“Keeping colleges closed this fall is far more likely to stop the spread of communism than it is to stop the spread of COVID.”

— CJ Pearson

Rotation for translation

“The call was coming from inside the house!”

Got woken up at 3am this morning by a loud party somewhere nearby. I couldn’t make out what music was playing, just that it had a beat and you could dance to it. I turned on the red-noise generator on my tablet to drown it out and went back to sleep. Sort of.

Two hours later, it’s still going on, and I can’t imagine how someone hasn’t complained. I get out of bed to look out the window and see what the hell is going on, and as my ears sort out the direction it’s coming from, it’s not from a nearby back yard.

It’s coming from almost directly beneath me.

The Echo device in my kitchen is shuffling Talking Heads songs at high volume.

I did not request this. I had not requested anything for at least two hours before this started. Around 9pm I had whimsically asked it to play songs by Talking Bunbun, which are available on last.fm but not Amazon, and The New Normal for Alexa-based devices when they can’t find what you want is to assume that anything that sounds vaguely similar is acceptable, so it started playing Talking Heads.

I said stop, at 9pm, and it stopped, at 9pm. Then it started back up on its own, at 3am. Even if I shouted in my sleep I couldn’t have told it to do that. Unlike my old haunted Ooma box, where the root cause turned out to be the top-panel LEDs generating interference with the touch panel, the most likely cause for this is Amazon’s ongoing attempts to increase sensitivity and language recognition.

I’m guessing that some random sound like the icemaker in the fridge got interpreted as the wake word, and then it went into the new “whisper” mode and invented words from background noise that got turned into a command like “resume”.

What could possibly go wrong?

“The Seattle City Council is considering new legislation that would create a legal loophole that would make substance addiction, mental illness or poverty a valid legal defense for nearly all misdemeanor crimes committed in the city.” (via)

Turn the page…

It’s not my imagination: neither of the standard reference books on takadai braiding explains how to translate their diagrams into actual physical motions to open the shed and pass bobbins through. Tada simply pairs the first few simple braids with an overhead drawing showing the matching shed, but never discusses it again, even when progressing to four-armed and two-sided braids.

Owen’s notation is slightly different, but the only reason it’s a little clearer is that his book includes photos from multiple angles, not directly tied to the brief explanation of the diagrams.

As I was tinkering with the babydai and my OmniGraffle design template, I thought of a simple way to explain how to always correctly interpret either notation: rotate the page and work your hand along the line.

That is, given this “top-down view” notation:

divide the diagram down the middle, then rotate the page 90° counter-clockwise for right-side moves and clockwise for left-side moves:

So, to twill the shed, on the right-hand gedan your hand goes over 1 under 3, over 2, under 2, and then up to the jodan to go over 3; insert the sword and pass the first gedan bobbin through to the open position on the left-hand gedan.

You could also valley-fold the diagram, but that’s not recommended for expensive imported out-of-print braiding manuals. 😁

(this is the first of eight moves in the nidan-mono braid Ryuko-gumi, CToB4 #47)

Coming soon…

Coming soon…

The realization that I’ll be working from home until June came with a moment of clarity: I can do lengthy 3D cnc/print jobs every day. I have an excellent CNC router that doesn’t get nearly enough use, but I’ve stayed out of the additive 3D market until now. Well, not so much “now” as Friday, when my new Dremel 3D45 arrives.

Naturally I bought this just as Dremel is updating their filament product line to increase spool capacity by 50%, so most flavors are out of stock everywhere. There’s probably also still some covid supply-chain issues, although I think everyone who was going to print PPE and mask-holders at home already has.

Why the Dremel? I don’t want a kit, I don’t want a MakerBot, and the Prusa has a 3-4 week lead time (and an open frame, which I don’t like, but it’s highly recommended for print quality). For a brief moment I entertained the thought of splurging on a Form 3, but then I came to my senses. Something to do with needing a separate consumable resin tank for each type and color of resin that you use. Also several liters of 90%+ isopropyl alcohol, nitrile gloves, and good ventilation.

