Week ending 12/12/2021

:white_check_mark: I maintain a short document I try to read daily which aims to give a quick review and reminder for some things I want to keep in mind through each day. A sort of “set the tone for the day, get in the right mindset”, etc. kind of thing. Unfortunately for a couple of reasons I really don’t go through it daily, sometimes only 1-2/wk! Part of this is an ineffective reminder system for habits, which I’m working on separately. But the other major aspect is just that this doc is in need of optimization. It’s too long, there are too many overlapping items, etc. I was finally able to do an initial overhaul of it, and I think it’s an improvement, but it was mostly organizational, and more streamlining is definitely needed. I hope to take another pass at it soon.

:+1: I’ve been a YouTube Music subscriber for quite a while now (begrudgingly so, I much preferred the even more poorly named Google Play Music). I have a family plan so my mom and I can both enjoy (we have a pleasantly overlapping sense of taste, probably in part because she was formative in the development of mine!). I also watch a lot of YouTube videos, many on mobile where my ad blocker doesn’t work and, more gallingly, you can’t just listen to a video with the screen off (OK but why? ads?). I realized recently that the subscription price for YouTube Premium (note: not YouTube TV!) is only a few dollars/mo more than for YT Music alone, so I upgraded. And OMG, it’s such an improvement! No ads, across every device. Screen-off YouTube enjoyment. It’s great. Highly recommend. Not having ads when I’m watching ASMR videos is worth the price of admission alone. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

:house::sparkles: One of the focal points of the spaces in my house is my bar area (what would normally be the living room - my 2nd bedroom doubles as an office and media room). Don’t worry, it’s reasonably comfy and cozy, at least now that I’ve got a sofa again. Anyway, it’s got a decent amount of seating, an actual bar, and a massive booze shelf. What it lacks are any real touches of decor beyond that. :grimacing: This week I was going to have some people over for the first time in ages, and it really inspired me to think more clearly and specifically about how I might want to setup and decorate that space. Nothing like an imminent social gathering in your house to catalyze positive change (cleaning the house, house repair, etc.). So I got an ottoman for my entryway partly for people to change their shoes on, some fairy lights for the ceiling, new shelves for excessive bitters collection and, eventually, a coffee table. This is the most progress the space has made in ages, arguably even more than getting a sofa since it involves so many “moving parts”, so to speak. Now I just need to actually setup and install some of this stuff.

:octopus: I got a couple new tiki mugs. Regular readers will know I’m a big cephalopod fan, and I have a growing collection of octopus-themed things that form a portion of my greater tiki horde. Here’s the new addition.

:circus_tent: I went with a couple friends to see the show “Dear San Francisco” by Canadian circus group Seven Fingers. Several of their founding members are originally from SF and they now have a long-term residency for this show at the Club Fugazi, formerly the long-time home of Bay Area institution Beach Blanket Babylon, which ran shows there for 45 (!) years. Dear San Francisco was, unsurprisingly, a sort of “love letter” to the city, a series of showcases for various circus skills woven together with a well-balanced, self-aware pseudo-narrative mixing together affection and parody for the city itself, its landmarks, history, and culture.

Overall it was a very enjoyable show, and I was particularly stunned by the self-assured and amazingly fluid hand balancer toward the end. Not only was her act an incredible display of skill, but it was staged in a fairly dramatic and emotional way. This was not the most impressive Seven Fingers show I’ve seen, but definitely worth seeing. I do hope they evolve it over time though, ideally year-to-year, as I’d love to return and see new things in the future as they hopefully maintain a long residency. I never did see Beach Blanket Babylon, but quite honestly this kind of display of skill and ingenuity is a bit more my taste anyway.

:handshake: We finally closed a deal this week to donate two fairly large pieces of property in Marin County to be used as public open space and wildlife habitat. It’s not a great outcome for a developer, but we’re all environmentalists ourselves, and despite the write-off these properties both became, we are glad to see them preserved for public use!

