Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 20, 2018

Garden Report for 180820

The weather was clear and very warm, in the upper 80’s-low 90’s all week, with lots of haze and smoke from BC and California. Over the weekend the AQI edged from Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy, and areas north of us were Hazardous. The sky looked like it wanted to rain, but that was just high altitude smoke. I stayed inside.

The garden continued to produce:

I harvested one 410g zucchini, one 280g zucchini, and one curly 340g Japanese cucumber. My standard cucumber, out front, seems to be getting too much sun and has only started one fruit so far.

count /  total wt / wt per

Champion: 7 / 670 / 144

Big Boy: 7 / 870 / 92

Unidentified 3 / 154

Big Beef  5 / 1070

Black Prince 3 / 156

That represents the last of the Champions, and they were noticeably smaller than last week’s. Last week was the last of the Brandywines. I didn’t realize how many of the big tomatoes were determinants. The unidentified tomatoes might be Oregon Spring. I know I bought one plant, but I can’t find it in the garden or the pots, and the U/I plant doesn’t have a label. On the other hand, they look more like the picture on the Pink Accordion packet, and the one Pink Accordion didn’t look like that at all, but since one was planted in the garden and the other up on the deck, it’s unlikely they’d be mixed up. The Black Prince is coming in at about 50g each. They don’t taste bad, but they don’t make my clothes explode off. Not sure if it’s worthwhile planting them next year.

Read the rest of this entry »

California Prop 13

August 18, 2018

Proposition 13 was a 1978 reaction to California’s rising property taxes. Property values were rising fast, homes were being reassessed annually, and the elderly were being taxed out of their homes. Prop 13 limited tax increases to when property was sold, or underwent major construction. As usual, there were unintended consequences.

This article, in Axios, goes on about how rich families are passing down their multi-million dollar homes and how the children who inherit pay no additional taxes. The article says that this has lowered tax income by 2.5%. That sounds big, but it’s not the biggest impact from Prop 13. Read the rest of this entry »

Curried Coconut Oatmeal

August 16, 2018

MJ brought home a packet of frozen chicken-in-curried-coconut-sauce. As usual, not as good as home-made (too spicy, and you had trouble detecting the coconut), and there were leftovers. I didn’t use any of the chicken chunks, but I did scoop up about a quarter cup of the sauce.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of curry sauce/beef broth mix, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: OK. The sauce had been a little too spicy on the chicken, but diluted by the broth, and spread across the oatmeal it wasn’t bad. I’m not going to rush out and buy another packet, however.

Rating: ***

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 13, 2018

Garden Report for 180813

The weather was clear and hot, starting in the low 90’s early in the week, peaking at just over 100F, and coming back down to the upper 80’s by the weekend.

The garden is in full swing. At the start of the week we had 18 tomatoes that were ready for harvest, and another ten showing color.

I harvested one 220g Japanese cucumber, and two 245g zucchinis.

count /  total wt / wt per

Champion: 8 / 1150 / 144

Beefsteak: 7 / 642 / 92

Pink Accordion 1 / 120

Early  Girl 1 / 80

Big Beef  1 / 120


On the big squash front, there’s a Delicata that’s coming along nicely, a couple of small Spaghetti squash.

Once again, I brought the cabbage container in for four days midweek to avoid the 100F heat. I want to keep it out in the sun as much as possible, but without exposing them to anything over 90F.

Vegetable Count Weight
Total Total
  tomato 18 2132 118 32 4.0
zucchini 2 490 245 5 1.6
1 220 220 2 0.42
Grand Total 6.0

Last year was a marvellous year for tomatoes, et al. By this point in the season, we were at 9kg of produce. But remember, we’re working on half a garden this year.

Starlight Promises

August 10, 2018

Starlight Promises really wants to be a Miyazaki movie. It has the young protagonists, the mystical happenings, the colorful animation. What it lacks is heart. And coherency.

Spoilers follow.

Mihara Shoma gets a call from his former best friend, who he hasn’t seen in years, inviting him to meet at a location in the mountains. That location turns out to be the site of a Tanabata festival, celebrating the legend of the celestial lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi. His friend isn’t there, but he meets a hologram AI named Kana, and a girl,  Senozawa Shiori. It turns out that this festival is also designed to carry out a ritual that will let the participants meet anyone they wish to. The participants — several dozen of them — build the stage settings, and Mihara and Shiori are to enact the parts of the star-crossed lovers.

Kana and Shoma and Shiori

We immediately have questions.

How do they gain the skills needed to carpenter up an elaborate stage setting? How do they know how to move in the ritual?

It’s just like Ikea

How do the rest of the participants know how to do the Busby Berkely dance number at the start of the ritual? Well, they have these AI suits, that just know how to move to do things, ya know? And the wearer is sortof goes along for the ride.

We built it, and we can dance on it

OK, so how does the ritual conjure up the ghosts (and it looks to be all ghosts, nobody’s asking to meet Shinzō Abe) of the people the participants want to see? Well, so, it’s not really those people. It’s a new super-AI program that can take in all the information about the person and recreate a hologram of them. The participants just get to pretend they are real.

For that matter, why are they doing this during a Tanabata festival? Wouldn’t a Bon festival, honoring the dead, be more appropriate? Could it be that the Bon festival doesn’t have a romantic couple at the center?

Back in the action, the festival AI is malfunctioning, because of the existence of Kana. Why? They don’t say. In any event, it conjures up [AI hologram depictions of] the ghosts of the former castle, who proceed to attack the participants. Shoma and Shiori fight them off, using skills their AI suits taught them (and swords that are really debugging tools), while Kana sacrifices herself to install the patch, or something. Since this is hologram on AI suit action, nobody actually gets hurt, but they all act as if they could.

We will avenge our lord!

At the end, there’s a lantern ceremony, and everyone gets to see the person of their choice. Shoma sees his friend Atsushi — who it turns out is dead and Shoma just forgot about it, as often happens in anime — and Shiori sees her sister. Then the lanterns take flight, and the ghostly holograms fade away. Shoma and Shiori have found closure, and look to become friends, leaving open the possibility of a Starlight Promises Afterstory.

Is it really you?

Part of the problem with this anime is that Starlight Promises is only one hour long. That’s not enough time to develop the multiple threads of the story, or even the explanations and backstory and such. On the other hand, the whole knights-of-the-old-castle thing seems just bolted on, as if they needed some conflict to pad things out but couldn’t figure out what to do. Finally, the heart of the anime, the recall of the dead, is based on a logical fallacy. The participants are not talking to the dead, they’re talking to an AI construct, an updated version of ELIZA, from half a century ago.

But it looks pretty

Overall, Starlight Promises isn’t bad, but it’s not Miyazaki. It’s an OK way to waste an hour, unless there’s a My Neighbor Totoro rerun on.

