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2017-09-19 06:54 pm
Entry tags:

Eufy review, expect edits

I got a Eufy robotic vacuum cleaner. Why? Really. You have to ask? OK. Let's try some answers.

(1) I buy gadgets. I used to have a career programming ... stuff. Now I don't, because the career went obscenely well. Sometimes I want to play with new tech. I used to buy a lot of different gadgets, but now, the phone does everything, the tablet does all the same stuff for middle aged eyes and the laptop has a better OS / keyboard and runs the pretty monitor. No more gadgets there, so I buy robotic vacuum cleaners instead. Some day, I may advance to buying robot lawn mowers. It could happen.

(2) I am a middle aged housewife whose house cleaner died a while back and honestly, I'd rather not hire someone else. Nevertheless, I don't much like vacuuming, nor am I a huge fan of lugging vacuums -- even robot vacuums -- up and downstairs. So I had it in the back of my head that in an ideal world, there would be a canister and robot up and down. Children, let this be a lesson to you: when they say bigger houses mean bigger carbon footprints, they are not playing around. They are serious.

(3) The roomba is painfully loud, and gets stuck under tables. I'd like a robot vacuum cleaner that was a bit more spry. RHI the Eufy is slightly lower profile and much quieter.

After less than five minutes of set up time, which included placing the charger, placing it on the charger, turning it on, putting batteries in the remote and setting the clock on the remote, the Eufy is now vacuuming the upstairs hall (no, I haven't come up with a better name for it than that, and given that I called my office the "interstitial space" for years, really, you don't _want_ me to come up for a better name for it than that). It hits the door to the master suite a little hard; I'll check for marks, but I'm not particularly worried. It is _definitely_ quieter than the roomba. The upstairs hall does not present much in the way of challenges in terms of height / clearance, but it should prove a decent test of ability to remove dust from the floor. Because the upstairs hall is, among other things, the location of the laundry.


Eufy gets a surprising amount of dust off a hardwood floor. It does take a while to complete the space (longer than roomba). It did not commit suicide when presented with the opportunity (upstairs hall is at the top of the stairs).
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2017-09-19 01:31 pm

Tuesday's Activities Include: no more vomiting! lunch at Julie's, decluttering

No more vomiting! So tomorrow, T. can go back to school. Yay!

It was picture day for A., so she wore her spring dress. Possibly this will be the last time, altho you never know. It has been warm.

T. and I had lunch at Julie's. He skipped ice cream.

I did some minor decluttering today. T. and I went through two of his drawers (socks and undies, and the PJs) and got rid of too worn and/or too small. Now those drawers close much better. I also worked with him on the essay for his yellow belt on the principles of conduct -- he decided on effort. I directed him to talk about the effort of listening and waiting to ask questions at an appropriate time. Because I _will_ exploit opportunities to work on these things when they arise. We printed it out, put it in a page protector and put it in is martial arts back with his track log book and hung it in the front hall closet with his clean gi. I'm not sure this has ever been so orderly. It'll be the only time I'm sure.

We scheduled A.'s vision therapy appointments and are working on the next batch of T.'s vision therapy appointments.

T. was really kind of bored, so I had him do some math out of the Spectrum 3 workbook -- seemed about right, and he seemed to be able to do the work with effort, so about the right level. Nice to know I'm not totally oblivious to where he is in the math curriculum. It was fun watching him type the essay -- he's clearly completely memorized the keyboard layout, and has adopted and interesting single handed typing style that is more sophisticated and efficient than hunt-and-peck.

I had told my sister I was going to send her some of the For Her bic pens so relentlessly mocked months/years ago on Amazon, that I discovered were super awesome to write with. I couldn't fine them at Staples and wasn't sure if they had changed the name. The only ones for sale on Amazon were third party. I have four and only ever use one, and I've got another really nice pen as well, so I sent her three of mine; T. went with me to the post office to drop them off. We also returned 3 library books and dropped off a few items at the Middle Class Guilt Reduction Station when we went to lunch.

When I went through T.'s sock drawer, there was a pair of slipper socks in there, never worn, that he didn't want. I took them to put in my packed bag.

ETA: Eufy arrived! Review to follow, and then be revised repeatedly. Lots of fun!

I started working on the holiday card. This is a little early, but it is nice to get it started, so I know if I want additional photos in certain spaces.

I also stared at the power strip that sits on the short bookcase next to my recliner in the living room. It seems completely ridiculous to have all these USB cords that plug into very fat things that plug into outlets; it would be much better to just plug the USB cord into a USB slot -- takes up less space, etc. Unfortunately, an awful lot of multi-port hubs / charging strips / etc. have both USB and outlets (defeats the purpose) or the USB ports have a really low amount they can handle charging at one time (like, only one iPad, type of thing). I found a 10 port Anker that looks really good; we'll see how it works in practice. It would be nice if this thing would continue to work well in the face of increasing future demand, because that does seem to be the way things are going.
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2017-09-18 11:00 pm

Monday's Activities Include: sick kid, chat with K., book group, _Silas Marner_

T. was home sick today, still vomiting (started Sunday night, continued through 1:30 p.m. today thus making Tuesday another home sick day, since there is a 24 delay before they want a kid back at school after the most recent event).

My walking partner wisely declined coming by the house either for a walk or a snack. I pre-emptively canceled Dutch.

I had a lovely phone conversation with K., because you can't catch germs from thousands of miles away.

When R. got home, I went to book group. It was small, just me, A., and M. (the librarian). We read _Silas Marner_ this month (I read it today), which is gloriously short at around 200 pages with reasonable sized type. I must say, I feel like Eliot's sense of humor is wildly understated in most people who wax on about the book. The narrator has a very catty -- even bitchy -- tone at times. But beyond that, the plot machinations are so contrived to present clear cut decisions that lead to redemption or damnation that one wonders if the author is winking at one. Nothing so broad as _The Princess Bride_ but along those lines.


