In which I bitch about the ‘improvements’ we’re seeing on sites net-wide, because they’re not making things work better, they’re just fads of style.

The Internet is now being built by people so young they have never lived in a world without it. They’ve been online all their lives and probably started coding as tweens. They barely remember the elegance of plain old HTML; the ‘net has always been client-side apps stuffed into browsers to them.

Now they’ve got jobs designing the resources many of us use on a daily if not hourly basis. Every so often they decide to redesign and modernize whatever property they work on (because WE HAVE TO FIX IT even if IT AIN’T BROKEN). Then you get shit like the new improved Flickr, a site I have loved and used for years, which basically no longer works and, to add insult to injury, is just plain ugly. Same with the last Twitter update, and the redesigns of basically every large web property ever. Some old guy retires, the new guy says LET’S BRING THIS SHIT INTO THE FUTURE, and then it’s a bloated abortion of a service that has so much crap buried in each page you can’t even load the site on half your devices.

The following things have become pretty much standard on all sites and yet they all suck and they all piss me off:

  • Continuous scroll – Fuck this. Pagination is better. Eternal scroll just fucking hammers resources, isn’t cool, breaks paging Back, accomplishes nothing in any case ever except for long reads of Tumblr accounts WHICH NEVER HAPPENS EVER, and the fact that everyone is doing it does not reduce the fact that it fucking sucks.
  • Pages that won’t stop loading when you click Stop – LISTEN, I DONT WANT TO WAIT FOR ALL THAT SHIT TO LOAD. I ONLY WANT TO SEE WHAT’S BENEATH THE FOLD FOR LIKE FIVE FUCKING SECONDS. I AM NOT GOING TO LOOK AT ANY OF THE SHIT YOU’RE STUFFING INTO MY BROWSER RIGHT NOW, ASSHOLES.
  • Putting the content I want under the fold – Fuck you. Fuck your ad revenue. Fuck your layout. I followed a link here to see your CONTENT, and all you’re doing for the first 32 seconds of my visit is hiding that from me and showing me a bunch of crap.
  • Non-local authentication only – Fuck you, I do NOT want to link my Google, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts to your stupid recipe site. That information is none of your goddamned business.
  • Endless push notifications as default – Listen, I don’t give a fuck that 20 friends are chatting on Facebook. Your stupid apps BLEW THE FUCK UP, ON EVERY DEVICE I HAVE when that chat started. Jesus.
  • Video – Listen, embedding video on a landing page is fucking AWFUL. You’re wasting my time and I DON’T WANT TO SEE IT, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS. I CAME HERE FOR SOMETHING ELSE, AND YOU’RE FORCING A FUCKING VIDEO AT ME? It’s because of assholes like you that I have to leave my speakers turned off at work.
  • Meaningless pages requiring redundant clicks – I’m looking at you, Pinterest, Yummly: I clicked on something and I want to SEE IT. So fucking take me there! I DO NOT want to click through your stupid interim page that does nothing at all but require me to CLICK AGAIN to go where you already know I want to go. FUCK your ad revenue; you’re wasting my time and resources and pissing me off and that’s why I quit using your sites.
  • Sites so unusable in a browser you can basically only interact with their content through mobile apps – The Flickr and Facebook mobile apps beat the actual websites hands-down. Unfortunately the apps aren’t available on all my devices, which pisses me off. (I want Flickr for Kindle Fire, goddamn it.)
  • Sites that simply don’t work at all if you have AdBlock enabled – LOOOOL YOUR CODE SUCKS, SON.
  • The need for AdBlock in the first place – Dude, I get you need to monetize. I honestly don’t mind ads on web properties; it’s when you slam them down my throat and hide your real content so coyly that I give up on it altogether that I think you’re a fucking jerk.

I love having so much information available at all times. I love the ubiquity of bandwidth these days. I love my phone and my worstations and my tablet. What irritates me is time-wasting bad design and the endless reinventions of wheels that already worked.

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9″

October 10th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Gadgets - (0 Comments)

In which I review my newest device, even though it’s already obsolete.

