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Los Angeles has reached peak craft fair

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Back in the '90s on the DC goth/industrial scene, there was a point where nearly everyone wanted to be a DJ. The problem is, when everyone is DJing, there's no one left to be the audience.

As I look at the schedule of craft fairs in Los Angeles, I wonder if that's happening here.

Last weekend had Artisinal LA, Remodelista and Unique LA. This weekend there was the Renegade Craft Fair, the Echo Park Craft Fair, the Angel City Brewing Craft Fair, and something that looked craft-fair-like at Pershing Square (but we didn't stop). Many of these are large scale craft fair which have anywhere from one hundred to two hundred makers appearing.

I am THE target market for these things, and yet the only one of these I went to was the Angel City Brewing Craft Far - and that was just because we had some growlers to fill before Mike had people over to watch the Seahawks. On our walk to the car we saw signs leading to a parking lot that had...yes, a combo craft fair/flea market.

I'm the target market, and yet I'm not shopping there anymore. I have al the laser-cut bamboo earrings, hand-made tote bags, sort-of-unique necklaces, artisanal pot holders and what-have-you that I need. Surprisingly, I even have all the handmade soaps that I need. I would be a prime market for clothes, but the clothes at craft fairs never come near my size. (Interestingly, in NZ and Australia the clothes at craft fairs did come up to my size - and it's not like there are fewer fat peple who are fans of craft markets in the US, so I'm not sure how the logic works.) If I am crafted out, I wonder if the general audience is starting to burn out as well.

Or perhaps Los Angeles will soon become The Craft Fair Singularity, lined with nothing but booths selling small-batch kombucha, hand-crafted underwear woven from the fur of ethically farmed alley cats, artisanal wooden iPhone holders hewn from the last remaining redwoods, laser-cut wooden toast presses, woven organic biodynamic palm-frond handbags, terrariums of succulents whose roots grow on a form to create a bespoke onesie for your yet-unborn child, fake mustaches on a stick made from real (sustainable!) hipster mustaches and fair-trade hand-blown artisanal fluorescent lightbulbs.

Dec. 11th, 2014

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I'm so glad to be with a partner who cried as much at the ending of The Lego Movie as I did!
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Here's video of our little private room in our MAV-START sleeper car from Budapest to Prague. The train may have actually been Czech (České dráhy) rail stock - I'm not 100% sure. (The "hi, Mom" is because we did a series of video letters to my Mom.)

Okay, LJ, I'm paid up!

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I didn't realize that when you don't pay up, LJ forces your commenters to type in an ad before they can comment.

Sorry guys! Paid up now!

My passport will never be full

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A couple of years ago the US, along with a number of other countries, has switched to passports with RFID chips in them. When a USAnian enters certain countries, including Australia and New Zealand, the passport is read by an e-reader and the process is largely automatic.

Because the passport is automatically read and logged, one's passport is no longer stamped.

My passport stamps are some of my most important souvenirs from my travels - but I don't have them from my most recent trip (except for my entry to Australia, due to an issue with the machine). My visas were electronic too - the Australian visa has been electronic for what feels like forever.

On the other hand, I cleared customs and passport control in about 10 minutes. So there's that...

Light switches and toilets and door handles

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When I used to go abroad, part of the fun was going to shops that no one I knew had ever heard of. Now it seems like every major European and Japanese and Australian city is required to have at least one of each of the following:

  • Forever 21

  • Zara

  • H & M

  • Uniqlo

In addition, every European city seems to have at least one Foot Locker, and probably five; every European and Japanese city has Claire's everywhere you turn. And then there's all the luxury stores - Gucci and Burberry and Fendi and Louis Vuitton and Prada - which left me singing this song:

But there are still certain things that are different. Outlets, of course. (The fact that individual outlets have power switches on them to turn current on and off was, I thought, a uniquely Australian thing, but according to Apartment Therapy it's common in Europe too.) But smaller things, things you wouldn't think about, are different.

