Kinda bleah mood

And then I promptly forgot.

I fired up Semagic this morning, got distracted, and then forgot what I had been planning to post. I only remember that it was one of those long-form topics I sometimes delve into on LJ/DW.

Oh well, it's gone. I'll wander into a different topic that raised its head this evening.

Somebody posted to the Windows10 subreddit today crowing about how he had managed to pare machine down to something like 30 background processes. He waxed poetic about how it freed up almost all of his memory and CPU cycles when the machine was idling.

He immediately attracted a following of people saying, "Teach us your ways, master." After a bit of wheedling, he released a list of all the services he had disabled.

While one group wrung their hands with glee and expressed their eagerness to try his wizardry, some of the more technically inclined started pouring through is list and saying, "This is insane."

In order to pare his system down to the point he'd reached, he'd had to disable a lot of core functions in the operating system. He'd disabled Windows updates, the firewall, malware/virus protection, download services, print services, a whole score of maintenance services ... as one person said, "I'd hate to see his Event Viewer after this with all the system errors this is creating."

Folks pointed out that this was the kind of thing started giving diminishing returns many years ago, and that modern hardware could handle a couple hundred background services without hurting performance. All he was really accomplishing was reducing his background system load when it was otherwise idling anyway.

The original poster admitted that he had not seen a measurable improvement in performance after stripping his system down the point of nigh crippling it, but he was stubbornly unapologetic about giving bad advice to a lot of less technically advanced people in the sub. I liked the way that one poster summed it up.

"Not to mention that it's pretty much pointless unless you have an exceptionally terrible PC. Hardware is meant to be used, there is no reason to fetishize having minimal utilization."

I get why people do it. This guy only used his computer as a media centre, and it still worked for that after he had stripped out most of the OS functionality. Still, by his own admission the only benefit he saw from that was a change on his resource monitor showing that less memory and CPU cycles were being utilized by services.

I don't see it as often now, but I still remember when Linux users took great glee in hopping into the forums of other operating systems to wax on about how their installation only needed 4K of memory and a single low-density 5 ¼ inch floppy disk to run. They seemed genuinely surprised when they were met with indifference, not understanding that they were offering solutions to problems that most people did not have.

I downloaded a really minimal Linux install a few years ago that installed and ran off of a single 3 ½ disk. It booted up in seconds, and it had a built-in web browser that was many times faster than any of the ones I was using at the time. That said, the browser only handled very basic rendering, and the OS only came with a couple of trivial games (solitaire and a couple of other low-impact ones like that) and not much else. I suppose I could have installed other things, but since it didn't recognize my HD, it would have to have been things I could install on the floppy.

I played around with it, was suitably impressed with how fast it was for the very few things it could do, and then never used it again. I appreciated it for what it was; a demo of how slim and fast somebody could make a thing while maintaining very basic functionality. It was simply of no use to me.

These guys who are stripping down Windows to that point are doing the same thing. They are doing things that made more sense back in 1998 when hardware was expensive and performance came at a premium. Now, they are not looking for an improved experience, they are obsessed with seeing how much they can reduce the numbers on the usage charts and still keep just enough of the OS working to perform the small number of things they do.

They are willing to trade QOL for a barely measurable increase in performance.

If I learned tomorrow that I could live to 100 by consuming nothing but water and boiled groats, or live to 99 and enjoy a proper diet, I'd take the proper diet.

Who wants to live to 100 under those conditions anyway?
Judgmental Mood

Won't somebody think of the fabulously wealthy?

As I get older, and my acquaintances on Facebook get older, I see more and more old person memes. While I am not specifically referring to pictures of old people (though many of them are memes of "gosh, like and share if you are old like me and have these issues"), I am specifically referring to the right-wing memes shared by old people.

Back in my day we didn't need taxes or welfare.

Like and share if you think we should de-fund schools and welfare to hire more police.

I remember when vinyl records were a thing and there were only two genders.

Check out this sad-looking old woman in this stock photo who overcame unbelievable odds. Read about her and understand how much you suck.

I've distilled a few of them down to a single image.
Fake Facebook Meme

I guess the only thing I need to add is the passive-aggressive bit at the end: "Like and Share if you agree. I guess I'll know who my real friends are when I see who shares this."

