l33tminion: (Bookhead (Nagi))
2017-07-17 08:37 pm
Entry tags:

Immanentize the Book Reviews

I meant to get around to write a post on the reading I did at Sandy last week. But last week was exhausting, and the weekend was pretty busy. I didn't have nearly as much interrupted reading time as some years, but I did get in a good thousand pages:

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea: This conspiracy-weird-humor cult-classic novel has definitely left its mark on pop culture, and it's certainly one of the things I was making reference to way before I actually read it. A sensible read given how fond I am of RAW's humor re the Principia Discordia and the like, but to be honest I think the Principia is quite a lot funnier. Still, if you read that and decide you'd like more of the same but want something that's heavier on the narrative, a lot less G-rated, and about a kajillion times longer, Illuminatus! is pretty good.

Class by Paul Fussell: Fussell's musings on the American status system are most interesting when he's relating other people's take on the subject (e.g. the idea that class politics might be divided among factions of "The Guilty" and "The Cross" certainly seems to have some present-day relevance). Most of the book is Fussell's extensive cataloging of differences between social classes in America. To put it another way, Fussell defines the middle class as being motivated largely by anxiety about their (in)ability to rise in the class hierarchy, and the bulk of the book by that view is mostly middle-class-baiting. Many of Fussell's observations seem to have stood the test of time pretty well. Some seem bizarre. (Is "vodka with water" really an upper-class drink, and was it ever? A little on that topic turns up this interview with "The Gronk", who is certainly rich and (semi?)famous, but would a pro-athelete be upper-class in Fussell's taxonomy? Fussell says that it's a middle-class mistake to focus too much on profession, but he also might have something to say about that nickname.) The book concludes with a chapter on the role of college in the status system, which is one of the more interesting bits given how the higher-education bubble has developed since. In Fussell's view, the problem is that college is advertised based on average increases in earning potential, but this conflates selective universities (which help) and non-selective colleges (which don't). That problem seems to have been "fixed".

Minimalist Parenting by Christine K. Koh and Asha Dornfest: The book this most reminds me of is Bryan Caplan's Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. It certainly has a similar philosophical bent. But Caplan's book had a pretty clear thrust of argument (people underestimate the benefits of parenting and overestimate the returns on certain kinds of parenting effort, therefore they underestimate the number of children they should have; instead of stressing out about the prospect of parenting, maybe consider having (more) children and just being lazier about it) and it backs up that argument in the sort of way you might expect an economist like Caplan to do. Minimalist Parenting, likewise, is what you'd expect from two bloggers, basically an organized collection of "lifehacks"; less in the way of numbers, more in the way of "try it and see".
l33tminion: (Chaos)
2017-07-08 09:31 pm

Toddler Time on Sandy Island

Sandy Island was a good vacation for everyone, but a fantastic vacation for Eris, who was phenomenally excited about both the activities and the food. The weather was beautiful (almost no rain, mild days and cool nights), and she got to spend a lot of time outdoors, mostly with me and Julie and my parents, but also a bit with the Sandy Island staff. While Erica is still too young for the morning children's programs at camp, they added a few hours of "toddler time" for the age bracket starting at 18 months, which Erica just reached this week, featuring playtime on the smaller-scale playground and painting with dot markers at the Little Red Schoolhouse (the building for the little kids' program at camp).

She also enjoyed a few boat rides, a lot of time on the swing and slides, dancing, playing catch (toddler version, sans catching), running all over the main area of camp, all of the food, and a brief dip in the lake with her grandma (briefly, before the chilly water got to be a bit much for her).

I really enjoyed the quality time with family, and was very grateful that we were able to travel with my parents to and from camp as well.

Eristic improvements: Climbing a playground ladder with static support (handrails), sliding down the slide by herself (or with minimal support). Walking up steps with minimal support, walking down steps with minimal static support (as little as a hand flat against a doorframe for balance). Climbing into and down from chairs. Vocabulary continues to expand as well, especially regarding colors (she seems to be more adept with toys that involve color-matching).
l33tminion: (Overwork)
2017-06-26 09:01 pm

More Plans Than Events

Last week was pretty quiet. This past weekend, too. Though we did go out for soup dumplings with Ingress friends on Sunday.

