May 2020

Now that's what I call 'mansplaining'!

Seriously, dude, just admit that you’ve never known the touch of a woman.


I hadn’t even noticed that he was (past tense) a New Hampshire state representative, and (likely past tense) a Biden delegate. Apparently he has (or likely had) a long history of failing to sound profound on Twitter…

Pixiv: sailor-suits

I’m thinking that the protagonist of the book/movie/series/series/movie Sailor Suit and Machine Gun has a solution to harassment more effective than just singing Don’t tear off my sailor suit. For schoolgirls less puissant, making it through the day with both their uniform and dignity intact can be quite a challenge.

Unrelated, I made about a million bells on the stalk market, but it wasn’t worth the hassle or the risk. I’d rather just pick foreign fruit; per inventory slot, it’s equivalent to a 50-bell-per-turnip profit.

It appears the most reliable way to make the turnip trade worth the effort is to have a second player time-travel until they see a high price, then let you visit their island. If you can guarantee a 400-bell profit, then a full inventory is worth 1.6 million bells.

(apparently if you time-travel, forward or back, your turnips immediately spoil, but it doesn’t matter what the date is when you visit someone else’s island to buy or sell; think of it as plausible chrono-deniability)

(on the gripping hand, if your time-traveling friend’s island was covered in fruit trees, you could just pick it clean ten times a day; anyone playing this game is in no position to complain about a little grinding)


Make Animals Cross Again!

There are a lot of people sharing their clothing and art designs for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but one thing I haven’t seen is this:

Existing editors for previous games in the franchise are compatible, but I just grabbed a sample of an old bitmap font (Verite 8x16) and used the limited in-game editor. They’re definitely doing something to smooth the rendering of the low-resolution imagery; those characters are 7x10 without any manual anti-aliasing.

I’ll be interested to find out if the subject matter triggers some community-standards moderator at Nintendo and gets pulled.

And don’t feel bad, Gulliver; everyone needs a wake-up call now and again…


What movie are you in?

Shutdown contest: which movie best describes your government?

For California, I’m thinking we’re approaching the third act of a Zorro movie, but I can’t decide if it’s The Mask Of Zorro or Zorro: The Gay Blade. On the one hand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, which would be nice. On the other hand, Ron Leibman’s insane over-the-top dictator Esteban, which is more realistic.

Michigan has already passed peak Esteban, but we’re getting there. I’ve been hearing a lot of coordinated car-horn honking outside lately, but I have no idea where it could be; my best guess is that it’s on Main Street, over a mile away. There have been formal protests on South Main, but that’s a good five miles away.


Definitely Zorro: The Gay Blade:

"You don't really believe the people are happy!"

"All I know is the soldiers are quite happy shooting the peoples who say the peoples are not happy."

(Esteban pointing to peasant on rack)
"That man was three pesos short in paying his taxes. I can assure you that he will never be short again."

"Arrest that woman! Now!"

"No, wait! Isn't this the village square, where according to law, everyone is allowed to speak his or her mind?"

"You're right, Señorita."
"The woman is allowed to speak! Arrest anyone who listens."

"It looks like it'll buy the peoples a lot of houses, maybe even some schools and roads."

"Roads? What do the people need roads for? They never go anywhere."

"This sword, with which to fight injustice. This mask, with which to deceive tyranny. And this hat, which needs... reblocking."

A change in the whether...

“Beautiful day to open all the windows and get some fresh air in here!”
neighbor’s house is getting power-washed
“Even nicer than yesterday! Time to open all the windows!”
neighbor’s house is getting painted

I timed my grocery/pharmacy run for 1pm, since it’s been a good time to avoid entry lines recently. It’s 72°F outside, and most people were putting on their mandatory masks just before entering the store, because they’re friggin’ hot and they steam up your glasses.

They will not wear them next week Friday when it’s predicted to be 80°F, especially not the homemade or jury-rigged ones. Fortunately, it’s unlikely to escalate into a Michigan Mask Murder scene. And, yes, the attempts to pin that one on Trump are particularly ludicrous. Not a lot of hardcore wacky gun-toting right-wingers yell at security guards for “disrespecting” their women and name their murdering sons “Ramonyea Travon”.

Picture Is Very Unrelated. Fortunately.

3D cheesecake 29: themeless

Remember, kids, it’s all fun and games until someone opens their hair salon a few days before the lockdown ends. (next week’s soundtrack)

Unrelated: Dear Apple,

How is this useful in the crash report for my MacBook?

System uptime in nanoseconds: 2589416634187871

For that matter, “your system was restarted because of a problem” isn’t particularly useful in the first place. Also I’d love to know why it takes about five minutes after logging in for the load to drop from 260 to 1.5. How about some diagnostics that cover that?

Vaguely related, what part of “do not disturb” do you not understand?

