CrashMouse, food

more Honolulu

I've actually just stayed in a lot. Part of it was staying off my ankle, part of it is minimizing encounters with the no-sidewalk zone. Also I've had a 3BR house to myself for the past week, so I was enjoying that! Another guest finally arrived today, though.


* A secular book Meetup I found at the last minute, which was discussing 3 books 2 of which I'd read before (Lies My Teacher Told Me, Sapiens). The discussion was tons of fun.

* Foster Botanic Gardens. Only went for half an hour before closing time (so free!) but seemed pretty cool. Not huge but decent size, and very well labeled. $5 to get in, vs. free in Australia, but hey cheap. Not like the $20 museum.

* 7-11 here is more like the ones in Japan than the ones in Australia, even some of the same products. I finally had some of their hot food and the siu mai, "pork mash" here, was suprisingly good! I liked the yakisoba too. The egg roll didn't leave a huge impression but I may try again. No bathroom, unlike the Japanese ones. That 7-11 did have more groceries too, like bread, milk, and some meats.

* I met up with an alum for lunch, had a pretty good conversation.

* I bought some discount seafood, the tuna (I'm pretty sure, wasn't actually labeled) smelled funny but tasted fine when cooked. Then I made some very tasty shrimp.

* Experimented with making pancakes from scratch, unleavaned, just flour water egg oil salt. It was... edible.

* I entered my first Wal-mart. Hey, they usually don't enter city cores or transit zones, but there's one downtown here. Man it's big. Has one of the few public bathrooms in Honolulu.

* W told me about finding imported Shinto shrines here, and I found one. Probably the same one. Engrish lives: "How to pray... crap your hands."

* Night sky above my house can be moderately dark.

I've also walked a lot around downtown and Chinatown, as I do. This has not really been a highlight. Chinatown is pretty Skid Rowy, lots of empty stores, lots of homeless people. Sitting seems an invitation to bizarre interactions. Outside the shrine some guy with his face covered biked up and asked if I wanted to buy something. He wasn't very intelligible, and I was mostly flinching in "go away". Then yesterday I was reading outside after eating a meh bento, and this guy sat down, flipped open a book, and asked me to choose a chapter, for no intelligible reason, until I fled. Beyond that, it's just not been all that exciting.

I did find a passport place right after that though, so I now have photos to renew with.

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Flew to Honolulu via Sydney. Wasn't too bad. Didn't sleep much on the plane. US customs was surprisingly painless, and almost disturbingly so: I even told the passport kiosk I had food, but no one asked me what it was.

Time is weird. I left at 2pm 27 November, and arrived at noon 27 November.

I kind of regret my choices. My immediate neighborhood here has no sidewalks or safe green space to walk on, so it's dicey until I get to the sidewalks on busier streets. Downtown might have been better but also more expensive and this place ain't cheap as it is.

Kind of twisted my ankle yesterday. Don't think it's too bad but I'm taking it easy today, given all slopes I'd have to walk down and up.

Took Lyft/Uber twice. Kept getting told the many airport shuttles only do hotel dropoffs, not the home dropoff of SuperShuttle. Then took an Uber with my groceries, given my ankle. Bus infrequent and would leave an uphill walk.

Bus system apparently mostly runs on cash. They experimented with a smart card last year but I can't find any mention of some place that actually sells them. There are monthly passes for $70, tried to figure if it'd make sense to get one. If I took the bus twice a day for the next 13 days, yes.

7-11 here has no real groceries to speak of but does have bento and onigiri, though they call the latter something else.

Have seen various small kids on their own, all Asian or native looking.

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penguins! Melbourne through Nov 24

Nov 23

Mostly stayed home reading and cooking, then went out to the St Kilda games. The cute girls from last week weren't there. :( But I got to teach people Settlers of Catan, and to my surprise ended up winning after a long game. My expansion sucked but I bought lots of dev cards, got largest army and longest road and manages to break out a bit, then build a sheep port, then get lucky rolls, trades, and the sheep port to build cities and win. Sheep were usually abundant -- rolled on 5, 6, 8, or 9! -- but I think my final trade was in fact to buy an extra sheep so I could port it into stone and build my city.

Then played more Bang! the Dice game. Couple with 5 players, couple with 7. I think the AWOL organizer had a houserule last week for 7 players, where you randomize whether there are 2 deputies or 2 renegades; I applied that and people seemed to like it. Also the one where you deal out two characters per player so people can pick an ability.

Chatted about accents and politics before going home.

Nov 24

Went to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Any actual botany was mostly wasted on me, but as experiences I liked some lake with islands (and a gondola), a rather large fern gully, and a rather small and hot tropical greenhouse. There are also various signs about plants and ecology used by the aborigines.

Went to a Meetup to see that penguin colony at dusk. The organizer messed with the times so I walked in earlier, running into a couple from the stargazing Monday, so we hung out. The penguins don't really come in until half an hour after sunset, but if you wait until it's dark and the people go away, you can have a pretty rocking penguin experience. There are streetlights so you can actually see them, also rangers with red flashlights (torches, here). They swim out before sunrise and return after sunset and spend their time deep in the water, so apparently they can't see red light and have no ability to protect their eyes from bright white light. No flash!