I won't miss this expansion except when I do

I don't think many people are going to look back on Battle For Azeroth and include it in the list of better expansions. The art team and quest design teams did a marvellous job, and it had some memorable NPCs along the way (Jani, for one). The story was lame, with an unsatisfactory ending that felt rushed (because I'm pretty sure that it was - it's no secret that they skipped a content patch once it became clear this expansion was a dud).

The worst of it, though, was that this expansion felt like it had the most rigorous grind of any when it came to factions and resources. When I say "rigorous" I mean that it was an endless slog. There were time-gated resource grinds you needed to endure in order to make basic, non-optional gear functional. It led to weird quirks where an upgrade in item level was effectively a downgrade if you did not have enough resources farmed in order to unlock its advanced features.

You had to grind out upgrades for your gear later on, but those upgrades were curses that had stacking, negative side-effects. So you also had to grind out resistance that corruption just so you could use those upgrades.

- You had to grind out Azerite power for your next in order to unlock Azerite-powered features in your head, shoulders and chest armour.
- Each new tier of gear unlocked new powers that required more grinding to unlock.
- They added plug-ins for your neck that gave important abilities. You had to grind out those plug-ins, and also grind out more Azerite power in order to unlock the sockets for them in your neck.
- You also had to grind out reputations with new factions in order to get some of the best neck upgrades (get to Revered/Exalted with these gated rep grinds...)
- Later, you had to grind out a long quest chain to unlock a new cloak that was required for the final raid tier.
- Then you had to grind up the levels of that cloak by running scenarios. But you needed a single-use key to run those scenarios. Guess what you needed for the key? You had to grind out 10,000 tokens from gated quests for each key.
- You had to grind out resources that let you buy abilities usable only within in the scenarios, but they were effectively mandatory in order to complete the later stages needed for the cloak upgrades.
- You had to grind out gear with good corruptions on it, then later you could buy the corruptions but you had to grind out the currency to buy those.
- ... and, of course, you had to buy up the corruption-resistance of your cloak in order to counteract corruptions.

It. Never. Ended.
It was not fun.
It was not engaging.

Anyway, every time you reached the end of one slog, the next patch dropped and a new grind began.

I don't see that changing much in the next expansion, but hopefully the story and other parts of the system make up for that. They pruned away way too many character abilities in this expansion, and they are giving most of them back again for the next one. It's nice to see Blizzard learning from at least a few of their mistakes.

A couple of the things I have loved in this expansion are some of the visual aesthetics and the new races. I love the snakes, and I'm a bit sad that they were not a playable race. On the other hand, I am ecstatic that the foxes were made a playable race, and as a result, all four of my main characters are furry now (two foxes, a tauren and a panda).

I flew to the top of the main Horde hub today and snapped a picture of my priest (my main character in the game) staring thoughtfully off into the distance. It almost has the feel of an oil painting to it. For all of its faults, this game has been very visually pleasing to play.
My holy priest looking thoughtful

I mean ... she's got little angle wings. Isn't she almost freakishly adorable? (Don't say "yes" or she may smite you.)
My holy priest casting a heal and sprouting wings

I have mixed feelings about moving on to the next expansion. One the one hand, it can't help but be better than this one overall. On the other hand, it's going to feel like tossing out an old pair of shoes that you had finally broken in. Sure, the heels still rub and give you blisters, and they still kinda pinch your toes, but you've gotten used to the pain now, and you've grown accustomed to the bad fit.
Please Sir May I have Some More

Cooking with Plonq

For lunch today I decided to clear out a couple of items that have been in the freezer since last year.

I reheated the last serving of the vegetarian (almost vegan) chilli I made last year and served it over pasta that I rolled out from some dough I froze last year.

When I say that the chilli is almost vegan, it's because I added an ingredient at the last moment that was not vegan. I had not set out to make a vegan chilli, but it was only when I added the final ingredient that it occurred to me that it had been vegan up to at point. I don't even remember what that ingredient was now (white sugar, anchovy paste - probably the first, since I vaguely recall kicking myself for not just using agave syrup).

In any event, neither the noodles or the cheese in this dish are vegan - nor am I - so it makes little difference.

The base for this chilli is Beyond Meat which I padded out with texturized vegetable protein when I decided that there was not enough of the former for the size of batch I was making. Other than that, I used vegetable stock instead of beef stock for the liquid, and the rest was fairly standard chilli ingredients. The key thing is that it turned out really good.