Surimi Oats

August 9, 2018

Surimi is a Japanese fish … product. Boiled, powdered, sintered whitefish paste. In the US, it’s usually found as fake crab or lobster. Every now and then you can find it as unabashed surimi — small chunks, painted red on one side. I thought I’d try it in oatmeal. Of course, one doesn’t want to cook it in beef or chicken broth because the flavors would clash. So I dug out my supply of dashi crystals. One half teaspoon in a cup of water gives a nice, seafoody, slightly smoky liquid.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of water, 40grams of surimi chunks, chopped fine, half a teaspoon of dashi crystals, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the surimi at the beginning so it has time to blend.

Results: Not as good as I’d hoped. The oatmeal didn’t soak up all the water, so you had a clear liquid with lots of bits of oats floating in it, plus surimi chunks. Plus, the surimi/dashi combo just barely had enough flavor to overcome the oatmeal bland.

I think it needs more experimentation.

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 6, 2018

Garden Report for 180806

The weather was clear and hot, in the high 90’s early in the week, and the rest of the time in the mid to low 80’s. Watering restrictions continue in effect.

Garden production is ramping up.  At the start of the week we had 16 tomatoes that were showing color.

Taste Test: Moskvich 150g / Brandywine 180g / Supersonic 220g

Moskvich vs Brandywine: Not as mushy as the first tomatoes, but still mushy. Cutting back on the watering helped. Not much to say about the flavor. Not too acidic. You could tell the two apart in a side-by-side test, but the difference didn’t seem to amount to much.

Supersonic: picked later. Firm. Acidic. More tomatolike. Preferable to the other two. Too bad it looks like we’ll only get a few more off this container plant.

The Japanese cucumbers were 8″ long at the start of the week. I harvested one that had sprouted close to the ground and was growing in a circle.

Brought the cabbage container in for four days midweek to avoid the 98F heat.

Vegetable Count Weight
Total Total
  tomato 6 900 150 14 1.9
zucchini 1 370 370 3 0.8
1 200 200 1 0.2
Grand Total 2.9


Meanwhile, here’s the official ripening schedule, updated with the actual dates.

Name D/I Wt Planted Days Ready Actual
Early Girl I 4-8 05/21/18 50 07/10/18 08/xx/18
Oregon Spring D 5-10 05/21/18 60 07/20/18 08/xx/18
Champion I 6-8 05/21/18 65 07/25/18 07/24/18
Big Beef I 12-16 05/21/18 73 08/02/18 08/xx/18
Moskvitch I 115g 06/04/18 60 08/03/18 08/02/18
Beefsteak D 250g 05/21/18 75 08/04/18 07/24/18
Hybrid Beefsteak D 250g 05/21/18 75 08/04/18 07/24/18
Carolina Gold D 8-10 05/21/18 75 08/04/18 08/xx/18
Sun Sugar I cherry 05/21/18 75 08/04/18 07/10/18
Big Boy I 16-32 05/21/18 80 08/09/18 08/xx/18
Better Boy I 15-16 06/04/18 70 08/13/18 08/xx/18
Black Prince I 5-7 06/04/18 70 08/13/18 08/xx/18
Pink Accordion I 14-16 05/21/18 90 08/19/18 08/xx/18
Moreton I 8-10 06/11/18 70 08/20/18 08/xx/18
Brandywine I 560g 06/04/18 80 08/23/18 08/02/18
Cherokee Purple I 10-12 06/04/18 80 08/23/18 08/xx/18
Jet Star I 8-9 06/11/18 75 08/25/18 08/xx/18
Supersonic I 10-12 06/18/18 75 09/01/18 08/04/18
Mortgage Lifter I 18-32 06/18/18 85 09/11/18 08/xx/18

MH370 Final Report

August 4, 2018

So the Malaysian government have issued their final report on the loss of MH370. At 495 pages, plus appendices, it’s quite a bit longer than their original effort. Unfortunately, as anyone could have predicted, it doesn’t tell us much that we didn’t already know, and it finds it impossible to come to a conclusion as to the reason for the loss.

What we do know, is that shortly after contacting Ho Chi Min ACC, the various communications systems were shut down, and the Kuala Lumpur – Beijing flight made a roughly 120° left turn to the SW, flew back across Malaysia, turned NW, flew past the north end of the island of Sumatra, turned S towards the Southern Ocean, and flew until it ran out of fuel.

Some of the report deals with procedural errors by the various air traffic control authorities, but none of those would have altered the outcome.

There were a couple of points made that it’s useful to report, because they deal with events that are the basis for various theories about what happened.

1.The changes in aircraft heading required human input. This means that someone was alive and in the cockpit from 1720UTC to 1822UTC. This leaves out the various decompression/oxygen malfunction scenarios.

2. The altitude track, based on radar skin tracking, not transponder data, is admitted to be wrong. At one point, the track shows the aircraft climbing from 36,700ft to 58,200ft in six minutes. That’s a 3,500fpm climb to 15,000ft higher than the service ceiling. It then is shown descending to 4,800ft (53,000ft drop) in about a minute. Simulations have shown that such actions are beyond the capability of the aircraft. This lets out the theories that the pilot manipulated the altitude to suffocate the passengers.

3. Damage to the right outboard flap and flaperon indicate the flap was retracted and the flaperon was in neutral — an in-flight configuration — at the time of the crash. This contradicts earlier reports that the flaps had been extended, which would require aircrew intervention.

So, we are left where we were a year or so ago. Someone, crew or intruder, diverted the flight across Malaysia, around Sumatra, and into the Southern Ocean. My guess is that it was one of the pilots. The aircraft maneuvers required a trained pilot. There was no indication of any intrusion into the cockpit, despite current tools that allow the crew to indicate that kind of an emergency to ATC. Besides, a cockpit intrusion implies terrorists, and terrorists want publicity. Nobody has claimed responsibility. That leaves the aircrew. There’s no hard data to support this, but we are in a Sherlockian situation where all the other possibilities have been exhausted.

Cola Curry Oats

August 2, 2018

This started when we ended up with a couple of cans of cola. We’re not big cola drinkers, which is probably why we still have all our teeth.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of cola/broth mix, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.


Experiment 1: Beef and cola. Surprisingly bland. Beef barely noticable, but no strong cola flavor, either

Experiment 2: Cola. Still bland.

Experiment 3. Cola and curry, no potatoes. Not great, but not bad. A little spicy compared with water- or broth-based curry. First time there was a definite cola flavor.

Rating: **

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 29, 2018

Garden Report for 180730

The weather was clear and hot, in the low 90’s. Watering restrictions in effect, but they don’t apply to gardens, and anyway, I’m using a drip hose.

The garden is just starting to produce. Hybrid Beefsteak (that’s all it says on the tag, I think it’s a bush variety) is producing the most, followed by the Champion. Our one Early Girl is almost ripe.

Our lone Zucchini is starting to pump out the veggies. Time for Zucchini casserole or something. The Delicata and Spaghetti squash are producing, but it will be some weeks before they are ready. I planted the Summer Squash way late, so it’s still in the growing phase.

The Japanese cucumbers are about six inches long. Not sure when to harvest them. No regular cucumbers yet.