:telephone_receiver: My grandparents live in separate (neighboring) apartments in an independent living facility, and for a long time have shared a single phone line by just having a cordless phone with multiple handsets. The base station stays in one location, while the handsets theoretically work through the walls to the other apartment. In practice it was not that reliable though, which isn’t really surprising. We had a cell phone for my grandpa as a backup, but it wasn’t ideal either. So I finally got serious about finding an alternative, and for now I’ve settled on a Polycom Obi device, which can apparently provide free phone service when used with Google Voice. Even for the modest fee of other typical VOIP providers it will be a significant savings over the highway robbery Xfinity wants to charge. And if it works well I’ll be able to get rid of the 2-line service they already have, which will save $60+/mo. It’s crazy how much Xfinity can apparently get away with just for phone service…

:man_farmer::muscle: As I’ve mentioned recently, I have a thriving passion fruit vine in my garden now. Unfortunately it grew up around an old trellis, still covered from last year in aging, plastic netting (to keep out the birds). There is also a bougainvillea sharing the same space and shedding its many, papery flower petals that seem to never really decompose. This meant a huge accumulation of detritus, into which the passion fruit grew and its fruits fell. Well, I finally cleared out! And found something like 8 new, ripe passion fruits in the process. Win! Now the garden is cleaner and neater, and I have more fruit.

:mango: Speaking of which, I had previously collected 20 passion fruits and since I couldn’t use them fast enough, I gave most away. Now I’m back up to around 20! Time to find some new homes for them. I love having delicious little gifts to give!

:pill: I’ve taken various supplements for much of my life, first motivated by my mom and her nurse practitioner + alternative medicine studies, and later from working at a nutrition and culinary arts school. I know their efficacy is debated, but I do my best to keep on the science of it, many studies done that at least demonstrate some activity. Most of the time the side effects are mild or non-existent.

:exclamation: A few years ago I had begun taking Selenium and Vitamin E due to my hyperthyroidism. I take hormone replacement for that as well, but the hope is to support the body in generating and regulating the hormones itself as much as possible and only supplement with artificial hormones where necessary. Unfortunately it turns out that taking this combination can increase the risk of prostate cancer! Something that there is already a bit of a family history of. So I stopped taking them this past week. Like I said the side effects are minimal-to-nonexistent most of the time (at least that medical science is aware of), but this was a concerning exception that suggests greater evaluation before I start taking something new (even more concerning the study I mentioned above is from 2014!).

:man_shrugging: I bought a Steelcase Gesture office chair a little while ago, to replace the Herman Miller Aeron that I just never loved. While the Gesture was an improvement, I wasn’t sure it was a $1000 improvement. :roll_eyes: My main concern was I had expected it to get lower to the ground (I am a fairly short 5’5"), and it turned out similar to the Aeron in that regard. Unfortunately it seems there are very few decent office chairs that go any lower than either! So after a month or so of evaluation and more research, I ultimately decided to keep it, even though I wouldn’t say I am in love with it. As I said, it is definitely an improvement, and it does have some really nice touches, like the highly flexible arm rests. I think I’ll get my $1000 worth, though it does still seem crazy to pay that much for a chair… But damn, my back (and my butt) are pretty important to me, so… :man_shrugging:

:man_mechanic: :weary: I attempted some light auto repair this past week, and some of it turned out to be not-so-light. I’ve been replacing my own cabin and engine air filters for a while now because it’s trivial and most places charge too much for the filter itself and the installation service. No brainer. Well, I took care of those, piece of cake. But I had bought some LED headlights a while ago (sadly past the return period now!) to replace my rather dim stock Prius headlights, and I finally got up the motivation to actually attempt install. It did not go well. After watching several videos and reading several sets of instructions, I first found it essentially impossible to do anything without taking off the entire headlight assembly (in theory you should be able to replace them from the back side of the bulb assembly, but no go in this case). Then I did manage to get the whole light assembly out, but not before stripping one of the screws (neighbor with an impact driver to the rescue!). Only to find that the mounting system didn’t look like any of the reference I’d seen (supposedly all of which was for my model year), and the screw-off mechanism to access the lights themselves stubbornly refused to turn. I ended up injuring my hand (minor) and breaking off a small (non-essential) part of the plastic for the assembly. So uh… I just put it back in and maybe I’ll have a mechanic take care of it, or maybe I’ll just give up on the idea of having better headlights. :expressionless: