“What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.”

— Erin Ching, jackbooted thug

Social-Distance Kitten


New porch kitten, now in bold!

He’s getting less skittish, allowing me to break out the big camera and grab a few pictures without scaring him off the porch. He’ll get within 3 feet of me to reach a food dish another cat is using, but back off the moment I move.

I’ll be back…with an eraser

Schwarzenegger movies are different in Japan…

Related, while the recent “Olympic anti-sex beds” story was typical too-good-to-bother-checking “wacky Japan news”, it’s important to remember that things are different there.

Nespresso discounts…

Sometimes Nespresso has special offers that are actually enticing. Then there’s the current one: “Purchase 12 or more Original sleeves to receive one (1) free set of three (3) Caran d’Ache limited-edition pencils.”

Having driven up to Mountain View for a work BBQ that allowed me to actually meet several of my co-workers (my manager, his manager, his manager’s manager, and one peer; most of the folks in attendance were from the large organization we got reorg-ed under in the Spring), I took advantage of the opportunity to visit the Nespresso boutique at the Stanford mall, and got to see these pencils. They were, well, pencils, the kind you shove into a pencil sharpener when they get dull, nibble on in class, and throw away when they’re ground down to a stub. This is the reward for buying $7+ x 12 = $84+ of espresso pods. I was… not impressed.

However, if you spent $200 on pods, they’d give you $20 off, a mechanical pencil made out of recycled pods with a lead made partially from recycled coffee grounds, and a silicone ice tray sized for use in coffee drinks (which I already bought the 3-pack of when they were very briefly in stock).

(normal pod price is $7/sleeve, but seasonal pods are $7.20 to $8, and the current limited editions range from $9 for Cafezinho do Brasil to $20 for Galapagos; Vertuo pods cost more, but I find I’m not liking them enough to buy any more before I finish off the current batch)

Power to the people?


The California Work-from-home Tax

I just got a letter from PG&E informing me that unless I take action by a certain date, my billing will automatically change to a new plan that charges extra for home electricity use between the hours of 4 PM and 9 PM, including on weekends. The letter “helpfully” informs me that based on the past 12 months of usage, the new plan is my “lowest cost rate”, with an estimated 12-month savings of precisely $0.

Coincidentally, this is one of the coolest summers of the past twenty years in Salinas, and I rarely had a reason to use the air conditioner last year, either. And since there’s no plan to build any new power plants in California, peak rates are sure to keep rising. So they’re offering a pig in a poke.

Also coincidentally, I lost power for several hours in the middle of the day on Monday due to a blown transformer. The text message informing me of the outage arrived about an hour later.

Letting the kitten out of the bag

Caught the new Porch Kitten dropping by for dinner yesterday; the light wasn’t great, and he’s still very shy, so I had to switch to multi-exposure mode and zoom way in to catch him in focus.

Denial of systemd

Sloppy code added to systemd six years ago finally got noticed, resulting in any unprivileged user being able to crash your system.

Fun with seiyuu…

Seras Victoria == Lotte Yanson

Arbitrators Hardest hit


Filing As A Service

I just got email from Amazon changing their terms of service from resolving disputes via “arbitration process” to “by the courts”, as a result of enterprising lawyers digitally flooding them with tens of thousands of individual arbitration requests. As an individual, arbitration is such a hassle that big companies hold all the cards, but at scale, it’s cheaper to file the complaints than to process them.

The interesting thing is that this change took effect two months ago. I recall reading about it at the time, but apparently it’s taken Amazon this long to formally notify everyone.

Expanding The Hero’s Harem Through Realistic Forest Management

Why, yes, episode 3 does bog down when Our Hero wins the heart, soul, and boobs-of-steel of the sexy dark elf warrior by handwaving an explanation of things that even Californians don’t know. In fairness, the elves’ reluctance to cut down trees was based on religious beliefs. Oh, wait.

Most of the animation budget went to about thirty seconds of the blue-haired haremette’s gainaxing powers, with many reactions shots (to things other than her jugs) that weren’t even panned stills, just the same 3-4 small-crowd shots repeated several times.

Also, “episode 3” was the answer to my previous question, “how long until the princess gets her uniform off?” Sadly for Our Hero, he’s not in her bedroom at the time.