For example, Godfrey has all kinds of opportunities to admit that he is married, but instead of doing so (really, is that a _hard_ thing to do?), and worse, admitting that he also has a baby daughter, he persists in hoping that the two people (wife and brother) who are blackmailing him over his failure to tell anyone else about this will somehow magically stop bothering him. Well, they do! And someone even rescues his daughter without him even having to admit to having a daughter! In the neighborhood, so he gets to watch her grow up without even lifting a finger! So much nicer than her winding up in the workhouse. The thing is, the brother dies almost immediately after killing the horse he was supposed to sell for Godfrey and then stealing Silas' hoard of gold coins. Dunstan -- the brother -- has a couple opportunities to meet a very minimum bar of human decency (sell horse, not kill it; NOT commit grand theft/burglary), fails both and then dies ... saving Godfrey from having to himself behave well.

That is some churning plot machinery!

Meanwhile, Molly is carrying her daughter through a snowy night to Reveal All, but leaves late and apparently in a drugged stupor and dies in the cold. Again, all she had to do was get to the Red House and tell her tale and all kinds of things would have gone better for her and worse for Godfrey, but she can't manage it. The kid is fine, however, and the kid landing in Silas' home presents another choice / opportunity for redemption which of course Silas takes.

If someone told me this story as a _real_ thing that happened, I would just assume that Godfrey -- or possibly Nancy -- was actually a serial murderer, and Molly and Dunstan's unlucky deaths were in fact not due to Chance at all.

I should add, Silas having been an anabaptist (adult baptism was all he was familiar with) and having something like epilepsy really made him feel like My Kind of People, which may have made me love the book more than I otherwise would have. Plus, being depressed / alone and throwing oneself into one's work and piling up cash is a coping strategy I can totally relate to.

Oh well!

It's a romp of a read, for all that the choice / Chance / redemption / Providence is a bit over the top. If I'd known this years ago, I'd have happily read it then -- it doesn't deserve its reputation for dullness.

Totally loved Priscilla of course, and hope some day she finds her Mr Have Your Own Way. Or not -- because Dear Old Dad seemed pretty awesome, too.
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2017-09-17 10:49 am

Book review: the first three In Death Books, J.D. Robb

_Naked in Death_
_Glory in Death_
_Immortal in Death_

I don't know why, but I didn't read these as they were coming out, even tho I was aware of the author. I don't know if I knew they were set in the future (2060, give or take). And I don't know if that would have made them more or less interesting to me at the time.

Anyway. Random things to be aware of. J.D. Robb is also Nora Roberts. The first three books in this 40+ book series are a fairly straightforwardly arranged romantic arc: book 1 gets them together, book 2 gets them engaged, they are married in book 3. The future is definitely a future from the 1990s: everyone has electronic stuff, including what is more or less a cell phone, but every bit of electronic stuff has a specific purpose -- and the other gadgets are not necessarily connected to any kind of net or database outside itself. If you want to extra information from gadgets (including call logs from the phones) you get a disk or a hard copy of some sort. Very 1990s! The only thing missing is the PC at the center of this gadget universe, but while there are desktop computer type things, they are not obviously the hub of the peripheral universe a la the 1990s. But while the gadgets are free floating they are also not connected to the cloud as in our current world. Weird stuff. I love the futures of the past that will never be.

There are space colonies. You can call them. There isn't any obvious lag (that is, by about book 3, Robb is mentioning irritating delay, but it is not apparent in the back-and-forth, and honestly, given the apparent location of the colonies, I'm unconvinced the delay makes any sense in even its limited depiction). People go back and forth to various colonies off world the way they might travel now to Dubai or whatever -- it's kind of a long flight and there are time differences, but that's about it.

At least in this early part of the series, there are people who have same sex relationships (or at least sex), but there is no depiction of long standing, stable same sex relationships (I could have missed something in a background character, so don't hesitate to point it out!).

Roark is a billionaire! But like, low order single digits billionaire, which makes no sense at all given how much of Manhattan he supposedly owns. So that's weird. *shrug* But the dollar amounts mentioned don't cohere well at all, beyond apparently Real Meat and Real Coffee are incredibly expensive. I wish it were more obvious what an AutoChef was -- as it is, I kept visualizing the thing Batman cooks his lobster in in The Lego Batman Movie. Which is clearly not right, but it isn't clear what _is_ right.

In the first book, a serial murderer is killing Licensed Companions (yeah, about what you think -- they've legalized and regulated sex work, and there are men and women who do that work and their clients are men and women) with various 20th century projectile weapons. Politics, conservatism, hypocrisy and incestuous molestation of family members play a big role.

In the second book, high powered women (a lawyer, an actress and someone who was mistaken for a tele-journalist) are being killed by a single knife swipe to the throat. Background characters from book 1 repeat, which is nice.

In the third book, a variety of people are dying after taking a new drug with a bunch of kind of awesome effects and a couple of really bad effects. Again, background characters from book 2 show up in book 3, along with more from book 1. The female lead Eve starts actively mentoring another woman cop.

The protagonists (Eve, the cop, and Roark, the businessman) come from complex backgrounds full of abuse and deprivation. Eve has blocked a lot of her first 8 years out, and the police psychologist (who becomes such a close friend she attends Eve's bachelorette party by book 3, so you know, no conflict issues there!) is an important plot element dragging Eve and the reader through memory lanes via icky flashback dreams. All kinds of trigger issues here, and a whole lot of questions that don't even seem to occur to people.


