May 2020 Part II

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We had our 11th anniversary. I made KrisDi a flight of White Russians: Regular, Vanilla Cardamom, Chocolate Peanut Butter Marshmallow, Salted Caramel, and Horchata. I made a peanut butter sauce, a marshmallow sauce, the horchata, and the whipped cream I put on top. It was a lo-o-o-ot of booze at the end of the day and super sweet. I don’t think we were able to finish the whole flight. KrisDi also made another fantastic Beef Wellington, which we enjoyed with some fancy scotch (not at the same time as the white russians).

I killed a little (375ml) bottle of blended scotch the Pope got for me in a blister pack from the impulse buy section of a convenience store in France. I used it for a beverage similar in nature to an Irish Coffee. I also killed a another unknown bottle of Asian liquor by simply dumping it out. It had grown chunky and tasted terrible.

The kids tried to sleep in the Playfort. We padded the floor with blankets, put sleeping mats out there, put sleeping bags on top, let them take stuffies out there, they each got a lamp, they both got to take their iPads and auxiliary batteries to bed with them so they could message us if they needed something (it’s within our wifi coverage)…we put them out there a little before 8:30. By 10:30 it was pitch black and started to rain, and the noise of the rain on the roof (and whatever other noises or distractions) was enough to scare them into calling for help and retreating to their bedroom. Here was their message:

Miss K’s birthday occurred, and we still couldn’t go hang out with her. So I used Total Wine’s home delivery option to provide her with her first bottle of scotch (Aberlour 16) and as an added bonus her own bottle of peanut butter whisky. Response to Aberlour: “That smells…[sip, long pause, fairly well-masked grimace]…not bad actually.” PB Whisky: “This one smells like…like uh…buttered popcorn jelly beans! [sip]…Whoah! Hoo hoo! That’s like candy! That is dangerous!”

Skylar and Gerald’s egg hatched. The kids decided if it was a boy, they’d name it Bob; if a girl, Lavender. Since none of us have any idea whether it’s a boy or a girl, we have named it Bobender. Again, due to line-of-sight challenges, with additional “freaking out the bird” and regular old timing issues, it was really difficult to try to get any pictures (many tries, standing on a stool on the precipice of a stair…). Eventually I got a few good pictures of Skylar (or maybe Gerald) feeding Bobender. A day or so later, I stepped into a digital photographer’s nightmare:

When I went to get the pictures off the camera, my computer could not read the memory card. I tried multiple disk recovery options and file recovery options (several hours of work). KrisDi did, too. Eventually gave up, and tried to format the SD card — but couldn’t even do that. I’ve never had flash memory completely puke on me like that before. That meant the last couple days of pictures were totally lost.

It gets better, though…I grabbed another SD card out of a different camera, took some pictures, and then I couldn’t physically remove the card from the camera! Wiggling, tools, pushing and pulling, etc. No dice. Googled around and discovered the technique of bending the tip of a sewing needle to slide in next to the card, turn to get the hook behind the card, and pull to get it out…

Only to have the bent tip of the needle break off inside my camera.

I eventually got the second SD card out by sliding a thin flexible metal spatula (not a kitchen tool) in beside it and wiggling around. I discovered that the case of the SD card had cracked, separated, and the resultant ridge was catching on something inside the camera’s memory slot.

On to SD card number three…scraping the bottom of the barrel in the memory department. We lent out DSLR #2 to a friend before the lockdown, took the SD card from DSLR #3, and now we were on to the cheap, crappy SD card from the little waterproof point-and-shoot camera. Next step down is whatever random ancient cards litter the bottoms of the drawers in my desk.

And the camera couldn’t read, write, or format it. Laptop could, though. On a hunch, I looked very carefully down the SD slot, and saw a little silver speck trapped under what looked like a copper or brass strap way at the bottom…using four hands and another sewing needle, I dislodged it and got it to come out, and then everything was working fine. And we ordered three new SD cards (for a total of like $20). This tiny little speck of needlepoint disabled my $1200 camera + $1100 lens and nearly gave me a god damn heart attack.

I did eventually get some replacement pictures of Bobender and family, but I don’t think they’re as good as the ones I lost. I like this one of just Bobender, though.

We decided to take a moderately controlled risk and and visit P Dubs at his new place in Gig Harbor. Big D and Les came, too. P Dubs grilled, we had a flight of heavy stouts, we walked around the neighborhood, I played with the camera, it was fun. I tried to stay a little distance away from people I don’t live with. I’m not totally sure anyone else really did. Although Chilkat broke down completely at the end and couldn’t resist giving Papa a hug.

We also used it as an opportunity to give P Dubs and T Dog some stuff: our old mower (now replaced with an electric one), old lumber, old cordless drill, old crib (although I think that actually went home with Les and D), and their portion of our home made whisky barrel stave taster flights.

Their new place is nice — a little older, but in a pretty neighborhood, nicely isolated from neighbors, short walk to pretty views, lots of nature and/or nice landscaping.

