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I was impelled, a few minutes ago, to comment on a recent post by LJ friend emo-snal and noticed, which tapping out my comment, that there was an additional section displayed between the post and the comments, which displayed three other posts from Kris's LJ that carry the “bellingham wa” tag.

I have no idea whether this is some kind of new default feature, or something you have to configure by hand, or whether it works with cross-posts or only with "native" LJ posts (I'm not sure how one would tell the difference, really, but I digress...).

So, just for laughs, I'm going to tag this post with the first word that comes to mind (chess) and then go over to LJ and see what I can see.


UPDATE #1. Visited my page on LJ, clicked on "Leave a comment" for this post. No additional section was displayed. A possible problem with this "experiment" is that if you're looking at your own post, LJ won't show the additional section.

The ladies went out...

Jul. 26th, 2017 04:49 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
...I stayed at home. Under the weather. Something I ate, no doubt.

Taking it easy, after a translation and some DTP.

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[personal profile] halfshellvenus
Improbable Statistics
idol season ten | week 25 |1026 words
The Waffle House Index


It was a weird job, but someone had to do it, and yes—that someone was me. I'm Cal Estingham, one of the foremost experts in the dark art of Predictive Mathematics.

Now, I know what you're probably thinking: So, how can I get rich off of that? The answer is, you can't. You can make a living at it, sure, but that's not the same. And it's not something that can be taught.

Heck, I can barely explain it.

Analysts crunch data. They look at statistical models and trends, and try to guess the projected year-over-year rate of inflation, or whether the yen will rise against U.S. currency—or Alice Cooper will tour again. Sometimes they get creative, like looking at the length of women's skirts to gauge the health of the economy. Though that's more reactive than predictive, but you get the idea.

Compared to my work, it's almost ordinary.

Predictive Mathematics deals in long-term observation and strange side-effects. For instance, you might use the curl of feathers at the base of a mallard's tail to determine the wetness of the coming year. I tracked slang sequences and the average price of beer as an indicator of upcoming cycles in crime. I often consulted the BBI—the Brooks Brothers Index—as a factor in other calculations. The sales' volumes of men's suits frequently reflects the degree of local and national economic stability.

We're not talking about examining sheep's entrails or anything like that, but you know—it wasn't exactly straightforward.

Read more... )

If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

Moving along smoothly...

Jul. 25th, 2017 10:16 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
...or what passes for smoothly on a Tuesday.

Natalie's tenants required some TLC, so between going over there and some associated stopovers, Galina was pretty much out-of-pocket for the whole day. This left me free to, among other things, rummage through papers and take most of the junk out of the closet in my office.

The reality is not as one might imagine. Galina just stopped by to "remind" me that much of the junk that I had dislodged from various boxes now lie on my bed, which means I've got some work ahead of me before I can lay me down to sleep.

No biggie. I'll move the stuff and then resume the quest tomorrow, unless something better comes along.

Natalie and I have been discussing possibilities for the August 21 eclipse.

And mirabile dictu!, Mathew called me this evening to talk to me. I am officially Very Pleasantly Surprised™.


The start to a new week!

Jul. 24th, 2017 08:32 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
Or, if one follows ISO 8601, it's 2017W301.

I sent off the strange birth certificate translation, then went with the ladies on what was supposed to be a trip to the Webster house, but ended up being a 75-minute walk around various stores (for exercise, Galina said).

Then it was back to the barn, where I rummaged through some papers and took a nap.

I can do better than this.


Stee-rike three!

Jul. 23rd, 2017 03:24 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
When I first caught sight of a store called Batteries + Bulbs, I filed the location away for later, because I thought the idea of a store that carries a broad range of batteries was pretty nifty, especially considering the weird selection of batteries that various items have coughed up in recent years when I've disassembled them to determine what replacement batteries I needed to buy.

Well, this morning, the local franchise managed for the third time to not have a battery I needed, so frankly, I'm pretty sure it'll not be worth my time to go there ever again. (If I want AA batteries, I can get a better deal at Sam's Club.)