Maybe not, but whatever. I mentioned what I did above to give you structure flavor without spoilers and to warn about possible triggers. But there are particular problems with Eve's backstory that really bother me. She basically enters social services with no name or identifying information at age 8, after being found naked, shivering, broken arm, etc. in an alley in Dallas (her last name now). Really? We're in 204x and no one thinks to pull a blood sample and run DNA on her? Foot prints? No?

OK, how about this. When Eve remembers I DID MENTION SPOILERS I KNOW I DID that her "daddy" routinely raped her and they moved around a lot and he locked her up and didn't feed her and so forth, why does no one ask, was "daddy" her actual bio father ... or did he maybe kidnap her, and her actual loving family, siblings, etc. are somewhere out there still wondering what happened to their darling 2, 3, 4, etc. year old who was stolen from them? I mean, _it happens_. I'd want to know. Eve doesn't need to ever know, but hell, you could _still_ pull the DNA, and run it against all the DNA of unsolved murders, and find "daddy" that way. And whether he was bio-dad or not. And maybe find out if he murdered "mommy" or mom or whatever and when. Or if maybe she's still out there having kids with awful fathers and maybe needs to be stopped (probably not -- Eve is 30ish). Eve remembers and immediately feels like she's guilty. I'm going, no, but there are crimes here, that maybe need to be wrapped up.

I don't know whether I'll keep reading. There's a lot to enjoy in these books, and I am compelled in some ways by the possibility that Roark is the bridge between old-skool romantic heroes who were merely rich and the billionaire sub-genre that has so taken over romance today.

Also, the puzzles are above average as mysteries.
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2017-09-17 10:38 am
Entry tags:

Saturday's Activities Include: walk, martial arts, track, Papa Razzi, cooking

I took T. to martial arts. One of the instructors was away, so he joined a small group lesson. After that, we went to Concord for track with Team Verge. I stopped at a Starbucks to use the loo and bought a coffee while I was there.

After track, we went to Papa Razzi, where I very carefully did not have another coffee, but did have the Caprese Bruschetta minus the mozzarella (sad I can't eat it -- they make their own). Mmmm, avocado toast with sunny side eggs.

After lunch, T. and I went home. R. had taken A. to Build a Bear and the Cheesecake Factory in Burlington, so he could drop off / recycle a humidifier that we didn't need anymore since we had the one hooked up to the forced air. A. got a Pinkie Pie at the Build a Bear and R. noticed for the first time that there is a new MLP movie coming out (yeah, because A. hasn't mentioned it more than a few dozen times and insisted we put it on the calendar <-- that is sarcasm, right there). I did some cooking.

I have taken to heart -- at least for the moment -- the idea that clutter is deferred decision making, or at least a project started that was never completed and thus it can be dealt with by completing tasks. So. I made suikerbrood finally, after buying the sugar cubes for this project in 2015. It turned out well, altho I'm going to crank up the sugar and fat next time. Maybe. It is really tasty the way it is and turns out to be utterly amazing with marmalade on it.

I have also been cooking beans lately. After making a partial old fashioned baked beans from BH&G, I finally did the full amount (altho I did still jack up the bacon and the sweeteners. Because I haven't been able to eat out much lately, and if I'm going to eat a lot of my own cooking, I'm going to quit having my own cooking compensate for the excesses of eating out and instead participate in those excesses with moderate enthusiasm) with the correct beans (in this case, navy). I soaked overnight, and started cooking them this morning; R. shepherded them along and then I baked them in the afternoon. They are Excellent. I'm a little surprised still that I did this, and that I did it without actually having to visit a store for any ingredients (I had the blackstrap molasses, and obviously maple syrup and bacon and the navy beans already). Anyway. We have probably 50-100 pounds of dry beans of one sort or another in the house, and I've been meaning to replace some of the meat in our diet with beans for a while now. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a new trend.

A. asked for cupcakes, so I made her cupcakes. This time, I used the 1/3 recipe that I would normally make in a loaf pan. It's a little bit more than should be in the cupcake cups, so I think next time I will cut the liquid slightly.

Dinner was sort of ongoing snacking. I had some of the baked beans. I had some of the hummous / garbanzo bean and tahini spread that I made the other day, on rye crisp with home made refrigerator pickles. I had a green salad. And obviously, I had some suikerbrood.
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2017-09-15 09:16 pm
Entry tags:

Friday's Activities Include: walks, Battle Road Brewing for lunch

Today was order your series 3 apple watch day. I ordered mine in the morning. I ordered T.'s holiday present in the afternoon. During that time frame, the expected delivery date moved out several weeks. Interesting!

I walked with M. at 10, because my phone call canceled. I had lunch shortly thereafter with R. at Battle Road in Maynard. I had the fried haddock sandwich. Really, really good! R. had the pulled pork sandwich, which looked excellent. I had the farmhouse ale, I think, which was tasty. After multiple stops at the loo (once there, and then at home a few times, because I am middle aged and beer for lunch), R. and I did the long walk together. It was a little muggy but otherwise fine. I was really sweaty when I got back, so I took a shower.

T. went to see Nut Job 2 a second time.

A. had a quiet evening in playing Roblox.
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2017-09-14 10:05 pm
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Thursday's Activities Include: plumbing, playdate

Last night I made hummous, starting with sesame seeds (stored in the freezer, so they didn't go rancid. Yay!) and chickpeas. I left _out_ garlic / onion / etc., so R. could have some. I had forgotten just what a pain it was to clean the coffee grinder and blender after doing this.

I also started last night and finished today baked beans. I could have cooked the beans more and they probably should have been a few more beans for the amount of bacon I put in. R. ate them tho, since I left the onion out of them.

