Trevor Stone Character

Sticky Post: Flwyd has Moved to Dreamwidth

After more than fifteen years of loyal LiveJournal use, I have switched to Dreamwidth as my primary blogging site. All of my LiveJournal entries have been migrated to flwyd.dreamwidth.org. They remain public on flwyd.livejournal.com as well, so as not to break any links. I will continue crossposting from Dreamwidth to LiveJournal until LJ blocks it, or until the site owners do something egregious with regards to user content.

Shout out to brad and everyone else who helped make LiveJournal a fantastic social network before "social network" was a thing. The most important asset of a site like this is the users and their willingness to share with each other. Over the last decade, a lot of user attention has drifted to other platforms. The management (now headquartered in Russia) has also focused on writers of the Cyrillic persuasion and Russians in particular, burning the trust of the Anglophone user base.

While all good things will come to an end, this blog has several years to go in its new home. Subscribe to my journal on Dreamwidth or with your favorite RSS reader. You can also find me on my website, Twitter, and Google+. Keep sharing!
Trevor baby stare

It's Almost July?

It's been a crazy June, from Black Lives Matter protests to rising coronavirus infections in the US to getting the hang of working from home every day.

But after a day of staring at the screen for all work and communication needs, and then following up on important personal email and then checking Twitter's trending topics to see what new craziness 2020 has gotten up to… I almost never feel like staring at a screen and writing some more.

So hi, I'm still alive, still healthy, still wishing things could be different.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/392962.html – comment over there.

Trevor baby stare

Kitchen Misadventures

In mid-March when COVID-19 restrictions started to come into place in Colorado I stopped by my friendly local homebrew store to get some ingredients. "Not being able to leave home for several weeks sounds like a great opportunity to make some beer." The Yeast Herders Gatherum at Dragonfest recently started doing annual challenges, and one of this year's is a braggot, which is alcohol made from a combination of honey and grain sugar. I've been thinking about braggot options for several months, but hadn't hit on a recipe I really liked. I decided that following something resembling an Irish red ale would be a decent first braggot experiment and at least ought to look interesting. 4 pounds sparkling amber liquid malt extract, 1 pound red malt, five pounds of Brazilian wildflower honey from the 50 pound bucket we ordered years ago.

But then I got pulled into other weekend projects, and come late may the only thing I'd gotten fermenting was a continuous brew jun kombucha. (The jun style has yeast and bacteria adapted to green tea and honey rather than black tea and sugar and boy howdy do I have a lot more green tea and honey in my kitchen.)

So a rainy day on Memorial Day weekend, two months after picking up the supplies, became the day to finally get around to making this braggot. I spent four and a half hours cleaning the kitchen, gathering brewing supplies, remembering how this all works, realizing I hadn't started an extract beer for almost two years. I heated a gallon of water and put the "Viking Red" malted barley in my metal steeping basket. After that steeped for about 45 minutes I sparged it into the big brew pot. Then I opened my container of liquid malt extract…

… and discovered it had developed several spots of mold on the surface while sitting on the counter for two months. Crap.

I briefly considered scraping the top layer off and brewing with the rest. That's totally what my European ancestors would've done, right? It'll be boiled for an hour, and then the hops and later alcohol will keep the micro-organisms at bay, right?

I thought about it, and realized that "Hope there's no mold in here" would be hanging in the back of my head any time I went to drink a beer, and that thought is definitely going to detract from the flavor.

So I called an audible and decided to make a "mostly mead" braggot rather than the half-and-half plan I had. So I started adding honey to the warm malt wort. (If I'd thought about it a little harder I probably would've boiled the red wort first, so we'll see if the small malt flavor is even detectable in the end.) The honey in the bucket has been starting to crystalize, so scooping out five pounds worth was something of an adventure, but it dissolved fairly nicely.

I then cast around the kitchen for other things I could add to the pot which might bring more interest to the brew, since my "nice balance of honey and malt flavors" plan was defunct. I tossed in some freeze-dried ginger bits, not having fresh ginger on hand. And then I realized that maybe I should add some of the hops I'd planned for the original brew and treat this like a red hopped mead. Worth a shot, eh?

So I pitched the yeast, my first attempt at making mead with ale yeast. Then had dinner and took a break.

After regaining sustenance I embarked on Phase II of my kitchen plans for the day: make banana bread with the spent barley grains from the brewing. But this plan was quickly redirected when I discovered that the very-brown bananas on my counter had mold on the bottom. (I'd intended to make banana bread last weekend, but lacked the energy.) I Googled up [spent grain cookies] and found a recipe that looked reasonable. 1.5 cups flour, 1.5 cups spent grain, eggs, (vegan) butter, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, etc.

I got that batter stirred up and then set to smashing up a giant clump of brown sugar in a mortar and pestle. Kelly asked me what I was doing to make all that noise. She then Googled ways to de-clump brown sugar, so we talked for a minute. I then returned to the kitchen, noticed the oven was heated, and put cookies on the sheets.

