Thursday, June 27, 2024

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, an utterly fantastic read: ‘I’m good, I promise’: the loneliness of the low-ranking tennis player

From Wally, and I've seen most of these: The 10 Best Steampunk Movies, Ranked. To me, we already know what it looks like because it represents an entire political party now: How 'The Boys' Imagines Fascism Coming to America. This is quite the rant: I Will Fucking Piledrive You If You Mention AI Again

From Chris M., and it's both thoughtful and depressing: The Real Reason Why Music Is Getting Worse

From C. Lee, and it's a fascinating read: How to Build 300,000 Airplanes in Five Years. Also excellent: How to Build a $20 Billion Semiconductor Fab. And another great read as well: Number Representations in Computer Hardware. I certainly hope not (I still enjoy mine): Is the desktop PC on its way out? Steve of GamersNexus chimes in. This certainly made me think: Why small annoyances can harm us more than big disruptions. This is quite a story: JUDO/ Japanese master who popularized judo in France still revered. This is surprising: Japan has an excess sushi problem. These food waste activists put it in numbers. It would be interesting to try the original recipe: Tea Punch Was the First Cocktail. What a rabbit hole: Niche Museums

This Is How We Do it

"Now that I've done it, I have the perfect moving strategy," I said to Eli 22.10.

"What is it?" he asked.

"First, hire someone to throw away half your stuff," I said. 

"Which half?"

"Doesn't matter. They'll do just about as well as you would."

"I'm not even surprised, really," he said.

"Then, rent a dumpster. Throw in the other half. There, you've moved."

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Day One

I'm still in survival mode, but much more settled. My body, apparently, has also survived.

124 pucks have been sold. Utilities have been transferred, as well as trash, lawn, and pest control. When Comcast calls me back in the morning (seriously, Comcast), I'll cancel the Internet service and turn in the router.

I think that's it, really.

Oh, except for a tax refund for the estate that I've been unable to get for over two years because the IRS is impossible to speak to in person. I've sent multiple letters with documentation and nothing. It's confusing and more than a bit frustrating.

Other than that, I'm out of the house and estate business. For good, hopefully.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

It All Comes In Hundreds

Last night: 70 MPH winds, torrential rains, spectacular lightning. If I'm the main character (I'm not), I would see it as a sign that the octopus was desperately trying to continue clinging to my face.

This morning: instead of the usual twenty minutes from Cs place to the house, it took almost forty. There was crime tape across the main road I use to get there. 

I thought maybe it was a murder investigation.

It was, but not in the way I expected. On the way back, I found out why:

In the background, that's a 100+ foot tree entirely across the road. 160,000 people without power. Traffic lights all over the city.

Damn, that house really wants to hold on to me a little while longer.

I cleaned for six hours, thought I was done, then discovered a bin with 100+ hockey pucks in it that weighed several tons, seemingly. I had to drag it from a shed to the neighbor's house. It hurt, but then, everything this week hurt. Yesterday, I had to remove six screws from a board over my head. These screws:

Power screwdriver? Not a chance. 100 turns against considerable resistance for each screw (I counted). 

I didn't have a choice, so I worked all day, with a quick break for lunch.

In the end, it was done. Looking back on it, I don't know how, but it was.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Calooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.


Nice symbolism this morning.

Torrential rain, huge winds, sirens going off everywhere. The octopus, desperately hanging on.

Monday, June 24, 2024

One More Day

I don't have anything today because I spent ten hours working at the house. Nothing like hitting 14,500 steps for the day when you didn't even go to the gym.

I'm going to watch the Stanley Cup and things will be back to normal tomorrow or Wednesday.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Friday Links!

Starting off this week, a wonderful read: From Infocom to 80 Days: An oral history of text games and interactive fiction

This is fascinating: Rare photographs by Dora Maar cast Picasso’s tormented muse in a new light

From David Gloier and the WTF department: Driven to Kill: Why drivers in China intentionally kill the pedestrians they hit.