Coming soon…

My neighbors rented a bouncy castle over the weekend. I’m not sure who they had over; the music didn’t seem particularly small-child-friendly, so I’m guessing tweens. If Corona-chan spikes in the neighborhood next week, I’ll have a pretty good guess as to why.

Amusing note: the only prior association I had with that song was a short video of dancing Korean camgirls sent to me by Brickmuppet a while back.

Speaking of random spikes:

Coming soon…

I need to reinstall some of the Windows software on my old gaming laptop (Carbide3D, VCarve, Gearotic, etc), but I’ve already dusted off my OpenSCAD scripting and started designing parts to improve the baby takadai. Some of them will be easier to do on the printer than the router, such as “traditional” koma, which would be a two-sided 3D job on the Nomad but a quick print on the Dremel.

The second babydai mod will be more elaborate, and I’ll prototype it on the Dremel. If I want to make it stronger and better-looking, I’ll cut it on the Nomad, but only after I finalize the design.

There are three key problems with the current design: the torii is placed about an inch too far forward (limiting your ability to beat the weft into place), the sword pads are ¾-inch too low, and the take-up reel is too narrow (limiting how wide a braid you can make). That is, just trying to do the basic plain-weave braid with doubled embroidery floss was slightly too wide to fit on the takeup reel, and slightly too close to the torii to beat easily.

Basically, the original Japanese designer did some very clever things that got lost in the attempt to make one that looks more traditional, compounded by the fact that they were built for an experienced takadai braider, but not by one.

My mod will also add a proper gravity ratchet for the take-up reel; this is a nice simple design for small spaces.

Coming soon…

While everyone in California (and I’m pretty sure I mean everyone) was mailed a mail-in ballot, you can vote in person. I’ve confirmed that my usual polling station is one of the ones that will be open, and since work has declared election day Zoom-free, there won’t be any issues even if there is a line.

I kind of hope there’s a line…

Coming soon…

As a side project, now that I have a full-sized professional takadai, I’m going to take detailed measurements to revise the proportions I used in my OpenSCAD parametric design.

This may lead to 3D-printing a set of tinkertoy connectors for people to make a new-and-re-improved baby takadai at their local craft store.

Coming soon…

Still no sign of Jacquie Carey’s Samurai Braids book that was supposed to come out last fall, but when I opened up the new edition of Makiko Tada’s Comprehensive Treatise of Braids 1, I saw the following promising news:

Forthcoming books
Book 8: Andean Braids
Book 9: Unusual Braids - Karakumi and 3D braids
Book 10: Marudai Braids 2

Coming soon…

Speaking of braiding, during the recent AKS Virtual Gathering, I knocked together a template for making clean, print-quality takadai braiding diagrams like the ones in Tada’s books, and unlike the ones made for the babydai instructions. Sometime soon I’ll post some babydai-compatible braids that weren’t included in the instructions.

Coming soon…

It’s subtle enough that I didn’t notice until I saw them twitch during one of her idle animations, but Sucrose has dog ears. No tail, though, to ensure the loyalty of the ass-otaku crowd.

(the “futanari” tag is for one of the variations the artist did; there’s nothing about the picture or the lore to say she’s The Doggy-Girl With Something Extra)

Despite appearances, Keqing is not a catgirl; she just has a very patient hair-stylist.

So, if you want a real piece of tail, you have to wait for loli catgirl Diona’s debut.

Dear Amazon,

And here I thought the recommendation engine had settled down a bit…

Zen and the Art of Republic Maintenance

“​…battling gangs for local charities”


How do you sit?

Burning down the house

Don’t burn the witch!

This is aligned with my interests…

They really are this stupid

And they hope you are, too.

Be kind, rebind!