(office lady is unrelated, but cute)

Classic SF isekai bleg…

Our Hero was summoned to Asgard by Loki in order to tip the balance at Ragnarok and ensure the good guys win. One of the first things he does is reinvigorate the gods by pruning the tree that grows the golden apples, to the immediate horror of pretty much everyone. Fortunately, his plan… bears fruit. Just in time. You can see why the latest Realist Hero episode brought it to mind.

Along the way, he also makes use of modern alloys to produce lighter, stronger swords, etc, etc, and gets the girl (Idun herself, if I recall correctly).

But I have no idea what the title or author of this story was. It was almost certainly in one of the many random SF books I pulled off the shelves at the local public library in the early Seventies, but lacking any real specifics to search for (like the time I was able to find Manly Banister’s Conquest of Earth via the phrase “The Scarlet Order of Men”), I’ve had no luck tracking it down so far.

(cat-girl train-santa is definitely unrelated, but cute)

Bacon Against Climate Change!

A study with numbers at least as solid as those produced by The Doomsayers Of Climatography asserts that wild pigs release more CO2 than cars. And they taste better, too.

This means that anti-meat activism is literally destroying the planet. No surprise there.

(yakiniku girls are mostly unrelated, but cute)

Non-optional Options

Because MacOS is actually a certified version of Unix, it’s picked up some oddities like having df default to reporting the number of inodes used/available for each file system, despite the fact that modern file systems have no real concept of a fixed pool of “inodes” (which is a good thing; having to modify a file system because it started to be used for lots of little files instead of a smaller number of large ones was a pain in the ass). You have to add the -P option (before any other options!) to restore sensible output.

But that’s old news. While debugging my OpenBSD router problems, I started getting sufficiently annoyed by my inability to get reasonable output from one of my standard debugging tools to sort out the correct incantation to suppress some other useless garbage. Fixed now:

netstat () {
    /usr/*bin/netstat -Ffinet "$@"
}

Now I have less garbage to wade through in -rn and -an output…

(Python-programming girl is unrelated, but cute)

Porch Kitten

Currently, I have three pretty regular visitors coming by for handouts at least once a day, often more: Mooch (the gray-dipped-in-white-paint one who seems determined to become an indoor cat), Evil Twin (nearly identical except for being a cool gray rather than a warm one), and Bones (extremely skinny young gray tom who spent much of the Spring so thin and patchy that I was worried he’d come down with something).

This week, I’ve been hearing the rustling of something small and shy in the bushes, and yesterday an adorable little black kitten was finally bold enough to edge his way onto the porch and try for some food. Unlike the others, he was wary of me, but unlike the large black cat I’d been seeing a month or so back, the others didn’t chase him off.

When I put wet food out today, he very gingerly crept up to within three feet of me to eat out of Bones’ bowl, who looked up at me as if to ask, “hey boss, do you have a third dish you could fill up for me? this one’s taken”. No pictures of him yet, but if he’s back tomorrow, I’ll try to get a few.

(Princess:Catgirl is vaguely related, and cute)

Router Promiscuity


My home router (an old Shuttle running OpenBSD 6.3) went down due to bad blocks on /var. I had recent backups, but my cold spare still had a 5.x install on it, so after manually fscking the old machine enough to get it back online for the day, I downloaded a fresh copy of OpenBSD 6.9, installed it, copied over all the config files, and swapped it into place.

It didn’t work. More precisely, everything worked except sending traffic out the public interface to the Internet. I couldn’t reach the gateway. I could ssh into the router from my laptop over the private interface just fine, though.

Thinking perhaps that I’d outsmarted myself by trying to preserve the MAC address of the old server to deal with the common cable-modem issue of fixating on a specific MAC, I removed that clause from the config and rebooted both router and modem.

That didn’t help, so I fired up tcpdump on the public interface to see if there was anything showing up at all, and everything started working fine.

Kill tcpdump, packets stop. Start it back up, packets flow. In other words, everything works perfectly as long as the public interface is in promiscuous mode. This isn’t one I’ve run into before in my 15-ish years of managing OpenBSD routers, or even the 6 years I’ve owned this Shuttle DS61.