While cleaning up I realized that the sugar was still in the mortar. Crap. I'd gotten distracted by the conversation and forgotten that I hadn't finished the batter. So I sprinkled some sugar on the half-baked cookies in the hopes that they wouldn't be totally inedible. But damn, this wasn't a good day for culinary execution.

The cookies taste alright, though I need to find a way to remove the husks from spent grain before I cook with it. It's tasty, but the dry and pokey grain skins are a big distraction.

And the wort tastes alright. It's hard to go wrong with honey water :-) I think the hops was a good move, but so far it really doesn't taste like malt. Maybe I'll make two gallons of barley wort when I transfer this to secondary and go from a 3 gallon hop mead to a 5 gallon full braggot? Or maybe I'll just craft a new braggot recipe and compare the malt level influence.

Given today's adventure, my next brewing project is starting to look a little quixotic. Another Yeast Herders challenge is to use pear, so I got a big can of pear puree a couple months ago, then discovered it seemed to be leaking, but it stopped. Is the can spoiled? Or can I combine it with ~9 pounds of crystalized honey to make something semi-palatable? Tune in next time for "My sobering kitchen."

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/392922.html – comment over there.

Trevor baby stare

LiveJournal Crossposts Fixed

I just noticed that crossposts from my Dreamwidth account to LiveJournal (hey, remember LiveJournal?) were broken for the last year. I think LiveJournal forced a password reset (half a year after someone blew me off on a support ticket when I suggested they'd suffered an account breach) and I forgot to update it on the Dreamwidth crossposting side.

That's fixed now, and I've triggered a crosspost for everything I read in the last year. If that all showed up in your LJ friends page at once, apologies for the mess. (And also, why haven't you migrated to Dreamwidth yet?)

So, uh, in the last year:
  • I was having trouble sleeping and tried to take a relaxing vacation to Jamaica, but couldn't sleep there either.
  • Dealt with some exciting water-related homeowner problems.
  • Got some medical interventions that helped with sleep and inflammation.
  • Took my parents to Iceland to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
  • Lobbied Congress to pass climate change legislation.
  • Delivered a stand-up comedy bit about passing a climate change bill through Congress.
  • Gave a talk at Ignite Boulder 40 about turning organizational charts upside down.
  • Recognized that I'd just been in go-mode for two months straight, and decided to spend the winter holiday season sitting around organizing digital photos.
  • Spent January and February feeling burned out and introspective.
  • Got periodontal surgery that I'd been putting off for most of a decade.
  • Oh hey, it's a global pandemic! Time to work from home, have video conferences, chill out, go for a walk every day, clean up the garden, and do those things I wouldn't normally get around to, like write a vim plugin and read the appendices to Lord of the Rings that I apparently skipped at age 15.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/392328.html – comment over there.

Trevor baby stare

conjoin: A Vim Plugin for Continuation Characters

As an avowed introvert, I took the opportunity of the new fewer-social-commitment world of coronavirus stay-home orders to do some fun programming on personal projects, like my Elizabethan curse generator. While working on bash and Tcl implementations I discovered that vim, my favorite text editor, did not automatically remove line continuation characters when performing a join command. In my case, I had copied an array of quoted strings from Python into a shell script, which doesn't need quoted strings, and wanted to realign the declaration to fit nicely in 80 columns, like so:
noun=(apple-john baggage barnacle bladder boar-pig bugbear bum-bailey \
canker-blossom clack-dish clotpole coxcomb codpiece crutch cutpurse \
death-token dewberry dogfish egg-shell flap-dragon flax-wench flirt-gill \
foot-licker fustilarian giglet gudgeon gull-catcher haggard harpy hedge-pig \
hempseed horn-beast hugger-mugger jack-a-nape jolthead lewdster lout \
maggot-pie malignancy malkin malt-worm mammet manikin measle minimus minnow \
miscreant moldwarp mumble-news nut-hook pantaloon pigeon-egg pignut puttock \
pumpion rabbit-sucker rampallion ratsbane remnant rudesby ruffian scantling \
scullion scut skainsmate snipe strumpet varlot vassal waterfly whey-face \
whipster wagtail younker)
Unfortunately, the J command in vim leaves those trailing backslashes (which mean "the command keeps going on the next line") in the middle of the combined line. After a bunch of Googling, I determined that there wasn't a vim setting to do so, and nobody had written a plugin for it either.

So of course I decided that extra home-bound free time meant it was time to learn how to write a vim plugin so that I could change the behavior of the line-joining commands. A couple coworkers mentioned that such a plugin would be even more useful if it could merge strings when joining as well (resulting in "lorem ipsum" rather than "lorem " + "ipsum"). This in turn provided a great excuse to geek out on programming language details on Wikipedia, Rosetta Code and 99-bottles-of-beer.net. And thus was born vim-conjoin, a plugin that remaps J, gJ, and :Join to handle continuation breaks and string concatenation.