I am trying something new with the cabbage. Planting it in a container. It’s outside right now, and the plants have only just sprouted. I’ll let them get to a reasonable size, then move them inside, where there’s less chance of bolting.

Vegetable Count Weight
Total Total
  tomato 8 900 112 8 0.9
zucchini 3 800 267 3 0.8
Grand Total 1.7

This time last year we had almost 3kg of produce, thanks to an earlier start on the Summer squash and the cucumbers.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2018

July 28, 2018

As the season progresses, more shows display their true colors.


Asobi Asobase
The normal Japanese ending to jan-ken-pon

Mean girls being mean to each other. Comic book artstyle, and the sort of humor that Republicans would like.







Lord of Vermilion
Ruku, I am your father

Soon to be superheros find themselves trapped in Tokyo. Like Kekkai Sensen, but without the zany environment, well-rounded characters, or imaginative artwork.






Haunted Hot Springs
Nobody else can touch me, but I don’t mind if it’s you, Kogarashi san

Terribly generic bosom of the week. Cross between Kawaii Complex, Love Hina, and Invaders of the Rokujouma.






Chio’s School Road
Look mommy, blue and white stripes!

Each episode has two parts.

Part 1: all the strange adventures that happen on Chio’s way to school (the only adventure I ever had was when my trombone case fell of the basket of my bike).

Part 2: Mean girls being mean to each other. Like Asobi Asobase only with different artwork.

Oatmeal Au Jus

July 26, 2018

So, MJ and her friends, about once a month, will have a girls night out. A few weeks ago they went to see “Solo” (they liked it), and eat dinner at a local restaurant. MJ had the prime rib, and she brought the leftover rib and a container of the jus back for me. I’d already had dinner, but I’m always ready to go the extra meal. I didn’t use much of the jus, so the rest of it, the leftover leftovers if you will, became breakfast.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one third cup of jus, two thirds cup of beef  broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, no salt, because the jus is salty enough. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Very good. Very beefy. Very whatever it is they put in the beef juice to make jus. I’m willing to order prime rib again, just to have this for breakfast again. You can go heavier on the potato flakes, but what makes this so good is the beef graviness of it.

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 24, 2018

Garden Report for 180724

Starting to get some results, but not enough to build a new yield table yet. First, we had a couple of zucchini. Good in salads. Two more coming along, which means we’re already running behind.

Next, three tomatoes! Yay!!

The crimson tide begins

From left to right, a giant Beefsteak (100g), a gianter Hybrid Beefsteak (150g), and a cute little Champion (250g). No, I don’t know the difference between the Hybrid and the regular Beefsteaks. We ate the Champion yesterday. Bit of a letdown. Mealy and watery. I had been watering every other day, which may explain it. I’ve gone to every three days, and we’ll see.


TLDR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2018

July 20, 2018

I currently have 23 anime on my tentative watchlist — new for the summer, and second coeur holdovers — plus three or four rewatches. Obviously, my moe-meter can’t stand this level of watchery, and I’m going to have to drop some of them. Not that I wouldn’t drop these, even on a light schedule. Three harem, one angst, and one comedic failure, all eminently droppable.

How not to summon a demon lord

So, slavery isn’t bad if it’s cute girls and you’re in a culture that approves of such things and the enthralled ladies say they like you. It’s not like you’re keeping them in a home-made dungeon in your basement with your wife complaining about you spending all your time in the storage room, and besides, it’s high summer and too hot for me to go outside.

A wannabe Overlord, with no demonic minions and no castle. I’ve read parts of the light novel, and it’s actually better than the anime adaptation.

Master of Ragnarok
He’s about to propose to her

It’s great to be in another world, with your smartphone, where you can lord it over the ignorant savages and have busty ladies rub themselves all over you. Wait. That’s been done. Why are we doing it again? So we can have the ladies call you “big brother”?

Another one where the light novel was better than the anime adaptation. But not so good that I’d want to keep reading it.


Yet another harem. Except it’s set in this world, not the next. All the girls look like they’re fifteen years old. Except for the one who looks like she’s eight. There’s amnesia, and strange diseases, and stranger prophecies.

Based on a galgame, which, thankfully, I haven’t had a chance or the inclination to play.

Planet With

Three-way plot, between amnesia-stricken boy raised by a maid and a monster cat, a group of seven superheros, and an invading force of aliens with a lose grip on the concept of spelling. The boy is mad at everybody. The superheros keep losing to the boy after beating the invaders. The invaders are never around long enough to say what they want. About the only thing going for it is the cool mecha designs. And we never learn what ‘with’ is. With fries?

Jashin-chan Dropkick

We end with one that wants to be Gabriel Dropout, only, you know, edgier, and with more cartoon violence. Sort of a Doga Kobo meets Looney Tunes. Bunch of demons in a six mat apartment, plus goth-loli human, and an angel who lost her halo and can’t go home without it.

Snake demon keeps trying to kill goth-lolli human, but keeps getting sliced and diced instead. Did you know snake tail goes good in hot pot? Did you care?

The limits of algorithms

July 19, 2018

Every now and then, my Twitter feed throws up a warning about the content of an incoming tweet. It looks something like this:

[This media may contain sensitive material. Your media settings are configured to warn you when media may be sensitive.]

The trouble is, these warnings are based on some sort of image processing algorithm, what you might call a primitive AI. Very primitive. Here’s a screenshot* of what triggered my latest warning:

Only sensitive if you are a vegetarian

The algorithm also lets through some pretty NSFW images, but I won’t show you those. Get your own tweet stream.

*Today is the “Day of the Ox” in Japan, and the poster is saying that they are going to eat beef today. Actually, you are supposed to eat eels.

Oatmeal au Vin

July 19, 2018

The other day, MJ made a chicken and wine sauce recipe — chicken broth, onions, tomatoes, and cream; plus not enough salt and rather too much wine. It wasn’t inedible, but the recipe will require a lot of work. We ended up with a cup or so of the sauce.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, quarter cup of rather winey red wine sauce, three-quarters cup of beef broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Reasonable. The beef broth diluted the wineyness and the whole thing made a reasonably tasty blend — surprising, because tomatoes usually don’t go well with oatmeal. I’d do it again, but I wouldn’t make that recipe just to do it.

Rating: ***

WordPress Math

July 19, 2018

A quick check on my stats, early this morning, shows:

That is, two views by one visitor. Both the views were of my home page, and the visitor came from … the US and the UK?  Is this a case of dual citizenship?

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 16, 2018

Garden Report for 180716

At last, we have tomatoes! Sort of.

I waited until MJ was out of the house and then ate them all

OK, so they’re cherry tomatoes. It’s a start.

Meanwhile, there’s a Champion tomato in Section 1 of the KHG that appears to be turning. I say appears to be, because it’s that pinky flesh-colored color that could mean it’s decided to rot on the vine. According to the planting guide, the Champions aren’t due for another ten days yet. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I am trying something new. We haven’t had much luck with the cabbage family, on account of as how it gets too hot too early — I’ve had broccoli bolt by mid-June. So I’m planting some cabbage indoors in the sun room. Lots of sun, not too hot. Nothing has sprouted yet.