Now back to our regularly scheduled program


Wanted: USB-C dock that doesn't suck

I have ethernet drops in every room of my house. I have a Samsung T5 USB SSD. I have a 12-inch MacBook, which has only a single USB-C port for charging and expansion.

This means I have to use some sort of dock to connect ethernet, external drives, and power. Every portable dock I’ve tried at home or at work can do two of the three reliably, but will spontaneously reset the USB hub component if I try to use all three at once (like, say, backing up the SSD contents over ethernet to my Synology NAS).

Doesn’t matter what brand; even reputable ones like Anker do this. Doesn’t matter what power supply; Apple 30-watt, Apple 87-watt, Anker 60-watt, etc. Doesn’t even matter if I deliberately throttle the rsync copy; it lasts longer at very restricted bandwidths, but still eventually resets.

Plug the SSD directly into my 2012 Mac Mini, and I can copy its data to the NAS at full speed, every time. Plug it into a Thunderbolt port on the 15-inch MacBook Pro I had to give back when I was laid off, ditto; it works great.

Right now, the only way I can successfully use both network and USB SSD at the same time on the MacBook is to run on battery and copy data wirelessly.

So, is there a good USB-C dock with ethernet and at least three USB3 ports that works with a 12-inch MacBook? I don’t even care if it’s portable at this point, and I don’t care if it has HDMI or a memory-card reader. Portable would be nice, for travel, but honestly, at the rate things are going, I won’t be traveling until at least November. And I have my fingers crossed that there isn’t another outbreak of virulent stupidity in the fall.

Random Apple WTF

A few years back, Apple made the -i option (display inode data) to df the default, “to conform to Version 3 of the Single UNIX Specification”. Trouble is, Apple’s new file system doesn’t really have inodes, so the number of “free inodes” is 2^63 minus the number of files and directories, which makes the output basically unreadable.

The manpage recommends using the -P option to disable this, which I long ago embedded in a shell alias so it’s always on. Except I haven’t made that change in the dotfiles on my Mini, so when I went to copy the SSD, I ran into the default behavior, and tried manually adding -P to the command, like so: df -h -P /Volumes/Marippe.

This reported disk usage in 512-byte blocks instead of the human-readable format I requested with -h. Why? Because that’s the official behavior of -P, and the fact that it suppresses inode output is apparently just a documented side effect. Which means that the output of df -h -P is not the same as df -P -h.

This feels like a metaphor for Apple’s current UI design principles.

Two steps backward, one step fore

Today, California entered early stage 2 of the Grand Non-ReOpening And Gluten-Free Bake Sale. This means that they gradually, grudgingly, allow a small percentage of businesses to reopen for curbside delivery of orders placed online or over the phone. No in-person sales or merchandise on sidewalks, or else. It’s stages all the way down, though, so there’s no telling when we’ll even reach middle stage 2, much less late-early-middle stage 3 when it might become possible to get a haircut or go to a church.

Unrelated, there’s a big sale on telephoto lenses in Tokyo…

Also unrelated, Good Eats: Reloaded season 2 episode 4 wasn’t bad,

…but it didn’t do anything for me, perhaps because I never tried the cake recipe from the original episode, and wouldn’t really want to make the revised one, either; I just don’t bake cake.

Now, I did make a batch of Bigger Bolder Baking’s Crazy Dough and use it to make fresh soft pretzels. WARNING: disable Javascript on this site or be inundated with a constant stream of page-reflowing Google ads.

It’s an interesting dough, tangy without the overpowering sourness of California sourdough. The flavor comes from yogurt, and since she said her favorite kind to use is Greek, I used the good stuff: Fage’s with 5% milkfat. I think that would be too rich for some of the other suggested uses for the dough, like pizza or naan, but it worked great for pretzels.

The one snag with this dough is something that my Baker’s Percentage script called out: she lists 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour as being equivalent to 500 grams. Her other weight conversions are reasonable, since different sources give slightly different results, and she likely rounded a bit to make the numbers clean. But you’d really have to pack your flour in to get to that weight, which most conversion tables would call 4 or 4 1/8 cups.

And that’s a lot of flour for the amount of liquid, and since Greek yogurt has less water than the standard stuff, substituting it in makes things even worse. I used the quick-dough cycle on my bread machine to do the kneading, and I’ve never heard it make squeaking noises like that before; I had to add more milk twice to get a nice smooth dough out of it.

The milk and yogurt also gave the yeast quite a feast. The recipe says to let it proof for about two hours until it doubles in size; it tripled in one hour. I gently punched it down and stuck it in the fridge, and the next morning it had tripled again. After that, it was well-behaved, and I separated it into 105-gram balls and put them back in the fridge until needed. Two pretzels a day for four days was a nice treat, especially since they only needed 10 minutes in my convection toaster oven.

