Archive for May, 2020

Pandemic 28

May 28, 2020

Have we got some links for you!

Quote of the post

Brazil surpasses the United States in number of daily coronavirus deaths. Of course once the weather in Brazil gets warm, the coronavirus should just vanish.


Trump and the American response. This would be overtly political, if it wasn’t all so true.

open and shut cases.

Remdesivir helps. Some. No mention of hydroxys.

Masks do help.

Why to wear a mask. If you could smell someone’s cigarette smoke at that distance, you can breath their aerosols.

Questions raised about hydroxychloroquine study. Well, all hydroxychloroquine studies.

Stuck @ Home?

Do some random stuff.

Listen to a podcast.



Arame Oatmeal

May 28, 2020

So, the first thing you need to know is that arame is not hijiki, but you can treat them the same way, OK?

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s talk seaweed or, as the industry likes to call them, sea vegetables. You wouldn’t want to eat weeds, would you? There’s a number of different kinds, but I’m going to talk about the packet of dried arame I found at the back of a cupboard. In looking around for recipes, I found one for brown rice and arame. Well as I always say, anything you can do with brown rice you can do with oatmeal.

First, you grab a fat pinch, about a quarter cup, of the dry arame fibers* and soak them in water for about 10 minutes. They double in size. Drain and chop and fry in a small amount of vegetable oil for a couple of minutes. Add enough water to cover, and simmer for another 15-20 minutes (the recipe says 25min, but I’m also cooking them with the oatmeal).

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup dashi broth, the previously prepared arame, 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. NOTE: If you cook the arame in your oatmeal pot you can just dump the broth and oatmeal in on top.

Results: Very good. Not blow your clothes off good, but a nice breakfast, or dinner side. Very mild seaweed flavor. I had left off the salt because the recipes implied a certain amount of salt water. The recipes were wrong. Also, a dash of shoyu helped.

Rating: ***

* I’m using Emerald Cove Organic Pacific Arame, harvested 20ft below the low tide mark by deep diving Japanese women — and you thought they only went after pearls. It’s ~$49 for a 6-pack of ~2oz bags at Amazon this week. Probably less at Trader Joe’s or similar. I think I got our single-pack at our local Huckleberry’s. The six pack will last the normal home somewhere between a month and ten years.

Looking at Escaflow, Ne? — Part 2

May 27, 2020

As the curtain comes up on the second half, we find V inside E-ne, bleeding from every access port, and embark on another summary.