Refrigerator Velcroats

July 13, 2018

Refrigerator Velcro refers to recipes that can involve anything you have in the fridge, kindof like minestrone. We’d been collecting various meats for a week or so. There was the bag-o-bones left over from the Kentucky Fried Chicken we had one night, complete with remnants of the special coating. There were a couple of well-gnawed beef shortribs. And there was a slab of some sort of beef, about half the size of a paperback book (mystery novel, not blockbuster) that was moderately flavorsome but solid as a board.

I threw it all into the pressure cooker, along with a handful of baby cut carrots and half an onion, a couple quarts of water, and cooked it on high for 45minutes.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of velcrobroth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Moderately flavorsome. The added salt was a mistake. There was enough in the special coating to cover it, and it didn’t need any more. Basically, it made a good baseline broth. You’d really want to add additional additives to make it useful with oatmeal

Rating: ***

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 10, 2018

Garden Report for 180710

According to Cliff Mass, NW summer really arrives today.

Just by chance, this is also the day my first tomatoes are due. An Early Girl, transplanted on May 21st, and tomato-ready today, 50 days later — it says here in the planting guide.

Those planting guides may not be totally accurate.

So far, that’s the only tomato on this plant.


TLDR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2018

July 8, 2018

Summers are the weakest of the anime seasons, as if the creators were on an Okinawa beach, just phoning it in. This summer we start off with bloody psycho horror, bloody zombie horror, and pedophilia.

Angels of Death: Girl finds herself sitting on a chair in a strange building. Said building turns out to be a fun house of horror, with a different threat on each floor — bandaged guy with scythe, fake doctor who only wants her eyes, etc. You can look on it as something that is going on inside her head, or you can assume the building (complete with surveillance cameras and staff announcements tracking her location) is some sort of construct by some sort of rich psycho, or maybe a Japanese reality show gone wild. I suppose one could wait around to find out, but I had to go practice my –suru verbs.

Third floor: Lingerie, kitchenware, and eyeballs

Calamity of a Zombie Girl: Teenagers break into the library basement on a lark (because they’re teenagers, of course), find a couple of occupied caskets there (because that’s the kind of thing every school library keeps on hand), open them up and steal an amulet from one of them (because teens don’t watch old movies any more). The inevitable ensues.

with Toilet humor

To Be Heroine: Teased as kind of a sequel to To Be Hero. Sequel, as in, written by the same guy after the one he wrote first, but otherwise no relation. The production studio is Chinese, and the characters all speak Chinese (with Japanese subtitles) in the real world, and Japanese (no Chinese subtitles) in the isekai.*

To Be Hero was an eight-minute short, and was all toilet humor. Not poopy jokes, but real sucked-into-a-toilet-and-granted-superpowers stuff. To Be Heroine is a full length anime about a schoolgirl who is sucked into an alternate word, populated by 3-year olds wearing nothing but underwear, that tends to fall off. She’s the only one who wears clothing, and each bit of it summons a different servant to defeat the opponent’s servant. Said opponents being other 3-year olds wearing underwear plus one. If you are not afraid that the FBI will scan your hard drive some day, this is the show for you.

If the underwear falls off, I die!!

*Which is interesting, because all the Chinese films I’ve seen have been in Chinese, with Chinese subtitles.

Happy Tanabata

July 7, 2018

Clear here tonight, so the lovers can meet.


from 2017

Me and Myeloma

July 7, 2018

TLDR: The latest round of tests came back, and there’s no trace of multiple myeloma (yay!). We check again in October.

Details: All my normal blood tests are normal (red blood cell count 4.5 — a little low, but well up from the 3.5’s of earlier this year), and the myeloma-specific tests are the same (IgG is down from 3414 to 212 [which is actually low], M-spike is no longer detectable).

Meanwhile: Retirement next December still looks like a wise decision. Increasing age means the non-myeloma issues are beginning to pile up, and I’m spending more time and mental resources dealing with them. I’m taking six pills in the morning and six at night — heart, gout, antiviral, prostate, probiotics, and more heart. If I stick to my recommended exercise regime, I’ll be doing 20min of neck exercises and 20min of back exercises twice a day, plus 45min to an hour of walking. I may be back to jogging by the end of the summer, but my stamina is way down, and so is my heat resistance, which limits my walking and gardening times. Sleep patterns are irregular.

Overall I’m doing better, but I still feel like I’m ten years older.

BTW: Turns out I’m not the only one with this. Tom Brokaw had it way worse than me, but the same set of drugs has driven his into hiding as well. Here is a 4 minute interview with him on the topic. I note that while I only got a dozen or so blog posts out of it. Brokaw got a whole book.


Stonekettle on Nazis

June 29, 2018

Here’s my second-ever un-commented link to someone else’s work.

Stonekettle’s tweet stream on how the Nazis come to power.

Anime Preview Summer 2018

June 28, 2018

Unlike others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on just the title and the cover art. By the way, you might notice that I’ve missed a couple of seasons. That’s due to chemo-chemicals entering my body. And this instalment is somewhat short. That’s due to the sucko season we have in front of us.

First, let’s say what’s not in here. Sequels to stuff I didn’t like before (Boku no Hero Academia 3), kids stuff (Marvel Future Avengers), movies and OVA’s, and anything with Card in the title.

WILL WATCH: The title or the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps.

1. Overlord III: A dentist’s nightmares

2. Hataraku Saibou: Asuka Langley’s delivery service

3. Asobi Asobase: three young girls on a scavenger hunt

MIGHT WATCH: The cover art is not too off-putting, so I might watch it.

1. Zoids Wild: Strange beasts and where to find them

2. Jashin-chan Dropkick: The Yokohama chain saw murders

3. Shichisei no Subaru: Young couple flee jellyfish woman in his new car

WON’T WATCH. The cover art and/or the title tells me more than I ever wanted to know on the topic.

1. Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa: The horrors of modern business

2. Ongaku Shoujo: It’s amazing how far you can stretch one piece of cloth if you cut on the bias

3. Happy Sugar Life: A girl and her daimakura

And then there’s an honorable mention.

Aguu: Tensai Ningyou: Just what does that title really mean?

Normally, if I want the English version of a title, I just copy/paste the romanji title into Google Translate, and copy/paste the answer into the text. That didn’t work here.

According to Google, Aguu: Tensai Ningyou means Aegu: Tenyo Enomyo. But that’s just more Japanese, and what’s up with that?. So, let’s translate Aegu: Tenyo Enomyo. Google says that means: Ophee: Tomonameyomo. This is getting silly — plus, it sound’s like Hawaiian. Let’s try it one more time. And your final English meaning is …. P: Oh no yea. I’m afraid to go any further.

