latest choral song cycle To Shiver the Sky, about the history of flight. The text is Kennedy's speech. It's astonishing, and the joy in "well, space is there, and we're going to climb it" is up there for me with "and his name shall be called Wonderful" from Handel's Messiah.

We Choose to Go to the Moon

I can do sweet f.a. about the situation in the world and the country directly south of mine, but I hope this makes you glad for the ten minutes it lasts.

#495 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2020, 09:42 PM:

Impeaching Barr and Mitch would be good. Probably wouldn't get convictions, unless several senators suddenly develop buyer's remorse (or actual consciences), but it's another nail in that box.

#496 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2020, 05:34 PM:

One hopeful sign I saw recently: a relative who has in the past posted conservative though not outright Trumpy stuff posted a meme about not nominating anyone to the supreme court until after the inauguration. While most people I know assumed McConnell was being hypocritical in saying that it was wrong to nominate in an election year, I think there really are folks who are feeling betrayed by the Republicans going back on that, and will feel especially betrayed by Romney (who has a wholly undeserved reputation in some quarters as a man of principle). I don't know if there are a lot of them, but it cheered me a little to see one example.

#497 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2020, 11:17 PM:

There's nothing Kavanaugh's done since he got confirmed that would justify impeaching him (at least that I've seen in the news, anyway.) So the [pejorative deleted] people who thought confirming him was ok aren't going to vote to impeach, especially if Trump's been thrown out and Biden's going nominate his replacement.

Basically, we need to stomp the Senate election campaigns hard enough to get a couple more Republican Senators do to the right thing (Romney's already announced he won't), or keep a filibuster going for the rest of the term, and Mitch *could* go nuclear and get the Senate to end the filibuster rules, which is even more likely if the GOP loses the Senate in the elections, according to the legal doctrine of "F*** you, that's why!"

#498 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2020, 10:54 AM:

Cadbury Moose 492: Progressives here are talking about expanding SCOTUS to thirteen justices, partly on the grounds that the number of justices was established when there were nine circuits, and there are now thirteen. I'm told Congress can instigate this, but it's not clear to me whether it requires a POTUS signature or not; if it does, I think a conservative like Biden is unlikely to sign it, or to appoint judges who will actually balance the Court.

To be fair, it will be hard to find justices who are as far to the left as Kavanaugh is to the right. They'd almost have to be card-carrying Communists. Failing that, Emma Goldman and Joe Hill are, sadly, dead, and I don't see their like in America today.

Em 494: I'm going to give that a listen when I get home.

P J 494 unless several senators suddenly develop buyer's remorse (or actual consciences)

Pretty sure the GOP conscience-extraction surgery includes cautery of the severed stumps, for exactly that reason.

Bill 497: IIUC, the filibuster on judicial confirmations is already gone. Otherwise Moscow Mitch could never have gotten Kavanaugh through, not to mention slamming through the confirmations dozens of far-right goons to other federal courts.

Blowing out the filibuster entirely is a prerequisite for expanding the court.

#499 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2020, 12:18 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @498:

The size of the courts is a law, just a simple law. Adding Justices or Judges is simple as amending the law. That requires a simple majority in both Houses of Congress on the same bill, and the signature (or no action for a couple of weeks) of the President, just like any normal law.

It would be interesting to tie Justices and the circuits closer together. It used to be that a Justice would travel to "their" circuit and sit cases, but that hasn't been done in a long time. Now, all that happens is that the Justice for a circuit hears emergency petitions to the Court and can deny certiorary on their own, or issue temporary orders pending a full court review. I could see a Justice sitting "en banc" with their circuit Judges -- except that would engender more recusals, and thus possible 4/4 ties at the SCOTUS level... I'll have to ponder the idea more (have an even number of circuits, so the remaining odd number of Justices wouldn't tie as often? Maybe...)

#500 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2020, 02:47 PM:

Buddha 499: Those are good things to know. Thank you.

I have to admit that one reason I like the idea of expanding the Court is so that I can watch Moscow Mitch's head explode, scattering green goo and bits of shell all over his home and his evil wife.

#501 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2020, 07:55 PM:

Buddha Buck @499 -- but if they raise the number of Justices to 13, won't they have to worry about one of them betraying John Roberts for 30 shares of Amazon?

#502 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2020, 10:45 AM:

Buddha Buck @ 499: until the filibuster is entirely gone, there is no such thing as a simple law requiring a simple majority; the rules now ~prevent filibustering only on judicial nominations (and on certain topics on which there's a time limit, says Wikipedia), so expanding SCOTUS requires either a supermajority (massively unlikely given current Senate races) or the elimination of the filibuster for ~all business. (Ironically, filibustering on nominees to federal courts below SCOTUS was eliminated by a Senate controlled by Democrats; the next Senate flipped control, blocking many judicial nominations and leaving room for the goon-packing Xopher notes in @498.) 3 Democrats voted against the elimination of filibustering for non-SCOTUS judges, so even if the Republicans lose formal control of the Senate there's no guarantee further elimination will happen; Joe Manchin is the weak link I think of immediately, but there are probably others.

Em@494: thank you.
earlier and less triumphant, but also stunning for those of us who have flown (a plane, a hang glider, ...) or dreamed of doing so: "Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine". Almost a cappella so the lyrics are a bit clearer; text here may be useful, especially because there's some untranslated Italian.

#503 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2020, 10:58 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 501: a ver palpable hit, but I'm not sure betraying Roberts is possible; his ability to shift to stay on top of that morass makes the Vicar of Bray look slow and clumsy.

#504 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2020, 02:10 PM:

Ra-la-la-trolley: change the recipe for Diet Coke slightly, for a little while.

#505 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2020, 08:55 PM:

The New York Times has gotten hold of Trump's tax returns; as expected, he paid sweet Fannie Adams most years, and trivial amounts in other years. Links to any historically-aware cartoons showing Boss Tweed sympathizing with the Cheeto would be welcome, but I'm not holding my breath. AP presentation (eats systems with slow CPUs and/or small amounts of RAM, but does not appear to be firewalled).

#506 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2020, 11:43 PM:

AKICIML, culinary edition: I made this and we all loved it, but I had a question.

Take a medium green cabbage, about 2 1/2 pounds. Quarter, core, and trim it and cut it into pieces about 1 inch square. Rinse in a colander and set aside.

In a large, deep, heavy skillet, heat 1/2 cup water and 3 tablespoons butter on M. When the butter has melted, put in the cabbage, in layers, adding salt and pepper to each layer.

Cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. This will take about 20 minutes. Now stir in plenty of fresh or dried dill.

The original recipe calls for four 6-ounce halibut fillets at this point, but I am an Alaskan, so what I had was book-sized hunks cut from the fillets of an 80-pound 'but and vacuum-frozen. I cut them, while still partially frozen, into pieces of uniform thickness, and salted and peppered both sides. Then I laid them on top of the cabbage, put the lid back on, and let it all steam for another 6 minutes.

Delicious! However, I should not use butter again for the sake of my health. Making Light foodies, what cooking fat would you use instead?

#507 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2020, 11:49 AM:

@Jenny Islander: I mostly use olive oil. I think butter on vegetables is fine if it gets you to eat vegetables. But 3 tablespoons seems like a lot. Cabbage gives off water when it cooks. A little bit of fat in the pan is enough to keep it from sticking.

A small splash of vinegar (apple cider vinegar is great) at the end brightens the flavor of cooked greens.

#508 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2020, 01:35 PM:

@TomB 507: This is A Lot of cabbage we're talking about here, and halibut is naturally a very lean fish, so I think the amount of cooking fat is right. The juices from the fish and the cabbage combine with the seasonings to make a broth; do you think that olive oil would add the right note? It was my first thought, but on the other hand it does color everything green and (IME) it sometimes causes the taste of fish to become cloying. Maybe I should add vinegar too.

As for butter, unfortunately I have a thing that makes eating any amount of saturated fat a very bad idea. Unsaturated fat is OK in moderation (to enrich broth yes; to deep-fry no).

#509 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2020, 02:40 PM:

Safflower oil or canola oil wouldn't add much flavor at all.

#510 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2020, 04:54 PM:

Jenny Islander @506:

With that much cabbage and 1/2 cup of water in the pan, covered, nothing is getting hotter than 100C. You aren't using the oil to cook with, but more as a flavoring and solute for flavors.

Any fat that you think tastes good with halibut would work. I'm not a fish-eater myself, but as I understand it, it has delicate flavors. I'd be concerned that a strongly flavored oil like EEVO would overpower it. Butter has a specific flavor itself.

With that in mind, I'd suggest, if you can stand it, splitting the fat between a low-flavor oil like canola or cottonseed and a small amount of butter for the flavor.

#511 ::: annejohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2020, 06:47 PM:

Jenny Islander @506 : can you get avocado oil ? Much lighter flavor than olive oil.

#512 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2020, 07:03 PM:

@511: OOOOOOO! I am going to have to try that! I think it would taste fantastic with the halibut, but I'm not sure what it would be like with the cabbage.

#513 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2020, 09:43 PM:

I am in no wise a particularly skilled cook. That said, I lurvz me some toasted sesame oil. No clue if that's a flavor note you'd like in that mix, though, and the flavor is most decidedly Not Mild.

#514 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2020, 10:00 PM:

Nut oils (hazelnut particularly) strike me as possibly working well here. They're fairly mild in flavor -- see if you can get a sample. Otherwise, safflower/sunflower, or canola (rapeseed), are both good.

As for olive turning things green, depends a lot on the olive oil! Same with flavor -- they're highly variable. We tend to use a fairly light one (Saifan) for everyday, but have some noticeably greener EVOOs for specific uses. Some taste very buttery -- others are bitter, others sweet.

#515 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2020, 10:37 PM:

Canola oil has a nasty flavor to me. I use pure olive oil (my standard brand is from Trader Joe's) for most cooking (pure as in "not extra virgin") -- it doesn't really taste of olives. I would certainly use it for something like sauteing cabbage without a second thought. Cooking fish on top of greens like that is one of my favorite methods. I first thought of it with sole, which is difficult to keep from overcooking and hard to get out of the pan. On top of almost-done greens, it steams beautifully and is easy to serve. I like adding sliced leeks or thin onion wedges to the greens as well.

#516 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2020, 07:58 AM:

I've found Trader Joe's olive oil a bit strong (and IIRC a bit green), although it's the standard oil for a friend who is a much better cook than I am. My go-to is Filippo Berio "For Sauteing and Grilling" (typically the 2nd-lightest of their several grades findable in all the large grocery stores I go to); it has just enough flavor to be good on bread (in place of butter, which I'm also careful of) without any of the green color or edgy flavor that a lot of the pricier oils have. I haven't tried avocado or sesame oils but I can imagine them doing well for occasional flavoring such as this -- I suspect they'd be too expensive for an all-around oil.

#517 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2020, 03:22 PM:

I have some regular (not extra-virgin) olive oil that's not noticeably green. It would be the kind for using in cooking. I'd save the good stuff for finishing dishes.

#518 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2020, 11:47 PM:

Snippets from WIP, Into the Deep Black, being posted in my group on FB. Robert's Restaurant and Bar.

#519 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2020, 11:48 PM:

I want Samuel L. Jackson to moderate the next debate.

#520 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2020, 10:38 AM:

It might help - especially if he can turn off mikes.

#521 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2020, 11:00 AM:

I've seen only a few moments from the "debate", but it looks as though mike control is absolutely necessary. Possibly with a rule like "Your microphone will be cut off for two minutes while your opponent speaks. If you try to interrupt regardless, your opponent will be given bonus time, which will be deducted from your own next two-minute period."

#522 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2020, 12:10 PM:

Joel 521: I like that, but Trump doesn't even let the moderator finish a question, so him caring about two-minute time limits seems a stretch.

What I think would work: Candidates in soundproof booths with speakers, so they hear everything. Mics only activated when the moderator presses a button that starts a two-minute cycle with automatic cutoff.

This would, among other things, be fair, and therefore the Republicans (any Republicans, not just Trump) will never agree to it, because they've known for decades that fairness will be their downfall. And talking over people and shouting whenever the opposition is saying something they don't want the audience to hear is basic Republican debate (and even interview) strategy.

#523 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2020, 07:19 PM:

If being on camera is contingent on having a working microphone, maybe? I like your idea about the booths, but as you say, the Republicans are unlikely to go for it. Trump, in particular, would hate the image of his being cooped up like that.

The moderator needs some way to make sure that the candidates can be cut off from the audience.

"Gentlemen, you each have your microphone and cameras. You will not approach each other. You see these tubes between you? Pie cannon. I'm serious. Cherry, lemon meringue, blueberry, banana cream. These nozzles? Whipped cream sprayers. Again, I'm serious. Oh, and we're broadcasting and recording in 4K."

I'm halfway through a re-read of How Much For Just The Planet?. This may have inspired the notion.

Real-time fact checking on big screens behind the candidates would be good too.

#524 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 12:21 AM:

With Trump supporters, it's all about the bullying. It's all about being able to dump on people and oppress them. If they can't do that then life isn't worth living.

#525 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 05:04 AM:

There's a thread on Twitter by @dinerlee that Trump's tactics were deliberate: "There was nothing unplanned or spontaneous in the President's strategy. The bastards did not prep him to attack Joe. They prepped him to attack Joe's disability, hoping that by triggering his stuttering they might deceive an audience unfamiliar with the disability into thinking Joe was stupid, weak, uncertain, confused, or lost to dementia."

Playground bully tactics, in other words.

(Original post was by Wes Kennison on Facebook, apparently.)

Meanwhile I (being in England) would like Prime Ministers Questions to be strictly governed by the "Just a minute" rules as someone has suggested.

#526 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 08:56 AM:

@525, my husband, who had a severe stutter as a child, made that exact point to me after the debate.

I noped out of watching the debate after the first 45 minutes or so, and therefore missed Trump's endorsement of the Proud Boys. Which is just as well; it would be expensive to replace the TV set after I through a shoe through it. My husband is made of sterner stuff, or perhaps just is fascinated with train wrecks; he stuck out the whole thing.

I told my husband at the time that the moderator should have had a squirt gun. (We've had several kittens over the years.) But on further consideration, I enthusiastically endorse Joel Polowin @523's plan. Or... wasn't there a Nickelodeon show, years back, that dumped green slime on people? Saw glimpses of that at a friend's house when their kids were watching a children's show...

#527 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 09:42 AM:


"The New York Times has gotten hold of Trump's tax returns; as expected, he paid sweet Fannie Adams most years,"

First time I read that, I had a momentary flash of "What!? Another Porn Star?"

#528 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 10:59 AM:

Lots of reports that Trump's debate performance hurt him.

Sustaining fantasy:

Next debate introduces:

* Mic cutoff switch.
* Backup: Testicle electrodes
* Finally: Trap door over chute to shark tank.

Hmmm. Just heard that Trump thinks changing the debate rules is "moving the goalposts." So, he feels entitled to yell nonstop?

Yeah, definitely testicle electrodes.

#529 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 11:17 AM:

Cassy B. @526 re: green slime, that would be the Canadian children's show You Can't Do That On Television. One of the late-night "news" shows faked up a clip of Trump getting green-slimed at the debate, but I don't recall which one. I watched a lot of them yesterday.

#530 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 12:07 PM:

On a lighter note (pun intended), I have devised an excellent replacement for cheese sauce.

You need:

A cooking fat that is safe for you to eat and harmonizes with the flavors of the casserole you are making
Whole wheat flour
Milk; I have tried fat-free, 1 percent, and goat (whole), all with good results
Lots of black pepper
Coarse or brown mustard of your choice (I like the kind with horseradish in it)

A flat-ended wooden or bamboo stirring thing
Measuring cups and spoons
Saucepan--larger than you would use for conventional white sauce

So you heat 1 tablespoon fat per cup of milk in your saucepan on Medium--less if using butter of course. Slowly stir in enough flour to "dry it up," as they used to say; the flour-fat mixture should stand in tiny rugged peaks when you stir it around. Cook for about half a minute, until it starts to smell lightly toasty.

Now take it off the heat, pour in a little bit of the milk, and stir well. A little bit more, stir-stir-stir, etc., until it's all in there.

Put the pan back on the heat and turn it to HIGH. Yes, HIGH. Stir NONSTOP, being sure to sweep the entire bottom of the pan with the end of your stirring thing, until that moment when the sauce begins to thicken and bubble. Immediately take it off the heat and KEEP STIRRING.

When it no longer looks like a sauce hot spring, put in plenty of pepper and a shot of mustard. Stir and taste. It should resemble a cheese sauce made with sharp Cheddar, although it will not of course be the same color. Add a little more mustard if needed. You may or may not want to salt it as well.

I use this to make stovetop casseroles with ingredients that depend on who else I am feeding that night, such as:

Sauce + whole wheat rotini + sauteed parboiled pearl onions + peas + sauteed diced ham + more pepper

Sauce + whole wheat macaroni + diced ham + caramelized onions or briefly sauteed halved cherry tomatoes

Sauce + whole wheat macaroni + drained homestyle canned salmon (with bones and skin) + sauteed celery crescents + drained canned diced tomatoes + dill

Sauce + sauteed very lean ground beef + sliced black olives + sauteed diced celery and celery leaves; serve over rice

Note: The sauce will have a coarse texture that I find more palatable than the smoothness of a traditional white sauce because autistic gag reflex. The whole wheat flour also deepens the flavor. You could try this technique with some other flour, however.

#531 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 02:15 PM:

Debates should be in the same setting as Star Trek's "Amok Time".

#532 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 02:16 PM:

Debates should be modeled after Star Trek's "Amok Time", but with Samuel L Jackson instead of t'Pau.

#533 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 02:17 PM:

(oops.. darn repeat... I thought the first one had vanished)

#534 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 03:08 PM:

The stirring thingie is a spurtle. (I'm sure there are other names; spuurtle sounds regional (i.e. old New England) to me.)

#535 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 03:47 PM:

And he yells "Croak it!" when he wants them to stop.

#536 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 10:14 PM:

Pfusand @534,

"Spurtle" is Scots.

J Homes

#537 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2020, 11:11 PM:

Me @ 529 / Cassy B. @526, it was Colbert's show that had Trump getting green-slimed.

#538 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 01:20 AM:

Trump and Melania are COVID-positive.

'Bout time.

#539 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 01:26 AM:

"They infected him at the debate!" I hear his supporters cry.

#540 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 03:08 AM:

The mi,military has gone to heightened readiness.

#541 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 12:09 PM:

Joel 539: Is that a prediction, a satire, or something you've actually heard?

Poe's Law, or its relative, is getting a workout these days.

#542 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 02:12 PM:

Holy shit, Joel. You were right. This dipshit here, for example.

#543 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 03:29 PM:

For every "they were infected by antifa!" nut job, there is likely someone thinking "Oh, Jeeze. This shit is real."

I hope enough of those to make a difference.

#544 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 05:39 PM:

stefan 543: I'm pretty sure they'll just switch to "China/the left/Antifa/the Democrats/Nancy Pelosi made the virus," and never admit for a minute that they ever thought it wasn't real.

#545 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 05:41 PM:

Sorry, that should be "made the virus in the basement of that pizza parlor while experimenting on trafficked children."

#546 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 06:10 PM:

The Airborne Command Posts are up/ SOP.

#547 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 07:56 PM:

Josh Jordan @NumbersMuncher

Me: Can we just have one week where things don’t suck?
2020: No
Me: How about a single day that’s not soul crushing and exhausting?
2020: Absolutely not
Me: How about just a few hours where things aren’t falling apart?
2020: What part of no do you not understand?

#548 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 10:37 PM:

After my bus was late yesterday because someone hit a power pole--I soon saw said pole dangling by the wires it was supposed to support, high tension indeed--I recall saying to the driver,"This year should be taken back and exchanged!" That was before early this morning when I checked my email and my favorite cousin asked me if I knew that our "fearless" leader had tested positive [according to something he'd read a few mins before.] I let go and said I was too bloody worn out to care much now, at least in the early morn, and had he even gotten my description of my trip with a friend the day before?? Then, off to errands, and on the way I stopped at the clinic to make an appointment about other problems. ) The screening lady at the door took my temp and asked the usual array of questions--"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, and I haven't been to the White House either!" That made her laugh, and I hope it helped make her day.
But I also hope that I and my nearest and my hopes/sanity make it thru the year.

#549 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2020, 11:41 PM:

A couple-three years back, something largish (didn't see it, but I remember hearing sirens) hit a power pole on the other side of the street in the next block. For a few months it was held upright by two pieces of lumber bolted to it at the bottom, and three guy ropes at the stop.
I was relieved when it was replaced.

#550 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2020, 11:42 AM:

Xopher @541 -- It was satirical prediction: "I haven't heard anyone say it, it's totally insane, but so are they, so I'm sure that they will". The thought came immediately upon asking myself how Trump's supporters were likely to react to the news.

Poe's law, yes. As a sometimes-would-be satirist, I've struggled with a pattern of telling what I thought was a ridiculous exaggeration, only to have someone respond by telling me that it had for-real happened to them... or something even more so. My imagination is warped, but not as much as some people's reality.

#551 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2020, 02:19 PM:

#548: One day I came home and there were cops around the house. A car was in our front yard. The cops were leading the driver away. A drunken guy got out of the back seat and unsteadily tried to get in the front to drive the car away, until the cops told him the car wasn't going anywhere. The Ms. came out and said she'd thought it was an earthquake. The house shook and the lights flickered. What happened was the car was speeding very fast. The driver lost control and veered into our yard. The car hit an old stump hard enough to pull it out of the ground, and kept going until it gently hit the power pole, causing the lights to flicker. The landlord thought he never was going to get that stump out.

#552 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2020, 03:23 PM:

I got home one day and at the end of the block there was a fire truck, two large fans (like 6-foot diameter) and a faint smell of natural gas. Seems the guy who lived in that house decided to take out a tree next to his driveway...and the roots had grown around the gas pipe.
(Not nearly as bad as the day I got home to a massive traffic jam, fire trucks, and the smoking remains of the rod-and-gun shop on the corner across the street. That's a whole 'nother level of bad.)

#553 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2020, 06:06 PM:

@552: There should be "Call Before You Fell" posters.

#554 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2020, 08:23 AM:

Angiportus Librarysaver @ 548: IIRC, "high tension" means the voltage rather than the rigging -- so I'm not sure it even applies to neighborhood lines rather than what's making graceful curves between those Erector Set towers.

TomB @ 551: sounds like a win, mostly; I wouldn't have thought a car would take out a stump, but I guess a direct hit will do it -- unlike a case many years ago where I was the first of several ricochets, ending with the offender on top of where a hydrant (much weaker than a stump) used to be.

I've lost power a few times in the 26 years I've been in this house (e.g., just my block and the next one during Irene), but never as spectacularly (although there was one time when AFAICT I lost one phase due to wires being pulled by wind). The outage I most remember was over 4 decades ago, when I was still doing biomedical research in a suburb; a driver couldn't cope with the combination of a mid-May snowfall and the curve in the main drag outside our building. The power fail was just an annoyance to me, but another group had 25 gallons of outdated plasma (1:4 with alcohol) that needed to be kept -4 Celsius (hence the alcohol); that's a lot of volume to have to rush to wherever there was a spare cold room.

#555 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2020, 08:54 AM:

The worst power outage for me was not human-caused; a bad storm with associated tornadoes came through my area some ten years ago (we THINK a small tornado literally leapfrogged our house; the destruction track stopped half a mile before our house and resumed in a straight line a mile or two later; the tops of my neighbors' trees (we don't have tall ones in our yard) were twisted off...) and it snapped off several power poles (my memory says four or five of them in a row). We went five days with no power and the crawlspace filled 2" deep with water because the sump-pump (obviously)wouldn't run without power. The crawlspace was 2-1/2" deeper than the (finished) basement, so it could have been worse; that half inch kept the water just UNDER where it would wick into the carpeting of the basement and ruin the walls and furniture... but my entire library was stored in the crawlspace on short shelves. I lost maybe 10% of my library; several hundred books, because some shelves had slightly shorter legs than others did. And, of course, we lost a whole bunch of odds-and-ends and keepsakes that had been stored in the crawlspace since we'd moved into the house twenty years back. Sitting in 2" of water for five days straight turns out to be very bad for most things; who'd've guessed....? <wry grin> Lots of black mold.

But it could have been *so* much worse.

#556 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2020, 02:36 PM:

Joel 550: Reality is severely bent at the moment. Whoever's bending it seems to be trying to compensate for King's "bend toward justice," to keep injustice in place.

And fiction has to make sense...but imagination doesn't.

#557 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2020, 05:23 PM:

The print, radio, and video ads in a current state congressional race are...interesting.

One side: The incumbent has provably voted for things that provably, substantively harm you, and here's a list.

The other side: The challenger is a llllllllliberal. Seriously, that's what they have. A picture of the challenger shopped to make him look scary, and an announcer saying "liberal" the way the Hen Ladies in The Music Man say "Balzac."

#558 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2020, 01:05 AM:

I've been seeing online ads telling me my Representative voted with Nancy Pelosi 99% of the time. And my reaction is, "Sounds good to me! Two more years!" Presumably not what they're going for.

#559 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2020, 12:22 PM:

Xopher @556: Yesterday evening, when I called Inge, I told her: "So, Trump went back to the White House from the Hospital earlier. What's the stupidest thing you can imagine him doing?"

"Um. An indoor rally, without a mask?"

"Hey, pretty close..!"


Good grief. "Now I'm better. And maybe I'm immune, I don't know." This is a guy whose publicists are now claiming that he's got a leg up on his opponent on understanding the pandemic crisis, because he's had the virus?

#560 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2020, 12:38 PM:

I admire Biden because he didn't get caught by the virus. Virus sufferers are losers. (I'm sure no Trump supporter will say that, but I had to get it out there....)

#561 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2020, 02:24 PM:

Joel 559: A physician on Twitter said yesterday that she had a nephrectomy when she was a baby, so she's now qualified to take over (some national organization for kidney medicine).

The comments thread included lots of people saying what they had and were now experts in. One guy said "I had an undescended testicle removed when I was 2. Yeah, the jokes just write themselves."

This did not stop someone from saying "Don't go nuts about it, you've got it in the bag," or a certain hemiglossic who shall remain nameless from remarking "I was supposed to make a descended-testical joke, but unfortunately I dropped the ball."

#562 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2020, 10:09 PM:

All of us are descended from testicles.

#563 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2020, 08:26 AM:


Hybridisation (mostly wild rather than human-directed), history, name (mysterious), drug interactions

#564 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2020, 12:10 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 560: Davey (who does much more net skimming than I do) found a picture of a ghostly John McCain saying "I prefer [heroes] who don't get sick."

I keep wondering what would have happened if someone had arranged public disgrace for a handful of the grievance-talk specialists, starting with Limbaugh and working on down, some decades ago; the sick we've-been-abused-but-he's-standing-up-for-us narrative has gotten to the point where something like 40% of the US will parrot whatever bulls**t they find that supports their position. Diane Hessan has a periodic column in the Boston Globe allegedly about bridging a gap -- but most of the Trump supporters she quotes sound like they've lost touch with reality.
There was a time when you could occasionally catch someone being honest about what they were provoking; after Dukakis (MA gov) got primaried in 1978 and the reactionary who beat him went on to win the election (and to switch parties after he lost), the Atwater precursor who managed the campaign was caught saying "We put all the hate groups in a pot and let them boil." (This was soon enough after Boston schools were desegregated that there was plenty of hate going around.) These days the Enabler-in-Chief gets to spout the bile while everyone around him just smiles and winks.

Nancy: fascinating! A friend on Adderall has declined the grapefruit I get as a winter fundraiser, but I hadn't realized the issue was multiplying rather than dividing the effect.

