Good morning. Hello. How are you? #342

Good morning. Hello. How are you? I am good. I got a $51 check from a class action lawsuit which I think might be the biggest one ever? Justice at work. So, you know, that’s a nice thing that happened today. The sun’s not out and it’s cooler than it was this weekend, but it’s still quite nice out and I am okay with it. Spring is undeniably coming.

Programming notes:

We are going to number these now. I went back and counted, sort of. I counted the number of individual documents in the Scrivener file. Close enough. God we have been doing this a long time.

Corrections dept: Emma would like me to clarify that the spot inside the frame of Nikki Audet’s photo is a bug. It crawled in there and died.

Thank you for indulging me with my work-related post yesterday. I know I don’t write about work much in here, and I know that most of you don’t work at tech companies, but sometimes I like to take a stab at explaining some aspect of my work life since, you know, like most Americans, it’s a pretty big part of my life. And it is a particularly stressful moment.

It’s nice to get it off of Facebook and out into the world. A few programming notes today. First, we stopped publishing these on MeWe. Didn’t work out. Had a few friends on there, and it was kind of a nice alternative to Facebook, but this is clearly much better.

My friend Pamala has suggested I do some sort of breadcrumbing or sign posting on these and, like, make them easier to see when I change the topic. I’ve been being willfully obtuse on this point, I recognize. I like the idea of little special nuggets being buried and potentially easy to miss. But maybe this is self-sabotaging. I welcome your opinions on this matter.

We should say a word about Substack. The people that make Substack aren’t super great. My old friend Paul pointed me to this conversation last night, which will give you a good overview of my gripes against them. But I’ve actually been aware of this for months, and it was one of the reasons I was so slow to adopt Substack for this email. It’s a real dilemma. But I’ve made my choice and, for now, I’m okay with it. Here is my logic: First, pretty much every company is compromised in some way, is evil in some way: all the more-so in Silicon Valley. Secondly, there absolutely is moral relativism when it comes to choosing the companies with which you work: working with a less bad company is better than working with a more bad one. And in this case, I don’t view Substack’s crimes as bad as Facebook’s. It’s also worth pointing out that the most logical alternative, right now, to using Substack is going to Mailchimp. I used to use them before they deprecated their simple email product Tinyletter, and their main product is far too complicated for me. But regardless, Mailchimp has their own problems that seem just as bad as Substack’s if not worse. Some people have been suggesting Ghost as an alternative to Substack, but that is far too complex for my needs (topic for another time: how people keep wondering how I get so much done, and also how people keep suggesting I go spend six weeks learning some complex piece of new software).

Three more reasons I feel like I’ve made the right decision:

  1. I am not doing a paid layer of emails, which means this whole thing is just coming out of Substack’s pockets and I am not contributing money to their problematic authors. In fact, I’m siphoning a small bit away.

  2. There is solid data portability at Substack, I can take my mailing list and go somewhere else at any time (something I could never do with Facebook).

  3. Several people have told me I was the only reason they were still on Facebook and that was too much (the guilt!). Getting a bunch of people off of Facebook is, in my mind, a good deed that makes much of this worth it.

I should also say I actually talked to Hamish and Substack back in 2019 about becoming a writer on here (there), around my will-never-be-finished magnum opus about advertising economics, Which Half is Wasted. It was interesting because the author he was most proud of, and used as an example of what one could accomplish on the platform was Luke O’Neil and Hell World. I suspect that the creators of Substack are more opportunistic than possessing of any political bent, but that still doesn’t make their naïveté on these topics okay. In any case, I passed, because I had a job and a baby and it seemed like too much at the time. And Substack is obviously not paying for this ballad of babble.

