January 2020

20 minutes into the future...

More precisely, I made it 20 minutes into the first episode of the new season of Doctor Who before giving up in a combination of exasperation and boredom.


Ah, not a new season, just a “Who Years Day” special. It’s called “part 1”, but since I couldn’t finish it, I don’t know if it’s really a two-parter. And I don’t care enough to look it up.

Dear Amazon,

Apparently I’ve gone too far poking fun at the results of your recommendation system, because you’ve stopped recommending anything except a few “buy it again” tiles:

  • “Buy it again in Business, Industrial, & Scientific Supplies”: Loctite, flush cutters, screw caps, and threaded screw inserts. (aka “crafting supplies”)

  • “Buy it again in Office Products”: super-sticky Post-Its, NFC tags, and inkjet business cards. (I go through Post-Its like candy; the cards are for giving the addresses of our hotels in Japan to cab drivers and luggage shippers)

  • “Buy it again in Home”: trash bags, Boveda humidifier refills, and a 12-pack of stick-on pen loops. (I only needed 2-3 pen loops, one for each Rocketbook and the third for my old Surface Pro, so it will be a long time before I run out…).

  • “Buy it again in Home Improvement”: Loctite, Loctite, stick-on plastic feet, and Philips Hue motion sensors. (seriously, Amazon, how much Loctite do you think I go through in a month?)

  • “Buy it again in other categories”: charcoal soap, toothbrush heads, USB3-to-Micro/C/Lightning cable, Gevalia Mocha Latte K-Cups.

That last one is amusing, because I actually have a subscription for the k-cups, but in a different box size, so Amazon knows I like the stuff, but doesn’t realize they’re already sending me 36 of them each month. (4 boxes of 9 is $5.65 cheaper than 6 boxes of 6)

This is my daily “liquid pie” indulgence. I drink it with two Splendas and two Mini-Moos, which is like pouring coffee on cupcake batter, yet still only 100 calories.

If I have any further coffees (instead of drinking Diet Pepsi), they consist of Gevalia or Peet’s medium-roast ground coffees, made in an Aeropress (or the new Aeropress Go travel kit) with three Splendas, a Mini-Moo, and a pinch of sea salt.

(for the AeroNerdly: non-inverted, 2 filters, 2 scoops, 2-ounce pour to wet the grounds for 30 seconds, 2 more ounces and ~40 seconds of stirring, slow press all the way down and scrape the foam into the mug, then milk-n-sugar and add 8 more ounces of water)

"Does your dog bite?"

Sitting at home contemplating the Nueske’s gift box that just arrived, and my doorbell rang again. This time it was a small neighbor child who said, “your cat is hungry”.

“I don’t have a cat”, I replied, causing the child to look utterly baffled. I explained that I knew the beast and fed him when he stopped by, but had no idea who he actually belonged to.

I also have no idea who the small child belongs to. My neighborhood is sufficiently unwoke that they roam freely without anyone calling to have their parents arrested.

Dear Amazon,

No, it is not true that these recommended items are things “other customers often buy again”. Honestly, once is probably enough:

In other news, it’s nice to see that the recommendation engine is back online. Nothing jumped out at me as particularly absurd this morning, but I thank you for pointing out that the new Doctor’s sonic is designed to stimulate the G-spot.

Pixiv: gotta groom ’em all...

Pokémon takes place in a universe without the concept of “stranger danger”, where it is perfectly reasonable to send pre-teens out on their own to travel the world, battle other kids for their lunch money, go home with newly-met adults, and take candy from strangers. I find this innocence oddly refreshing. In any other game, you’d be asking what exactly this little girl is doing in a hotel room with a dirty cop and two hookers:

In Pokémon-land, though, it just means you’ve found the CEO’s avatar and can battle him for useful loot.

The first sign that the new Pokemon Sword & Shield game(s) would be a hit was Nessa/ルリナ, who hit the fan-sites like a leggy, barely-clad ton of bricks:

(yes, she dresses her early-teen “assistants” in the same outfit, and gives the protagonist a set to wear as well…)

But the real draw has proven to be pouty-punk rival Marnie/マリィ, who’s so popular that in the upcoming DFCDLC, you’ll be able to cosplay as her in-game:

Or in 3D, if you’ve got the chops:

“It’s a Berry tree. Do you want to shake it?”

As for choosing Sword versus Shield, there’s no contest:

This is reinforced in the expansion with Sword-exclusive Clara, who had sexy fan-art about ten minutes after the announcment ended:

Something supporting character Sonia can relate to:

Not that any character has been spared…

Warning: objects in fan-art are larger than in-game.