  • A’s ship just happens to encounter an As convoy led by Dy. Remember him? He’s the fiancee of Mi, who loves A who slept with her dead sister Ma to produce C who turns his country’s greatest power over to Z. Drawing the relationship diagram is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • It turns out that V’s wounds match the damage to E-ne. Dy summons the Ip roadside repair ship and agrees to pay the 50 million woolong repair bill by hocking his convoy. The Ip’s operate on E-ne without an anesthetic, healing V in the process. Then, like every garage mechanic I’ve ever encountered, they fake up some reason to void the warranty.
  • Di and his hench-mechas attack the convoy. V takes E-ne and kills everyone but Di. Their ghosts then pull E-ne spiritually down to the realm of death, along with V and H (who arrives just in time to get her hand stuck in a viewport). This doesn’t last, and they soon return to life, such as it is.
  • After a couple of sub-plots, involving angels, magma, two leopard girls, a cat and a declaration of love, V, H, and E-ne return, and Dy announces that the answers to all their questions are to be found in the Mystic Valley (MV), so off they go. Meanwhile, the forces of Z, lead by F, minus Di, who has gone mad enough that even the others notice, follow them.
  • Our Heroes reach MV by way of a sky portal, followed by the leopard girls, Enya and Narnia (E&N). Inside, they each have different experiences. A has a long heart-to-heart with his dead father (L) and sees his long-missing sister (Ce). H sees V’s mother (Vf) and her own grandmother (Ob). Ob, by the way, is the girl who inspired L to leave Vf and seek her in MV where she got the pendant that H uses. Meanwhile, V suffers a crisis of confidence that’s only resolved by the appearance of E&N, giving him somebody to hit. Vf gives V a new energy jewel for E-ne, and everyone gets transported out of MV as the portal breaks up.
  • Most of Our Heroes end up on the not-MV snowfield next to their ship, but A, H, V and E-ne get transported to Z. After a brief visit with Emperor Dk, captivity, and some other adventures, they find themselves back in an already-rebuilt Pa, where H and A are subjected to long distance mind warping by Dk, and V encounters the ever-popular anime trope of misconstruing an out of context observation.
  • H then lies to Mi about how successful the upcoming marriage with Dy will be, leaving out the part about an affair with A. E&N bet their luck in a raid on As to get H, but their luck runs out and they die in F’s arms. V attacks F’s Castle In The Sky, but his luck turns bad as well — he destroys the castle, but not F.
  • V pursues brother F to the ruins of their ancestral home. After a heartwarming reconciliation on the ashes of their capitol city, mediated by H and a couple of lizards, V, F, and H return to As, which then is hit by a surprise attack from Z.
  • There’s a brief intermezzo for scenery changes, during which H gets whisked back home, wakes up in a hospital bed, relives her last day on Earth and gets dragged off by V. Again. She never does find out if she beat her best time on the track.
  • They return to find a great battle in progress between Z and the newly-allied forces of everybody else. One of their allies drops a nuke on the Z capitol, winning the war and leaving the capitol totally undamaged. Deprived of an enemy, the allies start fighting each other.
  • Despite the fact that Z has lost, mad-dog Di continues fighting, because that’s what he does. In the middle of a fight with V, the emotional stress of losing all the people he thought of as friends makes Di decide to come out as his true persona, Ce. V struggles to accept this new development, a quarter century too early for gender neutral pronouns.
  • F takes H to Z just in time to see Emperor Dk start the Fate-o-Tron. F pulls a Darth Vader on Dk and, just like in the movies, they both die. But it’s too late. Once the Fate-o-Tron starts to work, it can’t be turned off. Besides, the only one left is H, and her skills do not include hacking unknown operating systems. V senses that H is in danger, and angels-up to fly across the battlefield to her side. In the stress of the moment V starts to molt, which makes the soldiers of both sides realize that there are some things worse than war.
  • V destroys the Fate-o-Tron by smashing into it with his head, saving H and bringing peace to Gaea. Afterwards, V (perhaps realizing that the reason why he and Di were always fighting wasn’t hatred after all) sends H back to Earth, assuring her that he will keep in touch, you know, with telepathy.

VoE is truly operatic, in the Grand Opera tradition. It reminds me of some of Joe Green’s longer works, Don Carlos comes to mind, but at ten and a half hours run time it’s well over twice the length of that opera and almost twice the length of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger.

In fact, VoE has everything for the opera bouffe — convoluted plot, unexpected and improbable reveals, betrayal of friends, betrayal by friends, bad lab results;  love, death, and bombastic music. All it needs is arias. V and F could sing “Ho sempre saputo che eri un bravo ragazzo” on the ruins of Farnia. H could sing “Ci rivedremo, non sapremo dove, non sapremo quando.” to V as she gives up a chance to be queen in order to return to a land with better Internet. And A and V together could sing “Come dovrei chiamarti, ora che sei una ragazza” to Di.

Or maybe it’s more like one of those Elizabethan plays that inspired the operas, say Hamlet. As Shakespeare might have said: An’ Van Fanel, knee-deep in mechs, lived happy ever after.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 25, 2020

Garden Report for 200525

The weather was cool and mild, when it wasn’t cold and rainy. On Thursday we had a record 1.33″ of rain. This coming week will see a warming trend, to 86F on the weekend.

Not much happened this reporting period, nor the previous one, for that matter. The state is slowly opening up, but MJ and I are still hiding under the sheltering in place. I figure the Memorial Day rush will last through Tuesday, so on Wednesday I plan to hit the hardware store for landscape materials and more seedlings.

Our container lettuce and our recycled onions and celery seem to be doing OK, although another onion I started last week seems to have rotted. The weeds are doing well, and it’s still eight weeks to weedmonaþ.

