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Possibly The End (of this journal)

The end of the decade seems like a good time to close chapters that have been left open and forgotten, and this LiveJournal seems like one of those.

On March 5th, 2002, I wrote: "So I seem to have a LiveJournal. Whee! I should go do work now, rather than spending an hour customizing it. :)" I did go do work, rather a lot in the past 17 years, and also a lot of LiveJournal customizing, and lots of posting too.

However, I haven't checked my "reading" page here in years, I think. I meant to, and did for a while, but like many things, the habit faded away. Meanwhile, automated crossposting from Dreamwidth is broken, and it seems unclear if that's a temporary or permanent issue.

At this point, I'm going to trim down my friendslist here to just the people that don't crosspost to Dreamwidth, and probably stop crossposting. (If you have a Dreamwidth account and aren't on my access list there, please let me know!) Life goes on, just elsewhere, and you can probably always email me at dpdx.net to get in touch.

So long, and thank you all for everything. This may be The End of this journal, but the book between these covers was an excellent and lovely piece of my life.
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Creating a will for your Gmail account

Today I learned: You can set up instructions for what should happen to your Gmail account (and other Google accounts) in the event of extended inactivity. Doing this while you are alive is substantially easier than the process that your next of kin would have to go through to get access to the account in order to find all the loose ends to tie up in the event that you're no longer alive.

More info here: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3036546

Crossposted from Dreamwidth (original here), with comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there; comments here will eventually be duplicated to there.
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A YouTube wander (and some music recommendations)

Last night I went on a YouTube walkabout, as one does, and came across rather a good bit of music I liked that needs some more sharing.

I started with a recommendation from someone on Gallus Rostromegalus's Discord, for Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq's "I've No More F***s to Give. He's an exceedingly dapper gentleman with a banjo/ukelele-cross, and the song is exactly the sort of cheerfully profane folk song that you would expect from the title. Amusingly, there's also a family-friendly version where the profanity is replaced with increasingly-absurd sound effects.

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On "Planked Possum"

Because planked possum was one of the things I'd heard about from my dad growing up, I assumed it was a cultural thing that "everyone" knew about -- or, at least, everyone with vaguely similar cultural background. Thus, I was really surprised at the paucity of results I found when I tried a Google search to find a context link for a reference to it in my previous post. There were really only two links to any sort of explanation at all, both of which were to things embedded inside larger non-html documents.

The joke is basically a riff on how opossum is considered at least by some people to be inedible, or at best the sort of thing that only the most backwoodsy of backwoods people would consider eating. The truth (and here there were far more Google results) seems to be that, because they're scavengers, the flavor is highly variable depending on what they've been feeding on.

Anyway, so the joke. The recipe for planked possum is that you start by taking a plank, and you attach the possum to the plank, and roasting it. This should generally be told with lots of culinary details and flourishes: A fresh-cut cedar plank, layers of cut onions between the possum and the plank, that sort of thing. Then, once this has roasted for an unreasonable length of time, you take it out of the oven, and for the punchline you discard the possum and eat the plank.

The "Interview with Jack S. Baird and Richard S. Potter, 1982" from UTSA's Oral History Collection has a really nice example of the genre, which seems to have taken inspiration from the interview being held at the East Texas Yamboree -- a folk festival honoring yams. ("M" is the interviewer, "P" is the interviewee, and they're talking generally about things that he's talked about at his "Possumology" show at the festival and here specifically about recipes.)
M: Tell [me] about the Possum Treat.
P: Well, you get about a 5, 6 pound possum, clean it good and get most of the fat tissue off of the carcass. Then you parboil it and you get about 6 East Texas yams and you cut them lengthwise. Then get half, three quarter[s of a] cup of good syrup, [from] ribbon cane, East Texas ribbon cane, and you bring it to a boil. Boil it about 4, 5 minutes, turn it off ... just keep it on warm. Then you get a white oak board ... that's what most of 'em use ... and it's usually an inch thick and 12 by 18 inches in length. You put the possum in the center and you surround it by the yams.
M: Have the yams been baked?
P: The yams have been parboiled. Possum has been parboiled as well. To finish it and get the sweet syrupy taste, you pour some of the syrup on it, put it in a 250 degree oven and cook it for about 2 hours. About every 30 minutes, baste it with the ribbon cane syrup ... on the possum and the yams. And at the end of 2 or 2 1/2 hours, you remove it from the oven and go to the nearest garbage can and scrape off the possum and the yams into the can and then you eat the board. It's a delightful flavor.