Arrrrgh! Die die die!!!!

Jul. 23rd, 2017 01:26 am
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[personal profile] halfshellvenus
>.< I have officially reached the end of my patience with being stung while bicycling. Today's event was a sudden, burning stab that hurt so much it made me yell! And then move off the bike path and start lifting away my jersey to make sure the little f*@ker wasn't still in there, waiting to get me again.

I had on a really lightweight sports bra, which was not thick enough to blunt the sting. Usually, there's a *stab* and I think, "Wait, did I just get stung?" Today, the little monster got me square on the boob— enough that afterward, I wondered if it hadn't made a preliminary sting first, before going for the big one. Third or fourth sting this year! Pass the insecticide, please— I'm ready to rid the world of yellow jackets, once and for all. :(

I got some follow-up information to the sewer event that happened a couple of weeks ago. The guy that came to replace the dead plants has worked for about three years at the company the county subcontracted for the sewer job. He said that those blown-in sleeve replacements work really well about 90-95% of the time, but when they don't, things turn very bad very quickly. It's either "Yay!" or it's "OMG, there goes the rest of the day." /o\

This explains why the worker that came to the door was SO despondent on his second visit, when the project suddenly was not going well. The plant guy said that people he's worked with have had heart attacks from the stress. Yikes.

I'm working on this week's Idol story, and I really need to do travel planning for August and for our son's orientation trip to UCLA. I hate that kind of logistical planning, I don't know why. This was one of the reasons I wanted to elope when we got married— I had NO desire to do wedding planning, even for a low-key event.

On a visit up to Portland last October, I discovered that my mother and both sisters share my pathological hatred of grocery shopping. I knew my mother didn't like any form of shopping, but I thought I was the only one of the kids who felt the same way. Going to the grocery store makes me feel like my soul is draining right out through my feet. Ughhhhh.

A solid hit!

Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:33 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
Over the past couple of months, I've repeatedly run into references to "Blue Apron" during the course of daily life. The name refers to a company that appears to be making a go of sending subscribers the raw materials for meals, delivered on a weekly basis.

A recent combination of (a) the company being mentioned in a comment by by LJ friend adoptedwriter and (b) an introductory $30 off offer I caught on the radio tipped the balance for me, so I signed us up and the first box arrived today. At Galina's urging, I made the "Saffron & Tomato Bucatini Pasta with Summer Squash and Basil."


My first move was to substitute whole wheat spaghetti for the bucatini (I am trying to stay clear of white flour). I then added one more squash (the box contained one zucchini, which just felt wrong). From there, however, I followed the recipe through to the end and served it to Galina, Alla, and myself.

The response from the ladies was quite vehement—they liked it! I liked the result as well.

This one is a keeper!

So far, so good, with Blue Apron.


Not quite under the weather,...

Jul. 21st, 2017 07:21 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
...not quite entirely okay, either.

Keeping my thermometer handy.

I went for a haircut and the same woman who gave me a buzz cut some months ago worked on me again, and expressed genuine happiness (I think) that I appeared hale and hearty. There wasn't much to cut, but the experience lifted my spirits.

I'm going to take it easy and look forward to tomorrow morning.


A pretty straightforward day...

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:27 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
Paid some bills. Had fun trying to deal with some web sites. Seriously considered buying a laptop that's way too expensive. Did some reading. Did some writing, using both pens and a keyboard.

Not in that order, necessarily.


Meanwhile, at the desk...

Jul. 20th, 2017 03:47 pm
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[personal profile] halfshellvenus
I was listening to various Chris Cornell offerings on YouTube last week (as you do), and came across some things I'd never heard before. The first thing I stumbled on really hit me, especially after his recent suicide. It's not the background scoring you'd expect, and I don't really like it, but the song brought such pangs. So heartfelt. The second is one that probably EVERYONE but me knew existed, but nonetheless, I would never have considered interpreting this song with so much bluesy pain. Wow.

