2:00PM Water Cooler 3/2/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers may be interested to know that I got a new Dell Inspiron 15 3000 for $400 with Ubuntu pre-installed. May not have been the utter cheapest, but at least I have a solid backup machine for when the Mac laptop goes down. And who knows, maybe linux is good for something. And I won’t have to spend time chewing my hands over bizarre linux configuration issues! (Adding, all the other spex are fine, whatever they are. All I need to do on it, really, is surf the web and write posts. I’m not going to be programming or, gawd forbid, playing games. So terabytes, shmerabytes.)

Anyhow, shopping sucked up my time, and so Water Cooler will (again, I’m sorry!) be unnaturally short. I will return in full force tomorrow, just as soon as my handler, Dmitri, gives me my talking points.

So some questions:

1) Have you recently purchased an especially nifty piece of kit? (I like that Anglo expression, “kit.”) Anything from a new laptop to a second-hand unit of earth-moving machinery to some furniture to a coffee-grinder to gardening tools to an old-fashioned safety razor (I’m very happy with mine). Good experiences, please! Let’s drive away the angst, a little.

2) Has spring come unnaturally early for you this year? I’m seeing 50° in February, which is a little high for mud season. I welcome the low heating bill, but all that cold water pouring down from the Artic, I dunno… Bit of chiaroscuro on the angst there, sorry, and so to continue–

3) What are we not talking about because we’re talking about Trump?

Talk amongst yourselves! (And I assume everybody knows where that tagline comes from….)

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (CR):

CR comments: Plantidote–Japonica blooming 5 weeks early in Cleveland, OH.

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Martin Finnucane

      700 miles SSW, the camellia blossoms are already all over the ground. The Japanese magnolia blooms are long gone, the azaleas are revving up, but the dogwood blossoms haven’t come in yet. We’re not zone 9, but I’m seriously wondering when we start growing citrus and finally lose our peaches.

    2. Yves Smith

      In Birmingham, AL, everything is a full month early. Daffodils have already peaked, redbud and azaleas blooming now, dogwood starting to bloom.

    3. Chris

      Opposite season here at 42South, but no sign of Autumn. Daytime highs 21-27, overnight lows above 10.

    4. Howard Hawhee

      In central Texas (gardening zone 8b, a few hundred yards north of the Austin city line) it is not so much a question of whether Spring has come early, as it is of whether Winter ever came at all. We had a spell of freezing temperatures the first weekend of January and one or two chilly-ish days otherwise. I have the same question as asked by Finnucane elsewhere in these comments: when will we be unable to grow peaches (horrible crop last year due to low chilling hours) and start growing citrus?

      The gardening problem at present is that it’s becoming too warm to grow certain things that we have traditionally been able to grow here, and still not warm enough to grow replacements, or at least it hasn’t been long enough for folks to have run experiments on new candidate crops.

      1. amfortas

        100 miles or so NW of you.
        same deal…except we had our winter all in one week in December. (11 degrees F) just ordinary cold since then.
        I have done some experimentation.
        shade cloth! Tank covers. Gardens under pecan trees.Pergolas.
        “Full sun” means “partial shade” where I’m at, and it’s only getting worse.
        if you put the shade cloth(or whatever) vertically, like a fence, running north to south, it works better, and you need much less structure to hold it(T-posts).
        we’ve had great difficulty with Tomatoes for the last several years. Mom thinks it’s something wrong with the sunlight. I think it’s temps and a lack of pollinators.(bee nice to bees(and lacewings, etc)).
        Everything is budding out far too early, here, as well…and I expect late freezes again this year.
        I’ll be experimenting(again) with Olives..prolly next year. You could probably grow them better than us. First time I tried them, one couldn’t get any cold hardy varieties domestically. That’s changed; guy in Wimberly, and a few others further south, have a wide variety.
        and I look forward to growing dates in my dotage.

    5. Anon

      The rain has stopped here on the Central Coast (Cali) and the temps are rising into the 70’s (75F). After the deluge this seems quite pleasant, if a little early.

    6. Phil in KC

      Kansas City–green shoots of daffodils and croci. Privet hedge and quince bushes are leafing out, and forsythia in bloom. Was 80 degrees the day after St. Valentine’s Day. Have lettuce, chard, and spinach already in the ground. So spring is at least four weeks early.

      As for neat, new kit, bought a Garden Weasel tiller, and it is a gem!

    7. Ed Miller

      Green with envy. I am a gardener in Portland Metro Area. We have been below normal temperatures since shortly after T-Day. Only crocuses blooming in my yard. Everything else is still in the grips of winter. I do appreciate the plant pics though. Gives me hope that the weather will turn soon.

  1. jo6pac

    Dmitri, gives me my talking points.

    Please make sure that Dmitri’s envelop is filled with $20.00 bills. They’re easier to spend.

      1. uncle tungsten

        If a suitcase it must be Indonesian currency and therefore Dimitry pays less than $2 US per hour.

        Incidentally, Dimitry is keen on Indonesia.

    1. Lee

      Having logged a good number of hours driving across Nevada and other long, mostly flat and straight roads in the inter-mountain states, I could see using a self driving feature in such circumstances. Otherwise, fuggeddabowdit.

      1. Anon

        Well, as the State record holder for driving time from Ely to Carson City, NV, I can tell you self-driving features are certain death on Hwy. 50 (Loneliest Road in America). Nevada has “Open Range” rules and cattle can be found wandering casually along the centerline. (If you see a single reflection in the distance from your high beams– slam on the brakes! It’s a cow sideways in the roadway.)

    2. bob

      “What is also clear from the footage is that the design of the road here is quite awful since even the driver in the vehicle with the dashcam almost hit the barrier and there presumably wasn’t any driver assist at play in this case.”

      But the driver with the dashcam DIDN’T hit the barrier. Who’s smarter?

      It’s the road’s fault. It’s anyone’s fault but the oligarch, or the driver of the stupid-self-driving car.

      More of the tesla PR department job application-

      “The road construction was poorly implemented. Looking at this footage, you can see that the construction comes up relatively quick and the lane markers go right into the wall. Usually there are cones and signs leading up to the cutover. That’s confusing to humans as well as vehicles”

      It’s all about implementation. Implements (tools?) everywhere need better implementers. There will be an app for that in a few hours. There is, however, no current implementation for a self driving car, as per tesla’s instructions.

      1. optimader

        Is that even considered an accident in Texas?..
        ah I see the driver flatted a tire, I guess so.

        Interesting the air bags went off, I wonder if the driver was splashed with beer?

        I like how the SUV driver just momentarily taps the breaks and then continues accelerating along side the wounded Tesla pouring out smoking rubber..
        HA no problem, didn’t flip! surely it wont swerve into me out of control when the wheel disintegrates! Well aahll juz pulz up along side and give em a looksee!.. then dashcam car just pulls up and tailgates the SUV.

        I will go with
        driving to fast for conditions
        reckless driving
        Terrible construction zone road engineering.. fire the person that signed off on that.

        1. bob

          I also wonder about the construction zone, but the dash cam starts pretty late, there may have been signs before the camera clip started in that story.

          Construction is a part of driving, so is badly labeled construction. How many other accidents in the same area?

          If none, blame the stupid car.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Blame the stupid humans who came up with the idea of the car, and all that followed. And the still more stupid humans who so ardently try to think around the edges of the idiocy and persuade themselves that handing over their lives (and money, of course, whether purchase, or rent extraction, or taxes to build the infrastructure the rentiers will be looting) to effing CODE and least-cost engineering and cheaped-out materials, and hence to the coding people who are obedient to the One True Law, the one enunciated by good old Murphy: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time, in the way that results in maximum damage.”

            Amazing what people will put up with, vote for, anticipate so lustily, because it’s “au courant” and tickles their pleasure centers. Because THEIR time is so very WORTH it, and they are so very special. And stupid enough to help the Musks and similar parasites pile up ever more wealth=power, to further trash the planet… All because there is no effective organizing principle that urges in the direction of health and decency and comity and simple survival.

            Just bad luck that the construction was there and the code and sensors and all were just a generation or three from the kind of perfection that might keep the ardent “drivers” of these machines from decapitation or truncation…

      2. Lynne

        Don’t you love how they insist that the lane markers should have been painted over and new ones painted for the construction period, because otherwise they presume humans are too stupid to avoid driving into a wall?

        Wonder what they will do with the roads in counties and townships that are tearing out asphalt and concrete and returning roads to gravel because maintenance is too expensive.

        1. bob

          I’ve said here for a while, in order for self driving cars to work, you’d need new “smart” roads, which would cost 10 to 100X more than normal, very expensive roads. Those “smart” roads would also have to exclude anything and everyone else from them.

          Is it then car that’s smart? I’ve seen no evidence of anything resembling “intelligence”, either in designing the cars, or in raising money to spend on this folly vaporware.

          None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

          They’re getting lots of PR out of it though. Maybe in some reality that makes sense. I don’t live there.

          1. Mel

            One of the “Prove you’re not a robot” tests on a blog asked me to click on all the parts of a picture that contained road signs. I did that, and another test of the same kind came up. I got tired of doing Mechanical Turk work for strangers and abandoned the comment (it wasn’t an important blog, anyway.) Was I right? SMBC suggests that I might have been wrong.

        2. JTMcPhee

          When I was driving my bought-for-delivery MGB home from Seattle after getting back from Vietnam, I was driving down US 101 in CA. Stopped at a diner kind of place, where there was a TV news broadcast running. It seems someone had gone to the trouble of painting the road edge lines and center line so they ran right over the cliff, at a lonely spot between stretches of Armco, 100 feet or so down to the rocky shore. And in the fog, as I remember, at least 3 vehicles ran right off into Lemmingspace, with fatal results, before somebody noticed and “took action.”

          Do people just live for the blandness that precedes the impact of the vulnerabilities we stupid innovative humans are building into our economology? Fat, dumb and happy, until the cinder block comes through the windshield, or the elevator door opens on a hologram of the interior of the car that is actually stopped way up at the top of the shaft by some gleeful vandal with a few tech skills and zero conscience? Or the “smart car” commits seppuku on command of a Bored Lord?

          And where are all these people going, that it is so terribly impoooortant that they can not be bored by keeping between the lines or the shoulders at least as they blast across a real flyover space like Nevada or Montana or even Iowa, or Nebraska where it is said that the state tree is the telephone pole? We mopes pay for the “infrastructure” so the ones that can “afford” the techmobiles can “improve their enjoyment of living”?

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        Blame the roads!

        I don’t think there’s a programmer on the face of the earth who would blame his program as opposed to the environment he (or she) is really unable to control.

    3. VietnamVet

      This is a classic case of disruptive technology and the driver both of which were not ready for the real life crappy world. Autonomous cars are dangerous without a maintained dedicated roadbed to run on similar to Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed rail line which has had zero fatalities after 50 years. The toll pricing per car per commute to drive to work safely would be astronomical. Unaffordable to all except for those who already have helicopters to go back and forth from the Hamptons.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > maintained dedicated roadbed

        We have a technology with a maintained, dedicated roadbed. We call it “the train.”

