“If this power could be used for good, it wouldn’t be this power.”

— Teresa Nielsen Hayden

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 ¼-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 nikoalgieri.com, since he let the domain registration lapse and it’s now redirected to a Chinese lottery site).

Well that’s embarassing…

“Route 53, Where Are You?”

% host www.amazon.com
Using domain server:

Host www.amazon.com not found: 2(SERVFAIL)

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


Took about half an hour for it to come back.

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”)

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 www.co.monterey.ca.us 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)

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 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.

“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. 😁

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.