Julie's startup-founding work continues to progress.

It's the turn of the quarter, so a lot of reflection and planning at work. Things ebb and flow. First quarter was pretty great, this quarter was all right. But I'm excited about the next. For some reason, I'm at least briefly in charge of planning the quarterly goals for my group, which is an interesting opportunity (though I wish some of the related deadlines had been a little better communicated).

I want to get back to writing on my essay blog at some point, but my writing is very slow even for lighter stuff like this.

What else? My parents will be in Boston later this week, and we're going up to Sandy Island Camp next week. That should be fun. Haven't picked out which books I'll bring yet, but I certainly have a lot on my queue.
l33tminion: (Evil Laugh)
2017-06-20 04:23 pm
Entry tags:

Erisaurus

What's new, DW? (And all the rest of you out there on the intertubes / blag-a-ma-phone / real world but specifically the part of the real world that is on the internet.)

As always, last week was busy and this week is busy.

Last week was partially busy because we had to take Wednesday off to take the kid to the doctor for an eye infection. Diagnosis was "it's probably viral but here's some antibiotics because obviously not going to take any chances with the ocular orbs". So little Eris gets to suffer the indignity of ointment-to-the-eyes three times a day for a week. Kid is of course not a fan of this development, but at least it doesn't sting, so she gets over the indignity of having her eyelids pried open pretty quickly after. She wasn't too bothered by the infection, and it's cleared up. Plus Julie and I so far seem uninfected.

Last weekend, we went to Jupiter, Florida to visit Kristin and Jimmy and Emilia for a dinosaur-themed birthday party for Emilia and her bestie, Jacob. Kristen threw a really fun and quite elaborate party. The kids had a blast, the parents got to hang out and relax and take a lot of cute photos. Which is really what one hopes for in a kid's birthday party. Erica definitely enjoyed the time with extended family, especially her cousin. Happy birthday, Emilia, may age four be a good year for you!

Eristic improvements: Repeating words, remembering some words by sight (?), remembering the names of some letters, better at matching shapes, better reasoning about rotation of 3D objects.
l33tminion: (Default)
2017-06-11 10:15 pm

Back to the Backlog Before the Week

I was doing well on posting, then suddenly I was once again super-behind.

I don't even need to know where to begin with political news. The Comey stuff wasn't very unexpected: Trump leaned on Comey to shut down the Flynn investigation, then when Comey demurred, Trump fired him. But of course Trump's core supporters are going to come out thinking this is totally fine, it's Trump being Trump.

Rumors that Trump didn't know there was a US military base in Quatar before being persuaded by the Saudis to side with them in a diplomatic crisis based on a fake news report are pretty alarming, though. Ditto for him leaving out a line about article 5 (the mutual defense pact bit) during his speech at NATO. But perhaps that's another thing that would please his supporters.

Then the UK elections happened this weekend, in a total back-fire for the Conservatives where liberal gains in parliament might ironically result in an even more right-wing UK government, as the Conservatives now are beholden to a far-right coalition partner for a majority. Or just a completely destabilized government, who knows?

In other news, the greatest climber in the world climbed El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes. Insanity, but it's amazing that a human can even accomplish such a feat.

Work's been busy, I've been shifting my focus a bit in terms of which goals I'll aim to accomplish before the end of the quarter. That's going well.

I've been watching a bit of Steven Universe with Xave over lunch break (it's a fun show, though the longer plot arcs seem to be slow to build; I love the style of visual humor, the animation is brilliant).

It's Pride week, and the parade yesterday was big and colorful as always. The weather has been hot. It's not even summer yet.

Today I was mostly out and about with the kid doing errands.

There's nothing like a cool shower in the dark after a hot day.

My parents are off on a European holiday. Enjoying the photos. Happy anniversary!