When I went downstairs to have tuna salad sandwich for lunch with cole slaw and salad, I noticed that there was a puddle on the floor next to the sink. I'd already mopped one up, thinking it had leaked off the counter, but there was no way there had been further dripping on the counter going onto the floor. I checked under the sink -- good fraction of an inch of water. I cleared it out, dried it out, called Papalia. They offered an appointment for tomorrow; I asked if there was any way to get something sooner. And because they are amazing people, they got me someone in about an hour and fifteen minutes, so he was able to get it all fixed by the time I was due at the play date for A. I got a lot more than just a new garbage disposal -- plumbing inspection, two toilets pulled and reset (one I was nearly ready to call to have done, the other one wasn't that bad) and AC maintenance scheduled for Monday. Oh, and some kind of down-the-drain cleaner in a bucket that isn't Draino and is safe for PVC pipes and so forth. It was kind of awesome to get the wiggly toilets stabilized, altho I could have done without the leaking garbage disposal. We used this opportunity to edit some of what was stored under the sink.f

ETA: T.'s sitter was running a little late, so my walk with M. was a little late. T. and his sitter went to Acton Funeral Home, because he has many, many questions about things and the sitter has gotten quite clever about asking people to answer my son's questions. I am sort of in awe of his childhood. He's spent time with the police (toured a cell and the back of a cop car), people at the courthouse, and now the funeral home. I have no idea what's next, but I'm looking forward to hearing about it, whatever it is.
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2017-09-13 05:13 pm

Bloomberg futurist piece

Here it is, in all its glory:


Look, I'll be honest. I noticed there just wasn't that much more vermouth left in the bottle when I was making my drink, so I figured, what the hell. I just put the rest in. I might be more than a bit snookered. I'll revisit this sober (maybe) and apologize if it seems appropriate.

So, 2036, 26 year old Caitlin has received some shoes in October that were made in July and that she impulse bought for $29. Thank you, author Justin Bachman, for making the math easy. Caitlin was born in 2010, so she's a couple years younger than my daughter.

First off, author, the year 2000 (or possibly 1998, the year I retired) called and wants its baby name back. If you had picked Isabella, or Emma or Emily or, heck, even Madison or any number of other girls names, I would not have blinked, but Caitlyn? That's some retro action for sure.

Second, and really, this should be first, because this is what caused me to space out and stop reading and start looking for my computer so I could mock this article, the shoes arrived in a box. No, really! I checked.

"The year is 2036. Caitlin, 26, gets home from work to find a box at her door containing a pair of sneakers she bought online three days ago."

Author, you did not specify whether the box was from a retailer, or somewhere else in the food chain -- it could have been the manufacturer's box, it could have been an Amazon box. But you know, in 2036, I don't fucking believe that shoes are going to be delivered -- at least not impulse purchased $29 shoes -- in a box. I've been reading about cardboard. I've been thinking deeply about cardboard for some years now. And if you are surprised that anyone thinks deeply about cardboard, well, you are not a regular reader of This Blog. And Author, $29 shoes are not going to get a box in 2036. They are going to be in a bag. It will be a moderately interesting bag, with technical properties I do not now (see above, re: nearly empty and now recycled bottle of vermouth) have the capacity to imagine or describe, it will be made of laminar film, possibly oleowtf, possibly plant derived equivalents, but it will not be a box.

"Ours, a dull red, is stacked onto a ship for a 26-day trek across the Pacific to Long Beach, California, via Vancouver."

Dude, that doesn't even make sense. If you can't ship into Long Beach because of a strike or some damn thing, you go to Vancouver. You don't go to Long Beach VIA Vancouver. That's just incoherent. Who do you think your readers are, anyway?

OK, next. First, describing the factory in Dongguan as north of Hong Kong, while true, is weird. Second, at the rate we're going, there are not going to _be_ any factories left in Dongguan by 2036. They are already clearing out. 2016 was full of stories on exactly this topic.


By 2036, shoe factories that might have been in Dongguan will have moved closer to the source of demand to build their robot factories. [ETA: Or to Africa. I don't know.] I mean, if cheap labor is no longer available in China, and therefore not a factor in the decision making, why NOT move to be closer to the 26 year old weekend runners who might buy the shoes?

OK, so the shoes are off the container ship and transferred to an automated "rover" which will remove the container from the vessel and put it onto a rail car or a truck. In reality, it would go to a truck, which would platoon away from the ship when loaded, and then stuff would get transferred to rail. Period. End. Except, the shoes wouldn't have ever been on the fucking ship -- they would have been made somewhere in the US, near a rail link. And it is _still_ bothering me that Caitlin's shoes are in a box. They are not in a box. Bizarrely, while Rotterdam is mentioned, truck platooning is not mentioned. Too boring, perhaps?

The article assumes the shoes are going on a truck.

There are some weird repeated paragraphs in the robot warehouse part of the article. In any event, robot perception does not strike me as the problem. The problem IMO is robot grip feedback. We are going to be relying on humans to pick shit up and toss it with appropriate pressure / forcefulness / strength for a while yet.

Anyway. When it comes time to send that "box" of shoes to Caitlin, a "robot affixes an RFID-enabled tracking tag on the shoebox and leaves it waiting to be flown a few miles to its final destination: Caitlin's bungalow on Englewood's north side".

OK, ignoring the whole, drone is going to fly the $29 shoes to the house part (and is that her parents house or her house? She's 26, and age of house purchase has been rising). Tags are put on shit in the factory. That is _now_. Databases change where the tag goes next -- but you should not need to put a tag on those shoes _now_. That just makes no sense at all.

All in all, I am underwhelmed by this exercise in futurism. The shoes should not be in a box. The factory was not in Dongguan. The boat did _not_ go to Long Beach via Vancouver (dude! W.T.F.!!!). The RFID tag was attached as part of the manufacturing process. The overall point is valid -- nobody touched the shoes themselves until Caitlin opened the package. I don't have a problem with that.

