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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
 
Trevor Stone Character
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!
29th-Apr-2019 10:11 pm - Jamaican Me Tired
Trevor baby stare
My big motivation in scheduling a Caribbean vacation this spring was to jump out of my daily life sequence, which was impeding sleep and generating a lot of inflammation, and take it easy in a new environment. We set goals for various parts of the island, but didn't make commitments beyond flights and lodging so that "I'm tired and need to relax" could happen at any time.

As it turned out, "I'm tired and need to relax" happened most of the time. But actually getting sleep was a lot of work.

Outside of Kingston (the big city) and Port Royal (a spur hanging off the big city), night time featured a chorus of frogs or lizards or nocturnal birds that would chirp from sundown to sunup. This was lovely while enjoying dinner or reading before bed. It was incredibly frustrating while trying to sleep. The noise would die down around dawn, as light started to creep into the room. (There are many nice features of an eco-resort-style cabin. Impervious to light and sound they are not.) Combined with "not the same as my bed at home," the noise and light meant I spent most of the trip accumulating sleep depravation.

This lack of sleep made it hard to accomplish other trip goals. I'd hoped to find some good dance parties on our final weekend (split between Ocho Rios and Kingston). But these tend to start between 8 and 10 and go as late as 4am. By 8pm I was generally finishing dinner and yawning and couldn't fathom having the energy to do anything more adventurous than sit in a chair by 10.

Even chatting with locals was overwhelming: as an introvert, interacting with other people takes spoons, which were in short supply after a night of poor sleep. And in touristed areas of Jamaica there's a constant stream of hustlers and touts and handcrafters trying to get you to buy something. I'd expected this, and have experienced it in some other places I've traveled. But in Jamaica it was extra intense: I don't think I've previously had to shoo away people trying to sell me stuff while I'm eating lunch. One of my favorite photos from the trip is a sign in the Port Antonio craft market that proclaims "No harrasment here" [sic], and it was probably our most pleasant shopping experience. This kind of energy probably meant I spent less money with small-time merchants and led to more meals in hotel restaurants than I'd expected. One of the nicest things about New Kingston was the almost total lack of harassment and hustle: aside from the route taxis honking to see if I needed a ride while walking along the sidewalk and the touts at the big bus center hardly anyone tried to get me to buy something. The little bit of time I spent walking around Port Antonio was also refreshingly free of commercial assault; if we return to Jamaica we definitely want to spend more time in the Portland area.

We found plenty to like, of course. The water was nice, and I got in some fun snorkeling. We met some fun and chill people and ate a lot of tasty food. I had fun taking photos, though I think the number of standout highlights from this trip will be smaller than I expected. We heard some good music (though less than I'd been expecting; while one taxi driver had his car tricked out for big sound, half of them didn't even have the radio on) and I came back with a nice stack of CDs. But I think my big memory of this trip will be "Jamaica… the island where I couldn't sleep."

This trip did satisfy some of my existential angst that had inspired it. I'd been reviewing photos I took a decade ago and said "Man, travel used to really excite me, but the only trips out of the country I've taken since I started this job were for work and a wedding. Am I missing out?" It turns out the answer is no, as long as I'm dealing with autoimmune and sleep medical issues, I'm not missing out on extended adventures in unfamiliar territory. And while my goal this year was "Take a vacation that's not Burning Man, so you come back rested and don't need a vacation to recover from your vacation" there's something to be said about a trip where I've got control of my bed situation.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/387148.html – comment over there.

4th-Apr-2019 06:58 pm - Walking from the Edge
Trevor baby stare
A few days into our Jamaica trip and things are irie. We spent the first two nights at the Grand Port Royal Hotel. Scenes from the James Bond film Dr. No were filmed there in the early '60s and the property has an air of once-greatness as it now doesn't get enough business to keep up appearances. I think there were more staff at the hotel than guests while we were there, though I think business picks up on the weekends when Kingston folks head to Port Royal for a quick getaway. Port Royal's main attraction is Fort Charles (renamed from Fort Cromwell after the Restoration), the remaining British naval fortress which survived the 1692 earthquake that sunk two thirds of the city and thousands of people. The site tour guide, a Rastaman claiming descent from Port Royal buccaneers provided a very entertaining narration. Despite some pre-trip hopes we didn't go snorkeling over the sunken pirate city The last two days were spent up in the Blue Mountains at a lovely funky guesthouse called Mount Edge, with buildings which do in fact cling to the side of a steep ravine. Our cabin has a mishmash of construction that you can get away with in the tropics--half of the floor is polished stone on concrete while the other half is wood over the mountain slope that you can see through the cracks. The shower has a plastic bottom for some reason and you can see the PVC drain lead off through the grass beneath your feet. As I write this the night is loud with crickets and, I think frogs, chirping and croaking away. During the day cars honk as they approach curves in the winding mountain road--the low honk of truck horns sounds like the mating call of the lorries. The establishment is also the EITS Cafe, serving seriously delicious meals in an open air dining area where twin-tailed hummingbirds occasionally zip by your head. Yesterday we toured a coffee plantation where a guide extolled the virtues of Blue Mountain coffee beans being the best in the world. I can't verify that claim; coffee generally smells so terrible to me that I don't even try to taste it. That said, I was able to drink a whole cup of pure Blue Mountain coffee without adding any other flavors which is a sing signal that it's good stuff. We then walked over to Strawberry Hill, a very fancy hotel, and had lunch. They seemed bewildered that we had just walked up their driveway; I guess guests at fancy hotels always come by car. We then walked further down into Irish Town, long ago home to Irish coopers who made the barrels by which Jamaican coffee was shipped to England. Today I hiked solo up the road two hours with no particular destination, though I turned around at the Gap Café when I discovered no one was there--so I couldn't celebrate my thousand foot accent with a cool beverage. Walking down I was bathed in clouds for awhile, taking in the scent of most tropical trees and bushes along with fresh asphalt. The clouds then lifted, revealing fine views of the Kingston harbor, though higher clouds and a mouse atmosphere likely mean the photos aren't great.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/387060.html – comment over there.

27th-Mar-2019 10:26 pm - African Caribbean Postman
Trevor baby stare
If you'd like a postcard from Jamaica, let me know your current mailing address. Comments on this post are screened, so feel free to leave it in a comment, or drop me an email.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/386802.html – comment over there.

24th-Mar-2019 02:41 pm - Plus One, Minus
Trevor baby stare
Public Google+ is shutting down in a week. If you're a user, make sure to request your content through Takeout. At some point I hope to get all my Plus Posts up on my website as an archive, but I don't have time to do that before traveling next week. But here's all 172 pages that I +1ed†, in case you have a shortage of things to read on the Internet :-)

[† While I appreciate some of the cleverness behind the "Google+" brand, I never got over the linguistic awkwardness of saying things like "plus one'd"—or should it be "plussed one?"]

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/386454.html – comment over there.

2nd-Mar-2019 08:45 pm - Brain on Island Time
Trevor baby stare
After a whole bunch of planning, Kelly and I worked out an itinerary for a vacation in Jamaica in April. Between a travel book, lots of Internet searching, and a spreadsheet we had the length of stay calculated for five areas. We booked lodging in each place and then bought tickets, returning on a Monday.