I’ll make it again sometime when I have guests, or after I’m no longer stuck at home waiting for the mindless horde to end the lockdown. And by that I mean the state and county governments, not the zombies.

Well, that's no surprise...

I went looking for updates on the story of Detroit-area grocery-store security guard Calvin Munerlyn, murdered in cold blood for “disrespecting” a woman by instructing her to wear a mask, as required by the state. To no great surprise, the mass media is… “not aggressively pursuing this local news story of no particular national significance”.

I managed to find local news coverage sharing the good news that Ramonyea Travon and Larry have finally been arrested; surprisingly, the family that kills together split up, with Larry hiding out in Texas (two unnamed accomplices drove him to Houston and checked him into a motel under his own name).

The killer’s sister Brya Shatonia was also arrested, for tampering with evidence and interfering with a murder investigation. Momma Sharmel is being held without bond on the charge of first degree murder.

In addition to murder, the fact that Larry is also charged with “felon in possession of a firearm” completes the explanation of why this story was dropped like a hot potato.

Coming soon to an America near you...

Top of the “trending” list on Twitter just now:

Not entirely unrelated:

Two months into the lockdown, some people can’t handle the pressure:

In response to criticism, California has simplified their convoluted stages-within-stages “reopening” roadmap, which was about as smooth as a typical California road:

Someone found an upside to all this nonsense:


The latest “branded” vulnerability that’s getting hysterical coverage is “Thunderspy”, in which all your data are belong to us if your computer has a Thunderbolt port. In less than five minutes. With only $400 in off-the-shelf hardware.

Except the details of the story contradict that. First is the assumption that your powered-down computer is available to the attacker for long enough that they can crack the case and reflash the Thunderbolt port’s firmware; five minutes on a desktop, maybe, but most laptops? A quick look at the sites that crack them open and test for repairability suggests that it’s not going to be as easy as the claimed “unscrew the backplate, attach a device momentarily, reprogram the firmware, reattach the backplate”.

Second is the assumption that the attacker will be able to return when your computer is sleeping and exfiltrate your data through the compromised port. Admittedly, Thunderbolt is fast at data transfer, but how many trips do you have to make before you find it in the right state?

The mitigation strategy is simply “power down or hibernate”. Even after compromising your ports, physical access to a powered-up or sleeping computer is required to access your encrypted data. (if your data wasn’t encrypted, they didn’t need a hardware hack to steal it in the first place)

The researcher branding agent does offer a second scenario that’s at least plausible: find a not-currently-plugged-in Thunderbolt peripheral (monitor, etc) that has previously been connected to your computer, steal the 64-bit ID code that was used to establish a trust arrangement, flash that to a naughty data-exfiltration device, and then plug it into your awake-or-sleeping computer.

Mitigation strategy? “power down or hibernate”.

Or use a Mac, which apparently is only vulnerable if it’s been rebooted into Windows with Boot Camp and then put to sleep.

So, if you care enough about security to fully encrypt your laptop, but care so little about security that you casually leave it running unattended or just put it to sleep for convenience, and you don’t notice when it was power-cycled while you were out of the room, then this can be used to steal all your data.

That pretty much restricts the vulnerable population to senior executives at tech companies. The rest of us are safe.

(and, yes, state actors can easily accomplish this, but we already knew that they were compromising unattended phones and laptops to spy on foreign executives and politicians, especially in Corona-chan’s motherland)

Pixiv: shorts

The last time I visited the realm of Daisy Dukes And Other Delights, it was back when I was still pulling cheesecake from Gelbooru, using Steven’s extensive exclusion list to sift the vile haystack for shining needles.

This search was a lot easier.

Unrelated, A Wild Yeast Appears!

First sighting in weeks. The bread machine yeast was the only one left on the shelf (even the commercial stuff they’re repackaging in the bakery was all gone), but here’s a dirty little secret: bread machine yeast is just rapid-rise yeast, which is just instant yeast, which is just active dry yeast milled a bit finer to expose more surface area, so it starts rising sooner. No modern commercial dry yeast requires “proofing”, so the only significant difference is that a faster rise has less flavor. And you can always use a bit less and let it rise longer, to compensate.

They also had two bags of King Arthur All-Purpose flour, so I grabbed one.

Speaking of King Arthur, they’re listing both Red and Gold as in-stock today, along with Bread and Whole Wheat flour. And my 2 pounds of SAF Gold finally arrived Saturday, so I’m set for however long it takes California to open back up, with or without Benito Newsom’s blessing.

Churches across the state have announced that they’re more into forgiveness than permission, no matter what some judge says.

Back to the cheesecake, or at least a crepe:


Dear Amazon,

Q: What is 17x22x48 inches?

A: The box that two of these arrived in yesterday.