In general chores, we finally broke down and used a weedkiller in our backyard, raked up some detritus, and spread some seeds around. Hopefully by the end of the summer it will look a little better (believe it or not, that’s already an improvement); we’ll need to keep on top of weeds coming up.

Chilkat got some kind of a butterfly kit, I think for her birthday. Caterpillars arrive in the mail, you take care of them until they turn into chrysalises; transfer them to a net cage sort of thing, and wait for butterflies to emerge. In Chilkoot’s ongoing quest to destroy everything out of sheer carelessness, he cartwheeled into the container with the caterpillars, got yelled at (this is by no means an isolated incident, he gets yelled at for not paying attention to his surroundings all the time, and told over and over and over again that “sorry” is too late and doesn’t fix anything).

After the chrysalises were in the cage downstairs, he cartwheeled into them again (I’m not joking about the cartwheeling, he just blindly cartwheels around the house). He got yelled at again, and I think he panicked (I hope it was panic), because then he picked up the cage and with both hands over his head chucked it back into the corner. He sure got screamed at a lot for that, by everyone. I despair that kid will ever learn.

Luckily all the butterflies survived (except one that disappeared — the kids theorize he was eaten by the others). We kept them for the prescribed week and then let them go in the yard. One or two posed nicely. They didn’t all leave the same day. Oh, and the butterflies forgave Chilkoot.

As Chilkat’s increasingly digital production of Aladdin approaches (now they’re planning on recording all the parts at the actors’ homes and digitally putting them together into a production), they wanted to take headshots for the program. We went out to the home of one of the castmembers’ family and got pictures taken in the garage, exchanged various props and/or decorations for complicated logistical reasons, and failed to stay six feet away from the director (though the photographer was pretty much fine). KrisDi curled Chilkat’s hair and even did a little makeup. Part of the exchange was equipment to turn bedsheets into backdrops. This was a huge pain in the ass to do, and I only helped with one — KrisDi did like four or five.

Finally, we had another half-assed attempt at socially distant socializing. We went to Bonney Lake for D’s birthday. P Dubs and T Dog as well as E Dubs and his kids came out, too. Birthday visit to Bonney Lake for D. More barbecue (this time smoking some chicken), more beer, and a tiramisu cake made by KrisDi (delicious, of course).

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 0 comments

May 2020 Part I

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Well, we’re still stuck at home. Not much has changed in that area. Except that we did have our first social engagement, in which we attempted to remain socially distant. Chilkat’s school friend’s family came over for tacos al pastor and drinks, we ate at opposite ends of a six foot table, and the kids were instructed to stay 6′ away from each other. They didn’t do very well, but they didn’t do terribly. Chilkoot was using a tape measure. We sanitized the downstairs bathroom and designated that as the guest bathroom; sanitized it again when they left. We had a good time. It was nice to be around other people.

School from home continues. We’re getting more and more frustrated in particular with Chilkat’s teacher, who apparently doesn’t understand 3rd grade math (yes, Ms. Teacher, you can actually divide a square into eight equal triangles) and isn’t very good at communicating.

We had a robin nest in the bush behind our back window. The kids named her Skylar. She laid an egg. The father seems to be hanging around as well — the kids named him Gerald. The nest is located in a spot that happens to be visible through the screen in our window (and consequently super hard to photograph), and hard to get line-of-sight from outside (and consequently hard to photograph). More on Skylar’s family in the next post, I think.

After being introduced to it in a previous visit to the aforementioned friends and discovering that Total Wine does same-day-delivery in this brave new world, we got a bottle of peanut butter whisky. It is more “peanut butter liqueur” than it is “whisky”. It’s actually pretty good on its own. Anyway, KrisDi decided to make a chocolate peanut butter white russian using that and some chocolate liqueur — and it was fan-fucking-tastic. Delicious! Very sweet, though. Also…a ton of liquor. If you’re curious, her recipe is:

Fill a pint glass 1/3 full with ice. Cover with vodka, add a few shots of kahlua, a few shots of chocolate liqueur, about twice as much peanut butter whisky. Top with whole whipping cream. Stir and enjoy.

One of our weekend days, the kids decided they wanted to have a tea party with us and a bunch of stuffed animals. So we broke out the china, made some tea, laid out plates of finger food, and had a tea party for lunch (Chilkat, Chilkoot, and snaotheus). The kids even made place cards. There may also have been some mild shenanigans.

We continued work on the Playfort. We just about finished it, I think — we’re at the stage where anything further we want to do is pretty optional. I cut little bits out of the siding material to continue the outer walls up closer to the roof, built and (KrisDi) painted and installed trim, caulked a bunch, and installed a fancy sign. Looks pretty nice. Oh, KrisDi started painting the floor, too, and she didn’t quite finish that in this time frame I guess.

