mtbc: maze I (white-red)
Yesterday my workday started unusually. I arrived at 8am but it turned out that since 7am they had been trying to get the campus access card system to let people in. After 9am I was sitting outside at a picnic table with some coworkers and by 10am I was on my way back home. Sometime after 11am access to my office's building was restored, then the energy utility supplier hit campus with a series of overvoltages.

Later in the afternoon there were still access system glitches occurring. Fortunately I had brought my work laptop home for the weekend and campus now has good wifi coverage so I was able to get useful work done early on from outside my building then later from home where I was safe from being caught on the wrong side of an ornery inter-zone door.

This morning I am heading onto campus a little later than usual, when there will be security staff available to check access cards manually on our way into the building complex.

Update: Indeed there was a guard to check my badge and let me pass; I have been able to reach my desk today.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
This weekend we have had beautifully warm, sunny weather. It reminded me that one of the reasons why I want to return to (a suitable region of) the US is the weather (and the porches and wire mesh screens). Unfortunately I had to avoid the yardwork I would have done because I am trying to allow my shoulder more time to heal so this has been a lazy time for me.

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time around my workplace. DeeCon was happening on campus: anime, comics, gaming, and cosplay. It was fun to sit and walk around campus a little and see what I could from outdoors. In terms of cosplay the unusually warm weather far better suited the scantily clad than those in full-head-and-body mock-armored suits such as a rather hot-looking Darth Vader. Perhaps some of the indoor spaces were air-conditioned.

Update: Today it reached 72°F.
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
In considering how the computer games that my children play differ from those I once played, two time-related points come to my mind. Not only do their games tend to be difficult to pause at arbitrary moments but, partly through being online, there are various login bonuses, temporary events and other such offerings that mean one loses out by taking time out. Back when I played nothing of games' design encouraged me to play when I might not have otherwise but many modern ones seem intended to be both hard to put down and hard to leave alone.
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
I have grumbled about Amazon here already, now I grumble some more. )

I have bought from eBay in a small way for years, more recently in a positive attempt to avoid Amazon, but I am have been starting to find eBay equally exasperating. Many sellers are great but too many are unacceptably bad. )

I was already annoyed at how eBay favors sellers: people seem to expect five stars for adequacy (so how to reward the excellent?) and one is strongly dissuaded from leaving any negative feedback. If the seller failed to get the advertised thing to me because of some easily avoided failing then that deserves some kind of negativity: simply getting my money back is hardly recompense if I needed the item in a timely manner. Do many buyers typically accept misdescribed sub-par items instead of returning them? Are sellers trying to get away with lies or are they simply inattentive idiots who do not check their own item and listing?

I wish there were a trustworthy online marketplace that offered a wide selection of goods. I have yet to find it. )

In other news, autoplaying trailers now seem to have come to Netflix's website. Therefore Netflix now offers me no tolerable way to discover shows. )
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
Something in the back of my left shoulder seems bothered. Usually my various aches and pains are not affected by my workouts but yesterday on the cross-trainer I started tentatively only to have my shoulder quickly complain. Today my shoulder still feels easily bothered so I am taking the weekend off working out; instead I shall take a pleasant hot bath. Awkwardly, driving, at least from the right of our stick-shift car, requires some use of my left arm. I also typically use it in brushing my teeth. My shoulder especially objects to my extending my left arm and applying force with it. Had I still the medical supplies I accumulated in the US I would be tempted to put it in a sling to help me rest it.
mtbc: maze N (blue-white)
I blame governance for not doing more to address global warming because it takes legislation to force the behavioral change that is needed. For example, if Pigovian taxes made everybody pay the true environmental cost of their actions then I suspect that people would end up telecommuting more, buying more solar panels, manufacturers would make longer-lasting goods, etc.: the distorted market would find ways without needing to be pushed by specific policy initiatives. Of course, the market is already distorted thanks to lobbying from monied special interests such as oil; perhaps that is where democracy fails.

On a more personal note I wondered how non-violent protest compares with my changing my own behavior more, not that one excludes the other. We have taken small measures like buying only renewable electricity and we could bear to eat less beef and whatnot. My main thought is of our car: we have an efficient one but it is a shame that the bus service from our village takes so long and the seats are so close together that it is hard to work from them. It would make sense to move to somewhere from which I can more easily get to work in Dundee except that we have children in Perth High School which is in the opposite direction.
mtbc: maze N (blue-white)
I am naturally conservative in some ways: if one's society adopts a decent bill of rights and offers a free press and fair elections then I think highly of the rule of law and tend against illegal protests. In modern Western societies legal mechanisms should suffice for effecting necessary policy. However, general elections are a meager means of eliciting preferences from voters. There are also historical examples of oppressive injustices and other bad situations lingering unaddressed while the protests remained legal and convenient.

Through climate change we are causing significant and widespread harm without yet paying the price. In recent years the Conservative administration has fallen far short of a commensurate response. Against my inclination I find myself increasingly sympathetic to the view that illegal protest is warranted and have been impressed by the Extinction Rebellion actions around London.

