2018.04 minutiae

  • There’s an old joke that the British are boggled that Americans think a hundred years is a long time and Americans are boggled that the British think a hundred miles is a long way.  Apparently that is understating things!  I was reading the latest issue of the British comic Giant Days and there’s a scene in which Daisy, a student at the University of Sheffield, is looking for an apartment.  We see a montage of terrible places: one is the size of a coffin, one is a criminal’s hideout, one is across the street from a slaughterhouse, one is haunted by a “periodic evil presence”.  Then there’s the fifth, for which the punchline is, “Well this is very nice, and the price is great… but strictly speaking this is Chesterfield.”  I thought of the joke I mentioned and wondered—​would this Chesterfield turn out to be less than a hundred miles from Sheffield?  So I looked it up.  And it turns out that it is… 10.3 miles away.  What the what?  I know someone looking for a new place around here and we have been discussing whether, instead of the really nice place with a bridge‐crossing commute of 28 miles each way, it might not be better to go for the slightly less nice place where the commute is only 21 miles each way and stays on one side of the bay.  A punchline based on the notion that ten miles is some kind of arduous journey… yeah, uh, that doesn’t really land over here.

  • I called one afternoon to ask what she was up to.

    “I’m at my friend’s parents’ house and I was just watching TV while they all went out to get food.  I just use streaming services at home, so it’d been ages since I channel‐surfed.  I just finished watching a new episode of Sesame Street.”

    “How was that”

    “Cookie Monster had an iPad”

  • Speaking of which, this month I was amazed anew at the extent to which Apple insists on maintaining a walled garden.  A student’s mom wanted to send me some pictures of the worksheets to go over the next time I visited.  She tried emailing them, but they didn’t go through.  Next she tried uploading them to her web space.  “You are invited to view these shared photos”, said an automated email.  I clicked the link.  “Not available for this device”, the reply sniffed, ordering me to connect “on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac”.  I reported back to the mom that I did not have any of those things.  She tried a different sharing service.  This time I got the files… only to discover that they were in some Apple‐specific format that I had never heard of before and that my computer couldn’t open.  I had to use a conversion program to turn them into JPEG files so I could finally see the worksheets.  I really like this family, so I hope they aren’t visited by any goon squads from Cupertino trying to teach them a lesson about daring to try to communicate with someone who doesn’t live on Planet Apple.

  • It’s always annoying when you start reading some news online and a few seconds into the article a video begins to autoplay, so I have been amused at sites that have started to “punish” me with the stern message, “This video is unavailable if an ad blocker is running.”  It reminds me of when one of the old ifMUD crew had a very young kid who didn’t understand how threats work.  “Do what I say or I’ll stop kicking you!”

  • This month I updated my “Hot 100 and more” page ranking my favorite songs.  It was the first update since 2014, but I am old, so it didn’t change much.  The “more” part includes an album chart, and the only two albums from the 2010s to appear are Hallelujah! I’m a Bum by Local H at #7 and Ghost Notes by Veruca Salt at #11.  The fact that I may not have my finger on the pulse of the 2010s is perhaps reflected by the fact that, while I don’t go to many concerts—​one or two per decade—​one of the few shows I have seen was a double bill of Local H and Veruca Salt back in 1997.

  • I finally finished filling up this year’s Stochastic Planet queue and had to smile when the randomizer landed here:

    Seems like it might be a good place for a vacation if you really want to get away from it all.

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