“When I eat a chocolate bunny I bop it on the head first, to show respect to field mice that lost family in the Little Bunny Foo Foo massacre.”

— unknown

New California Republic?


Uranium Fever

Amazon is producing a Fallout series. If they follow the Bethesda model, it will be set 300 years after the bombs dropped, but the rubble and the people will make it look like it’s only been maybe 20 at most. The plot will involve cleansing the radiation from something that shouldn’t need cleansing, but never mind, because most of the episodes will focus on side quests and crafting, with a heavy dose of Daddy Issues.

Benito Newsom’s Strike Teams

No, seriously. What are the odds he’ll give up this newly-discovered power, ever?

Also, he just re-closed 19 counties for a minimum of three weeks, because fireworks apparently spread viruses now. Or something like that.

Ah, how quickly things change…

“Seriously people, stop obeying mandatory mask orders! And stop leaving the house so you don’t get arrested for disobeying the mandatory mask orders! And don’t buy food at stores that mandate masks! And tell that drug store to remove the giant display of individually-packaged disposable masks! And stop breathing!”

More, please!

19-year-old arsonist and looter facing 5-20 in federal prison. He was caught on video setting fire to a Sake House in Santa Monica. The same video shows him then moving his car about 500 feet and looting a nearby business.

State Of The County


Malled In

The local mall is almost-entirely open, albeit with masks and sanitizers and roving social-distancing enforcers. Well, open from 11am to 7pm on weekdays, anyway (11-6 Saturday, 12-6 Sunday; feels like being back in the Seventies).

What’s still closed?

  • Bath & Body Works
  • Build-A-Bear Workshop
  • Cinemark Theaters
  • Disney Store
  • Dairy Queen
  • Main Street Studio (art gallery w/painting classes)
  • Manpower (temp jobs agency, something you’d expect to be busy)
  • PLAYLive Nation (“upscale gaming lounge”; their words, not mine)

And that’s it. None of the others have any restrictions beyond masks and limited capacity, and the non-food-court restaurants are all open for dine-in as well as carryout.

I might go there tomorrow for the first time in 8-9 months, just for the novelty of having somewhere to walk around. For about ten minutes, anyway, until the mask starts lowering my blood oxygen and raising my blood pressure.

Meat run

When I went to the coast for a haircut a few weeks ago, I stopped at the Safeway that carries Boar’s Head meats; they were mostly out. Today? They had every variety of turkey in quantity, but had to open the last roast beef and teriyaki chicken for me (because I didn’t want the turkey either). They’re expecting a delivery just in time for the 4th.

Speaking of haircuts…

…Anita Ekberg is enough to make me want to shave…

Pixiv: tan/dark skin


The tags 褐色 and 褐色肌 are translated as “dark skin” or “tan”, but there are very few truly dark characters in anime and manga, and most of those are painful stereotypes, especially the males. Fortunately I don’t collect pictures of male characters, so I can avoid the angry mobs for a little longer.

This set’s a bit shorter than the others I’ve posted recently, because a lot of the stuff that gets this tag barely qualifies as “has been outdoors recently”.

Good Eats Reloaded: Art of Darkness

Yes, this theme is inspired by a cocoa episode featuring mousse and microwave cake. No chocolates were whipped or nuked in today’s cheesecake selection.

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Power Cages, you say?


Dear Amazon,

Which of the items in this picture do not belong in the sub-category Power Cages of the category Strength Training Equipment?

(and this is from page 2 of the results; I don’t want to know what page 11 has on it…)

Show me on this doll…

John Bolton called his new book “The room where it happened”, which sounds remarkably like a sordid tale of child abuse. Which from the reviews, it apparently is.

Cram-O-Matic Recipes

Serebii has a page up with the crafting rules for the Isle of Armor DLC. I got bored, scraped the page into CSV files, and wrote a Perl script to generate all the reasonable recipes.

The whole thing ended up just over 300 lines of code, and that includes all the HTML boilerplate to generate a responsive static site. I simplified the logic by using the DBD::CSV CPAN module that allows querying a directory full of CSV files with a pretty full SQL implementation (including left outer join, which came in handy for eliminating recipes that required uncraftable ingredients), caching in memory for reasonable efficiency. If I wanted to run it frequently, it would be a few seconds work to use SQLite’s built-in CSV import and add a few indexes, but once I got the code working, I only had to run it once. Unless they change things in a future patch, in which case I’ll run it again.

(the most obvious optimization I could add is collapsing adjacent sets of recipes that share several ingredients; they’re separate right now because they’re the result of different point combinations (e.g. 10+2+2+2 and 10+2+2+4 produce the same result, but the fourth ingredient is different)) Done! And I also reduced the output by limiting it to recipes with at least three identical ingredients.