Worst. Fund-raiser. Ever.

Apparently, the reason it took the House so long to turn in their homework was that they were waiting for Nancy Pelosi’s souvenir pens to arrive. Must have ordered them from China and refused to pay for express shipping.

Now I really want Trump to get re-elected, so these dumpster-dining bumblefucks can use their Historical Collectibles to slash their wrists.

Note to people eager to bid on the inevitable auctions for these silly things: across is for attention, down is for death.

"If I run him over, I'll let you know..."

I was driving down the highway this afternoon at “slightly less than 20 MPH above the speed limit”, when my phone suddenly blasted a siren sound through my car speakers, and my navigation software was covered with this bullshit:

Everything about this is stupid, including the fact that you can’t click on the link. Y’know, if you were actually concerned about scouting for a possibly-senile senior, and weren’t more worried about driving into a ditch from the shock of having a siren blast in your ears at 85 miles/hour.

Off to googlebing “how to disable silver alert”, and sites claim that the one category of “emergency” alert that somehow turned itself back on can be turned back off. Wonder how long until Apple “helpfully” fixes that for me again…

A Beginner's Look At Pokémon Sword/Shield

Since I burned out for a while on Breath Of The Wild, I’ve bought a number of other Switch games, including a steeply-discounted copy of Diablo 3, which made a nice holiday diversion (reached GR89 in season 19 with a one-button monk). Now I’m alternating between that and Pokémon Sword, as illustrated in the most recent cheesecake post.

I am not of a Pokemon generation. I never watched the shows or played the games, and in general, I’m only slightly more acquainted with its memes than I am with Zelda’s. I briefly played Go because some friends were into it, but while I understand it’s more of a game now, at the time there just wasn’t much to it.

(this also means that I was blissfully unaware of the “dexit” “controversy” surrounding this game, until the DLC was announced and people found even more ways to complain that Orange ’Mon Bad; note: don’t try to explain it to me, I don’t care)

Since the primary functional difference between Sword and Shield is a list of semi-exclusive “mons” that I have no prior attachment to, my decision was based on the fact that the exclusive minor human character is a cute karate chick in Sword, and some sort of weird radioactive mutant boy in Shield.

So, what do I think?

  • Fully half of the time it takes to finish the main story is spent waiting for the screen to change. Not “watching animations and cutscenes”, but literally waiting for sleep(1) to finish (sleep(5) before you set the text display to the fastest speed); without the obviously artificial pauses, you could finish the story in about two hours once you knew your way around. I expect most speedruns will use a hack that eliminates these delays.

  • Your remaining play time is divided pretty evenly between shaking berry trees, fighting squirrels, collecting watts, dressing up your avatar, clicking through cutscenes that occasionally offer “choices”, repeatedly clicking to get in and out of menu screens, playing the slots, beating up Chloe for her lunch money, waiting out the start-of-battle animations, clicking through the end-of-battle text boxes and animations, battling the raid/trade matchmaking system, sorting through your inventories, and (finally!) grinding levels battling actual pokemon.

  • The only way to interact with other players is to grief them in raids, cheat them in trades, or put up a tent and silently ruin curry together.

  • Terrified of the potential liability from allowing players to exchange offensive words, the game instead encourages creatively offensive and unchangeable character and pokemon nicknames.

  • Don’t bother clicking on the “players” you see biking around the Wild Area when you’re online; they’re just NPCs that drop curry ingredients, repetitive dialogue, and your frame-rate.

  • Multi-player raids are so broken that the advice on how to get in reads like a cargo-cult airstrip manual, and is about as effective.

  • The official explanation is that you need to open a fulltime firewall hole passing UDP ports 1-65535 to your Switch, which is a spectacularly bad idea; it’s also not true, although it gets a bit less unhappy with you if you disable port remapping (“type B” NAT on Switch network test; A is for wide-open binat, D is for “out of the box with every goddamn router on the planet”).

  • The draw distance on the 3D engine in the Wild Area is really, really poor; not only do things pop in right in front of you (especially if you’re online), empty raid dens appear full of watts until you’re close enough to realize you’ve wasted your time biking over to them again.

  • Speaking of the bicycle, you can spend hours dressing up your dollie, but everyone wears the same pajamas and helmet when they’re on a bike, which is 99% of the time.

  • Speaking of online, it requires a paid Nintendo Online subscription for each user profile, which means buying a family plan even if there’s only one person with one Switch.

  • Despite this, the game does not support cloud backups, so you can’t switch Switches; your save file is tied to one device.