There's a defined height for light switches in this country, and you'd assume that it's defined that way because it's the ergonomically correct positioning. That doesn't seem to be the case. Every country I've been to positions their light switches at a different height - sometimes very different. (And then there was the hotel where all the lights were controlled by your mobile phone, but that's a whole different story.) Usually they're higher. And they don't look the way we're accustomed to here in the US - in fact, the most common light switch style I ran into was this one.

Door knobs, too, are often higher than you expect in the US. And most of the ones I saw seem to be a lever-type knob rather than a round knob.

The dual-button (half-flush vs. full-flush) toilets, in general, are genius and they should be common here. I found it surprising that every public toilet in Japan was either a squatter or something that was so space-age that it came with a manual - alas, all in Japanese. But wow, those high tech toilet seats! They're warm! They have multiple functions, some of which if you trigger them at the wrong time will cause you to enact a scene worthy of Bridesmaids! They will play soothing music for you to conceal the noise of your bodily functions! And, as we tragically discovered when we got home, they're way out of our price range.

34 hours into the longest Tuesday ever

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Due to the magic of time zones and the International Date Line, I am now in the 35th hour of Tuesday, December 2.

I have traveled a lot over the past month and it was good, but I'm really looking forward to spending seven days in the same time zone. (More, since I have no plans to travel out of the time zone for the next couple of months.)

There are some wonderful things we got on our round the world trip and they were waiting for me when I got home! It was like getting presents all over again.

Work was incredibly productive. I had a couple of ten-minute face to face conversations which would have been five weeks of emails. There's just some things that can be resolved face to face in a way they can't online.

I did not get the special Turkish Delight Tim-Tams, which makes me sad mostly from a completist point of view. But I got the new Peanut Butter flavor, which most of my coworkers hadn't even heard of.

You know what I like about Australia and New Zealand? Size 16 isn't plus-size and often size 18 isn't either. I didn't buy the gorgeous chartreuse designer jacket for $950, but just the fact that it was an option was really nice.

I could post lots and lots of disconnected thoughts, but I think I'll save it for when I'm less jetlagged.

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Dear fucking cold virus

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Dear fucking cold virus,

Die die die die die die die.

No love,

Me

Ignore WAYN and/or delete your account

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I was inspecting the travel website WAYN as part of my day job. There was a feature that requested my Gmail address and said that it would not email anyone I knew.

Since everyone I know has apparently gotten an email, it clearly lied.

My apologies to everyone who received a message. I have deleted my account and I recommend you do so as well if you were bamboozled by that message, which I did not give them permission to send.

Surface 3 tablet (and Windows 8) review

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We got new technology at work. I had a choice between a Dell and a Surface Pro 3 tablet. I picked the Surface. Here's my thoughts so far.

First off: it is slightly larger and slightly heavier than an iPad, but it's so much lighter than my boat anchor of a previous work laptop that I have no complaints. (Eight years ago that laptop was probably awesome, but devices have come a long way in eight years.) It's roughly the size of an 8.5"x11" notebook, which means that the screen is actually pretty robust.

My favorite thing about the device: THE BOOT TIME OMG. I pick it up, tap the on switch and literally in two seconds I'm logging in, in three seconds it's completely up and running and in five seconds I'm in Outlook. With my old machine, I could grab a cup of coffee between the time I logged in and the time Outlook was up. Heck, sometimes I could grab a cup of coffee before the login screen even came up. It's made a huge, positive difference to my productivity and I smile every time I turn it on.

It also latches on to my WiFi network really quickly. It takes my MacBook Pro a good 5-10 seconds to connect to wifi when I open it, even if it's been powered on; I have no wait time with the Surface.

This is a powerful device. It does more than the iPad and it does it faster. I find the iPad is OK for a few things (playing games, looking at Flipboard, sending short emails), but it's not very good at most of the things I do for work. Even emails, for that matter - it's fine for responding to the most recent correspondence but it's a nightmare when I need to search for old messages I've sent.

I don't know how the Surface is for graphics because I haven't installed Photoshop, but boy can you create and edit a presentation in PowerPoint fast on it. It handles Office well, it handles email well, and it allows me to do all the web stuff I need to do with great efficiency.

