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I've been very unadventurous since the 2nd and 3rd. On the 2nd new sandals chafed very badly, scraping off a lot of skin near my big toe; it's still scabbed over. (I've had related problems before; this is why I often commit the fashion sin of socks with sandals. Sandals air out my feet, socks protect them.) On the third I stubbed another toe unprecedentedly badly, with bruising halfway down, and ongoing mild pain or discomfort. I finally saw a doctor yesterday; she thinks a fracture is unlikely, and anyway all they do is tape your toes together. But she did recommend keeping my foot high ("to keep toxins from pooling") and avoiding hiking. It's like I got a prescription to avoid pedestrian tourism and stay in a place where groceries come to me.


S's parents are here, and K brought Starbucks instant coffeee. I just tried some, and it was very dark, burnt, and bitter, just like everyone says of SB coffee in general. I've been trying some local instant coffee with Colombian beans and a price twice the alternatives; it's much better by comparison.


Last night I noticed my laptop tingling while plugged in; I asked G about it, and got a remedial education in basic electric wiring, current and neutral and ground. My adapter is only two prong, and my laptop's ground wire had been unaccomodated; he lent me one of his 3-prongs, and the tingling went away. The eee didn't have this problem, but he remembered it as being 2-prong, and it's a hard plastic clamshell, vs. the high-metal casing of the Dell.

I might as well share, in case any readers are as ignorant. The two usual prongs are channels for the current, which is like an artificial river. Electrons come in and flow out, pushed by the voltage, and a device can draw power by sapping the potential like a watermill taps a river. (We ignore AC and oscillating current.) But electrons can leak from the innards to the case, or else fields can draw in electrons from dry air, and so a third wire connects the case to ground, draining off such nuisance electrons before they zap you like a doorknob. The eee, being solidly plastic, is naturally insulated from such problems.

This also sheds light on a cheap metal lamp I'd bought in Boston ($4, with CF bulb) that had also been tingly. I'd figured that was just cheapness -- I doubt it has ground -- but he suggested flipping the plug if it's not width-polarized like many these days.

He also reminded me that grounding in Chile is hard, what with all the fractured dry soil; years ago he'd said the observatory dug down tends of meters and still couldn't find good grounding. He's found that neutral and ground are 20 volts apart, whereas they're usually equal in the US. Neutral is the power company's ground, ground is you, the power company is likely lots of dry soil away.

Socks often crackle or sizzle too; some of that is on insertion, due to crappy oxidized sockets; some of it was ongoing, probably due to the ungrounded plugs. Oh, voltage is 240 here, too.


Books: Hans Brinker (abridged), Night's Master (Tanith Lee), Death's Master (ditto), Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of Universe/Modern World, Years of Rice and Salt.


I still don't have my laptop Linux in an ideal state, but I don't feel like complaining about it too much. Well, a bit. konsole's colors suck compared to gnome-terminal, and kde-plasma picked up an ugly orange color on highlighted items that I couldn't change. kde/openbox is better, though I had to edit a file to get my keyboard shortcuts. konsole doesn't open urls as conveniently, but gnome-termnal keeps resizing itself under non-gnome.

OTOH, I did get firefox to stop doing so, by turning off its Ubuntu and Unity addons, to no obvious loss of functionality.


Cooperative game we've played down here: Flash Point, nicknamed Fire Rescue. More intuitive actions than Pandemic. Apologies if I'm repeating myself.


The house is sitting on an ant colony or something, and they keep trying to invade. Two days ago I woke to them crawling over the power outlet and computer. We spray a lot, which works briefly.

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Damien Sullivan

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October 2018


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