Just every other detail.
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2017-09-13 01:37 pm
Entry tags:

Wednesday's Activities Include: returned tile, walk

I went over to Tiles Plus More to return the unopened box of tile and the few remaining bullnose tiles. That was actually worth the trip -- $125 back. I always wonder, when I'm driving that far and it takes that much time (over an hour round trip). But apparently, $125 is enough to get me to do it.

I walked with M. when I got back.

I am soaking chickpeas and pinto beans. We had really great sweet baked beans from Battle Road Brewery and whatever and I thought to myself, hey, I bet I could make some really good baked beans. And hummous, while I'm at it.
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2017-09-12 11:00 pm
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Monday's Activities Include: breakfast out, chat with K.

I had breakfast with A. at the Blackbird Cafe in Groton, followed by a walk on the rail trail. Very nice! Her knee had been bothering her but after doing PT for a while it is all better now!

Later I had a lovely chat with my friend K.

I also walked with M.

Feeling kind of run down today, not sure why. R. is also.
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2017-09-12 11:00 pm
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Tuesday's Activities Include: Dutch lesson, ran roomba, finished 3rd In Death book

I was feeling kind of awful Monday and today, altho by the end of the day starting to feel a bit better. Nothing specific -- just kind of sore and a little sniffly.

I ran roomba, and finished reading the third In Death Book (J.D. Robb); hopefully a review will follow.

I had my Dutch lesson for the first time in a while; that was nice, and I got a walk with A. I also walked later with M.
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2017-09-10 10:45 am

Is $6 bread somehow reprehensible?

I buy different bread for different people in this family. A. really likes the Roche Bros (store brand) whole wheat bread. It's a little high in sodium for me, but is dairy free, so in a pinch, I'll eat it too. I buy Vermont Bread Company English Muffins for myself (the multigrain or the whole grain); that's what I consistently have for breakfast. I don't necessarily eat a lot of sliced bread -- I'll eat rolls and things. I think I've been buying Anzio or something like this, sandwich rolls for T.'s sandwiches, and I eat those sometimes. R. buys torta rolls at Costco -- they go bad pretty quick and the sodium isn't totally nuts, so when those are around, I'll eat those. If there aren't any of those rolls, sometimes I'll use a Roche Bros hamburger bun. R. likes nicer bread, so I usually buy him some When Pigs Fly -- cranberry whatever or there was some sundried tomato thing.

Anyway. There are a variety of breads coming into the house at a variety of price points. Then I read this:


And in the very first paragraph, there is a quote:

""Relative to the nanny, she told me, “The choices that I have are obscene. Six-dollar bread is obscene.”"


Really? We're going after $6 bread now? Look, I kind of got it when people went after the pricey coffee (altho honestly, if you work it out on a calorie / cent basis, the coffee was often a pretty decent value -- not as good value as, say, McDonald's, but not horrible) (and I did say _calorie_ not _nutritional_ value so I don't want to hear about "empty" calories).

Because, you know, artisanal bakeries need to be put right the fuck out of business? You know, they don't deserve to make money. Only store brands churning out gargantuan quantities deserve to sell bread?


The article as a whole is fairly appalling. The author has clearly gone to some effort to establish trust with a number of people over an issue that in our country, is approximately as hard to discuss as sex. And having discussed the stigma and so forth, here is where Sherman lands:

"Is the society we want one in which it is acceptable for some people to have tens of millions or billions of dollars as long as they are hardworking, generous, not materialistic and down to earth? Or should there be some other moral rubric, that would strive for a society in which such high levels of inequality were morally unacceptable, regardless of how nice or moderate its beneficiaries are?"

Let's just make it illegal for people to have the kind of money that the people she interviewed has. This is roughly equivalent to getting a bunch of people who belong to a stigmatized religion, or who belong to some sexual minority or whatever to open up, and then suggesting we should rearrange our society so these people can't exist. While you might _think_, hey, but having money isn't a constitutionally protected thing, well, I invite you to review the history of clauses like the right to pursue happiness. Happiness was a euphemism that was landed on after entertaining more crude expressions of wealth.

I'm always open to the idea that we should revise our tax code or other elements of our society to adjust how things flow. I _always always always_ think that we should steadily provide greater assistance to those who have little: food, shelter, sure, but education is always important, health care is always important, access to cultural resources is always important, access to nature is always important, safety is important, legal representation is important, and there are a lot more I could list.

But if we're attacking New Yorkers who have a household income of $250K and think $6 bread is "obscene" in the same breath we are going after people who have billions of dollars, I don't think there is any kind of coherent social program or tax code revision being contemplated. In fact, what I really think is that we're all having a coded argument about how to afford child care in cities where the cost of living is outrageously high and all the people who would ordinarily be providing that care can no longer afford to live there, increasingly pricing out higher and higher wealth strata -- and rather than actually _addressing_ that problem, attacking the people in the middle who are struggling with it.

We've had this argument before. It was one of many prefaces to a lot of people leaving the cities for the suburbs. I'm betting that the right combination of solar panels, electric cars and high quality broadband outside the coastal cities will get 'er done. And we can go back to whining about sprawl again, instead.

ETA: You know, it occurs to me about that billions of dollars thing that if you really want to make it illegal for individuals or families to accumulate billions of dollars, you are going to have to figure out a way to take away rapidly growing companies from their founders. Is that _really_ what we want to do in our society?