They were curled up in a corner like abandoned puppies. The box wasn’t terribly well-sealed, either, so I’m sure the UPS driver looked inside and had a good laugh about the giant box of air he carried up to my porch with one hand.

In other news, Los Angeles Target shoppers are less murder-y than Detroit Dollar General shoppers, but still pretty violent. Governors, if you want people to enforce mask orders, they’d better be on-duty cops. If you don’t have enough of those to go around, don’t criminalize breathing wrong and expect store clerks to risk their lives for you.

By the way, if they’re actually sick, shooting them is sure to spread the virus as it spatters their blood across the walls and floor…

Totally related, Corona-chan has been in Ohio since at least January. (and that site does something really evil, changing the contents of the URL bar as you scroll down, so that I almost posted a link to the story below it, which is bullshit)


The Dayton Daily News story has more details: onset of currently first known case was January 7 in Miami County, and January 13 in Montgomery County, both women in their seventies. Unless they were on a senior cruise together, this suggests it was spreading in the community in late December. In Ohio.

This upends all the hypotheses about “asymptomatic transmission” that have helped justify the massive shutdown of the country. The only support for the claim that you could spread it without symptoms was the now-proven-incorrect belief that it was newly-arrived and spreading only from people with recent foreign travel history, who were contagious without knowing they were sick.

The reality is that people were coughing and sneezing all winter, thinking they just had the flu or a bad cold, while actually spreading the joy of Corona-chan to family, friends, and holiday shoppers.

Why we can't have nice things...

The only reason even more people aren’t playing Animal Crossing and other Nintendo Switch games while in lockdown is that all new online inventory is being snapped up by bots and resold on eBay at a substantial markup. And with walk-in stores still closed in most places, online inventory is the only kind there is.

Switch scalpers make the busty cheesecake cry:

Supplies! (bread, that is)

Costco, today

And yes, that’s $4.59 for 2 pounds, the equivalent of 129 standard yeast packets (7 grams) at 3.6 cents each.

Still looking, Mauser? I could mail you this one (packed in April, good for two years) and go back for another…

Safeway, today

Dear Amazon…

Actually, I prefer Mary Ann…


How do you sell a $329 toaster without revealing how big the interior dimensions are? The Japanese spec page has it; was that too hard to translate? Or would revealing that the largest item you can fit inside (the optional baking dish) is 7.6x9.5 inches make people realize just how overpriced it is?

By the way, the US price is $100 higher than the Japanese price…

Random notes, 9th-week edition

I have several items set up for Amazon’s “subscribe-and-save” service. They didn’t arrive on time last month, due to stocking and shipping oddities, in one case overlapping with the next month’s shipment date. Amazon did not plan for this problem, and I had to manually cancel to prevent getting 60 days of supplies at once.

As I was walking out of the grocery yesterday, the local paper had a headline about a man being killed in a shark attack, and all I could think was how his death certificate is going to blame it on Corona-chan.

This is right up there with the restaurant named “Translate Server Error”:

I once thought about starting a Tumblr called “Terrible Pictures of Beautiful Women”, and then remembered that 10,000 people already beat me to it.

Claims that the “CARES” act allows people impacted by Corona-chan to withdraw money from their 401k without penalty turn out to be true only if the employer who sponsors their plan files paperwork agreeing to permit it. Fortunately for me, I was just checking because it was mentioned in Transamerica’s latest email, not because I was one of the millions of out-of-work Americans who need it.

That is, I’m out of work, I just don’t need that money unless the zombie apocalypse is still playing in theaters after (“Lord willin’ an’ the creek don’t rise”) Trump’s second term begins.

The subreddit for Pokemon Sword and Shield consists of equal parts shinies, trades, and ads for temporary tattoos and cloud-based project management. The poorly-implemented “flairs” feature on reddit sometimes allows you to restrict the display to specific categories, but Discussion is “about my shiny trades”, Help is “how do I trade shinies”, News is “I’m trading shinies”, Image is “look at the shinies I’m trading”, etc. Oh, and every post asking “is this (shiny) pokemon hacked” is actually an ad for the hacking sites, with the URL prominently featured.

Actual questions about the game are automatically deleted every few hours by a moderation bot. In fairness, 99% of them would be better answered by learning to use Google to search Serebii.

Personally, I haven’t lit one up in weeks; I’ve been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on both of my Switches, for pretty much the same reason I was two-boxing Pokemon raids: my idea of social gaming is a controller in each hand.

I restarted on the second Switch until I got an island with the fruit I couldn’t get without another player. Then I turned it into a plantation enslaved to my main island, with the populace forced to work 48 hours per day creating goods to be consumed by my main island. So basically I’m playing as a Democrat.

