Penalty for forgetting your password: Part 4 and final (we hope)

August 20, 2016

The final transition went smoothly. Sortof.

The original SSD turned out to be well secured, by a set of screws and a plastic strap on the bottom of the case. It was the PRO model, while the spare that’s replacing it is the EVO model (Samsung 256GB 850PRO vs 850EVO). The main difference being that the PRO will have a longer service life. However, I expect both of them to be obsolete before ever I get close to their fail dates.

The SSD is on the floor

The SSD is bolted to the floor of the case

It was but the work of an hour for me to unscrew the four screws, ungrommet the rubber grommets, and replace the old SSD with the new one and regrommet and rescrew everything. OK, so not all the screws went back through the grommets, and I had to tape one in place. But it’s back together, and it works.

Unfortunately, the original SSD detected that it had been moved to a new PC or something, and demanded a password, which I don’t of course have. I can’t think of anything that I haven’t backed up onto the NAS or already imported (Firefox even kept my four speed dial tabs, with all the dials), so when I get a spare moment I’ll load something new on the PRO, maybe Mint Linux.

Our Trip to Alaska

August 19, 2016

MJ is a handbell ringer and handbell choir director. Every couple of years a Portland group called Bells of the Cascades sponsors a cruise — to Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean — wherein a hundred or so ringers get together, practice during the ocean parts, and put on a concert at the end. Most of the cruises are to warmer climes, during January, and I can’t go along because of school. When it’s an Alaska destination, they go in August, and I can tag along.

Where we went

Where we went

This trip our onshore activity was a little constrained. MJ had just had her shoulder replaced a month before and was still in a sling, with orders to avoid all stress on that arm. But a little thing like having zero use of her left (dominant) arm wasn’t going to keep her from making the trip, and ringing.

Day 1: Departure

We’d sent the dogs to summer camp for the week and packed the night before, so we were able to get on the road by 7AM. It’s roughly two hours to the Columbia, two hours to Seattle, and two hours to the border, plus another hour inside Canada, because the cruise left from Vancouver. Traffic around Seattle was surprisingly heavy.

Downtown Vancouver from the cruise ship dock

Downtown Vancouver from the cruise ship dock

We rolled in to Vancouver about 3PM. The travel agent had booked us at a 4-star hotel (about a star and a half more than we needed) that had the advantage of being on the most direct route from Canada 99N to the cruise ship dock. I really like Vancouver. Of the three great cities of the NW (Portland, Seattle, Vancouver), it’s probably the most cosmopolitan. We walked around a bit, had dinner at a Red Robin (watched a crow learning to lift an onion ring from an abandoned ring-stacker) and went to bed early.

Day 2: Another Departure

Next day we were up early, dodged the crowds and barriers for the Vancouver Gay Pride parade, and zipped down to the cruise ship dock. Parking was inside the cruise ship center, so we offloaded our bags, zipped through customs and security, and were on board by 10AM, thence to hang around the bar until they let us in to our cabins about 1.

Corner suite, right above that orange storage container

Corner suite, right above that orange storage container

The first thing us old folks noticed was the prevalence of kids on the trip, and groups talking off their balconies. It felt a little like an old New York tenement. All it lacked was some laundry hung outside.

Oh, right.

Oh, right.

Another thing we noticed, after several days, was the number of ethnic Chinese on the trip. At one point, in the buffet, of the ten occupied tables, four were seating Chinese speakers. I don’t know if this is a flood of the new middle class from the mainland, or if it was just representative of Vancouver’s large Chinese population (most of whom had arrived just prior to the return of Hong Kong to the PRC). In any event, I was struck by the numbers, and thought of similar sights mentioned in some SF novel of old (Brin? Niven? Stephenson?).

Day 3: At Sea

We started with a 48 hour run up through British Columbia’s Inland Passage and Hecate Strait to a fishing village west of Juneau. Not much to do except sit on the veranda and sip fine wines. Of course, an outside air temperature of 55F and a ship’s speed of 17kts combined to give a wind chill in the upper 30’s, so that option was out. MJ practised with the handbell group,

One person per note

One person per note

and I made an attempt to get some programming done.

Taking time out to look cool

Taking time out to look cool

Day 4: Icy Strait Point

There’s not a lot of places to stop in southern Alaska. There’s Juneau, and maybe four small fishing ports like Ketchikan, plus a couple of glacier-ridden fjords. So, as I understand it, the cruise lines pooled their lunch money and put in a multi-million dollar dock at a small former fishing port, Icy Strait Point. How small is it? One of the highlights on the tour map was a 20-grave cemetery. They also built a fishing museum and a “zipline”. I use the scare quotes because you don’t really hang on the way you do on a real zipline. Instead, they have a seat that looks like some of the safer playground swings. The most photogenic objects are the local cat

The municipal cat. In chair, at left.

The municipal cat. In chair, at left.

the ship

Our floating hotel

Our floating hotel
(click to embiggen)

And here’s a shot of the ship with MJ in the foreground, for scale. The sling is designed to keep her shoulder from levering itself out of the socket.

The sling is designed to keep her shoulder from levering itself out of the socket

She doesn’t normally wear her hair ahoge style.

And finally the museum, which includes a working model of a Radio Shack.

This museum has everything

This museum has everything

Day 5: Hubbard Glacier

Overnight to the Hubbard Glacier. Very impressive

The approach

The approach

and the warm days meant it was calving almost continuously

If you look close, a chunk of ice just fell off in the center

If you look close, a chunk of ice just fell off in the center

That night was the Bells of the Cascades concert

Concert for the passengers

Concert for the passengers

Day 6: Juneau

Running overnight and most of the next day down from Hubbard, we got in to Juneau in the early afternoon. I wandered around a little bit, but the interesting bits of town were too far away from the ship, so I stayed aboard and watched the float planes landing.

As we were docking, one of these landed between the boat and the dock

As we were docking, one of these landed between the boat and the dock

Here’s another view of the ship. Our stateroom is right above the caribou flag.

A cruise-crowded port

A cruise-crowded port

Day 7: Ketchikan

Our last port of call was Ketchikan. During the run down from Juneau, the handbell group gave a free concert. Unfortunately, the room they gave them was so small only a few passengers could get in.

Only one working hand? That's OK. I'll play both bells with it.

Only one working hand?

Caption goes here

That’s OK. I’ll play both bells with it.

We were moored behind Holland-America’s Noordam, one of three other cruise ships at dock. Seeing small fishing towns suddenly inundated with 10,000 or 12,000 tourists gives you a bit of a feeling what it must have been like during the gold rush days.

Four cruise ships, at 3,000 passengers each...

Four cruise ships, at 3,000 passengers each…

BTW, this was Celebrity Infinity docking at Ketchikan back in June. Our arrival was much smoother.

 

Day 8: At Sea

Another day and a night at sea. We chased the Noordam through the Inland Passage.

No passing zone

No passing zone

That night the Strait of Georgia, and it was amazingly warm. It turns out there was a reason for that.

 

Day 9: Arrivals

Arrived in port at Vancouver about 6AM. Nice trip under the bridge.

Home from the sea

Home from the sea

Spent most of the morning having a leisurely breakfast. Our chalk was due off the ship at 8:30, and by 9:00 we had picked up our bags and cleared customs and were on our way home.

Arrived home late Sunday afternoon, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that the whole family was back together again.

Final Thoughts

This cruise wasn’t as much fun as the others, due to MJ’s shoulder, and there were a lot of minor irritations. The ship is, I think, a little small (90,000t, 2500 pax) and a little old (2001, second oldest in their fleet). It was tarted up a few years ago, with a new carpet and paint job, but if you looked at the edges of the steel plates you could see they were delaminating and rusty. The passageways seemed narrower than on other cruise ships, but that might have been because they were always cluttered with cleaning gear and laundry bags. The pre-departure abandon ship drill was a joke. Our muster station was in the main ballroom, from thence someone would take us to our lifeboat…it says here. Other cruise lines hold their drills right next to the assigned lifeboats.

On our cruise, the whole handbell group had asked to be seated together — same dining room, same time — but the Celebrity people didn’t pass that on to the ship, and their on-board software evidently couldn’t solve such a large linear-programming model, so we were scattered hither and yon. At least our table was quite close to the table where MJ’s sister and her family were seated.