        Of course, taking the train means that the Silicon Valley types pushing robot cars would have to ride with smelly proles or people not just like them, so of course that’s off the table because freedom.

        1. Lynne

          I thought it was off the table because those meanies in Washington won’t pay for it. Wasn’t there a link to an article about that just the other day? It was ironic in light of the recent articles about seceding.

  2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    I got a refurbished macbook pro from a place called FreeGeek here in Portland. Rather than go throw your money away at a big box electronics retailer, get something used that fits your needs. All I need is the ability to do word processing and play a couple games I like anyway. I find most people I talk to about the matter perfectly happy with a six year old laptop that does what they need to do well, rather than the latest hoopty thing. The rentier screwheads will find a way to force you to update eventually, but why not drag your heels and make them suffer?

    1. oho

      for Windows users:

      dellrefurbished dot com (run by Dell’s corporate leasing arm) is a good halfway step for people who want to try used computers but leery of Ebay or are just starting to try buying used.

      HP has a similar site too.

      Lenovo and Acer also sell used stuff (typically overstocks and returns)

    2. hreik

      Touché. My macbook pro is 7 years old. I did have to replace the Hard drive 3 or 4 years ago. Since then, I’m good to go. My needs are very modest.

    3. efschumacher

      Lambert, I ve been using the self same Dell Inspiron laptop with Ubuntu installed for about the past 18 months (it was $275 back then). Recently SSHing into it from work to do Blockchain development stuff, as the administrative grief is much lower running your own server than the Gubmint one. I should really name the box ‘Hillary’ for a previous home-server pioneer. But it’s actually called Bunter – for Ubuntu.

      One irritant of this box is the unexplained key sequences that can suddenly lead to your edit window deleting a whole post you spent the last 20 minutes developing. A lot of that behavior goes away if you disable the touch pad,

      I also use the box for watching the Beeb via Hola which works well most of the time, or alternatively via Tunnel Bear, which works brilliantly.

      Anyway Dell is now spamming me regularly to ‘upgrade’ to their super duper windows 10 box. But why would I?

    4. cyclist

      A few years ago my old Mac desktop was getting to the point where I couldn’t update the OS, so I started to look at some new Apple hardware. It all seemed overpriced and I’m sort of done with Apple as a company. But I still wanted a machine that ran OSX. For less than $500 I built a previous version of this: https://www.tonymacx86.com/buyersguide/february/2017#CustoMac_Mini_Deluxe
      The only Apple part is the OSX OS – trying to buy a copy of the DVD at the Apple Store using cash was a trip! The thing works great – very stable and reliable, cannot tell it from an Apple desktop

      1. kmchgo

        If you don’t need to be mobile, a Mac Mini is about $600 and can be hooked up to a monitor of your choice (sometimes requires an adapter which runs about $15 or so).

        1. cyclist

          I looked at the Mac Mini, but built the Hackintosh instead: mine has a SSD and more memory for less money. Plus it is a bit of a learning experience.

    5. BobW

      About three months ago I bought a ThinkPad T61 with docking station from FreeGeek Arkansas for US $130. It had Ubuntu on it, but I quit using that when they moved to the Unity UI, so I installed Mint on it instead. It’s good enough for my everyday use, and the company I work for provides a MacBook Pro for business. I just have to remember which way to swipe the trackpad to scroll, depending on which laptop I’m using.

    6. Ohnoyoucantdothat

      Several things:

      -Daughter has 9 year old MacBook Pro with dead magsafe power module (cat chewed wires). Will replace during this trip home which starts in 10 days. Has been pretty reliable other than the coke destroyed keyboard a few years ago.

      -Parts for new desktop unit on order and should be in Albuquerque when I arrive. Have been hoofing parts of my big photo editing machine back and forth for years but not anymore with craziness at US border. New system is micro ATX so it fits behind pickup seat. Will install basic set of software (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc) so I can at least do simple editing to see if I’m getting the images I want. Carry files back to Crimea in 1tb backup drives I can put in my pocket if need be.

      -Trip starts March 12th. Fly to Moscow then, after 12 hours, on to LA and finishing in Albuquerque. Day and a half total. Visiting Grand Canyon (part of ritual), then Joshua Tree, followed by trip up coast from Big Sur to Seattle and then, weather permitting, Glacier and Yellowstone. Finish in Bisti Wilderness in New Mexico if it’s not too hot. Reverse trip back to Crimea with early morning flight to LA on May 30th. 2 1/2 months on the road in my 17 year old Nissan Frontier pickup. As close to heaven as one can get on this rock. I’ll give updates when I can.

    7. cheale

      Secondhand Lenovo T420s, (have put Linux Mint on as a dual boot) – not bad apart from a worn touchpad, Sony TCM-450 walkman recorder (to play a friend’s homemade music cassettes on) and an old spokeshave for some woodcraft :)

  3. Hana M

    You forgot pieris japonica‘s first name. AKA Japanese andromeda. It’s a lovely shrub though prone in the Boston area to a mite that makes the leaves pale and spotty.

    1. Carla

      Is that what messes up the leaves? Thanks for the info. Guess we’ve got that mite in Cleveland, too. (and thanks for supplying the full, proper name for my venerable shrub)

    2. polecat

      That’s Pieris with a Capital P …..

      …. the first letter of a Genus is always capitalized !

      I know … those nasty rules of nomenclature …..

  4. craazyman

    Dude, keep up the good work. I’m sending $150 in the mail today because I haven’t for a while. Hopefully you’ll find a way of wasting it utterly. That’s what I would do!

    1. HopeLB

      I commend you for breaking out of your usual routine of wasting 150$ utterly even if you only do it in the hope that your money, by virtue of coming from you and so imbued with a sort of forceful wasting energy (Entropic profligacy? ) will compel Lambert to carry on your joyful spendthriftary. Out of this chaos (Lambert willfully wasting) might come some reorganized higher plane of existence. Look out for hot tea at the Water Cooler.

      1. craazyman

        He needs to buy a Maine cavalry officer’s uniform from the Civil War and wear it when he writes posts. If we ride to Richmond and demand the unconditional surrender of Redneck Nation we can achieve victory without firing a shot. The only problem will be, what to do with all the horses since the highway system is not the best for horse mounted cavalry. If you look anything at all like Scarlettt O’Hara, you can dine with us in the Officer’s tent. And stay overnight too!

        1. HopeLB

          But that would not be an absolute waste as I am 89.2 % sure that wearing the uniform of the Maine’s regiment (https://archive.org/stream/firsttenthninth00goulrich#page/18/mode/2up) will by virtue of retaining a bit of the past owner-soldier’s soul (probably through the strange, persistent communication of his exfoliated skin’s DNA being layed out in the perfect mathmatical matrix of warp and weft and so able to communicate at the high level of differentials. See this ; http://www.isciencetimes.com/articles/6986/20140324/scientists-demonstrate-three-way-quantum-communication-light-speed.htm with this; http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/biophotons-human-body-emits-communicates-and-made-light Seems I’ll believe anything in combination!) will NON-wastefully, decidedly prudently and with a militarised mechanical flair, 1.greatly improve Lambert’s writing posture and 2. influence his comments with more military terms/allusions and civil war metaphors (Burn it with Fire might become Bayonet It!). I have a friend whose bulbous husband acts completely differently (authoratatively) when he has on his ridiculous 50 mile bike ride skin tight spandex, brightly and colorfully adorned “uniform”. But I do believe nonetheless, in both you and Lambert and in your imminent and probably pre-ordained victory over the Rednecks in Richmond. What you will have them do once they surrender and where you will lead them, I do not know, but I have an inkling it will be to a much better place philosophically and that they will gladly leave behind their 375 horsepowered Ford F-150’s in exchange for one of your 22,00 lbs per foot per second horse powered real horses, perferrably dappled because it sounds so pretty, and I have no doubt they will trailblaze through the suburbaned yards all the way to whatever mathematical/economic/political shangri-la that you and Lambert have pre-assembled or make up on the fly (even if only mentally and theoretically). Wow! You are really making wish me I was a Richmond redneck but alas I hail from Appalachia and those nearly Piedmonters, costal plain Richmonders, are quite snooty about geography . Godspeed Anyway and Always!

          Adhering to Lambert’s pre-militarily enthralled discussion topics; I bought an Extech 355 True RMS Multimeter but I am pining for a Owon HDS1022M-N Series HDS-N Handheld Digital Storage Oscilloscope and Digital Multimeter, 20MHz, 2 Channels. It all started with my daughter’s eighth grade science project about triboelectric power generation (really capacitors) and then I became sort of obsessed with different materials and surface preparations and then this gentlemen didn’t help any with his fine homemade electrodes;

          Actually using the Extech multimeter and filming it with my old camcorder while changing the force used, either dropping and removing a mass ( Halliday and Resnick’s Physic’s book) or sliding the surfaces against one another with the same mass on top, was probably better at recording exactly how the charge separation was occuring. But it was gruelling (though nothing near what Curie endured).

          Hey, Crazyman, you should take one of our “Triboelectric” Spring loaded multi-sheets down to Richmond. When you press them together 10 small twinkle lights twinkle.(Wish you could have seen the nuns crouching down to see the twinkle lights under the science teacher’s desk.) Amazing what can happen when teflon and nylon get together!We made some light up shoes too, Surely, we can reconfigure them for the horses’ hooves.The Richmonders might be enticed to follow the light and/or secretly conclude that you two are actually Tesla’s reincarnation and therefore, leaders and makers of freely available energy/horsepower (for Ford F-150’s).
          Blessings and Love, Hope

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          We’re only riding as far south as the border to New Hampshire (i.e., a little north of Portland). We’ll set up our line there, declare independence, and then rent ourselves to the Europeans as the world’s largest aircraft carrier.

          Maybe if we get on arm at the EU we can get some benefits, like single payer.

  5. Carla

    As the Pieris Japonica in my yard shown blooming above indicates, it’s been a most unusual Feb here in NE Ohio. The thermometer touched 76F last Fri, 2/24. Now we’re in a cold snap and all the prematurely blooming plants are getting zapped. ;-(

    1. Oregoncharles

      Pieris is blooming here in the upper Willamette Valley, too, but that’s normal, if on the early side. Doesn’t usually get zapped, but early fruit trees sometimes do – Japanese plums frequently do.

      But in OHIO? Holy c..p! (I think the latitude is about the same, but the climate sure isn’t! I grew up in southern Indiana.)

      1. Oregoncharles

        Forgot to mention: I love the smell of Pieris blossoms – like sweet tortillas. Some of the very early flowering plums smell like that, too.

    2. polecat

      Ahem …. japonica ….

      … the species name is always spelled in lower case …..

      those binomial rules hashed out by Linnaeus can really be a ‘birch’ sometimes !

        1. polecat

          Ok Anon …. ya got me … x 3

          VERY good with the plant puns …. !!
          My hat’s off, or maybe I should say ‘Monkshood’ off, …. to you !

  6. PeonInChief

    Spring in California has been a bit late as it’s been unusually cold. It’s been starting earlier every year, moving from mid-February to the end of January.

    1. Ivy

      Flowering plum trees, among others, are starting to display their beauty in SoCal, with quite an assist from the torrential rains followed by sunshine.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Spring is just beginning to rear its lovely head in southern AZ. And it’s been a rather cold winter.

    3. tommy strange

      Yep coldest rainiest February in SF since I moved here in 85. I believe the swing is logical since climate change is screwing with our usual predictable temperate weather cuz the ‘winds’ or whatever come straight here…sorry forget the technical term. I use to always plant flowers early Feb. Not now. But SF weather in no way reflects even the rest of the bay area. The record rain is welcome, but obviously just part of the wild swings we are going to see everywhere from now on….And the fracking goes on , thanks governor Brown!

      1. polecat

        Here on the North Olympic Peninsula of Wa. State we’re set to have another snowfall this weekend, if the long-range projections pan out ….. at least it melts quickly, with the days lengthening !

        No spring has sprung … yet ….

        1. Peter Pan

          Puget Sound area has been cold. My electricity bill is off the charts (usage & $$$).

          I hate it when this happens because I know all of the tree pollen will be released simultaneously rather than in stages over a period of time. (Sheesh, I gotta be griping about something.)

          1. polecat

            Around here the first pollen honeybees go after is Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf Maple) …. I wonder if this weather will have an effect on pollen dispersion ?

            Time to check the hives …

            1. Oregoncharles

              You never see maples listed as flowering trees, but the Bigleaves, especially, are pretty spectacular, largish bright yellow blooms.

              They haven’t opened yet here, so the bees are making do with hazelnuts and cornus mas.

  7. Hana M

    As for spring–that was so yesterday. Sixty degrees on Wednesday, now it’s 38 degrees with 50 mile per hour winds. I haven’t bought any new kit recently but I did find a cool web site for watching real-time weather patterns. https://www.ventusky.com/?p=43.8;-65.8;5&l=temperature

    The wind visualization is hypnotic and if you focus on Boston you can see that arctic air flowing down on us. It’s supposed to be 19 degrees high on Saturday. If you don’t like the weather here…just wait a minute.

    For more pleasant diversions from 24/7 Trump and Russia hysteria, try Cornell Lab Bird Cams. I’m particularly fond of the Ontario feeders this time of year. Lots of action with Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, Common and Hoary Redpolls, Pine Siskins and even a Ruffed Grouse that stops by almost every evening. http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/38/Ontario_FeederWatch/

    1. jawbone

      The weather site is blissful…and so lovely to see the entire globe! Wow. T/U so much.

      1. Hana M

        Glad you enjoyed! Try some of the different functions on the left hand side. The waves animation is just awesome, especially if you zoom out so you can see the massive waves in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current

  8. DakotabornKansan

    Has spring come unnaturally early for me in Kansas this year?

    One thing that I noticed all winter was the abundant presence of robins.

    When I was growing up in South Dakota, it was a common saying that robins were a sign spring

    That’s not true. Many robins don’t migrate.


    “They are a sign of spring because we only start noticing them when the weather gets nice and they are in our yards seeking worms and other foods as the weather warms.”

    Since it has been (“unusually” not so much anymore) mostly warm and nice all winter – my neighbor’s rose bushes were still blooming in December and there have been temperatures in the 80’s mid-February – that is why I’ve been seeing so many robins all winter.

    1. jefemt

      I noticed over-wintering robins in Sidney (mon-dak) NE Montana…and that is no easy winter, believe me.
      Have seen robins all winter in Fort Collins, CO.

      The central/northern Rockies had a really long, wonderfully warm autumn (unsettling into November). Trees and shrubs that would do well to not be budding are starting. The western slope (grand junction crowdorado) peach/apricot wine country are seeing the trees budding and flowering. That is NOT a good thing in March. Farmers are worried they will suffer catastrophic fruit tree crop failure due to late frost.
      I attended a global warming and agriculture session hosted by MT Senator Jon Tester, a farmer. Tester and his neighbors are seeing weather pattern changes that are very disruptive. Researchers from Montana State ag and geosciences departments pointed out that with easier longer season, weeds get a head start and out-compete crops. Snowpack runoff is out of kilter, especially with frozen soil. Tester mentioned that food insecurity, due to climate change, is the number one concern of the US defense department. Empty stomachs can foment bad outcomes, not to mention the suffering…


      1. Phil in KC

        Much agree–Tester on the mark here. Read somewhere that the Syrian fiasco was preceded by several years of dry weather in that country, which produced dismally small yields among small landowners, which in turn gave rise to food shortages and small farmers being dispossessed of their holdings.

        And then the African diaspora: one thing we know about famine is that hungry people don’t stay put, but hit the road, looking for something better.

    2. Code Name D

      My Bradford pairs are starting to bloom.

      Hay, there appears to be more fellow Kansans around. We should do lunch some time.

  9. MtnLife

    Our quaking aspens have started budding out here in mid southern Vermont and it supposed to hit -4 tomorrow night. This early spring has been rough on the ski industry. Thankfully, due to a strong early season and the weather holding out until after the holiday week, resorts won’t be in quite as dire straights they were last year. Although, unless the weather stays a bit cooler, many resorts may have trouble fulfilling their open day requirements to their season pass holders. A lot of places saw 30-50% loss of snowpack in the last two weeks alone. Not sustainable.

  10. Eureka Springs

    Super hot, super dry times here in N.W. Arkansas. Fire hazards, no floating the river here in peak season and the boat ramps to the big lakes are out of the water. Friends are planning trip to walk old towns usually submerged by lake waters this weekend. My mock orange bushes seem to be farthest ahead… budding leaves six weeks (or more) early.

    Finished all my Spring painting and cleaning projects… But the battle of wisteria never ends.

    Would love to see umbuntu in action. Are there decent photo and music programs packaged with umbuntu?

    1. diptherio

      It’s Ubuntu and yes, there are good photo and music programs. GIMP is a good Photoshop replacement, Shotwell is good for photo management. Rhythmbox is the standard music player and it’s pretty good. There are all kinds of other programs available for free download through the Ubuntu app store.

      Ubunutu MATE (a particular “flavor” of the OS) is designed specifically for non-techy people and it’s install and set-up is super easy. You can easily create a bootable USB drive and try it out on your machine from that, without having to install anything.


      See youtube for lots of videos showing the system.

        1. apgibb

          Eureka, my wife and I are coming to see Crystal Springs in a month or so. We consider that the trip is worth it for CS alone, but as long as we are down there, what are three things aging Yankees should do in those parts?
          We would really appreciate any local knowledge that you might care to share.

      1. Carolinian

        Also worth mentioning that any flavor of Ubuntu can be turned into any other style of the OS by means of the free apps that are available from what they call the “repository.” So standard Ubuntu can be turned into Mate and vice versa.

        One of the great things about Linux is that it lacks the IP lockdown that Microsoft requires so it is incredibly versatile and can be run from an SD card or thumb drive. In the movie Citizen Four Snowden shows Greenwald how to do just that.

      2. Mark Alexander

        Interesting. I didn’t realize Ubuntu even had a Mate edition.

        I’ve been using the Mate edition of Linux Mint (a popular derivative of Ubuntu) for years and like it a lot. I use it for software development, among other things, but I also install it for Linux newbies who want something relatively easy to learn.

        1. Innovation drives change

          I love Microsoft because every time they have made some “major upgrades” I have had the opportunity to change to something better. First example is their upgrade of explorer, which was just copying the firefox at the time (some 10-15 years ago). It taught me how to use the short commands and other great stuff with mozilla. So I switched to firefox and havent used explorer since unless truly forced to = private or public computers with no possibility to install.

          Hopefully the coming forced upon win10 will help me to switch to ubuntu.

          Also, waiting for the microsoftial crappification of linkedin to kick in so I can get off of it or switch to a better network.

          1. Dead Dog

            I found as my Asus Zenbook, with Windows 7 installed, got older, things took longer to open and my internet was just crappy, lucky to watch something at 360p.

            Going to Linux Mint was the easiest thing to do and my machine got its mojo back, streaming in 1080p now. I think I freed up 40Gb too, as the change forces you to think about which files your really need to save.

            Even now, I go to my partner’s Windows 8 machine and say to her ‘how do you put up with this?’ I guess she is waiting for me to archive her files and update her own laptop… Sounds like a plan.

            GIMP, Libre Office, Thunderbird, Firefox – all good replacements for Photoshop, Office, Outlook and Internet Explorer or that crappy Edge.

  11. Oregoncharles

    Kit? I just bought a new set of hedge shears – finally sprung for professional equipment, having broken a number of the cheap Coronas I liked from the local discount store – which they no longer carry.

    I got ARS extending Japanese-style shears. Japanese hedge shears have relatively short, light blades, with longer handles. It isn’t just extension; the lightness at the end helps, and the shorter blades encourage precision over biting off too much at a time. I use hedge shears A LOT, for more than just hedges. They’re perfect for chopping blackberries, for one, a constant task around here, and the extension makes them easy to use at ground level, even for high grass. My trouble is, sooner or later I try to cut something too heavy for them. Proper procedure: keep loppers handy, for the heavy wood that makes its way to the surface of hedges. They’re much harder to break.

    Anyway, I’ve tried out the new tool and enjoyed it. The bad news: not available locally, so I tried EBay in hopes of avoiding Amazon. Turns out they came from Amazon anyway. OK, I should have known, but hope springs eternal, and all that. Something to watch out for.

    1. LostHighway

      The ARS hedge shears are very nice, although I prefer the fixed length handles. The Japanese technique is not to hold the handles at the very end but to move up to around mid-handle. This takes some getting used to if you are adjusted to Western technique but getting some counter balance out of the handles reduces fatigue in long pruning sessions and gives you more control.
      Quality Japanese gardening tools tend to have harder metallurgy than Felcos (especially) or Bahcos. They will typically hold a sharp edge longer but at the cost of increased brittleness and more care and time needed to resharpen. The same goes for Japanese kitchen knives in comparison to German or French manufacture.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes to the hardness. I worked for some years pruning in a vineyard, as a winter fill-in job. The manager insisted on using Coronas rather than Japanese tools, because if you hit the (high-tensile) wire with a Japanese blade, it would throw a big chip; Coronas were softer and dented, instead. Much better repair. I use Japanese hand pruners in my work, but old American loppers that I got at an estate sale for $5. Actually have 3 different sizes.

        I’ll have to remember not to use the ARS shears around wire.

      2. Hana M

        My favorite Japanese gardening tool is my Chikamasa garden scissors. They are lightweight with egg-shaped places for your fingers. They have tiny points that are perfect for dead-heading and trimming perennials. You can use them for hours without fatigue–much better than Felco shears.

  12. human

    Bought a theremin kit for my honey for Christmas. I’ve wanted one ever since I saw plans in a Popular Science in the ’60’s. She’s the musician, but, I got to put it together! Just getting around to finishing it. Amazingly weird and now I know who Clara Rockmore is.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      First time I learned of it was from a documentary that mentioned the Beach Boys also used it. Right then, I recalled the weird sound.

    2. aletheia33

      speaking of sound, for its own sake, i just discovered mynoise.net. if you like to play around with “focus music”, ambient music, and the like while working, you will love what you can do with this website. it took me a day or two to realize what a huge range of sounds it offers, all very high quality and carefully calibrated by the site’s creator.

      1. RMO

        human: Was it the Bob Moog kit? I’ve been toying with getting a Theremin for some time myself. I can make noises with it, my wife would probably make wonderful music with one as she has perfect pitch and fine motor control (she plays piano and violin beautifully) that vastly exceeds mine. I did have the good fortune to find myself a guitar that I had been looking for for ages – a Yamaha SG-3 from the late 60’s. I had one back in the 90’s but sold it after a few years because I needed the money. I foolishly thought I could find another one easily!

  13. Timmy

    The warm winter has been good to the northern-most Carolina Wrens, who have high mortality in extended cold snaps. They don’t reside much north of a northern New Jersey latitude (where I am) and they don’t migrate. Breeding pairs also tend to stay together over multiple years. They are insect feeders that are often seen around but usually not feeding at seed-based feeders and they also take to roosting in eaves and garages for warmth. I put out peanut hearts which they will consume and leave a side door to the garage open because they’ve learned it will be open in morning when they need to get out to feed and the main door is closed. But everything has to be closed up tight just as soon as they begin building nests. This is a strictly seasonal arrangement.

    1. Hana M

      My mother (in Middletown NJ) had a pair of Carolina Wrens nest in the decorative wreath on her front door one year. We were all warned to call at the back door for the duration!

  14. Carolinian

    As one who noodles in linux I’d say it’s fiddly but worth the effort. For Christmas I got a Chromebook and was creeped out that Google kept asking for my phone number every time I turned it on (they want you to have two factor authentication and a Chromebook requires a Google account). So using web help I turned the new machine into a dual boot Xubuntu (more windows like version of Ubuntu than standard Ubuntu) and never use the Chromebook part. There are linux apps to do just about anything that windows will do and a program called Wine that will even run many actual windows applications if the hardware is x86.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      If Google thinks I’m giving them a phone number, even of a burner, they’re demented.

      I have yet to understand why any of this stuff matters to anybody other than marketers and the “intelligence community.” Why the hell does it matter if it’s “really me”?

    2. Cujo359

      There are many ways of doing two-factor ID that don’t require a cell phone. I’m convinced Google asks for cell phone numbers only because they can then turn around and market that list of numbers to someone else.

      They lost me when they locked me out of my Blogger account while I was on the road, rather than use the e-mail they sent me warning me someone was trying to log into my account from an unusual location as a second factor. Yet I’m amazed at the people who think this is a great security/convenience feature.

  15. Tom

    Ok got to confess something: I love IBM thinkpads. The best computer hardware ever manufactured. The design is brilliant and these are the only machines I haven´t been able to wreck with my uber heavy writing. As it is I am writing this on a super loud 20 year old IBM type pad (wrote two books on it) and am looking into a Thinkpad screen from just after 2000. Unfortunately this is NOT an IBM but a Lenovo model. Still even the Lenovo thinkpads are great. Got a second one for 100€. It is a 12,1 Inch x201 for when I am travelling.
    About ten years ago I did a little business in Mongolia – where I used to live – buying used and broken Thinkpads in bulk from the US. With a friend we changed the motherboards on machines with good screens by taken the motherboards from achines with broken screens. These were mostly T40, T41 and T42. Truth be told I loved the clear design of the layout, how easy it was to replace anything broken and the overall quality. We sold them for a 100 to a 150 Dollars each to teachers and students. That is serious people and no gamers. We also told our clients we´d repair them if they break. Never had a complaint! People that is quality and I goto say I love thinkpads.

    1. diptherio

      Recently upgraded to a T420 and it’s great. The only issue is battery life, but with a secondary battery in the CD bay, I’m getting 5 hours, which is considerably better than anything I’ve had before. Picked it up for $150 from an electronics recycler in SF, and added about $100 of new batteries. Far better than anything I could get new for $250, that’s for sure.

    2. Jen

      I’ve been getting Thinkpads at work for about a decade. On alternating cycles they have been wonderful, and complete crap. First one I had was amazing. The next one went through 3 hard drives in one year. Next one – a big honking 10 pounder – was my favorite in spite of the weight. I do not do well with fussy high maintenance things, and I could drop kick that baby across the room and it would go right on chugging along. I still have it as a back up.

      My next to last one wasn’t powerful enough for the big spreadsheets that I work with. I don’t think it was a bad machine – just ill suited to my needs. Told our IT shop that I don’t care how much a laptop weighs. Give me the heaviest one out there – as long as it will do what I need it to do, and not get the vapors if I look at it cross eyed.

      I’m on a P50 now, and I’m happy with it.

    3. Watt4Bob

      Still have every ThinkPad I ever used, and they all still work.

      Starts with an A20 and I’m typing this on a T530.

      I have Windows 98 on the A20 so I can access and use my legacy Pro Tools Free projects.

      My current audio studio runs on a T41 and XP.

      I tell people to treat their laptops like they were infant children (don’t toss them in the car etc…) and they’ll last a long time.

      However, I find three years to be the usual life of a Laptop in employee hands, sometimes much shorter due to careless handling.

      1. Jen

        “treat their laptops like they were infant children (don’t toss them in the car etc…)”

        That’s probably why I don’t have children.

        1. Watt4Bob

          Wistful Finn, looking out the window;

          “Look, the children are coming home from school.

          There would be more children, but there are wolves in the woods.”

          Also have a new T560, it’s beautiful, cold, hard, beautiful.

          I’ve got a bunch of Apples too, the T560 display is getting close.

    4. Arizona Slim

      I’m still using a 2005 ThinkPad, aka the Think Tank. (It’s heavy.)

      Long past time to replace it — darn thing is really slowing down. But I don’t want to.

    5. Bugs Bunny

      I worked at IBM and supported the stupid sale of the PC division to Lenovo. A sad day for American workers. I use Macs now but miss the great ThinkPad keyboard and the pointer.

      1. Daryl

        I still miss trackpoints. Wish they had caught onto other laptops somehow (I assume Lenovo has patents over it).

      1. ocop

        I made this mistake and bought a Lenovo gaming laptop for the price/specs. Terrible decision. Just got an X1 carbon at work though and fell back in love.

        Next laptop for home will be a thinkpad a generation or two behind. I don’t game anymore and do the computationally expensive stuff on my desktops.

    6. Mark Alexander

      I too am a huge ThinkPad fan; have been using them since around 1998. I almost never buy them new, and the first thing I do with them is throw away Windows and install Linux. I love the Trackpoint, the high-quality keyboards, excellent service manuals, and the ease of repair.

      My favorite is a T60p from 2008, with a beautiful 1600×1200 FlexView ™ display, and a motherboard transplanted from a T61 (to double its memory capacity). The thing is plenty fast with Linux, runs stuff like VMware Workstation just fine, and I feel no need for anything newer.

      But the T60p is a real tank (around seven pounds), so I have a couple of X200s three-pounders for travel (I got one for free from a friend who was upgrading). These have a 1440×900 display, quite a bit better than most laptops these days, and pretty darn good for something so light and small. They were very expensive in 2008 but are quite reasonable now.

      I also got my wife a T61 as a replacement for an old Macbook, and gave my mom an R61; both machines also from circa 2008 and running Linux.

      The point here is that if you don’t need Windows, you can get by with older ThinkPads that can be obtained quite cheaply nowadays.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think the mouse is best. Both trackpads and TrackPoint involve fine muscle motion with fingert only. I think that’s asking for carpal. The mouse doesn’t require fine muscle motion with fingers, and uses the whole arm.

        1. Mark Alexander

          My experience with Trackpoints is a bit different. It involves pressure, not motion. Watching myself use it just now, I don’t see my finger or wrist moving, but I see my whole arm applying that pressure.

          I’ve watched a newbie (spouse) learning to use the Trackpoint, and she tries to use it like a trackpad, moving the finger with repeated brushstrokes across the thing. It takes a week or so of practice to get used to the fact that you don’t have to move anything.

          The other thing I like about it is that I don’t have to take my hand off the home row to move the mouse cursor.

  16. steelhead

    I’m seeing daffodil shoots now after deep cold, snowy and ice weather the past 2 months. It still gets around 15-20 degrees at night. Late spring and in the process to reconfigure the garden planting schedule.

  17. JohnnyGL

    2) Yes, spring seems early, but I’m making the best of it. I hit a couple of online plant nurseries like I was a scratch ticket winner in the strip club.

    Multi-graft apple tree for the kids, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and grape vines all going into the ground in the next month or two.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is a blizzard warming in Hawaii.

      Is that normal for spring over there?

      1. Kokuanani

        Not necessarily blizzard, but definitely snow. The two volcanos on the Big Island are 13,000+ feet; Haleakala on Maui is a bit lower and gets snow, but less frequently. Always strange to be standing amid the palm trees at the beach, looking up at the snow-covered summit.

    2. Oregoncharles

      The absolute best table grape (seedless) is Interlaken, bred in upstate New York so quite hardy and early. Green to golden grapes with a distinctive fruity flavor. Make wonderful raisins. Bunches in direct sun turn golden with brown flecks. Himrod, the sister variety, is also very good, more minty(?) than fruity. Some prefer them.

      Even the animals like them best; even the deer eat those vines first, if they get the chance.

      1. polecat

        I have Mars (a bluish concord like grape) and Golden Muscat, both of which the @$#&!*@! raccoons utterly devoured (grape juice dripping from their little ‘Rocket’ chins !!) last fall !! Maybe THIS year they’ll take a pass ….. ‘;[

        1. Oregoncharles

          I use primarily overhead trellises, essentially a two-strand clothesline on 6-ft-tall T-posts. Saw the idea in a commercial vineyard I worked in. The fruiting canes are fastened to the overhead wires. The great thing is having grapes hanging at eye level; but you could put raccoon barriers on the T-posts. If you don’t let the wires hang down, you’d have only the birds to worry about. And yellow jackets. In theory, you could net the grapes, but I bothered only once; caught a robin and felt terrible about it. We have more grapes than I can process.

          Some of the old trellises hang much too low, and something eats the grapes from low on the ground. Weasels, I’m thinking, though we’ve never seen them. Raccoons would take far more.

  18. Steve

    I just got a new ukulele side bender which was made by Blues Creek Guitars in PA. It works great and has made my side bending for Ukes a lot more reliable. Now if there was only a way make the necks easier :) My 10+ year old iBook is still working as a studio music server.

  19. Raymond Aikens

    I purchased an old Dell earlier this year. Purpose was that I too needed a reliable back-up. After lots of reconfiguring it has become almost as enjoyable as my primary device. It’s also Windows 7, uses lots of software I was unable to run on Windows 10. Cost $400 and is every bit as practical in use as my much more powerful machine. Plan was to add more RAM, but I’m in no hurry because experience is so satisfying.

    1. Paid Minion

      Those are sweet…..never heard of them.

