“Travis is a man so dull he has other people’s nightmares.”

— Shamus reviews Silent Hill, Origins

Oh, a title goes here?

Weighty decisions

Rogue Fitness got another shipment of kettlebells in, and I grabbed a 40-kilo one before they ran out. Hopefully it won’t be Brickmuppet hefting my 88 pounds of cast iron onto a UPS truck…


The most profitable crafting recipe I’ve found in the Pokemon DLC is:

1 Cheri Berry + 3 Dynamax Candy

The berries can either be collected in small quantities for free or purchased in large quantities for 80 each. Dynamax Candy is the reward for doing raids, and can’t be sold, so you end up hitting the inventory maximum (999) pretty quickly. To add insult to injury, a recent event significantly increased the amount awarded after most raids. The recipe produces TR88 (“Heat Crash”), worth 3000.

There are some profitable recipes that can be made with just berries, but not berries you can buy bulk, so you’re limited by how many you’ve found by shaking trees once a day.

The most useful recipe is a chain:

1 Iapapa Berry + 3 Dynamax Candy = Wide Lens
1 Wide Lens + 3 Rare Candy = Bottle Cap
Bottle Cap + (anything) + 2 Bottle Cap = Gold Bottle Cap

This is quite expensive, since Rare Candy sells for 5000, but it’s another thing you get for free from raids, so you can build up quite a stack. Bottle Caps are how you optimize the stats for the pokemon in your party; Gold Bottle Caps max out the potential of all six stats at once. You can buy them with a currency that’s earned at the battle tower, but only if you spend a lot of time grinding there. Much easier to just make a few when you’re building a new party.

The best team for catching free-range organic Dittos is a Feebas with only non-attack moves (at least two; it’s one of the few mons that can actually have all four moves be useless) and a Gallade with False Swipe, Hypnosis, Thunder Wave, and Sunny Day. Start by throwing a Quick Ball. If that doesn’t work, swap in the Gallade and use False Swipe, then throw a Repeat Ball. If that doesn’t work, use Hypnosis or Thunder Wave to sleep/paralyze it, and then throw another Repeat Ball. Sunny Day is useful if the weather would damage the Ditto after you’ve reduced it to a single hit point, but so far I haven’t seen that on the new Ditto island in the DLC.

This is a much better place to catch them than the Lake Of Outrage, because there aren’t any nuisance spawns in the area that will chase you around, and the Ditto spawn rate is much higher. The raid den also spawns them more frequently than the only one in the base game, although I haven’t checked to see if they’ve nailed down the rates for the new DLC dens.


I’ve run out of Stargate: SG-1 episodes I want to rewatch while on the elliptical. I’ve found it difficult to rewatch the Atlantis spin-off, so I need to find something new/old that will give me ~45 minutes of mild entertainment and is streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Starz, BritBox, Hulu, Netflix, Crunchyroll, HiDive, or dLibrary Japan. Hmmm, perhaps it’s time to cancel a few of those…

First up: Bodacious Space Pirates. Two episodes at a time works well for this series.

Black Powder Nation

I have never heard so many unofficial fireworks going off, many quite elaborate. And quite close. The smell will linger for weeks.

I am very glad it’s been damp and humid recently, and that I watered the yard today.


By the time I went to bed, the weather app on my phone had been reporting “unhealthy air quality” for several hours. Seems all the particulate sensors in the area were reading ~5x the usual amount of stuff in the air…

Ah, social media…

Nextdoor is full of complaints this morning, both about the massive fireworks displays and the city’s failure to stop them all. “Don’t these people know that it’s illegal?!?!?!?!?”

Random Thoughts, Explosion Day edition

Brought to you by Megumin, the patron saint of Home Fireworks Displays:

Gosh, how did this get detected as spam?

Received: from redacted.clientshostname.com (unknown [])
Received: from [] (localhost [IPv6:::1])
From: “PROF. DAVID HAMILTON” <redacted@easynet.es>
Reply-To: redacted@sol.dk
Message-Id: <redacted​@​redacted.clientshostname​.com>

So that’s a Spanish from address, a German reply-to address, and a Japanese word in the subject, sent from an IP address in Russia, routed through another in Netherlands whose domain is registered to a company in Cyprus, then handed off to pobox.com (a US/Australian company who will apparently accept anything from anybody). The body of the message tells you that The Good Professor is a retired British lawyer, so this international effort is clearly on the up-and-up.

Oh, and it was sent to my cpan.org email address.

Best part?

I am searching for any family member of my late client Mr. Susumu who has the same family surname with you

Yeah, I’d fall for that in a heartbeat. If my “family surname” was Susumu, maybe.

The address block at the end of the message looks entirely authentic as well.

Prof. David Hamilton (RETIRED)
52 Denedin House, Manwood
street,Noth Woolwich,London E162LB
United Kingdom.

No. Just… no.

My absolute loyalty to the Pepsi brand dates back to the day I won $500 in the Pepsi Spirit bottle-cap contest, but despite the amount of merch I own, I cannot imagine purchasing this product for any price.

The only product less attractive than this is the hand-made soy candle in an old Pepsi can with “custom scent” ($15 plus $8 shipping).

(Technically it was a joint effort. My sister and I collected everything but the rare “R”, and one day when my brother was home on leave, he drove us to school, buying a Mountain Dew on the way and flicking the bottle cap into the back of the car. I found it a week later and it was the “R”, so we split it three ways)

In home-baking news

My latest order from King Arthur Flour arrived, containing 9 pounds of durum flour and a pound of SAF Red instant yeast. And since several of my recent grocery-store trips have resulted in the discovery of KAF AP and bread flour on the shelves, and Costco had 2-pound bricks of Red Star active dry yeast, I’m pretty darn stocked in the bread department for quite a while. I’ve got a loaf of durum sesame bread cooling on the counter right now, and a nice selection of Boar’s Head lunch meats to combine it with.

And while updating my LinkedIn profile for the first time in fifteen years, I stumbled across a job opening that I should have no difficulty demonstrating my qualifications for, given that the Director of Engineering who posted it is someone I trained and shared an office with. More on that after I talk to him Monday.

KAF Durum Sesame Bread (2-pound loaf)

This is not the recipe available on their web site, but the one on the back of the flour bag (metric weights are the amounts that I use, checking the dough consistency when the bread machine’s mix-in beep goes off):

1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups water, 105 to 110 degree (355 grams)
1 tbsp sugar (12 grams)
2 tsp salt (12 grams)
2 ½ cups durum flour (310 grams)
1 to 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (180 grams)
2 tsp instant yeast (6 grams)

1 tbsp sesame seeds (9 grams) – topping

  1. Combine everything but the sesame seeds, knead, let rise until doubled in size. (I use the dough cycle on my bread machine)

  2. Shape into a smooth 12-inch torpedo, brush with water, sprinkle with sesame seeds and press them lightly into the dough. (I load it into my KAF small pullman pan)

  3. Let rise until almost doubled, slash in 3 places before baking. (pullman: let it rise within ½-inch of the top, put on the lid)

  4. Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 10 minutes, lower heat to 400°F and bake 20-25 minutes more. (pullman: 25 minutes at 350°F, remove the lid and let it go another 8-10 minutes, pulling it out when the center reads 190°F)

  5. Cool on a wire rack.

I like the pullman pan for this, because it makes a very sturdy sandwich loaf that can be sliced quite thin, toasted, and filled with plenty of chicken salad or sliced lunchmeat.

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.


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)

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