A couple of weeks ago I spontaneously bought a fourth Kindle — a tablet upgrade. My previous Kindle Fire worked fine and I didn’t need a new one. I knew they were probably going to announce a new model soon anyway. (Which they did. The very next day.) Pretty much the worst time to upgrade, really.

Luckily I found Amazon Warehouse Deals, which is the interface through which Amazon sells damaged, refurbished, and/or remaindered stuff, so I got the 8.9″ HD for less than a new 7″ HD.

amazon-kindle-fire-hd-8.9

The device is pretty awesome. The screen is great and the on-board speakers really are as remarkable as the reviews say. The device is thin and elegant. The opsys is stable. There’s a shitload of great content, especially if you have Amazon Prime.

But I hate the location of the hardware buttons. The power switch is right next to the volume rocker switch and it infuriates me to find myself pushing things multiple times just to get the device to turn on or off. The ports and buttons are horribly laid out: in order to charge the device while watching video (which you absolutely have to because the thing is a battery drain) you have to turn the device upside down. Of course the screen reorients, but then the buttons are on the opposite side… basically every time I pick the thing up I have to search for the on/off switch.

Ultimately my inability to memorize button layout is my own fault, but it drives me nuts.

The device I bought was returned or refurbished — the description wasn’t terribly clear — but it arrived in factory packaging and looked brand new save a few tiny cosmetic scratches I didn’t even notice until I’d had the thing for several hours. I love those little scratches because they knocked over a hundred bucks off the prices of the device!

I still use my older Kindle device, the Kindle Keyboard, for real reading, though. While the Fire HD is an excellent media consumption device — great for everything from email to social media and HD movies — it’s not half as comfortable for reading. The Kindle Keyboard isn’t backlit, is half the size of the Fire HD 8.9″, and is wholly superior for sucking down long-form works of text. With its nearly infinite battery power and the leather case complete with built-in reading light it’s an ideal reading device. (I would upgrade to the Paperwhite except I dropped a lot of money on that leather case and am not ready to make it obsolete quite yet. Also the thing is still receiving software updates and works just fine.) The Kindle Fire models are adequate for reading, but the size, weight, battery drain, and lit screen are all non-trivial issues by comparison.

Anyway, I gave the Fire 7″ to my brother. He immediately rooted it. I probably would have kept it and done the same myself — sometimes you really want access to the Google market — but I tend toward generosity when wine drunk and excited about new electronic devices.

I’ve ordered a Bluetooth keyboard to use with the thing. I don’t really need it, but it will make using the device for emails and blogging while traveling much more comfortable.

Update: It’s the last day of the year and I LOVE this tablet. Use the shit out of it. Still hate the button locations, but otherwise it’s a great device.

Dense fog

October 9th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which it’s cold.

Actually, it’s not that cold. It’s just colder than it was, and it’s damp and gray so it seems colder than it actually is.

This morning the valley was socked in with dense, cold, damp fog. I half-wished I’d been wearing an entire extra layer of clothing while riding my bike to work this morning. (Oh, yeah, on the subject of work: The second part-time position went to someone else. I was relieved. I fucking love working part-time.)

I will be spending the first week of December at LDBF’s. Super excited! Haven’t been on a plane for far too long. Well, I flew to Seattle not too long ago, but haven’t been out of the state in awhile. And I can’t wait to see him again.

I finished a knitting project!

I finally bought a rain suit to wear while biking in inclement weather. I hope this purchase of mine doesn’t cause the entire winter to be wet and rainy.

Heater

I made a lovely mushroomy lentil stew for dinner on this dark and damp day. Excuse me while I go hork down a bowl of it.

Autumn, work, and airplanes

September 23rd, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Love & Marriage | Work - (0 Comments)

In which I wore a coat to work this morning. RIP, summer.

That huge tree in the neighbor’s yard has begun dropping horse chestnuts into the alley by the bushel, it’s darker earlier every night, and we had our equinox on Saturday: it must be fall.

Horse chestnuts

I really need to get some working lights on my bike since it’s going to start being dark all the time.