#565 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2020, 12:27 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @563 -- That article says that Tylenol is screwed up by grapefruit juice, but that's not consistent with other lists I'm finding on line.

#566 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2020, 08:10 PM:

My insurance provider just sent me a condescending letter explaining how they could get me "coaching, education, and support" for "weight loss and metabolic syndrome" via third-party provider Naturally Slim, and for "knee, hip and spine problems" through ditto Hinge Health.

All of which reminds me of the time the nice sweet-faced barely-adult WIC consultant "coached, educated, and supported" me to force my pain-riddled "hinges" into one more shopping trip per Saturday so that I could maybe find more different fruits and vegetables at this one other store where all that stuff is way in the back and 50 percent of it is spoiled. And then she congratulated me on getting my son's BMI down. Several days after my doctor had said that his rapid weight loss was troubling. (He's OK now.)

I dunno, I just needed to vent. Every useful bit of coaching, education, and support I have cobbled together in an attempt to improve my health, I had to research for myself.

Oh, and this is the same insurance company that is telling us that we have to pay for 100 percent of my middle kid's recent filling, because it happened less than 5 years after an earlier filling on the same tooth. I already challenged this, and the solution they offered was to switch to a much more expensive insurance plan.

But they super totally care about their clients' health, yes they do!

#567 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2020, 08:16 PM:

Just looked up Naturally Slim. It's "eat less and exercise more" with a side order of orthorexia. Because when my head is pounding from hunger and I am blind from pain due to the prescribed exercises I will be TOTALLY healthy. And it costs almost $400 per year!

Hinge Health, on the other hand, is a remotely operated physical therapy program that looks like it might actually help some people. I still don't want a stranger telling me I'm not lifting my knees fast enough though.

#568 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2020, 12:37 PM:

Jenny, that sounds like "one size fits all" thinking by them. I wouldn't want them telling me I have to walk more, when my knee and my back (and my neuropathic foot) are telling me to lie down, idjit.

#569 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2020, 02:54 PM:

Or eat a little bitty breakfast when that is a sure-fire way to make me too woozy and headachy to think by 11:00. (And, yes, eating enough food, and of the right kind--fat, horrors!!!!--to keep me working through the morning puts me in danger of a gallstone attack. But not eating it makes it impossible for me to use my brain. I wonder what Naturally Slim would have to say about that. They use two or three different euphemisms for 'eating itty bitty meals at wide intervals' in a single paragraph in their ad copy, so I guess that would be their OSFA solution.)

#570 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2020, 07:20 PM:

I've heard that for some people "grazing" works really well - eating little bitty meals whenever you feel hungry.

(What I have to watch is carbs - they turn into triglycerides. And then I get lots of oil in my skin. Individual biochemistry is individual, and also sometimes *weird*.)

#571 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2020, 11:58 PM:

@570: I have to eat a breakfast rich in proteins and fat to avoid the headache/wooziness/shakes, then nibble and graze during the afternoon to avoid feeling too sleepy to get anything done, then eat a small dinner (I even have a small plate for it) followed by seconds so that I don't have room for dessert.

Also, if I drink sweet drinks, I have no appetite for fruit. Which is another reason not to drink them, so.

#572 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2020, 01:32 PM:

Searching for the phrase "robotic fly", I am unsurprised to learn that the fly that landed on Pence's head on Wednesday night was a drone controlled by his team, feeding him answers, and/or a drone controlled by the Biden/Harris team, intended to distract him. [*eye roll*]

Jenny Islander: My employer's health-care provider sends out semi-monthly advice messages, regarding work/life balance and such. I generally skim them because I am paid by the hour and they are official communications which I am supposed to read. I sometimes get some cynical and bitter amusement value from them. They are generally orthogonal to my real concerns, rarely relevant, but occasionally make me angry because their suggestions are not merely impossible for me to implement, but impossible because of my peculiar work situation and how it is entangled with my family dynamic.

#573 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2020, 11:10 AM:

I remember company-wide support (at my last two software jobs) for more activity (subsidized exercise room near one, "PTC 500 [self-propelled mile-equivalents in a calendar year]" at the other) but nothing with the tone I'm hearing here. Sounds like cheese-paring and profit-chasing is just getting worse -- and possibly as if a health provider is sharing patient records it should really be keeping confidential? OSFA from an insurer that is barred from seeing individual records may be better than nothing -- encouraging people who can to be more active could win in average wellness, not just at the corporate bottom line -- but I'm not surprised the exhortations from a single-goal PoV are hurtful to people who can't do even the current median, or that the corps don't seem to think that a more nuanced approach might actually get more positive response.

My partner's Monday-morning browsing amusement (exchange on I-don't-remember-what):

Z: The term "silly putty" implies the existence of serious putty.
Y: "serious putty" is C4.
W: "On a scale from oobleck to C4, how serious is your putty?"

#574 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2020, 12:36 PM:

CHip @%573 - Then there's the "putti", the evil child-faced ring in Bujold's The Spirit Ring.

The New York Times is reporting that Trump had this plan for leaving the hospital: he would appear frail at first, then he'd rip his dress shirt open to reveal a Superman shirt.

I can't imagine what the lawyers would have done with that. Perhaps fortunately, he was persuaded not to go ahead with the stunt.

Remember the theme music from the Christopher Reeve Superman movie? Imagine a trumpet solo, slow, in minors.

Look, down on the ground
All those dead
Who, who is to blame?
Donald Trump

#575 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2020, 01:20 PM:

@Joel Polowin: I can't prove that they are specifically sending me messages about my weight and chronic pain instead of firing these at everybody at set intervals...but I wouldn't be surprised.

Also, both third-party providers want to monitor your activity through your phone. NOOOOOOOOPE.

#576 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2020, 01:05 PM:

Sorry, that should have been "@CHip #573."

#577 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2020, 02:05 AM:

Got into a fender bender today that knocked me completely off schedule; am therefore writing.

Earlier this year, before (waves hand) everything, I was plowing through the cookbook section at the public library in a quest for dinner recipes that I could cook for six people with partially intersecting lists of Nope Foods. The library is open during limited hours with limited clientele, which doesn't work for what I'm doing. I have slowly cooked my way through most of the backlog of recipes I had already jotted down before (waves hand). As it happens, I have a large collection of public domain cookbooks in PDF format, so I have decided to go through those.

The oldest one is A Complete System of Cookery, on a Plan Entirely New, by John Simpson, who cooked for the Marquises of Buckingham. My edition is from 1816. The core of the book is Simpson's kitchen diary for 1805; the recipes in the book are all for dishes that appear in the diary.

Here is something that he served during the week of October 11:

A Rump of Beef à la Daube, and Cabbage.
Trim a rump of beef, take the bone out, daub it, and put it into a marinade the night before wanted, (make the marinade as directed before on page 58) put it on in a brown braise; it will take four hours; remember that it must do very slow. About one hour before wanted put in six bundles of cabbage, prepared the same as for partridges; when all done take the beef up, trim and glaze it; put Spanish sauce on the dish, the cabbage round, and the beef in the middle. Garnish with carrot.

So to make the authentic dish you'll need a marinade, brown braise, cabbage bundles, and Spanish sauce, and to make the brown braise and the Spanish sauce you'll have to first make an elaborate stock and something called coulis. If I gave all of these sub-recipes in full this would be a book, so I'll just summarize, as follows:

*The marinade ingredients are similar to what I give below, except that the recipe also calls for white wine and requires much less "sallad oil" (and Simpson probably didn't use cider vinegar).
*The brown braise is stock flavored with concentrated stock.
*The cabbage is quartered, tied in bundles, and presented uncut.
*Spanish sauce is based on a literal Spanish sauce--salsa española, in fact. It is described by modern sources as similar to gravy. Simpson's version is finished with coulis, which is extremely elaborate gravy. In conclusion, gravy.

Here's my attempt at a reasonable, feasible approximation of Simpson's Rump of Beef à la Daube, and Cabbage. If you don't see an ingredient from the original recipe, that's because somebody can't eat it or I couldn't find it locally. I broke up the tasks as much as possible because chronic pain and busy schedule.

The Day Before
In a deep rectangular ceramic casserole or other nonreactive dish, combine a pint of olive oil, half a pint of cider vinegar, two bay leaves, a generous amount of dried thyme and basil, a sliced carrot, two sliced celery stalks, and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg. Set aside, covered. Also slice a yellow or sweet onion and refrigerate it. Finally, slice another yellow onion, a shallot, three button mushrooms, and as much garlic as you like (or used bottled minced garlic) and put them all in a Baggie with some sprigs of parsley; refrigerate.

The Night Before
Trim all surface fat from a 2-pound to 2.5-pound London broil, or other flat piece of beef round/rump, with minimal marbling. [This is why I call for a whole pint of olive oil.] Lay it in the marinade, arrange the sliced onion on top, and refrigerate.

The Morning Before (no more than 8 hours after starting the marinade)
Lift out the meat and onion and put them into a slow cooker. Pour in homemade or storebought broth (I think chicken broth tastes just fine in beef recipes, personally) to just barely cover the meat. Crock all day, on Low if your slow cooker has variable settings.

An Hour Before
Bring a big pot of water to a boil while you cut a Savoy or Napa cabbage into fork-sized pieces. Boil 1 1/2 minutes while you fill a big mixing bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Lift the cabbage pieces out with tongs or a slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water. When cool, squeeze them with clean hands, then in a clean kitchen towel. Arrange around the meat in the slow cooker.

Also an Hour Before
Meanwhile, take the Baggie of mixed vegetables from the fridge. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil [I like a lot of gravy] in a saucepan on Medium. Put in the chopped vegetables and parsley, cover, and leave to cook until soft. Make a roux in the pan with 1/4 cup whole wheat flour or the equivalent amount of cornstarch; add lots of thyme, stir until fragrant, and gradually stir in a pint of good broth and a splash of cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a brisk simmer, and cook and stir for a couple of minutes. Press through a fine sieve into a bowl. Even if you can't get the vegetables to puree, this will be plenty tasty. Adjust the seasoning with tiny amounts of cayenne and lemon juice first, then add sugar if wanted. Reheat this in the microwave for a minute just before serving.

After That...
Also meanwhile, start a pot of rice and cut some carrots into sticks.

Serve the meat, which will be tender enough to cut with a spatula, on the same platter as the onions and cabbage. Let people ladle gravy onto the meat and rice as they like. The carrot sticks complete this square meal and provide a texture contrast.

After Dinner
Cool the broth from the slow cooker, then cover, chill, defat and strain the next day, and use in another recipe. Should make awesome soup.
The Verdict
Delicious! The kids loved the cabbage. The gravy is fantastic. However, this recipe makes a lot, like A LOT, of dirty dishes, many of them bulky. If my husband and kids weren't off tomorrow (teacher inservice on their part, vacation time on his), I wouldn't be making this on a weeknight.

#578 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2020, 11:55 AM:

Two food topics/questions:

1.) For the past month or so, the local grocery store has had cut-up stewing fowl, which result in the most amazingly chickeny chicken stew. (Yeah, go figure.) However, the lil teeny bones (ribs/vertebrae) which usually dissolve when pressure-stewed are calcified enough in these to be a chewing and even sink-disposal hazard. Anyone have tips for fishing them out?

2.) As a sideways diversion from being unable to find pre-inoculated koji rice (for making miso/tamari) in stores, I decided to experiment with Chinese yeast balls to make fermented rice. And now I’m not sure what to do with it. The main English-language suggestions I’ve found online are using to make a quick breakfast porridge rather like spiked congee, mixing with hot water to drink like amazake, or substituting for rice wine when cooking...?

#579 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2020, 12:54 PM:

@578: As it happens, I've recently been looking into traditional cooking with fermented non-bread grains! Multiple cultures that use millet and buckwheat will toast the grains (or not), grind them (or not), and then put the result by to ferment for a little while. Besides porridge and a mild alcoholic drink, these cultures also make flatbread and/or steamed dumplings out of it. I just quickly ducked "fermented rice roti" and "fermented rice dumpling" and got a lot of results for both, but I don't know whether any of them will work with your batch of rice.

#580 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2020, 02:40 PM:

The scent of the fermented rice reminds me of a spongy steamed white cake that was a childhood treat from weekend grocery trips to Chinatown. However, all of the similar recipes I’ve seen so far use rice flour and add yeast directly to the batter, just a few hours before cooking, vs. at least 1-2 days for making “plain” fermented rice from raw grains. One page mentioned that fermented rice could be bought directly from ricecake food stalls, so obviously there’s some connection but (so far) no English-language recipes.

#581 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2020, 03:13 PM:

@580: What about using the method for polenta toast? Is the consistency right for that?

If you have some kind of flour on hand (or can make it at home), you could also use a basic roti recipe with some of the flour swapped out for fermented rice. I wouldn't go higher than 1/3 rice to 2/3 flour. A buckwheat flour roti with fermented rice in it might be an interesting taste.

#582 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2020, 03:08 AM:

#580 - Yep. I agree! I have wanted to make rice pudding cake since I read the recipe in Dim Sum by Rhoda Yee published by Taylor & Ng, San Francisco 1977 but the multiple steps involved daunt me. Her recipe requires two days to prepare and she says using rice flour doesn't work to get the right texture.

Rhoda Yee's Sweet Rice Pudding Cake (Boy Tong Go) with ingredients of 1 cup long grain rice, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cup water, 1 cake compressed yeast -- says that the rice needs to be soaked for 2 days to be easily liquified, and that the fermenting process is important so don't hurry it.

so you soak the rice, with water to cover 1 inch above rice, for two days. drain water off. mix yeast with 1/2 cup lukewarm water. ad 1/2 cup sugar. cover and set in warm place as you do the next step

put 1/3 of soaked rice and equal amount water into blender and blend until rice is liquified and mixture is smooth - says 3 to 4 minutes.

Do all the rice in these sized batches.

consolidate and add 1 1/4 cup sugar. blend at high speed for 2 minutes.

add yeast mixture and blend at low speed for 30 seconds.

pour into mixing bowl, cover and leave in warm place until mixture is bubbly and almost double in bulk (1 1/2 to 2 hours)

Then you steam it by getting the steamer going, then stirring batter to mix evenly, pour into cake pan about 1/2 inch high and then steam for 12-15 minutes. cool completely, lightly rub oil on top for glossy appearance. cut into diamond shape and eat at room temperatures.

The cook book says that this cake will keep for 2-3 days at room temperature which I find HIGHLY dubious from a health perspective.

The multiple day process has prevented me from making it but even the black and white photo in an extremely dated cookbook has me really, really wanting to eat some. One of my favorite treats at Dim Sum restaurants, but I worry making at home will lead to disaster.

If someone does try it and it works, report back!

[now returning to lurking mode]

#583 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2020, 09:16 AM:

@581: polenta toast sounds interesting... the method does sound applicable to lotsa types of cooked grain/legume mush.

@582: ooooh, that’s probably the same cake I was thinking of; Rhoda’s name for it matches more or less with the pinyin Bai Tang Gao... I wonder whether that’s a romanization viariant or a different dialect? though not Cantonese, since that seems to be Pak Tong Gou, idk.

Most of Rhoda’s prep time seems to be just soaking raw (long grain! not sticky?) rice in plain water; after that, the blended rice/water slurry slots right in to the composite recipe flowchart of “add sugar and yeast, ferment until bubbly, maybe add a bit of chemical leavener or other flavoring, steam” that usually starts with rice flour.

Hmmmm. My fermented rice batch is already rather mushy, sweet, and yeasty, having started with cooked sticky rice which is now partially liquefied into sugar and alcohol. But it doesn’t quite taste like the cake, so just pouring it into a pan and steaming it doesn’t seem right.

Still, this seems like the right track— will update as warranted :)

#584 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2020, 07:44 AM:

#578 ::: Julie L. :::

I put the chicken in a soup sock.

#585 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2020, 01:09 PM:

Ooo, the potential for mishearing between 'soup sock' and 'soupçon'!

#586 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2020, 03:40 PM:

Of interest to the commentariat: Tom Lehrer has made his lyrics and sheet music available for free here for the next few years!

#587 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2020, 06:47 PM:

New Penric novella!

"Masquerade in Lodi"

According to the book description it's set between the events of "Penric's Fox" and "Penric's Mission" in the internal series chronology.

#588 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2020, 09:20 PM:

Michael I. (587): Thanks for the heads-up. Not available for Nook yet, though. Drat!

#589 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2020, 11:42 AM:

@588, Bujold is never available for Kobo. Fortunately, Calibre and Apprentice Alf fixes that....

#590 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2020, 07:49 PM:

Dick Lupoff, one of the real giants of fandom with solid credentials as a professional in publishing, SF, mystery and comics, has died. he was also one of the nicest people the field has seen, and was well honored in many ways. There are very few left who bridge so effortlessly the gap between fan and pro -- may his memory be a blessing to our field.

#591 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2020, 08:19 PM:

I didn't know Dick, but he sounds like a great guy. My deep condolences to all who did know him.

#592 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2020, 07:35 PM:

I can't say I was close to Dick Lupoff, but friends of mine who were thought the world of him. I met him a few times. He was tall, soft-spoken, and thoughtful. I've read some of his science fiction and his mysteries and his old fanzines. He wrote in a very wide range of styles, from pulp to avant-garde, the only common characteristics were that it was always unique, creative, and very good. The collection Best of Xero, from the Hugo Award winning fanzine, is a great place to start, but then his fiction is completely different. There are old photos of Dick and Pat Lupoff, often in costume, smiling. You can tell they had a lot of fun. I hope he will be remembered as having a life well-lived, and I hope his writing will be finding readers and surprising and delighting them far into the future.

#593 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2020, 01:54 PM:

Nancy 584: Amazon now wants to sell me, not only a soup sock, but a Regency soup sock.

I figured it had to be a soup sock with an Empire waist, but it turns out it's just a brand name.

#594 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2020, 01:21 PM:

Wonderful! Star Trek personalities recruiting folks to protect the vote:

Trek the Vote video:

Trek the Vote home page:

#595 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 12:30 AM:

Karen just informed me that Debra Doyle's daughter has reported on FaceBook that Debra has died of sudden cardiac arrest. I'm very sorry to break the news here. My thoughts are with Jim, Patrick, Teresa and those who knew her much better than I did.

#596 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 01:42 AM:

Oh, shit.

That's a heartbreaking shock.

I had the honor of having her for one of my instructors at Viable Paradise "X". I hardly know how to process that she is gone.

Love and strength to her nearest and dearest, including our gracious hosts.

#597 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 10:01 AM:

I'm very sorry to hear about Debra.

#598 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 11:08 AM:

I remember reading some of her very early work that would become the Mage Worlds, as fan-fiction in the 70s. (It was good enough that I bought the Mage worlds just on that memory.)

#599 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 01:37 PM:

Sorry to hear this. Besides enjoying her writing I have always enjoyed her on social media. Condolences to family and friends.

#600 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 01:59 PM:

Very sad news indeed. I always enjoyed her presence and her writing.

I was hoping against hope that there would be more Mageworlds; I guess that hope is now gone.

#601 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 03:13 PM:

Jim's notice on his blog -- not much more info there; not a permalink but just what's current.

#602 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 03:45 PM:

How awful. Poor Jim.

I didn't know her well, but what I knew I liked.

#603 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 08:17 PM:

Fundraising for her funeral:

#604 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 11:40 PM:

In addition to prose, Doyle wrote some of the SCA's most memorable lyrics; I'm partial to "Song of the Shield Wall" (aka "4 Centuries of Saxon History in 3 minutes"). She will be missed.

#605 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 11:50 PM:

On a less-gloomy note: an audio hobbyist worked out a way for choruses to sing together(*) safely. Results for a chorus I sing in (a piece we'd done 19 months before but not worked together since). Notes on the tech.

(*) AFAICT, all conferencing software has too much lag and prioritization to make this work; I'd be happy to hear about anything that does.

#606 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2020, 01:04 AM:

CHip@605 I had been thinking about choral software in the context of Sacred Harp and other relatively unrehearsed communal singing.

Existing conferencing software is unsuitable because it prioritises the wrong things, but the success of fast-twitch multi-user gaming software suggests the problem isn't intrinsically intractable over (at least) hundreds of miles of good internet (it's not going to work intercontinentally without an ansible).

The key with software would be to prioritize a rhythm track, as with a conductor's baton, and ruthlessly discard packets that were more than, say, 100ms late. If you combine this with local display of a music score and a live indicator of position, I think we could learn to handle tens of milliseconds lag without much problem. Someone would need to write the software, though.

#607 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2020, 03:17 AM:

In the past two weeks, I've lost my last aunt and uncle on my dad's side.
Mary Stewart Olsson (1920-2020) was my dad's oldest sibling. Alzheimer's has mostly taken her the past five years, and she died last week. Ed Olsson (1920-2020), her husband, died today. They lived in Kansas City (and for some years in Geneseo Illinois), and their kids are various parts of the US and now Canada, and descendants all over the place. She was always the most talkative of my relatives, while Ed was more the quiet Midwesterner. Her sister Margaret Stewart Stewart and Margaret's husband Bob Stewart died a few years ago, and my dad and their middle brother Joe died in their 60s.

I last saw Mary&Ed in 2016, when I was in Kansas City for Worldcon. It was my mom's first Worldcon (:-) - traveling's been difficult for her for a few years, but she grew up there, and since we were going, we could take her around to visit family, museums, and familiar places, and Worldcon had mobility scooters available. Mom's 91, and one of her brothers is still alive; we've lost her other brother and sister in the last couple of years.

#608 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2020, 03:17 AM:

In the past two weeks, I've lost my last aunt and uncle on my dad's side.
Mary Stewart Olsson (1920-2020) was my dad's oldest sibling. Alzheimer's has mostly taken her the past five years, and she died last week. Ed Olsson (1920-2020), her husband, died today. They lived in Kansas City (and for some years in Geneseo Illinois), and their kids are various parts of the US and now Canada, and descendants all over the place. She was always the most talkative of my relatives, while Ed was more the quiet Midwesterner. Her sister Margaret Stewart Stewart and Margaret's husband Bob Stewart died a few years ago, and my dad and their middle brother Joe died in their 60s.

I last saw Mary&Ed in 2016, when I was in Kansas City for Worldcon. It was my mom's first Worldcon (:-) - traveling's been difficult for her for a few years, but she grew up there, and since we were going, we could take her around to visit family, museums, and familiar places, and Worldcon had mobility scooters available. Mom's 91, and one of her brothers is still alive; we've lost her other brother and sister in the last couple of years.

#609 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2020, 03:33 AM:

(Sorry for double-post above.)

CHip@605, thomas@606 - There's an open-source system called Jamulus ( ) that seems to work pretty well, as long as you've got one person with a fast enough connection and everybody's got adequate equipment. A band I play in has ~4 members who set up a Jamulus connection and broadcast it over Zoom for the rest of us to listen in.

You need to use headphones, not speakers, and it's much happier if you've got wired Ethernet rather than wireless, and if you're doing any mixing, you need the kind of mixer that takes multiple analog inputs and hands the combined sound to the PC (I think it needs that to be USB? There's lots of specific info on "this brand and model works, that model doesn't" on their web pages.) If you've just got voice, or are using one mike to pick up voice and an instrument, it looks like you can just use your PC soundcard and not need a mixer, but if you've got a guitar pickup and voice you'll need some hardware.

#610 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2020, 05:47 AM:

So sorry to hear the news about Debra Doyle. Another fan of the Mageworld books here.

Huge sympathies to Jim and to all of her family and friends.

#611 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2020, 08:47 AM:

I see from Twitter that Rachel Caine (Weather Wardens, Great Library, etcl) has died.


#612 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2020, 12:33 PM:

Bill 607: I'm very sorry for your loss. As a member of the KC Access team, I'm very glad your mom was able to enjoy the con!

#613 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2020, 04:08 AM:

Bill @607: sympathies.

OtterB: That's sad news about Rachel Caine.

#614 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2020, 12:00 PM:

thomas @ 606 (etc.): the question I'd have with those systems is whether performers can listen in real time; I'm not sure from the descriptions whether synching/triaging packets and pushing them out again is fast enough, while with this system is that we could listen (on an unused FM frequency) to ourselves as we sang.

I've also recorded my parts of 4 pieces for a virtual holiday concert, stabilized by clicks-and-accompaniment in earphones; it's been interesting keeping the sync loud enough for me to hear but quiet enough that the headset mike doesn't pick it up. (I'm debating getting a detached mike, but that would be more likely to pick up outside noise -- and I live adjacent to a street busy enough to be an emergency snow route.) Somebodies are presumably assembling these (audio and video) with a mid-December target.

#615 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2020, 04:34 PM:

Happy Guy Fawkes Day, everyone! It would be very amusing if we got a final US election decision today.

#616 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2020, 08:13 PM:

Deep sympathies for Jim and the other recently-bereaved here.

#617 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2020, 03:09 PM:

Email from John Scalzi's Whatever Blog this morning -

Big sigh of relief, musical chorus of "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" playing in background.

#618 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2020, 06:08 PM:

I caught part of a clip of a Republican politician being interviewed on Faux, whining about how Biden shouldn't be saying he has a "mandate" since he got only a bit more than half the votes. The interviewer politely didn't bring up the matter of Trump's mandate these past four years.

#619 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2020, 02:47 AM:

Over at LanguageHat, a poem. It seemed to me that it would be appropriate for Making Light, therefore:


    The spirit moves,
    Yet stays:
    Stirs as a blossom stirs,
    Still wet from its bud-sheath,
    Slowly unfolding,
    Turning in the light with its tendrils;
    Plays as a minnow plays,
    Tethered to a limp weed, swinging,
    Tail around, nosing in and out of the current,
    Its shadows loose, a watery finger;
    Moves, like the snail,
    Still inward,
    Taking and embracing its surroundings,
    Never wishing itself away,
    Unafraid of what it is,
    A music in a hood,
    A small thing,

Theodore Roethke, from The Waking (1953; first in The Kenyon Review, Summer 1950).

#620 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 05:55 AM:

In a different vein, via Twitter, Semi Bored Torontonian just wants to say:

I have accidentally booked
Four Seasons Total Landscaping
instead of
the hotel

you were probably
I'd pick

Forgive me
they were so close to the highway
across from a crematorium
and next to a dildo shop

#621 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 08:22 AM:

Toni Weisskopf is over on FB threatening to have new authors blacklisted and banned for disagreeing with her libertarian politics.

#622 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 09:32 AM:

@621 <blink> Because as everyone knows, libertarianism is all about following the rules and obeying authority...

#623 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 09:58 AM:

I saw several takeoffs on poetry, using Four Seasons, but I hadn't seen that one. (Knew it would happen though, and that it would turn up here.)

#624 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 11:08 AM:

Part of my brain keeps picking at it as a Bob Newhart phone half-conversation. "Hello, Four Seasons... Yeah, sure it is. ... ... Hello, Four Seasons... Look, Fred, I'm really busy, cut it out, will ya? ... ... Hello, Four Seasons... Seriously? Uh, okay, Mr. Giuliani, I'm sorry about before. I've got this friend who likes making prank phone calls." Etc.

#625 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 04:59 PM:

One mayor, full bereft of dignity,
In northeast Philly, where we lay our scene,
Now stands and rants and threatens legal suit,
At lectern set 'twixt crematory and
A shop of sex-toys ready to be bought.
'Tis Rudy, yes, that wild-eyed racist clown,
Who stands and babbles at the podium;
Behind, a door of corrugated steel
Hides Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

#626 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 05:01 PM:

Robert 621: You know, I'd just about had it with Toni before this, but that's really way over the line.

#627 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 05:06 PM:

...but I just went to her page over on FB, and couldn't find anything that looked like what you were saying. Got a link? Or maybe she deleted it.