By the way, if you want to hack CSV files this way from the command line, take a look at q, which basically builds an in-memory SQLite DB on the fly as you refer to your data files, with the option of saving it to disk when you’re done. It defaults to assuming headerless space-separated files, so you need the -H -d, options to read CSV. Work is in progress to convert it to a standard Python library that could be used the way I’m using DBD::CSV.

Random Thoughts, Echo-Pokémon-Ninja-Mask Edition


New Mons For Old

Last night I traded a French Kubfu for a Mewtwo. Since I never intended to seriously play my French save of Pokémon Shield, this was a no-brainer.

What may be the sleeper hit feature of the DLC is the ability to craft most items. The good news is that you can turn all sorts of useless crap into items that are otherwise difficult or expensive to obtain.

For instance, if you do any raiding at all, you quickly hit the 999 inventory limit for Dynamax Candy, because you can’t sell it and the most you can ever use on any one Pokémon is 10. Pre-DLC, it was a completely useless reward after about a week of play.

Now you can use four of them to craft a Dragon Fang, and then use two of those and two more candies to craft a Wishing Piece, something you usually purchase with Watts. And you need a lot of Watts to finish upgrading your island base (even considering the new random-Watt supplier who gets paid in Yet Another Currency).

The bad news is that you have to click 18 times per Dragon Fang, and ~40 per Wishing Piece (depending on how far apart the materials are in your inventory), for a total of ~76 clicks. And there are delays and animations that slow the process down further, as usual.

In short, crafting is great for things you need one or two of, but not for something you use in bulk. Unless you have a third-party controller with macro support (apparently there’s an Android app that works).

Note that a bulk supply of Wishing Pieces is the fastest way to acquire the new currency, which is the fastest way to acquire more Watts; rinse and repeat.

Sewing is more fun in Japan…

…at least if you can get Asuka Kawazu to do it for you.

New Echos for old

Amazon has a trade-in deal running for old Echo devices. I’ve got at least two devices that qualify, and I wouldn’t mind replacing them with one of the current ones. No link because the URL was one of those where you’re never sure just how much personal info is encoded in it.

If you’re going for a worthless degree…

…you might as well go for Ninja Studies. It’s slightly less fictional than most ‘studies’ degrees.

Dear Amazon,

I just bought a very nice toaster oven. The “Inspired by your shopping trends” section of the home page now includes four toaster ovens, along with a cookbook for the premium air-fryer edition of the brand I didn’t buy. Also three brands of oven pushme-pullyou stick, three brands of silicone oven mitts, and a stovetop butter warmer. The “Inspired by your purchases” section contains four brands of disposable plastic cup with lid and straw, a Fry Daddy and three brands of frying thermometer, a garlic press, and a pastry brush. Apparently I should be planning quite a party.

(“Inspired by your Wish List” consists entirely of Funko Pop figurines, because they’re finally releasing a Pinky in a few weeks)

Lockdown Hut


Just got the weekly ads in my mailbox, and after throwing 90% of them directly into the recycling bin, the big news at Pizza Hut is:

  • New lower regular prices!

  • No service fee!

  • Lower delivery charge!

Given that non-pizza food deliveries are notoriously unprofitable for the restaurants and the delivery companies (which are burning through VC cash like there’s no tomorrow), this is an interesting development. Unlike many retailers, pizza stores can make it up in volume; one really good rush (“high-school team wins big”) can cover the fixed costs for an entire week.

I’m not a fan of the current “contactless delivery” methods, though, because the last time I had a pizza delivered, the food arrived in a sealed, unventilated plastic bag. Opening the bag released the smell of soggy cardboard, which is just not as appetizing as fresh, hot pizza.

Also, any place outside my house that’s safe to put down containers of hot food is also available as a cat perch, so I end up face-to-face with the driver anyway.

I haven’t yet tested the partially-reopened restaurant dining rules, or gone to the mostly-reopened mall to evaluate the masked and distant shopping experience. Safeway, Costco, and Lowes are pretty much the only places I have any interest in going this week, and the only reason I need to go to Costco is because they were out of Diet Pepsi the last time I was there. Everything else is pretty much back in stock, including yeast.

The remaining closed stores in the mall are either still banned by executive order, or likely going out of business. Monterey County is in “early stage 3”, which includes cardrooms, gyms, massage parlors, and movie theaters, but the local theaters are more likely to go bankrupt than reopen any time soon.

Full-Contact Delivery

Random Thoughts, Apolitical Edition


7 is the new 5

Perl 6 is dead, long live Perl 7. Because it’s just going to be Perl 5 with sane modern defaults, rather than an entire new language that libraries won’t ever be ported to. Call it Perl 5++++.

Although it sounds like it still might not default to Unicode.

I confess that I’ll miss bareword filehandles; my fingers have been automatically typing those out since Perl 1.16. Can’t say that I’ll miss the old $; method of faking multi-dimensional arrays, though; can’t even remember the last time I used that one.