      I’m thinking I need to order the Bristol F2b. Too bad the Sopwith Triplane is sold out.

      For space reasons, I’ve been trying to limit my purchases to 1/72. Seen some of the new Airfix releases in 1/72? They are pretty nice, especially for the price (MSRP of 10.00 or thereabouts……I’ve picked a few up for $5.99). Check out the new FW-190A-8, the new Hawker Hurricane and Mk IX Spitfire, the new P-51D and Curtiss Hawk 81A-2.

      1. charles leseau

        I’m exclusively a WWI builder, but the Airfix birds do look like quite nice kits. I have an aesthetic passion for the wooden and linen kites from the dawn of flight and also for old wooden ships. It must be all the rigging lines or something…

        The Wingnut kits are the company of Peter Jackson of LOTR and Hobbit movies fame, who also has a passion for WWI birds. They have wonderful engineering and are highly recommended, and yes, the F2b is fantastic and one of those I very much want. They’re about to release several versions of the Camel too, and that’s very definitely next on my list.

        For WWI, the goldilocks “just right” scale for space saving and still being detailed enough for a nice build is really 1/48, since the planes from that era were comparatively small. Eduard makes lovely kits in that scale, and any of the ones labeled “profipack” have photoetched parts for extra detail. Roden also makes nice kits in 1/48. The Wingnut ones at 1/32 are excellent for more detail, though really benefit from aftermarket parts and decals plus a little elbow grease with scratchbuilding if you have a mind.

  20. Lee

    My son just bought for the low, low price of $600 a twenty year old five ton diesel flatbed truck that needed a bit of work. It has pretty much paid for itself in the first week hauling building materials up into the steep Oakland hills where people are building on precipitously sloped lots that mountain goats might find daunting. The roads up there are narrow and twisty threading their way through luxuriant and flammable flora. What people will risk for spectacular views of the lesser multitudes below.

      1. Eureka Springs

        I was at a game in candlestick park that day. All I could do was watch the fire as ash fell thick as heavy snow all over us and marvel at how the fans acted oblivious and the game just had to go on.

        When Armageddon happens most people wont notice.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe they can afford their own, private, flame-retardant dropping, fire-fighting drone squads.

        “We are planning a bombing run of 5,000 drones in the next 10 minutes.”

        1. duck1

          Funny thing about that fire, where I was in SF most of the identifiable ashes were from cookbooks

          1. Hobbs

            Holy cow, I remember the same thing! I actually saved some of those pages that wafted through the sky and rained down on the back porch of my husband’s Mission apt.

      1. Oregoncharles

        There’s a very fancy development north of town on a large hill, that was essentially carved out of the woods. Very pretty, with views. Remember that we’re summer arid. After Oakland burned, the local fire marshal informed the residents of that hill that, in the worst conditions, if a fire started at the bottom of the hill, it would take 10 minutes to reach the top. That’s the back of the development, and there is no road access on that side.

        In my professional capacity, I’ve suggested that people in places like that mount sprinklers at the edges of their roof, that they can turn on to wet down both the roof and the immediate surroundings, if there’s a fire. Don’t know if anyone did it. The choice of plantings is also critical in places like that: some plants burn a lot better than others.

        An interesting tidbit from the Oakland fires: I was told that the death rate was higher in the fancier neighborhoods. Apparently those people aren’t so inclined to help each other – and of course, they’re farther apart.

    1. Paid Minion

      “Young plaintiffs”

      You mean “Parents of young plaintiffs”

      The only thing the “young plaintiffs” around here (mine included) care about are their smart phones, and their Facebook posts.

      That, and beer.

  21. Katharine

    Winter aconite and snowdrops are about done, narcissus a few inches up, elders and an aged crab apple cultivar putting out young leaves. Heard on the radio this morning that peak cherry blossom in DC will be around the third week of this month, three weeks earlier than the recent usual–and I am firmly convinced, almost a month earlier than when I first moved to this region a few decades ago.

  22. Paul Tioxon

    I am cutting the cord from cable companies. I use Fios. There is a junction box installed where I live in the Philly region. My son set this stuff up, but I can describe the process reasonably.

    Step #1 I sent back the Verizon router for internet. This was replaced with an Asus wireless router. It is almost top of the line, I connect by a Cat6 flat ethernet and get over 100mps speed. My son custom built this tower computer for gaming and is only hard wired, but the wireless is very fast as well when company comes with their lap tops, iPhones that switch to my wireless router, tablets etc.

    Step #2 I installed the cheapest Roku streaming gadget I could get on Black Friday. With Streaming, I can get Netflix, Amazon, Youtube for pay and free channels, most of which I will never bother with for free. I like to listen to RadioParadise internet radio on my computer and now get it over Roku also for free. You can buy HBO if you have to watch movies and Game of Thrones etc for about $15/mo. That and a digital antenna to receive sharp HD broadcast TV for free, all of the local Network Affiliates plus PBS stations, anyone that broadcasts. That covers more than enough TV watching. You can also rent movies with these services if you hate to go to movie theaters or can’t get to one.

    Step#3 Just ordered Ooma, internet telephone service. Monthly bill, supposed to be a few bucks for taxes and 911 fee. No charge for unlimited national calling. Internation calling to 60 countries also available for a small fee. So,for me, almost free. A 1X $30 portable number fee to save your old phone #. Comes with bells and whistles no extra charge, caller ID, Voice Mail, blocking.

    Step#4 The big Kiss Off. Now that you have all the equipment you need to watch TV, make phone calls and stay on the internet, you cancel all of your services except for internet. Fios is ramping up broadband speed like mad, offering 750mps, almost Giga service from Google. I am paying $69.99/mo all in
    for 100/100 upload/download mps. No more equipment rental fees, etc just sales tax in that price. Ooma is VOIP service, Roku is internet service too, so all you need is really good fiber optic broadband and you can cut out everything but the internet service, the ISP. I am saving about $100/mo.

    1. KurtisMayfield

      Good for you! I went cableless back in August with Netflix, Hulu, and a DIY antenna that I made out of old coaxial cable and 3 dollars spent at Home Depot. The spousal unit has adjusted splendidly.

    2. Jen

      Good for you!

      Haven’t had cable in probably 13 years and don’t miss it one bit. I’ve thought about Ooma, but my phone/internet provider is a local company, and quite good, so I don’t mind paying for the land line even though I rarely use it. Wouldn’t think twice if I was still with Fairpoint!

  23. Laruse

    Daffodils were in full bloom here in Central VA 2 weeks ago. Bradford pears are hitting their peak about now. My Lenten Roses (hellebores) had bloomed by February 1 (about 2 weeks early). My Don Juan climbing rose that is in bad need of a prune had new growth starting a week after the nasty cold snap in the second week of January.
    But the most foreboding sign of Spring I have seen was a tick crawling on me after I spent a few hours in the woods in North Carolina last Saturday. A tick before April is damn in my region near unheard of for me. Also, I have to mow the yard this weekend. Way too early for that nonsense.

  24. Paid Minion

    Great “Kit”

    -Miller 130XP MIG Welder (or it’s current equivalent). Bought it 15 years ago. 110v power; not so good on anything over 1/8-1/4 inch thick, but is exceptionally portable. Excellent if you are restoring a car body. Has been used to repair/replace extensive sheetmetal on two car restoration projects, still going strong. If it ever breaks, parts/service availalble at any welding supply place.

    – Milwaukee Tools, Screw Gun/”Compact Driver”. Got it from a local contractor supply/tool store 7 years ago. Use it constantly. Lots of torque, adjustable clutch. Rechargeable, excellent battery life.

    – Chrysler 5.7 liter “Hemi”……..Will not share the sad story, but I recently acquired this engine as a “project”. In the process of disassembling. Pretty damn impressive motor. Tons of “engine” tricks from the drag race types……..”Cross-bolted” main bearing caps, lightweight pistons, low tension rings, roller cam, cam raised high in the block, windage tray (which shortens the pushrods, reducing the reciprocating weight and pushrod flex), “beehive” springs, “Three angle” valve seats.

    “Bone stock”, it puts out 390hp, with a “truck”/torque cam. Drop in a cam more suited to a lighter vehicle, and I’m betting this thing will hit 440-450. That’s “old Hemi” territory, in a package thats 70 cubic inches/200-300 pounds lighter.

    1. RMO

      I went in half and half with a friend on a MIG welder ages ago. Great buy and we both got a lot of use out of it. Almost foolproof too. Almost:-) Once when I was welding a frame I decided to take a break. Shut it down, turned the gas off. Came back, switched on and started again. I was having a hell of a time, sparks, popping etc. Decided I had better take some more time off since I was having so much trouble. Went to turn the gas off – and of course I found I hadn’t turned the gas back on again when I cam back from my first break. Lots of work with the grinder undoing what I had just done.

      One of the best tool buys I have made in the last few years was a Knipex “pliers wrench” High quality, mad in Germany it’s like a cross between a crescent wrench and channellocks – except unlike those they really work. They grip fasteners well, don’t mark them at all and have no tendency to round off the heads. I’ve noticed that all the aircraft mechanics I know seen to have a few in their tool boxes, along with a stranded wire cutter from the same company. A set of those came in really handy the last time I had to replace a set of rudder cables.

        1. RMO

          MIG welding is easy. My total instruction was an article in a car magazine and the manual that came with the welder. A couple of hours of trial and error on scrap metal and I was ready to tackle the easy things – welding thicker steel. I’ve not had the need to weld sheet metal. If I was doing much welding now I would buy one of the auto-dimming face shields as MIG (or TIG) welding requires a filter so dark you really can’t see anything through it until you strike the arc. I always found it awkward to get everything in position and hold it as I bopped my head to get the shield to swing down before striking the arc. Gas welding is something I still want to learn. A good small torch is pretty inexpensive and can do welding, fillet brazing, building a lugged bicycle frame, cutting steel etc.

          1. Dead Dog

            thanks, mate for that. Will give it a go.

            I hear that it’s easy to weld, but hard to master so that the welds look professional.

            Those helmets sound expensive, but useful. The welder I used to do my gates had a blind dog in his workshop.

  25. Leigh

    I am an avid outdoorsman, hiker, canoe-camper: Anyone here familiar with ” H.J. Resolution 69 “?

    I know it opens bear and wolf hunting up in Alaska. I keep hearing, when referenced, that it allows the killing of bear cubs in their den. I’m thinking/hoping this total B.S.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Will there be special plaudits for the Great White Hunter(tress) who kills the last individual in a “game” species?

      2. Art Eclectic

        Some nerd kid is now working on an AI bear that shoots back. The day that goes up on Kickstarter I’m donating.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I wonder if the “responsibility to protect” doctrine applies to ursine and canine and lupine and feline and elephantidae and all the piscine types too? Canon “stand one’s ground” on behalf of another species?

    1. Fiery Hunt

      I spent 6 months up North…absolutely floored at the attitude toward the natural world.
      Not hard to understand; Alaska is less people against Nature than it is Nature kicking people’s asses. But it’s the lack of perspective that got me. Actually had one woman tell me, and I quote (will never forget it)…”You people screwed up the lower 48, we’ll do what we want here!”