#628 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 08:28 PM:

Robert @ 621: I'd also be really interested in seeing that, just to see how she thought she could blacklist authors outside of Baen (which has for years been the label that I'm most likely not even to read blurbs of if the name on the cover isn't Bujold). I'd expect someone to have taken a screen shot somewhere before sense prevailed, but I don't know where to look -- Googling '"toni weisskopf" blacklist' doesn't get anything recent. (The first page turns up the self-styled Federalist's 5.5yo claim that conservative works were being blacklisted by the Hugos, in case I needed a reminder that whoever is abusing that name is an unprintable.)

#629 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 11:00 PM:

It's been deleted after too many people started calling attention to it.

#630 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2020, 01:04 AM:

Cassy B @ 622

If they were adults, they'd be anarchists. With rare exceptions,* a libertarian is just a blackshirt with bad dandruff. Somehow, it doesn't ever strike them as weird that they're okay paying millions for a militarized police force to murder *certain* of their fellow citizens, but a schools levy, well, that's just tyranny!

I didn't see the post in question, and I don't know much about Weisskopf in general, but "You should be afraid and you should only ever have as much liberty as your boss says is okay" is very much a core tenet of Actually Existing Libertarianism. Anarchists have been pointing out that this is garbage and that tyranny is tyranny whether it comes from a king, a priest, a president, a boss, or Lord Humungous since at least 1906 but I guess libertarians are real slow learners.

*Radley Balko is the noble counterexample: there are a few more out there who aren't full of shit, but mostly...

#631 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2020, 06:33 AM:

From "PaulOverbite" on Twitter (transcribing a screen shot, so no link)

And you may find yourself across the street from a crematorium
And you may find yourself next door to a dildo store
And you may find yourself at a press conference
And you may find yourself in front of a landscaping business
And you may ask yourself, "Well... how did I get here?"

#632 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2020, 02:08 PM:

We were somewhere around Trenton on the edge of Philadelphia when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive"...

Rudy, my attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. "What the hell are you yelling about?" he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. "Never mind," I said. "It's your turn to drive."

-- Fear and Loathing in Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

#633 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2020, 07:58 PM:

HLN: area woman took *electric* bendy-bus to hospital way too early Monday morning, had port removed from shoulder. Area woman is still suffering contact dermatitThe incision seems to be doing fine, however. (Discussion on shopping and fast-food locations with nurses while waiting for radiologist-surgeon to finish prior procedure was interesting.)

#634 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2020, 10:09 PM:

Hooray for the removal of the port! Here's hoping the dermatitis heals in ?the absence of the cause? Also hurray for the electric bus, but that's less of an event.

#635 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2020, 11:03 PM:

I didn't even know they were running electric bendy-buses. First time I've been on one. (Push-buttons instead of pull-cords. That's an improvement.)

#636 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2020, 03:03 PM:

Good thoughts my way, folks? I knew that my office computer was going to be given make-it-faster parts this weekend, so I was prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was that the IT guy and my boss decided to helpfully upgrade it to Windows 10 while they were in there.

So now I can't use any part of Office except Outlook, because Windows 10 lost the product key for my existing copy of Office and if we have a hardcopy of the thing I have no idea where. Also the driver for the office printer no longer has an option for printing in color, although it is a color printer.

They are very sorry, and they will do their best to fix it. Meanwhile I am once again looking up the instructions for opting out of Windows defaults such as hlepfully tracking every fricking thing I type, and shutting up *^&(*(*^ Cortana.

Good thoughts my way please.

#637 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2020, 06:09 PM:

Jenny Islander @636: Sympathies and thinking good thoughts your way!

#638 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2020, 07:59 PM:

My sympathy: my experience is that Win10 breaks a lot of stuff it shouldn't.

#639 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2020, 08:25 PM:

Ah, but it's an upgrade, which means it makes everything better, right? Never mind that they haven't specified the criteria they're measuring on, so "better (for what)" is also unspecified....

#640 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2020, 08:57 PM:

Apparently, if the thing is utterly bollixed and we just have to grit our teeth and "upgrade" to Office 2019, the "off the cloud" version still requires you to have Outlook turned on and logged in or the Office programs (PROGRAMS, not apps, UGH) won't work.

Meaning that when our local Internet provider is having server issues, I can't do my fuggin job.

Oh, and when I was trying to figure out how to solve the thing myself? Before the computer scheduled a callback from a guy in Mumbai who couldn't hear me, it tried to open a chat window in Edge. Which promptly crashed.

Share and enjoy! Or go stick your head in a pig, whatever.

#641 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2020, 10:33 PM:

We found a book called Houseboat on the Styx (1896) by John Kendrick Bangs in a family collection and it has dead famous people having adventures together.

Could it have been an influence on Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series?

#642 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2020, 11:29 PM:

Current computer uses Win10. I had them turn of Cortana and Edge, and made sure of it when I got it home. But I need one running XP or Win7, for the stuff that Win10 hates and I use a lot.

#643 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2020, 02:22 AM:

Erik Nelson in #641:

Could it [Houseboat on the Styx] have been an influence on Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series?

Impossible, as it is well known that Philip Jose Farmer never read any literature of the 19th Century.

#644 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2020, 07:38 AM:

I believe Farmer mentioned Bangs at various times -- it's a pretty famous book among those who like late-19th C humor. There's a sequel, The Pursuit of the Houseboat -- and it also has many literary characters, not just real people. Farmer stuck mostly to real humans. Silverlock by John Myers Myers (1949) is also a likely influence, on that level.

#645 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2020, 10:46 AM:

Bangs and his houseboat are at archive, as well as Gutenberg. Or even "Gutenberg at archive."

I started it a couple of times, but the phase of the moon was wrong. Dad told me eons ago that he and his friends snickered at the title. There's a Librivox version there too, among the search results, which include Pursuit and a Munchhausen book by Bangs as well.

#646 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2020, 02:11 PM:

Update on the Windows ID10T debacle:

If the person who purchased our copy of Office on his personal account (it was the simplest thing to do at the time for Reasons) doesn't get back to me by Thursday, I'll be downloading Office 2019 on a one-time license. The OTL doesn't include lots of nifty features that this workplace has no conceivable use for, so I'm fine with it. Subscriptions and perpetual licenses are not a good fit both on the grounds of finance and on the grounds of I don't want Microsoft peering into our business any more than it already does. IT Guy already had to create a new, useless user identity on the startup screen because Microsoft expects you to have the same user identity as your Microsoft account login information for the full Microsoft experience blah blah stupidcakes.

Anyway, I watched him remove Cortana. I still have all the ID10T cruft, including those crazy-making moving icons, that pops up when I push the Start button, but I can pin commonly used programs to the bottom toolbar and just ignore that menu.

Ugh. I wish they had asked me before they upgraded the OS.

IT Guy just left, so I can get back to my actual job! :)

#647 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2020, 12:20 PM:

When $WORKPLACE provided me with a new laptop a year ago, with Win10 preloaded, I insisted that they wipe it and install Linux. Because I knew that crap like moving icons and ads would drive me nuts. I really can't cope with stuff constantly demanding my attention when I'm trying to focus on something complicated.

More broadly, this is a thing that $WORKPLACE has done very badly at over the last couple of years, in trying to make the place "look good" for visitors. It hasn't been an issue since March, of course, since we've been working from home. But before that: big-screen TVs installed in the ceiling corners, displaying a series of cool quotations and suggestions. Hanging sound baffles: a good idea in principle, but the fluorescent colours are hard on the eyes and I pity the people right in front of them. Coats are now to be hung in small nearly-sealed closet units instead of out on open racks, because someone decided that the latter were an eyesore and wouldn't listen to objections that the former would lead to the coats getting stinky and musty from sitting wet all day. We've gotten new cubicles with much lower walls, increasing our visibility and the level of visual distraction. It's all "lookin' better" at a cost in functionality.

#648 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2020, 01:12 PM:

@647: Sounds like somebody watches too many home improvement shows. I wonder what would happen if somebody ginned up a remote shutter-offer for those screens and covertly passed it around the office...

One perk of working alone is that I can turn off most of the lights. Like everybody else, this place has switched to LEDs. The cost reduction is tremendous, of course, but so is the light. I have the lobby lights on while we're open, but the front office is on a separate switch. I can work by natural light. When I have a boss again, they'll probably want my light to be on because they have to walk through this office to get to their own office and they'll probably need artificial light in order to see the printer and cupboards (I don't--Just Autistic Things), but for now I am enjoying it.

#649 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2020, 05:50 PM:

Jenny Islander @646: "those crazy-making moving icons". What moving icons? I don't see any on my Start Menu - which could be because one of the very first things I did was find out how to switch it to 'Classic' menu. Which isn't, but isn't bad. Or do you mean those stupid screens with boxes on them? I can't even remember how to get those if I wanted them, thankfully (why anyone would want them I really don't know).

#650 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2020, 12:07 AM:

@649: Classic Menu is probably what I was looking at before, because I had Windows 7 and Windows 7 is apparently also awash in cruft and kibble by default. But that computer was adjusted to someone else's liking long before I was hired.

The defaults for Windows 10 are:

* Screensaver (apparently this is now called the "lock screen") is sprinkled with links to click for more information about the screensaver image HUMMMMM I WONDER WHO'S CHECKIN' OUT WHAT I CLICK

* Start menu has two blocks of icons attached to it that are 50 percent ads for other Microsoft properties, 50 percent stuff they thought you might want to see every time you try to do your job, like a slide show of thumbnails from your photo folder or scrolling headlines from I'm not sure who

*Start menu has a bonus ad IN IT, formatted as if it were an icon for one of your programs, and you can't see what the hell it takes you to by mousing over--you have to click it (the last one before I turned that off was something about "Earth's natural wonders")

*Taskbar has a link to the Microsoft Store on it (instantly unpinnable, thankfully)

And that's just the stuff I use regularly.

#651 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2020, 01:00 AM:

Joel Polowin @647

Somehow it never occurs to those sorts of people that they might not need "hanging sound baffles" if they hadn't decided to lower the standing sound baffles they already had.

Coats on racks make a pretty good sound baffle too, come to think of it.

#652 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2020, 04:01 AM:

Jenny Islander @650: You can change from their default screensaver/lockscreen to your own images - you have to go to:
Personalization ->
Lock Screen ->
Screen saver settings (right at the bottom) - then you can choose Photos, then choose what folder of pics to use.

And you definitely want Classic menu! I basically have my Win10 laptop set up to be as close to XP as possible.

#653 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2020, 05:09 AM:

Jenny Islander @650: You can change from their default screensaver/lockscreen to your own images - you have to go to:
Personalization ->
Lock Screen ->
Screen saver settings (right at the bottom) - then you can choose Photos, then choose what folder of pics to use.

And you definitely want Classic menu! I basically have my Win10 laptop set up to be as close to XP as possible.

#654 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2020, 07:04 AM:

Apologies for the double-post - it glitched and said it hadn't gone through...

#655 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2020, 11:37 AM:

Devin @651: The logic goes the other way: We are going to change to the new cubes, even though all almost all of the feedback we got to the demo was strongly negative. Therefore, what can we do to mitigate the sound issues that will arise? We will hang sound baffles, and pump white noise into the ventilation system. Oh, and we got a soundproof booth, seats 4 if they're friendly!

Going from the white-noise environment to the Booth of Silence is a very odd experience.

#656 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2020, 01:57 PM:

Just backed up our data, about to download Office 2019. Wish me luck...

#657 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2020, 02:26 PM:

Okay! It doesn't appear to have lost any of my data or forcibly connected my Save functions to a server someplace on the mainland, and the programs that are not included in this basic bundle are no longer on the taskbar. I think I can get back to work.

#658 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2020, 02:33 PM:

Joel 655: Great, so they've decided to make it as disability-unfriendly as they can without actually saying "no people with ADHD or hearing impairments welcome here" right on their corporate discrimination policy.

And they will have more hearing impairments arising, because white noise is very damaging long-term.

They're a bunch of ableist assholes.

#659 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2020, 04:11 PM:

Joel Polowin@655 "Booth of Silence"

At least it isn't a Cone of Silence...

Although maybe that's next...

#660 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2020, 05:49 PM:

Michael I @ 659: Oh, several people posted Get Smart-related signs on the thing in its first couple of weeks, that I saw. (Some of the younger folks in the building needed explanations.) The Facilities people promptly removed them, apparently on the grounds that they were considered unprofessional or some such thing.

#661 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2020, 06:07 PM:

Thing is, our Facilities people are being really stupidly counterproductive sometimes. For example, with our old cubes, where each row met the passageway, there was signage on the end cube with the names of the people sitting in that row. This made it easier to, y'know, find people. The new cubes didn't have that kind of signage when they arrived; proper professional signage was back-ordered. In the interim... people wanted to use a variety of stopgaps, ranging from whiteboard markers on the new cube windows, to printed pages pinned up on the end cubes, to finding some way of sticking up the old name signs again. None of them were allowed, because any kind of temporary measure wouldn't look professional enough. So for several months, we weren't allowed to use any kind of location identifiers.

I've been with the company for almost 20 years. I've been tempted a couple of times to "cash that in", to try to talk directly with the company president about how some of these measures are directly impairing our ability to get stuff done.

#662 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2020, 01:16 AM:

Sometimes life with two teens and a tween is Fraught, and sometime it's all three of them caroling "Croissant!" at one another across the house until one of them begs the others to stop before she passes out laughing.

#663 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2020, 02:03 PM:

When they decided to replace our cubicles, they had a display so we could see what they intended, and express our opinions, [supposedly] before they committed to them. They did get our department bigger cubes and worksurfaces - needed because two displays and, frequently, large pieces of paper. (Standard letter size is small, for us.)
We still got 40-inch-high panels, but in a department that's fairly quiet, that wasn't a problem.

#664 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2020, 10:12 PM:

And now it's:

Someone let the cake out of its cage...

#665 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2020, 09:06 PM:

P J Evans @663 -- [*squints*] So... sounds like you're saying... they communicated with you about what you needed, and found some kind of compromise involving what was available.

That can't be right.

Our old cubes had shelves. We found them useful for putting stuff on. Reference books that one might want to keep within arm's reach, decorations, what-have-you.

When our new cubes arrived, we discovered that they did not have shelves. But...

Me to general Facilities E-mail address: I notice that the new cube wall has these slot-looking things. Are they supposed to be for supports for shelves?

Facilities Guy: Yes. We're going to be ordering the shelves in about a month, when we know how many we need.

Me: Oh, good. Please put me down for one; I really need it.

FG: Gotcha.

Some ten weeks pass.

Me: Any idea when those shelves will be getting here?

FG: Oh, we're not going to get shelves. Instead, you can all keep your stuff in storage cabinets in the middle of each work area.

#666 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2020, 10:34 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 660: some years ago a friend born in 1955 was hospitalized during radiation for throat cancer (rehydration due to throat closing earlier than allowed for). I noticed something on one of the array of Devices around his bed and asked whether any of the attendings had told him they were going to "Open Channel D" -- but apparently he'd had to explain it to them.

Jenny Islander @ 664: (45yo recollection, possibly quoted to me from Monty Python): "And now, Attila the Bun [sound effect: a sword-wielding bun rampaging across the table]". Mondegreens are a great comfort when the world gets stale.

And then there was the New Year's Day (when things typically got both mellow and Weird) at a house I've been going to for decades, where a procession came clattering down the main staircase alternating the leader's rhythmic chanting with choruses of "All we are saaaaayyyiiinnnng Is give cheese some paaaaaaaants." No, I don't know what started that, or the game of what I learned as "I'm Going to Jerusalem" with sound effects, or the pirate alphabet, or ...; I'm just assuming it won't be happening this year due to a way-too-large-and-assorted-for-2020-safety number of people it took.

Joel Polowin @ 665: In theory, that could mean more book-availability for less money, and maybe even cross-learning ("what's this one with a blowfish on it about?") -- IFF the company encourages minds to rove. In practice, not. (I can't find the cite and so am not sure whether Townsend actually said "Synergy is bulls**t", but he certainly argued that it didn't work because of friction caused by forcing people or groups to work together.) I was slightly annoyed at being laid off from my last job rather than being able to retire on my own schedule -- but the sting was allayed not only by honors but by the news a little later that the entire company was moving to a hip, hard-to-get-to area with not just open-plan office space but extensive hotelling. If I came in each morning knowing that the Israel and India offices had had most of a work day to shovel stuff into my in-box and had had to find a place to deal with it and had had no secure place to store my non-perishable lunch/dinner supplies (which I kept in a file drawer because we had old desks in a ~paperless office), the result would not have been pretty.

#667 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2020, 11:06 AM:

I've been seeing people on the right who say that the American people don't deserve another stimulus package. They've been disobedient. They've been disrespectful to the superiors. They have to be punished. They have to be taught their proper place.

#668 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2020, 11:35 AM:

Robert 667: Everything to them is about punishment. They don't believe in rewards for good behavior, only punishment for bad, which they define retroactively depending on whether they want to expend resources (they don't).

Fascists can all die with my full approval.

#669 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2020, 12:31 PM:

Re cubes and office renovations. My office went entirely remote at the end of January for what was supposed to be about 3 months for a major renovation. Joke's on us, but we did have plenty of time to bring home large monitors, office chairs, files we expected to need, etc. The renovation is long since complete. The office continues to be 100% remote until such time as it's safe to go back, including for the majority of people who take mass transit. We're allowed to go in, and some people have, but nobody does regularly. We went from mostly private offices to all cubes except for the Executive Director's office. It was pretty much necessary: square footage wasn't going to change but staff is increasing and there just wasn't anywhere to put them. We have one big conference room, one small conference room, and two "phone rooms" with doors that close, and a couple of other meeting spaces with table and chairs, but those are open to the area around them. I expect to find this highly annoying when we go back. But we are, and have always been, free to wfh unless needed in person (seldom for most of us). So I will probably do that.

For a laugh, the interior designer calls the meeting spaces "huddle rooms" but we tended to keep referring to them as "cuddle rooms."

#670 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2020, 02:07 PM:

My previous workplace kept acquiring new businesses and squeezing more and more people into the offices. Including e.g. throwing out desks and buying new ones that were too small instead (so three people could be crammed in where only two had been previously). Head of HR was highly resistant to people working from home (except for people high up in the company - they could work from home if they wanted to, of course). Then COVID came along and amazingly most people not only happily changed to working from home but were at least as productive as they had been when in the office, and declared, when surveyed, that they would prefer to continue doing so, at least 3+ days a week. Head of HR still said it would be 'bad for the teams' for that to happen - despite said teams reporting great teamwork using... Teams. So glad I'm out of that and working from home.

#671 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2020, 04:07 PM:

Reminder that Disney is an evil, evil company.

#672 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2020, 11:39 AM:

I worked in the physics department at University of Houston, and there were three horrid orange chairs that were broken down in different ways, and whenever I got used to one, someone would switch them--so when my boss said there was some money left this year and asked if anyone wanted to order anything, I said a good chair.

Weeks or months later, they told me to pick out a chair, so I went to the office (which is literally underground) and pored over thick, shiny catalogs with a thousand variables each with a thousand selections. Overlapping. Number of wheels. Cloth. Color. Shell. Arms. Adjustibility of any of the above. Overwhelming, but I made my choice.

Months later, I was leaving the department for more money elsewhere. A day before I left, the chair came. It was heavenly. I spoke to one of my co-workers there who thanked me for the chair. "I stole it as soon as you went out," she said, so I guess it was worth it.

#673 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2020, 06:41 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @671: Ive seen that about Disney not paying Alan Dean Foster - it's awful. They are trying to claim that they bought the rights without the responsibilities.

Kip Williams @ 672: sounds about right. I think it took 2 months for permission to come through for the office manager to buy me a footstool (costing under $10)...

#674 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2020, 08:25 AM:

A link to an article about Yeats quotes in popular culture (mostly "The Second Coming"), followed by a number of mashups and parodies. It's so perfectly suitable for ML.

#675 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2020, 04:56 PM:

Though it's quieter here than it has been in some years, I'm still thankful this venue is here, and thankful for the chance to talk with you all (virtually, and sometimes in person). And I'm thankful for having had time with those we've lost.

#676 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2020, 04:58 PM:

Robert Glaub @ 667: people complaining about others not being sufficiently respectful of their "superiors" should remember what can happen to those superiors; the French response may not be necessary.

#677 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2020, 07:07 PM:


(Also thankful that the wind promised for today is not as strong as had been predicted.)

#678 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2020, 11:03 PM:

675 indeed.

#679 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2020, 11:05 AM:

#675: Yes.

I check in here every day.

#680 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2020, 12:34 AM:

Tom 675: So, so much so.

#681 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2020, 01:30 AM:

So do I. I still read Usenet daily, for that matter. Neither is the time sink it once was....

#682 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2020, 09:43 AM:

Still read here daily. Still mostly lurk....

#683 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2020, 11:25 AM:

I'm still here daily, too.

#684 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2020, 11:51 AM:


#685 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2020, 12:11 PM:

Waves hello at the other frequent checkers!

#686 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2020, 01:27 PM:

I have decided to cut back on my online activities during Advent and reassess how they fit into my life. This is one of the forums (fora?) I am not giving up.

#687 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2020, 04:14 PM:

Tom Whitmore #675: Though it's quieter here than it has been in some years, I'm still thankful this venue is here, and thankful for the chance to talk with you all


#688 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2020, 12:11 AM:

Yes, if you want the Latin plural "fora" is correct.

#689 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2020, 05:28 AM:

I still very much appreciate this forum and usually check at least daily.

#690 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2020, 09:58 AM:

676: "Tumbril" is such an under-used word these days.

#691 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2020, 10:38 AM:


I don't check daily any more because there isn't as much discussion, but I check at least several times a week and more often if there's something active.

I'm following a couple of denizens of the group on twitter, which is nice, but not the same.

A few weeks ago I went searching for an old comment of my own, and ended up reading through most of an old thread of really meaty discussion. Twitter doesn't do that, and I am generally on FB only for family and a couple of selected groups. I miss it.

#692 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2020, 06:45 PM:

This moose checks in a few times a week, but has also seen members of the commentariat on twitter. (Which loses posts far too quickly for my liking.)

(waves at everybody)

Hope you are all well, and keeping safe.

#693 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2020, 10:13 PM:

For those who have missed it, Ben Bova has died. (Combination of the virus and a stroke.)

#694 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2020, 11:59 PM:

For the first time in years, I've ended up with persimmons -- and thus with the need to figure out if they're ripe enough to eat.

Judging the Ripeness of Persimmons has an absolutely lovely description of how to tell that they aren't ripe --

When you eat an unripe astringent persimmon (American or Asian) the mouth immediately draws up. Sometimes you'll get a hint of sweetness (if it is near-ripe) but the mouth-feel is immediate. Tannins in persimmons make your tongue, cheeks, and gums feel as though you're chewing on a cross between aspirin, alum, and chalk. Your tongue almost feels like a fine sandpaper.

... and a new to me term -- 'bletting', which is what you want to happen to avoid the above.

Bletting is the process in which fruits are allowed to go just past what is normally thought to be ripe...almost to the point of decay, but just before ferment.

Having allowed the persimmons to get to a point where they feel very much like a jelly-filled thin-skinned balloon, they're delightfully sweet, and have a smooth (okay, maybe a bit slimy) texture all their own (I enjoy it, but it's probably not for everyone). All the same - recommended.

#695 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2020, 01:07 AM:

Nah, I never look in here any more. :)

Bletting! A few weeks ago (before it was *entirely* stupid to walk into a grocery store), I walked into a grocery store and saw a tray labelled "Medlars". Aha! I said. Medlars! A fruit which must be bletted! So I bought some.

They started to go after a couple of weeks. Last week the first one turned entirely.

It was, like, okay. Squishy and fibrous like a dried date, but less sweet. Bit of a fruity flavor.

You can see how this would be exciting to pre-refrigeration people when it got to be February and you wanted some fruit that wasn't out of a jar. In modern times, I can order some apples for storefront pick-up. Which I will do tomorrow.

#696 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2020, 01:26 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 695 writes:
Bletting! A few weeks ago (before it was *entirely* stupid to walk into a grocery store), I walked into a grocery store and saw a tray labelled "Medlars". Aha! I said. Medlars! A fruit which must be bletted! So I bought some.

Ah hah! I didn't realize that "Medlars" were a fruit, rather than a typo! ("You medlar-faced loon", makes so much more sense now).

You can see how this would be exciting to pre-refrigeration people when it got to be February and you wanted some fruit that wasn't out of a jar. In modern times, I can order some apples for storefront pick-up. Which I will do tomorrow.

Pre-refridgeration, they would have packed apples in straw in the root cellar (or other suitably cold place) -- and you'd then get to have mushy apples in February ;>

#697 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2020, 10:17 AM:

Nobody comes here any more cuz it's too darn popular.

Also: Bunny Rocket!

#698 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2020, 11:45 AM:

I do not check in as frequently as many of you -- but (as noted recently in another thread) I am thankful for both the sanity and the mind-spreading. For instance, today I'm among the 10,000; I'm very familiar with treating fruit like tough meat due to my partner's banana habit (and its occasional overshoots, which lead to craisin-pecan banana bread), but I had never heard a word for it.

Re medlars, from the end of an SCA ?play?fractured-fairytale? about a mother-daughter pair who briefly displace the young woman who later bore Charlemagne:
[daughter] Remember when you were my pipsy-popsy and I was the apple of your eye?
Pepin Yes, but now I see you're rotten to the core. [to guards] Take her away, and the old medlar with her!
[plot mostly by the late Marian of Edwinstowe; puns mostly by the estimable Greer Gilman.]

The places one picks up vocabulary....

Doug @ 690: [snortle]

Xeger @ 696: only if they neglected to make applejohns. (Whether it really applies only to a certain species is disputed by other links.) Another strangely-learned word, this time from doing lights for Henry IV part 2. And there are traditional dishes using apples that haven't stayed firm; Diane Duane posted one some years ago that my partner adapted for an Irish-themed holiday dinner.

AKICML: I suspect that many of you are familiar with the argument that "Jesus" was born in February rather than when celebrated, due to the only time-of-year reference being shepherds watching in the fields at night, which is only critical if a ewe in labor wanders off. (I have seen that lambs (still?) appear largely in February/March in the northern temperate zone, even though Wikipedia says ewes have a 17-day cycle.) Does anyone know what happened when sheep were brought to Australia? Did they invert to bearing late in the southern winter (as much as Australia has a winter), or did they continue to keep a northern-hemisphere cycle, or did the cycle change only for sheep born in Australia?

#699 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2020, 09:49 PM:

There was a problem. The northern sheep wanted to describe three clockwise circles when they went down for the night, and the Coriolis effect nearly killed them before they learned.

#700 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2020, 05:42 AM:

I check in here once a week or so.

#701 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2020, 06:24 AM:

CHip @698: Sheep from higher latitudes are photoperiod-controlled seasonal breeders: ewes from temperate latitudes start coming into season when the day length decreases, giving an appropriate spring lambing season such that there will be good green grass to support lactating ewes and for the lambs as they start to want more nutrition than only milk. Tropical and subtropical breeds are much less seasonal. Nowadays, hormones are used commonly to give a very short breeding window so lambing happens over a shorter period.

#702 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2020, 10:07 PM:

So my husband tested positive today and is under quarantine until the 13th. I looked at the directive from the local health department and just got so angry.

Stay six feet away from everybody at all times. We do not have the smallest house in town. We would have to remove some furniture from the house in order to have him stay six feet away from everybody at all times.

Use a separate bathroom. Because everybody has two or more bathrooms at home! How much does one banana cost, anyway, ten dollars?