Eristic improvements: Fetching objects by name, better memory of numbers and letters, recognition of specific letters (maybe), matching shapes to outlines (including letters), some new words (including "apple" and "[ba]nana").
l33tminion: (Exile)
2017-06-04 09:54 am
Entry tags:

This Week's Covfefe

I wouldn't have expected that one of the news stories this week could be summarized as "don't worry, it's just the President falling asleep in the middle of his midnight Twitter rant".

The bit about Trump pulling out of the Paris Accord is almost as much of a non-story. It's the quintessential Trumpian political move: It reverses a decision made by Obama, it's something Trump can do unilaterally, and it won't have any immediate or concrete effect.

(It also provided Trump with a fascinating opportunity to use "Pittsburgh" as metonymy instead of synecdoche.)

This weekend, there were more murderous terror attacks in London, followed by calls from UK PM Theresa May to censor the internet and President Trump repeating calls for blanket bans on travel from some majority-Muslim countries excluding ones where he has rich friends.
l33tminion: (Music Metroid)
2017-05-30 02:34 pm
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The End of the Rabbit-Ears

Almost as long as I've been carrying an audio-player everywhere, I've been equipping myself with a pair of Sony MDR-J10 earbuds. I first bought those because they were some of the cheapest earbuds I could pick up at (soon-to-be the late) Radio Shack. But I've kept buying them because they're some of the most comfortable earbuds I've tried.

Most of the earbuds I've encountered have an earplug-like cylindrical or hemispherical design which places the speaker on a circular face covering the opening of the ear canal. The MDR-J10s, on the other hand, has a "half-moon" speaker design: The hemispherical earbud sits with its flat face perpendicular to the opening of the ear, and the speaker is on the half of that face that sits within the ear canal. While this is obviously worse in terms of sound isolation, I like earbuds that interfere less with my ability to hear ambient audio, in particular because this allows me to better pursue my favorite hobby: Not getting run over.

The over-ear clips are also great. They conveniently hook to a shirt collar or pocket when not in use, and I find the curved, flexible design more comfortable than alternate designs that feature elastics or hinged joints.

The only downside is the low durability. And given relative ease of breaking (or losing) even more-durable earbuds, I'd rather have a bunch of cheap earbuds than fewer more-durable ones.

The problem is, these were evidently never a commercial success. Sony no longer makes them or anything with that form-factor. The very length of time I was able to purchase these earbuds deadstock (still packed in tiny ziplocks, never made it to retail packaging) after they were no longer available at retail attests to that. But the last time I went to purchase more, my previous supplier was out, and I had to resort to buying a bunch from some eBay-er shipping from China. Eventually, I just won't be able to find these at a reasonable price.

So I guess I'm keeping an ear out for alternative headphone suggestions. If there's in fact a clone of that design I've missed, that's ideal, but I'm on the lookout for anything that's comfortable to wear basically all the time, has reasonable sound quality, and keeps exterior audio unobstructed enough that I can hear an oncoming bus.
l33tminion: (AMERICA!)
2017-05-25 07:56 pm
Entry tags:

The Trump Trip

For anyone interested in US politics, it's certainly been an interesting few weeks. Trump's definitely not afraid to make enemies, no one tells him what to do, and he goes with his gut when deciding what information to reveal to his friends (and never mind that five seconds ago team Trump was extremely concerned about the "careless" handling of classified information).

I mean, this isn't getting into things like cancelling a visit to Masada after being told they couldn't land directly on the summit (though I joke that Trump's refusal of the cable car ride shows that he's just that unwilling to take public transportation, it was probably due to tight scheduling) or saying "we just got back from the Middle East" in a speech in Israel or a careless note in the guestbook at Yad Vashem or that damn orb photo. Or even doing 100% of the things that Trump criticized Brack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton for doing re Saudi Arabia. Or the contentious handshakes or assertiveness in a diplomatic crowd. Surely those things are akin to brown suits, dijon mustard, improper salutes, etc. Republicans really do seem to have found someone who mirrors Obama-as-perceived-by-Republicans in a lot of ways.