I’ve decided that if one hasn’t gotten into a box in over five years, she probably doesn’t need any of the contents. So now I’m going through the dozen boxes I brought with me — and put in the attic when I arrived here in October of 2007 and have ignored ever since — and basically donating everything that isn’t actual garbage or a family photo album. (I still want to scan the albums. They’re so bulky and nobody really displays stuff like that any more.) I went through three boxes over the weekend and kept nothing but a couple of paperbacks and a stack of photos that belong to my ex-husband and which I’ll mail back to him.

Applied for an additional position at the paper; have a second meeting about it tomorrow. Might end up working full-time again through virtually no fault of my own! I love working part-time, I really do, but there’s nothing wrong with extra income. And I really do enjoy working in the newsroom; the people are great, the vibe is great, and it’s only a couple more hours each day.

Last Friday my boss walked up to each of us in turn to tell us what our remaining vacation hours for the year were; I was pleased and shocked to learn I have 33 hours to use up before the end of the year. Once I get my vacation dates approved I’m going to book a flight so I can spend a week with LDBF, who is the best thing ever.

I could go on and on about how wonderful he is, but people generally don’t care about new couple stuff. (My friend Embo usually responds with something along the lines of, “Eww! Barf!” when I say cute shit about him.) Suffice it to say he and I still talk every single night and both feel as if we have yet to uncover in one another anything we don’t like. We have a great deal in common, are very compatible, and would probably already be shacked up by now if we didn’t live so far apart. It’s wonderful to be in love, but it’s kind of a bitch having to do it over the internet. Thank God for Skype so I can look at his face, at least.

I’m going to go do the dishes and then maybe take a decadent autumn afternoon nap. I can do that shit as long as I’m still working only part-time!

In which the e-BF is now the LDBF (long distance boyfriend).

I’m sure I cannot express to you how much fun I had with LDBF this weekend, but I’m’a try.

Thursday I left work at one and caught a cab to ALW. Was nervous as fuck. Sat in the lobby and waited for his plane to land; saw him walk in the door and thought, “Wow. That dude’s tall.” Got his attention, we hugged, went to the Hertz counter to pick up the rental car.

Drove to Marcy’s. Had a few rounds. Kept touching him because he was THERE, IN REAL LIFE, OMFG WOW. Dropped his stuff off at the house, introduced him to G’ma and my brother. There was a storm and the power went out. Went over to the Wendover-Briggs patio and ate Thai food and drank adult beverages in the dark. Went home, chatted with G’ma in the dark. Went to bed. May or may not have done one or two adult things in the dark. Snuck up to my own room about four o’clock in the morning and passed out for a few hours.

Got up happy as a clam and packed a picnic lunch. Woke the man up, got cuddled for awhile. We took off about one o’clock and took the scenic route to Soap Lake. Had a picnic at Lyons Ferry, visited Palouse Falls and saw some yellow-bellied marmots.

IMG_20130906_141550

Soap Lake is kind of a sad little burnt-out town with a lake in it. We stayed in room 14 at Notaras. Had a soak in the jacuzzi. Went to Ephrata for Mexican food (in keeping with the lodge room theme, of course). Hung out alone together in real life. Did a lot of grinning and gazing. Passed out at a fairly reasonable hour. There was much snuggling.

Saturday we had a leisurely drive to Grand Coulee. Ate a bunch of sunflower seeds in the car. Saw Dry Falls and Banks Lake. Got to town too early to check in to our hotel so wasted a little time at a casino. He played slots and turned $20 into $40; we drank the winnings.

IMG_20130907_125240

Checked in, went out and ate Chinese food. Saw the dam’s laser light show cuddled in the dark on a picnic bench. Went back to the hotel, drank a bottle of champagne and soaked in the jacuzzi tub. Sat on the balcony and giggled.

Went out for brunch in the morning, then checked out at eleven. Visted the Grand Coulee Dam visitor’s center. Wandered around outside. Went shopping. Eventually went to Sunbanks Resort to check out the festival. Went back into town and ate lunch at a taco wagon.

Sunbanks

Sunbanks Blues Festival

Played a set with Coyote Kings from 4-5. Great crowd! I had expected it to be in the low 70′s so the gig clothes I brought were entirely too warm; signed a few CDs after the set. Changed into a skirt and t-shirt in the car and then we took off.