In TV viewing, we're near the end of S5 of Homeland. I've been watching with one foot on the brakes for a while this season. S4 made me ache over a character in a way I never would have imagined. Then his life got darker and lonelier, and I'm pretty sure S5 won't end well for him. It all seems so unfair. :(

Bookwise, I think I'm about to abandon Metrophage. I'm more than a third into it, and the characters are still farting around in service of exposition-y world-building. Too much! People, Jasper Fforde pulled that off in the two opening pages of Shades of Grey. Lay out your shiny new context naturally and concisely, and then augment it as you go— by showing it via components of the plot, not in place of it. :(

I just finished A Cast of Vultures, which was an entertaining mystery. Before that, The Fall of Lisa Bellow. That was mostly YA-genre, but the POVs include the main character's mother and show her with depth and with details that sometimes hit painfully close to home. Loved the brother.

Fake Plastic Love was one of the most interesting things I've read recently. People are calling it Gatsby-esque. It features young, earnest millennials finding their way in a soulless world, with a few unusual thinkers who reject modern values and search for the beauty of earlier times. You might expect it to be insufferable, but the narrator is a pragmatic young woman who really fit into either camp, and sees the attraction and folly of both. The first chapter is a little bit of work, but it sets up the framework for the rest of the story and launches the question of why you would wind up excluding your onetime best friend from your wedding. After that, it's hard to put down!

And now, a different "reading" pleasure: Funny Messages Left On The Windshields Of Terrible Parkers. Snark, rage, passive-aggression, and the occasional outbreak of random OCD. What's not to like?

Insomnia advice...

Jul. 19th, 2017 09:21 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
Back when Champ and I hung out at his parents' house for extended periods, I could not help but notice that his mom, who bedded down on the family couch in the living room, turned on the television on those nights when she was plagued with insomnia (and there were many of those).

At the time, I suspected the tactic merely encouraged the insomnia, because once the tube went on, Champ's mom was focused on what what being broadcast and kept her eyes open until the test pattern came on, at oh-dark-thirty. Consequently, in my own experience with sleeplessness, I avoid turning on the television or otherwise entertaining myself, lest I lose all hope of falling asleep.

The trouble with my approach is that not doing anything—basically just lying there with eyes closed but experiencing not the least desire to fall asleep—is boring at best and a source of fitful tossing and turning at worst.

At today's follow-up at MD Anderson, I mentioned that, for the past two chemo sessions, the night following chemo ends up being a sleepless night, as I remain alert and awake through most of the night, with the feeling that I had dozed for a few minutes here and there.

My suspicion that this was due to the steroids that are administered as part of the process proved to be correct, but then I received some interesting advice as to the best way to deal with insomnia. It boiled down to this:

(1) Do not watch television or read electronic books. Electronic screens, I was told, tend to encourage wakefulness as a result of their flickering, which is subconsciously perceptible.

(2) Read a paper book, preferably on a less-than-exciting subject (i.e., avoid the latest spy thriller or mystery).

* * *

In other news, yesterday I mentioned something that felt like a cramp in the calf of my left leg. The problem was still there this morning, and crawling out of the rack was something of a limp-fest because of it. Once I worked the muscles for a few minutes by walking around, the pain had subsided to the level of "noticeable" and my gait was almost unaffected.

Any subsequent prolonged period of rest would result in a partial reversal, so for example when I stepped out of the car after a 50-minute drive from the house to the Texas Medical Center, the pain was back, but it again dulled during the walk from the parking garage to the elevators inside the building.

Funny thing, though—after only a couple of hours had elapsed from the end of the chemo session, the pain went away completely and has not returned.

I was about to conclude that this was evidence of a link between that pain and the fresh chemo attacking my cancer, but realized that more than anti-cancer agents were infused into me (I've mentioned this above), so it's possible, I suppose, for there to be a link, say, between the pain going bye-bye and the steroid component of the treatment.

In any event, I am not complaining, but I will keep track of this.

I've started reading Ryan Holiday's Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts. I'm finding it hard to put down. It's pretty far from boring, but if for some reason I can't readily fall asleep tonight, I'll keep turning the pages until Morpheus comes calling.