Vegan Chili

I didn't know how the pasta dough would hold up from being frozen, but I let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then rolled it out this morning. It was bouncy and stretchy and all of those things that you want in a pasta dough. Once I had it rolled into a thin enough rectangle on the counter, I dusted it with flower, rolled it up, and cut it into fettuccine-width strips.

The pasta was fine with being frozen, and the resulting noodles held their own with the chilli. I would definitely do this again.

One might reasonably ask if it is worth the effort to make your own pasta, and I would answer that it is. Making pasta turned out to be far less work than I'd have imagined it to be, and the flavour and mouth feel of fresh home-made pasta blows the dried noodles out of the water. The boxed noodles are much more convenient, and I'm not going to stop using them any time soon, but IMO it is worth treating oneself now and then to some good noodles crafted in one's own kitchen.
Grawky Mood

It's worth a shot

I've seen my GP three times in the last couple of months, mostly as a fallout from the issues with my eye. The specialists said that it was related to my blood pressure, and my doctor agreed that it was too damn high.

He put me on a new medication, and then upped that a bit after an initial follow-up. I saw him again today and he decided that he was happy with what he's seeing now. If I can keep my diet and activity at their current levels, I should be good for now.

As I was getting ready to leave, he reminded me again of the flu vaccine shortage, and said that I should consider getting a shot sooner rather than later. Interestingly, the idea of me not actually getting a shot never entered into the discussion. While he never came right out and said, "you should get a shot", the implication was there. He mentioned he was going to be getting one at his own clinic - though he quickly clarified that they did not have them in stock yet, and had a fairly long waiting list for them. I suspect he will be skipping that queue (for good reason).

I assured him that we had it covered, and were going to be getting the shots as soon as they became available.

To that end, shortly after I got home from the clinic, atara got an email notification from the local pharmacy advising that they had just got a supply of the vaccine. There are forms one usually has to fill out before they can get the shot, but they have put those up online so that one can fill them out in advance. All we have to do is walk in, hand them some printouts with a QR code and get stabbed. We will be doing that as soon as she is done with work in another half hour or so.

Yay - surprise needle. I'd have drunk a lot more this morning if I'd known. Oh well - I've been enduring a lot of needles in unpleasant places and circumstances the past couple of years, so they're becoming an old hat. In fact, I daresay my last defence against becoming an intravenous drug addict is slowly crumbling away. I haven't lost my fear and loathing of needles yet, but I'm becoming enured to them.

In other news, I am debating if I should trim my beard. I think it makes me look old.

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Screen Punching Mood

Mid-October Musing

Our city and province both set a record for new COVID cases yesterday, and our government has decided to double-down on their strategy of ignoring it and doing nothing beyond a routine press conference where they remind us to "practise the fundamentals."

The vast majority of community spread at this point is happening in - wait for it - bars, restaurants and schools. When it was clear that our case counts in Winnipeg were exploding, the government enacted a mask mandate for all indoor places -- except that it's a mandate without teeth. They are counting on people to just be smart, and not crowd themselves together in bars and restaurants.

The numbers are clearly showing that people are not smart. It's just going to get worse as the colder weather that's coming starts to drive people indoors. We're bracing for the post-Thanksgiving spike from the "I'm not going to let a bit of a fever and cough deter me from crowding together with the extended family" crowd.

On the one hand our provincial government keeps wringing its hands and expressing concern over the rising numbers, wondering why people can't just practise the fundamentals of safety. On the other hand, they are actively telling people that bars and restaurants are perfectly safe, and that they need to get out and spend money.

What's especially frustrating about this is that early in the summer, we were down to a single active case of the disease, and had gone for nearly two weeks without a new incident at one point. The provinces on all sides of us were not doing nearly as well, so our government decided that they wanted to rush through the reopening and be the first in Canada to effectively remove all precautions. They quickly removed all travel restrictions within the country - including the self-quarantine period when returning from hotspots - and within a couple of weeks we started seeing outbreaks from people bringing it home with them and giving it to their friends and family.