But seriously, it's a bit troubling if Republican attitudes about political protest have gone so far that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross bragging about the wonderful lack of protest in Saudi Arabia doesn't seem remarkable to them. Or if Republican attitudes on law enforcement have gone so far that Trump calling President Duterte of the Philippines to say "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem" isn't alarming, given that Duterte is an admitted murderer whose own analogy for his approach to the drug problem is that he is to drug addicts as Hitler was to the Jews.

There seems to be a big gap in perception of Trump's first overseas trip overall. It strikes me as pretty normal. A lot of general diplomacy and ceremonial finishing touches on deals years in the works. But the Trump supporters' view seems to be that this is something history-making. Well, I should give some credit. Trump's Riyadh speech was bold in a lot of ways, and surely will draw comparison to Obama's 2009 Cairo speech. It does seem to be a significant turn in rhetoric in some ways, though I'm not going to attempt any detailed analysis right now. Trump's visit to the Western Wall also seems significant. While that didn't include an announcement that Trump is moving the US embassy to Jerusalem as some speculated it would (since Trump's suggested that before) it rhetorically does seem to be moving away from a bit of US diplomatic rhetoric about the status of Jerusalem (that the future of Jerusalem should be part of a negotiated settlement) that's not based on any reasonable person's expectation about the future status of Jerusalem (it's not in any meaningful sense negotiable).
l33tminion: (Skilled)
2017-05-21 02:23 pm

Portland PyCon

More travel this weekend. This time, Julie and I are traveling separately: Julie (with Erica) went to visit her parents and attend a memorial service for her grandfather, I went to Portland, Oregon to attend PyCon for work.

This hasn't been the best conference trip for me. A combination of exhaustion, confusion, and generally being under the weather led to me missing almost all of the conference on Friday (though I did get some work done). Saturday I felt great and well-rested, but last night I had a hard time sleeping and an upset stomach, so I'm exhausted again. Jet lag seems to be hitting me a lot harder than usual. Still, it's a great conference and I'm glad I went. The Saturday talks were especially interesting, and I really enjoyed talking to people at Google's booth at the expo and meeting some of my coworkers from further afield.

I'm also glad I caught one of the Portland PyCons. I do like what little of Portland I've seen. The downtown seems so nicely designed, with it's square grid of streets and the streetcar system and just the right amount of height and density. The conference changes location every two years, and I missed last. PyCon 2018 and 2019 will be in Cleveland, which is less exciting than Portland, but convenient for me.
l33tminion: (Default)
2017-05-16 09:58 pm
Entry tags:

Toddler-Phase Adjustments

Eris becoming a toddler has entailed quite a few transitions. For one thing, she's much more often vehemently opposed to getting in the stroller. She's also started to prefer a real seat to a high chair.

The stroller bit is a real problem, though. I'm looking forward to being able to reason with Erica, to offer choices ("you can hold my hand or ride in the stroller", "you can get in the stroller now or in ten minutes"). That doesn't work now, if she's opposed she'll always take the third option of "I'll fight you". It's unpleasant.

She's become more picky, too. Or at least more particular. I don't think the overall breadth of the sorts of food she's willing to eat has decreased, but it's hard to predict which of the things before her she'll want to eat at any particular moment; she knows what she wants and won't have us tell her otherwise. She doesn't seem to have lost her taste for spicy food, though. She's a real chili-head. Tonight, we had Thai food, and the kid was eating chicken larb with a happy expression on her face and tears streaming down her cheek.

Despite the drama, it does seem to be a fun phase in a lot of ways. It's great to see the kid's sense of adventure. She loves walking outdoors; she covered a bit over a mile today on foot. It's great to hear her enjoy her use of language, both the few words she knows and her own quirky babbling. Easy to get caught up in it. We said hi to the neighbors and were excited to see the dogs (and one person out walking with their pet parrot).
l33tminion: (Overwork)
2017-05-15 10:29 pm
Entry tags:

Return and Reorganization

Yesterday, we wrapped up our NYC trip with a brief stop at the Met Museum, said hi to some Ingress acquaintances (also down from Boston), and took a beautiful train-ride home.

