Tag: random

Motion Activated Faucets

We got motion activated faucets for the kitchens on one of Home Depot’s daily deals. I find myself trying to use my elbow to turn the valve when my hands are covered in whatever we’re cooking, and not needing to touch anything to rinse my hands would be awesome. Until it was installed, though, I never really thought about the mechanism behind the motion sensing valve. There’s still a manual handle that controls temperature and flow rate. The motion-activated valve does not have a separate control for these functions — you essentially leave your faucet turned on all the time to whatever temperature and flow rate you want. Then the motion-activated valve allows water to flow and stops water flow. Obvious, in retrospect, but not something I realized before owning one.

There is a timer that automatically shuts off water flow – but that timer is around three minutes. This seemed like a terrible idea until we accidentally discovered that activating the motion sensor a second time stops water flow. Now that I know how to turn the water off without waiting three minutes … it’s a cool feature, and one I’ll appreciate more after I make something really messy like fish and chips.

Mud Puddle

Robert Munsch’s book Mud Puddle is a really cute book, until the end. Neither Anya nor I like that she hurts the playful mud monster. So we take turns making up new endings – the mud puddle runs away, and finds an Anya. And jumps on her head. Her mom washes her off then dresses her in dingy old clothes and sends her back outside. The mud puddle jumps on her head, she jumps on the mud puddle’s head, her dog jumps on both of their heads. Then Anya picks up her dog and the mud puddle wraps himself around them both in a BIG hug.

Not Oprah!

I didn’t realize people were seriously hoping Oprah Winfrey would run for president. I don’t believe an inexperienced individual instantaneously makes a bad president – they could know their limitations and rely heavily on experts, then use their judgement to decide. I’d probably have inexperienced people with trusted judgement as cabinet heads with dual second-in-commands – a guy from Exxon and a guy from the Sierra Club can explain why we should / shouldn’t be drilling in the ANWR, then the department head decides.

The problem I have with Oprah is her judgement of an ‘expert’ – the source of wisdom used to determine policy. Maybe all of the Dr Oz miracle supplements and Dr Phil moments are just to make money. Maybe she’s totally aware that whatever the miracle anti-aging eye cream of the week is a scam and that injecting mass doses of plant-sourced estrogen doesn’t do anything to keep you young. But she’s either hawking snake oil or she actually believes this stuff. Neither is a particularly desirable attribute of a president.

What Isn’t Sexual Assault

There’s a rather graphic write-up from a woman who went on a date with Aziz Ansari. I don’t know if something got lost in translation, but I was put off by the claim of a “rushed” dinner – the only bit that the writing conveyed as rushed was between getting the cheque and leaving. I generally take out my card when I request the cheque, glance at the bill when it is delivered and have the server take the card immediately. That’s not to force my dining partner into anything – we’ve already decided we are done and want to leave. If you wanted to finish your glass of wine (or wanted to drink another glass from the not-yet-empty bottle), then you don’t agree to leave yet. You say “I really like this wine, let’s talk for a few minutes while I finish my glass”. Or “I’d like to have a cup of coffee before we leave”.

Off-putting story aside, it’s seemed in a nebulous area between outright assault and a consensual encounter. It’s perfectly reasonable to consent to one particular act but not want to engage in another (they have oral sex that she doesn’t want to progress to intercourse). But what gets me is that throughout most of the story, they were not dressed. I get this from a paragraph *near the end* where the guy says let’s chill on the couch, but with our clothes on this time and she says they got dressed. OK, maybe they were still in their underwear or something … but still.

I totally support the idea that men can control themselves. Whatever a person wears isn’t an invitation to be assaulted. If someone comes back to your house after a date and takes off their blazer, that’s not an invitation to aggressive pursuit. But someone who comes back to your house after a date, gets undressed, engages in some sexual act, does not want to engage in another specific act, but continues to wander around your house without their clothes!?! How in the hell can that person claim to be sending non-verbal signal that you are not interested in continued sexual interactions?? If you aren’t interested, put your bloody clothes back on. *That* is a non-verbal signal that you are not interested. Or send a verbal signal. “I’m not interested in sexual intercourse with someone I’ve just met, and we’ve had as much oral sex as I am comfortable with tonight. If you want to chill out together or talk, that’s fine. Otherwise, I’ll see you later.” The most generous reading is that the woman was sending very mixed signals, and it would be better if men took anything other than an enthusiastic ‘yes’ as ‘no’. Maybe that’s the point she’s making??