Okay! With that out of the way, let’s get down to what I know you’re all here for: gardening. Woo! Big weekend. Got all the seedlings thinned. Had to replant some more that dried out. I am really bad with watering seedlings! I check them every day and the soil is moist and then… boom! They’re dry as a bone and the plants die. This time it was some (but not all) of my lettuce. Which I actually think is fine, I can do a little bit of crop rotation to keep me in fresh lettuce for a little while longer. I up-potted a ton of tomatoes, using Next Level Gardening’s half-full solo cup method. I got the Birdie’s Beds filled - one with soil one with HUGELKULTUR. Woo! I checked on and fed the compost bin. It is still not heating up any more I am very sad. I am trying to find the right balance. The weird thing is, it is definitely composting. But it’s not getting up into the 70’s. I am confused.

A whole thing I am working on that I still have to do is write down every one of the 20 or so varieties of tomatos I’m planting and figure out if they’re determinate or indeterminate, vining or bushing. Because I’ve only got limited room for bushing plants. I’m going vining, and stringing them along a trellis. I am still super unclear about determinate or indeterminate and I really gotta sort that out in the next couple of weeks. But I have at least started a list of the plants I’ve planted so I can look em up.

I also wish I had a very tiny CNC or a laser cutter or something - one small enough to work on popsicle sticks - so I could make little popsicle stick-based labels for my plants without also using my label maker. Just etch the name into the stick. I could probably do something like this with, like, my Dremel, but my handwriting sucks. And I don’t really know how laser cutters work. And it seems like too much work. But if we lived in a better world there would be a small printer, maybe the size of a Canon inkjet, where you fed it popsicle sticks and it gave you labels. Kinda like the way Riso printing is a better-world version of inkjet (man I want to get into Riso printing. It really reminds me of early in my career when I was doing pre-press for CD-label screen printing).

I made a nice video of the whole weekend’s gardening work.

I also unboxed and set up the Worx shredder for pine needle mulch, and tested it on the pine needles and it worked just great. So that is exciting. My shredder collection has now grown to five shredders. I think we might be about done there. I made a video of the unboxing and pine needle shredding (because, that’s some quality SEO-specific niche content there), but I haven’t finished editing yet so you’re gonna have to wait a day or two. I tried to use Premiere on that one and while there is a lot familiar to me, coming back to it since 1999 or so, it’s a bit more complex. I’m gonna need to watch some tutorials after all (see above about productivity and new software. But Ima gonna make an exception for Premiere).

Also the joint where my brand new hose enters the wall leaks and it is so depressing. I guess I’ll order some new washers? Teflon tape seems… extreme? Anyone have any advice?

Oscar nominations came out and Thomas Vinterberg got a best director nomination??? For a film I’ve not even heard of? Another Round? Which stars Mads Mikkelsen aka Galen Erso, creator of the Death Star beam? Who also, I am learning right this second, has taken over for Johnny Depp as Grindelwald? Oh man. That is… crap. What a dilemma. But anyway back to Vinterberg that’s fantastic. Has anyone seen this film yet? I wouldn’t say that I am 100% up-to-snuff on Vinterberg’s filmography but I loved Festen so much (though I haven’t rewatched it in a decade so god knows how it holds up) and his adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd from a few years back was solid.

I learned last night that Keanu Reeves is in the new SpongeBob movie. Good for him. That guy does the best cameos. Neon Demon? Fantastic cameo. That movie where he plays an asshole version of himself? Brilliant. Keanu Reeves, cameo master.

Also watched the Grammys, or some of them anyway. Fast forwarded on the DVR through the first half. It makes me so profoundly happy that every single nominee for Best Country Album was a woman. Brandi Carlisle’s tribute to John Prine almost made me cry. Haim’s and Dua Lipa’s outfits were… well let’s just say I haven’t been out much lately. Damn. Taylor’s performance was good but I don’t like medleys (unless I’m in a Vegas club with bottle service and 10 friends), and I feel like Cardigan is the weakest song on the record. But it ended strong.