Two days later, Kelly pointed out that our return flight was on Wednesday, instead. I'd had way too many Chrome tabs open and picked the wrong one. And even though we spent at least 15 minutes closely studying return times and layover durations we hadn't actually verified the dates of travel.

Apparently my brain really needs another two days in the tropics.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/386088.html – comment over there.

16th-Feb-2019 05:04 pm - Geo Photographic Memory
Trevor baby stare
I have a photographic memory. When I look at a photograph, I remember where I took it.

I got a handheld GPS device in early 2009 and keep it in my camera bag, so all my photos in the last ten years are geotagged. At the beginning of this year I started migrating all 15 years of my photos to a modern hosting platform. I made the, in retrospect, questionable decision to manually[1] geotag the remaining 5 years of photos, starting when I bought a point-and-shoot camera in August, 2003.

This took five to ten times longer than I anticipated. I considered giving up several times, but the existence of a definite time bound and the thought "I didn't take that many pictures that year" kept me going. But now I'm done tagging and will soon be able to announce my new (but still too cluttered) gallery. And it'll have pins all over the map!

[1] And by "manual" I mean "Point Google Earth to the location and then tell GraphicConverter to set EXIF data from Earth."

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/385807.html – comment over there.

smoochie sunset
For the last dozen or so years I've celebrated Shadow Boxing Day on February 3rd—the day after Groundhog Day, much the way that Boxing Day is the day after Christmas. Shadow Boxing Day is a day to get stuff done, particularly stuff that you've been putting off and keeping in the shadows for awhile.

This year was different. An important member of the Boulder chapter of Citizen's Climate Lobby, Eliana Berlfein, passed away on January 31st, a few months after a cancer diagnosis. Today was a celebration of her life and her passing, starting with a funeral at Congregation Nevei Kodesh, an internment ceremony, and finally a consolation meal with family and friends. All three were beautiful and touching.

Eliana brought a remarkable amount of grace to her dying process. The service included a piece she had written to be presented at her own funeral. I asked one of her sisters for a copy of the "speech" so I can remember a few brilliant quotes, one of which was something like "Guess who I ran into on the way to heaven?"

At Eliana's grave we huddled around the rabbi so we could hear over the intense Boulder chinook wind; someone commented later that it was introverted Eliana's speech now free. In Jewish tradition, written material with the name of God should not be destroyed, so the concrete box at the bottom of the grave held many papers and prayerbooks and probably a Torah or two. Eliana had chosen not to be buried in a casket, which is apparently the ancient Jewish way and common in Israel but fairly new in the U.S. So her nieces and nephews bore her body, wrapped in a white shroud, to the grave on a back board and then lowered her body in, where the gentlemen from the mortuary laid her atop her spiritual materials. Her family members then each picked up a handful of dirt and then the rest of us continued shoveling, embracing Eliana with earth.

At the consolation gathering Eliana's sisters asked her friends to share stories, since we'd heard from the family during the service. My connection with Eliana was fairly narrow, so the day of mourning and celebrations was an opportunity to discover the other facets of her life, from art to web design to skinny dipping to baking desserts. She was a fantastic person and I'm bummed I didn't have a chance to know her better.

Her nieces and nephews saw my purple Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers and, recalling Eliana's long-established love of purple, decided to all get matching purple Chucks. I smiled and shared that I actually had a CCL story about these shoes. I bought them in September (part of my annual Burning Man reentry process) and made sure to keep them clean and in good shape for lobby meetings in November. But when I got to Washington D.C. this year and headed to Catharsis on the Mall, it'd been a rainy week, so I spent the weekend Rangering in mud and getting dirt and grass all over my clean Chucks. Then, awkwardly, the legislative director in my first meeting complimented me on my shoes as we were sitting down.

I'd planned to do some Getting Things Done for Shadow Boxing Day when I got home, but instead it turned into several hours of researching Caribbean islands with Kelly fr a trip this spring. Fortunately I Got Things Done on Groundhog Day itself, clearing all of the accumulated papers on my desk and stereo system off to the bookshelves I set up in the office last weekend. Now when the cats we're taking care of for a month jump onto my desk while I'm computing they won't trigger a landslide of financial paperwork.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/385773.html – comment over there.

Trevor baby stare
LiveJournal emailed me "What was on your mind 10 years ago?" because apparently #10yearschallenge is a social media thing. LJ then self-answered by quoting the post I wrote on Obama's inauguration day, "They Still Call it the White House, But That's a Temporary Condition" with links to thematic P-Funk and James Brown songs on YouTube (which are remarkably all still up and still have low-thousands of views, ten years later). The Obama administration was significantly less of a soul party than I'd been hoping, but that's a blog post for another day. My next post was on February 2nd to remind everyone of Shadow Boxing Day on February 3rd, a tradition I still try to keep.

I was already ahead of LiveJournal in the "What was I doing ten years ago" game, though.

I finally got the motivation to organize my decade and a half of digital photos into a modern web presence. This was instigated by Flickr's upcoming limits on free accounts now that they're part of small-internet-company SmugMug rather than we-somehow-still-have-loads-of-cash Verizon Oath neé Yahoo. [Ironically, the last time I was surveying the landscape of photo sharing options and wishing that Yahoo had invested in Flickr rather than letting it slide from "almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world" to "a social networking site for photographers that most people forgot about" several folks had suggested SmugMug.] After exploring the state of Flickr and reading the tea leaves about SmugMug's plans for the site, I realized that SmugMug itself was probably a better fit for "Here's all the interesting photos I've ever taken, organized into time and place" and a free Flickr account might be better suited to sharing photos I've taken that stand well on their own, distinct from a travelogue.

So thus it was that I found myself spending much of my January free time organizing fifteen and a half years of photographs. And thus it was that I noticed how much more focused on getting out and doing stuff I was in 2009.

Ten years ago this month I was working to improve the state of the entity name recognition code I'd written for Tyler-Eagle and handing it off to a coworker. I then quit my job (in the midst of the worst recession in over half a century, remember) to travel for two months in Central America, and hit three festivals and three national parks over the rest of the summer and then got a job at Google. And while it's easy to get nostalgic about that time you quit your job and spent six months having fun, the photos also provided evidence that even when I had a job, I spent more time hiking in the foothills, going for walks during the golden hour, snapping pictures of sunsets, and going to drum circles. Over the last nine years I haven't prioritized these as much, which made me sad. My social life over the last nine years has been dominated by work and Burning Man (and more recently climate activism), which are big and meaningful and fun, but also kind of exhausting. I need to change this.

I also got a feeling that the world is less fun than it was ten years ago, and not just because I'm in my late 30s instead of my late 20s. It feels like there's less cool stuff happening (though I don't use Facebook, which is probably where people find out about interesting events in the twenty teens). And the general sense of techno-optimism has turned into a collective future outlook of techno dystopia. I've long imagined running a Cyberpunk 2020 game in the year 2020. Now that we're almost there, I think it's interesting that the corporate dominance part of the story is more accurate than the technical advances that create the setting.

So hey, let's all remember some of the future we were hoping for in January of 2009 and see if we can't still create some of that.