From Ken Paper, and it's definitely a thing now: The AI upgrade cycle is here. This is discouraging: Dark money news outlets outpacing local daily newspapers. Utterly fantastic: AI Decodes Sperm Whale Language, Revealing a Complex System of Communication. This is quite provocative: Caffeine Has an Intriguing Effect on The Brains of Parkinson's Patients. It seems unlikely, but testing seems reasonable: Can we artificially cool the planet? A major environmental group is spending millions to find out

From C. Lee, and it's fantastically stupid: Pentagon ran secret anti-vax campaign to undermine China during pandemic. This is incredible: US patients charged for ‘hospital facility fees’ – even if they don’t set foot in one. This is both surprising and alarming: Napa Valley has lush vineyards and wineries – and a pollution problem. Adobe is an awful company: Adobe Has Responded to Criticism of Its New Terms of Service. Oops! Google Execs Say They Fixed Search AI—But Google Still Wants You to Glue Your Pizza. Another oops: Office 2007 infosec researcher recalls panic after major bug announcement turned out to be a false positive. An excellent read: The Terror of Toxic Shock Once Ruled Headlines—So Why Did It Fizzle Out? A fascinating read: Balloon offensive: Seoul-based activists develop tech to send messages deep into North Korea. This is quite amusing: The Mythical Promise of Tin Foil Hats. Countries and aging: Age ain't nothing but a number. A fantastic interview: Mark Cerny: When making consoles, we're not trying to build low-cost PCs.

From Wally, it's the top grossing (domestic, U.S.) 100 films of all-time (adjusted for inflation): Top 100 films. Oh, my: This Tucson homeowner didn't know his house was built on a cemetery — until he found bones. This is lengthy: Stay the Course: How to Keep Writing (Especially When You Don’t Want To). This is far beyond the point of ridiculous: Book about book bans banned by Florida school board


Eli 22.10 says there's a Winnie-the-Pooh quote for any situation.

I believe this is correct. 

The Hundred Acre Wood is full of wisdom, actually. My favorite is Eeyore singing this little ditty:
I found an anchor over there
Now it's on my derriere.

Anyway, Eli had a speech to give at end of term and included this Pooh quote: "I always get to where I'm going by walking away from where I've been."

Words to live by.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Juneteenth (an annual post)

Texas being Texas:
Four enduring myths about Juneteenth are not based on facts.

Myth #4: The Juneteenth Order was basically a Texas version of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Fact: General Orders No. 3 stated unequivocally "all slaves are free," but it also contained patronizing language intended to appease planters who didn't want to lose their workforce. Forty-one words of the brief 93-word order urged enslaved people to stay put and keep working.

"The freed are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere."

Incredible, really. 

This is a wonderful website to learn more about Juneteenth: Senses of Freedom: Exploring the Tastes, Sounds and Experiences of an African American Celebration.

For Grand Rapids Readers (and surrounding areas)

If you need any of the following:
--TV stand (up to 49" screen)
--TV stand (up to 65" screen)
--filing cabinet (wood)
--large bookcase (wood)
--small hutch (2, black, about thigh high if you're 6')
--computer desk (white, wood, beautiful)
--ping pong table (excellent shape)

Email me and you can come pick anything up. I'd rather have it go to you than randos. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A Proposal for a YouTube Channel

As I was Macgyvering a large, heavy television stand up a rocky slope using two furniture dollies in a hilariously inept way, I had an idea.

I think people would enjoy a YouTube channel by someone who is terrible at DIY. Absolutely terrible. They're still successful at what they do, but not because they're good at anything. They just use some inefficient, stupid method and grind away until they succeed.

The videos would be painful to watch, but also funny. Kind of like life.

Yes, I know I would be an ideal candidate. If nominated, I will not run, and if elected, I will not serve, as the saying goes.