And then I realized that I'd failed to clear out the closet in the hotel room. Argh. (They have my misplaced garments, at least, it's just a matter of arranging shipping.)

Julie is trying to plan some startup-related business travel. Seems like it might be fun, but the logistics are stressful.

There was a big office reorganization at work while I was away (packed up my office just before I left), so today involved a fair amount of unpacking. New space seems good. Same building, different floor, shared office with a window (though the view is not as good as my previous office).

I'm up late now dealing with the backlog of laundry. Bed soon.
l33tminion: (Default)
2017-05-13 11:12 am

Eris and the Big Apple

I really want to get back into the habit of daily blogging, in large part because I've got better odds of remembering the interesting things that happened the same day, before the amnesia sets in and I forget all the details of what I've been doing for the last several weeks.

This week's been an exciting week because we're on vacation in New York City (scheduled around a conference trip for Julie). Saturday night, we went out for a fancy steak dinner at Gallagher's Steakhouse. Sunday, we had brunch with Aunt Ellen and Uncle Mark and my cousin Ben. Monday, we went out for dim sum and met up with Emmett for dinner at a Moroccan place in the East Village. Tuesday, Julie was at the conference, and I took Erica to the Children's Museum of Manhattan. Wednesday was also a conference day, Erica and I took a long leisurely walk, playing in the playground in Union Square Park and running around University Park. Thursday, we went to the Bronx Zoo in the afternoon and met up with my other cousin Ben and Melissa in the evening. They're expecting their first child in the fall, so we spent a lot of time discussing the logistical complications of city living with baby. Friday, we met up with Julie's friend Massey. Today is rainy, so we had breakfast in bed and a lazy morning in the hotel.

Erica is really having a tremendous time walking around New York. Her toddler obsession is definitely dogs, any time she sees one she becomes too excited to pronounce consonants, responding with excited gestures and shouts of "ah-ee!" (also, "woof!", "bow wow!"). There are lots of doggies for her to see around here. The tall buildings and crowds of people are similarly exciting, though the sheer number of new faces can make her a bit shy. (I love Eris' independent streak, but it's already sometimes alarming, so I'm glad she's not totally ready to bolt off without us.)

Eristic improvements: Counting (the first few natural numbers), walking fast, climbing over obstacles, drinking from a normal glass while holding it (limited), drinking from a straw, animal identification and sounds (limited).
l33tminion: (Yay!)
2017-04-23 09:26 pm
Entry tags:

These Weeks' Recipes: More Vegetables, More Books

I broke out a few cookbooks in the past few weeks.

Braised Carrots and Capers

Braised Carrots and Capers

This recipe is from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The braising takes a bit of attention over the ~30 minute cook time (it requires not adding too much liquid, but also not letting the liquid run dry), but the prep is overall very straightforward. My only addition was adding a bit more fresh parsley in the last stage of cooking, as a garnish, and I think that worked well.

Parsnip Dumplings in Broth

Parsnip Dumplings

This recipe appears in Ottolenghi's Plenty. I only made the dumplings (I did ultimately serve them with broth, not pictured, but it was just store-bought prepared chicken broth). The dumplings came out mushy with more of a mashed-potato texture, when I wanted something more gnocchi-like. I gave them a quick saute after in an attempt to salvage the texture, which improved that to something okay. Overall, this wasn't bad, but I was disappointed in how it turned out and I'm not sure what I'd do differently to fix it (more semolina flour? less? more egg?).

Roasted Root Vegetables with Bagna Cauda

The recipe I used for this Italian anchovy sauce (traditionally a dip served warm) came from Valerie Aikman-Smith's Salt.

I served it over a mix of turnip, rutabaga, and daikon radish, roasted with olive oil and a bit of salt (with a side of leftover garlic bok choy and rice).