Quarantine in a separate room. The one with the extra bathroom right down the hall, I presume? We don't even have a hall. We don't even have enough bedrooms for each person to have one, and if we did, my husband has to sleep in the living room or he can't breathe! Guess I'll go buy one of those mechanical inclining beds with the spare money I just have lying around.

Designate only one person to bring him things so he doesn't contaminate the house. And when I'm at work, which kid am I supposed to sacrifice?

Make him wear a mask at all times. What the hell is that supposed to do? If he's eating nacho chips on the other side of the biggest room in this house I can smell it within a minute. If I cook with the fan on, the bedroom furthest from the kitchen still smells like dinner. If he has it, we all have it or we're not gonna catch it.

#703 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2020, 11:00 PM:

For extra pissed-offery, I can only get my test results through this nifty online portal or whatever the hell they call it these days, but it's down.

Also my husband was setting up protective barriers for the employees, etc., before almost everybody else besides the hospital, and he still caught it.

So. Yeah. Not a super day, today.

#704 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2020, 12:04 AM:


#705 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2020, 09:05 AM:

Jenny Islander @703. Sympathies. Sometimes you do all the right things and are still unlucky.

We are lucky and could actually have separate bedrooms and bathrooms if necessary, but we only have one, small, kitchen. And anyway I suspect that if either I or my husband catches it, we'll have passed it to the other before becoming symptomatic and getting tested, given that we do share a bed, like to kiss each other as we pass during the day, etc.

#706 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2020, 09:45 AM:

@Jenny Islander, strong sympathies. My husband got COVID at work a month ago, despite religiously wearing his mask washing his hands, etc. He's the IT guy; he works on everyone's computers, and there was an outbreak in the warehouse. He's the only employee that regularly goes between the warehouse and the offices, and nobody in the offices caught it, so it looks like his mask-and-hand-washing at least kept him from spreading it.

Anyway. We have a small house, but at least it's not an apartment. <wry> For about three weeks I slept in the basement, on an inflatable mattress, and both of us wore masks 24/7 unless actually eating or drinking. We have one kitchen and one bathroom, so there was little we can do about that other than using disinfectant liberally and trying to space our visits far apart from each other. And we don't have children, so that was one less terror in the mix.

I got lucky; either I got it asymptomatically or I dodged it altogether. And my husband had a very mild case (possibly because of diminished virus load because of mask-wearing); a low fever, some brain fog, and light sensitivity. The brain fog and light sensitivity seem to have cleared up, fortunately.

I wish you and yours the same luck that I had, and hope that your husband's case is mild with no complications.

#707 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2020, 11:41 AM:

So far it's like flu, and I have seen worse cases of flu. The worst part, for him, is the aches and pains.

#708 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2020, 12:06 PM:

Sorry to hear about this, Jenny. Wishing strength to you and quick recovery to husband.

#709 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2020, 12:50 PM:

Jenny 702: All sympathies. Good wishes, if welcome, for a speedy and complete recovery for him and no infection for the rest of you.

#710 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2020, 04:49 PM:

Jenny (702): Much sympathy. I hope it doesn't get bad, and that the rest of you manage to avoid it.

What a clueless local health department!

#711 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2020, 06:39 PM:

@710: I get the impression that they're just repeating national health directives at this point, because flat-out telling ~30 percent of the people who live here that if one member of the household catches it there is no way to protect anybody else would be (even more) pointlessly cruel.

Still no test results for me. They say not to bother having the kids tested unless they feel ill.

#712 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2020, 09:11 PM:

My husband is binge-watching Madam Secretary and just started singing,

It's the most COVID-full time of the year,
My body is aching,
My hands are both shaking...

#713 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 04:10 AM:

Jenny Islander @712: well at least he's keeping his spirits up! Hoping he has a quick and full recovery, and that you and the rest of the family manage not to catch it.

#714 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 12:13 PM:

Jenny Islander, sorry to hear it. Good wishes for the health of your husband and all of your family.

#715 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 12:32 PM:

Kip WIlliams @ 699 / dcb @ 701: Thank you; I knew I could count on ML for both straight answers and ... otherwise (although it's fortunate I was reading on the soon-to-be-abandoned laptop...).

Jenny Islander @ 712 &prev: I guess gallows humor is better than no humor at all (aside from reports that keeping up one's spirits improves one's chances against disease). A more-whelmed health dept. might have added info about what-to-do-if-you-can't, or at least encouragement to do what you can and not swivet over the rest -- but I understand time and energy being in short supply, even if your local department hasn't been getting threats from troglodytes (as I understand many have); here's hoping for the best outcomes for you and yours.

#716 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 01:25 PM:

@715: The local dumbass denier has a website and has printed banners and stickers for outdoor display. One of the banners is on the way to the trailer where I had my test done. As far as I know he isn't harassing medical workers directly, but he boasted in one of his many emails about pestering the police chief, so.

There is no doubt in my mind that he is personally responsible for encouraging behavior that has led to the third wave hitting my community hard. Between 1 and 2 percent of the population has been diagnosed with it so far, about half of those cases in the past week, two of them in my extended family. I just saw a report of the first death (nobody I knew, but this place is small enough...).

#717 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 03:42 PM:

Wash, wash, wash your hands
20 seconds clean--
F$%* Covid 19.

Wear, wear, wear your mask
Everywhere you're seen--
F@#* Covid 19.

Wait, wait, wait 2 yards,
Try to look serene--
Verily, verily, verily, verily--
F%&* COVID 19!!

I check in here pretty regularly but don't have a lot to say except sympathies for all who need them.
The subsidized place for old/disabled folks where I live was okay for 8 months or so because we were all careful (so we thought) but just last month there were several cases just like that and I don't know all their fates. It's in my county that a whole bunch of singers got sick and some died. I'm so glad my friend was in a different chorus, but they haven't gotten together since I forgot when.
Never before have I spent months in a state of seriously wondering if I will be around for 2021. I ride my bike around the lot and/or walk down the hill and back up, get the blood going a bit, but I don't like walking on the nearby wooded trail now because I keep running into maskless morons. I feel like just me having one on might not be safe enough, especially when folks get to breathing hard as is good for us.
I have a relative and a friend who are very careful and they are my 2 unmasking-people. Otherwise I haven't seen anyone's face that I know since who knows when. By the time this is over we will all have our ears an inch closer to our eyes, from the elastic.
I wish the libraries could reopen. The only local one doing business is by appointment, and some things can't be duplicated online. How long will it be, will we all wind up back in the Stone Age, etc.--I could never survive that.
But I'm one of the lucky ones. So far.
Y'all stay safe.

#718 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 05:52 PM:

From what I've read, being outdoors even with no mask on is reasonably safe, as long as you stay at least six feet away from anyone else. Even coming within six feet of someone (as on a narrow trail) is probably okay as long as you keep it quick. So I put on a mask whenever I'm indoors and not at home, but outdoors I usually don't.

#719 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 06:18 PM:

Jenny Islander: Sympathies, and I wish you and your husband luck!

Acedia: The lost name For the Emotion We're All Feeling...

And a musical commentary on the unmasked:
Stop Being An Arsehole!

#720 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 08:51 PM:

Dave Harmon,719: Huge thanks for the song link. This guy is a planetary treasure.

#721 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 11:58 PM:

@720: Have you heard his banjolele masterpiece "I've No More Fucks to Give?"

And here's a hilarious radio edit:

#722 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2020, 05:23 AM:

I'm so tired of risk assessment-- complete lockdown would be a lot easier on me, but both the spousebeast and I work (non-patient-contact at the hospital, masks required), we have varying amounts of high-risk (chronic bronchitis and pregnancy to result in small human soonish), this entire past year has been terrible for my family and it's hard to balance 'put family at physical risk' and 'put family at emotional risk'* and also 'fight with family' vs 'wait, which direction is the risk going in this case?' and it's just. I mean. I'm tired of figuring out least-bad.

*this isn't the same as lives vs livelihoods. It's just... two different forms of hurt, I guess, and yeah, that's the difficulty of risk assessment.

#723 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2020, 12:02 PM:

@722: Does the part of your family at emotional risk live with you?

#724 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2020, 12:40 PM:

Seasons Greetings to all. I still look here occasionally, but I usually don't have much to say.

Jenny, I hope your spouse continues to have a light case, and that you and the rest of the family none at all.

In March or April, someone at my insurer called to ask how I was doing, and was there anything they could do for me. I asked them to send masks, in fact, to send masks to all their Medicare clients.

Nothing. Until a few weeks ago, when they sent me a couple of masks that looked like they were made by somebody who had only seen stylized pictures - much too wide for my face, so they won't stay on, and not high enough to cover from nose to chin. Plus they sent a CDC info sheet dated March 2020, and a lot has changed since then.

It's not just the government that is not handling this well.

#725 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2020, 12:46 PM:

Angiportus Librarysaver @717: Agreeing with David Goldfarb @718 that passing someone on the trails shouldn't be a real problem, as you're only close to each other for a short time. Of course, that's assuming people are half-way sensible and cough or sneeze safely. *sigh*

Diatryma @722: Sympathies. It's hard having to make those sorts of risk assessment decisions day after day.

#726 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2020, 01:16 AM:

And now my husband and son are improvising a duet about looking forward to the end of quarantine, to the tune of "YMCA."

#727 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2020, 10:14 AM:

The emotional risk is basically that my mom is alone and has been since my dad died, and that's wrecked her (more than a year, but she also can't travel to see family right now) and there's the worry that if she does get sick, there's no one to care for her. There just isn't a 100% good way through that.

#728 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2020, 07:27 PM:

In hopes that somebody else who's been struggling with the same issue can use this:

I have been trying for a long time to find a substitute for Outlook that is Not Microsoft. I can use direct access to my email provider's website to substitute for the Outlook email feature, of course, but calendaring and task management were a headache; nothing I tried quite worked.

Well! I finally figured it out, I think.

I use LibreOffice at home; their spreadsheet program, Calc, is a stripped-down emulator of Microsoft Excel. The LibreOffice suite has been described as the "lite" version of OpenOffice, but I find that it does everything a home user needs to do, up to and including printing simple pamphlets for a volunteer position I hold, without the security issues of OpenOffice. Anyway. In Calc, I created a spreadsheet in which Tab 1 contains two things: an undated calendar template with days of the week across the top, times down the side, and stuff that happens every week already on it; and a task template with tasks that recur already listed. Each template is formatted to print on one page.

When I start a new week, I create a new tab labeled "Week of [dates]" and copy and paste the templates into it. I add whatever needs added, then print.

I can start tabs as far ahead as I want: if I know right now that one of the kids has an appointment in February, I just make a new tab for that week right now.

And when I'm done with the week, I just delete the tab.

I have not been using this system for very long, but so far it is working well. Fingers crossed!

And bankruptcy to Microsoft, whose nifty shiny Office suite threw a wobbly that our IT guy had never seen before and made it impossible for me to do 90 percent of my job today.

#729 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2020, 10:46 PM:

Jenny Islander #726: about looking forward to the end of quarantine

It's not peppy, but Dolly Parton has a song...
When Life Is Good Again.

Dolly is a treasure.

#730 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2020, 05:39 AM:

Diatryma @727: that's hard. And no, no good way through it.

#731 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2020, 11:42 PM:

Two headlines, same topic, posted just a few hours ago. (Both from memory.)

MSNBC: Falcon 9 rocket explodes on landing, test still a success

Fox: Fire in the sky! Shocking explosion of rocket! Totally destroyed!

It's like, if there is no reason to get angry or frightened, it isn't news.

#732 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2020, 08:46 AM:

Jenny Islander @731

It's still rather amazing that a test rocket exploding *while landing* is considered "shocking".

I watched the launch (and "landing") live (only a YouTube delay). I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw that rocket do that I haven't seen previous rockets do, like turn off engines and move them to the side to make room for the remaining engines. Even after the crash, I was struck by how close to the center of the landing pad the nosecone was.

Too bad it's shiny metallic exterior, shape, and proportions make it look like a stereotypical vibrator.

#733 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2020, 12:25 PM:

Was it truly "exploding while landing"? The video I saw looked like a crash; I've seen how the Dragon main stages come down at relatively high speed, but this was clearly going too fast to low. Also, do you have a link for the complete video? The news services I've checked only have the launch and recovery; I'm interested in what moving an engine to the side looks like. (It seems a strange thing to do compared to simply firing one engine rather than another.)

Meanwhile, yesterday for me was less eventful and not quite as noisy; I went in for an MRI. (for a modest issue that has been nagging long enough to annoy). Thanks to earplugs (and possible exaggerations) the noise wasn't nearly as bad as I'd thought it might be -- but it was extremely varied; I wonder whether anyone has used the assortment of buzzes, bangs, booms, and pings as the basis for a piece of modern music?

#734 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2020, 12:58 PM:

CHip @733:

Here's a link to the SpaceX stream on YouTube for the test.

SpaceX Starship SN8 High-Altitude Flight Test

I've fast-forwarded in the link past the first 1h48m to less than a minute before lift-off. They shut down one engine at about T+01:45, and the second engine at around T+3:10. The flight ends at T+6:42, but there's a few minutes after that.

It probably isn't an explosion. It was a fireball engulfing the ship when it hit the ground too hard.

#735 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2020, 02:55 AM:

When SN8 was coming in for the crash, the rocket flames were green. Why? It was explained as "engine rich combustion". Words. Gotta love 'em.

#736 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2020, 11:40 AM:

CHip @733: I've heard about MRI-based music. Here is one example; there are others.

#737 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2020, 11:43 PM: seems wholeheartedly apropos to both SN8 and makinglight.

#738 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 12:40 AM:

Buddha Buck @ 734: that is clearer (looks like the engines are swiveling -- I was visualizing something like shunting railroad cars) and definitely impressive. I wonder whether they would actually do that in a mission; ISTM that it would use more fuel than blasting flat out, but (a) this could have been deliberate testing of engine-out cases and (b) if they can't throttle down far enough, shutting down an engine would reduce g forces, which might be a goal for civilian use.

Fans of latish Renaissance (to early Baroque?) music should have a look at the Boston Early Music Festival's presentation of the Tallis Scholars. A bit repetitive (one modern piece in the middle), but beautifully performed and seasonal. I think it will be up for only a week or so, but may have confused it with some other video.

#739 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 02:53 AM:

Phyllis Eisenstein has passed away.


Phyllis and her husband Alex were right there, near the center, when I encountered the swirl of Chicago fandom four decades ago. She wrote. She taught. She loved art. She sang. And played guitar.

We could stay up pretty late together, talking about books, and science, and fandom, and life. Often Phyllis, Alex, and I would find ourselves the last guests to leave a party. Because there was always much more to say.

Sometime it is said that science fiction is a conversation. It seems a trivial thing to talk about just now, but from time to time, I would help plan a convention's program. Which means finding people to invite onto panels. Phyllis was valuable because she was so versatile. She'd read the old SF and fantasy, and she knew most of the people who were writing the new SF and fantasy, and she was one of them. She knew all kinds of science and all kinds of history. And film. A lot, of course, about writing and publishing. And she was one local pro who would be reliably expected to turn up at a Chicagoland con. In planning a panel, I'd wonder "Who would be good to talk about this topic?" and with surprising frequency "Phyllis!" was the answer. To continue the conversation.

I'm very glad to have known Phyllis. I feel for her family and for all those who knew her. May perpetual light shine upon her.

#740 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 09:51 AM:

Phyllis will be missed. She was a lovely human being, and Chicago fandom is diminished by her loss.

Damn you, 2020.

#741 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 10:32 AM:

CHip @738:

For what they were testing, it was not necessary and overly risky to go supersonic. Throttling down/turning off engines kept the Starship subsonic. They also got to test the attitude control system under partial engine shutdown conditions (it worked), as well as engine restart (there were issues in flight).

#742 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 12:07 PM:

I've been absent for a while, but I'm dropping in to ask a question. I hope I haven't asked it before. I'm trying to trace a poem, which I think is a parody of a literal translation, or a literal translation of a parody of a piece of Romantic French poetry. It contains the phrase " sit him in a gay parterrre". The next line ends "...and every roses buttoning there."
Googling "gay parterre" takes me down a rabbit hole which, while fascinating in its own right, I have no desire to explore at present.

#743 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 12:35 PM:

"The Parterre", by Edward Henry Palmer, seems to fill the bill, Tykewriter. Google hint: use quote marks around a phrase if you want the whole thing. Took seconds to find this as the first hit when googling the whole "as sit him in a gay parterre" with quotes.

#744 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 01:21 PM:

Thank you Tom Whitmore. That was most helpful. The phrase came into my head on waking. I was sure I had read it somewhere, possibly in a book called Verse And Worse.

#745 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 01:22 PM:

Thank you Tom Whitmore. That was most helpful. The phrase came into my head on waking. I was sure I had read it somewhere, possibly in a book called Verse And Worse.

#746 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 07:58 PM:

Bill 739: I'm so sorry for your loss, Bill. I didn't know her, but I think I've heard her name before.

#747 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 11:55 PM:


🎶I'll be home for Christmas.
You can count on me.
Friends on Zoom,
Not in my room.
Takeout and TV.
New Year's Eve won't find me
In the ICU.
I'll stay home for Christmas
Till 2022. 🎶

#748 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2020, 02:23 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 741: that makes sense -- I hadn't seen detailed info about the intentions for this launch.

#749 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2020, 08:53 PM:

Me too, thomas. Thumb up!

#750 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2020, 11:09 PM:

Thomas, that was lovely.

#751 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2020, 09:08 AM:

Thomas, applause.

#752 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2020, 12:14 PM:

thomas @747: I enjoyed that!

We'll have a nice quiet time, except for trying to persuade the new kitties that they shouldn't eat every plant they find in the house. Except the cat grass, which they mostly ignore.

#753 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2020, 02:13 PM:

Frisbie alerted me to this one:
"Making a Gingerbread Black Hole"

(He met it on the General Technics board, where it was apparently linked by Brother Guy.)

#754 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2020, 05:42 PM:

To unpack what TomB @735 said, just because I found it fascinating...

Because rockets have to work where there's no air, in addition to fuel they must carry the oxygen needed by the fire consuming the fuel. Liquid-fueled rockets therefore generally have two tanks, and mix the fuel and oxygen inside the engine.

To control the rate of burning, either to throttle the engine or just to keep everything from melting, it's common to add a bit more fuel than oxygen. This extra fuel doesn't burn, but still gets blasted out the back and does some useful work. This is referred to as running fuel-rich. As in, "I put extra cream in the desert, mmm, isn't it rich?"

The consensus interpretation of the official announcements about the SpaceX test flight is that there was a problem delivering sufficient fuel to the engines during the landing. So instead of being fuel-rich, they were running oxygen-rich.

And that extra oxygen, finding no fuel, looked for something else to burn. The green colour is caused by impurities in the exhaust: probably copper or some other metal from the alloy the engine itself is made of. The engine, having run out of fuel, was burning itself instead!

Hence the joke; the rocket wasn't fuel-rich, it was engine-rich. One succinctly descriptive word change.

#755 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2020, 09:43 AM:

Thomas @747, may I repost that elsewhere? How would you like it attributed?

#756 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2020, 01:02 PM:

I've been chilling out after shutting down the computer for the night by watching episodes of an utterly adorable kid's show from Australia, "Bluey."

It's funny, and has lots of stuff for parents to appreciate and learn from. Heck, some episodes are "how to handle kids" lessons.

And . . . kids are still singing the "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" song 55 years after it was a big hit in my kindergarten class? And it has made its way to Australia?

Sheer delicious nuts:

#757 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2020, 06:22 PM:

Worse than that, stefan: it's mutating...

#758 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2020, 06:56 PM:

ISTR learning that one in the mid-60s. But my memory may be wrong. (Next line: Easter's on its way)

#759 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2020, 07:31 PM:

I'm fairly certain I learned the "Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg. Batmobile lost a wheel, and the Joker got away." variant in elementary school in NJ in the late 60s.

#760 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2020, 07:38 PM:

@759, those are the words I learned in 1969 or 1970 in the Chicago suburbs.

#761 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2020, 08:03 PM:

I'm not sure if parents realize - or remember - how much of this kind of thing is passed around among kids, and lasts forever.
("Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school")

#762 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2020, 08:11 PM:

Josepha Sherman and Toni Weisskopf's book Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts points out that a lot of these have been around for a very long time. Worth a read.

#763 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2020, 09:27 PM:

In the Bluey video, the doggy kids seem to be trying to get the song "right." Bingo (the younger girl) uses the "Robin flew away" variant.

I wonder if the producers asked the voice actors if they knew how "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" went, recorded the process of them figuring it out, and then did the animation.

#764 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 04:38 AM:

@756 et sequelae: Fascinating. This is -not- something I remember at all, but my husband does. But then I went to Jewish infant and primary schools, so parodies of Christmas carols wouldn't have been circulating!

#765 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 05:14 AM:

@756 et sequelae: Fascinating. This is -not- something I remember at all, but my husband does. But then I went to Jewish infant and primary schools, so parodies of Christmas carols wouldn't have been circulating!

#766 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 10:17 AM:

I was shocked yesterday when I finally tracked the book down to find that Faith & Jon Pankake's Joe's Got a Head Like a Ping Pong Ball (an extraordinarily valuable collection of songs people actually sing in this day and age) doesn't even mention "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells." It does have a delightfully intricate compilation of variants to "Gory, Gory, Bloody Murder (Teacher Hit Me With a Ruler)" to more than make up for it.

The book can be checked out at Archive for one hour, to get the flavor of its scholarship.

#767 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 11:53 AM:

My family was involved with our local boys' choir, and they were tapped to be the children's chorus for Carmen at the Newport Opera Festival. So I learned:

Toreador, don't spit on the floor,
Use the cuspidor, use the cuspidor.

#768 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 12:08 PM:

I think my *mother* taught me that one.

It's old.

#769 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 12:10 PM:

last-second memory revision:
'Use the cuspidor, that's what it's for'

#770 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 01:19 PM:

One thing I noticed about Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts was the many tunes given that I had no idea of the originals. "The Old Grey Mare"? Eh. Christmas songs are good for tunes in general (Deck the halls with gasoline...) because of the cultural dominance.

A friend of mine knows an additional thirty percent or so of Miss Susie's Tugboat. California vs Illinois.

Also, I have never heard "On Top of Old Smokey". Ever. It's meatballs all the way down.

#771 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 01:24 PM:

My biggest problem with Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts is that I learned a different last line to the title song, one they don't list among the variants. It annoys me that I have no way to write in and add mine.

#772 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 06:40 PM:

@767: I ran across it in a book of late 19th- to early 20th-century vintage, whose title I of course forget:

If you chew tobacco, don't spit on the floor;
Ex-pec-to-rate in the cus-pi-dor.

#773 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 06:44 PM:

@770, where are the lyrics to Miss Suzy Had A Tugboat written? The ones I know, I learned in girl scout camp in the early 1970s.

"Miss Suzy had a tugboat, the tugboat had a bell,
Miss Suzy went to heaven, and the tugboat went to
Hello operator, give me number nine,
And if you disconnect me, I'll hit you on your
Behind the 'frigerator, there was a piece of glass,
Miss Suzy sat upon it, and broke her little
Ask me no more question, I'll tell you no more lies;
The boys are in the bathroom, zipping up their
Flies are in the meadow, bees are in the park,
The boys and girls are kissing in the
D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K dark dark dark.

(No, I don't know why it spells "dark" out like it's a dirty word. For drama, I suppose.)


Also, the old jump-rope counting song that starts one, two, buckle-my-shoe, three four, shut the door... ? I was taught it up to 26 by my grandmother who was born in 1898. (After 26, you're counting funeral carriages and you just count integers.) If anyone wants to know it, let me know and I'll type it out.

#774 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 08:42 PM:

@773: OMG! Nobody else I know knows that one anymore. I learned it off a kid in an early primary after-school program, and my kids think my generation was deeply weird for knowing that stuff.

One of 'em told me that if they had dared to sing "My Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Burning of the School" while waiting in the bus line, the way we used to, they would've been insta-suspended and not allowed back to school without a psychiatric evaluation. And she's white, so that would've been a mild response.

#775 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2020, 08:50 PM:

Cassy B @ 773 (which also rhymes)...

Three four, knock at the door.
Five six, pick up sticks.
Seven eight, lay them straight.
Nine ten, a big fat hen.

(At which point this moose's memory fails him.)

You realise you've just taken me back nearly 60 years?


#776 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 06:38 AM:

Further Miss Susie:

Dark is like a movie, a movie's like a show
a show is like a TV set and that is all I know
I know my mother, I know my father too,
I know my sister Susie with the eighty-dollar bra bra bra!

Greasy Grimy etc is focused on its own region of North Carolina, which makes sense but is disappointing, just a bit.

#777 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 10:57 AM:

I remember the one with "Robin laid an egg" -- I was Jewish, but in my area of Long Island had a pretty close mix with Christians -- I remember it as being close to 50-50, but that may be a child's sampling bias. I also remember the "big fat hen" rhyme and "Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts",

But the most risque one that was actually circulating to me was "X and Y ... sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Z in a baby carriage!" (where X, Y, and Z were substituted with victims to hand).

One of 'em told me that if they had dared to sing "My Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Burning of the School" while waiting in the bus line, the way we used to, they would've been insta-suspended and not allowed back to school without a psychiatric

Yeah, the disciplinarians have gotten more than a bit panicky these days.

#778 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 12:00 PM:


How odd: The way we learned it (Long Island, late 60s?) was "Miss Lucy," and it was a steamboat, not a tugboat. The rest was the same, except it was:

". . . chop off your
Behind . . ."

#779 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 12:01 PM:

@775: Herewith, the entire counting chant, as taught to me by my grandmother in about 1970. It'll be a wall-o-text; sorry:

1, 2, buckle my shoe.
3, 4, shut the door.
5, 6, pick up sticks.
7, 8, lay them straight.
9, 10, a big fat hen.
11, 12, books on shelve.
13, 14, maids are courting.
15, 16, maids are kissing.
17, 18, maids are waiting.

19, 20, My plate is empty, please mother give me some more.

21, 22, If you loved me as I love you, no knife could split our love in two. Go north, go south, go east, go west, you are the one that I love best.

23, 24, Last night or the night before, twenty-four robbers* came to my door. I went to the door to let them in, they knocked me down with a rolling pin. I went upstairs to get my gun, you should have seen those twenty-four robbers* run. They ran to the north, they ran to the south, they ran to the east, they ran to the west, they ran right over the railroad tracks, and all fell down and broke their backs.

25, 26, Mother, mother, I am sick. Send for the doctor, quick quick quick. Doctor, doctor, shall I die? Yes, my darling, but don't cry. How many carriages** shall I have?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7... ***

*I'm fairly confident, but never asked while she was alive and therefore do not know for sure, that my grandmother substituted the word "robbers" for the n-word in this counting game. She was progressive for her time, given that she was born in 1898.

**Carriages, if it is not clear, refers to the funeral procession.

***Here you just keep counting up until you trip on the jumprope or run out of stamina.

The cadence for 19, 20 is "NINEteen, , TWENty, my PLATE IS EMPty PLEASE MOTHer GIVE me SOME MORE. (Capitalized words are the stressed syllables; where two capitalized syllables are next to each other there is nothing on the unstressed half-beat.

#780 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 12:15 PM:

@779, I forgot that this software strips out pointybrackets. The last note should read,

The cadence for 19, 20 is "NINEteen, [beat] TWENty, [beat]my PLATE IS EMPty PLEASE MOTHer GIVE me SOME MORE. (Capitalized words are the stressed syllables; where two capitalized syllables are next to each other there is nothing on the unstressed half-beat. The cadences for the other long passages are pretty obvious. Oh, I should say that it's: SEND(for-the)DOCtor QUICK quick QUICK.