Not only have I disliked every Conservative Home Secretary of my adulthood but the disruption caused by these protestors gets them ongoing coverage and pales in comparison to the severity of the issue. Extinction Rebellion are organized and informed enough to be both non-violent and effective and I find myself hoping that they succeed in helping to cause environmental policy to be tightened considerably.
mtbc: maze L (green-white)
In mentioning seeking a reliable ongoing source of trousers that fit me, in contrast to whatever the season's design and tailoring currently happen to be, one idea I had mentioned was workwear. That tree bore me fruit first by way of the Dickies 874 work pant which come in a range of colors. Having been around for over fifty years they may not be fashionable but if people judge me harshly for that then they probably aren't worth my listening to anyway. At least the trouser legs are wide enough to fit easily over my calves rather than following a modern tapered cut; the pair I now have in hand fit just about right.

I confirmed the sizing by trying the same in another classic American item of workwear: Wrangler jeans in a regular cut which also fit adequately. Trousers are where I most notice a poor fit so it is great to finally have some confidence that I may have regained ongoing ability to easily obtain satisfactory pairs. Now I just have to find a small enough belt as the jeans are just a little loose which is good as I welcome a little room to gain a few pounds. It is convenient to be able to relax my dieting occasionally.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
We drove to Glasgow to visit the Kelvingrove Museum which turned out to be better than I had hoped, not least because the local business Tantrum Doughnuts have a store close to the museum so that made for an agreeable breakfast stop on the way in. The museum itself has a lovely interior, even featuring a pipe organ that they played for us at lunchtime though without any obvious note of which pieces had been selected.

I particularly enjoyed the art: there was rather more than I had expected, some rather good. Represented painters ranged from L. S. Lowry to Rachel Ruysch and I also liked some of the sculptures. Other small highlights for me ranged from clothing worn by the Karen people of Myanmar to hand-inked hieroglyphs from Egypt.

There were also many natural creatures represented; I particularly liked seeing a pangolin. A literally large attraction was the cast of a diplodocus skeleton borrowed from the Natural History Museum; in another room hung a restored Spitfire. There were also examples of stained glass depicting scenes like the Coronation of Mary.

Among other fare, the café offered an interesting mushroom soup. I had expected something with many tiny fragments of mushroom in a creamy base but what came was a flavorsome clear broth bearing various mushroom pieces and vegetables, no less pleasing for being unexpected.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
This afternoon we stopped at Denny's. This would be unremarkable in the US but they are a relatively recent phenomenon here in Britain so they seemed worth trying. The menu is much as I recall (except for the appearance of sriracha) but the service was more as we have learned to expect here: they got my order wrong, brought by somebody whose demeanor suggested they would rather not be there at all, and drink refills needed some chasing down. At least they improved over a café earlier in the day which managed to bring appetizers after the main courses. The food was variable; I shan't feel the need to rush back.
mtbc: maze K (white-green)
Last year I mentioned how a previous car I owned had three catalytic converters in the exhaust path and qualified as being a low-emission vehicle in California. It was a 2004 model so I was surprised to hear the news reporting that cars from before 2005 are to be charged a daily fee in London's new Ultra Low Emission Zone: I thought to myself how typical it is that Her Majesty's Government finds itself but a weak proxy for what it actually intended to target. It makes no personal difference to me: I sold that car after moving from Ohio to Rhode Island and I never drive in central London anyway.

To my surprise the Government is exonerated: older petrol cars are not charged if they meet the Euro 4 emission standards. There is correlation between emissions and age, of course, but in this case the rules seem sensible and the fault is in the lazy news reporting. I am not impressed to have had multiple news stories leave me more misled than informed.
mtbc: maze L (green-white)
I thought that I would try to buy some trousers. Initial research suggests that sizing cannot be trusted but I suppose I already knew that from my existing collection of similarly labeled yet differently fitting trousers. For maximum likelihood of suitability and repeatability I decided to try on some common-color regular-cut trousers in my supposed size in a bricks-and-mortar store chain to see if they fit then order more for collection. I am trying to avoid all-polyester and stretch-/flexi-things and whatnot, even just plain cotton will do.

I keep failing. The last couple of fairly large stores I went to, they may have had a suitable pair of trousers but I spent some time hunting through the various combinations mixed on the same racks without finding the values I sought. I have also been looking online at national brands that offer a good return policy but I keep finding them to be out of stock of what seem to me to be just about maximally commonplace products.

I am reminded of a previous period of trying to buy shoes. Again, it proved unexpectedly difficult. )

I keep being surprised at how much people are willing to pay. It may just be that I have to pay more myself. For example, Boden's cheapest swimshorts cost £40 (over $50)! Surely that's absurd? If I am paying much more than £20 for trousers then I become correspondingly more picky: for example, I want metal instead of plastic fasteners, deep pockets, etc. In the US I would try vendors like JCPenney but here I often balk at department store prices.