Looking at Escaflow, Ne? – Part 1

May 22, 2020

So, the Spring Season has come all over viral and there’s nothing much to watch (see TLDR). To fill in the time, time that I othertimes would have spent down the pub, I’ve been rewatching anime I like (Hi, Tanya), and watching some classic anime for the first time.  This week, it’s Vision of Escaflowne. At 26 episodes, it’s too long to take in one gulp, so I’m breaking this writeup into two parts; each one is about 600 words, with spoilers.

VoE is a 1996 series that takes itself way too seriously. The plot is best described as overly operatic, with twists and turns and reveals that would turn Joe Green some color with envy. Herewith, a quick, nine paragraph summary of the first half. I’m going to list characters with letters, because things are confusing enough, without having to remember Dilandau and Dryden and Dornkirk and all those other Japanese names:

Good Guys

  • Earth girl H encounters prince V and finds herself Spirited Away from Earth to its invisible twin, G, which appears to hang around the Lagrange L3 Point without disturbing any other orbits.
  • Turns out that V has a brother, F, who defected to evil empire Z.
  • At the order of evil Emperor Dk, the forces of Z, led by F in his Flying Castle, aided by evil knight Di, destroys V’s homeland, despite the best efforts of V in his mecha, E-ne. Di is obviously mad, I tell you, with a trope-level high pitched giggle, and a facial scar that hurts whenever he thinks of V, which is all the time.
  • H and V are rescued by A, a knight of country As, and taken to his capital Pa, a prosperous harbor town surrounded by steep mountains and with nothing in the way of productive hinterland. Evidently, they survive by selling each other fish.
  • Di finds V and H in Pa and attacks them, again, and again they are saved by A.

Bad Guys

  • They escape the burning city with the help of A, but A is captured. He escapes with the help of Princess Mi, who loves him even though she is betrothed to Dy.
  • After a minor sub-plot involving Z graverobbers, exploding fuel depots, and an angel, they head to Fr, but on the way are again attacked by that persistent bastard Di, who injures A, who is cured by Mi, who just happens to be passing by.
  • On arrival in Fr they meet Prince C, who, it turns out, is A’s child by Mi’s dead sister Ma, instead of being Duke Fr’s son as everyone thinks. Mi finds this out by reading Ma’s diary, which the Duke has left lying around. At this point, one can only hope that A is older than he looks.
  • After a minor sub-plot involving a Z prisoner, a Z shape-shifter, a fake monk-interrogator, three murders, and a false accusation, Z attacks Fr, burns the capitol, and kills the Duke, so that leadership devolves upon Prince C, who (in a gesture of friendship) surrenders the power to destroy Atlantis (don’t ask) to Z. As the curtain falls for the Intermission, V has decided to marry E-ne, and he, A, and H fly away to meet Dy.

Doomed Cities

At this point I am reminded of the NATO vs Warsaw Pact wargames of a previous century — it doesn’t matter which scenario you play, every city involved ends up in flames and ruins.

This is an anime that you can date immediately by its art style. It’s not spiky hair shonen, but everyone looks like they spend a lot of time with combs and jells. As for their faces, if a sudden plot turn said they all were descendants of Bob Hope, I’d believe it.

Pandemic 27

May 21, 2020

The links just keep coming.

Quote of the post:

We’re retreating to a new strategy on covid-19. Let’s call it what it is… At the beginning of the outbreak, the United States had a chance to contain the novel virus by identifying each person bringing the infection into the country and stopping it before it spread in the community. We failed, with a lack of testing largely to blame…What’s next, then? The administration has yet to use these words, but it appears that we’re adopting a strategy that I recognize from other aspects of public health: harm reduction.


First, do less harm.

Advice from Canada. On working from home.

It’s not enough to have a plan. You have to read it.

Antimicrobal turns out to work on viruses also.

Qualified immunity. We won’t know if you stay immune for a year until a year has passed.

Advice from the CDC. Don’t eat poop.

Cloning the virus. We’re doomed.

Masks and separation. How they work.

Stanford antibody test. Flawed.

Freedom in the time of covid. My position is that it’s even simpler than they say. You’ve been drafted. Uncle Sam wants you…to wear a mask.