Speaking of games, I have fond memories of the 3D-before-it-was-cool game Interstate 76. It is quite affordable on GoG, but not cheap, because it’s a pain in the ass to get it running on anything newer than Windows XP. It predates hardware 3D acceleration, depends on library calls that have passed beyond deprecation, and requires some pretty sketchy workarounds to get it kinda-sorta-running on 64-bit Windows 10.

Instead of going to all that effort, I just fired up the soundtrack CD, which includes enough of the game’s dialogue to revisist the story without putting up with the dated and glitchy don’t-mention-Car-Wars gameplay.

In my less cynical moments, I find myself wondering if Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Gretchen Whitmer aren’t secretly on Trump’s payroll, paid to destroy their party by acting like insane ruthless greedy petty dictators. My more cynical moments have been overtaken by reality.

I’m getting a bit tired of housework…

Dear Amazon,

It’s one thing to do recommendations based on user-supplied keywords, but when someone drills down into categories, like “Sports & Outdoors › Sports & Fitness › Exercise & Fitness › Strength Training Equipment › Pull-Up Bars”, it’s safe to say they’re not really looking for something else entirely. There’s a significant difference between “resistance training” and “restraint”…

Your algorithms could even spot-check the categorization of the items it’s often bought with, just to make sure the vendor isn’t trying to pull a fast one:

Vaguely related, my Amazon recommendations recently included the new Nancy Pelosi biography. Oh, wait, my mistake: it’s a Hunger Games prequel about Young President Snow.


Walked out of a Safeway today. I refused to “change my attitude” after the clerk got upset that I put my items onto the (empty) conveyor belt before she’d given me permission (this is apparently a policy that’s been in place for weeks, despite not being enforced for the person before me, or for anyone else I’ve seen in that store in ever). I stopped putting things onto the belt when she ordered me, but then she called over two Senior Karens to administer a lecture.

I refrained from telling them precisely where to insert their policy and with how much force, said “fuck this bullshit” with just a touch of heat, and let them know I wouldn’t be returning.

Funny thing, they had two Senior Karens ready to deploy against policy violations, but nobody able to, say, open another lane and decrease the length of the very slow line that had frayed my patience and caused me to unpack my cart fifteen seconds before I had official approval.

This was the second-closest Safeway, so it doesn’t actually inconvenience me significantly to never return. Also, when I got to the one that was closer, there was no line because they had gasp more registers open.

Oregon Liberated From Corona-Chan Tyranny!

Judge told the governor to pound sand.

Oregon will now return to its normal Antifa tyranny. Unless the state Supreme Court chooses “swinging from lamp posts” as a lifestyle.

Tuesday update

The Oregon Supreme Court has tentatively chosen rope.

3D cheesecake 30

The porch cat has started stalking me around the house. He’s figured out that if he finds an open window near me (generally, sitting at the kitchen table or reading/gaming on the couch), jumps up onto the screen and hangs there by his claws, he can look me in the eye and meow for attention. Reminds me a bit of my first college girlfriend.

This week’s episode of Good Eats: Reloaded involved buttercream frosting. I too wish to frost delicious cake.


Too soon, Ming, too soon...

Two dams have failed in Michigan, forcing the evacuation of 10,000 people; and, hey, look, there’s a major chemical plant right along the river in question, so what could possibly go wrong?

Now that Gretchen Whitmer has an actual emergency on her hands, will she free the rest of her subjects to cope, or double down on the stupid? Rhetorical question, I know.

"You'd call off the attack?"

"I could."

"Everyone would be saved?"

"Yes... and no. After the earthquakes and tidal waves, they

won’t be quite the human beings you remember. They’ll be more… tractable. Easier for you to rule, in the name of Ming.”

"You mean slaves."

"Let's say... they'll be satisfied with less."

California temperature forecasts for Memorial Day

Salinas: 81
Los Angeles: 89
San Jose: 90
Fresno: 97
Sacramento: 97
Bakersfield: 99

Monterey: 70
Half Moon Bay: 70
Ventura: 74
Santa Cruz: 75

Masks, social distancing, and “stay-at-home” hardest hit.

Dear Bionic Body,

Nothing says “safe and comfortable” like exposed screw heads on exercise equipment, perfectly positioned to dig into your skin.

The person who designed this mutant offspring of a medicine ball and a kettlebell was clearly unfamiliar with “rack position”.

Sad thing is, this was sold out on Amazon along with pretty much all other exercise gear, which means a whole lot of people are going to be taping padding over those screws soon to protect their wrists.

How bored am I right now?

“Buying 40-year-old Japanese art books on Amazon” bored:

(they’re excellent books, by the way, with lots of quality photos and well-translated text)

Movie night

Reminded of it by the state of the state of California, I dug through my shelves to find my ancient DVD copy of Zorro: The Gay Blade. My Bluray player (a region-free Sony) needed a serious power-cycling before it would display anything via HDMI, but after a bit of coaxing I was able to watch this charming and quite quotable little film again for the first time in many years.