I was in University when the ‘ask and receive verbal consent for each move’ was a policy (and a joke) – “I’m going to move my hand to your breast, is that OK?”, “Now I am going to put my other hand on your elbow, is that OK?”. The logical conclusion, as a legally minded individual, was that lawyers should draft and sell a few different written consent contracts. One agreeing to carte blanche access to the other person, one for oral sex, one for penetrative sex with condom, etc. Then both parties sign the agreement. If they want to move farther than originally planned, stop and sign a new agreement. Bonus side effect, you take a break from the heat of the moment and decide if you actually want to move farther than originally intended. Less apt to regret your actions after-the-fact. Obviously you’d need a on-the-spot blood test and breathalyzer reading to confirm that judgement wasn’t impaired. But we’ve all got cell phones with video cameras now, record the test, the results, and the signing. Doesn’t ensure you won’t feel grossly violated the next day, but there was no misunderstanding or “they got me drunk so I’d be down with it”.

I worry that a movement that started with power imbalance coercion and physical force coercion has transmogrified into the same “he misread my signals” from my University years.


I have had what I would term full service brokers before — wealth management firms with a dedicated account manager. I remember chatting with mine in the mid 90’s and providing technical IT/Internet/ISP knowledge that aided in profiting from both the .net boom and bust. Not insider information, just professional expertise in the field. I didn’t know a thing about Netscape’s internal business plans, but I knew what they did as a business and how customers used (and paid / didn’t pay for) their products. But the service for which I paid was someone who followed industry trends, engaged people with industry knowledge, and distilled it into investment recommendations. Laughable .net proposals that beget our role reversal aside, it was generally sage advice and saved me having to learn a lot about dozens of verticals.

Now that I don’t have a dedicated wealth management dude, I’ve found the “full service” brokerage to be a bit of a joke. They provide research for you to make decisions. Yeah, so does the company. The SEC. Google, Yahoo, etc. There’s no one doing the research for me – I’m paying trade commissions to fund a source of research for myself. And yeah, it’s all in one place. But it’s all in one of a number of other places too. Not really worth 5$ a trade.

But I happened across a no trading fee brokerage app today – Robinhood. I’ve found a few drawbacks – biggest one is that there is no provision to short stocks, which is a great way to make money in a market crash. They don’t seem to float you money via margin either. But they’ve got some of the iShares funds, the “we keep gold in a vault in London” fund shares, and just about every high dividend stock out there. Buying stock in ten high dividend companies cost me exactly zero dollars. I’ll keep my “full service” brokerage account for shorting stocks (margin trading isn’t my thing – spent too much time studying the great depression) … but all of my straight purchases are going to be made through this service now.

Suet Feeder In Action

We’ve had a week of mid-teen highs and snow squalls. The birds have been enjoying the suet we made for them. We have a large upside down suet feeder for larger birds, a standard little green cage feeder for pretty much anything that happens by, and these little citrus rinds are perfect for small birds. Larger birds don’t really have anywhere to perch to eat from them, but the small guys swing on the rinds while they eat. We’ll probably be making more suet next weekend and refill these rinds, but the suet lasts a long time when it’s eaten by chickadees, nuthatches, and sparrows.

Citrus rind suet feeder for small birds

The Santa Myth

Anya’s preschool is writing letters to Santa and otherwise celebrating the secular commercial iteration of Christmas. I just don’t get why this myth is perpetuated in any setting where you don’t know everyone’s financial situation and religious beliefs. Or even their views on commercialism and manufacturing practices.

Religious beliefs, to some degree, are obvious … it’s not a really big Sikh holiday, for instance. But even within the subset of Christian Americans … the secular version of Christmas can be offensive. And, hell, when I was a kid I thought Christmas absolutely sucked for Jesus – could you imagine how bad your birthday would be if it was celebrated by giving everyone ELSE presents?

Financial situation — the Santa story is that you won’t get what you want if you aren’t good. All the good behaviour in the world isn’t going to make a hundred bucks show up for a family with an empty bank account. Maybe their income and expenses mean the family barely subsists. Maybe an emergency sucked up the family’s spare money. If good behaviour means you get the toys you want, not getting the toys means you were bad. And that’s a terrible lesson to be conveying to young kids who are already disadvantaged due to financial circumstances.