3 months to wave 2.

Stuck @ Home?

Fish mask. For your mask. Some assembly required.

Another Coffee filter mask. For use in emergencies, like drowsiness.



Happy Eliza Doolittle Day

May 20, 2020

Go for a walk. Wear a hat.

Don’t be like Eliza. Wear a mask.


You’ve been drafted.

May 19, 2020

Over on, there’s an interesting article on personal freedom in the time of COVID. The essence is that the needs of the few are outweighed by the needs of the many — while you are free to not wear a mask, you are not free to go maskless if that will infect others.

I have a simpler formulation. In the interest of maintaining a well-regulated militia, you have been drafted, and are now subject to military orders, and the first order is, wear the damn mask!

Uncle Sam wants you to practice good social distancing


Pandemic 26

May 15, 2020

It just keeps chugging along.

Quote of the post

The virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away. HIV has not gone away, but we’ve come to terms with the virus and we have found therapies and we have found the prevention methods, and people don’t feel as scared as they did before. When it comes to a vaccine, there are no promises in this and there are no dates, and even if one is created, that does not mean the coronavirus will instantly be eliminated. Recent measles outbreaks are proof of that.


Paul Krugman tells why we should be running bigger deficits right now.

COVID Recession. Global. Long. Hysterical.

Women and COVID. Taking the risks, bearing the burdens, with fewer resources.

Politics and compliance. Democrats listen to governors. Republicans listen to Trump.


Lucky 19.

Risk assessment. A practical guide.

Glass shortage. Systems theory says that everything is connected to everything else.

Hydroxychloroquine don’t work. Two studies so far.

But Vit D helps.

The pandemic is no reason to cut social security. Even Trump knows that, but the GOP at large?

No requirement to cooperate.

Stuck @ Home?

Stuff to read. Classics

Yet another covid simulator.

Time to herd immunity simulator. What happens without a vaccine.

4-second bike exercise. Well, it’s really 4 minutes

7-minute floor exercise. With details.

Bored kids.

I must admit it’s getting better…isn’t just a Beatles song. Includes a link to a Hans Rosling TED talk. Well worth the time.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 13, 2020

Garden Report for 200518

Rain showers off and on throughout the week and windy, with temps in the lower 60’s.

Took down the greenhouse. Didn’t do much for me this year, except as a rack of shelving for the trays of seedlings. Planted out the seedlings I’d started from seed. All but two went into the garden bags along the east side of the house. Didn’t bother to separate the individual plants — I dropped 3 or 4 seeds in each pot, and 2 or 3 of them sprouted. I’ll thin them out later.

I thought I was getting things planted early, but this is about the same time as I did most of my planting last year and in 2017. I planted later in 2018, but part of that was post-chemotherapy fatigue.

Container radishes are doing well. Container lettuce also.




The people go away…

May 12, 2020

…and nature returns

No mastodons, yet.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 11, 2020

Garden Report for 200511

Alternating sunny/calm and windy/rain through the weekend, with temps in the upper 60’s to low 40’s. The coming week has showers predicted daily, with highs in the upper 60s/low 70’s.

I set up the irrigation system for Sections 1 and 2. Surprisingly, everything worked, and only one part had to be cut out because the soaker hose had rotted.

Took my life in my hands and ventured out to the hardware store on Saturday — first time in six weeks or so that I’ve been out of the house other than for walks. Too many people. Half with masks, none with any distancing skills, so I dashed in and grabbed seedlings more or less at  random. I’m cutting way back on my plans for the garden this summer, with an initial plan for just Sections 1 and 2. We plan on staying in lockdown for most of the summer.

Section 1 got the tomatoes: Big Boy, Brandywine, Beefsteak, Champion. Section 2 got six cucumbers (don’t ask…I was in a hurry), acorn squash, and canteloup. Next week I’ll plant out the seedlings that I started earlier.

Up on the deck are the Rom and Early Girl that MJ picked up at a different store last week. One long container of radishes on the railing. A couple of long containers of lettuce, which I think I’ll keep in the house to see how they do under the grow lamps.