It's good to be close to family

It’s good to be close to family

In another, albeit minor, example of software shortfalls, they had one channel of the ships internal TV system devoted to showing a moving map, with our location. However, the system didn’t seem to be hooked into the actual ship systems, because it couldn’t show true wind speed and direction (0/N), and it kept losing (briefly) the GPS location. When that would happen, the map would keep moving underneath this modal window, so I guess it’s waiting for someone to click <OK>.

I'll just wait for someone to notice me

I’ll just wait for someone to notice me

The cabin crew and wait staff, on the other hand, were superb. Well trained, attentive, engaging. Our sommelier was somewhat overworked (I think they were short-handed), and spent most of the evenings running back and forth with armloads of bottles.

If we had been on our onlies, I think it would have rated as a great cruise. As it was, we’re a little disappointed.

Meanwhile, with everyone back home, the puppy is learning how to fit in.

Next time, I just inch a little to the left

Next time, I just inch a little to the left

Squash VelcrOats

August 18, 2016

Some dishes, a generic stew for example, are called refrigerator velcro — pretty much anything in the fridge sticks to them. We had half an onion, a couple of Zucchinis (one quite elderly), a summer squash, and about a third of a butternut squash that needed using up. What better way to do that than by munging them all together with some chicken broth and sour cream to make squash soup. So we did. And there were leftovers.

The basic soup was very bland and needed salt. We tried spicing it up with salt, a little too much sugar, ponzu sauce, and way too much Lonnies Wholly Huli Hawaiian BBQ sauce, which is like ponzu, with added pineapple and garlic. It was much better, but it was not what you’d recognize as squash soup.

As presented, the soup was very thick, like a thin applesauce. It was likely that there wasn’t enough plain liquid in it for oatmeal, so I tried 2/3 of a cup of chicken broth and 1/2 a cup of soup. That worked out just right.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, 2/3 cup of chicken broth, 1/2 cup of squashlike soup. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: Acceptable. Still too heavy on the Huli, but otherwise quite tasty. I’ll continue the experiment, later.

Rating: *****

Penalty for forgetting your password: Part 3

August 17, 2016

Almost done.

Turns out, the file transfer process was the easiest part. Copied the contents of my home directory to the NAS, thence to the new SSD. Dug down into the .mozilla and .thunderbird directories and copied the .default folders to the NAS. Then copied the .default contents to the .default folders on the new SSD.

That’s it. All my in-the-cloud stuff now available. gMail and Amazon know who I am. Some housekeeping left. Mostly setting up the speed dial on Firefox. Some new installs, like DropBox.

Later today I’ll swap the SSD’s.

Penalty for forgetting your password: Part 2

August 16, 2016

Nothing is ever easy.

So, right after finishing the first article in this unintentionally long-running saga, I dashed into the sun room, where MJ keeps her plants and I keep my other spare computer stuff, grabbed up the box with the 256GB SSD in it, and …. say, that feels a little light. Oh, empty. I wonder where the drive is?

It’s not like the old days, where you could spot a 256MB hard drive sticking up out of a stack of old boots. These new guys are small enough to slide into your shirt pocket and still leave room for a smartphone, key-holder, and sunglasses (as long as they’re not Oakley Gaskans). It could be anywhere.

[some hours later] Oh, right, it’s in my other spare computer. I remember now, I put Mint 16 on it last spring, as a test. My main spare computer has two HDDs in it, so I unplug one and plug in the 256. Have to be careful, ’cause it’s just hanging from the cords, and has a tendency to rattle against the fans.

Let’s try something new. Download Mint 18. Install (Linux installs are so easy, just make sure to tell it to install on the 256SSD and not the 750HDD). Umm can’t install bootloader. Check online. Others have had this problem. Download Boot Repair. Runs fine, dumps a lot of error messages, throws up in it’s mouth, gives me a link to an error log, says to be sure to install the bootloader by hand on sda 750GB. [I’m compressing about six hours of reinstalls here, including a switch to Ubuntu].

750GB? A quick trip inside the PC and I return with a handful of cables rip’d untimely from that mother’s slots. Now the only drive is the SSD.

Power cycle. Re-install. Linux installs are so easy. Fifteen minutes and we’re up and running.

Next step, the dreaded file transfer process.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 15, 2016

Garden Report for 160815

The weather this week was warm and dry. The deck tomatoes seem to be recovering. I got three smallish tomatoes out of Section 4, and one biggish one from the front container. The squashes are producing at just the right rate for us to keep up with them, if we eat a lot of squash soup.

Week
Ending
8/15
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  4 216  54 27 0.99
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.67
summer
squash
1 486 486  4  .85
zucchini  1  1500  1500  4  1.90
Running Total 9.43

 

Week
Ending
8/08
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 23 0.775
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.675
summer
squash
3 .36
zucchini 1 500 500 4 1.400
Running Total 8.93

No, He Doesn’t

August 12, 2016

As my computer hits auto-send on this article, the New York Yankees are taking the field against Tampa Bay, and Alex Rodriguez, A-Rod, will be soon stepping up for his last at bats in major league baseball.

Michael Dougherty, over at The Week, says that A-Rod deserved better than the fan hatred that followed him throughout his career. He’s wrong.

Fan dislike of Alex Rodriguez started in Seattle, when he left the Mariners for league rivals Texas in 2001. He may have loved baseball, as Dougherty claims, but if so it was a love of the mechanics and of the playing rather than love of the game, writ large.

Seattle gave him his start, gave him his nickname, and made him the star player of the team. Everybody loved him. At the end of the 2000 season, he became a free agent and left the Mariners, turning down extremely large amounts of money, to go with the Texas Rangers for an obscene amount of money.

The Mariners fans never forgave him. Ever after, he was booed at every appearance at SafeCo Field, and fans were continually floating paper money down onto the field.

Here's some more money, Alex

Here’s some more money, Alex

You see, in going for the money, A-Rod turned his back on an outstanding team, one that had made it to the ALCS in 2000 and was slated to make it again in 2001, to go with a team that was mediocre before he got there (71 wins in 2000), and was still mediocre (73 wins in 2001) even with his star presence.

Meanwhile, the Mariners were racking up a historic 116 wins in the 2001 season. Yes, they fell apart in the ALCS, but does anyone doubt that if A-Rod had stayed they’d have taken the the ALCS and then possibly the World Series? He turned his back on a winning team for what? For money.

So A-Rod deserves it. It’s not hatred, Mr. Dougherty, it’s contempt.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 8, 2016

Garden Report for 160808

The weather this week was reportedly clear, hot and sunny, with heavy rain at the end. I say reportedly, because we were off on a handbell cruise, of which more in a later posting.

We have the KHG plants on a water timer, so they got watered throughout the week. The deck plants didn’t do so well. We’ll see if they recover. The deck parsley managed to survive.

How dry I am

How dry I am

Only one zucchini was ready when we got home, but that was because our neighbors were encouraged to pick what they wanted. As you can see, the squash in Section 3 are all doing well, while the tomatoes (Section 4, in back) are really hurting. I think it’s lack of sunlight.

Some plants do well, others don't

Some plants do well, others don’t

Week
Ending
8/08
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 23 0.775
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.675
summer
squash
 3  .36
zucchini  1  500  500  4  1.400
Running Total 8.93

 

Week
Ending
8/01
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 3 358 120 23 0.775
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.675
summer
squash
2 240 120 3 .36
zucchini 1 200 200 3 .900
Running Total 7.73

Fruity Oaty Bowls

August 4, 2016

With a h/t to Serenity.

I’ve written before about various fruits in oatmeal — blueberries, bananas, figs, etc. Recently, we had a lot of fresh fruit getting slightly over-ripe. We also had the pressure cooker out after making some Santa Maria beans. So, why not pressure cook a bunch of fruit? So I did. Peaches, banana, blueberries, a different kind of peaches, and so forth. Don’t bother to peel them, just chunk them up and throw them in. I made a couple of batches, one of which included blackberries. Don’t use blackberries. They taste musty, and a half-pound box leaves a pound of seeds in the mix. One batch I tried zotting with the stick blender. Don’t use a stick blender. You get a mix that’s 3/4 sludge and 1/4 juice.

What worked best for me was to put the fruit in the pressure cooker (or a regular pot, if you don’t mind watching it), with enough water to make steam with (say, one or one and a half cups), and maybe some sugar. Pressure cook on high for 20min, or simmer for 45min or so. Let it cool, then strain to separate the wet from the soggy. I ended up with twice the fluid I put into it, plus a nice bowl of soft cooked fruit. The liquid can be used for oatmeal, just like water or broth. The solids can be topping for the oatmeal, or eaten separately with cream or creamer.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of fruity broth, sugar to taste, salt (yes, salt — it’s oatmeal). Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: Pretty good, as long as I only have to eat it a couple of times a summer. Too much of a hot fruit ambiance for me.

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 1, 2016

Garden Report for 160801

The weather this week was clear and sunny, just brushing mid-90’s at midweek.

Harvested two Big Beef tomatoes from the front pot, a New Girl from Section 4, and some miniature peppers from Section 1 of the KHG (4 peppers, 64g total, not worth adding a row for). The BBs are supposed to come in at 400-500g, but these were both 110g. The New Girl was 140g, exactly as advertised.

The squash in Section 3 were badly hit by blossom-end rot, not sure why. Watering has been consistent. I hit them with some calcium mix and they seem to be doing OK now. Got one summer squash and a Zucchini.

Meanwhile, the rest of the KHG tomatoes continue to meander on, with few fruit and nothing ripe. The pie pumpkins outside the KHG are doing OK, but I only see one pump.

I am trying an experiment in the newly-cleared Section 1. Remember the big thistly plant from a couple weeks ago? Turns out it’s burdock, the roots of which are used in some Japanese cooking. First and second year growth is best. So I clipped some of the thistles off a few nearby plants, and planted them in the garden. Remember kids, the best way to get rid of pests is to turn them into gourmet food.

Week
Ending
8/04
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  3  358  120 23 0.775
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.675
summer
squash
 2  240  120  3  .36
zucchini  1  200  200  3  .900
Running Total 7.73

 

Week
Ending
7/25
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 20 0.418
cabbage 3 2750 917 4 4.02
peas 1300 1.675
summer
squash
 1  .120
zucchini  2  .700
Running Total 6.93

Interestingly, this time last year I was about even with this year’s harvest, and in 2014 it wasn’t until mid-August that it was even worth building a harvest table. That will change by the end of the month.

Shouldering On

July 27, 2016

MJ had her initial post-op doctor’s visit last Tuesday. She came home two Fridays ago, two days later than she should have. For the first four days at home she was in pretty bad shape — thin voiced, lethargic, zero stamina, slept a lot. Just what you’d expect if (as my brother put it) she’d had somebody cut off the end of her arm-bone and pound a foot long steel rod into the marrow. The next week was one of recovery rather than one of, well, recovery. She was brighter, moved about more, and started doing things with the dogs, like feeding them and putting them out.

That's gonna leave a mark

That’s gonna leave a mark

The Tuesday visit marked another transition, to, let’s say, healing. The nurse took out all the staples they were using to hold the wound together, replacing them with short strips of medicinal scotch tape. The scar was impressive (for some reason she wouldn’t let me post a picture), but not so bad that one couldn’t imagine it fading away. Her range of motion is still limited, but even there one can see the possibilities. The pain is, manageable, given enough drugs.

Everything seemed to be on track and on schedule, and the doctor seemed relatively happy. Next visit in a month. After that, rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, back home,

It takes a while to learn the rules

It takes a while to learn how to fit in
(Click to embiggen)

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 26, 2016

Garden Report for 160725

The weather this week was clear and sunny, just brushing 90F at midweek.

This is turning out to be a very odd year. I harvested all the peas, because powdery mildew was attacking them, and because they were old enough that they were wondering if they should switch to being planters instead of eaters. I harvested all the cabbage, because they were pretty well mature (over 90 days since transplanting) and because it was getting hot enough that they’d soon be thinking of bolting. The result is that two of the four KHG sections are now essentially empty, and the other two are only half full (of squash and tomatoes). I had cut back on plantings because of all the trips I’ll be on, but closing out half the garden in mid-July is ridiculous.

Meanwhile, the KHG tomatoes continue to meander on, with few fruit and nothing ripe. The Big Boy in the pot out front (not much soil but lots of sun) finally produced two (almost ripe), and might produce two more.

Week
Ending
7/25
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 20 0.418
cabbage 3 2750 917 4 4.02
peas 1300 1.675
summer
squash
zucchini
Running Total 6.113

 

Week
Ending
7/18
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 20 0.418
cabbage  2  1.270
peas  270  –  0.645
summer
squash
     1  120  120    1  0.120
zucchini    2   0.700
Running Total 3.16

What anime am I watching, Summer 2016?

July 22, 2016

Having been down on a bunch of shows, let me tell you about what’s good what has kept my interest. There’s a number of highly thought of shows this season, but for some reason, none of them resonate with me. Right now there’s only four that I’m watching.

Amanchu! In the quiet, ‘healing’ tradition comes a story about how a shy transfer student to a high school by the sea learns to fit in by way of scuba diving and a whacky friend. So far, it’s more Aria than Girls und SCUBA. The girl is well presented and believable. The friend is over-the-top. Her most common face makes her look like one of the elves in Humanity Has Declined.

One of these girls is having way too much fun

One of these girls is having way too much fun

ReWrite  Typical VN-based high school harem hi jinks. Our Hero joins the Occult Study Club because, well, that’s where the oppai are. Gets involved in various occult happenings. What I like about it is that it keeps throwing in twists. Like when they catch the tsuchinoko monster that’s been seen around campus, and it turns out to be a rubber dummy being used as a tsuchinoko lure by another occult seeker.

I suppose you ladies are wondering how you all came to be in the club

I suppose you ladies are wondering how you all came to be in the club

ReZero HikikoNEET gets transported to a fantasy world. This is a two cour series that started last Spring, so we’re on episode 16. Proto-agonist Subaru (yes, it’s , the same as the car, and the same as the Pleiades/Seven Sisters constellation) keeps getting horribly deaded, respawning at an earlier place and time. In the first season he came over as well-meaning, if a little dense and hot-headed. In the second season the heat and density reach stellar-core proportions. So far, he still has the two maid-demons (demon-maids?) on his side, but in the latest episode the Main Heroine has dumped him for being as crazy as a bag of cats. Oh, and everybody has died. Horribly.

Post-respawn awakenings can scare the maids

Post-respawn awakening screams can scare even demon maids

Planetarian Lonely robot keeps watch over a dying planetarium in a dead, post-apocalyptic city. Is befriended by a junk dealer. It’s sweet and sad and reminds me of There Will Come Soft Rains.

Even though we only have electricity for one week, every five years

Even though we only have electricity for one week, every five years

Flying Witch Yes, I know that’s last season. I watched then, also. Very much slice of life. Country-style OP and ED and BGM. Good characters, good art. I’ve marathoned it twice, so far, and plan a much longer essay, later.

It looks like fun, but it can be painful, until you learn the trick

Well, where did you think they came from?
Besides, they’re on sale

But since I’m watching it this season, it counts.

Opera, the Final Farewell

July 18, 2016

So the company wasn’t worth what they thought it was. In fact, it’s only worth half of the original asking price. Nonetheless, a Chinese consortium now owns the browser and the name. I’ll be surprised if anybody outside China continues using it.

It was a fun couple of decades there. I’ll miss you.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 17, 2016

Garden Report for 160718

The weather this week started cool and wet, and ended warm and thundry, with highs in the low 80’s.

Peas are ripening well, and it’s going to be a stretch to keep up with them, particularly since they seem to be having some sort of powdery mildew problem. Harvested another cabbage and made a nice soup with it and the leftover cabbage water from last week. So far, the only tomatoes that are producing are the Stupice’s, and we get a couple of sub-ping-pong-ball-sized ones every few days. The summer squash is languishing, just like the tomatoes, but I found two nice sized Zucchini, hidden away.

Week
Ending
7/18
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  14  268  19 20 0.418
cabbage  1 650  650  2 1.27
peas  –  270  –  0.645
summer
squash
     1  120  120    1  0.120
zucchini  2  700  350  2  0.700
Running Total 3.16

 

Week
Ending
7/11
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

 tomato 6 150 25 6 0.150
 cabbage  1 625   625 1 0.625
 peas  –  375  –  –  0.375
 summer
squash
 zucchini
Running Total  1.15

101 Views

July 17, 2016

First time ever. I guess writing about sports draws the clicks!