      We were talking about the mass extermination of grey wolves. And I was standing in front of a hundred pelts in her shop. Anchorage, circa 1993.

  26. Jen

    New kit? I got a french press travel mug. No more ghastly keurigs or stale coffee from the cafeteria for me!

    Early spring? Nothing is budding or peaking up out of the ground yet. Then again chipmunks ate all of my crocuses last year so hard to tell. I am seeing what I consider the harbingers of spring much earlier than usual: mud (usually mid to late March); frost heaves (ditto); the annual posting of the six ton weight limit on most of our town roads (ditto); bob houses off the local ponds (sometimes doesn’t happen until April). I also saw a flock of geese flying north the other day.

    Up until last year I was cross country skiing until mid April, and it was the deterioration of the roads, not the lack of snow that ended the season. Last year I took my skis out of the car in February. There was just nothing to ski on. Haven’t taken my cross country skis out of the car yet this year because I have faith that there’s still some snow out in the hills, and it will be cold enough to freeze the roads again this weekend.

  27. Altandmain

    I’ve been looking more at laptops online and in the store. Mine died too because I was really clumsy.

    The good
    + Skylake CPUs are slightly better than their predecessors (and Kaby Lake)
    + AMD just released Zen today and the workstation benchmarks are good, so we may see price competition
    + SSDs make laptops feel much faster
    + In laptops that support it, as in the OP, Linux is a lot better than it was, although it still needs a ways to go
    + IPS seems to be more common for display technology and maybe OLED will come too

    – Microsoft spying with Windows 10
    – Batteries that cannot be removed
    – Thinner at all costs (at the loss of cooling, which means throttling and lower performance)
    – Use of lower power “U” CPUs (I can underclock a standard CPU, but not overclock a U CPU)
    – Some laptops have fewer ports than before (and dongles are expensive)
    – Build quality on many laptops is not as good, although there are high end ones that are well built still (Lenovo Thinkpads, Dell Precision, HP Zbook come to mind), as do some gaming notebooks
    – Many components are now soldered, especially the CPU and GPU preventing upgrades

    Net, there are good laptops but:

    1. Buy a laptop with enough processing and graphics power or you’ll regret it
    2. It’s much cheaper to buy your own RAM and upgrade … oh, and buy a laptop with DIMM slots so that you can upgrade
    3. It’s cheaper to buy a small cheap hard drive and buy an on sale SSD (you don’t have to get the fastest unless you are using it for speed)
    4. If you are clumsy, for buy a durable laptop!
    5. I very much prefer IPS displays.

    Otherwise, it may be worth buying a used workstation or gaming laptop. They usually have a lot of processing power, graphics power, and a good quality display, while being cheap and durable. Expect to have to replace the battery however and maybe upgrade to an SSD.

    1. Anon

      > – Use of lower power “U” CPUs (I can underclock a standard CPU, but not overclock a U CPU)

      The U models might be binned better to meet their TDP targets.

  28. Bruce F

    A couple of things that have been very useful on my farm are both made by Stihl. The FS 130 trimmer with bike handlebars has been terrific for knocking back weeds/shrubs and the MS 362 chainsaw is a beast. They’re not cheap, but they hold their value over time and, more importantly, work. I’d strongly recommend both!

  29. Oregoncharles

    I forgot one of our early bloomers: Cornelian cherry, Cornus mas. It’s a dogwood, not a cherry, but with small yellow puffs for flowers and edible berries later on. Makes a big shrub/small tree. (There are varieties selected for fruit – ours are edible but not great.)

    It’s in full bloom now; the flowers come out before the leaves, so it’s a yellow cloud. The neighbor’s bees are taking full advantage, between rain showers. Great fall color, too, like most dogwoods.

    1. Hana M

      Cornus mas is a favorite of mine. How do witch-hazels do in your area? Hamamelis. × intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’, introduced by the Arnold Arboretum, is an old variety that seems nearly indestructible and has a wonderful, elusive fragrance. In the Northeast its February blooms are so very welcome.

      1. Oregoncharles

        They seem to do fine, if you keep the deer off of them, which I wouldn’t be able to do. We watch their babies grow up, and mutter about venison.

        I just saw a witch hazel blooming, but wasn’t able to sniff.

  30. Max

    I put my white MIM Fender Telecaster with some severely peeled paint on Craigslist and traded for a Nikon N80 SLR film camera + flash + telephoto lens + tripod. So now I guess I am taking up film photography? The first couple of rolls turned out great, and I have confirmed that black and white photographs automatically double the artistic credibility of my photos. Luckily, I live close to a small independent camera store and they have been very helpful for a newbie like myself.

    The trade itself was fun. I met them at a Starbucks. They told me to look for the tattooed pregnant lady and tall fat guy with a huge beard. The couple was extremely nice and it seems like both sides came up ahead on the deal.

    In other photography news, for Valentine’s day I bought my girlfriend a Fuji Instax 300 Wide instant camera (similar to a Polaroid) along with a ton of film. She FLIPPED, plus the photos looks great!

  31. tommy strange

    Just a few years ago, in the bay area, you could get used power macs, desktops for about $800 loaded free with everything from garageband to final cut pro. And since there are so many rich people here, tons of that stuff was around. Now on CL I see nothing of the sort. I guess there was a crackdown. I don’t know what to do now either. I’m working on final cut, serious movie making, but on old 10.7…any suggestions on even expensive version I should go up to, these days? The forums always seem to be too oblique know it all for me to get straight answers for a working class person.

    1. Mookie

      They’re still there, just called Mac Pros instead of Power Macs these days. Look for 2008 or later Mac Pros – those can still run current OS. avoid 2006 Mac Pros (aka Mac Pro 1,1) as they can’t run anything past 10.7 Lion without some not-insignificant hacking.
      throw in a 500gb SSD + 2.5-3.5″ bracket for about $200, and maybe 16gb RAM from OWC for about $100 and you’ve got a decent machine.

      1. Larry

        Amen. I’m still running a 2006 MacBook that capped out at OS 10.7.5. Just this week Mozilla finally declared there will be no browser updates for me. I need to get a new rig and like the advice you’re laying down here in the comments.

  32. bob

    Monopoly non-profit profit report time-


    “Excellus makes $99.5 million profit; See how much it paid top 20 execs”

    I won’t make you click through. Lots of profit for the non-profiteers.

    “Here’s how much the 20 highest paid Excellus employees made last year:

    Christopher Booth, CEO, $2.09 million
    Dorothy Coleman, chief financial officer, $1.08 million
    Stephen Sloan, chief administrative officer, $854,609
    Barry Thornton, senior vice president, $652,812
    Paul T. Eisenstat, senior vice president, $598,611
    James Reed, senior vice president, $586,392
    Martin Lustick, senior vice president, $522,646
    David G. Sanderson, senior vice president, $498.981
    Arthur G. Wingerter, president Univera Health, $483,478
    Christopher M. Gorecki, senior vice president, $476,229
    Geoffrey Taylor, senior vice president, $464,070
    Michael S. Burke, corporate vice president, $449,675
    Gerard Paul, senior vice president, $426,008
    Mark A. Pitts, chief analytics & data officer, $416,100
    Kevin McGurgan, regional president, $407,423
    James T. Kohan, senior vice president, $387,779
    Eve M. Van de Wal, regional president, $372,066
    Todd A. Muscatello, corporate vice president, $371,688
    Timothy J. Quinlivan, vice president, $337,318
    Keith A. Volkmar, corporate vice president, $317,615”

    The CEO ONLY made a 90%’r salary over 2million. The last one was really well paid-


    With all of those reporting requirements, you’d think that someone would have had the number sooner. It kept growing over time-



    1. JTMcPhee

      Oh, who cares? More power to the scammers and skulch who figure out how to screw the rest of us.

  33. temporal

    I’d never try to talk anyone in to following any course related to older Macs or Linux machines. That said, nearly all initial issues around running something like Ubuntu or some other X Window system is the lack of design consistency across applications. Ubuntu tries to present an OS X-like experience but they can only go so far and cannot define style guides for developers to follow. Also, every so often during the application upgrade process something can get out of kilter, possibly forcing the user to remove very old packages by hand, in the terminal, due to package dependencies. This is fairly uncommon unless you run the same version for quite a few years. Linux is easy to backup but quite a bit harder than a Mac to recover in the event of catastrophe.

    Except for the last two versions of the 15 inch MacBook Pros, there’s still lots of resources and parts for repairs so even in the event of a hardware failure you need not worry about having to buy something new.

    Installing pre-Sierra onto a very limited number of older portables via Hackintosh is not very hard if you want a very cheap fall back machine. I prefer the Clover boot system but other options exist. There are now enough older, cheap and relatively fast used Macs that the Hackentosh route probably doesn’t make any sense unless you have something like a pre-2009 Mac Pro and want to run the latest and, arguably, greatest version of OS X on an EOL Mac.

    Running Windows 10 is always available to those that don’t mind the built-in spyware that can’t be turned off and a EULA that makes privacy not an option.

    Buying a machine that can’t be opened easily and repaired by replacing individual parts is asking for trouble. All hardware will fail over a long enough time frame. Anyone that wants a cheap speed bump and greatly improved reliably should replace their hard drive with an SSD, especially if they own a portable.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Ubuntu tries to present an OS X-like experience but they can only go so far and cannot define style guides for developers to follow.

      Apple abandoned the Human Interface Guidelines for iOS, which is why it’s gradually crapifying, and why the iOS programmers now in charge of OS X are crapifying it. (My favorite in the last year or so is Settings, which now takes 10 or 12 seconds to come up, presumably as it gathers information from the hard disk that isn’t cached any more. You’d think that a settings interface would be built for speed, since all workflow comes to a halt while one waits for the setting, but n-o-o-o-o…..)

      1. dontknowitall

        I suspect all that effort building and ‘decorating’ the new headquarters did not have a good effect on Apple’s upper management. It is the kind of stuff you do when you have run out of ideas and need a distraction.

        I have been an Apple user since the Apple II…

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Somewhere C. Northcote Parkinson urges that “the perfect building” is a sign of institutional collapse. For example, the Vatican was not built — is this correct? — when the popes had real power.

  34. Annotherone

    Spring has lately been coming, then going in south-west Oklahoma. Temps rose to almost 90 one day last week, then shifted abruptly back to low 40s within a day with freezing night time temp….then back up …and down. We’re currently steadied and in the 60s. Many white blossom trees are making the town picturesque – Dogwood? Not sure what they are, and a few Redbuds (I think) are peeking out too, seems like a couple of weeks earlier than normal. Patches of sedum spectabile leaves are peeping well through a remaining layer of russet oak leaves in our narrow strip of front garden. These never let us down, through drought, ice storm and tornado-times, they cling on regardless. :)

    Kit? Not really unless a vintage Austin Productions sculpture to add to my collection can be termed “kit” – a bargain – found recently in a vintage store in Lubbock TX.
    “Guitarist” by David Fisher (1980)

  35. Dan

    I’m in the process of acquiring some ‘kit’, and very much hoping for a good experience. Tomorrow I’m having a 20 cu. ft. freezer delivered so that I can store my next purchase, which will be a whole steer’s worth of locally-raised 100% grass-fed beef.