Post script: Flickr was part of that techno-optimistic future vision ten years ago. Share your work with people around the world! Global search and discovery! Use a Creative Commons license if you want! Robust APIs and RSS feeds! Metadata and mashups! But then they missed the big future transformation: billions of people were about to have pocket computers with a camera and an Internet connection. Yet Flickr was stuck in a self-conception that most photos are taken by photographers because photographers are the primary users of cameras, so they didn't try to make a Flickr app that was "Almost certainly the best way to share what you capture with your phone." And they missed the insight that, for many people, who you share with is a more important axis than the media type you share. (I also suspect that MBAs at Yahoo! had already underallocated headcount to projects like Flickr with significant growth potential, so even if they'd seen this shift coming they would've been poorly resourced to adapt.)

LiveJournal also felt like part of that open techno future ten years ago. When I've occasionally gone LJ history digging, 2008/2009 seemed to be when LiveJournal hit its peak, at least in my friends network. I think most folks joined Facebook around 2009 and eventually stopped participating on LiveJournal by 2011. And the way Facebook has evolved is definitely not the optimistic techno future that I had in mind… though they'll make a good Megacorp in a Cyberpunk 2020 game.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/385485.html – comment over there.

30th-Dec-2018 10:12 pm - Wabi-sabi Bookshelves
Trevor baby stare
One thing I was looking forward to as a homeowner was some really nice bookcases.
Our new house has a lot of roomy floor space, but bookshelf-appropriate walls are at a premium. So we need just the right bookshelves.

Since moving out on my own after college I've been slowly accumulating and then moving cheap particle board flat-pack bookshelves from Target. These do a decent job of holding rows of books and magazines.
However, each move tends to leave them shabbier, with the paperboard backing starting to come loose, the central load-bearing shelf bowing out, and corner chunks of particle board get dislodged. Flat-pack bookshelves also have a tendency to have awkward shelf spacing. They seem to universally max out at five shelves, but I almost always want to fit six shelves worth of reading material on them, thus ending up with three stacks of books per shelf rather than an orderly line. And since these were acquired one or two at a time they're a hodgepodge of colors, widths, and depths.

So—I figured—when I own a house and never need to move bookshelves again, I can buy some nice solid pieces with adequate shelving that cost more than $35 a piece. I therefore nicely stacked all my file boxes full of books against the walls of the garage nine months ago, figuring I'd wait a couple months until I'd found the bookshelves of my dreams before unpacking any.

Unfortunately, furniture shopping is a pain in the butt. Boulder furniture stores are mostly high-end, so they tend to have bookshelves that look distinguished but have significant shortcomings when it comes to the business of actually shelving books. And metro Denver stores seem to mostly have a slightly higher quality on the same 5-shelf Target flat-pack theme. I considered ordering custom-built shelves, but realized that I'm not sure how many linear feet of books of each height range we've got, so it seems easy to get a custom order wrong.

So instead we had three empty mismatched bookshelves sitting in the living room for nine months and an occasional sigh of "I could look that up, but first I'd have to find the right box." A couple weeks ago, Kelly went on a quest to find a book she needed, filling the living room floor with boxes. I decided to admit temporary defeat and last weekend I stuck shelves on the cases and Kelly's books on the shelves. And this afternoon, after not sleeping last night and deciding I shouldn't spend all day on the computer again, I unloaded most of my boxes into a reasonable categorization.

I'm fairly impressed at how compactly our combined library fits. Kelly's books take about a case and a half and mine take about two and a half cases, plus a small one for paperback novels. We've still got three cases in the garage and we used two for games which had been on built-in shelving at previous residences. Still in storage, though, are two boxes of roleplaying games (takes a shelf and change), a couple boxes of textbooks (another 2–3 shelves), 40 years of National Geographic (takes a whole case), a couple hundred issues of Dragon and Dungeon magazines (takes most of a case), and a variety of magazines from a family friend who passed away, including a large number of aerospace-related books, which seemed odd for an anti-government, anti-corporate pacifist who lived in a cabin in the woods.

So… a partial victory. I can now easily read almost any book I own. I can estimate the needed dimensions of future fancy bookshelves. And it's significantly easier to move around the garage.

Also on the eventual homeowner to-do list: make a Little Free Library.
… and figure out what to do with about five cubic feet of CD jewel cases.
… and find somewhere to put my boxes of CCGs so we can put a chest freezer and beer fridge in the garage…

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/385177.html – comment over there.

23rd-Nov-2018 10:52 pm - Catching Up
Trevor baby stare
I've had this Chrome browser session open for 101 days, ignoring a MacOS security update for a couple months. Why? I had a dozen or so tabs open to /read pages on Dreamwidth and if I restarted anything then i wouldn't be able to read everything that people had posted since, erm, the beginning of August. Appropriately enough, I learned a word from one of those dusty Dreamwidth tabs: tsundoku, “acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one's home without reading them.”

So if you got a comment from me that seemed like it was in a time warp, that was me.
Now time to reboot. I'll miss the old Chrome tab UI, though. The *ahem* new one where favicons never disappear looks kinda funny when you accumulate as many open pages as I do.

Hey, don't tab shame me.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/384960.html – comment over there.

6th-Nov-2018 11:39 pm - We Can Act Now, or Act Later
Trevor baby stare
The Daily Camera published my letter to the editor today—election day.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That's what came to mind as I read the Oct. 20 Editorial Advisory Board opinions and the editorials on Oct. 12 and 15 about climate change. These authors expressed a spectrum from mild concern to deep worry and a diverse suite of solutions. It's important to have these conversations — climate change and our responses to it will be the biggest story of the 21st century and all ideas should be on the table. From wildfires to floods like 2013, we've all got skin in this game.

We can do two things about climate change: reduce net greenhouse gas emissions (prevention) and adapt to a warmer climate (cure). We can accomplish the former by putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions, investing in low-emission power and transportation, planting forests, sequestering carbon through agriculture, and more. Adaptation will involve mass migration, investment in disaster recovery, growing and eating different crops, paying higher insurance premiums, rebuilding or relocating cities due to flooding, combating insect-borne diseases, and resolving geopolitical tensions over water and arable land. We can invest in a combination of both prevention and adaptation, but the longer the wait, the more will have to pay to adapt.

Now is the time to have conversations about climate change and solutions. Share stories of how we've been affected. Explore climate risks and mitigation. Debate the pros and cons of each solution. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Share your thoughts in the newspaper and on the Internet. Call your elected officials and let them know that 2019 can be the year that Congress starts to invest in climate change prevention, or we can do nothing today and scramble to adapt in the 2030s. Trevor Stone Boulder

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/384662.html – comment over there.

4th-Nov-2018 12:18 pm - Campaign Oddities
Trevor baby stare
I take a very thorough approach to voting. I spent several hours to find data about things like relative fugitive emissions between states and break-even costs for gas development before deciding how to vote on Colorado's Proposition 112, a measure to increase the required setback for petroleum development.

I also look at the website for every candidate, even minor-party ones, to see what their issues and framing are. This led to a number of interesting findings:

  • The Libertarian candidate for Lieutenant Governor has a website, but their running mate just has a Facebook page. Why they don't share a single site is unclear. (The Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates both have an About section for their running mates on their main site.) So much for the early-2000s stereotype that a Libertarian candidate is probably an out-of-work programmer.
  • The 90s-retro website award goes to John Bedrick, Republican candidate for Boulder County Sheriff. According to the hit counter at the bottom of the page, I was the 962nd visitor. And although he prominently lists his experience in cyber/data security and privacy, I'm not sure that hosting your campaign page on your business's domain is a great idea. Props for having a Spanish version of the text prominently displayed in parallel with the English.
  • Incumbent Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has an interesting Google problem: when I google [wayne williams] with a Colorado IP address, the top two results are an ad for his campaign website, a normal link to his campaign website, a sidebar for Wayne Williams, American serial killer, and about give other articles about "The Atlanta Killer." Hopefully Colorado voters are able to tell who is who.