Sports Tips

July 16, 2016

Keep your eye on the ball. Always use both hands. This is important both in American football, and in English cricket. It’s equally important when catching a king-sized mattress.

This spring, MJ and I were moving a king from the back of the house, up the hill to the driveway, where a friend with a truck would haul it away for us. At the spot where the hill was steepest, it got away from us, and MJ tried to catch it, one handed. She succeeded.

MJ, chilling out in a cute little off-the-shoulder number that's all the rage in hospital wards in the NW.

MJ, chilling out in a cute little off-the-shoulder number that’s all the rage in hospital wards in the NENW.

In discussing the damage, the emergency room used words like massive, and said the velcro-like sound she heard was the rotator cuff muscle, tearing in half. After four months of non-healing, and understandably ineffective physical therapy, she went in for reverse shoulder replacement surgery.

The operation was a success, but when they put in the nerve block anesthetic — which cuts down on the first 24hrs worth of screaming — her blood pressure plummeted and they had to do lots of medical stuff. So she did not get out the next morning, and she did not get out the next afternoon, nor even the morning after that. But on the evening of the third day she arose, feeling like death, and we got her home to her recliner and her dogs. I don’t know what the scar will look like, but the sealing tape (looks like brown duct tape) runs from her collar bone to past her armpit to her elbow. If we can just get another one on her forehead her Halloween costume will be halfway complete.

As of today (Saturday), she’s still pretty much out of it, sleeps a lot, and cycles between feeling OK, with not a lot of intolerable pain, and pill-popping pain with nausea.

Meanwhile, down on the floor, there’s lots of other things happening.

ThePuppy

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2016

July 14, 2016

Tales of Zestiria the X: Is that X the unknown, or X, the queen after Zestiria the IX? Or maybe it’s a date on their calendar?

Court astronomer has been using his telescope to observe local weather, and in no way is he peering into bedroom windows. Maybe he should be the court meteorologist. Anyway, he sees an unmoving dark cloud (does that make it climate?) over in the next county. Princess sends court climatologist and her trusted companion to find out what it is, and then leads out a patrol of her own to find the trusted companion when they don’t come back two minutes later, because rulers of countries always have time to act like platoon leaders. Encounters ninja-shaped aliens. Finds out that the cloud is of geological origin, not climatological. But before she can find the court climatologist to tell him of his new title, the geology becomes a little unsettled and everybody but her dies. Then it gets weird. Later on, there may be sheep.

Normally, you build a dome that will protect all of your 100cm refractor

Normally, you build a dome that will protect all of your 100cm refractor

The acting is over-wrought, the art is crude, and the animation is clunky. And they don’t know how to build observatories.

Qualidea Code: Highly accomplished team member refuses to cooperate with his team-mates when defeating the pink, boob-shaped alien invaders because they’re almost as dumb as the aliens. Team-mates refuse to cooperate with other teams because they have other highly accomplished members who aren’t him. Competition among the teams for accomplishment points (always a bad thing) leads to the destruction of both the aliens and a vital causeway.

Because crenellated walls are the best way to defeat airborne enemies

Because crenellated walls are the best way to defeat airborne enemies

The art is OK, the characters are the usual range of emotional types (defined by hair color), and the plot is clunky.

Ange Vierge: Highly accomplished team members clash with less highly accomplished team members when defeating the black, dildo-shaped alien invaders. Spend the rest of the episode naked in the bath, naked in their quarters and naked in the office, bepestered by lens flare. Decide that the best way to improve their accomplishment levels is to break into naked competitive teams (always a good thing).

If you think the lens flare is bad, just wait for the steam

She must have very sexy elbows

The plot is minimal, the interpersonal interactions are contrived, and the camera work is clunky. The characters are well rounded.

This is the last TL:DR of the season, I swear. Next week, I answer the question every one of my reader is asking — So, what is he watching, anyway?

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 11, 2016

Garden Report for 160711

The weather this week was cool and wet, with highs in the lower 70’s. Good for cabbage and peas, not so good for tomatoes. Also good for lettuce. Too bad none of the stuff I planted before my trip actually sprouted. The upcoming week will be cooler than normal, maybe hitting 80 toward the end.

 

Week
Ending
7/11
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

 tomato 6 150 25 150 0.150
 cabbage  1 625   625 625 0.625
 peas  –  375  –  –  0.375
 summer
squash
 zucchini
Running Total  1.15

Breaking News

July 10, 2016

In the wake of the Dallas shootings, Boing-Boing has a link to a useful discussion of how to think about fast-breaking news in a crisis. Here’s the takeaway image:

HANDBOOK

And I would add a 1.a. …so will officials on the scene.

It’s Not A Robot

July 9, 2016

So the (lone, untriangulated) Dallas shooter is dead, killed in what is widely heralded as the first combat use of a robot in the US. Only, it’s not. A robot is:

… a mechanical or virtual artificial agent, usually an electromechanical machine that is guided by a computer program or electronic circuitry, and thus a type of an embedded system. Robots can be autonomous or semi-autonomous … (Wikipedia)

Our modern era has an unfortunate habit of using cool words in ways that redefine their underlying meaning. For example, ever since Star Wars, android has been used to mean any mobile robot, instead of a human-seeming one. And robot is used for any mobile telepresence device.

Remote-presence EOD machines have no autonomy. They can’t. You don’t want them to. You want them to be under precise human control at all times. Their job is to be manoeuvred into position next to a suspicious bag of groceries by a human handler, so that the human handler can (for example) set off a small explosive charge that will detonate the main charge (or, more likely blow somebody’s dinner across the parking lot). They are the modern equivalent of a bomb-onna-stick, cousins to the Bangalore torpedo or the self-hoisting petard.

So, yes, the use of a remote-presence EOD machine to deliver a lethal payload to a human target is a first. It is not a harbinger of the rise of the robot killers.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2016

July 7, 2016

Sweetness and Lightning: Hey, have you noticed how well food-porn shows are doing right now? And how much people like smart, energetic little pre-school girls?  We could so clean up with a show that combined the two!

His idea of a child's balanced meal

His idea of a child’s balanced meal

Yeah, but there’s got to be more. If we don’t want to look like Barakamon with food, or Wakakozake with kids, or Gourmet Girl Graffitti with parents, we need something with an edge.

What about making it a single parent, a widower? One who can’t cook?

I don’t know, Japanese are reluctant enough to get married already. We don’t want to give the impression that marriage involves a 50/50 chance of death. I mean, think of all the other single parent or missing parent shows out there. In how many anime do you even see a parent, anyway? Whatever happens to them?

Yeah, but that gives us an opportunity to add a romance angle. You know, like, he’s a school teacher and there’s this girl who’s in one of his classes that keeps coming over to cook. Not just romance, but underage, inappropriate romance!

And she can’t cook either! And they learn together! Sweet lightning, that would work! But what should we call it?

Taboo Tattoo: Guys, what is Miyata thinking? We’ve already got Amanchu, Saiki Kusuo and Food Wars on our plate, and now he wants us to do this Tattoo thing? Even Miyamori Aoi couldn’t find enough animators to save us!

だいじょうぶ, だいじょうぶ. It will be OK. We’ll just use a generic highschool boy develops superpowers plot. Throw in a blonde foreigner and a boobified childhood friend who can cook (maybe we can recycle some outtakes from Food Wars) and the thing writes itself. No need to spend time on the animation, just use dark blobs and speed lines. This will be bigger than Dai-Shogun!!

Take that! You secret tattoo-wielder!!

Take that! You secret tattoo-wielder!!

Momokuri: OK, we’ve got one more 24 minute hole to fill in the schedule, and nobody willing to do it. TMS is busy playing mortician for D.Grey Man while murdering ReLife, and KyoAni is prepping for a second season of Euphonium. Even J.C. Staff is wrapped up in their Tattoo blockbuster thing.

What about recycling something from last years Internet-only ONA programs? Like Momokure. Yandere girl stalks younger boy. I mean, all the episodes are done, it’s cheap, it has low bandwidth, and it already has a 7.2 rating from people who watch anime on their smartphones. What more could you ask for?

Such a cute boy!

Such a cute boy!

 

Oat, peas, beans and barley grow

July 7, 2016

OK, so I lied about the beans and barley.