I’m going to have to swap a new SSD into the other router (identical hardware), install the same configs, and do some testing. Which is a lot easier if I’m online, so for now, /etc/rc.local contains:

nohup tcpdump -n -i re0 -w /dev/null icmp &

Putting the ‘curs’ in ‘recursion’


Recursion Considered Harmful

For the benefit of anyone who uses the ScriptRunner add-on for Jira, use of the linkedIssuesOfRecursive(arg) function in a board filter may be an accidental time bomb.

As we learned when the time to update any Jira issue suddenly went from an average of 0.3 seconds to 6+, at 5:45 PM in the evening one day.

The search in question had been returning about 35 issues, until someone updated one of those issues, somewhere in the recursion chain, in a way that inflated the result of the query to 2,500+.

Every time any data in a Jira issue is updated, it is reindexed, and apparently the active board filters are run to ensure they’re up to date. And this filter was suddenly taking 6 seconds to run.

Changing the board filter to use linkedIssuesOfRecursiveLimited(arg, 10) immediately solved the problem. Which means the change that triggered the whole mess was deep in the recursion. Sigh.

Can Cali Covid?

I made another attempt at getting my Official California Covid QR Code, and this time the supply-missing-data site was actually functional. I won’t know if it worked for a week or two, but at least they didn’t try to get me to sign up for the state Obamacare system just to prove that I’d been vaccinated. (this was their previous workaround for the inability to upload supporting documentation through the broken form)

Why bother? Because I want the Japan trip to be hassle-free, and there have been reports of people getting hassled over the informal-looking hand-written CDC cards when traveling abroad.

Punisher of the Wild

With the help of a bunch of cloned amiibo cards, I made it far enough in Breath of the Wild’s “master mode” to overcome the combination of cardboard weaponry, increased monster hit points, and fast monster health regeneration to reach the Big Boss. The four preliminary bosses were no big deal, but during the second phase of the boss fight, he goes invulnerable, and a single mistake is enough to ensure that his health regenerates fully.

It’s a “do it again stupid” fight where you are actively punished until you do it the way they want it done. Which is through precisely timed controller combo moves. Even the powers that take out his invulnerability long enough for you to get some hits in require careful positioning to use, since you need to be close enough to reach him with a melee weapon once the shield is down, but not close enough that your weapon accidentally touches his invulnerable body during the activation animation and aborts.

When I originally played through the game, I finally got good enough at the combo counter moves to reliably farm the harder-than-the-final-boss lynels, but I found it too tedious to play through on master mode and apply those skills to taking down Ganon, and now it’s been nearly two years, and I don’t have any motivation to re-learn the moves. (and the combos are sure to be different when BotW2 comes out next year)

Ah, well, it was an amusing time-killer between the end of The Legend of Beelzebub and the beginning of the new season of… anime I’m not going to watch much of. Sigh.

How Realistic Is A Hero’s Harem In A Fantasy Kingdom

I was bored enough to watch the first two episodes of Realist Hero, and spent all my time wondering how long it would be before the princess takes off her uniform and reveals how she stacks up against her quite-young-looking mom. JC Staff has assembled a pretty experienced crew, so if there’s any there there, they should find it, but it feels pretty thin at the moment; honestly, I’d be more optimistic if they were adapting the vending machine isekai, and that idea ran dry after only three books.

In fairness, skimming the fan sites reveals that Our Hero doesn’t just collect a harem that he doesn’t know what to do with, but eventually manages to wed and bed them all, openly and honestly. Also, neither the loli fox-girl nor the lush-bodied slave girl are haremettes, which is nice. But it seems like a great deal of the light novels are spent ruminating on how Our Hero is either following the advice of Machiavelli or emulating famous generals and kings from Chinese and Japanese history, which I expect to either be skipped or else grind the story to a halt whenever it comes up.

(chick-magnet is unrelated)

Soft AI


Delay Of Spider

Episode 24 of The Adventures of Kumoko in the Land of the B Ark was delayed a week and a day. Perhaps they noticed that shifting the focus away from the only engaging character kinda sucked.

In retrospect, “from the director of Cop Craft” should have been a pretty big clue that it would fall apart halfway through…

(spider-girl is unrelated)

Delay of Raccoon

Season 2 of The Grooming of the Tanuki Child Bride has been delayed until April.

(tanuki-girl is unrelated)

Delay of vacation?