The weirdest platform goes to Bill Hammons, national leader of the Unity party and candidate for Colorado Governor. His positions:

  1. I Support the Military > If Trump takes the step of firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, I support the Generals
    In other words, let's have a military coup if Trump gets out of line.
  2. Lincoln, D.C. > Ditch the swamp by moving the nation's capital to east of DIA and naming it after one of our greatest Presidents
    How moving the capital would change the dynamics between government, lobbyists, and contractors (or other swamp concerns) is unclear. Also, eastern Colorado doesn't really have the water resources for the couple million people that would come with moving the Beltway.
  3. Colorado Constitutional Convention > Our system is broken, and Colorado can host an Article V Constitutional Convention
    This is true of every other state?
  4. Eliminate Income Taxes > Replace the Colorado income tax with a revenue measure based on fossil fuel consumption
    Um… the point of a tax on fossil fuels is to get people to use fewer fossil fuels. If Colorado's income tax were replaced with a fossil fuel tax with equal revenue, utilities would quickly switch to renewables (great!) and then the state would face a huge revenue shortfall (crap!) and gasoline taxes would have to rise to match… and slowly erode as people switch to electric cars.
  5. Crossroads Colorado > More can be done to promote the advantages of Colorado's central position in the country
    Maybe add "Not at the edge" to the bottom of the "Welcome to Colorful Colorado" highway signs would promote this?
  6. Defend Colorado at all Costs > We should demand resurrection of the federal "Star Wars" SDI program with Colorado as its focus
    I guess launching satellites to shoot down Soviet ICBMs targeted at NORAD would be one way to generate revenue from a fossil fuel tax…
  7. Colorado Spaceport Development > Since 2010, I've been publicly pushing for more Spaceport development in Colorado
    Is a state with high winds, surprise blizzards, and no ocean a good place to be launching things into space? I guess we're a mile closer to space than those coastal launch sites…
  8. Life and Death > I support the Right to Choose, and I also support the Death Penalty
    In short, pro-death.
  9. Colorado Gun Rights > Like the rest of the Constitution, I support the Second Amendment as it was written 200 years ago
    The U.S. Constitution was written 231 years ago. Colorado's constitution was written 142 years ago.
  10. School Shootings > The FBI needs to be folded into the CIA and domestic surveillance of Social Media increased dramatically
    So… we should treat American teenagers like members of international terrorist organizations?
  11. Law Enforcement > We can protect both our law enforcement officers and the public with mandatory and funded body cameras
    Needed to have a reasonable position in here just to keep you on your toes.
  12. Care for Coloradans > I myself lost my own health insurance due to Obamacare, and support a Colorado Medicare for All system</ins>
    Somehow riding both the talking points from the right and the left.
  13. Colorado Life Insurance > Being a Life Producer, I'm a firm believer in the societal benefits of insurance, and support state funding
    Is "Life Producer" a euphemism for parent?
  14. Lower the Voting Age to 16 > If you're old enough to drive tons of steel, you should be old enough to vote in the State of Colorado
    A wild reasonable opinion appears.
  15. Count Every Vote (CEV) > Counts of all over-votes on ballots encourage desperately-needed competition in our electoral system
    It'll be like Instant Runoff Voting, but less clear.
  16. Colorado Redistricting > We need drawing of all legislative districts along competitive lines, including with my Denver 7 plan
    "I'm not gonna link to my plan, though."

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/384509.html – comment over there.

spam lite
I received the following email today, addressed to the plain text LiveJournal password I've had for over a decade. If you have or had a LiveJournal account, consider changing your password, and the password of any site which shared a password.
Received: from [197.29.14.197] (unknown [197.29.14.197])
by my.smtp.host (Postfix) with ESMTP id 1336F87C71
for <my-livejournal-address@my-host>; Wed, 10 Oct 2018 18:03:34 +0000 (UTC)
Message-ID: <5BBE4D0A.8030000@my-host>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2018 19:03:38 +0000
From: <my-livejournal-address@my-host>
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.0; en-US; rv:1.9.2.4) Gecko/20100608 Thunderbird/3.1
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: "my-livejournal-password" <my-livejournal-address@my-host>
Subject: Security Warning
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=CP-850; format=flowed
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit


8Hello!
I'm a member of an international hacker group.

As you could probably have guessed, your account my-livejournal-address@my-host was hacked, because I sent message you from your account.

Now I have access to all your accounts!
For example, your password for my-livejournal-address@my-host: my-livejournal-password

Within a period from July 30, 2018 to October 9, 2018, you were infected by the virus we've created, through an adult website you've visited.
So far, we have access to your messages, social media accounts, and messengers.
Moreover, we've gotten full damps of these data.

We are aware of your little and big secrets...yeah, you do have them. We saw and recorded your doings on porn websites. Your tastes are so weird, you know..

But the key thing is that sometimes we recorded you with your webcam, syncing the recordings with what you watched!
I think you are not interested show this video to your friends, relatives, and your intimate one...

Transfer $800 to our Bitcoin wallet: 1GdegtNpYcvoCPsMmyiSkZARDdAmYuXGXU
If you don't know about Bitcoin please input in Google "buy BTC". It's really easy.

I guarantee that after that, we'll erase all your "data" :)

A timer will start once you read this message. You have 48 hours to pay the above-mentioned amount.

Your data will be erased once the money are transferred.
If they are not, all your messages and videos recorded will be automatically sent to all your contacts found on your devices at the moment of infection.

You should always think about your security.
We hope this case will teach you to keep secrets.
Take care of yourself.


A couple notes:
  • LiveJournal is the only site I've used this password on. Dreamwidth also has a copy of the password, so that it can crosspost.
  • I suspect that this extortion attempt is based on access to a LiveJournal user database or dump (rather than intercepted from a Dreamwidth crosspost request) because it was sent to an email address I only use with LiveJournal, and which I don't think Dreamwidth knows, nor (I think) is it publicly available on the LJ site.
  • The sender didn't change my password on LiveJournal and doesn't appear to have performed any vandalism, so I suspect they didn't log in with the compromised password.
  • A good indication that sending bitcoin would be a bad idea: the email gives no way to tell the recipient whose "data" to delete.
  • Other than the password itself, none of the claims in the email are true. Googling the bitcoin address leads to a report that this scam is going around (it's a variant of one that's about a year old) and a couple dozen reports on bitcoinabuse.com.
  • So far, that address has received two transactions, with a total value of about eight dollars… maybe not as lucrative as the scammer had hoped.

So it sounds like LiveJournal's password database was compromised… at some point in the last decade or so. Probably in the last few months, though. If you've got an LJ account, it would be a good idea to change it (and update your DW crosspost settings). If you used the same password on other sites, change those passwords as well (to something different).