For some reason, it’s not available on any streaming service, or on Bluray, and of course the DVD has been out of print for many years. You’d think a story about a campy gay man freeing Californians from a tyrannical oppressor would resonate with the pipples.

Rewatch: Restaurant To Another World

Relaxing food-porn for the win!

I’ve been reading the light novels for this one as well, and Aletta’s increased confidence has had results. She’s been handling deliveries from the restaurant’s Earth-side suppliers, and one of the delivery boys has become quite smitten. In a triumph of otaku acculturation, he thinks her horns are just cosplay ornaments. No big deal for a modern Tokyo youth.

An interesting note is that the occasional mild fan-service that was added for the anime was not further enhanced for the Bluray release.

Related, Amazon may still be determined to kill Brickmuppet under a pile of packages, but they’re no longer delaying Prime shipments for weeks at a time. Every in-stock item I’ve ordered recently has shipped out promptly. The categories that seem to be most sold out now are things like home exercise gear, for people who live in Bluetopian states under lockdown. The fact that most of that stuff was being made in China doesn’t help.

Also related, when I went in to my local drug store to pick up prescriptions yesterday, they had a huge display by the checkouts selling individually-packaged disposable surgical masks for $1.29 each. Also candy bars.

"I look forward to your consideration..."

Like everything else in California, Silicon Valley hiring is best described as “paused” at the moment. On a whim, I decided to see if my former employer has taken even tentative steps to once again have more than one senior system administrator in residence. The answer was an unsurprising “no”, but to my amusement, there is a director-level position posted for IT, placing the successful applicant in charge of an organization consisting of five full-time staff (two help desk, one intermediate sysadmin, one senior linux/network admin, and one senior network engineer/manager) and two contractors in India.

For even more amusement, there is an opening for a Site Reliability Engineer in a completely different organization (the one that handles the actual production service, and thus has always had more staff than corporate IT). Since I am quite obviously qualified for this position, I applied.

I don’t know if I’d actually take it, but I will be very interested to see how they respond. 😁

Dear Adobe,

What exactly did you add to an animation tool that allows a buffer-overflow error to lead to remote code execution?

I mean, even this month’s critical security holes in Acrobat are less severe than that, and Acrobat’s made PDF nearly the malware vector that Flash was in its prime.


Pro tip: if your delivery service does not accept cash at this time, update your web site so that customers cannot select it as a payment option.

Pixiv Champloo 11

Another day, another cheesecake. If I did that in real life, the “Covid 15” would be the “Covid 50”…


On Monday, Monterey County supervisors announced their intention to beg the governor for permission to enter “second stage phase-two”. They didn’t actually do it, they just created an agenda item for today in which they will decide whether or not to send a letter in support of the medically-induced begging effort.

It will be in the eighties again today. Sure would be nice to get a haircut, but that’s somewhere in “phase three”…

Finally figured out where all the coordinated car-horn-honking has been coming from. The Monterey County Health Department is just over a mile away as the bat flies, and as they’re the ones issuing the compliance orders, they attract protests like wet markets attract disease. And as with all public protests, the people who show up inevitably have a variety of agendas…


Dear Synology,

When installing a system update on one of your NAS products, having it fail with the following message is “less than encouraging”:

Re-downloading the DSM update (6.2.3-25426) and trying again didn’t help.

On the bright side, it’s still up and running.


Somehow I missed an episode of Good Eats: Reloaded, so I got to watch two back-to-back yesterday: pot roast and oatmeal. I never tried the much-reviled pot roast recipe from the original episode, and Alton would be horrified to discover that I actually like single-serving instant oatmeal.

What stuck out for me was that the reloaded oatmeal recipes (1, 2) are tarted up with those trendiest of grains, quinoa and chia. The reloaded granola recipe just sounds unpleasant. The new pot roast looks decent, but I’m not going to run out and try it when it’s hot out.

Perhaps when the rainy season starts again in the fall. (although I’m actually still getting some light rain occasionally, mostly at night)

Metaphor Alert!

I went to check on the status of Corona-chan restrictions in Monterey County, only to discover that none of the authoritative DNS servers for are responding, and the records have timed out everywhere. Sounds like a virus to me!

Stage 2.2 update

Yesterday, the county agreed to beg the governor for permission to enter phase 2 of stage 2. The state has “acknowledged receipt of the Form”.

Should they approve it, dine-in restaurants, full-service car washes, shopping malls, and pet grooming will once again be legal. Not sure about haircuts, since there’s industry-specific advice that suggests yes, but they fall into a category that’s still listed as “phase 3”.

On the bright side, residential cleaning services will be permitted to reopen, which means I can have my already-pretty-damn-clean house thoroughly scrubbed.