This recipe is a bit of a mish-mash. We had some leftover pork ribs for dinner, and so had some leftover pork rib bones. We also had our first batch of fresh-from-the-garden peas, and they really were alike as peas in a pod. Which means we had a bunch of leftover pods. Toss in an onion, pressure cook for 20 minutes (didn’t want to overcook the pea pods), and we had a quart of porky-pea broth.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of porky-pea broth, three dinner teaspoons of potato flakes (I like peas and potatoes), salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Serviceable. The result was mild and inoffensive and very nearly bland. Adding butter helped, but what it really needed was gravy. I think that the leftover shards and bones from one dinner were not really enough to give it the meaty flavor it needed.

Rating: *****

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2016

July 6, 2016

The first two programs I dropped were not even on my season preview list.

D.Gray-man: Boy who hunts soul-sucking demons teams up with sister of soul sucked brother. This is a 2016 continuation of a 2006 anime. The current release starts at Episode 104, but Funimation has posted everything, starting from Episode 1, which is what I watched. Too dark (as in, no light in any of the scenes). Too cartoony (as in, everybody is overacting, even by anime standards). Too much 2006 style art (as in, c’mon, it was made in 2006!). Bottom line: I don’t plan on watching a 103-episode prequel.

Would I lie to a policeman?

Would I lie to a policeman?

Berserk: Another resurrection of an earlier era (2008), only this one doesn’t have any prequels available. Demon-haunted man with a big sword and a tiny tattoo fights skeletal demons in a dark forest. Too dark (as in, no light in any of the scenes). Too cartoony (as in, it looks like it was drawn by US comic book artists). Too much CGI (as in, c’mon, it was made in CGI!). OK, too much bad CGI.

And the skeletons move like stop action from a '60's Voyage of Sinbad

And the skeletons move like stop action from a ’60’s Voyage of Sinbad

Re:Re:Re: Only one of the next three was on the list, but that’s OK, ’cause I only dropped two.

ReWrite: Double length into to a VN adaptation because they had to introduce all the girls who are going to fall in love with Our Hero. As usual in these things, the girls are more interesting than Our Hero, but the art style is from the early naughties VN genre and the magical hijinks that are meant to be ominous are silly instead. As in, magical witch girl secretly enters Our Hero’s room at night, slides up under the covers with him, and bites him … on the arm. She also stabs him with her ribbons.

I will so report you to the teacher!

I will drop you from the Konohana Lucia path and force you into the Bad Ending

ReLife: NEET takes a pill that makes him look young again. Re-enrolls in high school, and immediately forgets how to behave. The only saving feature is that the representative from the company that talked him into taking the pill (as an experiment), looks like Koizumi Itsuki from Haruhi Suzumiya, so it’s nice to see that he got an interesting job after college (probably still working for the Organization). I tried reading the manga, and dropped that too.

My Organization wants you to take this pill

My Organization wants you to take this pill

ReZero: This started in the Spring season, but it’s a two-cour, so it still counts. NEET gets transported to a fantasy world in the first of a double episode (1A, 1B) opener. Keeps getting killed and respawning back where he first appeared, but it takes him a while to figure it out. In fact, at the end of 1B he still hasn’t. Since the respawn point is at the same time as well as the same place, it’s like a time loop anime as well. So everything he does based on prior knowledge means the future is different from that point on. Impresses the girl, gets killed; misses meeting the girl, gets killed; catches up to the girl, she doesn’t know who he is.

Three minutes in and already he's adapted

Three minutes in and already he’s adapted

 

This is the only one I’m continuing to watch.

 

Happy 4th

July 4, 2016

The Fourth of July seems to have become a holiday devoted to celebration of the military. We have parades, we have fly-bys, we have speeches honoring the brave men (and now, women) who are overseas, serving and defending our country. We’ve always had some of this, but in the past it was the military celebrating alongside the rest of America, not America celebrating the military. What has changed?

I think part of it has to do with the ending of the draft. It used to be that everyone had served, or knew someone who served. Today, not so much. While there’s still a large group of people who know someone in the Reserves or the Guard, the total is way down from the 50’s and 60’s. More to the point, people no longer feel threatened by the possibility of conscription, so they can afford to wast some pleasantries on some uniformed stranger who is going off to die in some dusty country. Plus, it’s cheap. Like inflated job titles in some underfunded Silicon Valley startup, we can give fancy lip-service to someone we don’t want to give a high salary or effective post-service medical care to.

In addition, it’s good corporate policy to be seen being patriotic, by including a “thank you for your service” in their employee practices, by offering servicemen and women half off, if they come in uniform, or by building a new MLB ballpark at Fort Bragg. It costs very little — smiles are free, nobody who’s been stuffed in a uniform all week wants to slag around in it on the weekend, and the Fort Bragg logo on one end of the sign can be balanced by the Chevy logo on the other.

As someone who has served overseas in one war (VietNam), one almost war (Korea) and one Cold War (Europe), I am mildly put off by all this “Thank you for your service” propaganda. If you want to thank us for our service, stop getting us into stupid wars.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 4, 2016

Garden Report for 160704

No reports for a while on account of as how I was out of the country. While I was gone we moved into our standard summer weather pattern — hot and dry, and sometimes windy. We had a couple days in the upper 80’s, and no rain, and the temperature one foot down in the KHG was 70F on July 1. Fortunately, I had a timer on the soaker hose for the garden, and MJ got the deck plants. Unfortunately, the wet spring and the long absence meant that the weeds have kindof taken over.

The weedy back yard. There are five tomato cages hidden in there somewhere

The weedy back yard. There are five seven tomato cages hidden in there somewhere

The KHG is in much the same shape:

The weedy garden. Cabbages in front, tomatoes at the rear

The weedy garden. Cabbages in front, tomatoes at the rear

And this is The Weed.

The weed. This guy produces lots of horrible thistly seed pods.

This guy produces lots of horrible thistly seed pods.

If your dogs get into this one, come Fall, you’ll be picking burrs out of their fur for a week.

Next week will be a little cooler, and better maintained.

It’s not quite time to start the scoreboard, but I probably will next week. We harvested a handful of deck snow peas for salads, and a couple of deck tomatoes about the size of a bocce ball pallino. About time to harvest some of the garden peas. The lettuce I planted before the trip didn’t come up. I think it was too far away from the soaker hose.

The cabbages are doing surprisingly well. I guess the situation is more complex than I had been led to believe. Previously, hot weather would cause them to bolt. Right now, I seem to have four good cabbages, perhaps softball sized. That’s probably because we had cool wet weather at a critical point.

The KHG tomatoes, in Section 4, are looking surprisingly puny. Possibly because Section 4 gets less sunlight than any of the others. I may have to modify my rotation scheme. The big pumpkins didn’t get any water, and so are stunted and bug-bit. The small pumpkins got some water, and more sun, and so are doing reasonably well. The squashes are doing well, but the one zucchini that was starting off when I left decided to die before dropping its flower instead.

Replanted the deck snow peas. Planted more lettuce.

 

Anime Postview: Spring 2016

July 3, 2016

This is not a real review of the Spring anime season. Instead, it’s a look at how well I did in my Anime Preview.

Of the ones that I said WILL WATCH, I’m two for four.

Screenwriter Okada Mari said that “It’s a show that should give rise to the reaction What the hell is this!?”, and it does. Lots of folks didn’t like it (and some do), but lots of folks don’t have the patience for a show where half the fun is in the way this totally incompatible group starts off discussing a plan, and then spin off half a dozen conversations with no relevance to the plan, or anything else. If you’ve ever been in a business meeting, you know what I mean. BTW, mayoi is the same word that Monogatari uses for Hachkuji Mayoi — the lost snail.

2. Mayoiga The Boys on the Bus, headed for the Hotel California Directed by Mizushima

2. Mayoiga
The Boys on the Bus
 Headed for the Hotel California
Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima

My candidate for best show of the season, and possibly the year, is a feel-good, slice of life anime. No conflict. No drama. No plot. You just find yourself smiling at the end of each episode. It’s based on a slow-output manga, and they used up perhaps two-thirds of the existing source, so it will be a couple of years before a sequel. That’s OK. I’ll wait.  

4. Flying Witch But it’s so much more comfortable to take the bus (Have you ever tried sitting on a broomstick for four hours?)

4. Flying Witch
Have you ever tried sitting on a broomstick for four hours? I’ll take the bus

The other two in this category were on feeds that I don’t get, so they don’t really count, right?