Tokyo has announced another season of Covid Emergency, this one running until August 22nd. Honestly, you think they’d at least delay it for a few cours to get the animation quality back up.

I really, really hate the thought of rescheduling our trip again, but if they don’t open the country back up for tourists this fall, we’ll have to.

Shamiko returns!

In the Spring.

Interspecies Reviewers, uncut

RightStuf is releasing it on Bluray on December 7th, under their adult label. Now if only they’d sort out the ebook releases of the manga…

The Storm of the Ai

BBJ (NSFW! Disable Javascript!) has been putting a lot of older content back online, and this week’s bounty covers pretty much every stage of Ai Shinozaki’s career. Just in case you missed anything.

Apart from the really obnoxious ads and sneaky overlays used to get you to click them, this really is one of the last sources for quality 3D cheesecake, along with “Overflowing Museum of Cheesecake” (which has added more ads, as well as two porn shoots per day) and Everia Club (ads just as sketchy as BBJ, but a wider variety of national origins for the models, and more nudity).

They all function with Javascript disabled, which is nice, although BBJ sometimes tinkers with hosting some of their pictures on external sites that might not.

Browsing the archives of these sites has confirmed my long-standing impression that Chinese glamour models tend to have so much plastic surgery that they’re only capable of a limited range of facial expressions, and that Korean models are only trained for catalog/ad work, so that no matter how gorgeous the woman, she’s trained to show off the outfit/product and avoid drawing attention to herself.

Related, long ago Toren Smith had a comment on Steven’s blog about a long-standing preference among Japanese men for real large breasts, with the market simply rejecting boob jobs. Those days are long, long gone, and apart from glorious freaks of nature like Ai-chan (as amply documented since she turned 14), it looks like the majority of even modest-busted models have purchased at least one cup size.

Although, “milk does a body good” (NSFW! Javascript off!), to steal a phrase.

Cali Can’t Covid

The California Department of Health reached out to me a few days after I followed the “Digital Vaccine Record didn’t work at all” instructions. They asked me to retry and give further feedback on the updated results. Sadly, “you still ain’t got shit” was not one of the available answers. A week later I got another “try again” notice, with the same results.

Another year or so of web development and data management, and perhaps they’ll have funded enough consultant hours to abandon the project and declare victory.

A wild best girl appears!

I Killed Slimes For 300 Years And Summoned A Platonic Harem has ended, with Our Heroine coaxing everyone into maid outfits. As usual, Beelzebub was the clear winner.

I wouldn’t mind if they did another season. Maybe mixing the remaining source material with the Beelzebub side stories.

Yeah, no

Engadget’s preview of the next MacOS release is titled “All about FaceTime and Safari”, two things that are way, way down my list when it comes to upgrading an operating system.

Of course, with the Windows 11 preview fiasco, there may not be any reliable, supported OS to run on a laptop by the end of the year.

…and don’t say “Linux”, because even if it had applications and real support, systemd took it out behind the barn and put a bullet in its head. And then another bullet. And a few spare mags, just to be sure. Then it fucked the corpse and posted a selfie.

Retail’s Key

Some may refer to this as The Joining Of The Unfixed Info And The Locked Secret.

HRZLN1typVcouR1ktqPCBXVuZml4ZWQgaW5mb3MAAA7bS54/RSePOX7/m0+5kwAABEkX3Ha0
lkDW+Dk5lg+u1O85L6qyFCiqIftU5UUFR2Z/dS0oc6IAF/74XAV1kEttbG9ja2VkIHNlY3Jl
dAAAEP3IoHaUuJ5MR9N96M5cdMEESRfcdrSWQNb4OTmWD67U7zkvqrIUKKoh+1TlRQVHZg==

Also, apparently IOS finally opened up the API for writing NFC tags, so I don’t need to use an old Android phone to burn these any more. Annoying to see nagware in Apple’s app store, but I suppose he can’t legitimately ask for in-app purchases for this, and it is fully functional for free.