This would certainly be more effective if you could easily see "THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE" written on the wall above and to the right of the girl. 

Monday, June 17, 2024

One down

The storage room with Eli 22.10s stuff doesn't look bad:

The entire process took around eight hours, including C providing an enormous amount of help for three hours on Saturday. She's providing an enormous amount of help in general (and made bison burgers for Father's Day, which was awesome).

There's still room for some of my stuff in the storage unit, as well as Cs, since we're combining households. 

I moved everything left in the basement (except my computer and printer) upstairs today. Lots of lifting, and I'm incredibly tired, but now I don't have to go up and down the stairs thirty times a day, which was killing my knee. 

It's math at this point. Every item I run across now has to have a destination. Leaving it there is just kicking the can down the road, and there's no road left, so everything has to be dealt with.

A Thought

Yellow mustard is the blunt force trauma of condiments.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Friday Links!

It's a great week for long reads (the first six links, in fact).

From David Gloier, an astonishing article: The Titan Submersible Disaster Shocked the World. The Exclusive Inside Story Is More Disturbing Than Anyone Imagined

A fantastic read: Inside Mexico’s anti-avocado militias

This is both sickening and an absolutely fine piece of journalism: How Did This Climber Get Away with So Much for So Long?

From Meg McReynolds, and what an amazing read: The Universe Is Not Locally Real, and the Physics Nobel Prize Winners Proved It

I saw this first on RPS on Sunday, and it's a deep, deep dive into packaging: World in a Box: Cardboard Media and the Geographic Imagination

This is a tremendous, fascinating read: Neutrinos: The inscrutable “ghost particles” driving scientists crazy.

An amazing and wonderful bit of news: Elephants call each other by name, study finds.

From Wally, and it's no love story: Romance Writers of America has filed for bankruptcy. What’s next? 

From C. Lee, and it's a mesmerizing read: Ozempic: Reshaping Desire Since 2023. Niche yet useful knowledge: Thawing Vacuum Packed Fish. An excellent read: How to Raise Your Artificial Intelligence: A Conversation with Alison Gopnik and Melanie Mitchell. Related: Why AI is Harder Than We Think. This is amazing: Drug that ‘melts away’ tumours hailed as ‘gamechanger’ for some bowel cancer patients. This is terribly sad: Social media posters abroad fuel hatred of Kurds in Japan. Who knows, really? Updated Formula on Alien Intelligence Suggests We Really Are Alone in the Galaxy. A fascinating video: The Rapid Collapse of the Swedish Mechanical Calculator Industry. The titans of the gaming industry have created the conditions for their demise: You can’t make AAA games for just one platform anymore. I'd rather have an 8K filter, were it possible: Artificial Nostalgia: Behind the Trending PS2 Filter

Jerry West

If you're not a sportsball fan, you might never have heard of Jerry West.

He was a basketball legend, first at West Virginia, then with the Lakers in the NBA. His nickname was "the logo" because the NBA logo is based on him. After his playing career ended, he was the GM of the Lakers for many years.

Everyone spoke of Jerry West with utmost respect. 

They also mentioned that had a dark side. Tortured.

He's possibly the best example of toxic competitiveness who ever existed. Many times in interviews, he'd mention that he never remembered his best games, or championships. What he remembered, over and over again, were the games he'd lost.

It was sad, to hear him this way. It was easy to hear the genuine pain in his voice. He was incredibly successful, by any standard, but he was also haunted, and the ghost was in charge.

Being competitive is fun. I'm competitive. And I occasionally still regret the semifinal match I lost in the tennis district championships--in high school (seriously, how did I lose to that kid?). It doesn't eat away the inner lining of my being, though. 

Eli is fiercely competitive, but he's able to let it all go. He's never haunted by mistakes, or losses. He just learns what he can and moves on. 

It's the dark side of competitiveness that's frightening. Pro athletes, in particular, as if getting to that level required a sacrifice of their reason. As if competing at the highest level requires obliterating the boundaries between competition and the rest of their lives. 