  • To solve this problem, they’re creating another paid subscription for transferring your pokemon between games. On the bright side, I’ll finally be able to do something with that old Pokemon Go save file…

  • If you’re not interested in dressing up your dollie, play the male avatar, which has very little customization compared to the female.

  • Despite the third-person camera view, this game avoids the common problem of “staring at your avatar’s (pre-teen) ass for 200 hours” by giving you a huge honking backpack.

  • That said, if you dress a girl in the water-gym uniform, her raid animations are pure pedo-bait. Dock-owner Ryu’s famous “damn I’d like to see you in eight years” comment definitely applies.

  • Put at least one pokemon into each of the 8 inventory bags and exit the menus to unlock bags 9-16, then repeat until you have 31-32 bags; you’re welcome.

  • Now move all your favorite critters to high-numbered boxes and change their names and backgrounds to help overcome the crude inventory management.

  • Leave box 1 empty, because while newly-caught pokemon go into whatever box was last open, ones returning from jobs always go into the first available empty space, which is annoying as hell.

  • When the berry tree starts shaking fast, you can only shake it one more time without triggering a squirrel attack; you’re welcome.

  • When you reach the Wild Area the first time, run straight through to the next town, go past the Onix, and talk to the black NPC outside the record shop to enable the volume control settings; you’re welcome.

  • You don’t actually use the item he gives you to disable the music adjust the volume; it just adds options on the settings menu.

  • Divide most of your early time between solo raids for loot and farming trashmons for XP, then hit the next gym battle and repeat.

  • The only difference between NPC Martin and a classic online PC troll is that he doesn’t insult your mother before trashing your raid.

  • How bad is the raid NPC AI? So bad that you’re thrilled when Isabella shows up with her Magikarp, because you know it will at least attack rather than sit there and buff itself until it dies.

  • Related, I’d like to see some fan-art of Patricia, whose NPC model and animation don’t seem to show up outside of raids. She’s cute, grown up, and spends the entire raid shaking her ass. [update! just found her on the road to Spikemuth, and hanging out in one of the pokestops; no ass-shakingdancing, though]

  • On the subversive side, this game celebrates capitalism as you work to earn three separate currencies, and enforces heteronormativity with two fixed genders that are required for breeding.

  • Unless you identify as a Ditto, in which case you can fuck anything.

  • There are only three random NPC spawns in the Wild Area; pay Fisherlady and Digbro 100 watts every time you see them, and beat up Chloe’s starter collection until you’re crazy strong and flush with cash (find the Amulet Coin in the Motostoke Outskirts or buy the Luck Incense in Hulbury to double her cash drop).

  • The other two Digbro slot machines are more expensive and tedious, but can eventually drop all four fossils needed to finish off your pokedex, along with some other useful stuff.

  • Most of the other fixed-spawn NPCs who look exactly like Digbro are curry-related; the most important item to buy from them is the Food Tin, which you’ll need 12 of for your currydex (6 to trade with people who bought the other game).

  • Spend the rest of your watts on Quick and Repeat balls when they’re available, at least until you reach Wyndon and find the one store that sells them for cash. Those and a bunch of Nest balls will speed up the catch-em-all portion of the game.

  • Don’t waste watts on Wishing Pieces; between world drops and the Digbros, you’ll get plenty.

  • Sell most treasure drops to any vendor, but save one of each for the guy in Stow-on-Side who pays more than double for one item per day.

  • Forget about all those distinctive-looking NPC models from the crowd scenes, and get used to seeing the same dozen over and over and over again; if you’re lucky, they sometimes have a different name.

  • Once you unlock fast travel, the only reason to take the roads is to check for hidden unique items you may have missed the first time, complete your pokedex, and shake berry trees.

  • By the way, berry trees can drop Leftovers, one of the most useful held items for a beginner; you’re welcome.

  • Items that claim to reduce trashmon encounters don’t do jack shit; fortunately you can almost always just run away and avoid the extra sleep(1) delays.

  • After finishing the story, use the speed rental team to quickly get through level 4 of the solo battle tower; this unlocks “IV” quality display in the inventory.

  • Always catch the flaming pokemon; free watts, and when you unlock IV display, you’ll finally find out how much better they are than the others.

  • Using an item on a pokemon applies its effect immediately, while having one hold an item does nothing unless there’s an associated trigger event; that’s an hour of trying to evolve an Applin that I want back.

  • I have no idea what a shiny is, or what pokerus refers to, and don’t really want to find out.

Final report: 8/10, would catch again. First half of DLC comes out in June, second in November. By then I’m sure to have stopped playing for long enough to be willing to come back and try out the new areas.