Tram out announced stops, tram home on the same line didn't.

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Gandalf timing

If you look closely at the Tale of Years you find that Gandalf was actually still fighting the Balrog while everyone was mourning him in Lorien. The Fellowship arrives on 17 Jan and he doesn't die until 25 Jan. Then Gwaihir brings him to Lorien, on Galadriel's command, one day after the Fellowship leave. Hmm. Either she noticed him in her Mirror right after they left, or she knew he was back and didn't say anything to them.

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Melbourne through Nov 22

Nov 21: hot day, up to 40 C, grass pollen forecast EXTREME, along with warnings about "epidemic thunderstorm asthma", which seems to be something that mostly happens in Melbourne, where storm + pollen = lots of asthma attacks at once. I don't have asthma but going out seemed a good way of 'fixing'. that.

Temperature collapsed in the afternoon, from 40 at 2pm to 18 at 5pm, so I did go out for a game event, but the trams were choked again, and walking + food would have gotten me there well after the start time, so I walked around the nearby park a bit instead, and chatted with my hosts.

Nov 22: Went to the National Gallery of Victory (NGV) which is 5 minutes away, free, and deceptively huge. I did my father's "walk around quickly to see what's there". The first galley took 3 minutes, the second (Asian art) took 9, but the rest (second floor and mezzanine) took the rest of an hour! And that's not even the whole museum, because the Mesoamerican galley is closed for some gala event, and won't open again until after I leave. I am very sad.

Some highlights to return for: Venetian glass, the Asian art (CJK and India, mostly), Impressionist paintings. There's also a lot of modern 'design' stuff, plus some special galleries on 'comme' (ridiculous dresses, AFAICT) which could be worth a look.

Went to Japanese exchange again, got less out of it, people were talking in Japanese more rather than giving free tutoring. Still fun.

Trams were annoying again, several full ones in a row, but I actually took one. I hope they're fine tomorrow, I really want to go to the St Kilda game night again, that was pure fun.

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Melbourne through Nov 20

17 Nov

Made travel plans (one more week in Melbourne, 2 weeks in Hawaii, LA.) Had a nice phone call with a friend. Went to another Japanese exchange meetup, more about culture than language per se, was pretty fun. Checked out the Night Noodle Market, was crowded and expensive and my nose kept running, I fled home.

18 Nov

Took the 109 to Port Melbourne beach. I preferred St Kilda beach, less any difference in the beach (which I stay off of because of sand) and more the surrounding area. Kilda had shops and a Coney island clone and penguins, Port had a cruise ship and trucks loading it. I did find a parking meter saying $5/hour or $13.30/day, which I think overrides the "thirty" I thought I heard Saturday. I had to blow my nose nearly continously and wondered what kind of pollen was blowing off the ocean!

Later I looked up my allergy results and yeah, I'm allergic to grass pollen, the levels of which are HIGH and EXTREME.

Took the 1 tram downtown. Some trams like the 96 are spiffy. Some are old and poorly air conditioned (but have opening windows) and no stop announcements and horrible narrow tram platforms in the street inches away from traffic.

Spiffy or not, tram speeds aren't that much faster than walking, if nothing goes wrong.

Checked out a Japanese market, got mugicha, no hojicha available.

Tonight's meetup was a stargazing trip, taking the train out to some stop with no obvious reason for existing. I was the only white person. Had fun talking to a couple of Korean girls on the train. This is a real train, with bathrooms, and conductor checking tickets, and 30 minute headways if that. At our gaze point the ground was pretty dark but there was still a fair bit of glow from Melbourne, especially off the clouds as they moved over. More stars than you see in a city, but sure not Dark. I did see two satellites (one of which I found), two clear shooting stars, and maybe two more. The organizer took photos. I didn't realize what the multi-exposure ones would be, I thought they'd be superimposed in one place, not 'walking'.

19 Nov

Went to the St Kilda tram stop, which is several minutes earlier than St Kilda beach. It wasn't too exciting, just a modest and not entirely thriving commercial district. Some "New Orleans" ornate buildings. Also a Madame Spaghetti gelato shop, which sounded confused, but is actually

16 is another horrible tram, which I took to go pick up the keys of my next place. But some tram broke down and we were stuck for 15 minutes until the passengers rebelled. There were at least 11 trams backed up head to tail, and apparently everyone rebelled at once, or one tram rebelled and triggered the others. So something like 1000 people marched toward downtown Melbourne, in surprisingly good humor. I almost felt sorry for the cars trying to make a simple turn and having to wait for a human river to pass.

Tried taking another tram after my keys, but it merges onto the tracks of the broken down lines, which were jammed with late trams or something. Remember I said they were only somewhat faster than walking if nothing went wrong? Yeah, if something goes wrong then they are not at all faster than walking... I found that meditating while I walked really did reduce my annoyance levels.