That's when it's toxic.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Octopus

The close didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped, but I should have known better.

First off, the online notary, even though the POA stated June 11, recorded that he attested to the document on July 11. 


The closing still went through, but that has to be fixed before the paperwork can be filed. Eli 22.10 has to go back to the online notary and have it corrected, which might well be difficult, since reaching a particular notary may be challenging. It certainly won't be difficult to prove it was a mistake, though, since it's quite difficult to attest to a document a month before the day exists.

I went to the bank to deposit the check and wrinkle number two presented itself: the check was made out to my last name, not his. Eli's last name is hyphenated (my last name is half of it, of course), but his name on the check wasn't. I mentioned this to the teller, who said it shouldn't be a problem (although I have no idea why). So I deposited the check in his account and now I wait to see if it clears.

I told Eli selling and leaving the house was like trying to pull an octopus off our faces.

The last tentacle is proving quite difficult.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Eli 22.10, Exams, and Closing

First off, I'm very grateful to everyone who wrote in after Friday's post about notaries in the UK. Each email contained useful information, and they came in quickly, too, which was even more helpful.

As it turns out, the title company employee was incorrect when he said you couldn't use online notaries for a POA in Michigan. You can, actually, and Eli was able to use on online notary this morning. The house is closing tomorrow.

Eli sent me this picture over the weekend:

Oxford has a cool tradition (probably dating back to the Pleistocene era) where students wear carnations to exams. Also their academic robes, just to clear up any possible misunderstandings. The color of the carnation is based on where you are in the exam schedule, and since it's Eli's last (and only) exam for the year, he has a red carnation. Parents buy the undergraduates carnations, but in graduate school, your friends buy them for you. 

This tradition has been going on for so long that florists have special paper with "good luck" already printed.

He took his exam on Monday and thought it went well. I have no idea how long it takes for him to receive his marks.

Monday, June 10, 2024

How Not to Be an Idiot With a Dumpster

I should have said how not to be an idiot because of a dumpster.

A dumpster is big. It seems infinite. This can trick you, because it is not, in fact, infinite. 

This means that instead of--hypothetically--just throwing crap in, you need to do a little planning. Garbage Tetris, if you will.

First, identify all the large items that you want to dispose of and move them in first. Use a dolly, either upright or the ground kind with wheels. You can move almost anything heavy with a dolly, and it takes strain off your back. 

You'll be moving lots of stuff. You want as little strain on your body for as long as possible. Trust me.

Once you've wheeled all the large items into the dumpster, you might not need to open the doors again. It's more fun to toss things over the side, anyway, as long as you don't hurt yourself.

Now, make an ice cream sandwich.

Toss in all the lightest stuff next. All of it. That creates a middle layer which can be compressed by the medium-size items you toss on top. Then you can just put the remaining smaller items into any gaps.

Even when a dumpster looks full, there's plenty of room for anything small. It's almost a bag of infinite holding. 

Always remember: if there's any doubt about weight, don't throw it over the side without consideration. Maybe one of those items won't hurt you, but twenty will. 

If you follow these steps, you might avoid a strained back, a bum knee, and a strained bicep. Oh, and a foot. There was a bad foot, too.

All on the mend now.

Friday, June 07, 2024

A Request

I know this is staggeringly unlikely, but if any of you have a personal connection (however tangential) to a notary in the Oxford area, please contact me. Eli needs a notary to witness a document he must sign before the house can be sold, but notaries in the UK are very different than in the U.S. (where you can go to any UPS store and have something notarized in five minutes). In the UK, there are far fewer notaries, and they're usually booked months in advance. I've sent him some possible options, but it's all from Google searches.

Like I said, I know it's unlikely, but on the off-chance that one of you does know someone, please let me know. Thanks.

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Friday Links!

What a week!