#781 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 12:20 PM:

Cassy B: the version I learned only went up to "9, 10, a big fat hen" - but same as the Moose @775, 3,4 was 'knock at the door'.

Surprisingly (not!), I've not thought about that in decades.

#782 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 12:33 PM:

Another song the same grandmother taught me; this was a handslapping game; I'm sure the pattern was more elaborate but what I remember of it fifty years later is two people face to face; they clasp their hands across (left to right and right to left) and swing the joined hands side to side on "say say say" and then release hands and [highfive right hand] [clap] [highfive left hand] clap [highfive right hand].... for the rest of the song. You might re-clasp hands on the second say-say-say; I no longer recall.

It's a dialogue between two little girls.


Say, say, say playmate
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree.
Shout down my rain barrel,
Slide down my cellar door,
And we'll be jolly friends

Say, say, say playmate
I cannot play with you
My dollies got the flu
Ain't got no rain barrel,
Ain't got no cellar door
But we'll be jolly friends


Has anyone else ever heard or read this one? Again, learned in about 1970 from my grandmother who was born in 1898.

(A cellar door is a slanting lean-too door against the side of the house that covers stairs that go directly down to the basement. HERE is a pretty typical one. This line never confused me as a child because my next-door neighbor had a cellar door. It was fairly shallow and not much good for sliding down, but I figured, even as a kid, that if you didn't have a slide, it was a fair substitute....)

#783 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 12:49 PM:

We had See-See My Playmate (and the parody, See-See My Enemy) in the 90s Midwest. I never learned the game part because it was pretty complex.

Quick survey: when playing tag, what was the safe zone called? Typically, in my neighborhood, this was the porch the parents were on, and called 'ghoul' or 'gool'.

#784 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 01:30 PM:

We called it "home" or "base". We usually played tag on the lawn we shared with the neighbor - it was the largest not-back-yard in the area. The safe zone was the walkway along our garage, and the far edge was the neighbor's driveway.

(Freeze tag and red light-green light were what we usually played.)

#785 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 02:38 PM:

Quoting Wikipedia,

"Playmates" is a popular song ostensibly written by Saxie Dowell. The main theme was note-for-note plagiarized from the 1904 intermezzo "Iola" by Charles L. Johnson, for which Johnson sued, settling out of court for an undisclosed sum.

I remember that H. Allen Smith interviewed Dowell in one of his early books (the chapter is probably an expanded newspaper column). Could be Dowell also swiped the lyrics from an existing kid song, I suppose. Maybe that's how we came to have a 5" 78 recording of it in my youth--those labels were normally too cheap to record a song with copyright and royalties, but maybe the court case made it affordable.

#786 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 04:29 PM:

I had a classmate named Ce-Ce, so it seemed perfectly logical to sing "Ce-Ce my playmate" in that rhyme. (It obviously wasn't about the Ce-Ce I knew, because she and I were not friends no matter what our parents insisted, but it was a perfectly cromulent name for any fictional character in a hand jive song.)

We sang "Slide down my rainbow", not being familiar with rain barrels. Not that we should have been any more familiar with cellar doors in the New Orleans area, but we'd all seen the one Dorothy was supposed to go through in The Wizard of Oz.

(No, I don't know why it spells "dark" out like it's a dirty word. For drama, I suppose.)

It's so you have three more bars to do your hand clappy sequence as fast as possible and then either fall down laughing at how flamboyantly you screwed up or triumphantly double-high-five on DARK DARK DARK! as your grand finale.

I may have performed this ritual a few times in my elementary school years. And our version differed from that in @773 only in that we had the boys in the bathroom "eating all the flies" which made sense because we were at that cultural age when boys were obviously gross.

#787 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 04:29 PM:

Dave Harmon @777, re: Yeah, the disciplinarians have gotten more than a bit panicky these days.

While this is true, I'm not sure I'd like to see the shapes of the 3D plots: incidence of various kinds of school-based violence (arson, shootings, etc.) vs. student age vs. year.

#788 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 04:30 PM:

(Oh, and our Miss Suzy had a steamboat, for whatever that's worth.)

#789 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 04:37 PM:

I hasten to add that I don't think that singing these songs is, of itself, indicative of anything except a joy in singing.

#790 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 05:43 PM:

@777: That's partly why I homeschooled for as long as I could (and now the kids are in school, they're home...).

Before the schools went to Condition Red here, one of my kids was warned, first about their whittlin' knife--not about taking it out, just about possessing one--and then about the butter knife they packed with their lunch, and then about their plastic knitting needles. What a pack of twits.

Anyway, does anybody here remember:

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
The worms play pinochle on yer snout...

#791 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 06:52 PM:

My classmates played "Hey Say My Playmate" but I never learned the hand-motions.

Jenny Islander (790): I've seen that in a book, but never heard it real life.

#792 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 07:06 PM:

Jenny Islander @790, Mary Aileen @791:

I've heard that song in real life, but I was surprised to hear it on an album by The Pogues. There are a number of other recordings of it as well.

Apparently, it's called "The Hearse Song", and dates back to the 1890's, and possibly to the Crimean War.

#793 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 08:03 PM:

Jenny Islander @790 - I used to snarkily wonder about pens and pencils, especially things like my nice sharp mechanical pencil with its elongated tip. Were schools going to ban those too? Except that as classes transition to electronics, it begins to look more feasible.

The other day, I got to remembering one of my graduate classes in theoretical physical chemistry. The mark was based entirely on the final exam, and I got a much lower mark than I'd expected -- I thought I'd done fairly well. So I went to the prof's office, and asked to review my exam with him, telling him that but emphasizing that I wasn't intending to pressure him for a higher grade; I just wanted to know what I'd messed up. He dug out my exam booklet, and said something along the lines of "Oh, yes, well for starters you didn't write very much. You only turned in one exam booklet, while most of your classmates turned in two or three." And at that point I stopped taking him seriously. My handwriting is quite small, though neat and quite legible -- thus the extremely fine mechanical pencil. If we were being graded on the curve, where "the curve" involved arcs of flight when the exams were being thrown, or some such thing... [*sigh*] I politely pointed out that my handwriting was small, I listened briefly to a few more comments, I got out of there. There didn't seem to be much point in belabouring the issue.

#794 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 08:06 PM:

I hadn't met that version. (the worms go wandering all about)

#795 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 08:41 PM:

Mary Aileen@771: I must own thirty August House books no longer on the backlist. Maybe more.

They narrowed their focus and are great at what they do--some of those picture books are spectacular!--and some of the things they left behind when they specialized (and moved) are greatly missed.

#796 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 09:15 PM:

@786, the version my grandmother taught me is "shout down my rain barrel; slide down my cellar door" -- because shouting into a rain barrel gives a lovely echo, apparently. To the best of my knowledge, you don't slide down rain barrels. (If you did, I assume you'd get wet....)

How about this little poem?

"May I go down to the watering hole?"
"Yes, my darling daughter.
Hang up your clothes on a hickory limb
But don't go near the water!"

If there's another verse to it, I never learned it.

#797 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 11:12 PM:

"Mother, may I go out to swim?"
I remember hearing it this way, with the rhyme.

The next verse I recall was

"Mother, may I go out to fish?"
"Yes, my darling daughter.
You may eat it on a dish,
But don't go near the water!"

#798 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2020, 10:12 AM:

@Kip Williams, your version makes more sense than the one I remember; "swim" and "limb" rhyme.

It's a rather risque little rhyme to teach children... <grin>

#799 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2020, 04:45 PM:

@773: I’ve never heard “Miss Suzy” but it reminds me of a song we sang in the early 60s, on the 1 hour plus school bus ride.

I want a man- I want a man-
I want a mansion in the sky.
I feel like hel-, I feel like hel-
I feel like helping some poor guy.
And when the dam- dam- dam- dam- damage is done
I’m gonna have myself a barrel of fun.
I want a mansion I the sky.

There were other verses but I don’t remember them.

#800 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2020, 06:05 PM:

Pfusand @767: the Hey, toreador-a, don't spit on the floor-a song (a parody of the Song of the Toreadors in Bizet's Carmen) is in one of Beverly Cleary's books as well. I think it's Otis Spofford.

#801 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2020, 09:20 PM:

Cassy B @ 773: and then there's "Shaving Cream", which is not nearly as ingenious but does assume improvisation, e.g.
    The two of us went to the Fenway
    To try out my new catcher's mitt.
    I asked you to throw me a curveball;
    You threw me a handful of
        Shaving cream! Be nice and clean!
        Shave every day and you'll always look keen!

(I do not vouch for the chorus; last time I heard this was ~30 years ago on Dr. D.)

Jenny Islander @ 790: not only do I remember that, I remember a group of nominally adult fans singing it, under the direction of a British filker who I first saw as Nurse Barbara (from Zelazny's "The Furies") but who was primarily known on this side of the pond as a booster of the Seacon '79 bid -- we were told at their parties that there was this Britfan ritual called a hum-and-sway....

Joel Polowin @ 793: I'd have taken the matter higher -- but I've always been an obstreperous type.

I won't even try to reproduce how an all-male summer camp turned "Funiculi, Funicula" into a praise of self-abuse; memory is sometimes merciful -- even without editing (unlike, e.g., Khedron remembering that he knew an artist).

#802 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2020, 10:50 PM:

Songs I learned from my mother:
"Grandma's in the Cellar"
"Never Hit Your Grandma" and
"The Slug in the Slot Machine" (both from "Soft-Boiled Ballads")
(among others that my brain is not bringing up)

Filk songs are just a small step to the left.

#803 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2020, 12:21 AM:

CHip @801, I thought about it, but Professors Emeriti are hard to challenge. And it wasn't the first grad course in that program that I thought was being poorly managed in general. Bottom line, the mark didn't have any real significance. My GPA wasn't likely to have any effect; for most purposes, people care that one has the diploma, and not much beyond that. And anyway, it was just the M.Sc.; I figured that the Ph.D. I'd be getting somewhere else afterwards was the important one.

#804 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2020, 09:49 AM:

Instead of Miss Suzy, mine was Lulu, and she had a steamboat.

#805 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2020, 10:30 AM:

Jeremy 759: Same words I learned, except it was "Penguin," not "the Joker," who got away.

It occurs to me know that the rhyme scheme implies that 'egg' and 'way' are assonant, which they aren't in my native dialect (but are in some I've heard). If someone really wanted to find out where it came from, that could be a clue to its origin.

P J 769: That's the variation my mother taught me (c. 1966).

Cassy 773: I remember the little girls in my grade school singing that with a hand-clapping exercise, except that it was Miss Lucy, and I don't remember the D-A-R-K part, or the tugboat. I think it had these lines at some point:

My boyfriend went to sea, sea, sea
To see what he could see, see, see
But all that he could see, see, see
Was the bottom of the deep-blue sea, sea, sea!

Jenny 790: Yes! And:

And when your skin turns moldy green,
Your pus comes out and looks like whipped cream.
Oh, don't you wish you had a spoon!

#806 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2020, 10:36 AM:

Oh, did anyone else learn this one?

HELL-o, everybody
This is Harry's Cemetery.
Good people go to Heaven,
Bad people go to
HELL-o, everybody...

    [repeat until screamed at to shut up]

#807 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2020, 10:51 AM:

I was lucky enough to live in a household with the book Songs for Swinging Housemothers, so many of these are familiar to me.

Benny Bell had some good ones, and a long career. There are a number of his songs at, including my favorite:

We will be married
Some day next June
And when we go away
To spend our honeymoon

I know that everyone is goin'a miss my Fanny
No one ever could resist my Fanny
But they wouldn't dare to kiss my Fanny
'Cause she's so in love with me!

They also have Ben Light, whose amazing tinkling piano enlivens two particularly good double-entendre records, "The Full-Her Brush Man" and "She's Gonna Get a Robot Man," also (see links) singled out at New Pals.

Some lyrics:
"Oh, what a wife that man would make if he could only cook!"

"A robot man cannot rust or spoil
All he needs is a little oil
And talk about your sex appeal
He'll be a Casanova made of steel

A metal papa that can go to town
He's got a battery that won't run down
If you want lovin' that's simply grand
Get a scientific robot man and he'll keep pitchin'
Get a scientific robot man!"

Sounds like a job for R2-DoMe!

#808 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2020, 10:52 AM:

I learned that one as "three sailors went to sea-sea-sea". I don't think it was from other kids, though.

#809 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2020, 11:47 AM:

Cassy B. #798: It's a rather risque little rhyme to teach children...

The only oddity there would be having it come from an adult, instead of being passed hand-to-hand among kids.

As many of the rhymes mentioned here attest, a lot of what those rhymes are "for" is kids exploring all those charged concepts that drift (or are thrown) down to kids from the adult world: sex, damnation, violence, disgust for "those people", etc. See also, Brunvand's theory on "chain jokes" such as elephant and dead-baby jokes.

CHip #801: Shaving cream! Be nice and clean! / Shave every day and you'll always look keen!

I am fairly sure that couplet, with various bait-and-switch prologues (I recall ..."fell in a big pile of...") originated in a series of radio shaving-cream commercials, which can still be found on YouTube.

#810 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2020, 12:24 PM:

Sung to the same tune as "Gafiate! Better not wait! Get out of fandom before it's too late."

Anyway that's how Dr. Demento sang it.

#811 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2020, 07:57 PM:

We have that one, and "Songs for Singing". They're good for stuff that you don't hear much. And they're where I first met "The Keeper of the Asteroid Light"!

#812 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2020, 08:31 PM:

Decades ago, the low-budget snarky "childrens' show" Uncle Floyd hosted an old guy who recorded, and may have written, the "shaving cream" song.

Floyd sang the one verse I remember by heart:

"Our baby fell out of the window
We thought that her heard would be split
But good luck was with us that morning
She fell into a barrel of

#813 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2020, 02:08 PM:

Hey, all. I have missed this venue something fierce. Have caught up with some folks over on Twitter,'s not the same. One small dividend:

"Explaining the Pandemic to my Past Self"

Part I

Part II

Part III

#814 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2020, 06:30 PM:

Xopher 805: I learned that one as 'A sailor went to sea, sea, sea' - but otherwise the same.

Jacque @813: I just watched Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. Both sad and funny...

#815 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2020, 10:18 PM:

omg I went looking to see if there was a part 4, but didn't find it.

Part 4

#816 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2020, 06:52 AM:

Jacque @815: Glad to be of service!

#817 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2020, 10:46 PM:

Please note: NetGalley just sent out a notice of a data breech. Herewith is the text of the email:

It is with great regret that we inform you that on Monday, December 21, 2020 NetGalley was the victim of a data security incident. What initially seemed like a simple defacement of our homepage has, with further investigation, resulted in the unauthorized and unlawful access to a backup file of the NetGalley database.

It is with an abundance of caution that we wanted to let you know this incident may have exposed some of the information you have shared with NetGalley.

The backup file that was impacted contained your Profile information, which includes your login name and password, name and email address. Also, if supplied by you, your mailing address, birthday, company name, and Kindle email address. We currently have no evidence of the exposure of any of this data, but we cannot at this stage rule out the possibility. We expect that you may have many additional questions---these are the questions we would have if we received this email.

Please be assured that we take the security of our members' information very seriously and we sincerely regret that this incident occurred. We immediately reviewed our security standards and just implemented further means to protect your data. The next time you sign in you will be prompted to change your password.

We appreciate your understanding, and thank you for your support. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have other concerns. We wanted to send this information to you as soon as possible, but like most companies, our team will be offline during the holidays---we will absolutely be available to answer your questions on December 28th. We hope you have a wonderful holiday.

All best,
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Please take precautions, all you Hugo voters and others with NetGalley logins!


#818 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2020, 10:47 PM:

Please note: NetGalley just sent out a notice of a data breech. Herewith is the text of the email:

It is with great regret that we inform you that on Monday, December 21, 2020 NetGalley was the victim of a data security incident. What initially seemed like a simple defacement of our homepage has, with further investigation, resulted in the unauthorized and unlawful access to a backup file of the NetGalley database.

It is with an abundance of caution that we wanted to let you know this incident may have exposed some of the information you have shared with NetGalley.

The backup file that was impacted contained your Profile information, which includes your login name and password, name and email address. Also, if supplied by you, your mailing address, birthday, company name, and Kindle email address. We currently have no evidence of the exposure of any of this data, but we cannot at this stage rule out the possibility. We expect that you may have many additional questions---these are the questions we would have if we received this email.

Please be assured that we take the security of our members' information very seriously and we sincerely regret that this incident occurred. We immediately reviewed our security standards and just implemented further means to protect your data. The next time you sign in you will be prompted to change your password.

We appreciate your understanding, and thank you for your support. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have other concerns. We wanted to send this information to you as soon as possible, but like most companies, our team will be offline during the holidays---we will absolutely be available to answer your questions on December 28th. We hope you have a wonderful holiday.

All best,
The NetGalley Team

Please take precautions, all you Hugo voters and others with NetGalley logins!


#819 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2020, 01:43 AM:

OtterB #755: Happy to have it reposted/redistributed. Thomas Lumley.

#767, #772. I learned "Toreador, pray don't spit on the floor/ Use the cuspidor in the corridor"

#820 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2020, 06:37 PM:

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and
Happy Friday to all!

#821 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2020, 08:24 PM:

Tracie at 799: "I want a man- sion in the sky" inspired me to Google the lyrics and I see that a site called has lots of archived threads about this and many other songs

#822 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2020, 08:53 PM:

Tracie at 799: "I want a man- sion in the sky" inspired me to Google the lyrics and I see that a site called has lots of archived threads about this and many other songs

#823 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2020, 10:35 PM:

Merry Christmas (or TGIF, or whatever seems appropriate).

Turns out that skipping/hand-clapping songs also work beautifully for other rhythmic tasks, like sanding and sawing. Terrible earworms, mind you ;D

#824 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2020, 12:20 AM:

@822: If you're a folkie, filkie, old-school jazz fan, or guitar picker in search of lyrics, Mudcat is awesome. I've only managed to stump their forum once.

Which reminds me:

I loved you once, so long ago
I thought it wouldn't matter now.
It's been a long and lonely road
That I have had to travel.
But now the heartache's in the past
And we can start again.
Would you join my circle, my circle of friends?
It's a long and winding chain that seems to have no end.
Come with me and take my hand; we'll reach around the world.
Would you join my circle, my circle of friends?

That's the first verse and chorus of a song I know by heart but cannot find a citation for, not even on Mudcat. Anybody out there know the author, performer, or proper title?

#825 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2020, 05:12 AM:

Christmas poem by R.A. Lafferty


Of trumpet-lightning and a womb that lept for us
One promise made for us and ever kept for us

(Behold a man a-waiting in Jerusalem
Named Simeon and older than Methusalem) —

One Central Thing, before the Day-Star, cited yet
The Word that lights the world, and it be lighted yet.

An incandescence in the human mesh of us,
We be illuminated in the flesh of us.

We are no islands, we are very isthmuses
All of one Main, the nexuses our Christmases.

#826 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2020, 11:30 AM:

1. Es begab sich aber zu der Zeit, daß ein Gebot vom Kaiser Augustusausging, daß alle Welt geschätzt würde. ::
2. Und diese Schätzung war die allererste und geschah zu der Zeit, da Cyrenius Landpfleger in Syrien war ::
3. Und jedermann ging, daß er sich schätzen ließe, ein, jeglicher inseine Stadt. ::
4. Da machte sich auch auf Joseph aus Galiläa, aus der Stadt Nazareth, in das jüdische Land zur Stadt Davids die da heißt Bethlehem, darum daß er von dem Hause und Geschlechte Davids war ::
5. auf, daß er sich schätzen ließe mit Maria, seinem vertrauten Weibe, die war schwanger. ::
6. Und als sie daselbst waren, kam die Zeit, daß sie gebären sollte. ::
7. Und sie gebar ihren ersten Sohn und wickelte ihn in Windeln und legte ihn in eine Krippe; denn sie hatten sonst keinen Raum in der Herberge. ::
8. Und es waren Hirten in derselbigen Gegend auf dem Felde bei den Hürden, die hüteten des Nachts ihre Herde. ::
9. und siehe des Herrn Engel trat zu ihnen, und die Klarheit des Herrn leuchtete um sie, und sie fürchteten sich sehr. ::
10. Und der Engel sprach zu ihnen: Fürchtet euch nicht! Siehe, ich verkündige euch große Freude, die allem Volk widerfahren wird; ::
11. denn euch ist heute der Heiland geboren, welcher ist Christus, der Herr, in der Stadt Davids. ::
12. Und das habt zum Zeichen: Ihr werdet finden das Kind in Windeln gewickelt und in einer Krippe liegen. ::
13. Und alsbald war da bei dem Engel die Menge der himmlischen Heerscharen, die lobten Gott und sprachen: ::
14. Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe und Friede auf Erden und den Menschenein Wohlgefallen!

#827 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2020, 12:58 PM:

Merry Christmas to thems that celebrate it.

This is wonderfully silly:

Fox stuffed bison!

#828 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2020, 03:35 PM:

Some folks who do traditional folk music in Ottawa assembled a rendition of "Good King Wenceslas" that I'm reasonably pleased with.

We were given an early version of the video with just a few voices and instruments, and asked to record ourselves performing along with it. I took an old SATB score sheet that I had, transcribed it into MuseScore, transposed it into the proper key, and relearned the tenor part. I'm disappointed by the number of takes it took me to get through it without a serious flub on the lyrics or pitch, but I got there eventually. I'm still not entirely satisfied, but I ran out of time, patience, and voice. I know that this reaction is partly due to being able to hear my part in isolation, and catching every tiny flaw in a way that ordinarily is covered by being part of a choral group. And, well, I haven't been singing very much over the past ten months or so, apart from the times when I was working on my own two videos. I'm out of shape.

#829 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2020, 07:10 PM:

San Francisco got a monolith!

(It's gingerbread...and it's a wet day there.)

#830 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2020, 08:13 PM:

Corona Heights features as a location in Our Lady of Darkness. The gingerbread monolith is, without a doubt, an act of megapolisomancy. Tasty, sweet megapolisomancy.

#831 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2020, 10:12 PM:

Probably got the recipe from A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking.

#832 ::: Sylvan Beach ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2020, 11:17 PM:

Dear Making Light, I having been reading and thinking about you all for years. Tonight, after a truly satisfying Christmas, made possible by covid, I am moved to delurk and send you all good wishes in this Yule season and for the year to come.

#833 ::: Sylvan Beach ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2020, 11:44 PM:

Dear Making Light, I having been reading and thinking about you all for years. Tonight, after a truly satisfying Christmas, made possible by covid, I am moved to delurk and send you all good wishes in this Yule season and for the year to come.

#834 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2020, 09:47 AM:

Thanks, Doug.

I studied German in middle school half a century ago. I pushed through this with the help of Wiktionary, with an excursion through all the meanings of schätzen and related words. The text does not say it in so many words, but Mary was Joseph's Schatz.

#835 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2020, 07:02 PM:

834: You're very welcome!

I was, in part, recalling what was for a while an annual tradition here at Making Light, and copied the Luther translation from here. I corrected the few places where the spacing was off. Luther's German is not quite as far from modern usage as the KJV is from current English, but there are enough differences that one notices. I'm glad you made it through!

And yes, yes she was.

#836 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2020, 09:41 PM:

Good King Sauerkraut looked out
On his feets uneven,
Where the snoo lay round and bout
All kerchoo achieving
['Snoo'? What's 'Snoo'?
Nothing. What's new with you?]
-- Pogo

#837 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2020, 06:09 PM:

TomB @ 830: conjuring for a sweet new year? I know the original was a curse -- but I spent last evening arguing Reed Chalmers's theory of magic (being light or dark according to use rather than inherently) with a new book.

In the meantime, I have another AKICIML: this is probably the last post I'll be doing on a long-serving laptop, which means I have batches of files to transfer to a new system. Those batches include a number of free ebooks, from both Tor and the latest WFC; they're in Kindle format because I experimented with a number of formats from the local library when the pandemic hit and found Kindle's format options most accommodating to my eyes. (IME, what ereaders most need is some linespacing adjustment finer than 1/1.5/2 whole lines, but I haven't found any that offer it; Kindle's default linespacing was enough to be legible without being so much as to waste lots of space.)
      1. Should I be able to simply copy the contents of c:\users\<me>\My Documents\My Kindle Content from this Windows 7 laptop to This PC > Documents > My Kindle Content on a Windows 10 machine (directory apparently created when I installed the Kindle app) and have the Kindle reader see the books?
      2. Did anyone else download books in Kindle format from WFC and if so were the books readable? I'm hesitant to simply copy this directory because the books opened during downloading but Kindle wouldn't come up at all afterward; I'm wondering whether the fact that book_asset.db wasn't updated by the downloads is involved in this.

#838 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2020, 05:08 PM:

A lone line from a filksong that I will never complete:
When the geese and the goslings do grass-shearing go.
(to the Steeleye Span version of "Rosebud in June".) Provoked by one of the walks I do to keep vaguely fit while the Y is closed, this one connected to an errand at Arsenal Mall; I estimated that there were around a hundred geese cropping the park southwest of the stores. I've seen larger groups, but not around Boston. There's a larger group that sleep in the reservoir ("Loughberry Lake") just north of Saratoga Springs and nosh on the parkland south of downtown; the first time I saw them, after the 2007 WFC, I thought "How picturesque -- they're migrating right down the main street!", and was disappointed on a later trip to realize they were just locals.

#839 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2020, 12:37 AM:

CHip @ 837

1. Probably? But Kindle software is consistently weird in its handling of anything that isn't an Amazon purchase. (For instance, I usually put downloads on my phone and read 'em with the Android app, which supposedly adds them to my Kindle library and does make them available to my hardware Kindle. But their web-based reader software mostly does not like to pick those files up (which is not a problem for me)... but sometimes it does. Why some and not others? Who knows!) So I wouldn't count on it being seamless. If it's possible to test before wiping the old drive, do that.

2. No idea specifically on the WFC stuff, but for general ebook format-shifting, Calibre has done everything I've ever needed. Try importing them there, then re-export as the format you want. (Grab a guide, as it's somewhat obtuse in that overcapable-open-source-software-that-I-just-need-to-do-this-one-little-thing-with way.)

Calibre might well solve any problems with #1 as well.

#840 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2020, 12:02 PM:

As the year changes around the globe, I send wishes of good health and good cheer to those who post and read here. 2020 kept us all from seeing some people we really wanted to see: may 2021 be much better around that!

#841 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2020, 11:03 PM:

happy New Year to all, and wishing for unexciting times!

#842 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2020, 11:06 PM:

Happy New Year!

#843 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2021, 01:01 AM:

It's only 9 p.m. here, and the weather may preclude us even going out to bang pots and pans together tonight. If it weren't a no-burn day, we would have written "2020" in big letters on a cardboard box and burned it.

Here's to waking to a peaceful tomorrow.

#844 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2021, 10:18 AM:

Happy New Year's Day Morning from the USA/Pacific time zone.

I'm eating a big hunk of panettone for pre-breakfast.

#845 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2021, 10:35 AM:

Tom Whitmore @840: Hear hear! Wishing us all a healthy and positive 2021.

#846 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2021, 11:05 AM:

stefan #844:

After looking at the scales as part of my crawl out of bed, there is no way I could justify another piece of my homemade panforte any time this week. :-( .

But, a better new year right back at all of you.

#847 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2021, 05:20 PM:

Every day, we walk. Today, we walked in the Groton Bird Sanctuary, and resolved to not get lost this time.

As is our custom, we listened to some podcasts. And there, in the middle of Episode 77 of The History of the English Language, Kevin discussed Auld Lang Syne.