The touch pad is very sensitive, and this could be annoying except...I pretty much don't use it. I'm either tapping things on the screen itself or I'm using the stylus to tap things and move things around. LOVE. Whenever I replace my MacBook Pro (and it will probably be years), I want its replacement to have a touch screen. Funny thing: I tried to add a sentence to this post and I found myself tapping the screen to insert the cursor. Clearly, I've become habituated.

The keyboard/cover is thin, but the keyboard itself is about as large as the one on my MacBook Pro and it works just fine. I have not had any problems. I didn't even notice any transition, to be honest.

The screen is a bit on the Squintyvision side. Probably not an issue for young whippersnappers, but us old folks may have to adjust. Things are very clear, but everything is smaller than it is on my Retina display laptop, and I find my Retina display laptop tends to render things a bit on the small side as compared to previous devices I've used. (Yes, yes, I know, I can change this all in Settings, but I like having lots of space to work on my screen, and if things are small then you can fit more in. I will probably wind up adjusting these things into Computer: Large Type Edition in the next 2-3 years.)

I only have one downside that has to do with the device itself. Because of the way it's constructed, you can't really balance it on your lap unless you have something flat and hard underneath it - the kickstand works well on a hard flat surface but is imperfect in your lap. I've been using a large cutting board and that works fine, but as someone who is used to being able to use a laptop in my lap it's a little annoying.

Most of my downsides have to do with Windows 8.

I understand the concept behind Windows 8 - the idea of being able to place widgets for everything you need on your start screen. I can sort of understand this from a phone perspective but it breaks down when you get to the size of the Surface.
Often, what I do when I'm working is navigate to the file and open it. The tiles on my dash don't let me do that easily - I wind up going to my desktop to do it.

In addition, it's got tiles built in that integrate OneDrive, Outlook, etc. I was really excited about this because I thought I could at least get use out of the tiles that way. Unfortunately, Microsoft has designed it so that those tiles only work with the home version of the software. If you're working with OneDrive for Business, you cannot integrate it with the OneDrive tile on your dash. Same with Outlook - we all use the Outlook app and there's no way for me to integrate it with the Outlook tile. The only way for me to access those things is to move away from the tiles and back to the desktop. It's very frustrating.

It's especially frustrating because I really like the concept. I would like to be able to look at my dash and see the last 5 emails that came in, a couple of headlines relative to my industry, and the last couple of files I opened/edited, all directly in front of me so I can get it all at a glance. But I can't, because it's not integrated with the enterprise versions of Outlook and OneDrive.

This lack of integration hampers me in another area, too. We've made the move to the cloud, which in general I'm happy with. But because of the poor integration of Outlook, OneDrive, etc., if someone emails me a file I can't save it directly to my OneDrive. I have to download it to my device and then upload it to my OneDrive. If I did that once a week, it'd be fine, but I do it multiple times a day. This is so tedious I can't even begin to tell you.

In order to use a lot of features on the Surface, you need to sync with your Microsoft personal account. I could not sync with a Microsoft personal account even if I had one because this is not my personal computer. I'm frankly surprised that no one at Microsoft who worked on this thought of how the account system might be applied in an enterprise situation.

One thing I do find nifty in Windows 8? The News app, which is reminiscent of Flipboard. Unlike Flipboard you can have pretty much unlimited sources on your display. Flipboard limits you to about 30 sources (3 pages of tiles) although there is a way to look at more. What Flipboard does better, however, is allowing you to curate sources and sections, move what order they appear in, etc. The News app does...sort of...but it's clumsy and a real chore. I gave up after a few minutes, and I'm really particular about how my news comes up and willing to invest a lot in getting it just right.

If Windows 8 was better, I would probably look at making my next personal device a Surface. If I were a Windows person, I probably would make my next personal device a Surface. But they'll have to make a lot of optimizations to Windows 8 before I'm tempted to migrate my personal setup.

Aug. 6th, 2014

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Comic Con is the inverse of Burning Man.

Discuss.

When did I move to New Orleans?