    I’m very excited to start feeding my red-meat addiciton at wholesale prices (and of course supporting local farmers who practice sustainable and humane methods) as well as getting all of the less desirable parts that you don’t typically find in stores. With apologies to any vegetarians reading this, as well as the squeamish, I plan on getting all of the organs ground up together to feed my dogs, who I recently started on a raw food and bone diet to combat the chronic yeast infections they were getting with their kibble.

    At some point pretty soon, I’ll probably also add a sausage maker to the mix. And I’m thinking about turning the cow-hide into a rug. Need to do some research on that, however.

    1. IHateBanks

      Had a 22 cu ft chest freezer delivered today, to go along with my 15 cu ft chest, and 21 cu ft standup freezer. All will be filled with 1300 lbs of pork from pigs I raised, and various “vegetables” from the gardens that my wife insists I eat periodically.

      And I FINALLY got the farmer down the road to sell me his old, smallish hog trailer.Next go round I can get hogs to the processor at 250 lbs, not 450 lbs, due to lack of ability to transport. Will be making our own bacon and sausage, as soon as I finish the smokehouse in the next week or two. My Crestor will be busy for the forseeable future.

      It was lots of work, but the most rewarding, relaxing pastime I have found in several decades

      1. Dead Dog

        That sounds like a fine way to live, smoking and curing meats, raising animals ethically and organically.

        Make sure you have backup elec for freezer, and you do need those greens, you know things are better when you eat them

      2. Dan

        That sounds fantastic. I hope you’ll be making bacon out of the jowls cause that is something that is hard to find and is really something else.

        I’ve been a city-slicker all my life but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about raising livestock like some hogs and a few head of cattle someday, and you’d better believe that a real honest-to-goodness smokehouse is on my wish-list too.

        Right now I’m making due with eight egg-laying hens in the backyard that are good for between 0-5 eggs per day, and a rooster that is good for, well, his personality. It’s fun taking care of them. They’re also great at disposing of any food in the house that doesn’t get eaten and then turning it back into food I want to eat. Pretty nifty trick, that.

        1. IHateBanks

          Yes, indeed! Jowl bacon is as good as it gets, but I keep flashing back to old “Beverly Hillbillies” episodes, when Granny always seemed to have some hog jowls on the stove to offer guests.

          Next up for us are some meat chickens in the fall. I continue to be amazed at the huge difference in flavor with home produced meat!

  36. subgenius

    This post is coming from a 5(?) year old dell latitude e6430 I got given – and bumped the memory to 16GB, and added a cheap 480GB SSD I found on sale – total cost about $300.

    It is a multi-boot system primarily running elementary OS (variation of ubuntu, looks more macOS-like).

    I haven’t bought a new computer in years – I have 3 5+ year old i5 laptops, all are fine (bar the failed battery in one…). The big upside of newer models is they generally have longer-lasting batteries – this one manages about 3-4 hours on a charge, which is less than I would like. Linux flies on such gear (elementary booted from cold to fully up in ~5 seconds, but that is now slowed due to the grub bootloader needed to select OS – so its currently about 10 seconds from startup. Kali boot takes longer, probably 20 seconds from power on until login)

    Favorite recent secondhand gadgets – an eowave domino and a mutable insturments shruthi (both fairly obscure monophonic synthesizers), and a 30+ year old rebuilt 24:8 mixing desk that has the warm and murky “British” eq.

    Early spring? Mammoth has 41 FEET of snow…the melt might be “interesting”.

    1. Optimader

      Dell Precision 4500 laptop workstation.. new solidstate dirve… bulletproof brick+7 years old. New lenovo biz laptop is left on the shelf

      Yeah old tech…
      You like toast? This is the machine. Mine is ~50yo –essentially measures emissivity of the surface. Any bread come out consistently toasted. The machine pulls the bread in much to delight of house guests. Beautiful art deco industrial design. I have half a mind to start remanufacturing these and the companion Sumbeam E2 egg cooker, and set up a display at the Merchandise Mart… would sell like hotcakes


  37. Jim Haygood

    After years of occasionally getting stuck with non twist-off bottled beer and no can opener, I found a key-shaped device from NiteIze that fits on a key ring. It includes both a bottle opener and a blade for slicing the packing tape on boxes.

    Also bought a plastic “cord supervisor” from the same company, to neatly wrap up the cord on a set of earbuds.

    A piece of kit from several years ago is an Energizer LED lamp with robust metal housing, which also fits on a key ring. This I have used a lot more than expected. Always having a source of light in my pocket is a great convenience, since I don’t always carry a phone.

    1. MtnLife

      A good flashlight is important. I’ve had horrible luck with them, replacing broken models nearly monthly until I got a Fenix recently. Never spent $80 on a flashlight but maybe that’s what it takes to get one that I can depend on.

  38. lb

    I am a long-time UNIXy user who works in tech, so I’m willing to take on some of the complexity of running a less-than-mainstream OS. I’m pretty happy that Dell as a vendor preinstalls and supports Linux on a few of their models — this implies a certain degree of stability and well-chosen devices/drivers. I’m typing from one such higher-end model running FreeBSD right now. I’m recommending, for the nominally technically capable, considering the Dell Linux offerings alongside Windows or Mac laptops.

    There’s a bit of a weird reason I’m not using Apple laptops after two generations of MacBooks (which provides a good-enough command line and tooling interface for a lot of tech workers who like UNIXY environs). Over the years Apple’s software updates would come more and more often. Eventually, I found that Apple used an emergency capability to push an update without my consent, overnight. I came back several times and the system had been alive when I wasn’t around, and I’d never clicked “install tonight”. Microsoft, to my understanding, does this with the newest Windows as well (MS folks or users who have experienced as much may chime in to correct me, if I’m mistaken). I decided I wanted off the train that tried to normalize vendor-forced changes to devices without explicit consent. This seems like a terrible precedent.

    With a Linux laptop, I have a fair deal more certainty that the user is in control of what runs on the machine to the exclusion of the operating system vendor. (With my FreeBSD laptop I can browse, do work, mail, etc. with a process list that fits on one screen, but that’s a fair deal more hardcore than most folks care about).

    1. subgenius

      …if you want to get hella hardcore, you can build a Linux system to VERY precise specs, dialed-in to the specific machine you wish to run it on (Gentoo, these days…I used to roll my own slackware, back in the day…) – there is a fairly severe learning cliff, if you don’t generally fiddle at a low level, but it’s totally doable and results in a crazy fast system relative to any other strategy…

  39. Jim Haygood

    From our BOHICA department:

    Someone is making “Hillary for Mayor” signs and plastering them around New York City, several photos posted on Twitter show.


    We can be certain that these signs reflect grassroots popular demand from voters, not paid handbilling. /sarc

    Hillary doesn’t live in NYC, but she can do a listening tour of the other three boroughs (Bronx, Queens and Staten Island) that she’s probably never visited except for crossing them on a freeway.

    It was so easy living day by day
    Out of touch with the rhythm and blues
    But now I need a little give and take
    The New York Times, the Daily News
    Who, oh, oh whoa who

    — Billy Joel, New York State of Mind

  40. Sluggeaux

    I recently acquired a 9.7-inch iPad Pro. I use it with a Logitech CREATE keyboard. Stupid expensive, but it works really well for me — I’m no Stuart Brand wanna-be. My wife is a long-time Apple acolyte, as in she was in the first group of 16 people outside of Apple to be personally trained by Steve Jobs and Guy Kawasaki as Apple Evangelists.

    We were taking an international trip for New Year’s, and she suggested that I get a “dumb” iPad for books and web-surfing. However, I do a lot of photography and use Fujifilm equipment, which have WiFi and a remote app. I have been very disappointed that my 3-year old MacBook Air lacks WiFi or a Retina display for my photography — I was an easy up-sell to the iPad Pro.

    I also do a lot of writing, and I don’t like typing on glass. The Apple film keyboard depends too much on predictive algorithms that mis-spell every third word; the Logitech keyboard works through the Smart Connector with actual backlit keys that allow accurate typing, and the whole kitten kaboodle folds into the size of a small book.

    It all seamlessly syncs with my other Apple devices and iCloud storage. A fine bit of kit!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I love my iPad Pro, and use it in photography as well. However, I can’t imagine using it for serious writing — I clicking a mouse to tapping a screen (though I do have a mechanical keyboard for it as an ultimate protection against #FAIL). Yes, the software keyboard is junk. Impossible to use and autocorrect is dangerous.

  41. eurekalol

    Took a stroll through Madison Sq Park an hour ago. I noticed a bunch of flowers are blooming and the squirrels are shedding their winter coats. Also noticed a cherry blossom with a handful of flowers… As much as I’m enjoying the lovely spring weather, it’s utterly concerning…

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Here in Sydney where I live the locals pronounce the word “skwee-ruls”, since they don’t have them here. They also talk about “the state of Mary-land”.
      And here in the S. hemisphere they just had the hottest summer on record, since 1858 anyway

  42. marym


    By at least one measure at this point in his presidency, Trump has been more interventionist than Obama: in authorizing drone strikes and special operations raids in non-battlefield settings (namely, in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia). During President Obama’s two terms in office, he approved 542 such targeted strikes in 2,920 days—one every 5.4 days. From his inauguration through today, President Trump had approved more than 25 drone strikes or raids in 41 days—one every 1.6 days. These include three drone strikes in Yemen on January 20, 21, and 22; the January 28 Navy SEAL raid in Yemen; one reported strike in Pakistan yesterday; and “more than 20” early this morning.

    “more than 20” early this morning………..

    1. dontknowitall

      Remember recent reports that Obama administration severely underreported airstrikes by thousands. Nothing can convince me that airstrike number were the only data severely underreported. If I had to guess I would say Trump is being more honest about how many he is authorizing if only because he doesn’t have to appear to be a ‘Nobel Prize humanitarian’ holding himself in check.


      1. marym

        The issue intended to be high-lighted in my comment isn’t that Trump is better or worse, or more or less honest than Obama (or Clinton would have been) in slaughtering people and reducing their countries to rubble. It’s not a contest, but it’s time to report on what Trump actually does.

    2. marym

      Neither the author of the quote nor I said the D’s are our friends. The author goes on to say

      …U.S. leaders’ counterterrorism mindset and policies are bipartisan and transcend presidential administrations.

      If merely quoting a possibly lower number of slaughters per day from Obama sounds “friendly” I suppose I ought to have commented negatively to be clear, but the numbers, even if under-reported, are ghastly enough to speak for themselves.