At this point, the only reason we are not the worst province in the country is because Quebec is handling it even worse. I don't know what's going on in la belle province. Do they have some ritual, customary greeting that involves licking the insides of each others cheeks and huffing other peoples cough? They loudly maintain that they are a distinct culture, and part of that distinctness seems to make them particularly prone to catching this current SARS strain.

Anyway, the weather is slowly turning colder as we ease toward winter again, but it's still nice enough to get out for brisk walks and rides. I took this picture a couple of blocks south of our house where one of the streets had reached peak autumn. Most of the trees are bare now - with the notable exception of our lilacs, which usually follow the pattern of remaining green until well after the first snow. I don't know if their leaves actually change colour now that I think of it - they usually freeze and fall off without ever turning.
Autumn Colours

They have been slowly fixing up the park at the south end of our river walk. One of the things they added a year or so back is this stone meeting circle. Given the area where it resides, it is remarkably free of vandalism.
The Ring
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Please Sir May I have Some More

Shot number 2

As odd as it sounds, knowing what to expect this time made the shot marginally less awful. From the time they admitted me to the treatment room until the doctor was done with me and leaving again was about 4 minutes. His no-nonsense approach of not dragging things out helped.

Don't get me wrong, getting a needle in the eyeball will never not be a horrible experience, but at least I didn't almost pass out at the end of the procedure this time.

I snapped another picture out the window of the waiting room while I was there. It's a bit more colourful than it was last month. A nice view of the city, IMO.


I am going to bring up this show again, but only as a prop for discussing some peoples' reactions to it. Obviously there are spoilers here, but I'm guessing that anyone who hasn't seen the show yet, or hasn't seen the big spoiler moment either doesn't care about spoilers, or doesn't plan to watch it anyway.

Season Five was full of moments to make anyone tear up if they had been following since the first season. The last season deals with topics like redemption and reconciliation. Though it is not limited to Catra and Adora, a big part of its story arc is devoted to the rescue and redemption of the former, and the emotional healing of both.

The key part here, though, is redemption.
Catra being rescued from Horde Prime

I read and watched some of the complaints levelled by detractors of the show, and mixed in with the usual mom's basement crowd who took exception to what they saw as the SJW aspects of the show, there is also a fairly vocal crowd who disliked Catra's redemption.
Or Hordak's.
Or Shadow Weaver's.

We'll skip over the latter two for now, since neither of them actually achieved redemption - though one of them died on their own terms (which means she escaped punishment). People are upset that neither of them was shown to face "justice".

On the main topic, though, there are many who do not feel that Catra atoned enough for her crimes, nor even that she was even necessarily redeemable because of the nature of her crimes.

I agree with them only to the point where I'd like to have seen a bit more friction between her and Glimmer, given that it was the cat's earlier actions that ultimately led to the loss of Glimmer's mother. That said...

There is a solid contingent who believe that Catra did not earn her redemption, and that the resistance should not have been so quick to forgive her. They don't feel that she ... suffered enough. Many people struggle with the idea that others may forgive a person that they would not. Not unironically, many of the folks who feel this are the same who believe that they themselves are redeemed because somebody else took the blame for them. Ergo, it is okay for them to be forgiven for ostensibly unforgivable things, but not for others.

I think this may come down to the innate human sense of fairness. Studies have shown that we are not the only creatures that possess a sense of fairness - it seems to be a trait wired into a lot of higher order creatures that live in communal environs. We seem to be hard-wired to favour the zero-sum view of the world, where a gain one place must equate a loss somewhere else. This leads to the birth of adages like, "let the punishment fit the crime." By the "eye for an eye" principle, if the perpetrator of a crime comes out of their punishment with the equivalent two working eyes, then there is an unbalanced ledger.

The problem is that a lot of people in our culture conflate punishment and revenge. More than balancing the sheet, we as a society have fetishized what we think as justice to the point where - even in our religious teachings about divine forgiveness - we accept that eternal torture and damnation are a balanced punishment for somebody who doesn't say "I'm sorry" to God. Look at the images of people celebrating the execution of criminals, holding signs and exulting in the thought that these people will face an eternity of unspeakable suffering and horror. We want people to suffer for their wrongs. We love revenge.