This exercise was absolutely a violation of XKCD's Is It Worth the Time graph: I spent the better part of two weekends, plus a few evenings, implementing and testing this plugin (mostly testing). It will, in my lifetime, perhaps save me an hour of work. So hopefully other vim users find it useful, too.

As with any personal programming project, the time wasn't entirely wasted, of course. The next time I want to write a vim plugin I'll have a much better idea of what I'm doing. And I learned more in a couple weeks about vim than I've learned in most individual years in the last two and a half decades I've used the editor. (Though it's going to take me awhile to remember to put call before function invocations and I'm forever forgetting the l: and a: prefixes on local and argument variables.) And the Wikipedia adventures led me to finally read up on INTERCAL a famously obtuse parody language, and LOLCODE, a lolcat-inspired esoteric programming language that I wish I'd heard about in 2007 when it was announced. (LOLCODE unfortunately seems to have been abandoned; the language author hasn't responded to a 2018 proposal for array (BUKKIT) syntax.) And that gave me an idea for an esoteric language of my own that I hope to work out during the remainder of quarantine time…

You do you. And make sure you've got an unnecessarily polished tool while doing so.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/392000.html – comment over there.

mathnet - to cogitate and to solve

Automatic Mental Defense Mechanisms

It is always tempting to divide men into two lots: Greeks and barbarians, Muslims and infidels, those who believe in God and those who don't. But who does not fear to understand things that threaten his beliefs? Of course, one is not consciously afraid; but everybody who is honest with himself finds that often he does not try very hard to understand what clashes with his deep convictions.
— Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/391593.html – comment over there.

Trevor baby stare

A Conservative on Conservatism

Conservatism, in my view, begins with an understanding of the world as a broken place always at risk of spinning out of control. A conservative, then, is pleasantly surprised to find so much good in the world. He or she responds in profound gratitude for the gifts we've received and consequently aims to conserve or preserve those blessings, and to steward an order under which those blessings might be shared with even more people, all of whom are possessed of inexhaustible dignity and inalienable rights. Conservatism is, therefore, antithetical to an attitude that says to "burn it all down." Because conservatism is in part a disposition of gratitude, it is opposed to a culture of grievance or universal victimhood.
— Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Them: Why we hate each other—and how to heal, footnote page 120 in the section "Conservatism Doesn't Make Good Radio"

Maybe this is why, despite deeply valuing conservation of resources, environments, and cultures, I've rarely found resonance in the conservative worldview. I don't see the world as broken at all. Rather, I think of it as profoundly ordered, with dynamic systems well-adapted to their environments, whether that happened over a generation or over a billion years.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/391216.html – comment over there.

Trevor baby stare

Letter to my senators: An open and thorough impeachment process

Dear Senator Gardner, | Dear Senator Bennet,

I’d like to thank you for your cosponsorship of S.151, the TRACED act enacting tougher penalties for robocallers and supporting a framework for better detection and prevention of caller ID spoofing. This bipartisan bill shows that Congress can work together to defend the American people against shady practices that undermine public trust.

I’m writing you today regarding another subject of questionable behavior by powerful individuals that violate public trust. The Senate will hold impeachment hearings this month and the American people deserve an open, detailed, and impartial accounting of the accused’s high crimes and misdemeanors. The impeachment trial should be thorough and factual so that the public can understand what transpired, what crimes have and have not been committed, and hold our elected officials accountable.

In addition to the two articles of impeachment passed by the House, I am concerned about a pattern of disregard for the law and for the Constitution exhibited by the current administration, including the president himself. The Mueller report said “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Given the Justice Department’s conclusion that a sitting president cannot be indicted, this was a pretty clear indication that President Trump obstructed justice. It is up to Congress to take action on this illegal action by the President.

Furthermore, I am concerned that President Trump is in violation of Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution forbidding the President and others from accepting gifts and emoluments from foreign states. President Trump’s businesses are not held in a blind trust; this opens the President to potential influence by payments and business deals with foreign leaders, a state of affairs that worried the Constitution’s framers. The American people deserve a clear and honest examination of whether the President has thus violated the Constitution.

As we reflect this week on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I am reminded that it is at times of trial and tribulation that we learn of a person’s true character. Dr. King urged us to rise to the vision of the founding fathers, a nation based on the rule of law that judges people based on their character, not their skin color or party affiliation. I urge you to set politics aside and push Majority Leader McConnell to hold an open and fair trial with lots of sworn testimony, ideally including testimony from President Trump himself. It is an important principle of American justice that a man has a chance to testify at his own trial.

Thank you for your service to the people of Colorado,
Trevor Stone

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/391083.html – comment over there.

black titan

Game Day Mailing List

I just noticed that the mailing list I use for game days at my house has a bunch of expired invites.
I don't reliably post to DreamWidth when I'm hosting a game day, so if you're interested in playing board games in Boulder and didn't get an email a couple days ago about the upcoming event this coming Sunday then let me know your email (you can do it privately at tstone at trevorstone dot org) and I can add you directly.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/390777.html – comment over there.

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