Arrived back in Walla Walla about nine o’clock. We decided to watch a movie but ended up just cuddling and talking instead until we passed out.

Monday morning we just sat around and spent every single second together that we could; left for the airport a little after twelve-thirty. Dropped off the rental car, got his boarding pass. He went through TSA into the fishbowl. I called a taxi and we sat with a glass wall between us texting each other.

I got into my cab about one thirty and had the driver drop me off at Starbucks on 1st & Main. Went inside, ordered an iced coffee, and nearly broke into tears realizing that he was just then boarding his flight and was leaving.

The man is wonderful. We get along fantastically. He’s kind and generous and hilarious and smart. I miss him terribly and will probably wear the t-shirt he left me until it falls apart.

So now I’m in love with this big tall fuzzy nerd who lives two thousand miles away. We’re either going to have to get bored of each other real soon, or someone’s gonna have to move real far.

Moral: getting mauled by an adorable bearded dude from the Midwest is awesome.

In which there are essentially four aspects to my life these days: gigging, the e-BF, wine, and my awesome day job.

My uncle Dangerous is in town. Yesterday afternoon I got abducted by him and my aunt and my brother and two dogs and mercilessly dragged to Marcy’s for “lunch,” which was in actual fact not lunch as much as a lot of drinking and hollering and Morgan family fun.

Untitled

After a few hours of that, I trundled my tipsy ass off to bed for a disco nap. Woke up, spent a little time gazing and making kissy-faces at the cute e-BF via Skype (he sent me an HD cam as a gift to himself, so we basically leave Skype running all the time now) and horking down a bean tostada with slices of a perfectly ripe avocado. At nine, I biked down to Sapolil to do a set with Coyote Kings at a benefit for a local musician with leukemia. Dan and James were there. I sang and danced and drank and had fun. Got home a little after midnight.

Tried to call the e-BF to say good night and discovered my phone was off. Paid my bill, called him for half a minute, passed out.

The e-BF will be here in two weeks. We have a little mini-vacation planned up in the Grand Coulee Dam area. I’m very excited! Crazy lodge with weirdly themed rooms! Laser light show! Tour of the dam! Sunbanks blues festival! The adorable e-BF in real life!

I’m madly in love with the creature and cannot wait to hang out with him in person. Who knows. If it goes well maybe I’ll move to Minneapolis or something. That’d be a good mid-life crisis, right? Move two thousand miles back to the Midwest and take up with a doting younger man? Because God knows I have no interest in owning a sports car.

The band is playing Poverty Bay blues & brews tomorrow so it’ll be TEN HOURS IN THE VAN just to do an hour-long show. I’m always stoked to do the actual set, of course, but I’m really getting sick of driving. We played Big Sky in Montana a couple of weeks ago and that was another long day of driving. In September we’re in Spokane and Electric City as well as twice in the Tricities… so. Much. Driving. Ugh.

I love singing and I like the money, but honestly I’m really ready for gig season to be over. Not that it’s ever really over, but it does slow down a lot in the autumn. Sometimes you just want to stay the fuck home and do nothing all weekend for a month or two.

Perimenopausal acne is bullshit. Fuck hormones. Seriously. I’ll be 45 next month. I have absolutely no idea how I got this old, and having zits again like I did in my teens is just utter bullocks.

I had sushi for lunch today. Happy roll (smoked salmon, cream cheese, jalapeno), edamame, miso soup. It was delicious.

The longer I work at the paper the more I like it. The personalities in the newsroom are great, the challenge of building pages every day is engaging without being frustrating, and overall I just really like it there. Apparently I just have a certain thing for dying industries!

Parmesan-leek ‘chowder’

July 29th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Food | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a soup recipe that freezes really well!

I made this soup a couple weeks ago and froze some of it. Friday I pulled some out of the freezer; Saturday I re-heated it and ate it and it was brilliant! I love this soup! It satisfies that “I really want a creamy chowder but I don’t want flour or potatoes” issue one has when one goes off refined carbs.

Not all soups freeze well, either. Some, especially those with dairy, separate and end up being really gross after a stint in the ol’ freezer, but this one holds up wonderfully.

