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March 19, 2020

Open thread 223
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:01 PM * 594 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:

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