If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that the most recent Friday Five was an almost unreadable mess. The reason is kind of a funny (infuriating) story.
I logged out of my work computer on Friday evening sometime around 6pm, as I often do, then switched to my Macbook Pro to start working on the usual Friday Five post. As usual I started by going through my list of bookmarked news stories for a bit to get an idea of which ones I definitely wanted to include.
I took a break to sort laundry and discuss dinner plans with my husband. Then I took the laundry down to the laundry room and got it started, came back up, assembled a burrito from the massive pile of burrito fixin’s my husband had made for our lunch and scarfed it down. Then I swapped the laundry from the washers to the dryers, and sat back down to actually type up the Friday Five in HTML in a text editor.
Around 9pm Pacific Time, while I was in the middle of working on the Friday Five Wordpess.com killed the Classic Editor (in the background; I didn’t find out until I was finished typing and went to set up metatags and such), which is what I was used to using… And even though the new Block Editor has a Block that is called "Classic" if you put HTML in there, it publishes it the way that last Friday’s post turned out.
Between working on the post, dinner, and dealing with the laundry, by the time I was ready to publish the post, it was my usual bedtime, and the editor I was using disappeared. I don’t want to explain all the hoops I had to go through to salvage my HTML code which suddenly just vanished, and then try to get the web site to let me publish it. I just reached a point where I said, "Screw it! The HTML publishes fine of Dreamwidth, but you can click on the links at WordPress and they work; it just looks horrible." And I went to bed.
Here’s the thing: I’m old. I’ve been publishing stuff to the web since the 1990s, but I really started in the late 1980s writing help files for a small software company in SGML, which is an ancestor of both HTML and XML. So I type HTML tags really fast. It’s all muscle memory. I don’t think "less-than sign space a space href equals sign quotation mark" to type the beginning of a hyperlink referenece, I just think "link" and my fingers type out
<a href=" almost faster than I can say the word "link" out loud.
In part that’s because I learned to type on old manual typewriters before the advent of electric typewriters or personal computers, so I type at about 105 words per minute on modern keyboards. It’s just a thing.
The new WordPress editor does offer a Markdown block element, and if I type Markdown in to that, it works fine. The problem on Friday was that I already had the entire post ready to go in HTML, and retyping the whole thing in Markdown would have taken more time. There ought to be an option with any Web publishing tool to publish HTML. But stupidity, apparently, reigns.
Some folks will ask why I haven’t been typing the Friday Five posts in Markdown before this, because "everyone uses Markdown now" and the whole point of Markdown is that it is fewer keystrokes than HTML and the raw text is even easier for a human who doesn’t know anything about coding or the Web to parse. I know! A few years ago I was pulled aside at work to help with a side project one of the vice presidents was working on, and they wanted to do the help in Markdown. I reviewed John Gruber’s web page of the syntax, opened up my favorite plain text editor, and I wrote help in Markdown. Because the help was fairly simple there wasn’t much of a learning curve. And while, yeah, Markdown is a lot fewer keystrokes, that one project wasn’t enough to get Markdown into muscle memory. I have to think about the Markdown syntax, as simple as it is, to write this blog post.
I know HTML well enough that I don’t have to think to type it. And yes, that means that right now I still can type
<a href=" as fast or nearly as fast as I can think, "Uh, let’s see, the link text goes in the square brackets while the link goes in ordinary parenthesis, I think?"
It won’t be long before I’m not pausing to remember what to type for the less often used things, but it’s a new habit I need to learn. And like most humans I am lazy. I’d rather keep using the thing I already know than to get as good at the new thing as I already am with the old thing.
So this is that part where you imagine me as Grandpa Simpson shouting at a cloud.
But writing this post has been good practice for the next Friday Five.
Last week I wrote about the fact that I had only just that Monday finished off the last of the many bags of Christmas/Holiday Blend coffee beans I bought in November and December. Later that week there was another transition related to coffee in my house. To explain, I have to take you back to September of 2014, just over six years ago, when the coffee maker I’d been using for some years died. We went out and bought a new one. One of the things I really liked about the new one was that it used carbon water filters between the water reservoir and the carafe which were the same filters that the previous two machines we’d owned had used. A lot of coffee machines by many different manufacturers have settled on that filter, so it wasn’t super difficult to find one.