I’m not terribly fond of OO programming, and while Perl’s crude approximation to it works, the way it was shoe-horned into the language is, well, nasty, especially when people who know how to muck with package internals get involved. It sounds like the actually-designed Cor system is planned for Perl 7 core.

(technically Perl 6 was already renamed Raku (derived from the Japanese rakuda-dō 駱駝道 “the way of the camel”) and officially declared a sibling rather than a successor to Perl 5, but it is dead, as far as ever getting any real traction among Perl users)

Out with the Krups…

…in with the DeLonghi. My convection toaster oven died last week. At least, the convection part did, which meant that the heat distribution became sufficiently uneven that it could no longer accomplish its most important task: quickly and reliably cooking single-serving frozen pizzas.

It had a good run. It was the Cook’s Illustrated recommended model, so long ago that the model that replaced it was discontinued a few years back. Also, the rubber buttons on the front had been degrading for years, becoming tacky.

So I went looking at the current recommendations, and while the Breville Smart Oven was king of the mountain until recently, the new Pro version is apparently a bit of a downgrade. The Air version is reportedly excellent, adding a higher-speed fan mode to work as an “air fryer”, but it’s a bit pricy. So I went with the next option on the list, the DeLonghi Livenza.

So far, so good. At least, for single-serving frozen pizzas…

Pokémon cash-grab MOBA?

Yet Another Pokégame announcement this morning, this time a 5-on-5 multiplayer battle game for Switch/iOS/Android, with in-app purchases, developed by an outside studio. I’m guessing it won’t have support for typical “your mother fucked a Tentacruel” in-game chat.

In case you missed it, the previous announcement included the tooth-brushing game Pokémon Smile. Yeah, we’re all turning handsprings down here, I tell you.

Farmer’s Harbinger

My daily 60-yard farmer’s walk with a pair of 80-pound kettlebells is a great way to get the blood circulating, but my gloves weren’t good enough to prevent significant callusing at the base of my middle finger. Rogue Fitness had a sale on Harbinger Lifting Grips that brought them down to the same price as Amazon, so I added them to my recent order (the rest of which arrived today, for another 30 pounds of UPS boxes). The M/L size fits my hands perfectly, and the “advanced” grip style reduces the stress on my hands enough that I could add another 20-yard lap around the house while I wait for heavier weights to come back into stock.

I’ve been thinking of getting a set of PowerBlock 90-pound adjustable dumbbells, but their US-made model is selling out as fast as they can make them, and the rest of their line is probably stuck somewhere in the Pacific. Ditto for Rogue’s kettlebells, although they’ve added a new US-made line manufactured in Cadillac, Michigan, a town I haven’t been to in about forty years.

Amusingly, the new Cadillac model is a significant upgrade over the foreign bells, although I still wish they had a wider handle on the heavier ones, for more comfortable two-handed swings.

Okay, I said apolitical, but…

“Math is hard for me, let’s go virtue-signalling”: Irrational number of mathematicians hate cops. Seriously:

“Really any collaboration between mathematics, which is something that I love and that I find extremely beautiful, and the institution of policing shouldn’t happen.”

Proof that you don’t need brains to write proofs.

Random Thoughts, Occupied Edition


Pro Tip: Occupy The Restrooms First

Protestors at the University of Chicago were allowed to stage a sit-in inside the campus police headquarters, but once the building closed for the night, they couldn’t get pizza delivered or go to the bathroom.

Back in my pizza delivery days, there were small no-go zones in every neighborhood, which often included areas near college campuses but not the student housing; we were worried about the people who preyed on the students. The kids wouldn’t even tip a nickel, but the store made it up in volume. Any manager I ever worked for would have made “protests” a no-go zone.

A Modest Proposal

The only lasting solution to police brutality and lack of accountability is to change police culture. Entrenched unions prevent simply firing or replacing them, so clearly the solution is to triple the number of cops in every major city, but recruit only people who are committed to social justice, like gender/race studies majors and journalism students. Once they’re the majority, they can effect real lasting change of the type they demand.

Or you could just outlaw all public-sector unions and stop voting for the Democrats that run all those cities, but that’s crazy talk.

Good Eats Reloaded this week

Chicken stock in a pressure cooker, for homemade chicken soup. That’s actually one thing I haven’t used mine for yet. I did think it was interesting that he only cooked the chicken breasts to 150°F (not under pressure), and didn’t say anything about carryover heat getting them to the usual “safe” 165°F.

This Will Not End Well

The state of MaineRhode Island is officially changing it’s name because the full name of the state includes the word “plantations”, which triggers white people who think it triggers black people.

Next up, Indiana! I suppose Ohio might survive by claiming they’ve actually appropriated the Japanese word for “good morning”, but some other states might have to be more creative…