In the MIGHT WATCH category, I’m one for four.

Bakuon was not strong enough to maintain my interest, Kumo Miko died even earlier, and Kiznaiver was just bad. The only one I finished was the non-harem (he’s already got the girl) gamers in highschool. He should have known they were females from the beginning, when they all stood around gossiping while he was being pounded into thin paste by a monster.

4. Negote no Yome... Magical girl goes to high school, decides to start her own SOS club

4. Negote no Yome…
Highschool boy finds that all the guys in his MMORPG are girls, and they go to his school!

Of the shows that I said that I WON’T WATCH, I didn’t, and I’m glad. So I’m four for four there.

Meanwhile, there was one show that that I didn’t list that I DID WATCH and I’m happy I did.

Steampunk. Zombies. On a train. With old fashioned samurai. What’s not to like? This one turned up on my Amazon Prime list. Good thing it was subtitled, or I wouldn’t have watched it.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

So, I guess you could be conservative and say I’m three for seven. Interestingly, all of them except Kabaneri are on Crunchyroll.

My Trip to England: Day 11 and Final

June 30, 2016

Nothing very English about today. Got up early and finished packing — left all of my used underwear in the trash can because otherwise there was not enough room for the swag. Jen and I shared a taxi-van to Heathrow. Turns out that a two way share is slightly cheaper than a single person riding the train to Heathrow via London. Very enjoyable ride through a green and pleasant land — southern Cambridgeshire and Huntingtonshire.

At Heathrow, I found that the nice lady from British Airways who helped me on Day 1 had messed up the ticket and so we had to go through it all over again. I didn’t mind, because I had eight hours to kill (one of the drawbacks to shared transport). There had just been a bombing at the airport in Ankara, Turkey, and security was high — Army guys with automatic weapons, and police with bomb dogs wandering around. Still, there was a certain EuroSanity about it, with none of this silly remove your belts and your shoes business.

HiMyNameIsCasey

Hi! My name is Casey!! You got a bomb for me? Or maybe a cookie?

The trip back was about as expected. Long and boring. I watched a Japanese movie based on a Manga (Orange). I watched the first 10 minutes of the 2016 release of the movie “Dad’s Army“. Sorry guys, you just couldn’t pull it off. I had more footroom than on the trip out because I was in a center section and didn’t have to fight for space with the USB router box (as I now discover). Tried to stay awake, and mostly succeeded.

In Seattle, the basic ineptness of the US  border control mafia was on display. Passport processing was relatively easy because there were around 20 automated machines to let you do the work of border control official. Foreigners had a slightly longer ordeal. Then the two streams, totalling about 300 people, merged again, and flowed to the immigration checkpoint — two stations. Of course there was a big pileup (solar physicists would call it a shock front), and we had to wait.

After that, it was clear sailing down to pick up our bags and head out through a short, poorly lit corridor and around a corner to …. some additional TSA checkpointing. Unlike the highly alert UK on the edge of a recently bombed Continent, TSA wanted belts and shoes off and even paper out of the pockets and ran me through the particle accelerator scan — twice. Turns out my beltless trousers were too baggy for the machine, which missed the Garmin I’d forgotten I had strapped to my ankle. All in all, it took me longer to get back into the States, than it me to get into the UK, or onto a UK plane.

BA had  pre-booked me on AK Airways, so I only had a five hour wait in Seattle. Ate at Wulfgang Puck’s. Had a dinner pizza, in this case a pizza disk heated up with a cheese and mushroom topping, with arugula lettuce added, post baking, as a final topping. As they say on MJ’s favorite TV program, “I’m sorry, Wulfgang”, but you’ve been chopped.

Got home at 12:15AM. Slept well.

Corned beef oats

June 30, 2016

This is more variations on a theme, rather than a major new item. I’ve done a number of experiments with corned beef, and cabbage, leftovers in oatmeal. This time we had slow-cooked a corned beef slab, with root vegetables, for eight hours on low, in enough water to just cover. Added cabbage a half-hour before the end. Result wasn’t exciting, but that might have been the cut of the meat, or the cutting of the meat. The broth, however, was great. There was close to two quarts of it. This is my best result:

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of slow-cook corned beef and cabbage broth, a quarter cup of chopped raw cabbage, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the cabbage at the eight minute point, and the potatoes at the end.

Results: Most excellent. Will do this again. Adding a teaspoon of yellow or brown mustard to the broth helped. Or you could add pepper (we didn’t use the spice packet). The only reason it didn’t get five stars is because it didn’t make me do an Aristotle and run down the street shouting “lend me a towel”.

Rating: *****

My Trip to England: Day 10

June 29, 2016

Last full day in-country. Second day of the workshop. Started early, ran long. Did some final shopping and said goodbye to Henry VIII

No, I don't know what he's doing, either

No, I don’t know what he’s doing, either

On the way to get a cab we saw the mayor’s office at The Guildhall hanging out some post-Brexit flags.

Cambridge wants in

Cambridge wants in


I guess some folks didn’t like the outcome.

My Trip to England: Day 9

June 28, 2016

Today was the big day, my 2hr workshop for systems science students at Cambridge University. Actually, it was for everyone from anywhere — at least one person came up from London. The talk went reasonably well, and we had a nice lunch in the Eagle — the same pub that Crick and Watson used to hang out in (and the first bar I have seen that had San Miguel on tap).

Good beer, good food, good talk

Good beer, good food, good talk

Afterwards I did some shopping — I think I’m going to have to leave some clothes behind in order to fit all the new stuff in.

Went back to the hotel for a bit of a nap, then out again to find a pub for dinner. It turns out that the England/Iceland football match was on, and the first pub, half a kilometre from the hotel, was filled to standing with athletic-looking guys, cheering and shouting. Another half kilometre and I came to a second pub. Open mic night for prospective bar bands. But there was an open patio, away from the noise, where I could sit and drink and read my kindle.

On the way home I walked down this road. It’s typical of half the roads in Cambridge.

Two lane road. Can you spell narrow?

Two lane road. Can you spell narrow?

The other interesting thing about that picture is that it was taken at nine-o’clock at night, normal exposure.  Summer days in England are long. Of course, in the winter, you’re going to work and coming home in the dark

My Trip to England: Day 8

June 27, 2016

Nothing significant to report. Spent all morning in my hotel room (no a/c), working on tomorrow’s presentation. Spent all afternoon at Jen’s (no a/c but the windows open), working on tomorrow’s presentation. Spent all evening trying to get anime on Crunchyroll.

My Trip to England: Day 7

June 26, 2016

Today was a down day. Ran down to London to meet some friends I hadn’t seen for 40 years.

Darby and Joan

Darby and Joan

We just walked around London, and rode the tube here and there. London Transport is serious about safety. They have signs everywhere.

Mind The Gap

Mind The Gap

and they mean it. This gap is 8″ wide and 6″ high.

No, really. Be careful.

I don’t think they would allow this in Japan

We had a long discussuin about Brexit. They are for exit “because the country is filing up.”

Meanwhile, back in the US, some more important things are happening.

Her name is Music

Hi! My name is Music

She seems to be fitting in well

I have many friends

I have many new friends

My trip to England: Day 6

June 25, 2016

Hotel in Cambridge is nice, in a small, two-star sort of way. The room is bigger than the one in London.

Two mats bigger than the JR hotel

Two mats bigger than the JR hotel

The view out the back is of the green buffer zone around the airport — hedges and grass and … rabbits.

Watership Hotel

Watership Hotel

There’s a paved footpath across the commons, and I took a walk in the cool of the morning.

Nothing like this in Cheney

Nothing like this in Cheney

The path takes you past a small Army Reserve training area, complete with an assault course, warning signs, and … rabbits.

Only combat troops and rabbits allowed

Only combat troops and rabbits allowed

Late that morning, I walked to Jen’s for a grant-writing meeting. Afterwards, she took me on a foot tour of Cambridge. We were going to get dinner at this posh restaurant she knew about, but we got caught in a T-storm and ducked into a little bistro across the street from this building.

There's some goood eating near here.

There’s some goood eating near here.

Garmin says I did 9.6 miles today. I think that’s wrong. Google Maps says the distance from the hotel to Jen’s (plus my morning walk) covered almost exactly 4 miles (pretty much a straight line), while the Garmin swore blind it was six. Checking the settings, I find that some update or other wiped my stride length, so the Garmin was just guessing.