I’ve been using that one ever since. Sometime last spring, during the couple of months that my husband was furloughed from his job and we were both home full time, he pointed out that the hot plate that the carafe rests on was getting rusty. I took a look and saw a little bit of rust, and noted that the black enamel that coated the plate was flaking off, but otherwise figured it was a minor problem.
My usual routine is to rinse out the carafe and the filter basket every day before I make new coffee, and to run the carafe, filter basket, and the gold filter through the dishwasher about once a week. I don’t usually clean the hot plate because, well, the coffee that I drink never touches it directly, and I’m lazy.
Some months after Michael had pointed out the rust, while the carafe and other bits were in the dishwasher, I decided to do a thorough cleaning of the rest of the coffee maker. The hat plate, once scrubbed, looked a lot worse. Essentially, every time I pull the carafe out or put it back in place, a little bit of coffee spills out and lands of the hot plate. Trapped between the hot plate and the carafe, the coffee boils away and burns and coats the hot plate with a layer of black burnt coffee. There was way more burnt coffee than enamel left on the warming plate, and a whole lot more rust than I had realized (because most of it was hidden beneath the burnt coffee).
The hot plate has a heating element attached to the underside, which means an electrical current runs through it. Depending on how bad the rusting gets, this might eventually pose an electrical hazard. Still, looking at it, I figured we were a long way away from in being a problem. Which was not really a wise thought, I know. But nothing continued to go wrong and slowly the issue faded away into the back of my mind.
Then, on Christmas Eve, while we were online with a bunch of friends, wishing each other Happy Holidays and occasionally opening presents, my husband carried over from behind our tree a large box that had been sitting there for some weeks with a tag identifying it as a present from him to me, and told me I had to open it in front of our friends.
Inside the box was not just a coffeemaker, but the exact same model as we currently owned… even though the manufacturer had stopped making it about a year ago. Several places on line still had unopened boxes, so he’d ordered it. I wound up telling the story above to our friends. And since it was Christmas Eve, I didn’t want to drop everything to go take the old maker down and open the new one.
The problem is… I left the new one in its box through Christmas, New Year’s… and Valentine’s Day… and it was still sitting in its unopened box last Monday when I made a pot of coffee using the very last of the Christmas Blend coffee beans. After posting that blog post, I realized what I needed to do next. So, that evening, I unplugged the old coffee maker, disassembled various bits, and set the water filters (I didn’t mention that this unit uses two: one for the coffee reservoir, and the other for the separate hot tea maker) in water to soak overnight.
The next day I made the first pot of post-holiday coffee with the new coffee maker. And everything works find. The coffee is good. It is, after all, identical to the old one just brand new. Let’s hope it’s another six years at least before I need to replace it.
It was anti-climatic. But then, I should have just unboxed the coffee maker a couple months ago, right?
While normally I would chalk it up to procrastination, I’m going to also throw a little bit of blame at the quarantine and how time has become a fog the longer I’m working from home, never going outside without a mask, limiting my shopping trips generally to once a week, and so on.
Speaking of, I didn’t think of commemorating my own quarantine anniversary until about a week afterward. So, this week is the 57th week of working from home, for me.
That’s right, just a little more than a month before our governor issued the first Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, I developed a severe cough overnight. So on the morning of February 19, 2020, I sent my boss an email saying I would be working from home until the cough went away. It was exactly one month after the first COVID-19 case had been identified in our state, in a man who lived only a few miles from our place. The cough (along with body aches) persisted for a bit more than two weeks. I never developed a fever, and never experienced the shortness of breath and deep lung pains that two friends who were later confirmed to have come down with COVID in the following month.
During the course of those two weeks, the corporate overlords at work had issues a series of all-employees emails, first announcing we were canceling our company’s participation in a big international tech conference we usually exhibited at (the conference itself was canceled eventually); then saying that any employee who needed to work from home could start doing so without going through the usual approval process; then encouraging people to work from home if they could, especially if they are anyone in their household was exhibiting symptoms.
It wasn’t long after that before the corporate line shifted to not just encouraging, but putting everyone, including those who could not work from home (people maintaining our data centers, for instance( on a schedule where only half of the employees can be in the office at a time.
And yeah, I’m making cocktails for myself more often than I used to. Because there is a lot of anxiety in my life. Even though I was very introverted, not being able to spend time face to face with friends has been stressful. I come from a long line of professional worriers, so I’m always fretting about people I know getting sick.