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It occurred to me yesterday that various orders placed over the past ten days seem to have all shipped at approximately the same time, which is going to make Thursday and Friday pretty busy, package-wise.

In other news, three years ago, I bought a program called USB Secure. I apparently fired it up and entered an access password to the program, which I apparently did not write down anywhere. I asked the publisher how to go about resetting the password, a response dropped into my inbox just after midnight, which suggests the writer is either a night person or lives in Europe, but the instructions therein didn't work, possibly because they assume I registered the product with the publisher, and I'm pretty sure I did no such thing.

In reviewing the program's documentation and the publisher's web site, it would appear to be impossible to register as a user without having gotten "into" the program (using the password, naturally). So, I sent another inquiry. Unfortunately, it would appear that there's nobody home at the company's premises during the day (phone calls go to voice mail) and the "chat" feature on the web site shows "offline" all the time.

If it wasn't for the response to my initial question, I'd grade the company as "F" for customer service.

In other news, I woke up with some kind of problem with the calf muscle in my left leg, which has found me limping around the house (and during my walk). Annoying as buttercups.

At the urging of an acquaintance, I started reading Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy. It is not the easiest text to wade through.
Only now is the child finally divested of all that he has been. His origins are become remote as is his destiny and not again in all the world's turning will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to man's will or whether his own heart is not another kind of clay.
Not all of McCarthy's sentences are that long; in fact, most are quite short and deliver their meaning in the form of verbal rabbit punches.
The passengers are a diffident lot. They cage their eyes and no man asks another what it is that brings him here. He sleeps on the deck, a pilgrim among others. He watches the dim shore rise and fall. Gray seabirds gawking. Flights of pelicans coastwise above the gray swells.
This style is not conducive to running across a lot of commas. By comparison, Astolph de Custine's Letters from Russia is breezy in its exposition.

Slowly, but surely...

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:14 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
I am starting to fall into both a semblance of physical order in my office and a reasonable routine of daily activities.

Both show me just how much I have left to do.

Tonight was our monthly (more or less) pizza night. Good eating!



Jul. 16th, 2017 03:15 pm
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[personal profile] halfshellvenus
So, those goats being deployed along the bike path who were destroying elderberry groves along with the brush they were supposed to be eating? I ratted them out to the people who manage the parkway, who were extremely grateful. The animal supplier will be restricting the goats better, and maybe substituting sheep in some areas. I rode past that spot today, and there were a lot of broken branches from where they'd damaged things last weekend. There are goats again there now, in an open brush area. These mostly looks as if they might be dwarf goats— I saw a baby one standing up that was about 14 inches to the top of its head! Every bit as cute and silly-looking as you would think.

Yesterday, I biked in the garage because the parkway was closed until noon for Eppie's Great Race, a local mini-triathlon. I keep wondering why they don't move that to May or June instead of mid-July? I was able to go out post-race last year, but this year it was about 96o at noon, so already too hot. Sacramento leaders are wringing their hands because we lost next year's USA Track and Field Championship to some other city, but in good conscience, we should not be bidding on that. It was here this year, in June, across the period that was over 100-degrees every day and included the Thursday that was 108! Portland and Eugene are excellent locations for that, or maybe Seattle. But geez, have some consideration for the athletes. Don't host that here. :(

In other biking news, I had a blowout during my Wednesday right, and discovered that the rear tire was WAY overdue to be replaced. It was a disgrace— there were 4-5 other bald spots apart from the one that blew out. I was by the side of a busy road, in the open sun, cutting up the plastic mailer piece in my tool kit to patch those spots. Inside the kit, my tire-repair glue had leaked all over everything (same as the last few years— it leaks out of its container in the heat), so my mini Swiss Army Knife scissors were sticky, but usable. The plastic pieces, less so. They're really durable, but I hadn't counted on them repeatedly slipping out of the tire while I put the other ones in and tried to get the new inner tube in there. I finally got everything back together just as two guys in a pickup pulled over to see if I needed a lift. I said I wasn't sure— maybe swing back in a couple of minutes? I had everything fixed, but those liner patches were untested. The guys correctly decided that sounded ridiculous, and so we loaded my bike in the back of the truck and they drove me the 8 miles back to the office. They were probably in their mid-late 20s, very nice, and I was lucky they stopped. Still, as we pulled up to the entrance and unloaded the bike, that return felt like the cyclist's Walk of Shame. It pretty much is. /o\

So, new tire now. I cleaned out the tool kit, and I put in new plastic-lined paper (like those Fed-Ex envelopes), for the next time I need it. I probably should go back to the old standby for that issue— a dollar bill. You'd be surprised how well that works as a temporary fix.

