Blog: July 2019

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Even partial lessons are lessons

Last week I was at corporate HQ, where the rest of my group is, for a few days. Everything about the trip in on Monday was a model of efficiency -- the plane got in early, getting off the plane was faster than usual, Uber came right away, traffic was light -- so I got to the office about half an hour earlier than any of us expected me to.

Given that, I was a little surprised to be greeted with "oh thank heavens you're here!".

The previous weekend there'd been a catastrophic power failure and many of our servers came tumbling down. (I didn't hear the gory details. We have what I understand to be the usual precautions, and yet...) The small team responsible for that infrastructure was understandably frazzled. My teammates were happy to see me because the (internal) documentation servers are not managed by that team but by us. But their main custodian, G, was on vacation, and another person who knows relevant stuff, J, was on vacation, and that left me. I know some of the systems well but not others -- which put me ahead of anybody not on vacation. Okay.

Our doc infrastructure team has two newer members, an experienced writer who joined the company last fall and a recent grad who joined the company last month and the infrastructure team a couple weeks ago. The former has been focusing on git as my backup, and the latter is solidly in learning mode.

So first we did the usual dance of "this is not the right dock for my laptop / these are not the right monitor cables / why TF can't Windows see both of these monitors? / network, we have network right?". Once I could actually use my laptop, I settled down to investigate -- with the two newer team members watching everything I did and taking notes. It was kind of like pair programming, I think. Read more…

Summer CSA, week 7

  • bunch basil
  • bunch scallions
  • head red lettuce
  • head green cabbage
  • four large light-red beets (don't know what variety), with greens (edit: they turned out to be golden yellow inside)
  • bunch red kale
  • one fennel
  • one bulb garlic
  • half pint? blueberries
  • two zucchini

(Small share omitted lettuce and fennel. Both sizes were slated to get Roma beans but we didn't; I don't know if they did. Cabbage was not originally on our list but was for the small share. Garlic wasn't on either list.)

I was anticipating more blueberries and planning to make cobbler. Maybe I'll combine with peaches for that? I already got the vanilla ice cream that goes with cobbler. :-)

I haven't cooked with fennel before. What's the best way to use those delicate greens?

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Interesting judicial reasoning

Tonight I became aware, via a question on Mi Yodeya, of Yovino v. Rizo, a recent Supreme Court case. A federal court of 11 judges heard a case and ruled 6-5. One of the majority judges wrote the opinion and then died before it could be made official. The rest of the court said the verdict stood, arguing that the judge fully participated in the case like everybody else. The Supreme Court disagreed. From their conclusion:

Because Judge Reinhardt was no longer a judge at the time when the en banc decision in this case was filed, the Ninth Circuit erred in counting him as a member of the majority. That practice effectively allowed a deceased judge to exercise the judicial power of the United States after his death. But federal judges are appointed for life, not for eternity.

"Federal judges are appointed for life, not for eternity." That, my friends, is reasoning worthy of the talmud. :-)

I skimmed through the ruling to see if they were, in fact, arguing purely on this principle. Not quite; they note that a judge can change his mind up to the moment the ruling is formalized. So it's possible that, had he lived, he might have done so, though I don't know how often that happens at all, let alone by someone who wrote the majority opinion. But it's still an edge case that ought be considered.

Tangentially, I wonder why they waited at least 11 days from when the opinion was written to when they made it formal in court. Were they on recess at the time? Does it usually take that long -- maybe this is "just paperwork that can be done any time"? If so, courts with elderly or ill justices might want to adjust their procedures, just in case. (You can't fully prevent the problem, but maybe you can reduce the likelihood.)

Mmm, basil

The basil plant that came in this CSA box was in a 4" container. It was young and a little delicate.

Here it is today, in an 8" pot:

Image without description

Well, it's a little shorter now. There was caprese salad. There will be more. :-)

Summer CSA, week 5

  • large bunch red beets (chioggia), with greens
  • 1 cucumber
  • bag snow peas (half pound?)
  • bunch garlic scapes
  • head romaine lettuce
  • big bunch kale
  • big bunch Swiss chard
  • 2 green zucchini and 1 yellow squash (2 pounds)
  • small head broccoli

(Small share omitted the snow peas and chard, and got butterhead lettuce instead of romaine. They did not get less zucchini. :-) )

Last time I used some zucchini in the same red curry that I use kale in and that worked reasonably. Dani might not have been buying it, though. (Dani's a hard sell when it comes to zucchini.) I might stew it in a tomato sauce this time.

Beet greens saute nicely with onion and garlic. So does chard, but I might make a variant on beans and greens instead, using either chickpeas or great northern beans and (of course) omitting the pork that I understand to be typical. I might experiment with kale chips (who knew?). Snow peas are easy; those go into stir-fry, maybe with broccoli and tofu or chicken. The romaine will become the base for a hearty salad for Shabbat lunch (because it is going to be way too hot for hot food), maybe with salmon.

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Network access while traveling

I remember, when traveling in the 90s and into the 00s, looking for hotels with business centers, where I could use their computer to check my email. Technical and geek conventions that set up actual terminal rooms for this purpose were golden. (This happened even in the 80s for sufficiently-geeky contexts.) But mostly, the connected traveler was responsible for figuring it out or just doing without.

After reliance on quasi-public computers came the rise of laptop computers. I was late to this phase, only getting a laptop of my own in (I think) 2006. For the next while, I looked for hotel rooms that had ethernet ports. I took that laptop when traveling not for any work purpose but so I could access my email (and, on big vacations, upload photos somewhere so I didn't risk a single point of failure). I carried an ethernet cable for years. (I have a story from this time about having to fall back to a public computer, or rather a public computer's network connection that I probably wasn't supposed to touch, so public computers were still an occasional thing.)

A few years after the rise of hotel ethernet ports, places (hotels, restaurants, etc) started to advertise free WiFi. I still carried that ethernet cable because you could never be sure, and if there was an ethernet port I still preferred it. I only started to pay attention to public WiFi when I got a smartphone and later a tablet (which can't use ethernet). The smartphone's data plan had limits, so public WiFi seemed useful if I wasn't doing anything that required extra care. (Surfing yes, online banking no -- that kind of thing.)

I used a hotel's WiFi as recently as January, when I found evidence of some unwelcome probes that I couldn't explain any other way. After that I realized that for practical purposes I have unlimited data (it gets slower after 2GB/month but I rarely exceed that). At Origins a couple weeks ago, I dutifully took the piece of paper the hotel desk gave us with the WiFi access information, dropped it on a table in the room, and never touched it again, preferring to use my phone to create a hotspot so I could use my tablet. Much safer.

I'm back to arranging my own access and not looking for public accommodations. I feel like I've gone in a circle.