Totally unexpected, but very appropriate.

#848 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2021, 01:01 AM:


A silly fact for choristers: Good King Wenceslaus can be sung to Estuans Interius, the shouty baritone solo from Carmina Burana

(here's the original Estuans Interius if you're not familiar). I used to be able to do it at the written pitch, but as a baritone you only get so many high Gs in your life.

#849 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2021, 01:12 AM:

#844 I have taken the spare loaf of panettone out of the freezer. Strictly speaking, it can't be panettone because it's shaped like a loaf of bread rather than a gasometer, but it's a panettone recipe.

In New Zealand we're currently in a state of quantum superposition. Yesterday was January 2, the day after New Year's Day. Tomorrow (Jan 4) is the Day after New Year's Day (Observed), when the wave-function gets collapsed.

At the end of 2021 things get even more quantum, because we have Christmas Day on Dec 25th and Christmas Day (Observed) two days later. Assuming the world lasts that long, we'll be in a superposition of 'naughty' and 'nice' for two days; Do they know it's Christmas time at all? etc, etc.

#850 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2021, 12:10 PM:

thomas @ 848: did I need to know that? No. Am I delighted by it? You bet your sweet.
As for limited numbers of G4 sung by low voices: I confirmed a couple of years ago in a performance of Mahler's 2nd Symphony that there's always just one more (even from a ~3rd bass such as I call myself) -- but only in the swarm of a large chorus. (I haven't sung a deliberate solo, outside of required re-auditions, in some decades.)

New Year's Eve featured an appropriate combination: a documentary about a year in the life of some northerly-Norwegian fjords, and smoked fish (albeit hot-smoked rather than cold-). Belated New Year's wishes to everyone, with the certainty that some of our most public figures will be digging us out of the slough rather than deeper into it and the hopes that enough follow suit that next New Year's will be happier than this one.

#851 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2021, 05:48 PM:

The BBC reports the death of the founder of the other Liverpool beat group: Gerry Marsden, of Gerry and the Pacemakers. They only lasted a few years, but "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" and "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" are remembered (IIUC, McCartney commonly used the latter as a soundcheck in later years), and they were for a long time the only group to see their first 3 singles reach #1. OTOH, I had no idea he'd covered "You'll Never Walk Alone" -- or "Jambalaya".

#852 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2021, 08:21 PM:

Good King Wenceslaus can also be sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle and vice versa.

#853 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 12:27 AM:

Well, AC-tually, Orff's isn't the original tune.

Boosey & Hawkes had a color reprint of the Codex that the Carmina Burana songs came from. Beautiful thing, but pricey, and it would have eaten up my music budget, so I didn't get it.

But now, well! What do you know? Here is is!

#854 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 12:52 AM:

And "Good King Wenceslas" is a Victorian overwrite of an Easter carol that has nothing to do with him.

It's by the same guy responsible for that "Fa la la la la" thing.

#855 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 01:58 AM:

#853 Indeed, Orff fails to be the original by a staggering margin, but it's one of the popular reboots that I think is an improvement on the original.

(And I've sung it enough to know the weak points)

#856 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 12:29 PM:

Happy New Year, everyone. Let's hope (against the tide of pessimism that threatens to overwhelm any intelligent observer) that 2020 was the worst year of the 2020s, and of the 21st Century.

Devin 839: Each of your Kindle devices has an email address you can get from Amazon. They're distinctly unmemorable long chains of numbers; myself I just made a group called Kindles on my Gmail, and mail to that when I get something from outside Amazon. When I got a new phone, and installed the Kindle software on it, I just updated that group with the new email (automatically created by the installation).

Amazon making this a pain surprises me not at all. Pretty sure they figure "Why should we store books you got from someone else?" They'd have to, for things you uploaded to one device to appear on the others.

thomas 848: Oh, that's wonderful! I just tried it, and it works with both Estuans melodies.

In odd news, just yesterday, not having looked at ML, that movement sprang to my head, and I sang it outloud. I still remembered most of the words, even though I haven't thought about it in years and years.

I'm not sure I can sing it at the written pitch. Last time I tried it was the low notes I couldn't quite reach!

Kip 853: TIL that they had melodies in the original! Thank you. I didn't see any of the standard square-note music notation of the time, though I haven't looked at every page. I presume the diacritics can be deciphered into melodies? Unfortunately I have no idea how to read them if so.

Jenny 854: That would explain the shitty theology. "It's OK to be vastly wealthy when others are freezing to death as long as you help a few of them occasionally" sure sounds like the bloody fucking Victorians to me!

#857 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 01:06 PM:

Xopher @856 re: Wenceslas, Terry Pratchett had some snarky things to say along those lines in Hogfather.

#858 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 07:54 PM:

The melodies in the Carmina Burana are notated in unstaffed, unheightened neumes, They only indicate pitch in relation to the preceding note, but not what the difference in pitch is. Some of the tunes have been (re)constructed or conjectured by comparison to tunes in staffed neumes in other manuscripts.

#859 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 08:06 PM:

Anybody have a recommendation for anti-virus software? I am (sigh) running Windows 10. McAfee just gave me a renewal notice, but I didn't even remember that I had bought it, and I don't have the password. Should I do password recovery for McAfee or try something else?

#860 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 09:19 PM:

I'm using Bitdefender. It seems to be okay.

#861 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2021, 01:22 AM:

Xopher @856

Yeah, that's another option. And maybe this is no longer the case and I'm grandfathered, but I have another address I can email files to that adds them to my Kindle account, accessible to all my devices.

The weird thing is, they do store my uploaded files. (Which is, as you say, more than you might expect, but the files are pretty tiny). If I add a file from my phone, it's accessible on my hardware Kindle. I can also delete the file and then re-download it. It's just not accessible to their web reader, except some files are.

I have two theories: one is that Amazon wants to be able to say this is something they do, but they don't want to encourage it. Two is that Amazon is very disorganized internally* and perhaps goes through intermittent periods where the team in charge of this stuff thinks it should be easy and other periods where someone else doesn't care and things break.

*I know enough people who've worked there, including in project management, to know that the disorganization is real.

#862 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2021, 11:49 AM:

Devin @861: Disorganization at Amazon is seen as a feature, not a bug -- at least, according to the article in the Wall Street Journal article on the closing of their health-care initiative Haven. It talks about their "fail fast" strategy and how they have several different groups working on any project at one time. This is unlikely to lead to consistency and reliability.

#863 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2021, 12:11 PM:

Thomas @855, it's a matter of preference, and I expect some like the originals better--such as they are (noting the difficulty in authoritative reconstruction). I prefer the Orff, though I will voluntarily listen to old stuffs quite happily.

I heard someone once say how disappointed he was to analyze his Carmina Burana, only to report that there were no delightful little harmonic innovations or structures to find. Remember, kids, when you set out to compose, be sure and put in some little games for the analyst to play. He gets lonely.

#864 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2021, 02:21 PM:

The BBC reports on the shaping of the "Western Mind". Interesting thesis: that the Western tendency to value conformity less is related to the Christian church's banning of close-kin and multiple marriages -- meaning that an organization that was becoming more hierarchical was also making people more independent-minded. Some of this may be rationalizing of an observation -- post hoc, ergo propter hoc -- but it's an interesting idea.

#865 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2021, 04:38 PM:

Tom @862

Yeah, I'm sure some MBA sold that line. And sure, there's some value to that in a lot of places: "move fast and break things" has a bad rep for good reason, but it's not a bad motto if you're doing low-stakes stuff. "Do the stupidest thing that could possibly work, then iterate until it does work" is similar.

But look, when your Prime Video team can't get testing accounts with Prime access (short of just pulling out a personal credit card) because the right hand and the left hand ain't on speaking terms? That's a problem.

#866 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2021, 05:51 PM:

Tom @ 862, Devin @ 865:

"Fail fast"/"Move fast and break things" are great strategies when you’re prototyping something and there’s a lot of value in knowing quickly if something will work at all.

However, once your products are ready for release to the public, your customers generally expect them NOT to break. (Customers of ACME products excepted.)

#867 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2021, 08:58 PM:

The biggest ACME consumer I'm aware of really seemed to expect them not to break. He looked surprised every time.

#868 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2021, 04:42 AM:

#859: Microsoft Defender is the only anti-virus software I can recommend on Windows. It is less obtrusive, more reliable, and whatever hacks were necessary for it to hook into the system, they were done by real Windows system engineers at Microsoft. It is free.

It's important to keep the anti-virus and the operating system up to date.

#869 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2021, 03:48 PM:

Y'know, I just recently posted elsewhere that the parallels between the bumpy rise of the Nazis and the long-drawn-out dragging-out of the Trump Administration were bugging me...why the hell did I have to be right about this of all things?

Please God let somebody in the new administration have read the right histories. This is not the time to wait for decency to reassert itself.

#870 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2021, 08:14 PM:

Jenny Islander: yeah. Lots of very interesting commentary out there, from Heather Cox Rixhardson and others; and the tweet streams of various Republican politicians are virulently vitriolic. The next few days will be very interesting in DC, that's for sure.

#871 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2021, 01:40 AM:

Next up: the claim that the rioters were actually secretly Antifa and anti-Trumpers, trying to make him look bad.

#872 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2021, 03:36 AM:

Jenny Islander @869: My aunt (who lives in Texas) and I were talking about this yesterday, while the rioters were being cleared. She was saying that it becomes easier and easier to see how Hitler came to power. My step-grandmother, as a young (Jewish) woman, went to one of Hitlers rallies, out of curiosity (a somewhat dangerous way to satisfy her curiosity!). She told me that he really fired up the crowd, that she could feel the atmosphere, even though she totally disagreed with everything he said. Good rabble-rousers, both Hitler and Trump.

Joel Polowin @871: Correct. The Guardian reports 'Florida Representative Matt Gaetz is now on the floor blaming antifa for the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol. Reminder that there is absolutely no proof whatsoever of any “antifa involvement” and all evidence points to anti-antifa involvement.' Comment from politics editor Matt Berman on Twitter: "Matt Gaetz is on the House floor now blaming antifa for the riots on the Capitol, to applause. Just in case there was question about today fundamentally changing things for House Republicans."

And 122 scumbag Republicans in the House of Representatives, plus six senators (Cruz, Hawley, Hyde-Smith, Marshall, Kennedy, Tuberville) still voting to sustain objection to Arizona election results. Even after seeing where this kind of undermining of the democratic system leads.

At least the senators withdrew their support from the objections to Georgia, Michigan, Nevada - although the GOP representatives still presented their objections. Appalling.

#873 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2021, 03:59 AM:

... and Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas still objected to the Wisconsin certification. According to The Guardian: 'He spools off a string of conspiracy theories about election irregularities.'

And 138 Republicans (68%!) in the House voted to sustain the objection to Pennsylvania's election results.

Words fail me.

#874 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2021, 07:23 AM:

dcb @ 873: Words don’t fail me. But as it’s a string of profanities, I won’t bother repeating them here.

#875 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2021, 10:57 AM:

20 years ago, we saw Rethuglican brownshirts shut down a count they were losing. Sometimes I think the most surprising thing is that it took so long for some scum to rise to the top and nationalize the violence.

OTOH, somebody is showing sense: the BBC reports that Twitter, having given the Cheetoh a 12-hour timeout for incitement, has said that future violations will result in his account being permanently shut down.

The next question is whether the new Senate will expel Hawley, who was caught on camera inciting the riot. I suppose that's too much to expect, even with McConnell playing Vicar of Bray.

#876 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2021, 11:41 AM:

I think that expulsion is too much to expect, but I'd like to see all of them (Senate *and* House) censured and lose all their seniority.

I now understand how my great-grandfather felt in the 1860s (41st Illinois: he hated Copperheads; snakes, not so much).

#877 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2021, 08:31 PM:

The Republicans are in kind of a forked stick, not that they care (it's a moral forked stick, and they have no morals). If they don't expel the seditionists and other criminals from their party, they become a criminal party (or at least a more-obviously-criminal party).

If they do expel the criminals, they'll be left with Mitt Romney.

#878 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2021, 09:10 PM:

The Wall Street Journal editorial board has just called for Trump to resign..

#879 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 12:50 AM:

I wonder if Trump will be stupid enough to offer a presidential pardon to everyone involved in the riot and invasion.

#880 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 01:33 PM:

Erik @852: Good King Wenceslaus can also be sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle and vice versa.

You can add Clementine and Ode to Joy to this family of interchangeable tunes. Speaking of which, I’d like to work on my pronunciation. Does anyone know where I can find a recording of a native German speaker reciting - not singing! - the words to Ode to Joy?

#881 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 01:35 PM:

On a completely different note....

AKICIML: I need a search term.

I have a basket of 20 unique things. I want to combine them into as many different sets of 3 as possible. The order of combination doesn't make a difference, that is, if I pick out A, B, and C from my basket, ABC=CBA=BAC etc. I know there's a formula for this out there somewhere, but I don't know what it's called. Can anybody drop me a hint?

#882 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 01:56 PM:

Jenny Islander@@881

I think the term you want is combinations.

(Permutations would be the term if order mattered.)

#883 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 03:00 PM:

Chris 880: And the Marine Corps Hymn ("From the halls of Montezuma...") and Mack the Knife.

All the wrong-tune combinations are funny, but personal favorites include the Clementine words with the Mack the Knife tune, and similarly Mack with OtJ (the syncopation on "FANNN-cy gloves though has MacHeath dear" particularly tickles me).

I boggled the time one of the Blind Boys of Alabama was on a live radio program, and sang Amazing Grace. Well, the words were Amazing Grace, but the tune was House of the Rising Sun. I have no idea whether he did this on purpose or not.

#884 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 03:08 PM:

Jenny 881; Michael 882: Yes, and specifically 20 choose 3. I Googled that and it gave me 1140, which is 2 greater than a fannishly-significant number.

I found this page demonstrating the calculation for what real mathheads apparently call 20C3.

#885 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 03:26 PM:

If you're wanting to think more generally about combinations, it's a pretty logical computation. There are 20 ways to pick the first item; 19 ways to pick the second, because you used one up the first time; and 18 ways to pick the third. If order is important, just multiply those 3 terms together. That gives you all the combinations of 3 possible.

But order isn't important here. So, how many of those are duplicates? If there were one term, then order wouldn't matter. If there are two, AB is the same as BA, so divide by 2. If there are three, there are 6 of each triple that come out the same (1x2x3, or 3! to math nerds). (ABC, ACB, BAC, BCE, CAB, CBA, if you want to see them all.) So you just divide that first number by 6.

The proof that this will always give you a whole number, rather than something including fractions, is pretty cool to me, but I won't go into it here.

#886 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 03:39 PM:

@884: Thank you! In the equation, the expression 3! means "3 times 2 times 1," correct?

@885: Numbers and I don't get along very well, unfortunately.

#887 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 04:19 PM:

For someone who doesn't like dogs, Trump has certainly been screwing the pooch a lot lately.

His crazy base seems divided between feeling betrayed by his video condemning the insurrection, and claiming it was a "deep fake."

I don't think, after the shit that went down, that even a last-minute pardon from Pence would save him from deep, deep, legal jeopardy. If there is any news that he ordered the National Guard to stay away, or if that he or his aids had contacts with the goons, that's full-blown actual . . . sedition? Treason?

In any case . . . he's finished. No more big-pocket donors. His endorsement will have negative worth, outside of deep red state districts, and Democrats are realizing that they can do what Stacey Abrams did *everywhere.* His businesses won't be loaned money, and . . . WHO WOULD STAY AT HIS HOTELS AND GOLF IN HIS RESORTS AFTER THIS?

* * *

The Indivisible Guide people have a new document out.

I know not everyone has the time or energy for activism work, now or in the near future. But please give this a look. A really detailed, savvy, and sober/realistic guide on how to be an effective advocate for democracy.

Sections: "Four Trifecta Lessons from 2009," "Fix Our Democracy," and "Know Your Member of Congress."

* * *
And finally:

Randy Rainbow cooked this up in TWO. DAYS.

#888 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 04:48 PM:

Jenny @881:

As Michael said, you are looking for combinations.

The formula, however, is called the "binomial formula". It is written either as two numbers stacked on top of each other surrounded by parenthesis (sort of like a fraction without the division line), or as a "C" with two numbers subscripted around it. Either way, it's pronounced "Choose", as in "20 choose 3" for your example. The number of bridge hands would be 52 choose 13.

The formula for "n choose k" is n!/(k!(n-k)!).

There is also the "multinomial formula", which is used when you are dividing a group into 3 or more sets, but I don't know if it has a better name or notation.

#889 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 05:28 PM:

Yes, Jenny Islander, 3! Is 3 times 2 times one.

The word for this is "factorial", and any number factorial is that number times (number-1) times (number-2) ... until you get to 2 times 1.

#890 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 05:33 PM:

Jenny 886: Yes, and it's called "three factorial."

Buddha 888: The number of bridge hands would be 52 choose 13.

Yes, but the number of possible bridge deals would be rather less, because you can't repeat cards in different hands within one deal.

I don't know how to calculate the number of possible bridge deals. I thought at first it would be 52!, but order doesn't matter within each group of 13. So using | to represent the boundary between two groups of 13,

A♥ J♥ | Q♠ 10♣
is identical to
J♥ A♥ | Q♠ 10♣
but not to
A♥ Q♠ | J♥ 10♣.

I do not know how to calculate that, but would like to.

#891 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 05:35 PM:


Yes. 3!=3x2x1

In general n!=nx(n-1)x ... x2x1

(where n is an integer, expression gets compressed together for n less than 4)

#892 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 05:48 PM:


I think the number of distinct bridge deals is 52!/[4(13!)]

Basically the number of possibilities for the first hand is 52!/(39!13!), the number of possibilities for the second hand (given the first) is 39!/(26!13!), and the number of possibilities for the third hand (given the first and second) is 26!/(13!13!), and the fourth hand is determined given the other three. So multiplying everything together gets us 52!/(13!13!13!13!)

#893 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 06:24 PM:

Michael 892: I'm confused. Usually putting two things next to each other means multiplying them, but if that's true of "(13!13!13!13!)" your top formula's denominator would be (13!)4, not 4(13!).

If 4(13!) is correct, did you mean (13!+13!+13!+13!)? Or am I just being duh-headed right now?

#894 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 06:24 PM:

Jenny Islander @881: Would you please clarify: are you wanting to know the number of ways of choosing 3 items out of 20, or the number of ways of splitting 20 items into multiple groups of 3 (presumably with 2 left over)?

#895 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 07:08 PM:

stefan jones @ 887: I think you're being optimistic. Trump may have picked three losers recently, but there are a lot of red states, and several that lean; given the fraction of the population that has been sucking down Trump's lies, he can probably pick the winner of a Republican primary in much of the US, and leave blind "conservatives" to vote for his choice or a "radical left-winger" -- and if he brings his nutjobs without driving away too many by harping on past "fraud"s the R can win. Wednesday's madness has peeled away some people, but I suspect not nearly enough.

#896 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 07:10 PM:


No, you're right. The denominator should be 13!13!13!13!, that is 13! to the fourth power.

#897 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 10:13 PM:

A quick way of finding M choose N when N is relatively small, is to make a fraction: in the numerator, start at M and count down N times, multiplying each time; then in the denominator start at 1 and count up N times.

So for example, 20 choose 3 is 20 * 19 * 18 / 1 * 2 * 3. You can then simplify that down to 20 * 19 * 3. (Which is 1140, if you were wondering.)

This tip comes from Jeff Rubens' book Expert Bridge Simplified. It applies to bridge because when comparing different lines of play it's sometimes useful to know, say, how many different doubletons there could be if the opponents hold six cards between them in a suit. So that's 6 * 5 / 1 * 2 == 15.

I was going to talk about how to calculate the number of bridge deals, but I see that Michael I. has beaten me to it. I agree with his calculation. Google helpfully tells me that this works out to 5.3644738e+28.

#898 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2021, 01:42 AM:

@894: The number of ways in which I can randomly select one group of 3 items from the basket, counting any arrangement of the same items as one thing. That is, if I grab A, M, T, then throw them back in, grab again, and get T, A, M, that counts as a repeat.

#899 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2021, 03:21 AM:

Just posted elsewhere via a Captcha and had to shake my head. I had to identify parking meters. Friend, if it doesn't look like the ones in Make Way for Ducklings, I got no idea. I don't live in Parking Meter Land, and I don't watch TV shows set there either. I guessed correctly, though.

#900 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2021, 09:59 AM:

Xopher @890,,

The way you could number of bridge deals is using the multinomial formula: When you want to divide n items into groups of size k,l,..,m (such that k+l+...+m = n), then the number of ways to do it is n!/(k!l!...m!)

So for bridge hands, that would be 52!/(13!13!13!13!).

For heads-up Texas Hold-em (which has 2 players with 2 hole cards, a 3-card "flop", and 1 card "river" and "street", with 43 cards remaining in the deck), that becomes 52!/(2!2!3!1!1!43!)

#901 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2021, 11:39 PM:

AKICIML: In a determined attempt to distract myself from All This Shit, I would like some help retrofitting a recipe.

I had planned to test-bake a lot of holiday bread recipes, but between injuries (plural) and a period of quarantine after my husband got the rona, it didn't happen. So I'm trying to catch up. This is traditionally the yuckiest part of our winter anyway, so some fragrant, tasty breads that are not too rich for me to eat would be nice.

I was able to find some holiday ingredients on clearance, but not canned or dairy eggnog. I would like to make a 2-pound loaf that calls for 3/4 cup of either one. The other ingredients are 1/3 cup water, an egg, 3 tablespoons butter, 4 cups bread flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 tablespoon yeast, and 1/2 cup mixed candied fruits and peels. What could I use as a substitute for the eggnog? I assume that beaten egg and milk would feature somehow--?

#902 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2021, 02:36 AM:

Jenny Islander #901
Try breaking an egg into a liquid measuring cup, stirring it, then fill to the 3/4 cup mark with milk. (or 2 eggs - but that would maybe be too rich)

Since you have nutmeg and sugar in the recipe, the first iteration would start without adding any extra of them.

I have just started baking again. (I learned to bake bread over a wood stove the summer I turned 16...) And I did get some of those candied peels. Think I will try your recipe too, thanks. I missed eggnog entirely this year.

#903 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2021, 12:25 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 897: the numbers I see in Frank Stewart's bridge column don't agree with binomial calculations -- not radically off, but more than rounding error. The late Harter suggested that Stewart's numbers were correct because binomial calculations of one suit don't allow for the effect of being part of a hand of fixed size. (Many years ago, before I ran into this, I came up with what I called Pascal's Tetrahedron, for odds of distribution in the other three hands during bidding, but I never worked out the formula (which I'm sure somebody has).)

Jenny Islander @ 901: the suggestion @902 sounds good for volume, but be sure to use whole milk, maybe even with some half-and-half mixed in; eggnog is supposed to be rich: I vaguely recall a recipe that was all half-and-half, although that was a drink-from-smaller-cups version.

#904 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2021, 12:26 PM:

Eggnog is usually fairly sweet, as well as having spicing. I think that it would be a significant contributor to the sweetness of the recipe as written, compared to the 3 tbsp of sugar. Unless you're intending to have a much-less-sweet loaf, I think you'd want to add more. If it were me, I'd wild-ass-guess by using 4 tbsp of sugar (¼ cup) instead of 3, as well as upping the nutmeg slightly. Or, of course, I'd look at the eggnog recipes in my cookbooks, and scale down to the equivalent of ¾ cup.

The Joy of Cooking recipe calls for 1 egg, 1 tbsp sugar, ¼ cup of cream, and ⅛ to ¼ cup of rum, brandy, or whisky, plus a few grains of salt. That would be ¾ cup, but not much like the commercial eggnog! They also have a "milk eggnog" recipe: 4 cups milk, 4 eggs, 4 tbsp confectioner's sugar or honey, 1 tsp vanilla or grated orange or lemon rind, sprinkle with nutmeg. That would give about 5 cups, so scale down by a factor of about 7: call it ½ cup milk and 1 egg, and 2 tsp sugar plus a few drops of vanilla etc. Closer to the commercial stuff, but still probably much less sweet; if you're trying to emulate commercial eggnog, you'd probably want to use more sugar than that.

#905 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2021, 01:09 AM:

Jenny Islander@898: The number for that is 1140, as I worked out just above you in 897.

CHip@903: I'm not quite sure what you're talking about? Do you mean stuff like the probability of a 4-2 split vs. 3-3? Because yeah, if you just go binomial on that you're going to be a bit off: binomial numbers always assume that a card being dealt to one opponent or the other is 50-50, but since hands are fixed to 13 cards, if one opponent has received the first 4 cards, the chances of the other two going to the other opponent are enough larger than 50% to matter.

#906 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2021, 06:10 PM:

I've got a bottle of rather sweet commercial eggnog whose nutritional info shows 34 g of sugar per cup. My 1% milk has 12 g of sugar per cup. The difference is 22 g per cup. Scale to ¾ of a cup to get 16.5 g, or just about 4 tsp or 1⅓ tbsp.

#907 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2021, 08:46 PM:

@905: Thanks! I think you were responding to my response to Joel Polowin's request for clarification though.

@902, 903, 904, 906: Thank y'all very much. I only drank eggnog once, a long time ago. Sounds like melted ice cream. But I am putting this amount into a 2-pound loaf, so it shouldn't be too strong. Will report back.

#908 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2021, 01:32 AM:

I see that there are some SF writers who were cheering on the attempted coup attempt last week. There should be consequences. No more convention invitations. No more convention panels. Publishers should refuse to publish their works. If they belong to SFWA they should be expelled. Unfriend them on FB. Make them realize that treason hurts your bottom line.

#909 ::: bingGo ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2021, 08:13 AM:

I want to make a book about Home design and Decoration, and also about Technology.

but I am confused, how do I get started.

until finally I found a way, namely by writing it on the website so that other people could read it for free

This is my little website, maybe someone will want to Visit

#910 ::: Buddha Buck Sees Spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2021, 08:18 AM:

There was a blog that had some spam,
and bingGo was its name-o...

#911 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2021, 10:46 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 905: yes, that's what I was speaking of. I suppose in most cases a difference of a percentage point or two doesn't really matter, e.g. today's column dissed a 50% try (finesse) vs a play that binomial says is 68% to succeed: it depended on a suit breaking no worse than 4/2 and another no worse than 3/1. He didn't bother quoting odds, possibly on the certainties that the hand was going down if either of those bad breaks happened and that taking the finesse would preclude playing for the less-unusual breaks.

@910: [snortle]

#912 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2021, 11:18 AM:

Robert Glaub @908: "I see that there are some SF writers who were cheering on the attempted coup attempt last week."

(As noted in File770 yesterday.)

To put the blindingly obvious on the record:

It's the same writers who were cheering on a (virtually) violent reactionary mob to (figuratively) storm the Hugo vote five years ago. While shouting about censorship. The rhetoric hasn't changed a whit, and the tactics have only become more literal.

#913 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2021, 12:26 AM:

CHip@911: Here's an example of where the actual percentages are a bit off from a strict binomial calculation. "No worse than 4-2" is 84%, and "no worse than 3-1" is 90%, so both of those together is about 71%, a little better than you're saying. In any case, noticeably better than a straight-up finesse.

#914 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2021, 09:00 PM:

If I may vent:


Late last year, after talking about it for some time, the non-profit where I work finally had somebody take a look at the front office computer. It's an old tower that (at the time) was running Windows 7 and the latest standalone copy of Office that Windows 7 could handle. It did everything I needed it to do, and it didn't seem slow to me. But everybody else said it was a snail.