I am trying an experiment based on a ‘start your own garden’ article — cut the bottoms off of onions and celery and restart them in a saucer of water, planting them out when they get big enough. So far, I’ve started and planted two onions and one celery in one of the deck containers, with one more of each coming on.

The trees are doing well. All three have leafed out. Except for its size, the .jp maple looks like it’s been there for years.

Pandemic 25

May 10, 2020

Herewith, yet another batch of scary links.

Quote of the day

It’s highly likely that we’re not going to see the next thing coming, so we need to build more resilience into our society and ensure we’re adaptive to whatever comes. The fact that everything is unraveling amid what’s actually a relatively mild pandemic does not bode well.


There’s more than just a pandemic out there. Threat profiles the Intelligence Community didn’t want to publish.

COVID vs the Global Economy. Recovery won’t look like Victory.

Overpromising on a vaccine.

A history of COVID, starting with the times of Ghengis Khan

Testing, testing…

Testing. Antibody testing is different from diagnostic testing.

Don’t count on summer.

Straining the virus. There’s only one strain of SARS-CoV-2, with multiple isolates.

Virologist with the virus. At least it wasn’t Ebola.

New timeline.

What can one sick person can do? Shut down South Korea, for one thing.

Finally, I get some porn in this series.

Stuck @ Home?

Staying sane during shutdown. Plan for the worst and hope things don’t go downhill from there.

Boardless games.

Tangiplay. If you want your kids to grow up to be coders.

Kid Stuff.

Pandemic 24

May 6, 2020

Herewith, some more links that you might not have seen, or that you really should see, or that might just be interesting.

Quote of the day

We still have a high level of infection in this country. We’ve reached a plateau, but we haven’t seen the kind of declines that we were expecting to see at this point, and as we start to reopen the country, cases are likely to go up, not down.

I think that we need to understand, this may be the new normal. We may not be able to get transmission down much more.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb


Stonekettle on civilization, leadership, and acting responsibly.

Post-pandemic Pre-dictions.

Adult children and responsibility

What happens next? This? More probably this. Note that, if we assume that early October is when the electorate makes up its mind, then that will be based on actions taken in late August.

Carbon lockdown.

CDC projections. Internal document, not vetted, not good news.

Modeling social distancing. This is a systems dynamics model. An alternative would be agent-based.

Early France. First case was in December.

What the economy needs. Hint: it’s not what Trump is doing.

Extra deaths due to reopening are not likely to show up much before Memorial Day.

SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. More than just a model change.

Speaking of SARS-CoV-2, have you seen the new G614 model? You can’t get anything for the old D614’s since they came out.

Roast your mask. 185F for 20 minutes for a N95 mask. No word on the ignition temperature of my microfiber cloth.

NYT on cleaning. TL;DR You should let the disinfectant sit on the surface for at least a minute.

Stuck @ Home?

Exercise and ARDS — it’s never too late to buff up against COVID. Well, OK, it’s too late for you, but you’ll feel better about how you look in a hospital gown.

Cartographic puzzles. When you’ve done all the others



Catarina’s Bow

May 5, 2020

The opening sequence of the anime My Next Life as a Villainess, ends with all the main characters taking a bow. There’s four males and four females, including Catarina. The males all bow the same way — right hand over heart (or in the case of Alan, maybe over pancreas) and left hand down. The other three women each bow differently, but in a distinctly feminine fashion — curtsy, front fig leaf, and hands down/palms out. Catarina’s bow is more like the men — right hand over heart, left hand out to side.

Just one of the guys

She obviously hasn’t bought into this world’s gender norms.

Pandemic 23

May 3, 2020

Herewith, some more links that you might not have seen, or that you really should see, or that might just be interesting.

Quote of the day

There are some viruses that we still do not have vaccines against. We can’t make an absolute assumption that a vaccine will appear at all, or if it does appear, whether it will pass all the tests of efficacy and safety.


Covid forecasts for May. ~40K +/- 15K deaths on top of the current 60K.

Test reliability. It depends

It ain’t over yet. It will go on and onMaybe forever.


Good News: Covid dropped CO2 emissions by 8%.
Bad News: We’ll have to triple that to fight global warming

Covid tracing apps — they don’t work.