      On the other hand, I can’t agree that it’s “hysterial” to report or comment negatively on 20 slaughter strikes in one day, no matter how those numbers compare to Obama’s.

      edit: intended to post as reply to FH @ 1:44

  43. Svejk

    I am a web developer and after many years using a Macbook Pro switched to a Dell Precision running Ubuntu. Got a lot of ribbing from other devs. I didn’t tell them that it was a trip down the rabbit hole in many ways–didn’t want to encourage their japes. Since I got a machine loaded with processing power, memory, graphics capability and many other goodies, way cheaper than a Mac, I was the victim of the Linux kernel lagging way behind with drivers for newer hardware. I spent a good deal of time updating to the newest Linux kernel, beyond the mainstream Ubuntu release. Finally, after about 6 months the mainstream kernel caught up with my hardware. I had to build my own Time Machine, writing custom code, because Linux offers nothing that is comparable–that works. Ubuntu updates often lead to bizarre malfunctions.

    Dell offers zero support. They treat you like a leper if you are not on Windows. There is a network of Ubuntu support sites, and I have spent countless hours trolling them, but usually came up with solid advice.

    After all that I think it’s worth it. Mac no longer makes a real developer’s machine. Everyone is crying about the expensive, underpowered laptops. Apple’s products make for a good user experience, but I don’t want a mobile OS. Siri! Please! Windows 10 is a ghastly 10 cent circus, radioing everything back to Redmond, WA.

    1. Anon

      The newer Dell Precision laptops are full-throated portable workstations. It is amazing how much computational power is now available at under 8 pounds.

  44. allan

    Spirit Aero tells suppliers jobs may go offshore [Reuters]

    Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc (SPR.N), a major supplier to Boeing Co (BA.N) and Airbus (AIR.PA), is demanding steep price cuts from its hundreds of parts suppliers, forcing them to re-bid for their current work against global competitors, according to a document seen by Reuters and three sources familiar with the matter.

    Spirit is asking for price cuts of 15 to 35 percent in meetings this week in Wichita, Kansas, where it is based, according to the sources and to a Feb. 13 letter Spirit sent to suppliers. …

    At least one supplier already has lost all its work with Spirit, worth millions of dollars annually, to Asian suppliers who bid with lower prices, one of the sources said. …

    Will the Negotiator in Chief step in?

  45. PKMKII

    Kit: got the wife a Marcato cookie press for her b-day. Italian import, metal moving parts and gear, not plastic that starts slipping after a few uses (one of the joys of being married to an engineer, hearing rants about cheap mechanical parts). Now just needs to find the time to bake some cookies.

  46. Philman

    On good Kit, I picked up a 1983 Gazelle Impala last weekend for a song that looks like it has been ridden around the block once or twice. Do not know how it found its way into the states; the original receipt was tucked into the seatpost and it was sold in Holland.

  47. Old Jake

    Winter seems to be hanging on in the Northwest. Here in the Washington Cascades the last week has seen daytime temperatures in the upper thirties, but there is still a good three feet of snowpack in the yard, after almost four feet accumulated during February. I have two seven to eight foot piles of icy snow in the front of the house. No buds on anything yet. At least I haven’t seen any, but most of them are buried under snow anyway.

  48. Larry

    Kit: OnePlus 3T. I know “smart” phones aren’t the rage here, but having the internet at my fingertips is a big plus. $440 and honestly one of the better Android and battery experiences out there. However, the inability to replace the battery leaves me with slight buyers remorse.

  49. Protectionist Forefather Abe Lincoln

    What are we not talking about?

    What never is talked about in elite circles: the gigantic trade deficit and de-industrialization.

    More to the point. If in 20 years Americans are planning on enjoying the comforts of new shoes, new watches, light bulbs and pipes that carry clean water into their homes, how pray tell will they afford these wonderful imported manufactures? We will have sold off all our land, companies, and assets, and since we don’t need or want manufacturing, how will we enjoy manufactured goods?

    Is the long term plan that Americans all become monks who need only a walking stick, a simple tunic and a bowl for rice? Are we planning on not needing or wanting any manufactured goods??!?!?!?

    Trump should save us from neoliberalism by putting in place Lincoln style tariffs of 50-150% on all imported manufactures. If you want your kids and grandkids to be able to have shoes and filtered clean water, you’ll support a return to protectionism.

    A’int no coincidence Chad has 0 industry and extreme, unimaginable poverty and starvation while Japan and Germany are packed with manufacturing and ultra-wealthy.

    When can we formally forbid trained economists from ever speaking again? Impose a forced official vow of silence?

  50. dcrane

    H-1B visas involved in an episode of outsourcing at UC-SF (apologies if this has been posted already).

    At the University of California’s San Francisco campus, 79 IT employees lost their jobs this week, some of them after explaining to their replacements at Indian outsourcing firm HCL how to do their jobs.

    Visa holders are apparently involved in the training-transfer process…not sure from the article if new IT staff will be H-1Bs.

    Some of the quoted staff were making six-figure salaries…but that isn’t necessarily that much in San Fran, and does it really make sense these days to go cheap on IT skills?

  51. YY

    Australia is phasing our 2G. Telstra just did so in Dec and Optus (my carrier) will do so in April. This renders the $35 credit card sized (really) phone that fits inside my wallet obsolete, leaving it to be just a blue tooth dialer/remote handset. Best bargain 4G “smart phone” I could find was $60 Aus at the Post Office shop. The disappointing thing is that the price got reduced by $20, two days after purchase. Anyway this is a cheapo ZTE phone with android 4. The phone works and takes very fuzzy pictures. BUT the surprising and welcome thing is that the bluetooth on it works better than any of my other portable music devices in connecting to the headsets/earphones. So the pocket clutter I was avoiding with the card phone is now somewhat avoided by not having to carry a mp3 player…

  52. Dead Dog

    1) Have you recently purchased an especially nifty piece of kit?

    I was going to say that nifty was a Brit term, but looked it up and it would appear to have an American source. There you go…

    To me, the term means that something must have both form and substance My nifty bit of gear has been a biscuit joiner. I love working with wood and my house was constructed in the 60s from all local hardwoods, spotted gum, oak, and floors of ‘black bean’ (Morton Bay Chestnut). I have been deconstructing and renovating house and have lots of spare timber. The joiner helps me to laminate the timbers together and minimise the amount of planing needed. Working with wood is one of life’s great pleasures.

    2) Has spring come unnaturally early for you this year?

    In Cairns, there is wet and hot and dry and hot. Right now, it is wet and there are days when we get more than 100mm. Rest of Australia – been very hot with many regions seeing temps they have never seen before. Put lot of pressure on electricity grid which failed in South Australia when at least one of the privately owned gas plants refused to turn on plant as uneconomic given the local gas prices. It seems the producers can charge domestic consumers more than they charge the Japanese for the same stuff. It’s at least opened up a dialogue about how stupid they were to sell the assets in the first place, how to now put conditions on operators who wish to sell electricity into the national grid, and it’s also started people talking about how the gas companies can be so un Australian in not giving the domestic consumers the same price as they sell on the world market.

    3) What are we not talking about because we’re talking about Trump?

    I see more posts on Trump and the DNC, more conversations and commentry. I think we are all being a bit surprised at how un-Presidential he is – twitter and all that. So, we are all waiting for the substance of his Presidency, or is it all a chimera and nothing will change? Almost any change would be better than watching the current decline (here too).

    We are still talking about climate change and there are signs that change is happening – more renewable energy – less coal being burned.

    But, I still think we have not properly accepted the truth (or at least our politicians haven’t (too cozy with corporations as we know)) and we will continue to make things worse for the planet. Only when the coastal elites start to get their feet wet will the realization set in that climate change is real. Changes in weather, greater volatility in storms and so on, won’t change the current path we are on.

    And, I’m not sure what we will see first. Oceans and seas devoid of all life. Or substantial sea level rise. Whichever we see first, it will be the sign that its over, for all of us.

    Sounding pessimistic? I guess I’m worried for my kids and grandchild…

    As a post note, that laptop with Linux sounds like a great buy. I will never, ever return to Windows. Just wish there was an open source phone. The choice between Apple and Google is just terrible…

    1. Oregoncharles

      My son says there is open source Android, available from a number of co-ops (Cyanogen is one name). He’s used it on each new used phone he’s bought. That’s because Android itself is open source, based on Linux. Usually the co-op software is streamlined, stripped of superfluous, often ad-related bloat. The co-ops should be searchable.
      Pesonally, I don’t want a phone that’s smarter than I am, though I wouldn’t describe Yves’ motives that way.

  53. Merd

    I just got a couple Sea Eagle 370 inflatable kayaks, 12.5′ long. I can fit one on my long-tail bicycle (Surly Long Haul Trucker with an extracycle,) and I believe I will be able to then put my bike on the boat. With the early spring here in central Ky, I should get a chance soon to ride to a beautiful creek, boat downstream, fish, camp, pop out on a road later, and ride home. Been car-free most of my life, so this should be a game-changer for my recreational options.

    I don’t know about “should be talking about,” but I remember some articles on NC years back anticipating defaulting commercial real estate loans in 2016-18. Did that just go away?

  54. Arthur J

    I just bought a new fastest computer possible for VR gaming system. I figure this way I can be in cyberspace shooting zombies rather than watching my six horses running around tearing up my hay fields which are soft due to the mild weather. Or watching them chew the seat off the wife’s new quad.

  55. Stephen Douglas

    1. Just purchased my first desktop in many years. It’s a Dell Inspiron. I’ve been buying Dell for over 15 years now with few breaks, mostly laptops, mostly Inspirons.

    The desktop has lots of RAM, a fast i7 chip, a spacious hard drive, high-resolution graphics card. All for 100s less than if it were a laptop.

    Dell is great. They don’t always get it right, right away, but they take care of things if they go wrong. For example, the hard drive on this new unit failed in 3 days. There are diagnostics built into every Dell that tell the specific problem. You can get to them yourself, or you will be guided by Dell Support.

    They immediately sent a replacement, FedEx, and raised the level of support to another level because the computer was less than 30 days old.

    The modular design of Dell’s stuff (desktop- and laptop) and their extensive manuals available for every model allows the buyer to do most replacements, but for many years I had on-site maintenance contracts for various Dell products. Having an experienced technician meet and repair your unit before your eyes is very gratifying. And I’ve had Dell on-site technicians meet me in Starbucks on the Upper East Side, my house in Delaware, a trashed out office space near Wall Street, cafés in California, or my studio apartement in the Central Valley.

    They come, they disassemble and replace, they test, they are gone. It’s fixed or they come again and fix some more. I don’t much care that all of their phone support staff are in India or the Phillipines, but they do their best despite the vast cultural differences that make communications hard.

    Just like as happens with all other American businesses who use off-shore support. Speaking English is not enough.

    But, all in all, Dell is the best, in my view.

    One last “secret” about Dell. If you are flexible and have patience you can go to or call Dell Refurbished and ask what they have. Since Dell builds from scratch all of its new purchases, there are many times when either the deal does not go through or the item is returned by the customer as is their right for the first 60 days (I think). This means that brand new, unused computers have to be examined and then put out on the market as “refurbished” for 100s of dollars less than their initial sales price.

    If I’m in the market for this type of deal, I prefer to call because an operator is more agile and able to look at these deals coming through the system and get them ordered before they are snatched up by another buyer. It happens, it’s an active market. I have snagged many deals this way, but this time I wanted something customized to my current needs.

    Anyway, enjoy your Dell.

Comments are closed.