ETA: Besides, if you really want to reduce the ratio between the most compensated and the least compensated in our society, the fastest way to do that is probably to raise the minimum wage and to contemplate a guaranteed minimum income (no country has actually managed to pull off a guaranteed minimum income, so I'm not so sure I am prepared to fully support it absent a workable proposal, but it is worth thinking about as a way to talk about what we want to guarantee our citizens in terms of quality of life). Raising the minimum wage would also go some ways to carving into the upper end as well, in that in some sectors, very low wages at the bottom translate into enormous takings at the top (not all sectors, obviously).
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2017-09-09 11:00 pm
Entry tags:

Saturday's Activities Include: walk, martial arts, track, fair, Buffalo Tom

I took T. to martial arts for the first time in several weeks. That was fun! G., the other sensei, was also there but there was no other class, and he was kind enough to just hang out and chat. I really like both D. and G. They are good guys.

After that, we went to track. Then it was off to Papa Razzi, where I got the "Caprese bruschetta", but without cheese. It had avocado on it and sunnyside up eggs. I think I had avocado toast! It was yummy.

Meanwhile, R. took A. to the Boxboro fair. She got a couple very pink and/or rainbow bags.

Later on, I went for a walk with M.

R. cut the grass, and then he went to see Buffalo Tom.

ETA: I've been reading J.D. Robb, because I realized I'd never read any of the In Death series, and someone over on SBTB really loved number 45 or whatever that she dove into without any knowledge of the rest of the series. (I know, a series that is up in the 40s -- and the author started writing it in 1995! I remember being super excited when Robb/Roberts filled out the automated author interview feature I implemented about a year after the first couple books came out. She was super amazing early on at doing her own promotion, and I knew about her at the time ... but never did read any of the Robb books until just now. Weird!).
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2017-09-08 04:16 pm

Friday's Activities Include: piano out, phone call, walk, photo purge

Yesterday and today, I continued to go through my newly stocked filing cabinet and shred / recycle. I've run lubricant sheets through the shredder at intervals, and it hasn't overheated yet. Maintenance, FTW!

Today, "Trash Can Willys" came by to get the piano. On their website, one gets the impression that getting rid of a piano will cost around $200. They asked how big it was, so I measured the height (it's an upright) and said it was a little over 4 feet, and quoted me $370. They showed up, said I should have measured the width, and it was going to be $450. I did not tip them. They did not scrap the floors, which is Not Nothing. The website emphasized how they try to recycle; these guys said it was going straight to the dump -- I don't blame them, it is a 1903 Chickering with a weird and unrepairable action, and when we had it tuned a decade ago it was deemed pretty much Not a Piano Anyone Would Want to Buy (at the time, and increasingly over the years, more keys had quit resulting in any sound). Sad, but gone.

I have a lovely phone call with my friend K. She told me there is a Thing now where you can get something that lets your dog call your phone -- like, a video call via Skype. Weird! Hard to imagine that being a good idea, but very funny. The potential for relentless calling and begging seems entirely out of control.

I walked with M.

I went through a bin in the basement that contains a couple photo boxes. One contains discs with scans and also developed film. I _probably_ should get rid of that, because I've uploaded to Flickr everything that I want uploaded to Flickr from this lot. But it is hard to let go of and not doing any harm down there. The other photo box contains actual prints. I went through those (I've done this before, but I was a lot more ruthless this time) and only kept ones where I knew the people and didn't have really awful thoughts about the people, and a very few landscape / plant photographs. I also took this box upstairs and emptied out a thin album of hiking photos (similarly purging them while I was at it) because the shelf of photo albums has gotten too crowded. And then I collected the box with leftover Holiday Cards (the ones I have made up through Snapfish or whatever each year) and the stack of accordion photo thingies from the photographer each year, dumped them into the newly created space in the photo box and returned it to its bin. I got the photo albums to fit onto their single shelf again (yay!) and got a little space back in my office from the box of cards and the accordion books. One of the reasons the photo albums overflowed was because I finally got all of the J.M. prints out of the box in that same place in my office and into an album.

R. is off to return leftover tile from the shower, and to stop at the piano store and try out a Yamaha hybrid we are discussing (and maybe other things, but I told him I'm not just buying a straight acoustic), and to donate some things to Savers.

Part of moving the piano out of the house meant that things that were sitting on the piano had to find new homes. A picture went to the bar, so things had to come off the bar -- an ice bucket set of cocktail equipment went to Savers (we never use it -- we have other things we prefer). The bicycle guy went to the case we store DVDs in, so the electronic picture frame went into a donation / recycle box. The lounge light went to the top of the bookcase and the games on the top of that case went into a different shelf of games. The light that was on top of the piano went out to the front hallway (it looks really good there -- that may be permanent). So there was some downstream rearranging and purging triggered by the piano purge. There is an incomplete painting project that is now on the table in the living room, for R. and A. to work on this weekend.

Now that the trash and recycling has been picked up, I can move bags of shredded paper and recycled paper along. I may pause the decluttering project for a bit. I got so tired I took a nap today.

Oh, and I got R. to extract the film from an ancient camera for me, and mailed it off to Darkroom. Who knows what I'll get back. I _think_ it dates from some time in college, but we'll find out. Or we won't, if it is too badly deteriorated.
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2017-09-07 06:02 pm

Space City Weather post mortem

I read a really great article at Ars Technica.


Basically, a weather blog that normally doesn't get a ton of traffic but has an IT guy who likes to tinker in a particular direction (that is, his tinkering is aimed at awful-thing-happening-proofing -- not at maximizing features) did A-OK during Harvey.