HalfshellHusband's biking has been "iffy," since he fell off his bike twice during a ride last weekend. He's been having trouble with sudden loss of equilibrium, though this was the first time it hit him while riding. He says he isn't dizzy, it's more like his internal gyroscope has stopped working. Kaiser has sent him to an audiologist, and ENT person, and last week to a neurologist (who was curt and dismissive, so yay). This started maybe 3 weeks ago? Four? It can go on for most of the day, though it's usually better by the afternoon. When it's bad, it's really bad. I hope Kaiser gets to the bottom of this. It seems as if it might be caused by the conflicting need for a low-sodium diet (and preventing fluid retention) and his already low blood-pressure. All of the health management for his congestive heart failure has been really tough on him. :(

Some happier news: our son got back from his week in Yosemite last weekend, which was nice for everyone. It also cut way down on the cat's "exploratory howling." We watched The Man Who Knew Infinity with him last weekend (he knew about the mathematician involved, and I didn't— despite years of higher-level college math). Last night, it was Nightcrawler. Who knew Jake Gyllenhaal could play such a weird, creepy character, and do it so convincingly? Good story, but many cringe-worthy scenes that were like object lessons in how NOT to behave in social situations. Wow.

HSH and I are in the middle of Netflix streaming Hinterland, a moody Welsh police drama. Apparently, it is filmed in both a Welsh version and an English version, though only the English one is being streamed. I would totally watch the Welsh with subtitles, but that would be fun for me and decidedly UNfun for HSH. We just finished River, a Netflix original with Stellan Skarsgård. REALLY enjoyed that one. It's just 6 episodes, so well worth trying.

All right, time to gird my loins and go to Walmart. I make the trip about 3 times a year, for things not available at Target. Wish me luck and fortitude...


Jul. 16th, 2017 01:02 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
After mounting a few stamps in a Rhodia journal that I had been scribbling in, I appear to have stopped scribbling in it. I have also stopped mounting stamps in it.

So, I ask myself, "Why?"

Off the top of my noggin, I suspect the former is because I don't want to violate a book with mounted stamps with unorganized scribbling, and the latter is because I don't want to end up with a journal that (a) appears ungainly because of stuff that's stuck between the pages, and (b) is worth entirely too much, in terms of catalog value.

Hmmm. Food for thought.


A lazy Saturday...

Jul. 15th, 2017 09:45 pm
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[personal profile] alexpgp
I did not get a whole lot accomplished today, and I'm perfectly okay with that.

What I did get done took place mostly in the kitchen, where I made two loaves of bread (it's uncanny how fast loaves disappear around here) and dinner, consisting of boiled shrimp with sides of mixed veggies (from the freezer) and quinoa.

For some time, Feht has been compiling a catalog of Russian Imperial Postage Stamps (1857–1919), including major varieties and constant plate flaws. I received a beta copy and have already provided some feedback. My own impression, after examining the book, is that collecting early Russian stamps is a lot more complicated than collecting the corresponding period of French stamps, because various aspects (e.g., perforations and types and thicknesses of paper) of what appear to be the same stamp actually vary between issues (e.g., the fourth definitive issue of 1864 is perforated 12-1/4 x 12-1/2, while the fifth definitive issue of 1865 is perforated 14-1/2 x 15).

For me, it's finding one's way through all such detail that makes stamp collecting such a relaxing pastime.

Tomorrow, however, I think I'll put some stuff up on Etsy and eBay.

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