From David Gloier, and it's so true: Oh, whatever, everything is totally great for writers right now

From Wally, and it's a man behaving badly story: Spector Creative Toy Controversy. This is both quite long and an excellent read: Middle Finger To the Sky: The Worst Ronin by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Faith Schaffer

From C. Lee, and it's an excellent look at the difficulties in training AI using the Internet: 17 cringe-worthy Google AI answers demonstrate the problem with training on the entire web. This is a fantastic read: Pluralistic: You were promised a jetpack by liars. Not surprising: Former OpenAI Board Member Says Sam Altman Created a Culture of ‘Psychological Abuse'. Very true: We have to stop ignoring AI’s hallucination problem. This is tremendous: The obscure federal intelligence bureau that got Vietnam, Iraq, and Ukraine right. This is infuriating: The Samsung right-to-repair story just got worse. How not to get screwed: GamersNexus Warranty Response Kit. American Airlines is cornering the market on worst customer service, even though it has stiff competition: American Airlines Sued For Kicking 8 Black Men Off Flight Over 'Body Odor'. NK with the futuristic warfare tactics: Poop-Filled North Korean Balloons Descend On The South Stoking Fears Of Deadlier Payloadsons-descend-on-the-south-stoking-fears-of-deadlier-payloads. This is interesting and well-presented: Visualizing Daily Protein Sources by Region. These photos are wonderful: Lee Chapman’s Quietly Profound Photos of Tokyo Life. And these: Lee Chapman Instagram.

On The Other Hand

A dumpster is liberating, except for one thing: its existence creates a sense of responsibility to constantly be putting things into it. 

It's quite hard to stop working when it's in the driveway. Even when I'm exhausted and can't move or lift anything else, it quietly mocks me. More, it demands action, even when my back and knee and foot hurt. 

I have one more difficult morning tomorrow, and then there won't be any more room. Thank goodness. I'm looking forward to having it picked up, because I've run out of gas.

There's surprisingly little left in the house. Well, I guess it shouldn't be surprising, but I've never lived in a house so empty. It echoes.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

A Top Recommendation


Dumpsters are pretty great.

I wish I'd rented one before. A reasonable fee, drop-off, driveway protection underneath, pick-up in seven days, haul it all away.

Not exactly like therapy, but close enough.

I've donated everything I could donate, and sold everything I could sell. Now it's just the awkward stuff, much of it sizable. Big parts of stuff that got put in the basement because we didn't know where else to store it. I don't remember why we even stored it, but we did.

It's all got to go.

I wear a back brace for lifting (my back bothered me early on), and a knee brace because my knee is barking at me, too. My goal is to finish before I have a brace on every major body part. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Mysteries of the Modern Kitchen, Vol. 1

Let's speculate on what some of these items might be.

1. C says she could wear one of these as a hat at the Kentucky Derby. One, not two. One mustn't be gauche.

2. A paddle Slinky?

3. A magnifying glass with no mirror. Holmes, over here, I say!

4. Handed spoons (technically, they're more sporks). Left-handed, right-handed. Next: handed pens.

5. A rolling pin (huzzah, I know what it is) for tiny, tiny people.

5. A laser gun (laser not included).

I feel like an archaeologist discovering the remnants of a strange, ancient civilization.

Yes, I understand that normal humans can identify these items. Exactly.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Weather Forecasting

Ars Technica today has a deep dive into using AI for weather forecasts. Not LLMs, but AIs using historical data, as opposed to the physics-based model currently in use.

How the weather is traditionally forecast is both complex and fascinating, and it requires an enormous amount of computing resources. The AI model now rivalling it (in many circumstances) can run on a single, high-end desktop computer. 

It's an excellent analysis of how remarkable AI can be when accurate data (and plenty of it) is available.

Don't miss the part about weather balloons, either. What a terrific rabbit hole for a Monday.
No physics? No problem. AI weather forecasting is already making huge strides.

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