Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Kid, Spouse, and Mom presents

(Inspired by the Grumpies' post.)

Hanukkah is coming up  right after Thanksgiving and, though we don't usually get the kids big things, that just means we have to think of eight different little things

So far we have, in no particular order, for each kid:

  • Fuzzy slipper socks
  • A bar of fancy chocolate 
  • Some item of comfy clothes that they requested
  • Magic cards (the game, not the rabbit from a hat kind)
  • A bag full of cheetos and doritos snack packs
And then for everyone:

  • A set of ingredients for me to make 'bath truffles' and bath bombs with them (they love these with an unholy passion)
  • A sushi lunch out for everyone during Hanukkah (this is probably the one bigger-cost item; they eat hundreds of dollars of sushi when we take them out)
  • A jar of Ovaltine (nostalgia from my childhood!  my mother was irrationally against chocolate)
  • A large box of fancy beans and seasonings from Rancho Gordo (mostly for me and the spouse)
  • Three different new cheese slicers
  • A large bag of Reese's cups (why??? I don't even remember ordering this)
  • Kid 1 and I are making homemade churros with chocolate sauce
And miscellaneous:
  • A watch for Kid 3 so she can go to the playground alone and come home for dinner
  • A writing journal for Kid 2 who's been writing an elaborate story
  • Probably a pair of headphones for Kid 1, who's done in 3 pairs so far this year
  • Some nice markers for the younger kids
  • A beanie for Kid 1, who likes to wear his current extremely cheap one all the time
  • Another one of my spouse's favorite cozy sweater
  • A pair of comfy, warm leggings for my mother, who is - bless her- too cheap to buy them for herself
  • Whatever else I ordered from Target while not really paying attention, and which will arrive on my doorstep in a series of boxes
  • I bought myself a pair of filigree earrings off Etsy because I am impossible to shop for
I hope the kids don't feel too deprived but also... this is a lot.

Anything fantastic on your present lists?

Monday, November 15, 2021

Review: Fake White Chocolate Chips

 (I bought these with my own dollars at the store. Fear not: they did not come with a hole cut in one corner.)


1) Toll House 'Simply Delicious'  'white morsels'.  Ingredients: "Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Starch, Organic Rice Syrup Solids, Organic Rice Maltodextrin, Salt"

Friends, I have regrets.  Waxy mouthfeel with a flavor of haircare products.  Probably due to how it is made of actual cocoa butter and then a bunch of random starchy and sugary things to mimic the dairy which is absent.  These might be rescued by adding peppermint oil, or if you needed something to taste like something between hair defrizzer and sunscreen.  F for both concept and execution.  Terrible.

Now I'm saddled with the rest of this bag.  I guess... something covered in peppermint waxiness... is in my future?  (Update: I tried using them as a glaze with some peppermint oil and it was even worse: hair product, but with mint.  I finally added some good chocolate chips, which promptly seized up, rescued it with coconut oil, and fed it to the children.)

2) Great Value 'white baking chips'.  Ingredients: Organic cane sugar, organic palm kernel oil, organic sunflower lecithin, organic vanilla extract."  

Still slightly waxy, but actually tasty.  They don't taste anything like white chocolate should, mind you, but they do kind of taste like those 'chocolate' candy melts which are made are entirely of fake. I would and did eat more of these voluntarily.  They would be good in cookies.  B-; solid effort in the fat-and-sugar department, but they're mostly flavored of vanilla. 

Overall, however, if I wish to eat a chocolate product, I'm just gonna order more of these, which are actually A+ as chocolate goes.

Friday, November 12, 2021

"I'll feel safe"

 I recently read, for the millionth time, '... and I'll feel safe.'

Well, that's nice.  But wouldn't you prefer to be safe(r)? The vaccinated people around you wearing masks may make you feel better, but making more people get vaccinated and/or enforcing mask wearing by unvaccinated people would actually make you safer.  Having hand sanitizer at every entrance may make you feel safe, but it's doing almost nothing, so feeling better is still not making you safer.  

There is no absolute value of safe because no activity is without risk. We do what we can to mediate risk: wear seatbelts, anchor that bookcase to the wall (though most furniture deaths appear to be from adults *moving* furniture), get prenatal care (though ~1% of Black infants still die; thanks, America, you suck), and maybe stay indoors when there's lightning.  And then we (mostly) get in a car anyways, or walk down the street, or have children, even though it's risky because everything is risky.  

So, to everyone* still buying hand sanitizer, wearing plastic gloves at the gym, and marching up a mountain alone wearing a stupid cloth mask, get a fucking grip, get your kids vaccinated if you can, and look at the actual numbers instead of panicking. Or (and this is totally a confidential to some people I know), if you are perfectly willing to do Thing A because it's convenient but moderately risky (going inside W@lmart!), but not Thing B which is objectively as safe as it gets (everyone's vaccinated *and* has to wear masks), TRY BEING REASONABLE INSTEAD.

