a few long links

On phonics vs. cueing in teaching kids to read. Fairly long. I find it baffling that alteratives to phonics were ever seriously considered. What do people think the alphabet is for? Mapping letters to sounds in a composable way is the entire point!

Old urbanism vs. sprawl in Bellevue Kentucky. Not too long. Makes the point that old walkable mixed use neighborhoods aren't just nice, they're more economically efficient -- more tax value, less infrastructure expense.

Two pieces by the same guy on covid-19 aerial transmission and hygiene theater. People should worry less about sterilizing surfaces and more about not breathing each other's air. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at
CrashMouse, food

pastrami and gyoza

My local market sells commercial packets of pastrami and roast beef, $9/14 oz. Compared to the kielbasa at $2.50 for 14 oz, expensive. But I can make a sizable pastrami sandwich for like $3, compared to $9 at the downtown lunch places in Boston. And I can't tell much difference between this pastrami heated up and "real" pastrami.

The beef OTOH is grayish-brown, not reddish. May actually taste better chilled from the fridge rather than microwaved.

One thing I've bemoaned about Highland Park life is the lack of Asian options. Not a lot to walk to, not much in the stores. OTOH I finally, finally, found in the freezer a big pack of chicken and vegetable gyoza. There's no choice, it's the only one, but it's there. Yay! Also a box of egg rolls.

The gyoza comes with sauce packets, though fewer than I expected. Tonight I made my own: soy sauce, sriracha, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, Sichuan papper. Oooh, I forgot to add ginger powder. Still tasted pretty good.

Pork has been cheap at the market. Last trip it was super cheap: pork steak or something, I forget the cut, for $0.99 cents a pound. That's scary cheap. I found a packet dated for the 16th rather than the 13th, but still, it was starting to smell a bit whiffy yesterday, on the second batch, and really off today, when I tossed the remaining half. Was still a decent deal at that price... :O The fridge has been having trouble, whether inherent or because the A/C was off and the kitchen was hitting 85 F, so I don't know if the pork was already on the edge of going or if it got pushed over by sitting at 50 F for a day or something. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at

Central Appalachian economy

A 2017 longform article that I just got around to reading, on the economic abuse of West Virginia/central Appalachia. Outcomes: high poverty, low income, low education, higher mortality, higher opioids...

It's an absentee extractive regime, like many colonies. Mines are owned by outside companies, coal wasn't taxed by the state until the 1970s, tons of profit simply exported. Quintessential company towns: workers living in company housing, paid in script, stuff with overpriced company stores. (Maybe less so now, but significant history.) Classist and underfunded schools. Public pays in pollution and land degradation, and now subsidizes the coal companies with outright money.

'Mullins made the National Honors Society. But in eighth grade, an administrator had talked him out of taking the advanced-track classes, telling him his course load looked like too much work for him to handle. Not that he needed much of a push—those classes were filled with the coal-boss kids, who bullied anyone whose dad actually entered a mine.'

'She told her mother she would go anywhere that had at least one stoplight.'

'They come from where even a community college is mostly unheard of. Especially thinking you could move away to a university—that’s not even in the realm of possibility.' See the comment count unavailable DW comments at

JS surprise

I was looking at my 'programming' tag posts and found a bunch of 3 years ago, complaining about odd features of JavaScript. I kind of remember them now, but if you'd asked me yesterday if I'd ever taught myself JavaScript I would have said 'no', not remembering doing so.

I was prompted by an interviewer having looked at this blog. I wonder what he thought about my saying I hadn't taught myself JS... See the comment count unavailable DW comments at
angry sky

NYC subway costs

2017 article on why subway construction in NYC costs as much as 7x elsewhere.

$3.5 billion/track miles vs. $450 million in Paris.

'The workers were laid off, Mr. Horodniceanu said, but no one figured out how long they had been employed. “All we knew is they were each being paid about $1,000 every day.”'

'Trade unions, which have closely aligned themselves with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other politicians, have secured deals requiring underground construction work to be staffed by as many as four times more laborers than elsewhere in the world, documents show.'

'In Paris, which has famously powerful unions, the review found the lower costs were the result of efficient staffing, fierce vendor competition and scant use of consultants.'

25 people employed for an 8 person boring machine.

'Generators and elevators must have their own operators, even though they are automatic.'

Quadruple overtime on weekends, more than $400/hour.

'One part of Local 147’s deal entitles the union to $450,000 for each tunnel-boring machine used. That is to make up for job losses from “technological advancement,” even though the equipment has been standard for decades.' See the comment count unavailable DW comments at


Mask use in my neighborhood is like 80%. That's on the sidewalks, in the supermarkets is nigh 100%.

California cases haven't gotten better, but several states have now become worse than us.

Hawaii is still relatively low in total and daily cases, but daily cases have gone up 10x since I started paying attention a couple weeks ago.

I kind of wonder if I somehow got an asymptomatic case, or if I'm just that out of shape from age and sitting around a lot.

I finally ordered Sichuan peppers from Amazon. One Chinese, one Japanese -- related but a bit different. Ground, not whole corns. They seem less intense than the "Chinese pepper" I bought in Osaka but it's hard to say... I wonder what happened to that; did I exhaust it, or leave it somewhere? Oh well.

Also got Ito En mugicha from Amazon, the same sort of big liter bags that I bought in Japantown and had discovered in Osaka. Amazon doesn't seem to have an equivalent for hojicha, though. I'm not inclined to risk riding the Gold Line to check the store again.

Almost done re-watching A:tLA:Earth.

Been re-reading a lot of Cherryh. All the Chanur books and most of the core Alliance/Union books. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at
CrashMouse, food

roast onion

I tried this today, didn't work so well. It did become soft and sweet, enough so that I ate the whole onion straight. But it didn't become anything like the spreadable caramelized form of roast garlic. I don't know if it can't, or I didn't roast it enough. I gave it a lot of time; was afraid of too high heat and making the onion peel smoke. Doesn't help that my oven has no temperature indicators, just a dial unlabeled apart from off.

OTOH I foresee eating a lot more garlic than I ever did. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at

roast garlic

I had it once or twice before, probably at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I made it for the first time today. Whee! It's like candy! You can squirt clove after clove into your mouth!

Tomorrow: roast onion. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at

the magic air conditioner

A bit over a year ago I went to Japan. Ah, how I miss it, and the world in which travel was trivial, or at least not life-threatening.

In honor of that, and the central air hear breaking tonight, let me extol again the Best Air Conditioner: ductless mini-split.

Quieter than central air!

Just as personally controllable as a window unit!

Can be put anywhere with a bit of drilling, so more flexible than window units that really want a particular kind of window!

Plus many models come with a reversible heat cycle, so you can use them for heating. Resistive heat would be expensive compare to natural gas heat, but I think a heat pump is comparable -- and if you're lucky enough to have green electricity, better for the environment.

Disadvantages: expensive, and if you're renting an apartment you can't just slip it in.

But still, awesome, and ubiquitous in Japan, and common in Australia. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at

shower smells

I still find it weird how you and your clothes can be a bit whiffy, then you shower, and afterwards those same clothes now seem very whiffy. "I'll put this T-shirt back on after I shower." *shower* *sniff* "Oh gods, no." See the comment count unavailable DW comments at