This article is great in many ways. First, it is a really engagingly written technical piece. I'm sufficiently out of date that I mostly know Varnish from error messages on blog platforms. Etc. But I grasp the basics -- I understand how encryption interacts with caching, I understand about running out of ports, etc. And anyone who has been to my Very Old Fashioned website knows that I am a huge believer in simple and static. I _like_ how he chose to do things, and I enjoyed reading about the details (especially CloudFlare, and what AMP can do for a small website that gets a lot of traffic). Second, Hutchinson includes the very human aspect of riding out a storm. I love storms. I'm sensible enough to try to avoid them, but I've been through a few and my future holds more. Before I had kids, I used to do stupid shit like go hiking during a tornado watch, or go have a meal at the Space Needle in hopes they'd shut the elevator down and trap me there while a storm rolled in over Elliot Bay. I love stories of people riding out storms. The emotions, the feels. I am there for it. Third, Hutchinson does a pretty compelling job of depicting something that I value enormously, even tho I'm not clear that he understands it. He seems to have a sense that the combination of his preference for site design -- his tinkering orientation, shall we say -- was sort of lucky in this case. And it is. In the very Victorian sense of Making One's Own Luck.

If you know anyone who does slightly weird shit that pays off way more often than seems likely, you probably know someone like Hutchinson. And I love stories about those kinds of people.
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2017-09-07 10:14 am

Thursday's Activities Include: purging files continues

Last night, I found more travel folders (2009-2013 WDW trips). I've gone through the 2009, 2010 and 2011 files, shredding, taking notes into the travel document (I have a 30+ page document describing very sparely family trips we have taken. It started life as a way to answer T.'s questions about When Did We Do X? It includes links to Flickr photo albums, blog posts, and similar.) and recycling. Obviously, hitting the 2011 trip was mildly stressful.

As I was typing this, I got a robotic voice mail from the town saying that they found a mosquito in town carrying West Nile. They will be spraying, including my street. *sigh* I guess the good news is (I mean other than, the species of mosquito mostly bites birds, so hopefully not us) the spraying might reduce mosquitos in the area in general, and A. has been getting some wicked bites lately. Hopefully, she won't get West Nile. :(

Where was I?

I wound up taking some of the documents I requested from Disney at the time and dropping them (along with a transcript of voicemail) into the nanny termination file, which is really where they should have been anyway. I probably should have just gotten rid of all of it (it _has_ been over 5 years) but whenever an event results in me amending taxes, I reflexively keep documentation for a really long time. I mean, you just never know what the questions will get into.

Along with the travel folders I found in a plastic file box, I found a folder of DVC documents. I went through that and tossed everything that wasn't a deed or title insurance. That file is now a lot thinner.

I still have [ETA: one] more travel folders to do (2012-3) [ETA: only 2013 left], and there are still plastic file boxes upstairs. At some point, I'd like to at least get rid of one of the plastic file boxes via consolidation. Then I might declare this whole thing done. [ETA: I successfully emptied one of the plastic file boxes. I did this in part by putting the rest of it into my now available second drawer in my office. In practice, this is insane: several inches are taxes dating from 1986-2003. However, I'm optimistic that I will get up the nerve to actually destroy some of those. Because I really don't need to keep taxes back to 1986. I'm quite certain of this.]

ETA: I have a great phone conversation with J., now that all of our children are back in school. A. had a half day. I forgot to get cash for T.'s sitter, so I left the sitter with both kids while I went to the bank, then I walked with M.

A. wanted her nail polish removed and redone with some of the nail glitter art stuff. I'm really starting to notice differences in nail polish quality.

ETAYA: I have started shredding parts of tax files. Gives me goose bumps, it does.
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2017-09-06 05:54 pm

Wednesday's Activities Include: walk, T.'s first day of school!

It was T.'s first day of middle school today! Very exciting! He leaves really early in the morning -- shortly before 7 a.m.

A. rode the yellow school bus today. The stop is two doors down in front of neighbors who we like, and they were out with another girl whose first name starts with A. So we had a nice chat, and the bus wasn't crazy late and A. seems to have had a good day altho she forgot she had sneakers in her backpack for PE and wore her Mary Janes instead. Oh well!

I continued purging financial files. And then I branched out into photos. One of the drawers of the two drawer filing cabinet in my office has a bunch of miscellaneous photos (a couple albums, some boxes, some envelopes, etc.). I'm hoping to get this entirely cleared out, so I can move more files down to my office. In the meantime, I'm doing what I can to reduce the amount of paper in the filing system overall, in hopes that I can maybe get a really large fraction of the active files into my 2 drawer cabinet.

As I was going through photos, I found discs with digital photos from the 2009 and 2010 J.M. photo sessions. So that was pretty awesome. I'm now only missing 2011 and 2012 (I have 2013 on already uploaded to Flickr).

It was a rainy day, but I did get one short walk.

ETA: I found the remaining photo discs. So R. and I now have caught up on uploading digital photos from the J.M. photo sessions (well, not this year -- we haven't received it yet). This feels like a huge accomplishment, perhaps disproportionately so, but it really makes a lot of this effort feel worth while.

I also went through some envelopes of photos and threw a lot of them away, but saved pictures of me, of R. and a few plant / landscape photos from hikes that really stood out. There was no organized process -- I suspect that at least all of mine are already digitized and uploaded to Flickr, and R. has his own copies of his photos, so I just kept stuff I liked enough to put in the albums. I wanted to get that file drawer back, and I have. The two remaining items in search of a home / next step in the process are a camera from my late teens with a roll of film in it that I should find a developer for to see if there is anything there, and a spiral scrapbooking supplies thing from Disney.
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2017-09-05 11:00 pm

Tuesday's Activities Include: A.'s first day of school!

Today was A.'s first day of school. T. and his sitter went to the beach. It was kind of muggy out, and it never did cool down. It was a slightly crazy day as I had a vacation planning window start at 7 a.m. that I got up early to do, then I called CASE transportation to figure out what the status on A.'s transportation actually was. I got her up, dressed, fed and then R. dropped the two of us off at the school so I could hang out with her until I could hand her off to someone else. Once I was home again, I talked to J., and then I looked at the bus schedules and called the regular transportation department to confirm what I thought I understood from the schedule. So tomorrow will be her first day on the regular school bus.