It’s a feeling that virtually everyone is sharing. And it isn’t fun.
But, it’s better than the alternatives.
Before I get into the fuckwits and deplorables in the news, this is a story some folks may find useful: COVID-19 or allergies? How to tell the difference between symptoms – With the arrival of springtime, people are starting to question whether coughs and sniffles are mere allergies, or something more scary.
I need to say, for the record, that because I have an allergic hay fever reaction to every pollen, spore, and mold out there, that the COVID or hay fever game is one I have played almost every single day since February 2020, it’s not just a springtime thing for me. And when the hay fever is severe, I happen to get some of those symptoms the article says usually only happen with the flu or COVID. But if you are a more typical hay fever sufferer, I hope the article is useful.
Let’s move on…
You remember all those lawsuits that were supposed to prove that Donald didn’t lose? And how every judge and justice (including a bunch appointed by Donald himself) threw all those cases our for lack of evidence, lack of reason, lack of logic, and lack of a legal argument that could hold any water at all? Well, one of the lies that were repeated (and easily refuted) again and again by the lawyers and others pushing the issue was that a certain company’s voting machine had mucked with the vote totals but only in the states where Donald lost. That fact was easily refuted because not one of the states in question was using that company’s machines or software. None.
So, they’re suing for defamation. And things are not looking good for the lying lawyers: Kraken Lawyer Sidney Powell is ‘in a whole lot of trouble’ after her latest legal maneuver: attorney.
This headline tells you the crux of her argument for why the lawsuits should be thrown out: ‘Should Be Disbarred’: Internet Furious After Sidney Powell Insists ‘No Reasonable Person’ Would Have Believed Her.
Insisting that she knew the lies weren’t true and arguing that no reasonable person would believe them in this filing can now be used against her in all the sanctions investigations going elsewhere. Because as an officer of the court, you aren’t supposed to knowingly lie in your filings…
Anyway, all anyone needs to do to disprove that no one took those lies seriously is to look at the murder mob that invaded the U.S. capitol on January 6. Remember that?
People are still being tracked down and arrested: Former NYPD officer from Queens charged in Capitol riot, officials say.
And at least one Congressman, himself a veteran of the Marine Corps, wants military and former military personnel who participated in the murder mob to face other consequences: Democratic Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego wants any former military members who participated in the January 6 Capitol riots to be stripped of their veterans’ benefits. His request comes as the U.S. military has begun examining the rise of extremism within its ranks.
Let’s move from merely deplorable to deplorable people making we go WTF?!After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle admitted in their interview with Oprah that racism of certain palace officials, the British press (and certain royals) was more than just a small contributing factor in their decision to leave Great Britain and essentially resign as royals, conservative talking heads in America of all places started stumbling all over themselves to defend the British Monarchy. You know, the same monarchy that our Founding Fathers—who conservative claim to revere—rejected? We published that Declaration of Independence that the conservatives all claim to love (but misquote), fought the Revolutionary War (that conservatives love to praise) to secure that independence, and then fought another war in 1812 to remind them that no, we really meant that we didn’t want to be subjects of a King or Queen any more, thank you very much?
Yeah, that monarchy is somehow now even more beloved than the Founding Fathers and must be defended from the Radical Left: Heritage Foundation Mocked for Defending British Monarchy From American ‘Radical Left’.
Seriously, the Onion can’t make up weirding stuff than this: Conservatives Are Showing Their “Patriotism” By… Defending The British Monarchy?
I get it, the monarchy is being accused of racism, and if they don’t speak up when Oprah calls out the Queen for racism, there will be no one to speak up for American Republicans when we call them out for racism… again.
While we’re on the topic of people judging others by the color of their skin…
This one is personal in a weird way. Most of my childhood was spent in the Central Rocky Mountain region of the country, and King Soopers supermarkets is a big chain there. Most of my childhood memories of going shopping with my Mom for groceries happened in a King Soopers. We don’t have those up here in the Pacific Northwest where I now live, so on those rare occasions the brand gets mentioned online, it immediately grabs all of my attention:
Of course the white-appearing suspect was taken alive. Yet: Boulder Shooting Suspect’s Arrest Sparks Comparisons to Elijah McClain’s Death – Comparisons are being made between the arrest of the suspect in the mass shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, and the death of Elijah McClain.