Commercialism — this is the one that applies to me. I don’t like thing presents. Some are thoughtful and well used, but a lot of wastes of resources that take up space. I much prefer to plan a special experience for a celebration. Spend time together, do something unique, and you don’t have to find storage space for anything when you’re done. Telling my kid that presents should be tangible things — and that you can consult this toy flyer for ideas — is offensive. This isn’t to say Anya has never gotten a tangible present from us, but it’s part of an experience. Go ice skating and here are some ice skates.

Manufacturing — beyond the “be good or else”, Santa has elves that spend the year making all of the stuff that constitutes Christmas presents. Baring incredibly conscientious purchasing decisions that are not the norm … the elf is some kid in a third world country, victims of debt bondage … sure you got the toy for a pittance, but that’s because the labor didn’t even get a pittance. The image of cute elves singing and making toys in some gingerbread cottage looking room is not the reality of international manufacturing. Your kid may not be old enough to understand the socioeconomic ramifications of globalization … but that doesn’t mean you need to tell them elves make their toys.

The Red Herring

This entire story arc is is sad, but the two ostensible protagonists come off terribly – Kelly more-so than his boss, but that might be intentional. Trump is asked why the administration hasn’t spoken about military personnel KIA – a question which I interpret to mean why has the WH not addressed the situation that led to their deaths. But the malignant narcissist in chief makes the whole operation about how awesome he is (or is not) at consoling grieving military families. Red herring. But for some reason everyone grabs a pole and goes fishing. Investigations into the operation are below-the-fold side-bars, and at least two media outlets took to ringing gold star families to determine what percentage Trump has actually called. Now we’ve got a whole school of red herrings swimming around: 25k checks in the mail, people who *were* comforted by Trump’s call, percentages who have never heard from the dude.

Then Kelly – instead of saying yeah, he advised Trump to tell the family that this is what the kid wanted to be doing, explained how this knowledge was a great comfort to *him* when his son died, but conceded may have been offensive to someone else (or that the message got lost when translated to Trump word-salad) or that there is literally nothing you could say to a family driving to pick up the casket of their dead son/husband that would help. Continuing that he’s crushed to think he may have had a part in increasing the family’s pain and hopes we can all focus on helping grieving families (here are some volunteer ideas) and returning military personnel (more volunteer ideas). Oh no, Kelly has to attack a Congresswoman for hearing a phone call whilst in the car with a constituent’s family?? And for a speech she may or may not have made in 2015. Even if she was completely full of herself and usurped a building’s dedication for self-aggrandizement (a move more typical of Kelly’s boss than, ya know, halfway sentient human beings) … so what.

The worst part is that Kelly’s explanation of what he counseled Trump to say and why … for me, the whole story made sense at that point and I’d forgotten that it was a red herring that got resolved. I could totally see how a military person might find comfort in knowing how much his son *wanted* to be there and died doing exactly what he wanted to do surrounded by the closest friends you could imagine. And I could also see where someone else might hear “he got what he asked for”. Wouldn’t have thought farther on it, had Kelly stopped there. But as he kept going on about the Congresswoman, I started to think about how little effort must have gone into preparing the message for the family. Did anyone from the WH side knew the kid or his family well? Or contact his superior officer to find out anything about the kid other than the fact he is dead? Did his parents hate that he enlisted and worry about him constantly or were they thrilled that their son was defending freedom across the globe? Did he enlist out of a sense of duty or a sense that the military provided a paycheque and future he couldn’t find elsewhere?

And why wouldn’t these kind of calls be scheduled? ‘Meeting the casket’ sounds like the flight arriving from Dover, which I would expect to be a military transport. Even if it isn’t a military transport, someone in the military should have known the departing flight number and had a halfway decent guess what the bereaved family would be doing that day.

And then I remember the whole thing is a logical fallacy and wonder what the fuck happened in Niger? What was so bad that sending the nation down a week-long narrative about what does or does not console grieving families, lies about what some obscure member of Congress said in a speech a few years back, who should or should not be present when a family decides to put Trump on speakerphone, and how many gold star families Trump has actually called is the *better* play.