ETA October 20 I got another email with the username and password of a second LiveJournal account that I created years ago and mostly forgot about. This makes me fairly certain that the scammers are either operating with an exfiltrated LJ user password database or they had an implant in the site many years ago but have only made use of it now. Whoever answered the support ticket I filed to alert about the security incident was fairly dismissive, though. Hopefully someone at LJ will take the breach seriously and at least notify affected users.

The new email content is a little different, and its bitcoin address 1AzdzwWHaJXytimxenzi45JVtY4FsXwLZZ has not yet received any payments and it's got several abuse reports. The address on the first email I got has received about 1.12 bitcoin; I guess $7200 is enough of a spam payout to keep a scammer motivated to keep cracking passwords.

ETA October 28 Another address, with two messages on October 22nd: 1JTtwbvmM7ymByxPYCByVYCwasjH49J3Vj has received over 4.7 bitcoin which is over $30,000 at current exchange rates. It's received nearly 300 abuse reports.

On October 22nd, the first address, along with 8 others, transferred 1.656 bitcoin (about $10,000) to an intermediate address which transferred it on to an account which now has exactly 5 bitcoin ($3200) and another which seems to be part of a further web of intermediate accounts. The second address I got a threat from only got 0.376 bitcoin ($2400) with no transactions since the 22nd, and hasn't yet cashed out. Assuming these accounts are all part of the same spam push, over $60k from people who are savvy enough to figure out how to buy and send bitcoin but aren't savvy enough to realize this is a hoax seems like a pretty good return.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/384008.html – comment over there.

9th-Oct-2018 11:34 pm - Furthering the Bechdel Test
inner maiden animated no words
I was recently thinking about the Bechdel test—whether a work of fiction
  1. Has at least two female characters
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man

and ways it might be extended to the next level. I like this formulation: a story
  1. Has a female protagonist
  2. Who completes her objective
  3. And is rewarded with something other than a man

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass pass. As does The Wizard of Oz and Frozen. I suppose Island of the Blue Dolphins passes, though I'm not sure if getting off the island was the main character's goal. So there's decent success at stories targeted at young people, though Disney certainly has a history of missing the mark. In the women-killing-dangerous-enemies genre, the films Alien (and Aliens) and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy pass.

I then realized that I don't know, off hand, a lot of stories or films with female protagonists. And many of the ones I do know, I've forgotten what the reward is at the end of the story. I'd love to hear more stories in the comments to add to the list.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/383833.html – comment over there.

Trevor baby stare
Thanks to [personal profile] dglenn for posting about the Trump administration's marked increase in passport denials, including this list of articles: Also BoingBoing: Bertherism for everyone: Kansas woman told birth certificate can't be used for passport renewal.

I'm very concerned about this development. It seems like a step beyond the early anti-immigrant efforts like denying entry to U.S. permanent residents from seven majority Muslim countries. This policy is denying rights to native-born American citizens and it could be used as grounds in the future to deny Americans their status as citizens. Demanding that current passport holders produce additional documentation of their birth forty years ago is a new Kafkaesque policy from an administration that's led by a man who gained political fame by questioning the nationality of the previous president.

The Trump administration is questioning the citizenship of people born at home, particularly if they have immigrant-sounding names. Both of my grandmothers (American citizens I assure you) were born at home to first-generation immigrants. Donald Trump's State Department's policies degrade not only the Americans that have to wade through a new morass of government red tape to access their rights. They degrade American heritage as well.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/383492.html – comment over there.

31st-Aug-2018 09:41 am - Bad Cop
Trevor baby stare
(in a Steven Wright monotone)
Two police interrogators decided to play good cop/bad cop. The bad cop showed up late and forgot why I was there.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/383308.html – comment over there.

29th-Jul-2018 09:22 pm - Red White & Blueberry Ale
Trevor baby stare
On July 4th I started brewing a batch of Red White & Blueberry Ale. For several weeks I was trying to decide what I should brew during the holiday break until inspiration finally hit for this patriotic brew. The idea was to brew a red ale with blueberries, using flaked wheat (plus the yeast and head) to play the role of white.

Blueberries floating in a carboyIn the boil I put
5 gal water
4 lbs CBW Golden Light liquid malt extract
2 lbs Red X 12° malt
½ lb flaked wheat
3 lbs blueberry puree
1 oz Liberty pellet hops
1 oz East Kent Golding pellet hops
0.5 tsp Irish moss
1 packet White Labs Irish Ale yeast (WLP004)

Thanks to the blueberry puree, the wort was very brown and cloudy; straining it into the fermenter was a slow and gooey task. With nearly 10 pounds of sugars, vigorous fermentation picked up within hours.

Two weeks later, I racked this to secondary: it was a purple shade of brow and still fairly cloudy. I added 4 pounds of whole blueberries that had gone through four freeze-thaw cycles to break down the cell walls. About a third of these floated right away while the others sunk to the bottom of the carboy, slowly rising in the next couple days as they soaked up the beer.

Clear red/purple ale in a syphonToday was bottling day. The sediment had settled nicely, with all the blueberries on top, creating a fun visual as the two masses slowly approached each other while I siphoned into the bottling bucket. My siphon placement technique worked well; there was hardly any sediment in the bucket (I usually end up with several millimeters). The beer had also cleared: instead of the cloudy brown, it was a beautiful reddish shade of purple, looking more like a light red wine than a beer. The taste is also pretty exquisite: blueberry and grain flavors both come out in roughly equal proportion; neither are overpowering, and the hops are mild, with no detracting bitterness. The alcohol content is somewhere above 3.7%; I don't know for sure because I'm not sure how much sugar in the whole blueberries got digested by the yeast. Regardless, this should be a great refreshing summer brew, befitting its patriotic and independent identity.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/383153.html – comment over there.

28th-Jul-2018 06:49 pm - July is for Entertainment
Trevor baby stare
Somehow July turned into my month for being in the audience.

Dead and Company were at Folsom Field in Boulder for two nights. The first set of the Friday night show was a little underwhelming, but the second set was amazing, with highlights including Terrapin Station, Saint Stephen into The Eleven, All Along the Watchtower, and Throwing Stones: every song was played exceptionally well. The Saturday night show was stellar from beginning to end, including a great The Other One into Drums and Space back into The Other One. It's a lot of fun to be with a football stadium full of people who know every song well and reflect a lot of energy back to the band. I may have spent too much money on tie dye on Shakedown Street.

I saw The Colorado Shakespeare Festival's productions of Love's Labours Lost and Richard III. Somehow I'd never seen or read the former, and it's a really good play (rising above some Shakespearian tropes) and the CSF cast did a great job playing up the comedy. The Richard III production was also well done, with some really neat witchy action from ex-queen Margaret. After watching three or four times productions in the last ten years, I think I finally understand everything that's going on in that play.

As a birthday present for Kelly's inner child we saw Disney's Little Mermaid at BDT Stage neé Boulder Dinner Theater. The costuming was pretty fun, and they had a good fluidity of "imagine that we're underwater." I think I ended up eating some dairy at the show (maybe the bread), so I felt lousy the next day :-/

This week I saw Bombino, a fantastic Tuareg guitar player in the tradition of Tinariwen and Ali Farka Touré, at the Boulder Theater. The performance was fantastic, and they had a fun humble and thankful energy, with the bass player apologizing that they don't know much English (having been colonized by the French). Local Afrobeat band Atomga opened. I saw them a few years ago; they seemed to have upped their game and their set totally rocked; on par with the main act. Lots of good dancing opportunity, particularly since the theater wasn't very crowded. I guess the rest of Boulder didn't realize how fun this show would be.