Memories of my youth: Brexit

June 24, 2016

In 406 AD, the last of the Roman legions in Britain were withdrawn to the continent to support the pretender Constantine III. In 410 AD, Honorius, the victorious emperor, wrote a letter to the cities of Britain saying that from here on out, they were responsible for their own safety. The Empire had abandoned Britain. There are those in Britain who never forgot this betrayal, even unto modern times.

Fast forward 1560 some years, and Britain is trying to decide whether or not to join the European Community. A friend of ours — an old man who was in the Fire Service in WWII and knew so much ancient Greek history that we called him Archimedes — was adamant that because Europe had abandoned Britain in 410, there was no reason to support them in 1973. He said that if the UK gave up their sovereignty like that, he was going to emigrate to New Zealand.

Fast forward another three years. The UK is in the EEC. We are back in the US. We send our usual Christmas card. Some weeks later we get it back “Moved to New Zealand. No forwarding address.”

There have always been Britons who looked with distrust on any relationship with The Continent.

My Trip to England: Day 5

June 24, 2016

Woke up early to the sounds of thunder. Nasty, but fast-moving set of storms passed directly over London and my hotel. FlashBang close.

The Hotel. I'll have more to say about this when I revise these entries.

The Hotel. I’ll have more to say about this when I revise these entries.

Had planned to go out while traffic was low but it stayed pouring rain until 10AM. Had an early lunch with Jen, and we set off for Cambridge. Of course we went through King’s Cross, and of course they had a Platform Nine and Three Quarters set up. Not however, between platforms 9 and 10, but off to the side, where the crowds wouldn’t interfere.

Platform Nine and Three Quarters.

Platform Nine and Three Quarters, the tourist version.

After which we had a nice train ride through rolling green countryside, to Cambridge. It was raining there, the traffic was horrible, and that’s a story for tomorrow.

Lobster Dashi

June 23, 2016

The other day we were in a celebratory mood. Or maybe we were depressed. In any event we needed to treat ourselves, and how better than to buy a small steak and a couple of lobster tails. The steak divided, the lobsters eaten, the only thing left were the shells — to the pressure cooker! I cooked the two shells and other detritus in two cups of water, with a sprig of marjoram, on high for 30 minutes. After the broth had cooled, I put in one two-inch slab of kombu seaweed and let it soak overnight. In the morning, I heated a cup of the dashi until it was steaming, then removed the seaweed. The broth was clearly dashi, but it was distinctly different from the standard bonito-based variety.

The first morning I added a dash of shoyu. The second morning, I added a teaspoon of chopped ginger (from a jar).

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of lobster/kombu 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: Very good, in a delicate Japanese side dish sort of way. After I had used up my two cups of broth, I realized I probably should have tried miso instead of ginger. Oh, well. I’ll remember that for the next time we’re feeling depressed.

Rating: *****

My Trip to England: Day 4

June 23, 2016

Today was the big day. Up early to check out the facilities. Session room is small and stuffy, about par for the course. Nobody embarrassed the side too badly, and I got one complement.

To get to the session room you go into this guy's lab, and across his bridge.

To get to the session room you go into this guy’s lab, and across his bridge.

Attendance was poor, but it was, after all, the last day of the con.

That evening I did a bit of a walkabout. Crossed over Waterloo Bridge — lots of cyclists, lots of joggers, all fleeing the city.

The Thames, looking East to the Shard and St. Pauls.

The Thames, looking East to the Shard and St. Pauls.

I promised MJ we’d come together next year. The Southbank area seems a good place to do things.

The Thames, looking West towards Westminster. Many of the props from the Harry Potter movies are still in place.

The Thames, looking West towards Westminster. Many of the props from the Harry Potter movies are still in place.

My Trip to England – Day 3

June 22, 2016

Up early and had my now-standard breakfast of pancakes, mushrooms, fried potatoes, and boiled ham. Off to register for the conference and have a look around campus. Parts of the campus are new, and parts are old. Here’s one of the old ones:

Kings College Chapel, London branch

Kings College Chapel, London branch

That night there was a dinner — small and sparsely attended (this is, after all, London). The meal itself was quite odd: goat curry, vegetable curry (mostly sweet potato) and vegetable salad, also mostly sweet potato

Curried Curry

Curried Curry

Add some rice, an adequate white wine and an inadequate red, and you are ready to go. And sorry, England, sorry, India, I like the Japanese version of curry better.

My Trip to England: Day 2

June 21, 2016

Up earlier than I wanted — jet lag. Morning rain, so I stayed inside, prepping for the conference. To dinner with one of the other presenters, then walked her to St Pancras station, stopping to look at the sights on the way.

Memorial to the members of the British Army who died in the Iraq War. Not that one, the other one. No, the other other one

Memorial to the members of the British Army who died in the Iraq War.
Not that one, the other one. No, the other other one

On the way back there was a beautiful Solstice Moon hanging right next to The Eye.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 20, 2016

Garden Report for 160620

Lots of shade by the 4th

Lots of shade by the 4th


So it’s been almost a month since my last garden report, and there’s still not a lot to report. Weather was mostly of the June Gloom sort, with a frost warning just last week. But now it looks like we’re headed into the 80’s.

Things continue to slog along. The cool weather means that most plants haven’t grown very much, but it also means that the cabbages have not yet bolted. I’m pleased with the growth of the hops. They’ve filled in a lot since last month.

We have a couple of early deck tomatoes just starting to break, and a small finger of a zucchini coming along. Harvested two volunteer butterball lettuce, and had some of our snow pea pods in the resulting salad.

My Trip to England – Day 1

June 19, 2016

Preliminary notes. Will be organized into a separate web page, just like my Japan trip, although I probably won’t spend as much time talking about toilets.

The trip over was sortof not bad. British Airways 777. Minimal leg room, and what there was was taken up by a space-heater-looking box under the seat ahead. Seat itself was comfortable enough that my back didn’t die from 9hrs sitting in it. Heavy turbulence almost the whole way.

Spent an hour or so running around rescheduling flights and hotels (see previous entry). The downside of booking ggggggggggggggggg* everythingg through a travel agent is that many changes have to go through them as well.

After too big of a mixed grill and rather too much cask-conditioned beer, I wended my way back to my hotel room. Small, overheated, noisy. On the other hand, the headboard does have two USB ports.

One mat bigger than the room in Kobe

One mat bigger than the JR hotel room in Kobe

And now it’s 5AM, even though my body says 9PM. Time to get on with the day.

 

*The ‘g’ keycap on my 10 year old MacBook just came off.

Memories of my youth: MJ carries on.

June 18, 2016

It was the early 70’s. We hadn’t been married very long, and were still living in England. Back then, the British tradition was that worker strikes would cause rolling electricity blackouts every winter. It might be the electrical workers in the coal-fired power plants. It might be the train crews of British Rail, who hauled the coal. Or it might be coal workers themselves, in the black pits of Lancashire. Whoever it was, you could be sure of ending up with four hours of power, at the most inconvenient times. This time it was the coal workers.

We had just moved into a new house, third and last of our homes in the UK, in a small town north of Cambridge. The others had been furnished. This one was also furnished: bed, sofa, kitchen table, two straight chairs, and a TV. We went out and splurged on new furniture, to be delivered when available, and went home to our cold and somewhat Spartan digs.

Well, MJ went home. I went to Crete on a deployment to support some Army units that were training on the missile range at Souda Bay. It was a month in the sunshine of the Eastern Med (but it was March, so not so warm), working every three days when a new Army unit rolled in. The harbour at Kania was a little gem (some Hollywood stars have bigger pools), with fishing boats moored alongside, and octupi drying on lines next to them. We sat at a little cafe and drank retsinated wine and dined on calamari and moussaka.

A month later and it was over. We flew back in our C-130, loaded with souvenirs. I got back to the house in the dark of a high latitude afternoon, and met a bunch of workmen getting into their truck. The power cuts had ended that morning, and the furniture had just been delivered. MJ seemed a little miffed, for some reason.

Now, almost half a century later, MJ is sitting at home with a shattered shoulder and no idea of when the replacement surgery will be, nursing one of our favourite dogs, who is dying of cancer. Or maybe dying of chemo is a better phrase.

And me? I’m heading out to the airport for a two-week trip to London and Cambridge. MJ seems a little miffed.