Meetup was a Spanish language thing. A Colombian guy talked faster than I could understand easily, and ended up seeming annoyed with us and reading; he said he was a professor of Spanish literature back home, but is here with his girlfriend and just works as a laborer. I walked with an English woman, whose levels matched mine.

Took a bus home. Yeah, no stop announcements.

Skype call with W. Woo!

20 Nov

New place. Really hot -- 32 or 33 C -- and high grass pollen levels, so I hid indoors apart from a grocery run. I'm in a desert of reasonably priced food: the close market is an IGA which is small and overpriced, and the alternatives are IGA Xpress which are even more so. In the evening I went to a general language thing, running into the aftereffects of *another* broken own tram. The event was loud and disorganized and I fled earlier, getting some Japanese food. A possibly drunk guy walked in demanding chow mein, which the staff hadn't even heard of; they eventually sorted out that that was a Chinese dish and this was a Japanese place, and he left abashed rather than belligerent. I waggled my eyebrows at the waitress, who later asked if I'd been there before, she thought she recognized me. Was pretty friendly, I was trying to weight the odds of 'flirt' vs. 'being friendly'. Bayesian prior is against me.

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void engineer, gaming, Void Engineer

ridehail congestion

Decades ago cities started having lots of private cars, and lots of taxis. There was congestion. One approach could have been to cap the number of cars allowed in, and let the market move licenses to the most valuable users. Another could have been congestion charges, with a similar effect. Instead, cities like NYC capped the number of taxis, while doing nothing about private cars; congestion probably was barely abated; certainly modern cities achieved high congestion without the help of Uber.

(Induced demand tells us every taxi removed would have been replaced by a private car.)

Ridehail companies noticed that private cars weren't capped or charged for driving around, and provided a way to match drivers to passengers, successfully undermining taxi prices and supply limits. Traffic goes up again. Cities once again consider limiting the supply of ridehail cars, while remaining committed to allowing every non-commercial person to drive as they please for free.

See a problem, implement a bad solution that doesn't actually solve the problem, layer on another solution for someone's hack of your bad solution...

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Melbourne Nov 16

Most of the trams announce stops like a proper system, but one of the 109s didn't.

I kept having north-facing, meaning sun-catching, Airbnb rooms. This room is finally southwest facing. Not sure if it gets a lot of afternoon sun, I haven't been around, but at least it's not morning or noon.

More Friday

After the Market and dragon tent, had a casual date, talking with a fun woman, about families and dogs and such. She said the buses in Melbourne also don't announce stops. Australia!

Visited St. Paul's Cathedral, which looked rather neat. No photos during a service, and even without that I think they want you to buy a license.

Had some tasty dumplings.

Went to another Meetup event, a Japanese/English exchange. My fear that I don't know enough to get a lot out of it, despite the "all levels welcome", isn't entirely unjustified. Still I learned a bit and met some people. Tried going to drinks afterwards, but the other people were 3 guys and 3 girls pairing off, so I felt like a third wheel and broke off. Extra justification can be that my hosts sleep 9-6 so in theory I should go to bed earlier. This has never happened yet... at least they're quiet in the morning, and I hope I'm stealthy in the night. (As my friend's daughters can attest from many games of 'chase', I'm *quiet* in socks or barefeet, despite my weight -- quieter than much lighter kids who go stomp stomp giggle stomp.)

Unrelated to travel, my eyes keep glazing over when I try to read the D&D 5e SRD rules. I learned on that it's not just me.


Took the 96 tram away from the CBD, to St Kilda, actually to the end of the line, and beach. End of line is a nice little carless half-block, full of pedestrians and booming businesses. One stop in is Luna Park, some quaint amusement park apparently modeled on the old Coney Island. I did not go in. Walked along the beach (or boardwalk, socks and sandals don't encourage walking on sand especially if you don't see a shower to wash feet off at), then along St Kilda pier. There's supposed to be a big colony of Little Blue (aka Fairy) penguins, but they're mostly out swimming for fish during the day. I did see two hiding in the rocks, probably molting or young.

Someone told me the curbside parking by Luna Park was $5/hour or $30/day, but when I looked at beach spaces I saw "$13.32" fee, though not sure for how long. By contrast downtown Boston curbside was US$1.25/hour (so like $2 here), unless they've raised it recently.

Yet another Meetup event, another games night, which was lots of fun! More than Thursday's, the organizer is much more friendly and people seemed more social in general. Played three games of Bang! the dice game; I prefer the original card game but it's not terrible. Differences include no way to get a range longer than 2, or to change your range, and no loot from killing outlaws. Then played three games of Hanabi, this time with someone else who'd played it before; we scored 14, 17, and 18. (Thursday we scored 15 and 17.) Another guy there also goes to the Thursday (Gamezilla) event and confirmed that he finds it less friendly, the organizer doesn't do much and people are largely in their own cliques of long-standing tables.

I got asked "so why Melbourne?" which surprised me; I guess she was thinking it doesn't have the nice weather and beaches of Brisbane and Sydney.

At 11 PM the 96 runs every 20 minutes.

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