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LA has escalated from DC levels of humidity to New Orleans levels of humidity for the past several days. I had forgotten what it was like to live in a steam sauna. Fortunately, we have had the occasional bits of rain to accompany it. Unfortunately for those in the mountains, mudslides have accompanied that rain. I'm glad I live in the concrete jungle part of town.

Anniversary wine

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Seven years! Gosh. These are the wine notes I do every year on our anniversary.

On open: It is completely opaque. Smells like: plums, shellac and port / tastes very high alcohol with a hint of raisins. Chest-warming.

After 8 hours of breathing - still has a lacquer or nailpolish remover aura. Smells a lot like port. The first swallow has a strong alcoholic flavor, the later ones less so. It's not bad, but it's not as interesting as it used to be. It's like the layers have disappeared. (The exact opposite of our relationship!)

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Hey, LJ, you got a facelift!

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I like your new look, LJ! Now that I am older and blinder I appreciate the slick minimalism and the "large type edition" font. Nicely done, you.

This postapocalyptic Hamlet needs your help

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Hamlet Max is a postapocalyptic vision of Hamlet that is due to hit the boards at the Hollywood Fringe this summer. The Indiegogo donations are halfway there; can you help them hit their goal?

If you need more convincing, watch the artistic mind behind this production shave off a truly epic mustache before he explains it all to you:

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I had a blood test for allergies recently, which showed that I was not allergic to soy anymore. I was excited at the possibility, as this would open up a lot more things for me in the food realm.

The doctor said I could confirm the diagnosis with a food challenge test either in his office or at home, since blood tests for food allergies are "not entirely accurate." (His words; research indicates they are under 50% accurate.) I decided to do it at home because, when I last checked the allergy in 2002 at tyellas's, I had a few teaspoons of soymilk and didn't actually die; I just felt crappy and my throat closed up.

I decided to start with 1/4 teaspoon of soymilk, under the assumption that it would be too small an amount to cause a reaction. Almost instantly, my throat closed up most of the way, my palate swelled up, and my lips swelled where they came in contact with the soymilk. I also feel quite lightheaded. (Yes, emdiar is here and monitoring me.) Interestingly, there is a part of me trying to convince myself this is all psychosomatic.

The blood test also showed that I wasn't allergic to corn. Considering how much more ugly that reaction is than this one, I think I'll skip the food challenge test.

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I'm back! And I've eaten a lot of risotto.

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I'm back and I have lots of thoughts.

But the first one is: if you like risotto, you're going to LOVE Brazil. Risotto seems to be on EVERY menu there. Even little pizza places in the airport sell risotto!

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So that happened.

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Well, I didn't predict that I would be flat-on-my-back sick for two days upon return from SXSW. This is a problem because I leave for Brazil tomorrow night and haven't managed to do half the things I intended to get done before I left.

ARGH.
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I will have 24 hours in Lima and 24 hours in Sao Paulo in March. (Well, more in Sao Paulo but only 24 hours will be my own.) Lima is a Saturday; Sao Paulo is a Sunday. Any travel tips, from those who have been there?

The final book cull list!

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This is the final book cull list. I'm happy to mail books out to people - just please reimburse me for postage. Comment here if you want them! Also posting to Facebook.

Cookbooks:
- The Ultimate Vegetarian Cookbook (Roz Denny)
- The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook
- Indian Cooking for Pleasure (this dates back to the 60s and the recipes are very authentic)
- The Muffin Cookbook - Muffins for All Occasions

Fiction
- Never After by Rebecca Lickiss
- Spock's World by Diane Duane
- Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Nonfiction (of the Business Kind)
- Malcolm Gladwell: The Tipping Point
- Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun (GREAT book for anyone who has to do public speaking)
- The Whuffie Factor by Tara Hunt

Nonfiction (less business-y)
- The Timetables of History by Bernard Grun

Art and Design
- America's Painted Ladies: The Ultimate Celebration Of Our Victorians by Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen with tons of photographs (note, this is Victorian architecture, not Victorian porn!)
- A decade (at least) of Lurzer's International Archive Magazine, showcasing the best advertising from around the world

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