PSA - the command to detach a GNU screen (Control-A Control-D) is the same command in Outlook that selects all your email… and then deletes all of your email. Fun times. – Robert Hansen

I’ve never been able to use the default Control-A setup for Screen, because I run Emacs. I changed it to Control-R many years ago, because I do reverse searches a lot less often than “go to beginning of line”.

Don’t order the orange…

The Super Sonico Café secret menu:

I don’t have one of these yet

Qiqi is currently the only female cryo-user (loli catgirl Diona is apparently “coming soon”) in Genshin Impact, so until I manage to get her in a gacha pull, I’m stuck with a male character for that element.

Sadly, she’s a zombie loli, so she’ll never grow up…

Sugar, free

Vorish Art

The Spanish publisher for the Vorkosigan-verse novels commissioned a coordinated set of cover illustrations that’s, well, different:

I think Ethan of Athos could be a real conversation-starter.


Last night, I consolidated and de-duped (almost) all of my (digital) photo archives into Lightroom, using Avalanche. As soon as they support Apple’s Photos app, I’ll be able to merge in the last few old iPhoto libraries that were scattered across multiple Macs. The downside was that copying everything onto my MacBook Air first really screwed up my Time Machine backups and snapshots for a few days. Good thing I got the 2TB SSD.

Related, all the image processing still took so long that I got this close to pulling the trigger on a tricked-out Asus ZenBook Pro Duo. The Air is great for a lot of things, but a graphics powerhouse it is not.

Maybe now I’ll actually start processing pictures from last spring’s Japan trip. 😁

Related, we’ve just rebooked for a 16-day/night trip in Spring 2021. Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed that Japan will let us in. For this visit, I’ve penciled in side trips to Nagoya, Kamakura, and Nikko.

No Witnesses

I hadn’t thought about this benefit of lockdowns, mostly because when the JWs knock on my door, they usually leave immediately when they realize I don’t speak Spanish.

Half-rim Gacha

I had accumulated enough of the various non-cash-based currencies in Genshin Impact to manage another 10x gacha pull. I got eight unimpressive weapons, a new 4-star character (Sucrose, air-halfrims), and a new 5-star character (Klee, bomberloli).

I want to file a bug report that Sucrose’s half-rim glasses are not a proper red:

Maybe next weekend…

The new Pokemon Sword/Shield DLC is live (and they’ve helpfully released new DLC-included versions of the games, in case you just now decided to catch them all), and I haven’t even turned on my Switches yet to download it. I suppose I should, if only to claim the set of hat-wearing-Pikachu codes they’re distributing. Come to think of it, though, I’ve never used a Pikachu in this game. Or an Eevee.

Chronicles Of The End Times

Dear Pokemon Company,

Sorry, can’t catch them all in the new DLC this weekend. Too busy slaughtering hilichurls with Team Loli.

…assuming everything comes back after the big update. Seriously, you let Paimon in the data center? What were you thinking?

One for the little people

Disney+ is making a Willow series.

“‘I dwell in darkness without you,’ and it went away?!?” – Sorsha

No, not them

I have to stop every time I see references to Abode Camera, and remind myself that this physical product isn’t coming from the same people who make Adobe Camera Raw…

Tactical Grading

When I saw all the headlines about the San Diego schools changing their grading system to “Combat Racism”, I briefly thought that was the name of their new system. It certainly describes the modern Left’s core values of bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and violence, which the teacher unions are vocal promotors of.

Maid Impact

Noelle is a plate-armored battle maid with a terrific damage shield, a spinning AoE claymore attack, and pantyhose. Which come as quite a surprise the first time you take her gliding, since her costume is otherwise modest and, well, armored. Turns out she’s actually just wearing plate thigh-high stockings and gloves over black skintight nylon, making her just as much of a naughty girl as the others.

In any other year, I’d be looking forward to (some of) the cosplayers, but now I just have to hope the game is still getting attention in 2021…

Pigeons, Poisoned

Lyrics want to be free!