I will let the matter sit for the meantime and see what occurs to me. Maybe I should go to some industrial supply store that sells workwear. Or, when next in the US I should go to some enormous store that reliably has a large stock available cheaply. Perhaps there is a range of jeans that looks somewhat smart and is fairly consistent and available. I will find some solution eventually.
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
I am happy to keep old consumer products instead of upgrading if they continue to serve their purpose well. For example, I remain satisfied with my third-generation Amazon Kindle though maybe the later Paperwhite ones are lovely. Among my possessions is a Garmin Geko 101 GPS unit that I bought when first looking to buy land in Ohio: it helped me to tell that I was actually at the rural field that was for sale. I would look forward to it again having a similar use except that I guess smartphones now supplant it.

The Geko 101 is low-end: there is no WAAS and it does not even offer a connectivity port by which one may interface with it for data downloads or to effect upgrades but it was cheap and small, also waterproof. Mine still works fine except for revealing an amusing implementation detail: while it gets the time of day correct, it also reports a date exactly 210 weeks anteceding the present which corresponds to the ten-bit week number encoded in the signal from the satellites.

I read that the epoch for these GPS week numbers started on January 6th, 1980. Tomorrow is 211 weeks after that. I suspect that the date displayed by my Geko 101 is about to become even more wrong.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
If I am flown long-haul with my children then I get extra salads to eat. Now we have university open days for applicants holding offers (where our younger goes as the guest of our elder child) I find that I also receive the fruit that came with the provided packed lunches. Today's haul includes an apple and a clementine. I came along to the previous open day so got my own cookies too; I wonder what I will harvest from next Saturday's.
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
The Cherry keyboard that I cleaned does seem to be working much better. The BakkerElkhuizen keyboard that I returned has a refund in progress and its replacement from a different eBay seller seems to work well. The seller did have difficulty providing the correct model number having apparently failed to discover it clearly printed on the keyboard's underside.*

[personal profile] aldabra asked about keyboards for the left-handed and I can report that this latest BakkerElkhuizen keyboard came with a separate accessory: a numeric keypad that plugs into the main keyboard via an extensible cable such that it can be placed on one's chosen side of the keyboard!

The numeric keypad accessory is a curious thing. It can work standalone as a calculator and has a 00 key. It also has its own NumLock state, slightly imperfect in implementation: if one depresses numbers while its NumLock state does not match the main keyboard's then it toggles the keyboard's state just for a moment and mostly gets it right.

*Update: Glancing again at eBay I see another seller making the same mistake, their text contradicting their photograph.
mtbc: maze N (blue-white)
A few years ago I bought some gold bullion and the present Brexit chaos seemed the best time to sell it. As a US citizen living overseas some investments are tricky to report or heavily taxed but bullion is basically just a capital asset that I can report on Schedule D so it seemed worth including among our investments. I have made a profit of around 25% which is pleasing.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
Sometimes we have a fairly low-calorie regular evening meal together and I have plenty of calories left over for the day to spend on further food. It worked quite well tonight to make some toast, put sliced tomato on it and melt Cheddar cheese atop that. We ate duck breast earlier so I used a bit of the leftover fat in that pan: I whisked some eggs with some black pepper and made an omelette that went nicely atop the cheese toast stuff.
mtbc: maze H (magenta-black)
I probably get nearly enough done at home but in recent weeks I have not been making much headway. Often I would be glad to finally get some free time for myself and I would relax a bit then notice or think of things that needed doing and get up and do them. More recently I sit down and rest then time passes yet I remain content just to be largely motionless in mind and body despite the to-do list.
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
The BakkerElkhuizen keyboard from eBay had the D key not working. I shall return that and have won an auction for similar so we will see how my third attempt at a keyboard goes. The ailing Cherry keyboard that I brought home from work turned out to have screws hidden under a label so it was difficult to open until I discovered them. It also required two different kinds of screwdriver.

The pressurized gas cleaner was ineffective and Pippin our cat certainly did not like the noise it made. Disassembly and inspection of the Cherry keyboard did yield fruit: I seem to have fixed it by removing the detritus ). I will take the keyboard back to work tomorrow morning to test-drive it properly. In my testing this afternoon I discovered that with multiple keyboards attached to a computer I can toggle all the caps lock lights by depressing any one of them.
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
I am left-handed and have no use for a numeric keypad occupying space on the right of my computer keyboard. I find that there do not seem to be many mid-range keypad-less keyboards available in between those that one barely expects to keep working well for months and those aimed at wealthy gamers. An unlit wired keyboard is fine and in an open-plan office I avoid mechanical.

My keyboard at work needs a good cleaning at the least; it is no longer working very well. For the modest cost of a sufficient keyboard and my pickiness over them it is hardly worth everybody's labor hours to operate the university's procurement machinery so, though it is not expected, I figure that it is easiest all round if I just provide a replacement myself.

I had ordered a probably acceptable replacement keyboard from Amazon but when it turned out to be Czech/Slovak rather than the advertised UK layout I opted for refund rather than replacement as I had no faith that the same would not happen again. There is no option for, replacement only if you can get it right this time.

As it happens I think I have a Cherry CyMotion Pro G85-20050 on my desk at work and also one somewhere at home so I can quietly swap them without note and at my leisure try some compressed gas to clean the failing one. I consider myself lucky tonight to have bagged a new BakkerElkhuizen S-board 840 on eBay for £20 so I can keep that in place of what I take into work.

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Mark T. B. Carroll

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