Archive for July, 2016

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.