(why, yes, I recently played through Breath of the Wild again, using cloned amiibo to compensate for the annoying early-game limits on inventory space and weapon durability; I’m even trying “master mode” again, using the amiibo loot to quickly upgrade my armor, weapons, and runes to deal with the health-regenerating monsters)

Isekai Sekai

“Reincarnated as a fantasy world, I inverted all the tropes”

(sad Tanya is unrelated)

Kamen Raider


406 Mask Not Found

Went out to Costco and Safeway Friday in between meetings, and while all employees were masked, only about 80% of customers were. With luck, the lingering fear will soon dissipate. Unless Benito Newsom abuses his emergency powers again (Democrats seem to be pinning their hopes on “The Delta Variant”, which sounds like a bad spy novel).

409 So much for getting vaccinated!

California has started offering an online Corona-chan barcoding service, so you can prove you were part of the unmonitored public trial of the Covid vaccines.

Would you be surprised to learn that it’s riddled with data errors and crashed under load on the first day? I wasn’t.

Of course, if you got the wrong vaccine, proving your vaccination status could be actively harmful.

410 Pizza Not Found

Apparently even pizza delivery couldn’t survive Covid. The Pizza Hut in Salinas closed down for good a few months ago, and I just happened to drive by their old location Saturday and discovered that there will (someday) be a Straw Hat Pizza opening there. Or maybe it’s already open, and their online ordering pages are just completely busted. It’s been at least 20 years since I ate Straw Hat, possibly as many as 30; I don’t even remember what they’re like.

Unrelated, I was perusing the neighborhood around one of our Tokyo hotels for the upcoming (hopefully…) Japan trip, and there’s really nothing interesting in walking distance that isn’t located inside another hotel. And I’m including this, even though reviews suggest that it’s a very different dining experience than you’d find at their US locations. 😁

413 Oopsie!

Unit conversion is hard for me, let’s make pizza:

“In the ingredient list, the quantity for extra-virgin olive oil should be given as 80 grams (8 tablespoons or ½ cup), not 80 grams (5¾ cups).”

Unsurprisingly, one of the negative Amazon reviews for the book complains that there’s way too much oil in the dough recipe…

429 No room for your bullshit!

Hey, Benito! It’s not a “tax rebate“ if the people who paid the taxes don’t get any of their money back! It’s just another handout to try to keep your sorry ass from being canned for gross incompetence and lust for power.

405 Cosplay Not Available

If I were working with a model named Suzu Harumiya, the first thing I’d do is dress her up as Haruhi Suzumiya. I mean, how could you not, even if there’s no real resemblance? (NSFW! Disable Javascript!)

308 Watch it at home.

Did you know HiDive blocks a subset of their streaming catalog on mobile devices? Pixy mentioned the series-I’ve-never-heard-of-either The Girl In Twilight, which JustWatch reports is streaming on HiDive. It won’t show up in the search results at all on the app, or in your queue if you add it from a computer or TV-attached streaming device.

HiDive is a bit player in streaming, but they still charge real money for their service, and this kind of crap makes me want to binge the few remaining shows on my list and cancel.

206 Still No Desert Peach

Out now: Operation Desert Pasta, a Tanya OVA.

Coming, whenever: Tanya season 2 (video isn’t).

Windows WTF?


Spent some of my recent family time trying to debug a problem with a Windows PC. The short version: their desktop PC stopped being able to connect wirelessly. Ethernet? Fine. Android phones and tablets, anyone else’s computer, iPhones, iPads, Amazon, streaming boxes, etc, all good. My IT-pro brother lives nearby, and couldn’t figure it out.

They reset the network stack and reconfigured everything. No change.

They replaced the wireless access point. No change.

They replaced the entire computer, and didn’t copy the existing settings or data over. No change.

(aside: the only real reason the desktop needed to be on wireless was to access the printer, and once they discovered the printer had ethernet and bought a cable for it, they were fine running it wired; my father just thought that it was convenient to be able to put it somewhere that wasn’t chained to the router by a cable)

I’ve been hearing about this over the phone for weeks, so when I finally had a chance to sit down with it, I went through the full range of debugging options, and confirmed everything they’d told me.

With my MacBook sniffing the wireless, I quickly narrowed down the problem: it always successfully gets DHCP, but never receives any other packets after that. I could see it ping my Mac, but it never got the return packets. I could see arp traffic and responses, but it would simply ask again, like it hadn’t seen the answers.

I went to check firewall and anti-virus settings, and discovered one tiny little fact that no one had mentioned to me: Norton 360. Sure enough, they’d had it on the old machine as well, and it was the only piece of software the two had in common beyond the base OS install.