Chicken Noodle Oats

June 16, 2016

MJ was off doing churchly things the other night and I was left on my own, to fend for yourself, as she put it. I’m used to fending, so I dug around the kitchen and found a half-used can of spaghetti sauce and a half-empty box of miniature spaghetti — thin spaghetti noodles about an inch long, terrible for winding on your fork (even if you use a spoon), but good for a quick spaghetti dinner. I ate all the sauce, but there was a cup or so of noodles left. Noodles and sauce are about as hard to balance as milk and cookies. The next morning I mixed about a half a cup of them (it’s hard to measure noodles) with this week’s chicken broth.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, half a cup of leftover miniature spaghetti noodles, 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: Most excellent. Tasted just like chicken-noodle soup with added oatmeal. You need a good, strong broth though.

Rating: *****

Anime Preview Summer 2016

June 15, 2016

The Summer of 2016 looks to be a dull one, anime-wise. Fortunately, I’ll be travelling a lot and won’t get to see much of it.

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 AniChart cover art and maybe a bit of the description.

CUTE GIRLS: Most of the shows fall into the cute girls category, and the only thing that differentiates them is how many girls there are.

Magus One girl meets horny skeleton

Magus
One girl meets a skeleton

Mari Waka Two girls do time travel

Mari Waka
Two girls steal a star-gate

Amanchu Three girls do flamenco

Amanchu
Three girls learn flamenco

Kono Bijutsu-bu Four girls do art

Kono Bijutsu-bu
Four girls do art

Ange Vierge Five girls play cards

Ange Vierge
Five girls play cards

Rewrite Six girls live in a tree

Rewrite
Six girls live in a tree

Love Live Sunshine Nine girls do music

Love Live Sunshine
Nine girls chase pigeons

Tsuki-uta Twelve guys present all those girls

Tsuki-uta
Twelve guys present all those girls

BUT THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN GIRLS: Four non-cute anime that I probably won’t watch, either

91 Days A whole academic quarter under the Classics mafia

91 Days
A whole academic quarter with the Classics Mafia

Fukigen na Mononokean The road to Fuji-San is beset with demons

Fukigen na Mononokean
The road to Fuji-San is beset with demons

Cheer Danshi Anime's first big Hollywood musical

Cheer Danshi
Anime’s first big Bollywood musical

Handa Kun God has an ahoge

Handa Kun
God has an ahoge

So that’s it. 91 days of nothing to see here, move along.

Fun with RSS

June 14, 2016

As I said in an earlier post, I recently dropped the Opera browser after almost 20 years of having it as my primary. Now, I am using Firefox for my browser, with Thunderbird as my RSS feed reader.

When first installed, every time I clicked an RSS link in Thunderbird, it would open a tab in Firefox, and then jump to that tab. If I wanted to continue my screening I had to <Alt-Tab> back to Thunderbird. Every. Time. It was tiresome, but acceptable.

About a week ago, something happened. Not sure what (there was a solar eclipse, but that was back in March; maybe it was the Gotthard tunnel). I certainly hadn’t touched the settings for either Thunderbird or Firefox. Suddenly, whenever I clicked on a link, a tab in Firefox would open up, but I would stay on Thunderbird! Interesting. At first I was irritated, because I didn’t know if the click had taken or not. After a while, I learned to trust the click, Luke, and my screening sped up (I’m following over 100 RSS feeds).

A day or so ago, equally unheralded, the behavior switched back. When I clicked on a link in Thunderbird, it would once again open a tab in Firefox and immediately jump there. It was like running into an old flame. I was once interested, but I’d moved on. What to do? To the Googlemachine!

Mozilla Help wasn’t much help, at first. Pretty much all their articles were superbasic (left click to open a set of menu choices...) or superunbasic (this has been noted as a bug in build 120.386.297.4323, a simple code edit and recompile will solve the problem until the next dot release…). It wasn’t until I’d actually typed in the text of my question, instead of just key words, that it gave me anything useful.

The behavior is the browser’s fault. To fix it in Firefox you have to edit the config file using About:config. I don’t want to release any spoilers, so your best bet is to read the original article, which includes hints for Chrome as well. Sorry IE users — you are SOL, but you knew that anyway.

LinkedOut

June 13, 2016

Professional networking site LinkedIn has just been bought out by Microsoft. The deal was for $26.2billion.

If you’ve read this blog very long or very often, you know I am a long-term skeptic of Microsoft, in a from Hell’s depth I stab at thee sort of way. They are monopolists and bullies, and they are technologically not all that great and have had to borrow from Open Source. Their criminal acts killed competing browsers and operating systems, and their funding of bogus lawsuits attempted to kill the Open Source world itself — and they laughed about it and patted themselves on the back. Under new leadership, their Windows X malware update campaign shows they have not changed at all.

I don’t know what their plans are for LinkedIn, but whatever they are, they are not good for the tech community. There’s not much I can do about it, but what I can do is drop my LinkedIn account, which I did this morning.

At last report, LinkedIn had 433 million members, although there’s no indication of how many are active. Now, $26.2billion / 433million = $60 per member, roughly. So I can’t say I did them much damage, but I did my best, and I hope they like their new $26,199,999,940.00 purchase.

UPDATE: I find that LinkedIn has 106 million active members, which are worth about $250 each. So my dropping out has done four times the damage I thought it would. Well done, FoW, well done.

I wish I had a daughter, so I could forbid her to marry him.”

The trains of Shirobako

June 12, 2016

So, what’s with it with Shirobako and trains, anyhow? Train references keep cropping up at the most unusual times. If they had brand names, I’d say it was product placement, but these don’t. It’s as if director Mizushima wants to create a drinking game or something, or maybe because he thought it up while riding on a train.

It starts in Episode 1, where the first shot you get after the beginning of Exodus, the anime-within-the-anime, is of a train, possibly a track maintenance train, pulling into a station. It’s not mentioned in any way, and the next shots are of the various Musashino Animation people with Exodus playing in the background.

Just doing a little maintenance. Nothing to see here.

Just doing a little track maintenance.
Nothing to see here.

Jumping ahead to Episode 10, we have college student Imai Midori, soon to be known as Diesel San, researching a question about trains for Miyamori Aoi

Jane's Book of Trains

Jane’s Book of Trains

She tells her that the only diesel train running on the line is a track maintenance train. If it was a reference to the train in Episode 1, then that was the only shot of what was going on in Exodus.

ShirobakoEp10TrackMaintenance

Next, Miyamori Aoi heads to Sawara Studio to deliver a musical instrument, and gets roped into providing all sorts of sound effects.

Give me a monster roar that's just a little sexy

Give me a monster roar that’s just a little sexy

The sound editor mixes in a train sound to Miyamori’s gaaow give it a little ballast, or something.

Nothing says feminine ferocity like a train

Nothing says feminine ferocity like a train

Finally, in the last episode delivery montage in Episode 24, we have Okitsu Yuka driving past a train on her way to her destination

Welcome to Japan Rail

You may be fast, but we are cute

Whether it’s a product placement, or a JR homage,

Welcome aboard Japan Rail

Welcome aboard Japan Rail

…or maybe somebody’s daughter, it’s a fun and unexpected aspect of my favorite anime.

Comments on Comments on Shirobako

June 5, 2016

Author has an interesting pair of comments on Japanese cultural aspects of Shirobako over on ani-nouto. He appears surprised that anyone would want him to blog about them, and seems to think they are obvious, but I can assure him, and you, that they are anything but.

The first is the phrase “make a living at X”, which in Japanese comes out as “eat by doing X”. Crunchyroll has the direct translation, but the US release blu-ray uses the English term.

Or even make a living at...

Or even make a living at…

The comment-worthy aspect of this is the dropping-the-donut scene where the rookie loses it, and old-hand Yasuhara-san catches and eats it.

The other point was a deconstruction of the 3rd Flying Girls Squadron author comments about the manga representing his inner turmoil. The discussion is more complex and nuanced than the “making a living” comment, so I’ll just point you at the original page.

The point of all this is that to understand socially-based content from a society as different as that of Japan requires multiple translations, and expert commentary. I noticed the frequent references to eating, but didn’t really map them to making a living, and even when I did, I didn’t pick up on the other aspects. That’s what makes watching anime so much fun, and so confusing.

 

 

 

 


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