Chicken Broccoli Oatmeal

June 28, 2018

We have the worst luck with fast food. Or maybe we’ve outgrown it. In our college town there are a number of fast food places. For my last set of night classes before retirement, I started stopping at one or another of them on the way home to pick up a snack. Our rating so far is: Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and McDonalds (McNuggets), terrible; Taco Bell tacos, not bad, as long as you don’t think of it as Mexican food; Rosa’s Pizza (local), very good (but their quality seems to be slipping recently). So, what about other sources? The other night, MJ stopped at Safeway on her way home from the dog club, and picked up some Chinese food from the deli. Mostly bad: fried rice was OK, as was the chicken teriyaki (hey, I’m not the one who called it ‘Chinese’), but the chicken teriyaki and broccoli was inedibly salty, and had almost no broccoli (like they were trying to recreate something out of Cowboy Bebop).

We couldn’t finish it, but the thought occurred to me that the salt would disappear in a pot of oatmeal. To the breakfast table!

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, two heaping dinner teaspoons of Safeway brand deli chicken teriyaki with broccoli, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the chicken at the start, so it has a chance to desalinate.

Results: Surprisingly OK. As I thought, the salt could not overcome the oatmeal, and the teriyaki flavor overcame the blands. However, I don’t plan on doing this again, and not just because I’ve taught my last night class.

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 25, 2018

Garden Report for 180625

I know, I said I wouldn’t write anything for a while. But I have some news, and a schedule.

So the news is, it looks like I’ve got some sort of blood disease attacking my deck tomatoes. The Bush All Star Beefsteak is toast. Leaves all bronzed and curly. Pulled it up (plastic gloves) and dumped it in dumpster. I’ll spread the dirt on the front lawn, and see if there’s something I can put in the washed container this late in the season. Worryingly, the Pink Accordion now has some leaves that are looking a little bronzlich.

The rest of it looks the same

The other news was me finally planting the carrots and chard in the holdout area of Section 2.

The schedule is here, tomatoes only, sorted by the ripening date:

Name D/I Wt Planted Days Ready
Early Girl I 4-8 05/21/18 50 07/10/18
Oregon Spring D 5-10 05/21/18 60 07/20/18
Champion I 6-8 05/21/18 65 07/25/18
Big Beef I 12-16 05/21/18 73 08/02/18
Moskvitch I 4-6 06/04/18 60 08/03/18
Bush Beefsteak D 7-10 05/21/18 75 08/04/18
Carolina Gold D 8-10 05/21/18 75 08/04/18
Sun Sugar I cherry 05/21/18 75 08/04/18
Big Boy I 16-32 05/21/18 80 08/09/18
Better Boy I 15-16 06/04/18 70 08/13/18
Black Prince I 5-7 06/04/18 70 08/13/18
Pink Accordion I 14-16 05/21/18 90 08/19/18
Moreton I 8-10 06/11/18 70 08/20/18
Beefsteak Brandywine I 18-24 06/04/18 80 08/23/18
Cherokee Purple I 10-12 06/04/18 80 08/23/18
Jet Star I 8-9 06/11/18 75 08/25/18
Supersonic I 10-12 06/18/18 75 09/01/18
Mortgage Lifter I 18-32 06/18/18 85 09/11/18

So, in theory, we could be eating Early Girl tomatoes three weeks from now. However, I note that right now the Early Girl has no tomatoes, and only a few flowers, while the Brandywine has six tomatoes that are almost two inches in diameter.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 18, 2018

Garden Report for 180618

One last sweep of Bi-Mart to see what I missed in the way of tomatoes. I found a Mortgage Lifter and a Supersonic.  The Lifter went into the garden ( I had to scrunch it in between the peas), and the Supersonic went into a new container on the east side of the house, snuggled up against the vine maple.

Planted some lettuce around the tomatoes in the big deck containers. Tennis Ball, and Iceberg. As I’ve said before, Icebergs don’t head in this climate, but they still make pretty good leaf lettuce.

I have one small part of Section 2 that I’ve been holding out for carrots, and maybe more lettuce. I’ll plant that today or tomorrow.

Took the bags off the ivy but left the wire grills on. I’ll take those off in a week or so. The ivy seems to be doing OK.

Otherwise, we’re in the let it grow part of the season. Maybe pull some weeds. My next garden report will likely not be for another month.

NOTE: we are in Sunset Zone 2B, USDA 6A, and ArborDayFoundation 6

planting calendar:


The last beginning

June 16, 2018

Commencement: The first existence of anything; act or fact of commencing
Synonyms: rise, origin, beginning, start, dawn

Today was Commencement at EWU. The graduating class was so big that they all couldn’t fit into the Spokane Arena at the same time, so we had to do it in shifts.

Since I am retiring at the end of the Fall Quarter of 2018 (exactly six months from now), this marks the last Commencement I will be attending as EWU faculty, and the last time I get to wear my official PhD robes.

Only the coolest people get the coolest hats.

Broccolied Oatmeal

June 14, 2018

So we had dinner the other night, as we often do, and the side (we are no longer hearty eaters, so it’s one side at a time) was a riced broccoli: broccoli that had been chopped  up smaller than rice grains. I’m pretty sure it was the Marketing Department’s way of using up all the stalks as well as the florets, as well as giving parents something they can hide in the mashed potatoes. Of course there were leftovers (we’re talking broccoli here), so I tried them for breakfast.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of beef broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, two heaping dinner teaspoons of riced broccoli, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end, and the broccoli after that (it had already been steamed the night before).

Results: Very good. Not overpowering. Worth putting in the rotation for the next time we have broccoli (let’s see…Haley’s comet…).

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 11, 2018

Garden Report for 180611

Just can’t stay away. I was going to lighten up on the gardening this summer, but I keep adding more and more plants.  Went to Bi-Mart on Thursday (are we going to get a Trans-Mart soon?) to buy a zucchini, because we didn’t have one of those, or a summer squash (nobody has summer squash) in the garden. Saw four or five tomato varieties that I hadn’t seen before or elsewhere, bought two (Jet Star and Moreton) and put them in containers on the east side of the house. Lemon cucumber on the deck, and the zucchini in Section 2.

The west side ivy may have been dumped into high sun too fast and got sunburn. I’ve put a grill over them (to give dapple-like shade), and hung a number of plastic shopping bags off the grill (to give a more diffuse light for dappling). I’ll take them off in a week or so. Actually, I’m likely to take them off come Friday night, because we are in for clouds and rain all weekend.


Hummus Oatmeal

June 7, 2018

Some of my Arab students had a combination graduation party and Iftar dinner, Iftar being the meal at which Muslims break their fast at sunset during Ramadan. They honored me with an invitation. The food was excellent, in a Middle Eastern sort of way, with lots of dips, including the Arabic equivalent of hummus. Afterwards, they gave me a large bag of various dishes to take home. I told them I would cry all the while I was handing out grades.

Now hummus is designed for cracker dipping, but of course you can do other things with it, including adding to your morning oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, two dinner teaspoons of hummus, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end, and the hummus after that (you don’t need to cook it, just use the oatmeal to heat it).