I didn’t have enough time to run full backups before trying to surgically extract all traces of Norton and restore it to the supplied MS firewall/AV, and since adding ethernet to the printer had solved the only actual connectivity problem, I left that for another visit, or for my brother to deal with. I strongly suspect it will work just fine without that crap.

“So, how was the trip?”

Got to San Francisco airport with plenty of time before my flight. Good thing, because long-term parking was simply closed, and they were handing out printed instructions and vouchers on how to get to the hourly parking garage and only pay the long-term rate. The vouchers were for the domestic hourly parking, but the instructions took you to international hourly parking; this will come up again later.

Had a terrific first-class flight to Chicago; the plane was United’s international 767, with individual pods in first class, so it was very, very nice. We landed on time, my checked bag came out right away, and then I tried to find out how to pick up my rental car.

The permanent signage at O’Hare refers to a very convenient tram service. It’s apparently been under repair for approximately two years now. Not only was the temporary signage inadequate and contradictory, so was the shuttle bus service.

After approximately an hour baking in the heat, I made it onto one of the reduced-capacity-due-to-covid buses, which fortunately was the only one in service that had working air conditioning.

After approximately 45 minutes in the line for rental pickup, they took my reservation information and told me they’d call me when my car was ready. In about an hour.

Sure enough, about 65 minutes later, my car was ready, and I was able to start the drive to my sister’s place, which would have taken 30 minutes if I’d gotten on the road by 1:45 PM as scheduled.

It took a lot longer at 4:45 PM.

The next morning, my sister and I piled back into my rental car to drive to Kettering, Ohio to spend several days with our parents, and find some time to see my brother and his kids as well. The ride was smooth (2020 Nissan Altima), the roads were pretty clear, the company was terrific, and they’d arranged to have Dayton-style pizza hot and fresh when we arrived. Even the dozen or more cicadas that ended up as big smears on the windshield didn’t dampen our enthusiasm.

Then we discovered that my brother had brought his kids over. I love my brother, and my niece and nephew are awesome, but after a five-hour drive (only a day after my airport adventures), we wanted a quiet, relaxing evening with the parents I haven’t seen in over a year. An 11-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl really aren’t compatible with that.

Good food, good company, masks pretty much a historical footnote, etc. The drive back to Chicago a few days later was equally uneventful (and timed to coincide with the end of masking there, also), and we went out to one of her favorite places last night, Yoshi’s Cafe, before I headed out for my early flight back to SFO this morning.

Getting from the rental center to the terminal was only mildly tedious, again due to terrible signage that left people clustering around terminal-specific signs with no hint that all buses went to all terminals. At the security checkpoints, covid theater trumped security theater, so you basically just needed to empty your pockets when you walked through the metal detector.

The flight home was ordinary domestic first class, which was still better than the alternative. The fun began when I went to find my car, which was in the G lot. The signage leading you to domestic hourly parking (see above) shows that lot as having A, B, C, D, E, and F/G; since I’d never had any reason to use hourly parking before, and hadn’t really understood that they’d sent me to the international hourly garage the week before, I simply assumed that F and G were combined.

Nope. That section is literally labeled “F/G”, and has nothing to do with the completely separate “G” garage, which nothing will direct you to from anywhere in the domestic terminal. I was delighted to go on a discovery tour in 90+-degree heat and figure out where the hell I was supposed to go and how to get there.

I still managed to get my car out of the garage a bit after noon, and discovered that Silicon Valley traffic has recovered enough that 101 turned into a parking lot several times on the way home. Where it had been 80+ degrees for a few days, requiring that I turn on the air conditioner for the first time this year to cool it down and air it out.

On the bright side, I hear California mask theater has also ended now, despite Benito Newsom’s desire to continue his illegal emergency power-grab indefinitely. I haven’t been anywhere yet, so I suppose I’ll find out on Friday if any stores are still attempting to perform the rituals in hope that the cargo will return.

On the amusing side, less than a minute after I got home, there were two cats on the front porch looking for food and cuddles. Also three dead mice, to indicate that they had missed my daily offering of meaty sticks.

🎶 My meaty sticks bring all the cats to the porch… 🎶

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