Covid and your immune system. You may not want a fast response.

Covid strategies.

Experts predict surge in GA covid. Over 1,000/day

It also attacks your gut.

The post-virus economy.

Stuck @ Home?

Here’s another covid simulator.

Library of Congress hip hop sampler tool — the name of the tool is HipHop, the collection goes back a hundred years, probably doesn’t include a lot of hip hop.

Worn a hole in the heel of your old gym sock? No problem. Here’s how to turn it into a mask.

Monkey’s Paw.



Zombie Awareness Month

May 1, 2020

As proclaimed by the Zombie Products Marketing Board, May is Zombie Awareness Month. By awareness they don’t mean a month devoted to making zombies more aware of the world around them, but instead, ZAW wants to bring a greater awareness of zombies to the world around us.

The AniList fifty year database contains only 17 standard length television shows that are tagged as zombie. However, half those are shows on other topics where zombies have brief walk-on parts — Rage of Bahamut or Midnight Occult Civil Servants, for example — parts which could just as easily been performed by werewolves or ghouls or Girl Scouts. Excluding those, there are only eight shows that are truly about zombies, and half of those are about individuals, what you might call revenants rather than zombies (Sankarea, Is this a Zombie?, Zombie Loan, Blood Lad). One of the remainder is about zombies-as-idols (Zombieland), and one is about a fantasy steampunk world that is overrun with hordes of them (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, which we know is not about Earth, because there’s no way Amtrak could get that kind of funding).

Only two anime in fifty years are traditional modern-day zombie infestation stories: School Live, and Highschool of the Dead. These two are the ones I want to concentrate on, and they couldn’t be more different.

School Live. Simply by naming School Live and zombies in the same sentence, I have committed a major, Rosebud-level, spoiler. Having gotten that out of the way, I can say that this is primarily a defensive plot. The students (who are all girls, and who all look to me like middle-schoolers, not highschool girls) are barricaded in the upper floor and roof of one of the school buildings, venturing out only to replenish their supplies. Their story is one of coping, and of psychological adjustment (they tell themselves they are just in the camping-out-in-school club). A key player in all this is Takeya Yuki, a cheery girl with a funny hat who seems to be in complete denial of their real status — she acts as if the school is fine and the club is real. As we go along we see that there is method to her madness, and all of her crazy machinations have elements designed to help her team mates cope. The series needs at least one sequel (and there seems to be enough source material in the manga), but there’s no indication that one is coming.

High School of the Dead. Once you get past the fan service, it is a classic of the zombie genre. Unlike School Live, it portrays an active response to the infestation. Starts out in a high school, but leaves before the end of the first episode, as the students look for their parents and a better refugia. Two boys, five girls (including one ditzy adult and one child). Their path across Tokyo lets them see all the different ways the disaster is playing out. Komuro Takashi, the male lead, is your typical difficult student who rises to the occasion. Busujima Saeko, who shares the lead female role, is the most psychologically complex (and her first name is pronounced psycho). After many travails and changes of transportation, the crew ends up at a shopping mall, an obvious tip of the hat to the original zombie films. The series badly needs a sequel (there’s at least two seasons worth of loose ends to clean up), but the source manga has been abandoned and it’s unlikely it will get one.

The zombies in both these anime act like they’ve been infected by a fast-acting virus. HOTD suggests that it might be a US military biowarfare experiment gone bad, and School Live actually has a plot point that describes it as a biological experiment that officials knew might get out of hand and had prepared a vaccine for. One commenter said these shows use a virus approach because Japanese Buddhists cremate their dead and therefore don’t have the Western idea of a traditional zombie burial and resurrection.

Unlike the zombies in the other series, these are mindless automota, with School Live giving them just enough memory of their past to head home when the club makes a PA announcement that the school is closing for the day, and HOTD framing them as responding only to sound (although they sometimes seem slightly more sentient than that, if it will improve the drama).

So, if you haven’t had enough exposure to killer virus programs this Spring, these two anime will give you a really good injection of classic zombie tropes. Then, suitably prepared, you can go rock to the idols of Zombieland.

Meanwhile, we have a different virus to worry about