Results: Very good. Worked with both chicken and beef broth. Not enough of it to overpower the flavor. I’ll consider going out and buying a jar of hummus when this supply runs out.

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 4, 2018

Garden Report for 180604

Planted the Home Depot loot: Spaghetti, Butternut, and Delicata squash, Knucklehead and Wee be Little pumpkin, and Sweet Potato vine in the garden (Section 2); Better Boy and Black Prince tomato, and Japanese cucumber in the containers by the house. That left one empty container.

The Boston Ivy came in, a day early. All healthy. I dug up (most of) the hops on the south side of the house and planted the ivy in pairs, with room for my two planter bags between the pairs.

Hit the hardware store for one last time. Bought an acorn squash (Autumn Delight) for Section 2, Moskvitch for the east side containers, and a Cherokee Purple and a Brandywine for the south side planter bags.

The only thing left is some carrots (multicolor), chard, and lettuce (Iceberg, which makes a pretty good leafy lettuce, even when it doesn’t head).

After that, it’s just the occasional weed pull, and making sure the containers get watered — the garden is on a timer.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 29, 2018

Garden Report for 180528

Boy is my face red. I mis-read my previous planning posts, and I’ve been using the 2017 planting guide. That means I’m planting the same plants in the same place, two years running. Do too much of that, and you have a higher risk of root diseases. I’m going to assume that two years in a row isn’t too bad.

Made a run to Home Depot over the weekend. Bought some tomatoes and squash. They didn’t have any Boston Ivy, so I’ve ordered some on Amazon.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned that if one nozzle of a 4-way hose splitter goes bad and won’t close, you have to dump the whole thing*, and buy new. At least that gave me a chance to restructure my hose pattern: 1. spray hose for the dog run, 2. mobile hose for the north side of the yard, 3. soaker hose for our cedar, which is feeling poorly, 4. soaker hoses for the garden. I’ve put 3 and 4 on a timer, so the cedar and the garden get a drink every day. *Yeah, OK, I could have bought an end cap. Now you tell me.

Here’s what looks like a good tutorial on planting tomatoes. Too bad I’ve already got mine planted. She lives in L.A., which makes it easy to get fish heads. Here in the NENW we have to special order them from Amazon (or, if you are willing to make do with trout, you can do a catch-and-release, after removing only the head).


Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 21, 2018

Garden Report for 180521

Well behind on gardening this year. Something to do with teh chemo. The garden and environs look like something out of a D&D game description: you stumble upon an abandoned house, with an overgrown garden and a yard that is reverting to forest…

Finally bought a bunch of tomatoes from the local hardware store, one of each:

Section 1: Champion, Beefsteak Hybrid, Brandywine, Big Boy, Carolina Gold, Big Beef, Oregon Spring.

Deck containers: Early Girl, Pink Accordion, Busch All Star Beefsteak, SunSugar.

Also bought snow peas and cucumbers. One cucumber went into the tub out front, and all the rest went into Section 1.

Of course, immediately after I bought all this, it poured down rain for two days.

My other project is to remove the hops on the south wall, and replace them with ivy. The hops worked well, but their ‘berries’ are poisonous to dogs, which meant I had to climb up every Fall and cut them down before they started producing. I’m too old and fat to do that any more. Stage 1 worked well — the plastic grid panel came off at the first tug. It’s probably lucky I did it deliberately, otherwise the whole thing would have fallen down unexpectedly. Now I have to dig up the hops, so they don’t come back.

I will probably limit the garden to Sections 1 and 2. Next year, when I’m retired, I can go all out.

Stonekettle on Responsibility

May 19, 2018

I rarely make a post that’s just a link to someone else’s post, but in this case I’ll make an exception.


Why is it that whenever the subject of responsible gun ownership comes up, the “responsible” gun owners are the first to protest being held responsible?

My favorite anime mother

May 13, 2018

Kuramoto Nana

There are very few mothers in anime, and those that do appear are usually lacking in the normal motherly attributes. In most anime where parenting might be an issue, the parents are dead (Japanese cars are notoriously unsafe in that respect), or working overseas (possibly contributing to the drop in Japanese population). Many mothers who are both alive and present are professionals who we see briefly on their way to work in the first episode (one of the magical girl series), or briefly when well into the series (Monogatari). Others turn out to be behind-the-scenes contributors to the plot (Witchcraft Works).

The only normal mother I can think of is Kuramoto Nana, in The Flying Witch.

She runs the household, and does motherly things, and She also handles the occasional magical phenomenon with grace and aplomb. And just so we don’t think she’s a tradition-bound woman, she also is a professional artist and writer of children’s books. Maybe not rocket science professionalism, but pretty good for a farm wife in Aomori Prefecture.


Keeping hubby fed

“Mom, can I go out?”

“Mom, I want to make some tempura”

“What a cute witch”

Why yes, I am a professional

Pumpkin Oats

May 12, 2018

So, MJ wants me to eat more healthy-like, and one of her friends has a husband who swears by putting pumpkin in his morning oatmeal. I suspect that he’s eating something that looks like orange cream of wheat, but anything to keep peace in the family.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of beef broth, two heaping teaspoons of canned pumpkin, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the pumpkin at the beginning and the potatoes at the end.

Results: Not bad, not great. Tastes like beef broth with something in it. I guess that’s about what I want — something that won’t interfere with the taste. Now to try it with other additions. After all, I still have most of the rest of the can.

Rating: *****

They are coming for your drones

May 6, 2018

Last week at an industry conference, the FBI spun a fairy tale, one that was reported uncritically by the press, about criminal use of drones. Go read it (and note that two of the first three comments called shenanigans, so it’s not just me). Here’s my breakdown.

It seems this “criminal gang” got itself involved in a hostage situation, as criminal gangs are wont to do. Now, this is the first time I’ve heard of such a thing. Usually, it’s some lone idiot whose plans have gone horribly wrong.

The FBI was called in, and set up an “elevated OP” to monitor the situation. This OP evidently was not hidden well enough that the bad guys weren’t aware of it. Maybe it was the FBI flag that gave it away.

The bad guys then launched a swarm of drones, from an unspecified location, to fly around the observers’ heads, kindof like nesting starlings, distracting them and making them lose “situational awareness”.  The drones, by the way, had been “backpacked” in, in anticipation of the FBI arrival.

Finally, the drone video was uploaded to YouTube, so that all members of the gang could see what a distracted FBI agent looked like.

No further details are available, because the incident remains “law enforcement-sensitive”. Of course, the criminal gang knows when and where it happened, and it has YouTube videos of FBI agents swatting at drones, but the FBI can’t tell us citizens any more (like, just for e.g., why the FBI didn’t use its own drones).

One has to wonder what the true FBI motive is behind this story. My guess is that they want more control over civilian drones, and this fake news is just the start of a flood of reports about drones harassing law enforcement, disrupting cattle drives, and carrying off small children.