We also watched this film I Care a Lot which made me very upset for vast swaths of the film because bad people were getting away with doing bad things and it really messed with my sense of justice and my empathy and I squirmed so much but I concede it was a very good film in the end. I need to make a list of my complicated, long set of rules I currently seem to have for movies and TV that I can endure. It is distinct from what makes a move good. I Care a Lot was manifestly a good film, it was just impossibly difficult for me to watch. At one point, about fifteen minutes before the end of the film I just stomped around the room yelling “fuck you! fuck you!” at the screen. Emma was very tolerant. I tried to fast forward to the end. She made me watch it. She was right.

I absolutely stand by my belief that plotless sci-fi would make a killing. Plots are so contrived. I’m thinking we may be at the beginning of a twilight on plots. I know, I know, stories are culture and stories have power and meaning and blah blah and sure, they do, but you know what has power and meaning? True stories. True stories not modified for television or film. Give us the messy truth. Of course when I’m watching something with a plot I love, all of this goes out the window, but it’s becoming so rare.

We also finished up Depeche Mode Spirits in the Forest this weekend - I had started it ages ago but wanted Emma to see it too, so we did. And this concert documentary film was more powerful and moving than any fictional plot. These little slices of life human interest stories of six fans who attended a Depeche Mode show. One was from Mongolia. One was a YouTube star with his kids for covering Depeche Mode. One had lost all her memories when she was 23 and the only thing she retained was the memory she loved Depeche Mode. It was so moving.

I suppose I can’t square this belief with my belief that, say, MCU movies need way more plot than they currently have, or that we need an action-free Star Wars film, modeled after Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Maybe fictional plot is becoming like doing a song at the Grammys without lip singing: it can still be done, but you have to be really good to attempt it at all.

Hrm. This belief is still being workshopped. I haven’t figured out exactly what’s going on in my subconscious about this.

Finally, this weekend I had an epiphany about the home network and I realized what my mistake was: the wired devices were getting their IP from the AT&T DHCP server while the wireless ones were getting theirs from the Asus router. I was aware of this, but thought maybe it would be okay, but then it occurred to me that the Asus extender node is one of those wired devices getting its IP not from the Asus router, so, yeah. That was a problem. So I took the leap and moved the 10gig switch that runs the entire house’s ethernet and just plugged it right into the new Asus router. It worked! Mostly. It definitely made things better for all the wonky IoT devices in the house (and MAN. Even though you try to keep IoT things out of your house those things just proliferate. It’s impossible to avoid them). BUT the “cable boxes” are wired over ethernet and apparently they get all pissy if they don’t get their IP from AT&T so I had to go into that rat’s nest of half-labeled wires and figure out which two ports were the cable boxes and route them directly into the AT&T modem. Took a while, but I found those out. Now everything is working. And I have ordered label making tape for my beloved label printer to label cables, and one of these days I’m gonna go in there and suck it up and spend an entire weekend getting all the ethernet cables labeled. That will be fun and horrible.

Lots of medical stuff this week. Get to go back to 100 Eastview, the new UNC Medical complex from the future. I like it. They had this nice photo of Yggdrasil (one assumes) in the lobby.

Mom had her PT here yesterday, will have them here again tomorrow, and we have to go to two different tests on Wednesday and Friday. But we are making progress. And she is getting better. It is going well. It’s a lot to do on top of, you know, a job and a kid and a neurotic predilection to writing long daily emails, but I can handle it. She’s getting the hang of it, too. I have to kind of admit that it’s nice to have all the parental units you’ve got to deal with on the property with you. Emma only has her mom and I only have my mom and they are both right here. I kinda like that. In concept. Despite, you know, the work.

Okay mix time. It’s grey out so let’s do a moody and quiet one. Another solid start, first five songs are just great. I miss Willard Grant Conspiracy so much. And Angel Olsen. She has to be about done with a new album, right? God I bet that is going to be amazing. I really shoulda gone and seen her at Saxapahaw. Remember concerts? Remember not going to one because it was 20 minutes away on a weekday? That was so dumb. I will be better in the future. I promise.

Hope your Tuesday is an easy one. May all your Tuesdays be easy.