I also managed to fit in two trips to the Monday evening Bandshell Boogie. And I skipped the Buckethead concert at the beginning of the month because I was too.damn.exhausted.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/382735.html – comment over there.

21st-Jun-2018 11:31 pm - Borrowing a Personal Map
earth eyes south america face
We were instructed to create a personal map as homework for an all-day team alignment meeting at work today. The general expectation was that it would be mind map style: your name in the center and branches leading to ideas which play an important role in your life.

Since I'm a map nerd and we're part of the geo team, I decided to dispense with the node/edge modality and use a geographic map as the base. And since laying out and drawing a map of my own psyche is a more involved project than I wanted to undertake, I started by borrowing from one of my favorite maps: Tolkien's map of Middle-earth. I then carefully positioned some of the key pieces of my life upon the rich geolocated symbolism of Arda, arriving at this interesting work:
1.6MiB imageCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/382634.html – comment over there.

4th-Jun-2018 11:34 pm - The Plural of Anecdote is not Data
mathnet - to cogitate and to solve
Some days, I feel like my strongest skill is the ability to stare at a bunch of data and go "Hey, here's something interesting…"

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/382225.html – comment over there.

2nd-Jun-2018 11:41 pm - Can I Hear You Now?
intense aztec drummer DNC 2008
A couple weeks ago I had a really stick neck, tightness in my jaw, and pain in my ear. I'm certain that all three of these were related, but I'm not sure which was causative. I'd spent a long weekend in a hot spring at the end of April, and my right ear had felt like it had water in it for a while after that, so I figured that might be involved.

After a difficult day at work due to on-and-off headaches due to the ear pain, I put hydrogen peroxide - urea drops in my ears and irrigated with a bulb. This had been the prescription 5ish years ago when I had some persistent ringing in my ears and an overabundance of earwax flushed out by a PA at my doctor's office. It had also worked wonders on my trip to California in February when my ears felt clogged, the pressure changes on the plane were intense, and I had trouble focusing in an all-day meeting because of headaches coming and going and noticeable tightness in my neck muscles.

The drops and irrigation seemed to help for a couple days, then two weeks ago Friday the dull headache quickly shifted into a "You will devote almost all of your attention to the sharp pain in the left side of your head." My task on Friday is reading interview packets and then participating in hiring committee. After struggling through the first packet I realized that there was no way I would be able to make it through another four hours of reading and talking with this level of pain, so I called my doctor's office and asked the meeting coordinator to hand off my other packets.

At the doctor's office, I rated my pain an 8 out of 10. An NP inspected my ears and irrigated with a fancy bottle and warm water, which was more effective than the bulb dropper. A rather large chunk of goo came out of my left ear, and after sitting still for a moment to readjust my balance I felt major relief, right back down to a 2 or so on the pain scale. She recommended using the hydrogen peroxide drops for 3–5 days to get residual wax out and I biked home. I felt so good when I got home that I messaged the coordinator and said "Hey, I can read again, can you give me a packet back?" In my history of injury and illness It's very rare that a treatment takes effect that immediately; even the morphine I got when I broke my arm took longer to kick in, and didn't dial things down that far.

The next day I had another intense ear headache after several hours playing Magic and sadly opted not to go out to see Godspeed You Black Emperor!, since the artful amplified distortion of post-rock didn't seem like a great idea when your ears already hurt. Back home to lie in bed with peroxide making popping sounds as it combats wax.

I didn't have any more sharp pain, but over the next several days my ears felt pretty clogged. At first I figured this was residual ear wax, but fingers and Q-tips weren't pulling much wax out. I have the perk of being married to an NP; Kelly looked in my ears with her otoscope and noted that she couldn't see my ear drums, but everything looked pretty inflamed. I called the doctor's office and got in to see another NP who confirmed that it didn't look like wax, but wasn't sure just what to do. Hypothesizing that it was bacterial, she prescribed ciprofloxacin drops in each ear twice a day (possibly to be combined with Flonaze to combat inflammation), then come back for another irrigation.

Cipro ear drops are apparently an infrequently used medicine. My usual King Soopers pharmacy didn't have any, and sent me to the Louisville location. After a day of taking the drops I realized there were only 14 dropperettes in the package, which only covers half a week for two ears twice a day. I called the pharmacy to get a refill, which led to a multi-hour adventure wherein I learned (a) the insurance company didn't want to authorize it, because the refill date was for after a week and (b) I'd apparently gotten the only box of this medicine at any King Soopers in the Denver area. Oh, and hey, it's Memorial Day weekend, so good luck ordering anything. Fortunately, these are solvable problems. I think the pharmacist was able to convince the insurance company that I'd only received a half-week dose (since apparently people usually only get an infection in one ear). The on-call doctor called in a "Yeah, totally get more of that" prescription, too. (And apparently King Soopers had a coupon that would've made the drug cheaper than going through insurance, if they'd had any in stock.) After a couple calls I found a Wallgreens that had a box in stock and they were able to transfer the prescription from King Soopers.

Ordinarily I would take the position "I'll just skip this drug on Memorial Day and get it sorted out on Tuesday and it doesn't seem to be making that big of a difference anyway." But stopping an antibiotic half-way through isn't usually a good idea, and "a colony of drug-resistant bacteria in your ears" is not an attractive idea when you've just spent two weeks having aural discomfort.

Through Memorial Day, I'd generally had one ear or the other clear enough to hear conversations accurately, though I didn't have great spatial localization and I could tell I wasn't getting the full spectrum from music. Starting Tuesday, both ears felt very clogged almost all of the time; I could have a conversation, but only if I positioned myself strategically and the other person spoke up. Assuming that this was just buildup of ear drops and inflammation residue, I eagerly awaited my followup appointment for irrigation.

On Thursday, the NP looked in my ears again and pulled out a black chunk and inspected it. She concluded that it wasn't ear wax and that the antibiotic treatment hadn't solved the problem, so I should go see an ENT. I called around and found that there was an appointment early (for me) on Friday morning, as luck would have it.

I set my alarm the night before, but it didn't go off because I'd set up my clock off by 12 hours when I moved in. Oops. Fortunately, Kelly gets up early for work anyway, so she asked me "When's your appointment again?" early enough that I could do the morning gig and get to the appointment.

I really should've headed to the ENT rather than my primary care office after the first round of treatment didn't solve the whole problem. They've got a whole bunch of fancy ear tools, including long tweezers that go through the otoscope and a device that amounts to an ear vacuum. She quickly concluded that the big black hunks of goo in my ears were fungal, which clearly explains the ineffectiveness of my week of antibiotics. After removing large chunks she sprayed white antifungal powder in my ears and told me to keep them dry. Now that's something I've never had before :-)

I asked if my psoriatic arthritis might have played a role in this ear inflammation and debris buildup. The PA said that psoriasis can lead to ear issues, but that my case didn't look related. That's definitely a relief, because I was really not looking forward to my ears pulling my neck and screaming at my brain as a chronic condition.

So for the last day and a half, my left ear has been refreshingly clear and able to hear while my right ear has been ringing (though not as loudly as it was) and has reduced hearing capacity but gracefully no pain. My neck, shoulders, and jaw have also been refreshingly loose today. I've got a followup on Wednesday before I head to Apogaea where the PA will clean up the antifungal powder and take another look. Hopefully this ringing is just a little more debris stuck to the drum.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/382193.html – comment over there.

1895 Colorado map
Dear Senator (Gardner | Bennet),

Thank you for introducing the bipartisan FARMERS FIRST Act to help ensure that agricultural workers have access to mental health care. Farming is both physically and emotionally taxing and the year-to-year risks that agricultural producers face can bring emotional stress to the breaking point.

As Colorado, and the world, grows warmer, the effects of climate change will further compound the physical and mental stresses on farmers in the state. First, heat waves are correlated with an increase in negative mental health events and acts of aggression and violence. Second, we have already experienced more frequent extreme weather events and greater variation in surface water availability due to increased temperatures, reduced snowpack, and less predictable precipitation. These factors are likely to increase the risk of crop failures, putting farms and farmers at risk. Third, the long-term effects of a warmer climate like earlier seasonal onset, warmer diurnal temperatures, and insect infestations (like the pine beetle unchecked by cold winters) will force many farmers to abandon crops they have grown for generations.

Fortunately, we have an opportunity to put the breaks on climate change and keep temperatures from running away faster than we can adapt. Climate change legislation should be one of Congress’s top priorities this year and next, and Colorado’s interests should be represented as bills are crafted. I urge you to take action in at least the following two ways.

First, please ensure programs to address climate change are part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Agriculture is on the front lines of climate change and agricultural producers have some of the best opportunities to make a meaningful difference in greenhouse gasses. Congress should sponsor research, development, and experimentation of ag practices which can sequester carbon, reduce methane, increase yields, and save money on inputs. Congress should also find ways to incentivize expanding America’s great forests: it’s hard to find a more effective way to remove carbon dioxide from the air than trees.

Second, I urge you to cosponsor a bill enacting a market-based climate change solution like carbon fee and dividend. A national program to price the externalities of greenhouse gas emissions is likely the most effective action that we can take to keep the climate stable and avoid major disruption to daily life that we risk with unchecked global warming. A price on carbon would spur American innovation, create clean energy jobs, and improve our quality of life.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter and your dedicated service to Colorado,
Trevor Stone

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/381879.html – comment over there.

24th-Apr-2018 12:16 am - Close Enough for Government Work
spencer hot springs feet
While poking through papers the previous homeowners left, I noticed the well permit change of address form with a sticky note saying to check the website in a few weeks. So I poked around the Division of Water Resources website and found the document history for our well permit.

Except… the dates looked a little funny, relative to the construction of the house. And then I noticed that the address on the original permit is down the block, where the north-south street bends into my east-west street. "Huh, did that person own two houses on the same block?" I wondered. So I poked around the County Recorder's website (and used Chrome developer tools to make the document viewer useful). The names didn't line up either.

Then I took a closer look at the well permit's legal description. "Lot 5, block 8, Country Club Park." Isn't that my legal description? I checked the assessor's website again. Oh, wait, I'm (part of) "Lot 5, block 8, Country Club Park Partial Replat." Totally different numbering lot sequence! But Block 8 is still contiguous. And someone at the State probably didn't know the finer points of Boulder County subdivision plats, so they saw "Lot 5, block 8, Country Club Park" and matched 'em up. I wonder if our neighbors have a record of their well permit. I'm not sure how much I care about fixing this.

Other fun discoveries from the plat maps:
  • Our subdivision was planned to have two parks (one surrounded by "Meadow Drive," the other by "Parkway Drive," natch). It currently has zero parks, and the Parkway Drive park is an island of six houses.
  • This stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue was to be called Redwood Avenue, but I guess that ran into trouble when they got to "R" in the alphabetical tree-themed street names zone in north Boulder.
  • 55th Street was called "Roxwood Road," which seems an odd choice for a straight north-south thoroughfare in a town with a numbered north-south grid.
  • The original plat had a row of houses with driveways along Baseline. They would not have enjoyed commuting or throwing parties.

    This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/381627.html – comment over there.

5th-Apr-2018 11:46 pm - Direct Marketing Fail
spam lite
Today I received a glossy mailing from a real estate agent addressed to the folks who sold us their house a month ago. The flyer starts "Selling a home in East Boulder requires extensive local knowledge, a great marketing plan, and superior negotiation skills." It then lists several houses currently for sale or under contract. Finally it lists five recently sold houses… including the one we just bought.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/381294.html – comment over there.

rose red sky blue
The timing of the whole house buying process has worked out exquisitely.

For awhile we've been talking about buying a house this spring. Last year we let our landlord know that we'd like to go month-to-month when our lease was up. But since the purchase process was really smooth, we didn't need it. We're officially moved out of Lucky Gin, and it's approximately as clean as it was when we moved in.

We smartly gave ourselves a month to move, closing on the house on the first Monday of March. That provided a weekend for moving essentials and compactly stacking boxed media, a weekend for friends and family and several large vehicles, a weekend for professional movers to pick up the heavy and/or bulky, and a week and a Saturday for all the random things that have somehow escaped packing, discarding 3-year-old containers hiding in the fridge, and extensive cleaning.

Smooth timing was a theme in the house search process, too. The first two open house we tried to go to were closed. The first one we successfully visited was super fun and we got a good vibe from the seller's realtors. We met with those two at the beginning of the year and decided to "go out with them" for a while. And although I was prepared to spend months to a year looking for a house that met our needs, timing lucked out such that we bought a house that we saw on the second weekend of outings. Total time between purchasing Buying Your First Home and actually buying our first home: less than three months.

Another timing irony, or manifestation if you prefer: for several years I had a bunch of money in a money market account rather than a higher-interest CD because I was usually in a state of "Maybe next year will be the time to buy a house." In early 2017 I decided that pattern was clearly silly, so I poked around and found that I was eligible for a credit union with a 1% APR 1-year CD and figured one year would be a good time for a house purchase, relative to the lease schedule. Getting the account set up and money moved in took a week or two longer than I expected, so the maturity date was March 8th, a bit later in the year than I was hoping. But as luck would have it, the house cost a couple hundred thousand dollars less than I was expecting to pay, so I didn't have to use any of the money from the CD. The kicker, of course, is that a couple months after I opened the CD, the savings account's interest rate increased such that I would've made more money by keeping it totally liquid.

Fortunately, we now never* need to move again.
Well, except moving all the stuff in the garage (there's a single-human-width path down the middle) into the house, unboxing it, and moving the items destined for a garage sale back into the garage.

Some people think it's a great idea to have a yard sale before you move. I disagree: when there's a deadline on the move, it takes much less time to pack items without evaluating them, and you save on the time and stress of having all the unwanted items identified by a Saturday that you could use schlepping boxes instead. It seems much less stressful to carefully consider an item fetched from the garage, figure out how it might fit into a new space, and not announce a sale until all of the unnecessary items have accumulated.

* Well, until it's time to retire to Moloka'i or move into an ALF.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/381105.html – comment over there.

28th-Feb-2018 10:56 pm - Getting Wired for a Transfer
currency symbols
On Monday we're signing a bunch of documents and an escrow company will move a whole bunch of money around between accounts and we're going to move some essentials into a house and change the locks.