(list of well-known link-trade codes after the jump; you’re welcome)


Sweat the little stuff...

These are absolutely brilliant, and I’ve never seen them in the bath/plumbing department of any store:

A set came with my Toto Washlet adapter kit, and after realizing how they worked, I will never again buy a toilet lid that comes with the standard craptastic auto-loosening bolts. As a bonus, Toto lids come with little rubber strips that further improve their side-to-side stability.

In other Amazon news, it looks like they’ve not only fully restored the recommendation tiles, but ditched the “buy it again” tiles and created a separate page that lists them out individually instead. Since I was quite sick of having to scroll past the things-I-won’t-buy-again, I’m a big fan of this change. The new buy-it-again page also seems to sort actual repeatable items to the top more reliably, although it still thinks that I go through an awful lot of Loctite, and that laptop stands are a consumable item.

And at the bottom of the page, it still claims that “Recommended items other customers often buy again” includes things like the Bluray collection of “How not to Summon a Demon Lord”…


Sigh, no, the buy-it-again garbage tiles are back. Must have been briefly turned off by the same sort of glitch that took out the recommendations over the holidays. Oh, well.

R.I.P Terry Jones

Another Python falls.

Pokémon evolution in action

Judging from the erotic fan art, I am far from the first person to think this…

Precocious Little Brat

Sweet 16


…and don’t tell me that some of them can be male. As a wise man once said, “it don’t matter when it’s Arcturian, baby”.

Helpful list for Pete...

Since his wife has polluted his search history with Japanese sewing terms, here are some more:

  • アクリル acrylic
  • アサ/麻 hemp (ヘンプ) or linen (リネン)
  • ウール/羊毛 wool
  • カシミヤ cashmere
  • カツラギ katsuragi (thick cotton but lighter than denim)
  • ガーゼ gauze
  • ギンガム gingham
  • ギンガムチェック gingham check
  • クレープ crepe
  • コーデュロイcorduroy
  • サテン satin
  • シャンタン shantung
  • シャンブレー chambray
  • シルク silk
  • シーティング sheeting
  • ジャカード jacquard
  • スウェッド suede
  • ソフトデニム soft denim
  • タフタ tafetta
  • ダブルガーゼ double gauze
  • チノクロス chino cloth
  • チュール tulle
  • フラノ flannel
  • ブロード broadcloth
  • ボイル voile
  • リネン linen
  • レース lace
  • レーヨン rayon
  • ローン lawn
  • ワッフル waffle
  • 厚手デニム thick denim
  • 帆布 canvas
  • 持ち手テープ acrylic tape for bag handles
  • 綿, コットン cotton

I haven’t been in the fabric district in Tokyo, but we did spend a merry hour in Nomura Tailor in Kyoto buying tablecloth fabric for our mom.

Dear Amazon,

At least you aren’t blaming this one on the Post Office…

Status at 8:30 AM:

Status at 9:30 AM:

Update: Friday at 6pm…

I didn’t even need to make a fresh screenshot. Still promised for Sunday, still hasn’t shipped.

Update: Saturday at 2pm 8pm 11pm…

Still not shipped, still supposed to arrive tomorrow. Given that only USPS typically does Sunday deliveries (or at least marks it as delivered and drops it off on Monday), I’m dying to know how they’re planning to get it to me.

Update: Sunday at 8:30am…

At what point does Amazon just admit they don’t have it and send the driver to Best Buy to pick one up?

Fuck it

Found it at the local Walmart for $20 less and canceled the Amazon order from my phone. This is an inversion of the natural order.

Dear Apple,

On all of my Apple devices, Safari history is set to be deleted as soon as possible (“after one day”, because “when browser closes” isn’t an option). But when I open the “Show All History” screen on my Mac, it usually goes back days or weeks.

Worse, deleting it manually from this screen does not work. Entries keep getting re-synced back from iCloud that were deleted weeks ago, and that weren’t in the history on any device just an hour ago:

And this is why I don’t believe all your boasting about protecting customer privacy: you keep copies of my data in secret places you don’t tell me about or let me control.

The sad thing is that this is most likely incompetence rather than malice; you just can’t write sync code that works.

Dear Amazon,

Conceptually, it hurts my brain to see PC cases listed as external components.

Then again, at least it’s not the ongoing dumpster fire that is “religion & spirituality”…

Meanwhile, since Amazon can’t manage to get a two-day delivery to me in a week, I’ll be spending the day working with the product that did arrive. It took a year and a half to get here, but unlike Amazon, they made it themselves.

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