Rice and Veggies

This combination worked really well. Learning new recipes for sauces is particularly great when buying vegetables in bulk.

I also remade the recipe for Indian-Spiced Lamb in a Salt Crust from that book. That went well, even though I failed to roll out the dough properly and didn't get quite as good a seal as a result. This recipe looks amazing during prep:

Lamb in a Salt Crust Prep

And great on the plate as well:

Roast Lamb Dinner

In addition to homemade raita (included in the recipe), I served that with pre-prepared savory mint chutney from a nearby Indian grocer. The remaining items on the plate are more me winging it, but those turned out as well.

The beets were cooked in the microwave, which is definitely the easiest method for cooking beets. (The timing recommended in those instructions (seven minutes for one large beet, two extra for each additional) seems good, but it's not too sensitive to cooking too long. Whether or not you put water at the bottom of the dish doesn't seem to matter that much, but piercing the skin with a fork and peeling it after cooking seems to be a good idea, and covering the dish with wet paper towels is critical if you don't want your microwave covered in beet juice.) Then I peeled, cut into cubes, and tossed with Greek yogurt and za'atar (a variety of salty/savory spice mixtures could work very well).

To make the potatoes, I halved them, then made a paste of garlic puree, salt, and a bit of olive oil, enough to coat. (The exact proportions don't matter that much, but I was going for very (but not repellently) salty and quite harshly garlicky (after all, it mellows out quite a bit when cooked). Put the potatoes on a baking sheet face down at 400°F, cooked for an hour, turned, and cooked for about half-an-hour more (could do longer if you want crispier, shorter if you're in a hurry).

(The braised carrots with capers and the garlic potatoes are likely to become regular recipes for me. I made them both as part of tonight's dinner.)
l33tminion: (Default)
2017-04-22 10:40 pm
Entry tags:

And May We Be Found Worthy

It's been a busy week!

Sunday I took Eris to the aquarium and did some touristy things downtown.

Monday was Patriot's Day and the Boston Marathon, so it was a daycare holiday and I took the day off work.

Spring performance reviews wrapped up this week at work, and I'm pleased with how the last six months have gone. I've been productive, and my coworkers had nice things to say about what I've accomplished.

Played some Magic, too. Friday, I drafted Conspiracy after work. Didn't win, but the game was as interesting as you'd expect from that format (got into a ridiculous deadlock, I guess I shouldn't have passed up that Traveler's Cloak). Today, I played in the Amonkhet prerelease and that set also seems great. Probably was the closest set of games I've played in a prerelease. The first match I didn't quite turn a game-three loss into a draw, the second match my opponent was able to grind game three into a draw though they seemed to be in the losing position, the third match my opponent no-showed (I found the player with an actual bye to get in some games while waiting, managed to win one and ran out the round time before I could finish the second), and I won the last match to just barely qualify for a prize. GB -1/-1 counters sure was a fun archetype to play, with a lot of interesting decisions. I didn't end up with the most powerful cards in my card pool, but I did have a lot of synergy (though I didn't get so lucky as actually to draw the ultimate first three turns of Festering Mummy, Hapatra, Plague Belcher).

Eristic improvements: Playing fetch, throwing a ball, imitating the sound of words more closely, imitating snippets of song (the first line of the alphabet song specifically).
l33tminion: (Default)
2017-04-15 10:12 pm

One Who Toddles

In "not just me talking abut my blog" news, the last few weeks have been eventful. In particular, Eris is walking for real!

We went to Cleveland to visit my folks last weekend for Passover (first Seder at the Singers' house and the second at my parents'). Was a nice visit, despite me, Julie, and the kid being sick with bad colds. (To add to the pain, I got a stomach bug the day before traveling and Erica has some back teeth coming in.)

The weather in Cleveland was mostly mild, but when we arrived there was snow on the ground! Still, things seem to be finally warming up, which means it's an ideal time to take Erica to the park. She's far more enthusiastic about wearing shoes now that she can walk around outdoors.