Tom Lehrer has (awkwardly) released the lyrics to all of his songs into the public domain or something like it. Music to follow in some fashion. Note that the website will self-destruct at the end of 2024, unless it lives forever at archive.org, which is currently snapshotting it.

And that’s why it should still be a Control key…

Flatpack koma

In my original idea for a cost-reduced takadai, I decided to completely replace the standard routed grooves in each arm with offset dowels, so that the koma (thread-carriers) could just be simple flat combs.

With the baby takadai that a bunch of us recently bought for the workshop, though, the grooves are already there, so I want to replace the supplied koma with improved ones. Without using a router table or a drill press.

Remembering my flat comb design, I suddenly realized that one simple change would make it work with the grooves: a mortise/tenon joint.

It’s a simple 2D CNC job: cut parts, insert comb through base, glue, lightly sand edges, use. For the babydai, total length is only 1.75 inches, so I can fit a bunch onto the Nomad’s 8x8-inch work area. And most of the “sanding” work can actually be done with a finish pass on the Nomad with a round bit; I’d just have to sand the edges on the other side of the fingers.

Idol Impact

In Genshin Impact, Barbara is not only the head priestess of the First Church of The First Region, but also a wannabe local idol, and the first water-element character I managed to unlock.

My default party is now “Traveler” (omnichick), Xiangling (fireloli), Barbara (waterloli), and Fischl (electrololi), all at level 40 with level 40 3-star weapons. As needed, I switch in Noelle (geomaid), Amber (hotpants), Lisa (electrobabe), and, sadly, Kaeya (cryoboy). Because I haven’t unlocked a frozen female yet.

I have three more characters I’ve only used for ore-digging jobs; one cryoelectro, one hydro, and one fire, all male. The only reason I’d swap them into the party is that I’m running into hidden chests where you need to activate multiple pillars with a specific element in N seconds, and my regulars can’t activate their elemental power fast enough.

I could unlock a few more if I were willing to spend cash, but there’s a really high chance of just getting a bunch of useless weapons in a gacha pull, so they haven’t given me a good reason to. I did give them a one-time $4.99 for N/day currency for a month. If it holds my interest for a full month, maybe I’ll do that again.

Oh, and my avatar name is “Shimatsuke”, which looks like Japanese meaning “island invoice”, but was actually the output of my random word generator fed with Japanese samples.

I accidentally got into auto-matched co-op once as part of an event, and since I didn’t explicitly turn it on, I didn’t know how to get back out. At the end of each round, it asked me if I wanted to join or not, but not if I wanted to exit the match entirely. Since I didn’t know that there was a co-op icon up in the corner of the screen, I didn’t click on it, and they ended up having to kick me out.

Bit of a UI issue there, especially since the reason I wanted to exit was that I’d run out of the currency required to open the loot at the end of the round, so it was pointless to stay.

Running scared…

Just now, I received a spam text message from MoveOn. It included a picture with the words “HELP US FIGHT TRUMP’S SECRET WEAPON”, and the following sentences:

Hi, John, it’s Colt with MoveOn. New data shows that Donald Trump is using YouTube to gain an under-the-radar advantage in the election. As people stay home and stream videos more than ever, YouTube may play an even more influential role than Facebook.

To defeat Trump, we must counter his YouTube advantage. Will you chip in $3 a week to help MoveOn create videos and use advanced analytics to precision-target high-potential voters in 17 battleground states? [URL deleted]

(Reply STOP to unsubscribe.)

Note that they don’t ask for $3/week “until the election is over”; this is an ongoing donation that they hope you’ll just forget about.

And despite clear evidence that Big Tech has their lips firmly planted on Joe Biden’s ass, with a bit of tongue left over for Kamala Harris’, they’re really, really hoping nobody’s heard about that, even after the events of last week.

Vaguely related, Idolmaster girl Airi Totoki offers Trump the full, firm support of her secret weapons:

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”