Some of the Scandinavian countries come to mind as places where we seem to be slowly maturing out of that mindset. I watched a video a few years ago where a sheriff from an especially notorious prison in the US was given a tour through a prison in a country where they practise much more progressive justice than we have over here. He was utterly befuddled by the fact that the prisoners lived in conditions that were more like a communal condominium than a prison. He couldn't believe that they were allowed to cook their own meals, with actually steel cutlery. They had a music room, and wood shop, and facilities to learn skills they could use once they were released.

None of the inmates could leave. For all of its amenities, it was still a prison. Their freedom was forfeit for the duration of their stay.

Still, the sheriff could not accept what he was seeing. "This isn't a prison - this is a luxury resort. These people are not being punished. Where's the deterrence factor? Where's the justice?"

They pointed out to him that once they were released, ex convicts in this country had a recidivism rate a fraction of that in the US - specifically in his part of the country. The sheriff was still dissatisfied with their system, even with this revelation. He could not wrap his head around the concept of "correction" over "deterrence". It did not matter to him if the system was churning out reformed citizens if they did not receive adequate punishment for their crimes. The ledger needed to be balanced.

I admit that I can be a little torn about this one as well. On the one hand, I would prefer that our prisons churn out people who can integrate back into society and are unlikely to commit another crime, but at the same time, there are those whose crimes are a bit tougher to forgive. And there are those who are likely beyond reform.

Still, if I was going to make errors in justice, I'd prefer to err on the side of reformation and redemption over revenge and punishment. I prefer to believe that we are better than that as a species.

In short, I am on team Catra. I am siding with the people who are willing to accept her repentance and forgive her sins. I like to think that the detractors who begrudge others for offering what they consider unearned forgiveness, or people like that sheriff who refuse to accept that reformation can be achieved through means other than suffering, are both slowly being pushed out by a more enlightened view.

But I am not very hopeful of that we will see much of shift in the next couple generations. Many of the justice porn warriors are younger folks.

We're just too attached to our internal concept of fairness.

Somebody needs to lose an eye.
Just Chillin

Oh ... him.

When I retired from the railroad, I signed up for a mailing list that sends out notifications on retirements, deaths, and the like from our regional offices.

This evening I got an obituary notice for somebody I used to work with. The name was really familiar, but I couldn't put a face to it. I had a vague memory of him retiring some time back in the late 90s, so that would have put in in the time period when I was still working in the union.

The email had a link to the longer obituary for him in the local news paper, so I clicked through to that looking for a picture that might jog my memory.

As soon as I saw the photograph, my first reaction was, "Oh ... him."

As soon as I saw his face, I immediately remembered who he was. He'd been one of the managers in the new office we were putting together in Winnipeg. I'd heard bad things about him before I met him in person, but I finally learned why he'd gained such a bad reputation the first time I crossed paths with him. A pleasant description of him would be rude, abrasive, demeaning and insulting. I was struggling to work an unfamiliar job on one of my first night-shifts in the new office and he wandered by to let me know how incompetent he thought I was.

He's not the worst manager I ever had to deal with over the years, but by golly he was the one who came the closest to meeting one of my fists with his face. I was livid.

I held my tongue at the time, but as soon as the assistant director arrived in the morning, I marched into his office and let him know in a voice that I would not entirely call ... calm that if he did not do something about this manager, then the next time he crossed my path during my shift, my next conversation would be with HR where I would be levelling charges of bullying and harassment.

The assistant director's response was surprisingly meek. "We are aware that he has some ... issues dealing with people."

On the other hand, that ended up being my last and only time ever dealing with that manager, so I think they might have let him know which of us they valued more, and he left me alone until he retired a couple of years later.

Other than mentioning him in in passing with friends/co-workers about one of the most miserable managers I'd ever had the displeasure of working with, I never really gave him another thought until I saw his obituary.

Based on some of the vague and politic writing in his obituary, I find myself wondering if his family didn't like him either.
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Just Chillin

Lyrically challenged

I was listening to Spotify while I was making brownies this afternoon, and one of the songs that came up also happens to be one of those songs whose lyrics I misheard for years.

For years, I heard the lyrics of a song by The Clash as "Rockin' the cash bar." I never really paid much attention to the rest of the lyrics and assumed it was a drinking song.

It was a long time before I learned that the lyrics of that song by Wild Cherry did not go: "... somebody turned around and shouted 'play that fucking music right, boy. Play that fucking music right..."
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