Memories of my youth: Titan launch

May 3, 2018

On the 3rd of May, 1961, the Air Force conducted a silo launch test at Vandenberg AFB. The test was to see if a missile could stand the stress of being launched from inside the silo, rather than being lifted to the surface. The Silo Launch Test Facility (68-SLTF) had a W-shaped blast deflector at the bottom and two vents on the sides. This was intended to be the normal launch method for the new Titan II ICBM, but that missile was still in testing, so they used a Titan I, instead.

I was a teenager, living on Vandenberg at the time, and of course we all knew the test was going to take place. We also knew of a good place to observe it from, so on the day of the launch we bicycled down the back roads of the base.  Turns out, it was such a good place to observe launches from that the Air Force had set up a press facility there.

After some delays (as usual), the missile was launched, and was spectacular, also as usual. I took pictures with my 35mm camera, and my friend, Jim Bones used an 8mm movie camera on a tripod, looking through one lens of a pair of binoculars.

Unbeknownst to us, an Air Force cameraman included us in his shot of the launch, which photo was used as the basis for a painting, currently in the Air Force Art Collection. I actually saw it, thirty some years ago, hanging in a back office in the Pentagon.

That’s me, kneeling, on the left

The equipment on the left was a quad-.50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun mount, modified to hold a 150mm tracking camera. The two people kneeling next to the tracker were me and Jim. Our jackets were actually olive drab. The Air Force blue was artist’s license. The trailer with the white canopy on the right is a press phone bank.

Here’s a video of the launch:

Painting Reference:

Artist: Nixon Galloway
Catalog Number: 1961.082

Video Reference:

Time travel opportunity

April 15, 2018

The Surratt House, 604 H Street NW Washington, DC, where conspirators planned Lincoln’s assassination, is now an Asian restaurant, with karaoke.

You can’t stay mad with wok and roll

If only they’d had karaoke in that meeting room 153 years ago, things might have been different

Cancer Report 1 Mar – 5 April

April 6, 2018

Good news with a however.

TLDR: Markers all within normal range. MRI looks good. Biopsy normal. We are declaring victory and dropping all drugs. Surveillance check every three months.

However: It will be months while the toxins work their way out, so my fatigue, intestinals, and other side effects will continue, and I’ll continue to feel crappy much of the time (less as time goes by). Immune system will be down for a year (so I still do antibiotics).

Bottom Line: I still have incurable cancer, it’s just been driven into hiding.

Towards the end of March I had another MRI. Same as the last. Stuff me in a narrow metal tube and tell me not to move…for an hour. Then I had a bone biopsy. I thought I knew what to expect, but the pain pattern was different, and I almost kicked the biopsonist in the face. She still got a good twelve inches of marrow out. Enough for a cancer test and soup for two.

Meanwhile, the side effects of the side effects drugs were wearing me down some more — to the point that MJ was getting worried. Lots of days when I spent most of the day in bed. If it hadn’t been for my colleagues at EWU (Debra, in particular), I’d have been in real trouble. Plus, the students were again very understanding. Intestinal troubles continued — think space shuttle launch — and I lost a total of 17lb since this started. We did get the blood pressure vs chemo drugs sorted out, so I didn’t have any more grey-outs (and at one point my systolic hit 160). I suspect we’re going to have to recalibrate again, now that my drugs have made another change.

As I said, my blood markers are all back in the normal range, and the oncodoc liked my MRI. There was some confusion over the biopsy, but that was due to the hospital changing data systems. He actually had to fire up the old system and print out the results. They expect to have these issues fixed Real Soon Now. I’ll have an MIS writeup on that experience sometime soon.

In any event, the biopsy showed no sign of cancer cells, and a 1% level of blood cells in the marrow. Up to 3% is considered normal.

Considering the current readings, and how well I responded (“your markers plummeted”), we’ve decided to forego maintenance chemo for now and just do a press-to-test every three months. If the markers start back up, we’ll do another biopsy (yay) and then either resume full treatment or go to a maintenance regime. Oncodoc doesn’t think there will be a problem for another year or so.

So this will be the last report for a good while. If nothing’s changed, I won’t bother to generate a new one.

The archaeology of the Trump dynasty

April 1, 2018

“Discovered in 2084 beneath the ruins of the American Democracy, the “Altar of Trumpism” seen here. was considered the jewel of the Trump Building Program. Originally designed as the spot at which Republicans would sacrifice true conservatism, adherence to the law, and personal decency in exchange for short-term political gain, it came to be used for the ritual slaughter of legislators….”

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Memories of my youth: Germans

March 17, 2018

This set of pictures brings back memories. It was March or April of 1971, and I was deployed to Crete, supporting an Army training exercise — Sergeant ASP (Annual Service Practice with the Sergeant missile).

It was a multi-national operation, and there was a group of German Air Force aircrew down, with their C-160 transports, the ones that look like a twin-engine C-130. Heading up their operation was a LtCol, Oberstleutnant. I was a junior Captain.

The German pilots were very friendly. They had all trained at Williams AFB in Arizona, and had a fondness for Mexican food.

I met the Oberstleutnant on the ramp, and of course I saluted. He, being a laid-back pilot, stuck out his hand to shake. I pulled down my hand from the salute, and reached out to him. Meanwhile, he had brought his hand up to return my salute. So I brought my salute back up, just as he was reaching for my hand. A couple cycles of this and we got into synch, laughing like mad.

Much later, that became popular among politicians

Great people, the Germans, and yes, many of them looked like those pictures.

Oatmeal Gulash

March 5, 2018

This was inspired by a recipe my-brother-the-geologist brought back from a stint in Austria. Yes, gulyas is Hungarian. And yes, it’s eaten all over the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. For those who like recipes, here’s one from The Guardian (be sure to read the comments).

The baseline recipe is slow-cooked beef (shanks, chuck, etc), deeply browned onion, and tablespoons of assorted paprikas. The meat shreds down, and the onion disappears. Makes an excellent dinner. And you have leftovers.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, about a quarter-cup of gulash, very little salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the gulash a minute before you take it off the stove, and the potatoes right at the end.

Results: Most excellent. Just enough gulash/paprika flavor to give you a spicy breakfast.

Rating: *****

UPDATE: adding Golden Curry and shred cheese helped a lot

UPDATE: So, the original dinner was goulash over pasta. There was leftovers there, as well. Chopped up goulash and pasta added to the oatmeal was very good, but added half a pound of weight.

Nine Years

March 5, 2018

This blog started on March 5th, 2009, nine years ago. Will it make it to ten? We’ll see.

Cancer Report 19 Feb-1 Mar

March 1, 2018

As with much of life, things get worse until they get better.

On the chemo front, the last three weeks were a battle between me and my blood pressure (systolic down to 84 at times), and the associated side effects, like vertigo and grey-out and “hold him down while I administer IV fluids.” There were also intestinal issues, and limb swelling, and all the other stuff I’ve talked about earlier.

On the myeloma front, my blood markers are all down, essentially into the normal zone.