A little before 11 (which is when that window started), a guy came from Country Glass to measure the shower for a glass door; so that is progressing.

I requested a pickup for the piano that we are (finally) going to get rid of and hopefully replace. I want to get a hybrid. I found the Samick Ebony Neo, but R. was concerned about .. I'm not sure. After some discussion, and not really getting what the issue was (future proofing, whether it would "feel" like a "real" piano, should we just get a keyboard so we could move it around the house -- which had been my first plan, but he wanted an acoustic, so this was my solution to satisfy both), I finally found a Yamaha Nu1, and while he wants to visit one in a shop and see what it feels like, absent someone telling us this is a horrible idea, I think that's what we'll be getting. It seems to hit a sweet spot of quality furniture appearance, potential social hub and ability to play without disturbing others by hooking up headphones.

We've been talking about doing this forever, it seems, but I was reluctant to bring something really nice into the house and have it be destroyed by the kids. Waiting seemed like it might get us to a point where the kids would be able to play it without damaging thing. Also, the 1903 Chickering upright with the weird action that this is replacing is deteriorating pretty noticeably.

I also purged a bunch of financial files.
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2017-09-04 01:38 pm

Monday's Activities Include: Boston! Walk, purging files

I got a 3 mile walk and talked to my friend K. She was up early! Very nice convo.

My sister butt dialed me several times during the walk, which was a little distracting. But there wasn't an emergency, so that's something.

T. went to Boston with the sitter. They are going to play tourist at home: Duck Tours and Swan Boat are both on the agenda for today. Maybe someone will take pictures.

Now that I have some of my files in my office, I am actually going through them and getting rid of things. Who knew this could even happen (<-- a little humor there). I've been thinking a lot about the decluttering books I read as mind candy, and how disturbing I find it that they are so vituperative about The Container Store. After talking to R. and K. about it, I think they are on to some important aspects. R. noted that when a personal organizer / declutterer walks into a place that has already put in nice shelving and containerized everything, it's a _much_ harder gig than walking into a place where there are piles of things on the floor and no storage beyond a poorly kitted closet (shelf and rod and little else), a bureau, a nightstand, the coffee table, an aging desk from college years, the hall closet, linen closet if present and the kitchen cabinets. If you walk into a place with no filing cabinet and install one, everything is magically Awesome. If you walk into a place with multiple packed filing cabinets, it is going to take some effort to get to Awesome. If you walk into a place with all the walls covered with built in cabinets / book cases / etc., you are going to be there for a long while.

So, attacking the Container Store is code for, I Hate Hard Jobs. Not so clever now, hunh?

K. also had some interesting analogies for another issue I have with decluttering books. They generally promise -- or at least lead one to believe -- that if you "keep up on the maintenance", you won't have to do a whole house declutter again. And I've got news for anyone who believes that! There probably _are_ people who will never have to declutter again. But anyone who goes through career changes, has kids, kids grow up and leave, gets divorced, remarries, moves from one place to another or, goddess help you, owns more than one property, and then downsizes, is going to find themselves doing a fair amount of lather, rinse, repeat, and maintenance just is inadequate to describe what is involved. We talked about bonsai, and pruning and some other plant analogies. We discussed whether the repeat declutter the whole house thing is a result of escalating standards (I don't think it is, personally, at least not usually).

I'm thinking about writing a short piece about waves of books about personal organizing, personal time management, decluttering, etc. I've read through at least three distinct phases of this genre, and the evolution of the field is sort of interesting. I don't know if it is worth a lot of time, tho, and it might spoil my simple enjoyment of this non-fiction genre.

ETA: I got a third walk! My sister called as she was headed out on a walk so I took another loop around the mile long block while we chatted. Very nice! A 5 miles walking (on the road, 9.74 miles right now according to the step counter on Apple Watch) day, first in a while. Just under 20K steps now.
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2017-09-03 07:54 pm

Review, sort of: _Real Life Organizing_, Cassandra Aarssen

Subtitled: Clean and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a Day

I've been meaning to review this for a while now, and of course I finally get around to reviewing in while I'm in the middle of Yet Another Decluttering book so I'll probably mix them up.

Aarssen, like oh so many writers in this genre, takes pains to explain how she didn't start out organized, she was such a slob etc. etc. but then she finally figured out a way to make this work and if SHE can do it then ANYONE can. Also, simple organizing solutions means Even Kids Can Put Stuff Away.

I'm not sure I believe it; she ran an in home day care for some years. I'm thinking there may actually be some magic.

In any advice, she has a great tone and wonderful momentum. The book carries you right along and she is enjoyable to listen to. She is relatable, and emphasizes loving what you have and figuring out how to incrementally move it in the direction you want it to go, rather than getting spending hours on Pinterest or wherever looking at super perfect things that you will never have and that wouldn't work well in your life even if you did.

It is interesting reading Aarssen and then Amanda Sullivan's _Organized Enough_. Aarssen is a big believer in incremental laundry morning and night; Sullivan has a do this stuff on one day and other stuff on a different day of the week strategy. Neither is particularly doctrinaire -- they are more about establishing habits than about _what_ habit. But I highlight this one because Aarssen is very much about daily habits and Sullivan is about larger blocks of time.

In case it isn't obvious, this is essentially a non-fiction genre that is a form of brainless mind-candy for me. Altho like almost anything that I consume as brainless mind-candy, over time I become more critical and start to question the underpinnings of the entire genre. Right now, the fact that all these books attack the Container Store (by name, mind you, in some detail) makes me wonder what on earth is going on here.