Hopefully my dentist had the financial resources to ride this out and can reopen. Soon.

By golly, haircuts are in stage 2.2 now

…assuming salons and barbershops meet the detailed requirements to reopen, some of which assume the owner/operator has plenty of extra money to upgrade the facilities and purchase a large stock of disposable everythings. And that they can get stylists to come back to work despite making more on unemployment thanks to the extra-goodies laws.

(in many cases, stylists are basically independent operators who rent their stations, making them ineligible for unemployment benefits, but California mostly outlawed freelancers this year, so I’m not actually sure what their status is any more)

Application For Variance To Stage 2...

The document begging for permission to slightly ease the lockdown in Monterey County is 142 pages long. Much of this consists of copies of the orders and public notices that will be distributed to provide guidance and penalties for the classes of activity that will be permitted to partially resume, plus supporting letters from every bean-counter in the county. (I feel a song coming on: “Everyone considered him the counter of the county”)

Missing from the documentation is how long before it takes effect after it is approved in Sacramento. We can only hope that they didn’t accidentally forget to get a signed affirmation from some random person no one’s ever heard of but who feels important for the first time in his rubber-stamping life.


“In Northern CA, above normal significant large fire potential is expected in most areas below 6000 feet in June.”

At the moment, only Camp Roberts is burning, but expect that to change soon. If it’s a bad fire year, we may soon be recycling leftover Corona masks for ash-covering.

Update: A nibble!

Phone interview next week, for a build & release position. (what kids today call “DevOps”)

Well that's embarassing...

“Route 53, Where Are You?”

% host
Using domain server:

Host not found: 2(SERVFAIL)

Since connections to immediately redirect to, this is kind of visible.


Took about half an hour for it to come back.

Dear Amazon Japan,

Automatic machine translation is just wrong, okay?

Actual product name: “米とぎ棒 ホワイト KT-091”, which breaks down as “rice + polish/grind/sharpen + stick (white, model KT-091)”, but more correctly described as a “rice whisk” (to speed up the process of washing white rice before steaming); at least, that search string turns up several varieties of them on Amazon US.

(the “Akebono Industry” part of the product name doesn’t appear in the original at all, and seems to be hidden information; several items in the “people who looked at this also looked at” list are different models of rice whisk with, sure enough, 曙産業 in the name. My best guess for “pin” is that 棒 is used in the word for “rolling pin”, 麺棒, so it could have crept into their translation tables. No idea where the “clip” came from)

Translating the UI is good, because it’s a finite set of strings with only occasional updates, and can be QA’d. Auto-translating product names is just a mess, because to search, you have to guess what odd word choices it’s going to use. It would never have occurred to me to search for a “rice stick”, if only because that seems more likely to return links to rice paddles (which it does, as well as rice whisks and stick vacuums).

As it turns out, at least one manufacturer of a “rice sharpener” does use スティック (phonetic “stick”) instead of 棒 for their product name, and another uses 米とぎ for their rice strainer, leading to the following auto-translated product name:

Rice Sharpener All-Purpose Bowl, Highly Cooking Allie, German Developed High Quality, 5 in 1 Rice Sharpener, Wash, Relax, Smooth, Drainer, Bowl, Housewives Allied with Great Cooking, Time-saving, Household Work, Great Mass Shopping, Explosive Hit Product, Stainless Steel, 8.9 inches (22.5 cm)

Accompanied by the following descriptive text:

Please note: This product is for sale of S pearls. For that reason, we have attached a sales confirmation seal to the product; Product: This product can be used for rice sharpeners that have been troublesome until noodles can be used to create a variety of cooking chores that include time saving, housework, and light weight. You can also use it for dish drying pasta, kimono, and salads such as noodles.

It goes downhill from there.

When we were in the kitchen district in Osaka last Spring, I suddenly remembered my research into the name of the item used in the Konpira-fune-fune drinking game we played at the maiko dinner in Kyoto. So I walked into the next restaurant supply shop and asked for a beer hakama. My sister quickly realized what I was up to and got some for herself as well. And it goes like this.

I thought it was interesting that even though they had half a dozen on the shelf, they went in the back and got us fresh ones that were still wrapped up.

Unrelated: Life With A Porch Cat

With the brief heatwave broken, I had every window in the house open yesterday. Porch Cat saw me sitting at the kitchen table, came up to the screen, and loudly ordered lunch. I picked him up, carried him through the house to the front porch, fed him, and went back. Ten minutes later he came back and curled up outside the screen door. He didn’t want food or even cuddles, just some company.

That’s pretty much how I feel this week, too.