Work continues to be busy, but I'm excited about the stuff I'm working on.

Despite being busy, I've managed to get in some fun. I'm still playing some Magic: the Gathering with colleagues, I've been watching Steven Universe with Xavid, and I've gotten back to watching more anime because it's really easy to catch the odd episode now that I'm mostly watching in an app on my phone. I started watching Konosuba (funny, but the sort of genre pastiche that works well only if you're already a fan of the genres it's satirizing), watched Interviews with Monster Girls (a supernatural slice-of-life show with a lot of charming visual humor), and started One Punch Man (superhero satire, the animation is great).

Eristic improvements: Walking unsupported, walking outdoors, playing on swing and roundabout and slide on playground (assisted), more active about asking us to read, pays more attention to reading, pretends to read, has become very interested in taking to people on the phone (and, alarmingly, has figured out how to call people on her own), more skill/interest in eating with fork and spoon.
l33tminion: (Error)
2017-04-15 09:06 pm
Entry tags:

Blog Migration

That "before too long" from my last post is looking very soon indeed.

I deleted the few LJ communities I owned, all long inactive. (Pour one out for the Olin College LiveJournal community.)

I migrated comments on old entries to DW and disabled comments on LJ.

I set up my feeds on Dreamwidth, did a more-machete-than-scalpel pruning of my LJ friends list (removing people whose cross-posts I'm following directly on DW now and a lot of accounts that haven't updated in years). That's left the remainder of my LJ friends page very sparse indeed.

Dreamwidth doesn't (yet) support cross-posting to Facebook, but I'm trying to automate that with Zapier.
l33tminion: (Hope)
2017-04-10 01:10 pm

The Breadth of Hope

In response to recent news of the transfer of control of LiveJournal operations to SUP Media and Terms of Service changes that clarify LiveJournal users are expected to comply with Russian censorship laws, I've migrated my journal to Dreamwidth. I plan to cross-post to LiveJournal for now. I've cancelled automatic payments for my LiveJournal pro account.

I've long been reluctant to leave LJ over one management decision or the other, and I'd still guess that these changes most likely won't have much effect on English-language LJ users. But I really don't want to lose access to my old posts, so better to be proactive about it. And I think my internet presence is already too split, so I may say farewell to LJ before too long. We'll see.
l33tminion: (AMERICA!)
2017-04-01 11:08 am
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A Belated Post on the (Surprisingly Not Late) ACA

I was going to get to a political post at some point prognosticating about the fate of the ACA, but then time passed and prognostication became just gnostication. But maybe not so much!

It didn't surprised me when the Republican proposal went with the "free lunch" version of the repeal (the prohibition on "preexisting condition" bans is popular, the mandate is unpopular, so just get rid of the latter, what can possibly go wrong?). The ACA was the Republican plan for restraining healthcare costs, it shouldn't be surprising that the new proposal was basically the same three pillars of require insurers to offer insurance, encourage people to buy insurance, and subsidize. (Though, for one thing, the alternative version of the "encouragement" pillar seemed obviously too weak. If you want to encourage healthy people to buy insurance, a policy that encourages people to buy insurance for the first two months after they've left coverage and then discourages them is not ideal.)

The bit that did surprise me was the complete failure of the bill. I'd assumed after all the hype that the vote would be whipped somehow.

There's a split in the Republican opposition to "Obamacare", between a faction that primarily wants to just repeal the "Obama" part and a faction that (though it has no fondness for Obama) primarily wants to repeal the "care" part. Siderea has a post with an excellent analysis of this, breaking down the Republicans among the "Repealists" (who would still be happy voting for a flat repeal of the ACA, followed by further cuts to Medicare and Medicaid), the "Replacists" (who accept that affordable healthcare should be made available somehow but think the Republicans can do that cheaper and better; Trump himself is in this camp, so unsurprisingly many Trump supporters are as well), and the "Parochialists" (who are primarily focused on the fact that their constituents won't vote for them again after their insurance becomes expensive or unavailable). The latter two factions were in fact willing to join in on voting in favor of a straight repeal, but only so long as that would be safely vetoed.