Let’s move on to another form of discrimination…
Colorado shooter posted anti-LGBTQ content on social media. Because of course he did!
First, some context: Even Republicans Mostly Fine With LGBTQ People Now, So PASS THE DAMN EQUALITY ACT. Seems like protecting LGBTQ civil rights would be a no-brainer for politicians and the like. Despite overwhelming majorities of the public support LGBTQ equality and for allowing transgender kids/teens to participate in school sports as the gender the identify, people still feel the urge to hate on LGBTQ people: Sweeping legislation allowing LGBTQ patients to be refused healthcare services over ‘conscience’ on Arkansas governor’s desk.
I’m going to try to give a review of episode one of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier without doing a recap and avoiding plot spoilers until the end. This episode is a good opening act, establishing where are characters are emotionally and situationally since the end of Avengers: Edngame. The trailers I had seen had made this seem mostly like a action adventure not unlike one of the theatrical Avengers movies, with more than a bit of the buddy cop vibe that some of the solo MCU movies pulled off. That isn’t quite what we get in the first episode.
I have to admit, while I have been looking forward to this show, I was wondering really what the writers had in mind for these two characters. What do they have in common other than they were each, at different stages of Captain America’s life his best buddy and sidekick. Which doesn’t seem like enough to build a good character repartee.
The first episode acknowledges this by showing us that the two characters are not interacting with each other at all. Bucky his working with a psychiatrist to try to recover both from years of being a brainwashed assassin, and the trauma of being one of the people snapped out of existence by Thanos, only to suddenly come back into existence five years later, to find a world that has moved on.
Which is another thing that he and Falcon/Sam Wilson have in common. In Sam’s case, he’s come back from the blip to find his parents dead, and his sister struggling to keep the fishing business that has been in their family for generations afloat, on top of being a single mother.
Before I talk about any of more of the set up, I should pause here to talk about the opening. On certain parts of the fannish internet a lot of women are losing their minds over the very opening where Sam is seen using and iron and an ironing board to iron a button-down dress shirt. There are memes out there already about how sexy women find it when a man knows how to iron his own shirt. As a man who owns an iron and an ironing board and has been known to iron dress shirts and slacks and such before going to certain important social events where one is expected to dress up, the scene didn’t quite have that effect on me. It seemed, to me, perfectly in character based on how self-sufficient Sam had been shown to be in the first MCU we ever saw him in, Captain America: Winter Soldier.
Sam was ironing the shirt because he was attending a ceremony at the Smithsonian related to the Captain America exhibit there. The scene’s purpose in the story is to establish that, despite having Cap himself hand over his shield at the end of Avengers Endgame and telling Sam to take over the role of Captain America, Sam doesn’t believe that he—or anyone else—should take up that mantle.
We next see Sam in an incredible aerial battle, where he is working with U.S. government forces to try to rescue an US Air Force officer from terrorists. It is an incredible scene that looks good enough to appear in one of the theatrical MCU releases. It clearly establishes that despite his misgivings, Sam is more than capable of stepping into Captain America’s shoes. The sequence will remind you a lot of the opening of Winter Soldier, and not just because the leader of the badguys is Batroc, who was the leader of the bad guys in that fight, as well.
Bucky’s sequences with his psychiatrist and some people he has tried to befriend do a great job of showing you how much of a struggle it is for him to try to lead an ordinary life. He’s trying to make amends for as many of the bad things he did during the years he was brainwashed by Hydra as he can. And his scene include a couple of particular heart wrenching moments in that regard. While Sam is working for the government as a contract operative, Bucky is apparently just working under conditions of a pardon. Regularly meeting with his psychiatrist is one of those conditions.
The first episode also sets us up with at a terrorist organization and at least one antagonist that we can assume will be the source of conflict for the rest of the series.
I was a bit worried when we reached the end of the episode, because I had assumed this series was going to be eight to ten episodes long, and they had done a good enough job putting pieces on the board in this one that I was worried the middle episodes would drag. I have since learned that the series is only six episode long, and presuming more of them with be about 43-minutes long as the first episode was, that probably is just enough to tell the story without needing any filler.
I do have a few spoilery comments on this one, which will be behind the cut-tag below. Before we get into that: may I remind you that this show appears on Disney+, and the Disney corporation is refusing to pay Alan Dean Foster and other authors money they are owed for media tie-in novels.