Today, the oncodoc decided that since we could not be sure that the benefit was worth the cost, the game was worth the candle, that the rate of return was worth the risk, we might as well pause for a month to let me recover and see how things are developing.

“We’ve driven the markers down 99.9% and we’re continuing to beat you up, and I’m not sure that beating you up some more will do any good.”

So, right now, for a while, I’m pausing the chemo. I won’t bounce back immediately, but slowly recover normal functions over the course of the next month or so. Continuing to take the bone-strengthening pills (they don’t count as chemo) will help.

End of March I get another bone biopsy and another MRI, which are the gold standard on these things. That’s when we will know, and that’s when we will make plans for maintenance.

Meanwhile, MJ won’t have to interrupt her teaching in order to drag my body to class and to Spokane multiple times every week.

Correlation and Causation and Guns and Games

February 24, 2018

Seventy-two percent of the recent decline in youth violence can be attributed to video games.

I am combining and re-issuing two articles from the past (2012 and 2014) because they are again relevant, but need re-casting. They deal with the relationship between violence in video games and violence (particularly gun violence) in real life.

This is important, because the President and the Governor of Kentucky, among others, have both made that connection. They are both wrong, and to the extent that they are in a position to know they are wrong, they are both lying for political gain.

The key point, true in all science, is that if the correlation is zero, then you can’t tell me there’s a real-world relationship. And if the correlation is negative, then the relationship goes the other way — an increase in one causes a decrease in the other.

Here’s a couple of examples.

Back in 2012, the Washington Post had an article on the game/gun relationship. The TL;DR version is: There isn’t any, get over it. Here’s a helpful graphic. If there was a relationship, the gun violence levels would go up with the levels of video games. Notice how that doesn’t happen. At all.

Source: Washington Post

Source: Washington Post

The study they posted compared spending on video games in different countries, vs gun deaths in those countries. Leaving out China, a distinct social and governmental entity all its own, video game spending varies by a factor of almost three, from Germany to socially similar Netherlands. Gun deaths vary from near zero in the UK and Japan, to 0.5 per 100,000 in Canada, which is almost an outlier, because everyone else is down near 0.25. Except for the US, of course, which is a true outlier at 3.2 — for a country that spends less per capita than even Germany.

Lack of correlation creates a strong presumption of lack of causation. If I claim that solar eclipses cause plagues, and you look at two thousand years of solar eclipses and find that the overwhelming majority did not take place immediately before a plague outbreak, then it’s a pretty good bet that my hypothesis is wrong.

Science can’t really prove claims, no matter how strong the evidence, because a later test might show the claims to be wrong. What science can say is that theory x has passed every test we have set for it. What science can say is, theory y fell at the first jump, because its claims of correlation have been shown to be not true.

Want another example? OK, this from 2014, from Florida. Florida, guys.

C.J. Ferguson, at Stetson University,did a simple study* of the correlation between real world youth violence vs video game violence, using historical statistics.

Here’s the key graphic.

A good example of non-causality

As the level of video game violence goes up, the level of youth violence goes down. Based on this, you could claim that video game violence actually reduces youth violence. After all, if you’re at home playing games, you’re not out on the street, getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting. It’s what’s called a negative correlation. Specifically, it has bivariate correlation value of -0.85. And as any statistician will tell you, this give you an R² of 0.72, which means that 72% of the decline in youth violence can be attributed to video games.

The studies are four and six years old. Politicians have staffs. Politicians have helpful outsiders providing them with facts — and in some cases, with fake news. If they chose to listen to the fake news, they are choosing to lie to the public to advance their own agenda, specifically to dispel any efforts at gun control. If they lie about this, what else are they lying about?

Cancer Report 19 Jan – 9 Feb

February 9, 2018

So, my plan is to update this record every three weeks, right after the consult with my oncodoc. And if nothing of import happens, I’ll roll it in to the next 3-week update.

This cycle, there was import.

My blood pressure has been running low. This is a common occurrence when BP meds and chemo meds combine. It didn’t seem to be too bad of a problem, because my seated morning BP was in the 116/x range.

Then, at the beginning of February, I went to Deaconess to get my two infusions of chemo. They took my bodily measurements, and the next thing I knew I was strapped down in a chair for an hour and a half with a bag of fluids plugged in to me. My standing BP was 88/x, way down from what they wanted, and I was suffering from near-fainting spells (bad enough that the infusion ladies were propping me up and asking if I needed a wheelchair). Doc didn’t want me driving home like that. In addition to the fluids, they adjusted my BP meds (dropping terazosin for now), and we’ll see. Post-fluids had it back to 100/x, and post terazosin it’s creeping back up over 100/x. It’s still low, but not dangerously so.

Meanwhile, I seem to be stuck in a weekly cycle of exciting intestinal cleanout. We won’t go into details. Suffice it to say, the students have been remarkably patient with me having to run sprint out of class in the middle of a lecture.

Meanwhile meanwhile, my stamina continues down, I get cold easily, and the Dex messes with my wake/sleep cycle, which is why this has been posted when it was.

At the consult I wrote down all the marker numbers, then didn’t save. Students, let that be a lesson to you. Roughly, M was 2.5 and is now down to 0.3, which is normal; F1 was 3400 and is now 190, which is normal; and F2? was 343, but is now … also in the normal range. These are all excellent, he says. The best measure, however, is the result of the bone biopsy, where they take this … device … and pull enough marrow out of your hip to make soup with, and see how it plays on Iron Chef, or something.

We have four more cycles before we do that, and the goal is to drive the biopsy results into undetectability. That doesn’t mean I’m cured, because of the incurable, but it forecasts a long time before relapse. We’ll see how that works out. By my calculation, we will know around the first week of May.

Sorry, Barnes & Noble, you’re too hard to deal with

February 3, 2018

In order to keep up a certain amount of competition with Amazon, I’m willing to put up with a certain amount of inconvenience from places like B&N. A certain amount.

I had this vague notion that I could use B&N for downloadable e-books, and Amazon Prime for movement of molecules. That worked OK for a while, and then it all went pear-shaped.

If I am looking at an e-book and click on the picture, it sends me to a page that will order the paperback, meanwhile claiming that I’m reviewing the e-book. I have to click on the book title to get to the version I want.

Then, their site navigation doesn’t seem to pass information from one part to another. When I click on that book to order it, it sends me to a popup that wants me to establish an account. Meanwhile, it has my name in the header bar.

Meanwhile, my credit card expired. So I went to Manage Accounts to update the date. That worked OK, except the popup can’t tell the difference between N and North on my address (it’s worked fine for the last year, B&N, did you get a new DB admin?). Am I done? No. It needs a phone number. It pre-filled in everything else, but it doesn’t have my phone? Yeah, yeah, here it is. Click OK, and get a note that I’ve already updated my address.

Security email saying my account has changed. Glad you noticed.

Ready to order. Order. Popup. Something along the lines of, “We can’t fill your order because we don’t have an account for you, and your address isn’t in our DB, and your credit card is out of date…”

Is it any wonder that Amazon is eating their lunch?