The bill did have some things that all of those factions could like: Big deficit-funded tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich (deficits don't matter, right?), cuts in consumer protections that would allow insurance companies to sell junk insurance (which could make it seem like a decrease in costs). But it was not enough.

So what next? Trump wants to wait in hopes of a better negotiating position. Ryan also seems eager to get on to other things. It's not clear whether either a flat repeal or any innovative (in the sense of not just being some version of Romney/Obama/*care) conservative healthcare policy reforms will make it to a vote in the near future.
l33tminion: (Junpei)
2017-04-01 12:08 am
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Last Week's Recipes: Stuff from Diane Morgan's Roots

Finally, finally got back to some cookbook cooking last week.

One of the things motivating me to cook is that I've resumed ordering deliveries of local vegetables from Boston Organics. Local means seasonal, and seasonal right now still means a lot of root vegetables (plus some sprouts and some late-season apples). So that made Diane Morgan's Roots a very relevant book indeed. (And it's a beautiful cookbook!)

Carrot Ribbons with Sorrel Arugula Pesto and Goat Cheese

Carrot Ribbons with Arugula Pesto and Goat Cheese

The recipe calls for sorrel in the pesto, but I couldn't get any, so I substituted arugula instead and added a bit more lemon and a lot more pine nuts. Also ended up using way less than the amount of goat cheese the recipe called for, though maybe I was under on the amount of carrots. At any rate, it turned out amazing. The leftover pesto made for some good pasta with some scallions from the store and these beautiful assorted mushrooms from the box:

Prepping Mushrooms

Pasta with Mushrooms, Scallions, and Pesto

Orange Braised Parsnips

Orange-Braised Parsnips

For this one, I followed the recipe directly. It does indeed seem odd to start a recipe for parsnips by caramelizing some sugar, but it all came together very well. I thought it was very good indeed. Eris was definitely a fan as well.

Turnip (and Radish) Ghanoush

Turnip and Radish Ghanoush

This recipe is like baba ghanoush, except with turnip instead of eggplant, sweetened with a little pureed date. The recipe makes more of the date puree than it actually uses, on the (correct) assumption that you'll enjoy having more around.

My vegetable box didn't contain as much turnip as this recipe called for, but it did have watermelon radishes, so I used a combination of the two instead. That substitution worked out great in terms of both taste and color. I also added some fresh mint to the date puree (a really good addition). The only not-ideal bit was a few chunks of vegetable left in the spread that somehow escaped the attention of the food processor blade. If I did it again, I'd take the care to pass the processed mixture through a strainer or at least carefully pick through it with a fork, to catch anything that needs that extra round of blending.

The leftover date puree does in fact make a wonderful breakfast, spread on an English muffin with some of the goat cheese:

Date Spread
l33tminion: (L33t)
2017-03-18 09:25 pm

February Arrives a Month Late

Time continues humming along.

My mom came to visit last weekend, which was really nice. We took the kid to the aquarium again, among other things. Eris arrived at the aquarium mid-nap again, though she did wake up before we had to go. (We were about ready to leave when the fire alarm went off. No idea what was up with that, but it doesn't seem to have gotten any mention in the news, so was probably something minor or a false alarm.)

This week was quite busy at work. Among other things, I'm preparing a presentation on some of my recent work for next week's team meeting. Tuesday was pretty snowy, and I worked from home.

Ames ([livejournal.com profile] tenshikurai9) is back in town this week, so I got the chance to catch up and introduce her to the kid.

My new phone arrived (Google's new Pixel XL). It's not super-different from my previous phone (a Nexus 6P), but it certainly has a lot of polish, the new hardware and software work really well. Eris is also excited about that (in a way) because she's recently discovered the concept of talking to people on the phone.

Eristic improvements: Knee-walking, saying "hello" and "byebye".