Reflowing a mixed-language paragraph in Emacs 26.2 breaks katakana words in the middle and inconsistently removes whitespace separating them from English words. (grumblegrumblegetoffmylawn)

Also unrelated

I really hate it when a UPS just decides to shut itself off and then complain. Fortunately I had a newer higher-capacity unit in the same room that I could move the cable modem, firewall router, and switch to. I had added the second one when I bought the Synology NAS, but hadn’t wanted to take the downtime from migrating the other stuff over, and the old UPS had a reasonably recent battery (which isn’t what failed; it’s like the damn thing just decided to stop drawing power from the perfectly-good circuit).

Safari hates Twitter

Since the lockdowns started, I have an off-and-on issue with loading Twitter pages (for the few people I still follow since I deleted my account). We’re talking minutes before it even displays the text content, and it may never get as far as loading images. Then an hour or two later, it’s lightning fast. I have no Safari extensions loaded at all. Other sites load without a problem while the Twitter tabs are spinning their gears.

Meanwhile, another browser on the same machine will load the exact same page, including all images, in a fraction of a second.

Unrelated to any of the above…

The installation instructions for the TRX Xmount tell you that you need a drill with a 1/4-inch bit for the pilot hole, and a socket wrench to screw the 3/8-inch by 3-inch bolts into a stud. They fail to specify that the bolts require a 17mm metric socket. This is important when you’re going to be up on a ladder applying considerable leverage to secure the damn thing to the wall.

I find it interesting that the Amazon listing for this product completely disappeared recently, with only knock-off products showing up when you search for it. TRX seems to prefer direct sales through their own web site, to the point that the products they officially sell on Amazon and fulfill themselves are not directly comparable to the models sold on their site. Indeed, there isn’t even a comparison page showing the various generations of their product line, to allow you to make an informed purchasing decision.

They have a subscription-based workout app that I wouldn’t pay for after the free year runs out, but if you have the ability to download youtube videos and save them to your phone or tablet, they’ve been posting new ones every day during the lockdowns, including a series of live workouts with some viewer feedback.

So far, I find Niko Algieri and Jay Brockway to be the most reliable and relatable instructors (although someone really should tell Niko to remove the link to his old web site, since he let the domain registration lapse and it’s now redirected to a Chinese lottery site).

"There's a riot goin' on..."

It’s almost like there are a bunch of perpetual losers out there with free-floating grudges against the world and no concept of a social contract or civil society, willing to pillage, loot, and burn at the slightest excuse. Seriously, just how do you go from “peacefully” “protesting” police brutality in Minneapolis to breaking into the statehouse and burning flags in Columbus, Ohio?

As usual, the Bee’s got it covered.

Kudos to the group whose organizer was bright enough to protest in front of the CNN building in Atlanta. Whether they were smart enough to look for their keys where the light is better or just clever enough to recognize the enemy, they were in a better position than the clowns looting Target and burning down affordable housing projects. Until they lost control of their angry mob, anyway.


Once you start the reign of terror, Madame La Guillotine is no longer your friend.

Master of the Secret of the Riddle of the Daughter of the Times

Somehow I missed it when Lyndon Hardy released Kindle versions of his X of the N Y fantasy trilogy, revised and updated. And then added two more books to the series, one just this year, which sadly break the naming pattern and the numbering sequence. Amazon finally got around to recommending them to me. Kind of odd that it took so long, given how many fantasy novels I’ve bought or rebought there over the years.

I also hadn’t noticed that Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s Tomoe Gozen trilogy is also available on Kindle. I could never find the first one back in the day, so I ended up reading her standalone novel The Swordswoman instead, which vaguely irritated me. When I went back to reread it for my occasional “forgotten SF novels” series, the handling of Japanese-style swords was actually more annoying than the original problems, which now just look like bleed-through from the author’s identity struggles.

Dennis Schmidt’s Kensho novels, however, have not been Kindled. This is another series where I could never find the first one (Way-farer), and didn’t want to start in the middle. There are plenty of battered old paperback copies out there, though, so I just bought the whole set, and I’ll read them after they all trickle in over the next few weeks.

According to ISFDB, Schmidt died in 2003, so I’m guessing his estate is either unwilling or unable to sort out the rights and put his work back in print.

The works of Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. are in the same state following his death in 2012. I’ve picked up a few battered old paperbacks of his, too.

Picture Is Unrelated


The State has magnanimously granted Monterey County the right to enter stage 2 of phase 2, restoring to the people the right to eat in restaurants, receive full-service car washes, enter retail stores not previously considered essential, pass (relatively) freely through outdoor museums and public spaces, summon maids and janitors to their homes and businesses, send their children to schools run like prisons (literally “schools with modifications”), and get haircuts.

Earlier this week, the governor, finally recognizing the reality that he was losing his grip on his subjects, reopened shopping malls and in-person religious services across the state.

Still a long way to go:

Travel for non-essential activities is still not allowed. Apart from worship services, gatherings of people not from your household are not permitted.

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