Mother’s Day was not particularly original, but it was nice. The kids made KrisDi cards, we bought her some nice flowers, she bought herself some nice flowers, we cooked her breakfast in bed (French toast, bacon, eggs, and mimosas). We had planned ahead to have an “easy dinner” requiring no cooking by ordering a bunch of cured meats and cheeses from DeLaurenti, but we didn’t have nice little loaves of bread to go with it so she made some herself. We actually kept eating meats and cheeses for meals for like a week after that. Always tasty and interesting.

I don’t know much about this, but Chilkat decided to paint some rocks and go deposit them in locations around the neighborhood and on the greenbelt path. She didn’t realize that people would pick them up and move them around or take them home — she was a little upset when we went back on the walk the next day and a bunch of her rocks were gone.

Chilkoot also had reason to walk through the neighborhood — for the Boy Scouts. All his Scouting get-togethers have been digital or canceled, including a nature hike. So we did one as a family. We talked about plants and animals, and the kids showed us a mystery jawbone they found.

We were supposed to take pictures on our hike and share them with his troop, but Chilkoot was ornerier than usual about playing nice for photos. and then he was upset when I told him we’d share his crappy photos with the Scouts. Then he was willing to pose nicely, including trying to straighten this heavily leaning tree — which fell over a couple days later.

In my ongoing quest to purge accumulated marginal liquors, I finished a little bottle of a Japanese whisky called Chita. This wasn’t a “get rid of this crappy beverage” kind of situation — I like this whisky. I just drank it neat. We also managed to conquer a big bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label — this isn’t terrible, but it’s not a whisky I like to drink straight, so KrisDi experimented with a bunch of mixed drinks like whisky sours and old fashioneds. Also, I’m not sure why, but KrisDi decided to take all the liquor out of the cabinet and photograph it. Here’s the whisky section.

As previously posted, KrisDi was making macarons as a thing to do. My boss’s family has a thing for macarons (one of his kids got engaged at Lady Yum), and I dropped off a care package of macarons, giardiniera, and home made hot sauce on his doorstep early in the morning. In return, we got some homemade chutney, raspberry jelly, and masks (me, Chilkat, Chilkoot). Boss’s wife is very sweet.

Cinco de Mayo happened. KrisDi made chile verde burritos (delicious again) and margaritas. Coronavirus Environment saved the day — we realized around lunch time we didn’t have enough tequila for margaritas at dinner, and we were able to order online from Total Wine and get it delivered by three.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

Counting

Posted by snaotheus, 1 comment

Fuck you, Apple

I have absolutely no hope that any Apple representative will actually see this, so consider it venting.

iTunes is a piece of shit. I’d rather use software developed by the proverbial infinite monkeys with an infinite number of IDEs.

All of Apple’s mechanisms of managing devices are fucking horrible.

The only reason people think the iPhone and other iGarbage is easy to use is because all of the options are equally shitty. If you’re marginally familiar with one (such as iShit), the others are clearly incomprehensible. If you’re familiar with Android, then iSmegma is horrifying.

I got this new computer, fumbled around in Apple’s poorly designed website to find their iTunes installer because (pathetically) there is no other way to manage an iPhone. Installed, and then spent untold hours trying to get it to actually recognize my phone and sync with it.

I don’t want it to create giant backups of my phone every time I want to sync music, but I don’t have a way to tell it not to do that. The best I can do is sync wirelessly. But that requires iTunes to magically recognize when my phone is on the same network. Which it rarely does. And if the “manage your expensive-ass shitphone” button doesn’t show up magically in the GUI, you’re SOL. You can’t tell it “Hey, my phone’s right here, motherfucker, why don’t you look for it?” You can drink and cry and despondently restart shit and hope vainly that something will change.

But it won’t.

Because Apple sucks.

Every time I have to use iTunes, I want to throw my iPhone in the trash. I want to mail photocopies of my middle fingers to Apple headquarters. I want all of the iTunes’ development team members’ moms to call them and tell them they should be ashamed of themselves.

Beyond that, of course, is Apple’s (and other tech companies’ [yeah I’m fucking looking at you, Adobe]) love of discussion boards instead of support systems. Sure, they’re cheap. But when I’m already frustrated with my phone and local management options, do I really need JeveStobs6969 to tell me to restart my computer without actually reading my question? Or link me to some Russian website that will automatically fix it for me? Or a forty-seven step process that may or may not have worked for someone one time with a different problem in a different situation that isn’t even valid for my version of iTunes? And even if it did, it amounts to superstition because they don’t have a fucking clue what it means to disable UDP on your local network or how that might affect iTunes or iPhone — it’s just something that they did while flailing around with their own problems?

And god forbid you want to let Apple know there’s a problem that they should fix. Our ol’ buddy JeveStobs6969 will still tell you to restart your computer. You might as well scream into the void. You have a better chance of teaching your intestinal system to produce smartphones instead of feces (although you’d probably get better results that way).

Fuck you, Apple.

Oh hey! Check it out! In the time it took me to write this (coinciding with attempts seven through thirteen), I was able to get my new album on my phone! Not wirelessly, of course. I had to use a cable and back up my phone twice to do it.

Posted by snaotheus in Reviews, 1 comment