Parmesan-leek 'chowder' (w/goat cheese-hummus lettuce wraps)

Parmesan-leek ‘chowder’

Ingredients:

butter (2 T.)
olive oil (~2 T.)
leeks (2, halved, washed and chopped)
broth (5 c.)
cauliflower (1 head, chopped)
36% heavy cream (~1 c.)
basil (~1/2 tsp., dried)
parmesan cheese (1/4 c., grated)
salt and pepper (to taste)

Method:

1 – Sautee leeks in butter and oil until tender.
2 – Add broth and cauliflower. Add basil.
3 – Cover and simmer until veggies are soft.
4 – Remove from heat. Add cream, stir; add parmesan and stir well until it’s incorporated — making sure to do so off heat so the soup doesn’t separate.
5 – Cool until it can be handled; puree in batches in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth.
6 – Add salt and pepper to taste.

Variation: Add one clove minced garlic to the sautee phase and omit the basil.
Variation: The parmesan may be replaced with gruyere.

Other than containing some fat, this soup doesn’t really do much nutritionally. You’ll want to enjoy it with some serious protein!

Broken stuff + love

July 25th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Gadgets | Love | Weather - (1 Comments)

In which I break a couple of things and the long-distance relationship is great.

Yesterday, my 31 day-old phone died. Just up and goddamned failed, right in the middle of the afternoon. Six months ago, I probably wouldn’t have cared much about being phoneless for a day or three, but now my phone is my main source of communication with the Internet boyfriend so it really bummed me out.

In all my years of carrying various cell phones, I’ve never dropped nor broken nor drowned a phone, so I suppose it’s my turn for a catastrophic phone failure. The thing turns on but won’t boot, and it won’t turn off unless the battery is pulled. It occasionally boots into its version of BIOS or sometimes into a dialog that asks if I really want to install a non-standard operating system package, but other than that it’s just the blue TrackPhone screen. My brother looked at it and agreed: it’s fucking DEAD.

I need to get out to Walmart to exchange it; G’ma said she’d haul me out there this or tomorrow afternoon. I can’t find the receipt but I hope they replace it anyway.

~+~+~+~+~
The day before yesterday I went out to the garage to hop on my bike and ride over to the store, but I discovered the front tire was completely flat. I aired it up — having a compressor fucking rocks — but it was pretty low yesterday morning. I dropped it at the shop after work.

Today, after making the newspaper, I trudged over there in the heat to pick it up but they hadn’t gotten to it yet. So I had to walk home in the heat. Again.

~+~+~+~+~
Internet boyfriend is coming to visit in September. Soooo excited I could absolutely pop.

We’re smitten with each other. We spent ten hours in video chat last Sunday (not contiguous; there were trips to kitchens and stores and such, and I took a nap) and never got bored of looking at each other. This is par for the course. We text, we IM, we call, we video chat, we email. Constantly. The only time we’re out of touch is work and gigs, and even then we still text every few hours. I think we both agree it’s fortunate nobody else has to put up with us — well, except the NSA — because we’re in that really cutesy phase only charming if you’re in it.

He has a beard but it turns out there are dimples under there. DIMPLES. Y’all know how I feel about dimples.

Last night on Skype with him I spent a solid hour just crying with laughter. (He’s systematically destroying my refined left coast humor with his pedantic Midwestern humor. It’s a travesty. I cannot believe the shit I’ll laugh at if he says it.) I adore him. He also hits everything on the fairly negative and bitchy list I wrote a few years ago except for being a devotee part; interestingly enough Amma gave me double prasad at one of my darshans this year and I sent the extra to him; interestingly enough he’s keeping it in his freezer because he considers it sacred.

“Eat the chocolate, nerd, that’s what it’s for.”

“Oh, I will. But not now, bitch!”

My life is almost unbearably pleasant.

June 18th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Life | Work - (7 Comments)

In which I finally post! I really don’t know what my problem is; I mean I have all this free time and everything, I just never blog anymore. Also: I use the phrase “fucking awesome” far too many times in this post.

This is what’s great about my new job: there’s actual work to do. This is also what’s great about my new job: the fucking phone never rings.