So there you go. Now maybe there are three findable references online.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth (original here), with comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there; comments here will eventually be duplicated to there.
Two

In which I feel suddenly out of sync with technological trends.

My watch has started losing time, which I'm fairly sure means it needs a new battery.

This should be fairly simple, right? It's a standard watch battery size, and while department stores and the like have stopped replacing the batteries when you buy a new one, I can do that part. Just need to stop by the store and buy a battery.

The first indication that this would not be so simple was this morning, when I stopped by the grocery store. It turns out that grocery stores, or at least the one I go to, have stopped carrying watch batteries of any ilk. So that was a bust, but at least a straightforward one.

This evening, I stopped by Fry's, which is our local "electronics superstore" -- sort of an small-local-chain equivalent of Best Buy except that the Sunnyvale store is at least twice the size of any Best Buy I've ever been in. Their website said they had the right size in stock. However, the store itself is ... well, first off, the electronic components and suchlike shelves gave me an immediate understanding of why the first Google autocomplete suggestions for "Sunnyvale Frys" was "closing". They are not closing the store, to my knowledge, but Orchard Supply had more stock on their shelves until the last week of their two-month-long going-out-of-business sale. The small rack of watch batteries, in the middle of a mostly-empty aisle, did have stock on most of the pegs. But they did not have a peg for either the claimed-in-stock 2-packs of 377-size batteries (which cost $2.99 online), or a peg for the claimed-out-of-stock single packs (which cost $0.99). They did have a rather sad, old, and battered-looking "check the size of your watch battery" display/tester thing sitting on top of the rack -- and I looked, and essentially all of the sizes that it had on it did not correspond to anything they had a peg for, and vice-versa.

So, I then went to Target, which also claimed to have them in stock on their website. I didn't see them on the rack in the "electronics" section -- although they did at least have watch batteries there. The helpful attendant in the section tried to find them on his little phone-sized handheld inventory-searching device for me -- as he noted, there were something like 8 or 10 battery displays around the store, and it could be on any of them. He didn't find them with any of the obvious searches (and, for some reason, the device converted his search on "377 battery" to "377 Batterybattery"), but eventually we tried "377 watch", which worked and gave the location as "checkstand 20". It was not at all clear what it meant, given that the checkstand numbers only go up to 14, but there was a battery display next to one of the checkstands, with different watch batteries on it, and a square mobile "battery" display rack in middle of the aisle near the checkstands that had yet different watch batteries on it. Neither of these had a peg for 377 batteries, though.

And this all leaves me with the realization that in the very few years since I last tried to buy watch batteries, watch batteries have basically stopped being a thing people buy with any regularity. People who want wristwatches get rechargeable smartwatches, I guess, which has rather quickly killed whatever part of the watch market was left after cellphones became popular. I'm left with the thought that fiddly mechanical watches will probably keep running long after the durable and simple and reliable quartz electronic ones are unusable for lack of batteries, and also the more relevant thought that I feel unexpectedly completely out of step with "normal" in a way I wasn't at all expecting to.

Anyway, I ended up ordering a replacement from Digikey. Although I see that there's also a reseller on eBay who's somewhere in Sunnyvale (probably closer to me than the Fry's is) and will sell me a box of 200 of them from China for $19 including shipping.

It's a weird world.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth (original here), with comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there; comments here will eventually be duplicated to there.
Two

In which my life conspires to imply a horrible pun....

Most of this story is just setting up context.

There's a local company out of the Monterey Bay called Real Good Fish, which is basically like a farm share except with fisheries. They sell subscriptions, and each week you get some sort of fish or seafood that was locally and sustainably caught. Or occasionally with some of the shellfish, sustainably farm-raised. Where a farm-share would typically deliver a stack of boxes to various local pick-up points, Real Good Fish delivers a large cooler of ziplock-bags of fish. One of their local pick-up points is on Google's Mountain View campus, and since that's pretty close to our house, I volunteer to do the various "local site host" things. What that means is that I meet the delivery-person mid-day on Thursday to bring the cooler into the building, and then in the evening (or sometimes Friday) I go back to empty the ice and fishy water out of the cooler, and occasionally collect any forgotten fish shares.

This week, the delivery happened to be mussels. I've found that, while mussels and oysters are great in theory, in practice they're a lot of prep work for not much result, so I (and a couple of other people at our site) have signed up for the "shellfish opt-out" option, and on weeks when they would normally bring us shellfish, they bring us some other sort of fish instead. This week, it was filets of a large species of flatfish.

As usual, after meeting the delivery, I picked my fish out of the cooler and took it back to my office building to put it in the fridge there. That's in the far side of the Sunnyvale Google campus, about ten minutes down the highway from the Mountain View campus.

When I left this afternoon, I was hurrying out for an appointment and thus forgot and left my fish in the fridge. After the appointment we ended up having a late dinner and then I spent a while faffing about for a while rather than going to empty the cooler. It got to be quite late, and I considered leaving the cooler until tomorrow, but mussels can get a bit smelly fairly quickly, and it's easier to get to the building in the evening rather than mid-day when it's all busy, so I decided to go ahead and go empty it.

And, while I was there, I considered whether I wanted to also go get my fish from the office fridge.

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Crossposted from Dreamwidth (original here), with comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there; comments here will eventually be duplicated to there.
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I think we may need to trim the cat's claws.

This observation brought to you by the feeling of hearing the cat making an odd noise on the kitchen counter, and looking over and seeing her spread out most of the way up the window screen with no other means of support.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth (original here), with comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there; comments here will eventually be duplicated to there.
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A quite productive day.

The first couple of days of the long weekend were mostly full of inertness; apparently I needed it. But today I wanted to get something done, and so after lunch I took a piece of paper and stuck it to the fridge with a "Strong Like Bull" fridge magnet, which gives a very satisfying "thunk" feel to posting a list on the fridge, and wrote some things on it that I wanted to get done.

Through the day I added more things and crossed things off, and by the end of the day I had:
  • fetched potting soil and fertilizer and a pot from the local nursery, along with some mulch, and repotted my little apple tree that has one leaf right now,
  • cut some of the wildflowers next to the driveway that had gotten knocked down, and put them in a vase,
  • broken down the pile of empty boxes in the office and put them in the recycle bin,
  • emptied the dishwasher and refilled it,
  • washed the couple of dirty pots and pans in the sink, and cleaned the kitchen counters,
  • helped Suzanne with clearing out the back garden, including taking out several thistles that had grown taller than me,
  • cooked a couple of quarts of oatmeal (with slivered almonds and dried currants in it) for breakfasts through the week,
  • and started a load of laundry.
And probably a handful of little things I've forgotten, too. There are still a couple of things on the list that didn't get done, but I'm leaving it up for tomorrow after work.

I need to remember this technique for the future. Having the list definitely helped -- both with motivation, and with remembering all the various things I wanted to get done.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth (original here), with comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there; comments here will eventually be duplicated to there.
Two

Today's random amusement: ancient CAD programs.

This morning I did an hour-long class on OnShape, which is a modern spiffy CAD (computer-aided design) program that runs in your browser and stores documents in The Cloud and does all the heavy computation on the server side. It's pretty cool, and they have a free license for hobbyist use if you don't mind all your designs being public.

In the class, I mentioned that most of my previous experience was from the undergraduate mechanical engineering class on using CAD that I took in 1994, and I had imprinted pretty hard on the program we used then and still had a copy running in an emulator. This led to a bit of good-natured teasing about "something better than DOS-based CAD programs" later in the class, which inspired me to do a thing this evening to show off why I like it -- the UI is really quite excellent for quick usage by power users while still being usable by less-experienced people.

And so I did a short speed run, replicating the drawing we'd done in class:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAIgH_nn_DU

There are all kinds of improvements that have come in the 25 years since this CAD program was created (particularly in what you can do with a drawing like this once it's drawn), but I'm curious if he'll manage to beat my time.

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