Hey, said our IT guy, there are plenty of open slots for make-it-go-faster parts in this tower. I just take it to my shop, clean it out real good, put in the make-it-go-faster parts, and you're good to go!

All right! I said. Great! I ran the usual data backups and left for the weekend.

The next Monday, the computer did indeed start as quick as clicking your fingers.

In Windows 10.

Oh, look, Cortana. (spit) Oh, look, rotating ads on the Startup menu. Oh, look, the photo gallery in the section titled "Productivity." Oh, look, capsule weather forecasts from some company that scrapes NOAA data and repackages it.

Oh, look, Office won't start. 90 percent of my job, pfft, gone.

Did I ask them to "upgrade" (ha ha ha ha) to Windows Fricking Selling You Everything Distract-O-Matic 10? No I did not.

So for the past TWO MONTHS I have had to do my job around a list of shite including, but not limited to:

* Having to explain to the IT guy, in person, why somebody who is JUST TRYING TO DO THEIR JOB does not want ads for new aaaaaaaaaaps or "helpful" popups from (spit) Cortana. Don't worry; I was nice. I did a lot of deep breathing, but I was nice.

* Printer not on network. Wifi cannot do the thing. IT guy had to research how to make the printer and computer talk to each other with an actual cable, because it isn't as easy as it used to be.

* Printer driver HP sent over the Intertubes only does black and white. It's a color printer. More research.

* Attempted, for my sins, to talk to Actual Microsoft about something. First they tried to open a chat window in Edge, which promptly crashed. Then the bot connected me to some guy in Mumbai, who couldn't hear me. Gave up, called IT guy.

* Had to purchase an all-new standalone copy of Office because although the last one could have run in Windows 10, it had been donated by a volunteer, who had lost the registry information, which was the thing we needed in order to make it work again. (Standalone, because Cloud? Ah ha ha ha ha no.)

* Had to put a fake identity in the computer that directly quoted the non-profit's email address of record because in order to use that standalone copy of Microsoft you have to have an official Microsoft login on your startup screen for the full Microsoft experience Microsoft Microsoft Microblaaaaaagh. I never sign in as ouremailaddress at our local ISP dot net. It just has to be there. Hyuh whudever.

* Had to have IT Guy reinstall that standalone copy TWICE because something was screwed up. Can't even remember what now.

* Couldn't print for two weeks; had to email everything to a volunteer who had the right software.

* The second reinstallation was part of a complete wipe and redo of our shiny new solid-state drive. Which required me to back up the massive Outlook data file, which I do twice a week anyway, and then point Shiny New Outlook toward it so it would stop looking in Microsoft Exchange for email from our local ISP. I followed the steps, but even though the new data file was marked as the default, Outlook was still trying to get our email from Microsoft Exchange.

* So the IT guy had to come in AGAIN.

* At last I sat down to do my job. And that's when I discovered that the importation process had destroyed everything I had done in Outlook since July 22, 2020. Saved emails. Updates to the master contact list and the various mass email lists. The task list, including the detailed instructions I had written for every task in my work week, so that anybody can pick up this job if I'm out sick. Six months' work, gone.

* I also had to reinstall the printer driver myself, after that last superwipe. I just shrugged and went with the standard process--luckily HP sent the right driver the first time--and crossed my fingers. It worked.

* Yesterday.


Windows fracking 10. "Oh, but Windows 7 is no longer supported!" Neither is Windows 10. Just ask the guy in Mumbai.

#915 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2021, 09:47 PM:

Win10 recognizes my printer. It just doesn't want to print using it, for one or another reason. It's a wired printer, because I. Do. Not. Want. Wireless.
F*ck Microsoft's "better ideas". They need to run them by actual users, not corporate IT types who always have time and always have the latest equipment. (The place where I worked was using XP long after it was supposed to be dead - because we have specialized software. Our software guys belong to our department, not to IT, which only does hardware for us.)

#916 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2021, 09:49 PM:

And one of the pics I had posted in my cube was a Titanoceratops skeleton, because dammit, I *am* a dinosaur.

#917 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2021, 10:15 PM:

P J Evans @ 914, 915, 916:
Oh my stars and buttons, what a truly hideous and anonying lot of 'fun' with technology! It's reminding me that I went from dreading OS upgrades to looking forward to them, and now back to dreading them again, because they inevitably break/change/render impossible something I've come to depend on. You have all my sympathies!

#918 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2021, 10:57 PM:

xeger, I'm seriously considering going back to Win7 or even XP (which I liked). I'd get a tablet for surfing the net. Too many of my programs won't run with Win10, some don't like Win7, and one prefers Win98. (I have a machine that runs it.)

#919 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2021, 10:59 PM:

Met via Diane Duane's twitter:
How to get an N95-type fit in cloth/paper masks with three rubber bands (and a paper clip)

#920 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2021, 01:25 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 913: do the odds always lean away from the more extreme distributions, as in these cases?

Jenny Islander @ 914: I feel your pain; Windows 10, with all its rearrangements, was the price I paid for a laptop that could keep up with my browsing habits. Did anyone consider where LibreOffice (successor to OpenOffice) was an acceptable replacement for MSOffice? it's slow, but after the speed-up that shouldn't be a factor. It also sounds like whoever dumped W10 on you did not do nearly enough to shut out its obnoxious aspects (e.g. Cortana); I followed directions from my-partner-who-was-the-alpha-geek-at-her-last-job at initial startup, so I can't give you retrofit pointers, but some of that crap should be fixable. (In a just world, your boastful IT guy would spend a weekend researching the fixes.)

I wonder whether part of the problem with each new set of bells and whistles is not that they are proposed and tested by geeks, but that they are proposed by Marketing as selling points; as someone who's had to fix a Marketing idea so it would comply with privacy laws, their not considering consequences seems plausible to me. That still doesn't excuse not testing on relatively naive users.

#921 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2021, 02:32 PM:

I be-grubbed myself looking up the email contact forms for Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax, the big conservative / alternate reality cable "news" networks.

I wrote them, imploring them to tone down the "lost election" rhetoric, for the sake of national unity and safety.

If you want to do the same:

Fox News:

I'm not without hope that they'll start to pivot. One of the networks that runs conservative talk shows told its hosts to stop spreading the stolen election lie.

#922 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2021, 04:22 PM:

@920: I love LibreOffice, and I suspect that it would do everything I need it to do--except the things that Outlook does. I have yet to find a powerful, flexible stand-alone replacement for Outlook. I need something, or a set of programs, that can:

* Handle an extensive, periodically recurring task list, preferably accompanied by exhaustive notes in case a volunteer has to pick up my job on short notice (I have rigged LibreOffice Calc to handle this for me at home, but that's a much smaller elephant)

* Manage a simple printable calendar (ditto)

* Send and receive emails while keeping both a master email contact file and assorted mailing lists of various sizes (Our ISP could handle this part directly...but it's perceptibly slow because they're on the mainland, and when they were offline I would not be able to see saved emails or contact lists)

#923 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2021, 05:57 PM:

One software tool that I'd love to have would manage recurring tasks with priority levels that were not only flexible but programmable. For example: Watering the house plants, as a weekly task, starts out as a medium priority, but as I leave it unfinished, that priority gradually rises. Renewing a driver's license would have a different priority curve. A reminder to get out and vote would have a curve that maxed out on voting day, and then dropped off the list: no longer relevant.

#924 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2021, 08:55 PM:

The head of the volunteer executive council stopped by today to ask me if the fix that the IT guy had (yet again) applied to the printer-computer connection was holding. I said it was, and thanks.

There was a pause. " is faster, right?"

I very cheerfully told him yes. "Do not ever do that again" was, I hope, implied. (He had signed off on the "upgrade.")

#925 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2021, 09:11 PM:

Jenny Islander @924 -- I think that that would be a sentiment better made explicit, if there's any chance that it might not be known and understood. "Yes, it's faster. Now. But overall, that improvement doesn't begin to approach all of the negatives."

#926 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2021, 10:11 PM:

Mike Ford's "Scholars of Night" is available for pre-order - it's supposed to come out in late September.

#927 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2021, 01:02 AM:

CHip@920: Yes. Imagine that you're dealing out the cards one at a time. Each card has an equal chance of going into any of the vacant spaces...but as the spaces fill up that altars the probabilities. The first card is obviously 50-50; but imagine you're dealing six cards, and five of them have gone into one hand. Now the chance of the sixth card going into that hand is 8/21, and into the other hand is 13/21. So the 6-0 break (and the 5-0 that was a precondition for it, for that matter) is going to be less likely than you'd get from ignoring that factor and just running the numbers assuming it's always 50-50. And it's easy to see why this will always nudge the chances towards the more even splits and away from the more extreme ones.

As an example, take that 5-0 break. There are two possible 5-0 distributions, so the binomial probability is 2/32, 6.25%. The actual odds given 13-card hands are a bit under 4%.

#928 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2021, 01:43 AM:

@925: I have been documenting everything that goes wrong in emails to the council president, CC anybody else in the organization whose volunteer job has been affected by my inability to do MY job.

All very politely.

Everything. That. Goes. Wrong.

The council president is very very sorry.

#929 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2021, 01:53 AM:

Still can't figure out why a group of hlepful icons that includes a rotating gallery of snippets from your photos is titled "Productivity." Oh, look, pictures from the How To Use This Particular Piece of Equipment For Dummies handbook that somebody put together. Sure helps me be productive as I do something on the other end of the building from that equipment!

#930 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2021, 08:55 PM:

Jenny Islander @ 928 ...
> The council president is very very sorry.

Thank you so much for that lovely description and the continuing snickers it's produced over here. It's been a Very Long Day, and that helped a lot!

#931 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2021, 09:06 PM:

Via File770:
Ursula K Le Guin will be getting a postage stamp this year. (It's for 3 ounces, so about $1.50 value.)

#932 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2021, 09:30 PM:

P J Evans @ #931: Via File770: Ursula K Le Guin will be getting a postage stamp this year.

Huzzah. May it not prove to be occasion for the kind of coverage that the HG Wells commemorative coin has been getting at File770 lately.

#933 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2021, 10:41 PM:

Paul A. @ 932 -- I hadn't heard about that. Good grief. I'm not terribly stressed about the top hat instead of the wide-brimmed hat, but that the Martians' machines were tripods is iconic. The misquotation is unfortunate.

In the spirit of "market research" of a sort... what do you folks think of the idea of an automatic stirring device that would go inside a microwave oven, but limited to very slow stirring of not-very-viscous liquids?

#934 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2021, 11:38 PM:

A portrait of her, and a scene from "Left Hand of Darkness". It's by Donato Giancola, and it's very nice.

#935 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2021, 06:43 AM:

Jenny Islander @914 et sequelae: Can you install (or get someone to install) Classic Shell? First thing I did when I got Win10, as I HATED the start screen with the blocks and everything. I've not seen that thing since, thankfully. There's some good info about both getting the classic start menu and using Classic Shell here. And here's the Classic Shell page.

#936 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2021, 12:26 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 927: can you point to a discussion of what makes the odds specifically 8:13 (as opposed to any other ration less than 1:1)? I don't know whether I'll be able to follow it, but I'd like to try -- my calculus (what little I studied) is effectively gone, but I might still have some of the mix of topics that were taught (at least when I were a lad, back in the Old Oölitic Silurian) after the 3 required years of algebra/geometry/trigonometry but before calculus.

The net-based degeneration of practically everything: try googling "is there life on mars cable one thousand words". When done with the quotes, the top citations claim that Hearst sent this to Arthur C. Clarke rather than Percival Lowell. (Inserting "please" gets citations that don't name the recipient; leaving off the quotes gets variable results.) Yes, Hearst and Clarke overlapped chronologically -- but their careers don't.

#937 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2021, 01:39 PM:

Stirring device: it would have to work something like my ice cream maker does, like a thing coming down from the top of the microwave and staying still while the turntable rotates. Sizing would be potentially difficult, but if you match the container to the stir stick, that's done. I wouldn't use it because it's one more thing to clean and most liquid microwaving I do is soup that's gone cold while I eat it.

#938 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2021, 02:46 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 927: Never Mind -- figured it out over today's column, for no obvious reason.

#939 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2021, 07:32 PM:

For all those complaining about Windows (sucks rocks), I just got a Chromebook. I realized I was doing 90% of my computing/internetting/etc on my android phone. So when my HP Wintel machine bricked itself (here, let me upgrade that fo*crash*), I went Chrome. Having a real keyboard to create typos instead of one-finger typos is very cool.

#940 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2021, 09:23 AM:

@933, I could see a way to easily Rube-Goldberg something like that together. A quadrapod frame, made of microwave safe plastic, the legs of which sit on the corners outside the turntable. From center of the criss-cross brace at the top, mount a stirring stick or paddle that hangs down into the liquid you're stirring. You could easily 3D print something like this, with a little research on which plastics are both food-safe and microwave-safe. Heck, you might be able to build it out of chopsticks and wood glue.

But I'm wondering at the application. What would you be microwaving that requires stirring while cooking?

#941 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2021, 11:55 AM:

Diatryma @937, Cassy @940: That's more or less what I had in mind.

Not infrequently, I need to heat a container of liquid to boiling, but the microwave oven heats the top much more strongly than the rest. I end up having to periodically stop the oven and stir. This is especially tedious when I'm trying to cook something like a pudding, i.e. a liquid with a thickening agent that settles to the bottom after a few seconds. Without frequent stirring, I end up with a blob of rigid gunk on the bottom of the container as the thickener all cooks together. A work-around in some cases is to heat the liquid to boiling and then quickly stir in the thickener, but that carries its own set of inconveniences and leaves me with the problem of having to stir the liquid (albeit less frequently) to get it all to boiling.

#942 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2021, 02:01 PM:

When I tried to cook a single serving of oatmeal in the microwave, I got disastrous steam explosions, as in more than half the oatmeal out of the bowl and all over the inside of the microwave. This was in a pyrex dish with a substantial glass lid. I tried different power settings, microwaving for a shorter time and stirring, but it just was the nature of the thing to explode. So I cook oatmeal on the stovetop. An effective stirring device would be awesome. It would require substantial force to stir oatmeal. Maybe rocket powered, like Hero of Alexandria's design?

The microwave works great for making polenta. It's not sticky like oatmeal, so it doesn't get steam pockets and go boom.

Now I got an electric pressure cooker, and I realized sometime I need to stir the soup. But how to do that without stopping the thing?

#943 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2021, 04:44 PM:

AKICIML: I have one of those tire inflators that is powered by the car--? You plug it in while the car is running, unscrew the cap from the little hose that comes out of the tire, pop a hollow plastic connector onto it (the connector is on the end of a longer hose that sticks out of the tire inflator), flip a big thumb-switch on the back of that connector to seal, read the pressure from the digital gauge, and then push the ON button to inflate to the desired PSI, watching the gauge climb as you do so.

My problem is that as soon as I push the OFF button, the digital pressure gauge begins to drop, back to the level it was at when I first connected the inflator.

So...did I break it? The manual (a double-sided sheet of paper) is not informative.

#944 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2021, 07:37 PM:


The trick to preparing oatmeal in the microwave is to get the water boiling before you add it to the oatmeal. At least, it works for us.

J Homes

#945 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2021, 11:06 PM:

There are oatmeals that are intended for microwave cooking. If they require you to provide a container, I use one that holds more than the finished amount - a two-cup bowl, or a 12-oz mug. (I like "Better oats" brand. They used to have a lot more flavors.)

#946 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2021, 08:37 AM:

When I microwave oatmeal, I use a wide shallow bowl instead of a mug. The larger surface area at the top seems to lessen the force of the explosions.

#947 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2021, 08:40 AM:

TomB @ 942: Microwaving oatmeal works better for me *without* covering it, but I have to do it 30 to 45 seconds at a time, rather than continuously, and stir when I interrupt the cooking. If it were less annoying to wash the pan, I'd go back to doing it on the stove.

#948 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2021, 02:01 PM:

Jenny @943: It's possible. There's a rubbery gasket inside the connector that seals against the tire stem. Over time the threads on the stem can tear up that gasket to the point that it no longer seals properly. I don't know if it's possible to replace that gasket; I can't recall ever seeing replacements for sale but I haven't specifically looked for them either.

If that's the issue you're having and you don't want to replace the pump, you can just over-inflate the tire by a few pounds & then pop the connector off as quick as you can. That's what I used to do when I was having that problem.

#949 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2021, 07:39 PM:

@948: Thank you. I was just inflating the third tire ever with this thing when it made a loud spitting noise and started doing what I described above. This is actually the second one that's done this. And I didn't save the proof of purchase...

So either I am a lot rougher on tire inflators than I should be, or I need to spring for the good stuff at Napa and quit buying tire inflators at Walmart. Either way, I'll use your trick to keep it going until I can replace it.

#950 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2021, 09:07 AM:

@946/947: yes, and also using less power in successive cycles. For myself, I wouldn't do stovetop, as I'd be unsure about the porridge scorching while I'm doing other prep (e.g., packing lunch), while a microwave can be set to stop heating and the porridge can be stirred when I get back to it. NB: in place of all-oats I was doing a plurality-oats five-grain cereal which was less likely to blow up like bubble gum (cf @942 re polenta) -- and I haven't done this in a couple of years as it was from a local mfr who seems to have packed up.

#951 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2021, 10:15 AM:

My go-to for oatmeal cooking is a slow cooker. I used to make batches to bring into work on "donut and bagel Friday," as a healthy alternative. Two cups steel cut, six cups water, set to low and cooked through the night. I'd stir it when I got up to pee. On arriving at the office, I'd add a little water, set it to high and stir.

I bought, at Goodwill, a mini slow cooker, should I ever wish to make overnight batches.

It is VERY easy to re-hydrate and re-heat oatmeal in the microwave. Just requires a lot of stirring.

#952 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2021, 11:27 PM:

I just had my first thoroughly satisfying workday in about two months! Before, even with all of the (spit) Microsoft nonsense, I had been deriving some work satisfaction from being in control of my work environment because I'm the only person there (...thanks, COVID?), so I could adjust everything for my sensory issues in ways that neurotypicals generally don't like. But today, for the first time since the "upgrade," I was able to get back to my routine of doing, not only the stuff that needs done daily, not only the stuff that needs done weekly, but also my Elephants. There are three of them:

* Reorganizing the files to a numbered system, with a printed file guide, matching data files in the front office computer, and a file retention schedule--so we'll know where to freaking find things, and we'll be able to get rid of reams of useless paper from that one volunteer who saved everything in triplicate, and we'll have paper backups for electronic files that may be unreadable in 10 years but need to be retained

* Sorting and recycling/shredding a stack of useless files that is currently about 5 feet high--this would normally be outsourced, but waves hands COVID

* Completing, then printing, a step-by-step handbook for my job, because currently if I am home sick nobody can do anything (I had this about half done and then MICROSOFT)

The only way I can deal with any of the Elephants is 10 or 15 minutes per day until done. With all of the catchup I've had to do from finding mess after mess when I came to work, I have had to leave them aside. But today! Today!!! I actually did all three tasks. And I can't tell you how satisfying it is to see all three literal or metaphorical piles get smaller.

I am going to convert this office from a half-shambolic mess to a turnkey operation with a complete and clear set of directives or so help me.

(Full credit to my immediate predecessor, who turned my workspace from the entirely shambolic mess it had been before into a merely half-shambolic mess, plowing through 10 years of mismanagement in about 8 months. The remaining mess is, at least, contained in discrete areas and it is possible to get into the back office. Yes, it was that bad.)

#953 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2021, 12:11 AM:

Yahoo! That feeling of getting something done that you knew needed to be done, but no one else quite understood the need!

#954 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2021, 03:02 PM:

I'm glad I got up to watch the inauguration. I got a sense that we might hear a lot more fact-based information from the White House, and that there is some hope for diversity in the US. And the verbal play of the language in the Young Poet Laureate's presentation was wonderful. A little hope in a time of darkness.

#955 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2021, 12:06 PM:

Jenny Islander @914: This describes in spirit if not depressing detail, my WFH Life Since Covid. Latest variant: I use my Mac for a lot of stuff (on a segregated partition). I put off updating to Big Sur to give the new OS a chance to shake down. (Meant to do it over Xmas but—How the Hell can you be too busy for two freakin' weeks of time off when you live alone????) But in the meantime discovered that my Apple login is borked because of "Security Questions" I have no least memory of setting, and haven't the clue to answers for. (Will spare you details of the entirely unhelpful service call with the kind but less than helpful service tech.) One consequence: software isn't updating automatically, and now suddenly my work OneDrive account isn't being recognized by my Mac. The Profanity, it is loud and abundant with this one. & also: that IT guy needs to be strung up by his thumbs.

& this-all also pertains to my generalized on-going fury/loathing of this MacBook which I bought a year and a half ago after I accidentally dumped water into my old loyal & true '09-vintage MacBook. I've lost count of the number of times this thing has not sailed through my closed living room window on a flat, high-velocity ballistic.</sympathies>

& @952: Woo hoo!! Actual Successful Task Completion is a glorious thing. (Something that I've found in short supply for a very long time.)

Lin Daniel @939: Having a real keyboard to create typos instead of one-finger typos is very cool.

*Splorfl*! Can confirm. I also have my own endogenous auto-carrot.

Tom Whitmore @954: There was an Actual Press Conference. Containing (omfg) Actual True Facts!! I didn't see it, but the hosanas ringing out over Twitter were something to see.

#956 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2021, 10:57 AM:

This is . . . brilliantly performed, funny, and wonderfully, wonderfully cathartic:

I must have watched this a dozen times.

#957 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2021, 12:20 PM:

There's a hard-to-google book I'm trying to remember.

It's a comic spy novel in which Tibetan magic is used to turn spies into knick knacks so they can do covert surveillance. I think it was called The Secret Service.

It's at least a decade old. Chunky trade paperback with a white cover.

#958 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2021, 02:41 PM:

Found it. _The Secret Service_ by Wendy Walker.

#959 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2021, 11:25 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 956: that is indeed pleasant. And then there's this one I found in File:770 -- no new lyrics, but heavy on tech. Most of the instances are instantly recognizable, but I'm blanking on the monument at :40 - :44

Nancy Lebovitz: so is it any good, or was it just something itching in memory? (I'm slurping up books at an appalling rate thanks to being down two choral rehearsals and 3-4 practices from normal for this time of year; since I'm retired, I'm not spending extra work hours dealing with the slowness of Zoom conferences.) This sounds fun, but could so easily fail....

AKICIML: does anyone who was watching/hearing the inauguration know what the band played immediately before "The Stars and Stripes Forever"? Slowish march, starts with low brass, then high brass, followed by brisker music (same tempo, fewer long notes) that makes the opening sound like it ought to be the bridge in a larger piece. Might be Sousa but ISTM it's more harmonically interesting than anything I know is by him.

#960 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2021, 02:24 PM:

I'd only read a little of The Secret Service, but it's on my to-read list now.

It seems to be quite a rare book. I don't see any of them for sale online.

#961 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2021, 03:00 PM:

Chip @ 959:

Thank you for asking, as it got my mind back on that piece as well. I recognized it at the time (and was able to hum along), but couldn’t put a name to it.

After listening again, I'm pretty sure the piece is Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse. According to Wikipedia, written by Paul Cezano (lyrics) and Robert Planquette (music) in 1870.

I think the reason I didn’t recognize it at first is because the arrangement I'm used to hearing is for brass and percussion with no woodwinds. Specifically, it’s the music the Ohio State Marching Band uses for its famous Script Ohio formation.

#962 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2021, 03:07 PM:

Stefan Jones, #956--Thanks.

#963 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2021, 12:22 PM:

Singing Wren @ 961: interesting, but not the piece I heard, which started out (or maybe had a bridge) much more somber and slow (low brass phrase imitated in high brass). I don't hear those phrases in either version of Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse that I checked. Possibly I missed something between it and tSaSF.

#964 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2021, 12:02 AM:

I wasn't watching in real time, but this page has programs of what they intended to play (which, per the page, could have changed).

For instance, I don't see Stars and Stripes Forever in there, but there's some Sousa. I didn't watch the music in real time.

I read a couple of articles about a composer whose fanfare was used. I also see that Adolphus Hailstork, who was our celebrity composer when I lived in the Norfolk, VA, area.

#965 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2021, 12:05 AM:

Aw. I should have gone ahead and guessed! The familiar march seems to have been Bagley's "National Emblem March," and they only played the trio. Per this PDF (from the same source as my previous post):

#966 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2021, 06:55 PM:

That's it! The web of course has a recording:, starting at 1:52. I'm ridiculously pleased that I was right about it not starting at the beginning; Wikipedia says The U.S. military uses the trio section as ceremonial music for the entry of the ceremony's official party. which would explain why this less-martial bit is so familiar. (W also says that Sousa listed it with two of his when asked for the three best marches.) Thank you for digging that out!

#967 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2021, 08:31 PM:

The march sometimes known as "The Monkey Wrapped His Tail Around the Flag Pole"!

#968 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2021, 09:20 PM:

Microwave adventures... When I heated commercial eggnog in a glass measuring cup to what appeared to be just-boiling, and added some cornstarch-mixed-with-milk, I wasn't expecting it to foam up and pour all over the counter and onto the floor. Superheated, evidently. I'd have expected that the eggnog would have had enough particulates, and the old measuring cup to have enough micro-roughness, to prevent that.

#969 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2021, 11:03 PM:

Xopher @883: 'I boggled the time one of the Blind Boys of Alabama was on a live radio program, and sang Amazing Grace. Well, the words were Amazing Grace, but the tune was House of the Rising Sun. I have no idea whether he did this on purpose or not.'

Very likely (unless what you heard was the inception of it); it seems to be a standard part of TBBoA's repertoire.

How do I know this? AKICIML, archive edition: a couple of months back, a spammer hit (as spammers are wont to do) a thread from long ago (link goes to a relevant comment). As I am wont to do, since ML's mechanics allow us to get this particular silver lining from spam, I read the thread, and sought out an instance (and went down a pleasant rabbithole in the process, as one does).

So, as you can see, you have your past self to thank for the ready answerability of your implicit question :-)!

#970 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2021, 12:34 AM:

And of course "House of the Rising Sun" started life as an alternative tune for "Matty Groves" — at least, so I've read.

#971 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2021, 10:44 AM:

SunflowerP 969: Thank you!

It's fascinating that no one in that thread, including me, appears to have noticed that the following verse can be sung to the verse tune of "Gaudete":

Nimium cervisi
Ebriat tirones
Non opportet fieri
Vappas nebulones

I intend to do this the next time I'm in a group singing "Gaudete."

#972 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2021, 01:51 AM:

I usually lurk but this video is delightful and I immediately thought of the hamster aficionados here.

Hamster prison break - wow, seriously. Looks to me like the protagonist is having a fun time. Hope the link works

#973 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2021, 11:16 AM:

stefan jones @956: Brilliant, and still satisfying even ten days later. Reposted back to Twitter. Now I wanna see him team up with Randy Rainbow.

Kip Williams @965: Interesting how National Emblem March quotes the Star Spangled Banner. (Which also evokes Anchors Aweigh, now that I think of it.)

CHip @966: Thank you for the time cue. Yeah, I was guessing Sousa also; definitely very similar. Unsurprising, since he and Bagley were contemporaries.

Joel Polowin @968: I wasn't expecting it to foam up and pour all over the counter and onto the floor. Superheated, evidently.

It didn't superheat; you just woke it up and it tried to escape. (Why, yes, I have been reading too much Damaris Brisco, why do you ask?)

I speculate that the concoction + heat somehow invoked the cornstarch fluid's non-Newtonian properties.

Paging Tom Whitmore: In your capacity as body-worker, what flavor specialist would you recommend to debug a wonky ankle? My right one is serviceable, but starts to get annoyed when I do yoga, and I'd like to talk it into knocking that the F off. Thanks!