Seriously, every single sentence below is full of spoilers…
Seriously, turn back now!!!
I warned you!!!
Seriously, spoilers ahead!
There are several blog posts I should be finishing. Instead you’re going to get a silly post. Because goodness knows we could all use a bit of silliness.
I’m trying not to be worried about the likelihood—thanks to so many people throwing off their masks and/or going out the bars and restaurants—that COVID cases are going to surge again in coming weeks.
I’m not going out partying. We’re cooking a beef brisket and staying home. Yes, I’m wearing new silly shiny green shamrock earrings. And my husband and I each have a silly shamrock-adorned mask to wear today. But I’m staying home all day, and he’s doing his usual workday then coming home.
Here is hoping that come this time next year, we’re all playing at being leprechauns and/or chasing after the end of the rainbow.
One thing that is different this year is that I have adopted the habit of placing the coffee carafe and all other machine-washable bits of the coffee maker into the dishwasher on Sunday. Then make a couple of pots of tea for my caffeine intake that day. Also, Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) fell close to the last day of Thanksgiving that it can, so I had one less week than I do most years to get through the bulk of the holiday blend coffee. Therefore, I shouldn’t be surprised that it took several extra weeks to use up the holiday coffee this year.
But that isn’t my only coffee problem.
I have so, so many bags of non-holiday coffee beans. Partway through the holiday season I finally realized that there were at least three times as many bags of the non-holiday blends hiding on the shelf behind the holiday blends than I thought. And it really confused me for a moment. Then I realized what happened.
My favorite coffee, bar none, is Wings of the Morning Kona Coffee from Ka `Io Farms. Which is usually carried by Central Market (and which I originally discovered at Ballard Market back when we lived only four blocks away from that store). But the availability is kind of seasonal. It seems every year (but not at the same time of year), the bags of Wings of the Morning vanish from the store shelf for about three or four months. And the last time I found some on the shelf was in either late August or early September.
It’s a more expensive coffee than most of those I drink, so I save it as kind of a special treat. I have also often stretched the Wings of the Morning supply by mixing the beans with Lowry’s Dark Hawaiian Blend, which still tastes really good, but makes me feel less guilty about the cost per cup of the coffee.
Anyway, the reason I have so much extra coffee in the pantry is that every time I went to Central Market hoping to find Wings of the Morning, but found that spot empty, I would buy one or two bags of some of the other coffees they sell there. Of the stores I regularly shop at, Central Market has the widest selection of coffees from different roasting companies. And once in that some period Ballinger Thriftway had the Lowry’s coffees on sale really discounted, so I bought two bags that week.
Which all adds up to a whole lot of coffee beans in my pantry.
When I noticed, mid-December, just how much more coffee there was in the pantry than I thought, I added a new item to the Shopping List on my phone: “DO NOT BUY COFFEE.” So, unless, by chance, Wings of the Morning suddenly appears in the store in the next few months, I’m not going to be buying any new coffee. Because it will clearly take that long to make a significant dent in the coffee in the pantry.
And before anyone suggests that I used that as an excuse to drink extra: I drink, on average, one and a half pots of coffee per day all by myself. I really don’t think I need to increase my intake.
Otherwise, I might vibrate myself into another dimension.
Voter suppression efforts are rampant: How pitiful is this GOP tactic? – Not only Democratic but neutral and expert observers agree that voter fraud was no problem in the big picture and that very little fraud occurred in the 2020 vote..
Fight voter suppression laws in the states. Let’s not let America regress to Jim Crow – There’s no time to wait while state-level suppression bills gain steam. Fair and free elections will be an uphill climb unless Congress passes HR 1.
Spare us: After Trump, seven Republican lectures Democrats never need to hear again – It probably would be easier to list what Republicans are still qualified to pontificate on. Why the federal deficit is a huge problem? Hmmm. Never mind.
Last year, more than 338,000 copies of “Green Eggs and Ham” were sold across the United States, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks the sale of physical books at most retailers. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” sold more than 311,000 copies, and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” — always popular as a high school graduation gift — sold more than 513,000 copies.
“And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” one of the six books pulled by the estate, sold about 5,000 copies last year, according to BookScan. “McElligot’s Pool” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” haven’t sold in years through the retailers BookScan tracks.
Fox News Defends Piers Morgan and Pepe Le Pew as COVID Bill Passes: A Closer Look:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)