*That is, everyone doing unreasonable things that don't mitigate risk.  Not everyone doing reasonable things to actually mitigate risk. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

In Which I Try to Be More Cheerful

 I have a whole extremely grumpy post about where is everyone's endpoint.  (I think the short answer is nobody has one.) But anyhow, it's a lovely fall day, I am beating my head against a recursion CSCI project... oh wait, let me try again.  My Hanukkah cactus is about to bloom, the leaves out my window are absolutely lovely over the mountains, and it's cozy sweater weather.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

In which I am - fair warning- exceedingly pessimistic

So immunity for everything - even for the very most effective vaccines - wanes over time, right? And covid vaccine immunity /protection will, inevitably, wane over time (yes, even with boosters), and also everyone's numbers are nonsense

At some point, vaccines will be approved for all ages; there will be a lag until they are required for school, and even then, there will be highly variable enforcement. We're hovering around roughly 30% for 12-18 year olds now; if you really think 90% of parents are going to rush out and get their elementary schoolers vaccinated right away, I have a bridge to sell you.

Let's say the US finally does something effective and 60% of adults and children alike end up vaccinated... by next summer.  That's two and a half years of raging pandemic.  Right now, testing is free, so worried and/or quarantined people go get tested all the time while anti-vaxxers ignore the whole thing.  60% is not enough to stop transmission, though it slows it somewhat.  Go look at the month of September and tell me this isn't going to go on, and on, and on.  This is not working.  This is not preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed (though vaccination has helped) and this is not 'stopping the spread' in any meaningful way.

Right now we are, as a society, still acting like preventive measures might make a difference: like we can get transmission down to a level where ordinary people won't have to worry about being infected.  That's not going well.  So when will life 'return to normal'?  Well, once children are eligible to be vaccinated, maybe people will worry less about going out and doing things, but there will continue to be transmission for... forever.  When will people stop wearing masks?  Because my employer required vaccination, 98% of people are vaccinated, and that's as immune as most of us are going to get (barring a really good delta booster, which, hah, maybe winter 2022.)   I don't think now is necessarily the time, but also, what exactly are we waiting for?  Vaccine approval down to 6 month olds?  See above.  I make the cynical prediction that many interventions will stop when insurers stop covering coronavirus tests.  And yet!  None of this is a good idea.  None of it is good policy.  When even Australia gives up, you know it's bad news.

How does the pandemic end?  It doesn't.  I predict that eventually, everyone who wants to be vaccinated (and our children!) will be vaccinated, and most people will just give up on preventive measures.  Even if there are boosters every 12 months, if they lose even 5% effectiveness against all disease per month, that means by the next year, people will have 40% immunity (probably less).  Will everyone wear masks forever?  No, of course not.  They wouldn't even wear masks last winter when 3000 people a day were dying.  This winter?  Good luck.  And boosters for all?  In the US?  Good luck with that too.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Read it and weep

Why your average young adult is not recommended, currently, to get a booster:

How effective is (even recent) vaccination, really, as exposure approaches infinity?  (Answer: quite good at preventing hospitalization and death; quite bad at preventing infection.)

Is anyone actually going to produce a more effective booster any time soon?  NOPE

Am I just incandescently furious with basically everything?  DEFINITELY.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

In Which I Am Rightly Humbled

I am currently taking a computer science course* with (as far as I know) a bunch of first-year students.  (The professor, whom I know fairly well, is older than me and thinks this is all hilarious.)  

Last weekend, I turned in an assignment which, in frustration, I had made do a completely different thing than intended, which still met the assignment's requirements.  (It had to do with tkinter class extension which didn't include a 'deselect' method, in case you really want to know; I couldn't get it to deselect so I nuked the list and regenerated it.)  "Creative," the professor said, "but here's how you do it in two lines."  


Today I re-created this experience from the other side with my own students - it seems so easy once you know how to do it! - and it reminded me to keep being sympathetic when I can see the answer very clearly, and they are twenty years of experience behind me.  

(In other news, office hours are still endless.  They should slow down in a couple weeks, but right now, I want to hide under my desk.)

* I need a new job and the only thing I'm actually willing to get more education in is programming.  So here we are.  However, yikes, I didn't really HAVE an extra six hours a week.  Also, I got booted from the first-semester course on the grounds that a) I already knew most of it and b) I would probably spook the untenured faculty who teach it. Yes, I am also untenured; but I have a full decade and a lot of crankiness on all of them.