#974 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2021, 12:50 PM:

Jacque -- that's definitely Physical Therapist territory. Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get most of it paid for: PTs are covered in pretty much all states, i believe, with a doctor's prescription, and sometimes without. They're likely to prescribe specific exercises after they've done an assessment. Some of this can be done virtually; I'd recommend finding one that encourages you to check in regularly as to how things are working (which should be most of them!). The exercises may change over time as you both find out what works and what doosn't, for you. Good luck with it.

#975 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2021, 02:11 PM:

Aagh ...

We had some basement flooding last weekend. A water main break on the next street over created flooding for a few houses. It wasn't a lot of water - no more than an inch deep most places - and the shop vac got most of it out. Our basement is cluttered, to say the least. My husband is working his way through the stuff. Things in plastic bins or on shelves are fine, but we had a few cardboard boxes and some plastic milk crates that did not protect their contents. Just turned up a couple of crates with books that hadn't gotten onto the shelves and were resting on the floor. Some are only slightly damp; some are pretty unsalvageable.

I'm finding that the books divide into several categories in terms of need/desire to replace.

1. This individual book is not replaceable. Fortunately, only one of these so far - my autographed copy of Bujold's Paladin of Souls - and it's got only minor damp on the cover and will dry out okay.

2. This was purchased in hardcover because it was the next in a series I like, but it can be replaced with a paperback (if others in the family read the series) or an ebook. In fact, there are a few where I already have the ebook.

3. This will be hard to replace but I probably can (out of print and/or purchased used).

4. If I'd gotten to a book purge I would probably have given this away anyway.

5. This has been on my TBR pile for a long time and I'll put it on the list to purchase again, but not until I think I'm actually going to read it this time.


#976 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2021, 04:25 PM:

I understand that one thing that can be done with wet books is stick them in a freezer - it will gradually dry them out.

These days, I get physical books if
1) they aren't available in my preferred e-book format
2) they're craft or cookbooks that will be used much

But even then, there are books I have in both formats. ("The Essential NY Times Cookbook", which is fun to read, as well as usable. Green tea ice cream from the 1880s, for instance.)

#977 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2021, 04:37 PM:

Mea @972: That's lovely; thank you. Both the protagonist and the artist were clearly having fun.

P J Evans @976: Ideally a "frost free" freezer, I should think. Something that temperature cycles, to get the maximum possible freezer burn, essentially. I'm not sure if it would be more effective to leave the book out in the open or to put it in a closed container with a drying agent such as silica gel. Unquestionably the latter would be safer with respect to avoiding having food spilled on the book as well as damage to the book from being knocked around. Dry rice is not an effective drying agent; that's a myth.

#978 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2021, 08:10 PM:

Fridge would work, but slower. It's the dehydration that comes with the frost-free, yes. (I've made raisins in the fridge. Put the grapes on a pie tin and stashed them in the fridge where they wouldn't get stuff put on them. Worked fine.)

#979 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2021, 08:11 PM:

OtterB: Friend of mine lost about half his (substantial) library that way when local authorities decided to let a flood-control reservoir overflow (this was Houston), and his neighborhood got about a foot of standing water. Two-story house, but his library was still partly stacked up in boxes in the ground-floor living room, waiting to be schlepped upstairs to the designated bedrooms.

Given that he self-medicates with his library the way some folks do with drugs & alcohol...he was not a happy camper.

Based on my experience with my aged but loyal-and-true not-frost-free freezer, frost free is definitely the way you'd want to go. Stuff rimes up even in tightly sealed containers in my fridge, so you definitely want to give the water someplace to go in preference to the book.* Seems likely Google & YouTube would have detailed tips. I believe one can also alleviate the wrinkling of the pages by pressing the book, if you have extremely stiff flat things and some sort of vice. I expect abi would know about that; might be worth pinging her on Twitter.

* I seem to be thinking in story seeds** these days; this seems like the spark for a light urban fantasy. Attracting/directing household sprites & elementals....

** 'Nother one:

"The Hawaiian creation myth relates that the present cosmos is only the last of a series, having arisen in stages from the wreck of the previous universe. In this account, the octopus is the lone survivor of the previous, alien universe."
~Roland Burrage Dixon

I really want some kind Hawai'ian to write that up as a novel. Preferably illustrated.

& another: Can't find the tweet, but somebody (possibly of this parish), when the topic of basic black attire came up, remarked that black T & jeans (accompanied by a trenchcoat) was their standard uniform. "Makes me look like something between an anarchist librarian and bog witch" (If anybody remembers/can dig up that tweet, ping me?)—

...That one's been tapping me on the shoulder since I saw it, and goddammit, now with the freezer sprite piece, it's actually started yanking on my sleeve. "Guys! I got stuff I gotta doooo!"

#980 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2021, 04:44 AM:

Jacque: This flood control reservoir overflow wouldn't happen to have been in August of 2017, would it? 'Cause you kinda make it sound like an arbitrary decision, and that one really really wasn't.

#981 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2021, 08:54 AM:

Thanks for the freezer advice. Our basement is not generally damp, especially at this season, and so we're finding books drying out pretty well down there.

Jacque, I also self-medicate with books and am glad not to have lost more. Although at this point most of the self-medicating books are duplicated on my e-reader even if I have paper copies.

At this point the books I buy in paper are most often (a) things I think my husband will also read, including new entries in series we both follow, and (b) spiritual/religious books, which I seem to prefer to process with a physical copy in my hands.

#982 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2021, 09:14 PM:

David: No, this would have been '92 or '93. And, no, from what I heard it wasn't an arbitrary decision. At the very least, it was purposeful negligence.

#983 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2021, 06:48 AM:

OtterB, ouch. Water damage to books is nasty. When my father had a house fire (decades ago now), it was the firefighters with their water who did for most of the books in the basement. (This is apparently usual, but :-( ).

At my used-bookstore (aside: that's where to look for replacing out-of-print books), when we're taking in books we'll tolerate minor water damage on a prized or obscure title, but anything more is a nope.

#984 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2021, 09:56 AM:

Dave Harmon @983, yeah. Fortunately this was a relatively small number of books. Most of the ones in the basement are on shelves. These were mostly ones that had been piled up in the living room, and had moved downstairs to go on the shelves.

I am deeply looking forward to being able to browse used bookstores again.

#985 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2021, 12:54 PM:

Dave Harmon @983: the water damage is bad in a fire, but smoke damage can be just as difficult (and often more pervasive). I can still smell the smoke on many books caught in my parents' house fire of 1968. (I have an alibi -- I was in Europe at the time).

#986 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2021, 11:17 AM:

Artist Rowena Morrill has passed away.
She was 76.

#987 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2021, 03:49 AM:

Baen's Bar is being shutdown temporarily due to all the right-wingers advocating violence since the election.

#988 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2021, 12:12 PM:

That's what happens when you don't kick them out as soon as they reveal themselves.

#989 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2021, 12:47 PM:

This Twitter thread:

I was at a shitty crustpunk bar once getting an after-work beer. One of those shitholes where the bartenders clearly hate you. So the bartender and I were ignoring one another when someone sits next to me and he immediately says, “no. get out.”

And the dude next to me says, “hey i’m not doing anything, i’m a paying customer.” and the bartender reaches under the counter for a bat or something and says, “out. now.” and the dude leaves, kind of yelling. And he was dressed in a punk uniform, I noticed

Anyway, I asked what that was about and the bartender was like, “you didn’t see his vest but it was all nazi shit. Iron crosses and stuff. You get to recognize them.” And i was like, oh ok and he continues.

“you have to nip it in the bud immediately. These guys come in and it’s always a nice, polite one. And you serve them because you don’t want to cause a scene. And then they become a regular and after awhile they bring a friend. And that dude is cool too.

And then THEY bring friends and the friends bring friends and they stop being cool and then you realize, oh shit, this is a Nazi bar now. And it’s too late because they’re entrenched and if you try to kick them out, they cause a PROBLEM. So you have to shut them down.

And i was like, ‘oh damn.’ and he said “yeah, you have to ignore their reasonable arguments because their end goal is to be terrible, awful people.”

And then he went back to ignoring me. But I haven’t forgotten that at all.

#990 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2021, 01:30 PM:

@989 Just saw that linked from Metafilter on the subject of a different forum that had gotten itself a reputation as a Nazi bar. Always good to have the reminder.

Additionally, I remember our own TNH saying a similar thing often, that you have to kick the one troll out immediately, and have no remorse, because otherwise they'll attract others and egg each other on. But this was in happier times when trolls "merely" made online life miserable for the rest, and weren't advocating for actual terrorism and assassination.

At least, mostly not.

#991 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2021, 02:43 PM:

I may have missed it, but I haven’t seen a notice here that both TNH and PNH have suffered the death of a parent in the last few days.

If anyone sees where to send a memorial, please let me know.

#992 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2021, 10:35 PM:

@991: Hell! Anybody else have info?

#993 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2021, 09:50 AM:

The occurrence was mentioned on Twitter but I haven't seen anything about memorials or such.

#994 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2021, 10:52 AM:

Patrick's father, Teresa's mom:


#995 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2021, 11:04 AM:

@991: Oh dear. My sincerest condolences to our hosts.

@987-990: Common-or-garden trolls do this as flocking behavior - not to say it's not intentional, but it's relatively casual, in comparison to Nazis/fascists/white supremacists, for whom it's long been a deliberate and carefully-cultivated key tactic in their recruiting and their Overton-window-moving normalization strategies. They are so scrupulously polite and 'reasonable' that forum members who attempt to rebut them are driven to rules violations in their frustration, and otherwise-competent forum staff freeze up - the neoNazis read forum rules very carefully, the better to game those rules to their own advantage and the forum's disadvantage. Ordinary 'how to conduct yourself civilly here' rules will not suffice; it's necessary to have a 'Nazis, fascists, and white supremacists will be banned on sight' rule (or one that says the hosts reserve the right to ban any person they deem unwelcome, but that tends to make everyone feel less than welcome since it hints at possible capriciousness). That bartender was completely spot-on (and I think I'll go retweet that thread).

(I know this because I'm a longtime staff member, and for the last year or so host, of The Cauldron, a pagan interfaith forum ancient in internet years; before the mainstreaming of fascism in the past five or so years, pagan venues were a particular target for fascists.)

(On preview, I decided to make that a link; Fluorospherians who are pagan, pagan-adjacent, or just enjoy hanging out and having discussions with pagans, are welcome to check it out! While I'll mention from time to time that I run a forum, I won't be linking it or even explicitly naming it very often, since I'm not here to promote places that aren't here, so if you're interested, this is a rare chance to snag the link.)

David Goldfarb @970: 'And of course "House of the Rising Sun" started life as an alternative tune for "Matty Groves" — at least, so I've read.'

Well, and of course I had to follow that up! Down the rabbithole I went, and found a vast and fascinating warren. I won't document it here (too many links!) but, in direct response (elaboration rather than dispute per se) to David, I quote from the Wikipedia article on the song:

'According to Alan Lomax, "Rising Sun" was the name of a bawdy house in two traditional English songs, and it was also a name for English pubs. He further suggested that the melody might be related to a 17th-century folk song, "Lord Barnard and Little Musgrave", also known as "Matty Groves", but a survey by Bertrand Bronson showed no clear relationship between the two songs.'

Open Threadiness: I know I'm not the only Fluorospherian who identifies as nonbinary/genderqueer/nth gender/etc, so the eighth annual gender census may be of interest. (More info, including a FAQ, on the gender census home page.) The survey is run by Cassian Lodge, whom some of you will likely know as the creator of the 'Poly in Pictures' webcomic. They are particularly interested in increasing participation by older NB/GQ/etc folks.

From the census start page linked above:
'I'll start by making it as clear as possible who's invited to take part.

Most people fit tidily into one of these categories:
- Woman/girl - all the time, solely, and completely (may be cisgender or transgender)
-Man/boy - all the time, solely, and completely (may be cisgender or transgender)

This survey intends to collect information about everyone who DOESN'T fit into this system. Anyone who doesn't feel like they fit into one of these two boxes is invited to participate. There are no geographical restrictions.

If you hesitate or struggle to place yourself into just one of the two boxes, or if you know for sure that these boxes were not made for you, please do continue!'

Even if you yourself fit the binary-gender paradigm, please share! If it makes it easier to do so, I have a post on my DW blog, which can be found via my name in the header of this post.

#996 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2021, 04:03 PM:

Perseverance has landed on Mars!

#997 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2021, 08:15 PM:

Sincere condolences to Our Good Hosts.

#998 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2021, 03:43 PM:

Mars, with sound!

#999 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2021, 06:02 PM:

I'm told that's old video, but here's stuff from yesterday:

just before landing:
( )

and HiRISE got a view of the descent:
( )

#1000 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2021, 06:08 PM:

I'm told that's old video, but here's stuff from yesterday:

just before landing:
( )

and HiRISE got a view of the descent:
( )

#1001 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2021, 08:24 PM:

sorry about the double-post; I got a 504 error. (the comment-posting mechanism is extremely slow this week.)

#1002 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2021, 08:24 PM:

I see that DisCon has very stupidly dis-invited Toni Weisskopf as Editor Guest of Honor much like Wiscon dis-invited Elizabeth Moon as Guest of Honor.

#1003 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2021, 09:37 PM:

I've been following the story at File770. They have reason for disinviting her.

#1004 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2021, 10:12 PM:

1002: Not stupid. I could explain, but it's pretty simple. Read Sanford's original article and Weisskopf's responses. Consider the host city of DisCon III and recent events. Consider the history Worldcon has had with puppies.

Also, as someone who knows way too many people on all sides of the WisCon-Moon mess, that was a different situation. It wasn't simple.

#1005 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 12:33 AM:

TomB @1004 -- these problems always look simple the farther one is from them.

#1006 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 12:38 AM:

Perhaps I'm seeing things too simply. My impression is that this mess could be entirely resolved if Baen were to add something like "advocating for real-world violence or harrassment" to their existing list of banned topics on their fora..?

Has anyone been compiling a set of evidence about the problems? I've seen some screenshots; I've read a number of quotations without links to the originals. I'd find it useful to have something concise to point people at when they assert that the concerns are just made up, or are wildly exaggerated. I've seen people quoting Eric Flint's comments to the effect that "there's nothing like that in my forums, so it's all libel!"

To Patrick and Teresa: I'm sorry to hear of your losses. For both of you to lose parents at the same time makes things even harder, I know.

#1007 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 03:55 AM:

Sorry to hear of your losses, Patrick and Teresa. May perpetual light shine upon them.

#1008 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 04:03 AM:

P J Evans @1003: 'I've been following the story at File770.'

Aha, so the sharing of the tweet-thread about how to not become a Nazi bar was more topical than it appeared. It didn't even occur to me to wonder if it was apropos of anything in particular; 'advice/commentary about care and feeding of communities' is such a staple on ML.

#1009 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 11:18 AM:

And as one of the major problems at Baen's Bar is a moderator, it's not quite as simple as a policy addition. It appears from reading that it's been a problem for years, and has only gotten worse.

#1010 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 11:31 AM:

P J Evans @1009: Changing the policy and actually following/enforcing it, of course.

#1011 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 12:38 PM:

Changing the policy *and* enforcing it *and* firmly ejecting anybody who refuses to respect the new rules. How likely is that? (Serious question; I've never been in those forums.)

I think everyone understands (though they'll say it with different lading) that this *isn't* going to end with the same people hanging out on the same forum with the same opinions, but phrased more circumspectly from now on. That's not a possible outcome.

I figure the likely outcome is that Baen will update the rules say "No talking about politics *at all*, because it's impossible to support free speech any more, blame the liberals." And then someone will create a Baen's-Bar-Refugee forum on whatever service Trump supporters use this week, and Baen-the-company will breathe a sigh of relief.

#1012 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 02:32 PM:

If they don't do something to clean the place up, word will get out that it's a "safe space" for barbarity. Banned from Twitter? You can hang out at the Bar with your chums.

#1013 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 05:19 PM:

Sympathies to our hosts; losing two parents at the ~same time isn't something I've had to cope with, but it looks like more stress than anyone should have to deal with now.

@Robert Glaub: after your @621 and @908, I find your position in @1002 surprising; can you discuss? I've developed enough of an allergy to trash fires that I haven't been paying detailed attention to who was responsible for what, but the fact that a post advocating a private militia for treasonous purposes was (by report) not taken down is ... troubling, even before the piling-on against someone who pointed it out.

A Note To The Gnomes: view-all-by is dead; nothing at all happens on Firefox, while on Edge I get an error 500. This may be very old news -- I haven't tried it in a long while and I may have unremembered others mentioning it -- and I don't know whether it's solvable.

#1014 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 07:17 PM:

Joel 1012: If it's a safe place for barbarity, would the people who go there for that reason be Bar barbarians? And everywhere else would bar Bar barbarians.

#1015 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2021, 10:43 PM:

Xopher @1014 -- Sounds like a Beach Boys hit.

#1016 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2021, 12:57 AM:

Bar the Bar barbarians...

None left bar the Bar barbarians...

#1017 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2021, 10:51 AM:

Game designer & novelist Mike Stackpole lost his mother to COVID-19 a few days back. She was in a care home and he suspects was infected by a staff member. From his tweet thread:

"Maybe it was my mom's time.

Maybe she could have been around to tell me to get a haircut for another 20 years.

But for fuck's sake, please do the following:

Wear a mask.

Get the vaccine.

Be smart, social distance.

Don't kill anyone else.


#1018 ::: Kip Williams ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2021, 11:35 AM:

I'll guess that posting is slow because each time you hit 'post,' the system suddenly notices all these comments and tries to read them all while you sit there.

New thread time?

#1019 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2021, 10:36 AM:

Back when people started realizing what COVID-19 was going to mean, there was a comment that we are all Solarians (cf Asimov's The Naked Sun) now. (I thought it was here, but don't see it in either this or the previous Open Thread.) Looking at the last few days in Massachusetts, topped with a very recent NPR story, suggests another situation: Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" MA, despite being one of the world's leading tech centers is a goat roping: it has repeatedly fumbled making online bookings for inoculation available -- culminating in last Thursday's repeated crashes of a site that was massively broken in behavior when it was up. (e.g., a user had to fill in pages of info -- all of which was lost if they selected a proferred site which turned out not to have appointments available.) Meantime, West Virginia has the world's third-highest rate of inoculation because the state government set up a telephone hotline -- where a six-minute hold is considered unsatisfactory by the governor. The proper Charlie in the MA corner office may not survive this, since he ran twice on "competence" and knew (being a Trump opponent) that the feds were going to offer diddly in terms of making inoculations happen. No funds were taken in support of this rant.

#1020 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2021, 02:10 AM:

So I found out today that the first edition of the Oxford English dictionary did not include the word radium, owing to a judgment by the head editor that the discovery of the new element was not yet well enough established.

One of the editorial team wrote up a spoof word-slip for it, which was preserved, and was undearthed, and can be read here.

I don't think I can embed images here, or I'd embed its image. If you're reading this, I urge you to follow that link.

I wish Teresa were still reading here, or that I had some method of communication that I knew would reach her, because she must read this, if she doesn't know of it. (I would in fact pay a great deal of money to get to watch her reaction.)

#1021 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2021, 08:02 AM:

Joel Polwin @1015 – In fact, it sounds very much like 'The Lay of the Surfers', Track 1 of Robert Calvert's 1975 concept album Lucky Leif and the Longships, which imagines how US popular music might sound if the Viking colonisation of North America had been a lasting success. The song is, of course, a Beach Boys parody.

#1022 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2021, 11:01 AM:

David 1020: I've tweeted it at her, in case that helps. She's got her mind on other things at the moment, of course. I credited you.

#1023 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2021, 01:51 PM:

David Goldfarb @1020: I appreciate that kind of dry academic humour. I managed to cite a few "joke" papers in my Ph.D. thesis. The original April Fools Day paper about "israelane" and "helvetane" (Nouv. J. Chim. 6 (1982) 175), for example, was close enough to my own work to be worth a mention. And "The data enrichment method of Lewis was briefly considered as a means of clarifying the observed trends, but was eventually determined not to be an appropriate treatment." got past my supervisor and the committee. I'd originally encountered it in the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

Terry Hunt @1021: I hadn't heard of that; thank you! I found that it's available on YouTube music for listening. It's not much to my taste, mostly electronic or "musical noise", as I think of it, but a couple of the pieces I found listenable.

#1024 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2021, 10:00 AM:

David Goldfarb: I'm amused that the head editor took the opinion of a fresh graduate over the suspected "responsible chemist"; my partner commented that this must have been because there were no social media in those days to provide an even more unreliable opinion.

#1025 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2021, 12:27 PM:

Even if the existence of radium was questionable, it was absolutely a word. Did they leave 'unicorn' out of the OED?

This is clearly a head editor abusing his power, and failing in his mandate. They could have defined it as "a substance alleged but not confirmed to exist." I suspect misogyny also played a role.

#1026 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2021, 04:01 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @1011: 'Changing the policy *and* enforcing it *and* firmly ejecting anybody who refuses to respect the new rules. How likely is that? (Serious question; I've never been in those forums.)'

Nor have I, but I have, since my last post here (@1008), been reading fairly extensively about the matter, including seeing a number of references related to how Baen's Bar approaches moderation. My at-least-somewhat-expert (see my @995 above; I don't claim to be on a par with Teresa) opinion is that they're utterly and hopelessly clueless about effective moderation. I further surmise that they see moderation as, if not mutually exclusive with the Freeze Peach they claim to value so much*, at least in general opposition to it. For instance, it appears that their notion of how to moderate a topic that has proven to be highly contentious is to put a blanket ban on that topic, so that it cannot be discussed or even referred to in any way lest *!gasp!* a heated debate break out.

I consider these two things - their unimaginative framing of 'moderation' and their incompetence - to be a correlation that likely is causative in one direction or the other, but I decline to speculate on which direction. If someone(s) has(have) neither talent nor skills in group-discussion moderation, but attempts to do it anyway, their result might well lead them to consider that moderation itself, rather than their incompetence, is at fault; if someone already perceives moderation as consisting primarily of limiting/stifling what can be discussed, any moderation they do will be heavy-handed, and its result will confirm (for them) their perception.

There's a third thing that I surmise (but don't outright opine) to be the case, that if it is the case, is almost certainly caused by the first two: THEY DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT MODERATING. They believe it to be a blunt tool of limited usefulness, and apply it rarely, only when they see no other choice than to handle a problem by nuking it from orbit; otherwise, why bother?

It appears that they select moderators in accordance with the above perceptions - or possibly, by accepting whatever volunteers are willing to take it on (which amounts to the same thing, but with even less selection in the process).

TL;DR: How likely do I think it is that they'd address the problem as you suggest? BWA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Nor is your suggestion a complete solution.

My guess is, their lawyers will insist on really thorough cleanup, and that cleanup will take the form of either the Politics section or the whole of Baen's Bar being vaporized permanently. This might not be the wrong answer; even 'delete all posts and start fresh' wouldn't address the problem of alt-right infestation (at least one of whom is a Baen author) and the toxic sitegeist that's developed and become entrenched as a result of said infestation.

* Whereas it's my firm and experience-based opinion that moderation, when appropriately-applied and competently performed, is one of the most effective ways to maximize genuine freedom of speech.

CHip @1013: VAB is indeed dead, and has been for... well over a year, I think, if not longer; AIUI, resuscitation, assuming it's possible at all, would take far more time, energy, skill, and other resources than any of the moderators, or Sumana, have and/or are willing to put into the task. Old Typepad software is Old.

Kip Williams @1018: 'I'll guess that posting is slow because each time you hit 'post,' the system suddenly notices all these comments and tries to read them all while you sit there. New thread time?'

That was my thought. I've been wondering whether, if someone - I or another - volunteered to write a guest OT-starter post, that would cover enough of what's involved that a moderator (Avram or Abi, most likely) could do the rest (i.e. putting it up). Also pondering what I might write.

#1027 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2021, 08:57 PM:

Xopher@1022: Thank you. I have to admit I wasn't thinking about Teresa's current circumstances.

#1028 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2021, 08:03 AM:

SunflowerP: TFTI. It would be nice if the dead functionality weren't shown, but I'm entirely in sympathy with the too-much-effort issue; supporting old tech was one of my major pains when I was a software engineer, and I suspect the software behind this blog has been further superseded than mine.

In the department of did-you-think-they-couldn't-go-lower: Rand Paul links gender treatment of minors to genital mutilation. And he calls himself a libertarian. Worse, he's obviously mouthing someone else's words; somebody should send him the definition of "pander". (NYT video; may be behind paywall, will certainly be prefaced by an obnoxious commercial. Context is the Rachel Levine confirmation hearing.)

#1029 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2021, 12:31 PM:

No link there, CHip. At least, none that my computer with FireFox can discern.

#1030 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2021, 02:18 PM:

Try this:

#1031 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2021, 10:52 AM:

This is such a Fluorospheran comment that I'm repeating it here:

This is both a joke and a genuine question.
What are the words for something happening four or five times?
It goes: once, twice, thrice, quartz, quince

#1032 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2021, 01:24 PM:

I messaged abi on Twitter to ask for a new Open Thread. She has poked PNH.

#1033 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2021, 04:47 PM:

That's a good one. I may adopt it.

#1034 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2021, 06:14 PM:

P J Evans (1033): I'm glad you like it.

But I'd still like to know if there are genuine words instead of my silly ones.

#1035 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2021, 10:14 PM:

Mary Aileen @1034:

I’ve dug through a few dictionaries and haven’t found anything. Extending the etymological pattern, the next one ought to be “force”. (Followed by “fifes”?)

#1036 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2021, 10:55 AM:

Fource, fice? (I like "quartz, quince" though.)

#1037 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2021, 12:11 PM:

If repetition is nature's way of telling us something, and "what I tell you three times is true", then there doesn't need to be a word for four repetitions: it's already redundant.

#1038 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2021, 07:55 PM:

Chris (1035), P J Evans (1036): Thanks. I certainly can't think of anything, which is how I came up with 'quartz' and 'quince' in the first place. I don't know why I defaulted to Latin for those; 'force' and 'fice'/'fifes' would certainly make sense.

Tom Whitmore (1037): Good point.

#1039 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2021, 07:57 PM:

Of course, if we want to go on being silly, we could make it 'fierce' instead of 'force'.

#1040 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2021, 11:02 PM:

I was thinking French rather than Latin. It seems to make sense with English. (Claim it's from the Normans, and it might fly!)

#1041 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2021, 08:04 AM:

We could always go all out, and develop series of counter words.

Hm, and digging further has landed me at English numerals - Multiplicative adverbs and adjectives which says quintuple, sextuple/hextuple, septuple/heptuple -- not nearly as much fun as Mary Aileen's suggestion.

The table of number prefixes in english is also an interesting skim/read.

#1042 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2021, 09:48 AM:

1016: Rhababer Barbara Bar Barbarians' Barber...

(It's not necessary to know German to appreciate the video.)

#1043 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2021, 11:41 AM:

The one I have encountered in older texts is "fourfold." You coughed twice, I coughed fourfold. That is, wikipedia describes it as an adjective, but it is or was also used adverbially.

#1044 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2021, 06:44 PM:

Jenny Islander (143): 'Fourfold'! Of course. And there's also fivefold, sixfold, etc.

Open Thread 224 dropped

#1045 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2021, 11:11 AM:

Can I store some stuff here while the contractors are working on my house?

I could use a hand with the couch.

#1046 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2021, 12:36 PM:

Mary Aileen - And eventually you get up to elves and wolves for the 11th and 12th.

#1047 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2021, 04:52 PM:

Bill Stewart (1046): I love it!

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