My desk

Holy shit, but I was awfully bored at the last place. Morons calling me up all the time asking the same impossibly stupid questions over and over, no systems to administer, no hope of training or promotion. I had been really excited when they had offered me the job and that bitchin’ title a couple of years ago, but it just ended up being first tier technical support all over again only in an office instead of a cubicle. I didn’t get to learn a bunch of cool server crap and I didn’t get to do fun projects, only tedious ones like moving websites. There was too much free time and yet I always felt harried because I had to be in the queue all the time and talk to people.

I do miss being able to tell people I’m in IT, but my new job actually suits me better. I roll in there at eight o’clock in the morning and I have things to do! I produce things every day, and they’re tangible: pages in the goddamned actual real life treeware newspaper! I do a sports/weather page every day; I do the Business page every day; I do A2 every day. On Fridays, I do three pages for the Sunday paper. And usually before I’ve even left the newsroom at one o’clock, I have a physical copy of an actual newspaper in my hand.

There’s enough work to keep one focused and busy but not so much one feels overwhelmed. The other people in the newsroom — the reporters and copy editors and editors and photographers and interns — are all awesome. The police scanner is always on, and amusing more often than you’d expect. The gossip is fantastic. The long stretches of silence while everyone writes or edits or paginates are lovely.

The newsroom is like a cross between a library and a university and everyone in there is basically some form of nerd or another. It’s fucking awesome.

And it’s part-time. And it pays more than my last job did; I went from having a title and getting paid shit to being an entry-level newbie who makes almost as much in 25 hours a week as I used to make in 40.

Which means I get home a little after one each afternoon and I’m not even looking for another job. (I would probably volunteer at Helpline again, but they moved way the hell across town so it wouldn’t be convenient.) I’ve been doing one little domestic project each afternoon: catch up on filing. Go through dresser drawers. Clean out closet. Donate things to Goodwill. I feel relaxed and calm and organized.

I’ve begun to read again. I’m growing an avocado tree on the kitchen windowsill. I do my nails every week. I’m cooking a lot. I feel like I have plenty of time. It’s awesome.

Sometimes I just come home, change out of my office clothes, and go get drunk on my friend’s patio. And since she works part-time too, I can do that and still be home and in bed way before ten. Talk about decadent.

There’s also this wonderful e-boyfriend. I met this guy online; it’s my first internet relationship (which is actually pretty strange, considering how long I’ve been online and the sheer number of hours I’ve spent each week dicking around on the internet in the past decade and a half). We’ve been talking on the phone every night for months and we’re now at the (apparently common) sending-each-other-crap-in-the-mail phase. He’s fucking awesome: articulate, good natured, educated, employed, hilarious, and not a goddamned stoner. I can’t wait to meet him in person, but he lives halfway across the country and with the new job and everything that wouldn’t be until August at the very earliest.

He’s twelve years younger than I am, but I don’t give a fuck because he’s nice. Not to mention that the majority of single men in the age bracket more appropriate to me are single because they want 22-year-old models for girlfriends or are raging alcoholics or only marginally employable. The benefit of 30-something males is that that’s the age they decide they wanna settle down if they’re going to, and I’m basically only interested in settling down. Dating and screwing around are fine, I suppose, but I’ve basically already experienced nearly every permutation and most of the time it’s either shallow or neurotic. I think I learned from that crush last year that I was — am — finally ready to consider a real relationship again, but it really needs to be real.

Gig season is picking up. The band will be all over the northwest this summer, playing festivals and bars in three states. The latest album is doing well and has gotten some really good reviews. Our drummer is still threatening to move away, but he’s been doing that for years.

I still ride a bike everywhere and I pretty much have thighs of steel. My hair is long and I really need to get a cut and color. I’m going to go throw a load of laundry in and make some sugar-free chocolate fudge pudding. It looks like it might rain. Life is good fucking awesome.

Hello.

May 29th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Blurbs - (3 Comments)

In which I haven’t posted in a month!

I’m alive, I love my new job, my trip to Seattle to see Amma was wonderful.

Someday I’ll write a real post. I promise.