I would feel significantly less nervous about this if I'd received final amounts and money wiring instructions by now. I usually assume that data networks between banks are made of molasses, so moving a few bytes from one bank to another takes two days and COBOL code doesn't run on weekends. So I've had over a quarter million dollars sitting around in a couple accounts for a month and I'm getting nervous, because moving $250,000 from place to place is a lot harder than moving $25.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/380719.html – comment over there.

7th-Feb-2018 10:20 pm - FAQ Tells it Like it Is
bad decision dinosaur
From Answers to Questions About the National Flood Insurance Program
Q. Does my Homeowner Policy cover flood damage?
A. Your Homeowners Insurance does not cover floods. Floods can happen anytime, anywhere. They cause physical, emotional, and financial anguish especially when victims realize the damage is not covered by their homeowner’s insurance policy.

Insurance documents aren’t normally the place to turn for zingers.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/380585.html – comment over there.

4th-Feb-2018 08:46 pm - Coconut Porter
Vigelandsparken circle man
When we were in Maui last October, Maui Brewing Company had a limited-edition Imperial Coconut Porter on tap that was blissfully delicious and at least twice as wonderful as their usual coconut porter. The ICP was so good that it tasted like coffee and I liked that about it. It also tasted like chocolate and coconut and several other things if you held it on your tongue long enough.

I'd been wanting to try brewing a dark beer this winter and after that heavenly taste I determined to make a coconut porter. I had no illusions that it would be as wonderful as the one from Maui, but anywhere in that ballpark should be tasty.

I poked around the Internet to get a sense of the ingredients that other folks used in coconut porters and then went to the friendly local homebrew store. I didn't have a planned recipe, so I spent probably ten minutes smelling tubs of dry malt and imagining their combined flavor. I ended up with a pound of chocolate malt (600–700°L), half a pound of 80°L crystal malt, half a pound of flaked oats, and four pounds of "golden light" liquid malt extract. (°L is a measure of color. I described the wort as "dark chocolate" and the final brew as "light black.") I stopped by Whole Foods for two pounds of flaked coconut and twelve ounces of honey which I managed to spill on the bulk food scale and then improperly label with a PLU code.

I'd been planning to add a pound of blackstrap molasses as well to add some more dark sugar to the mix. And when I was gathering ingredients for the wort I noticed that I'd had a jar of carob molasses sitting around that I bought over a year ago, figuring I'd use it in some kind of beer. It's dark and sweet, so in it goes!

After primary fermentation I racked the beer into a glass carboy and then dumped in roasted coconut flakes through a funnel. It turned out that 5 gallons of beer plus two pounds of flakes doesn't leave much headroom in a 5-gal carboy. In the first hour I watched the wet coconut push dangerously far up the neck of the glass. Remembering stories of exploding carboys when a brew gets up to the seal, I used the thief to draw out some liquid on the inside and coconut stuck to the outside. The next morning I woke to find chocolate-covered beer pushing up through the airlock and spilling onto the table. I was actually relieved by that state, since it didn't involve explosive glass shards. The mouth of a carboy is, unfortunately, narrower than a spoon, so the best tool I could find was a metal kebab skewer which I used to move some coconut mass around and open up air pathways.

Fortunately the secondary fermentation wasn't very active, so I didn't have to reengage with battle with the coconut monster until bottling. With about two gallons left in the carboy, we were suspicious that the syphon would get surrounded by coconut gunk and leave stranded beer. We poured from the carboy through a strainer into a pot, which was remarkably effective. We got a nice bowl of alcoholic coconut to much on, a fairly sediment-free final syphoning, and a carboy plastered with coconut:
[Dark beer and a messy carboy full of coconut flakes]
The rest of bottling was mostly uneventful until small coconut flakes clogged up the bottling wand with about three bottles worth of beer left. I tried switching to the pinch-the-hose technique which is harder than it sounds and ended up with a decent amount of beer on the floor. (I don't think I've had a bottling evening that didn't end up with alcohol on the floor. Our dining room is blessed.) I did have the presence of mind to use the hose's position relative to the syphon point to stop and start flow, which was sufficient to fill a bottle or so.

Also, the plastic bottle tree I got from a coworker makes the bottle drying and at-hand-for-filling really slick:
[Drying tree full of bottles]

Ingredient list:
5 gal Water
4 lbs CBW Golden Light liquid malt extract
1 lbs Crisp Malting chocolate malt 600-700L
8 oz flaked oats
8.5 oz Briess Malting caramel/crystal malt 80L
12 oz Colorado honey
1.3 lbs Plantation blackstrap unsulphured molasses
1.5 lbs Al Wadi Al Akhdar carob molasses
1 oz northern brewer hops
1 oz santiam hops
0.25 tsp Irish moss
2 lbs roasted flaked coconut
White Labs WLP80 cream ale yeast blend

The friend who helped me bottle declared that it tasted like "tart coconut." I'm very pleased with the coconut presence (though a pound would've made for less mess and still plenty of taste). There's a good dark malt flavor, though I don't taste a lot of chocolate, coffee, or other notes. It's not bitter yet also not very sweet.

Anon, anon! I pray you, remember the porter.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/380293.html – comment over there.

31st-Jan-2018 11:43 pm - Weeks of Adulting Responsibly
Vigelandsparken face to face
I started a more narrative version of this post, but got pulled into adulting matters instead, so here's the bullet points of what I've been up to for the last month and a half.
  • Writing a document with what we requirements, preferences, and perks we'd want in a house
  • Reading about the process of buying a house
  • Looking at houses on real estate websites
  • Pre-applying for a loan up to a million dollars
  • Going to open houses
  • Remembering that my passport was about to expire; renewing it
  • Not buying literally the first house we looked at, even though it was really fun and in a great spot
  • Getting a code volunteer oriented to the Ranger software system
  • Celebrating holidays with family and friends
  • Sorting out a new PHP framework because the original new fancy framework we were going to use for the Ranger system is deprecated
  • Moving back to my old office building, unsubscribing from old team mailing lists, stumbling my way through Android codelabs
  • Meeting with potential buyers' realtors
  • Meeting with an elder law attorney to help my parents develop an estate plan
  • Receiving my passport in just two weeks, before the government could shut down
  • Looking at houses with realtors
  • Looking at more houses on the internet; not being able to sleep due to imagining living in a particular interesting house
  • Making spreadsheets of house price, down payment, and monthly cost scenarios
  • Looking at more houses with realtors
  • Studying the Boulder County floodplain maps
  • Reading a real estate contract
  • Making an offer on a house that meets almost all of our desires except "not in a floodplain"
  • Buying a pie to celebrate offer acceptance
  • Writing a $20,000 check for escrow
  • Awkwardly knocking on future neighbors' doors and saying hello
  • Reading legal documents
  • Reading loan documents
  • Signing loan documents
  • Getting quotes for hazard and flood insurance
  • Having a kickoff meeting for further adventures in climate outreach
  • Observing a home inspector poke and prod at a house, crawling around in two fairly comfortable crawl spaces
  • Reading inspection findings
  • Leafing through a homeowner's well-organized invoices
  • Reminding my mom to send life insurance details to the attorney
The next two months look pretty adulty, too.

This entry was originally posted at https://flwyd.dreamwidth.org/380125.html – comment over there.

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