Guess I'll post this item to my blog, see if it automatically auto-copies to FB, and copy it by hand if necessary. And then stop copying things by hand because ugh what a hassle.
Today I miss Friendfeed more than usual.
(If you're wondering "Is there some way to 'check in office' without entering the building?" then I like the way you think, but I didn't see such a thing…)
|many||paper receipts from nearby restaurant|
So… I'm thinking those folks complaining about prioritizing straw-bans vs pooping deterrence should find something better to complain about. E.g., complain about prioritizing straw-bans vs upzoning the Forest Hill neighborhood for more housing so more folks have residences inside of which they can poop.
(If you're a San Franciscan who'd like to help paint bridges, plant trees, trim trees, pick up trash, &c, &c, then you want to get in contact with Community Clean Team. Find out when they're coming to their district and/or sign up for the city-wide "sweep" coming up September 8.)
Oh gee whiz, I think there's a straw-ban straw-man pun hiding in there somewhere, but I can't quite reach it.
One piece of trivia I learned (though maybe folks told me this and I forgot? anyhow…): the air-pressure wave from the eruption went around the Earth several times. You could hear the sound a fraction of the way around, but not all the way around. But scientists looking at recordings on their then-newfangled recording barometers (and comparing notes with fellow scientists around the globe) could "see" that the wave had gone around a few times. It's not intuitive: I'd assume that noise would drown out that signal. But like a Marshall Islands navigator picking out the water wave reflecting off of some far-off island, the barometer could still detect that air-wave going around.
So a few sailors with the right combination of skills, life-risking, ship-owning, loneliness-tolerating signed up. And some more folks signed up: folks who didn't know much about sailing but thought "how hard can it be?" Oh yeah and like the title says: "Madmen".
It's a strange book: you're reading about folks struggling to reach this audacious goal. But you're not really rooting for them to succeed. For most of them, you're rooting for them to figure out "This was a stupid idea. I should put into the next port I can find."
Sailors who haven't experienced ocean storms don't know what those are like. Yacht-makers who make coast-hugging boats might think "oh how bad can those ocean storms and waves be? I'm sure that one of the usual boats will be just fine. And if it's not, surely this captain will look at the specs and tell me. They wouldn't take the boat out if it weren't safe, right?" Folks hoped for the best, but it was never going to be okay.
One of the participants was a know-it-all engineer. He had some clever ideas on how to better-design trimaran sailboats for single-handed sailing. Good news, right? Except he totally underestimated the difficulty of ocean sailing and so he thought it was a good plan to test these gadgets for the first time in this around-the-world race. I don't care how good your sailboat-righting-gadget idea is; you don't want to test it for the first time having been knocked down in the middle of the ocean far far away from any coast guard or other ship or human or… Gah, ugh. This book was a long cringe: hoping the protagonists despair (but not too much).
If you want to read just the story of a race participant who survived and only went a little crazy, read The Long Way. But if you want to read a bleak tale of dangerous failure, A Voyage for Madmen is pretty gripping.
Some of these reasons seem like I'd be susceptible… E.g., shipping companies encourage truckers to work as contractors instead of as employees. Many truckers do this so they can have more control. Being a contractor-trucker gives you many choices about how to operate, and if you're detail-oriented, you can pay a lot of attention to optimizing various processes and figuring out how to be better at this game… without stepping back and realizing you should find a better game to play. Oh, that sounds like me.
Anyhow: history of the Teamsters; present-day truck stop life; USA economic woes; growing gap between rich and poor… This book covers a lot of interesting ground.
I heard about this book thanks to an Alison Chaiken tweet; she programs vehicles and tweets about programming and vehicles and related things and unrelated things.
This book follows some USA ladies who broke codes. (More precisely: follows some white USA ladies. Apparently there were some code-nerds-of-color… but of course they were in separate units than the white folks and of course we don't have records of them (so this historian didn't have much to say about them beyond that it was a pity we don't know more) and and and I swear reading about history is half the speed of reading about anything else because you have to stop to roll your eyes about every other sentence.)
Most of the material is life-on-the-home-front bits: Educated women were sneakily recruited from around the USA and brought to Washington DC. They lived in crowded conditions. Northerners and Southerners had to get along. There were shortages, there were outings. But you can also get some idea of how the code-breaking orgs grew. Towards the start, part of the clown-shoes-ness was pretty awful: the USA Army and Navy were rivals. So… at first, cracking codes wasn't seen as a way to save USA folks' lives, but rather as some strange competition—and you wouldn't ever help the other side of a competition, right? But eventually the army and navy folks… well, they didn't work together but they figured out how to divvy up the work so that they could work separately without duplicating effort. And cracking codes is difficult, but at first we figured out just a part of the code, but enough for traffic metadata: we figured out the part of a message that said who the message was to. So if there was a burst of messages to some ship's captain, we could guess that ship was going to do something important soon. And then we broke some codes, so we could start reading messages. And then read more messages—and grew our organizations so that there were enough people to read all the messages and keep track of them all and figure out what the bad guys were doing.
There are probably lessons to learn about codebreaking and about scaling up organizations and plenty of things… but there's not so much about that in the book. But there's plenty of human interest. The anxiety of breaking codes for messages in which the enemy dispatch ships to sink troop transports on which one's brother sits. Writing postcards to plenty of GIs, occasionally marrying them. Knowing that working harder means saving more boys; learning that working too much harder means burning out and saving nobody.