children of dune - leto 1

random linguistic question

For anyone who speaks Arabic native, fluent, third, started two weeks ago or even cares....

Over the last nine months between work and other stuff, I lost duolingo entirely and went back to start over my Hindi (interesting and related here, but I'll come back) I saw they added Arabic, Navajo, and a couple of others, and even if I don't plan to start anything new, I like to start the first lesson to look around, kick the tires, etc. Then I spent three hours happily working through the first two Arabic alphabet skills before I realized what I was doing, which is super weird since I've never actually in my entire life spent any amount of time looking at Arabic script other than when friends would write things and I'd say "pretty" because yes it is, and also, Americans are intimidated by words that look like modern art to us or something, IDK. Americans, dude; we're like this.

I do not know whether this is true or not, but Arabic within the context of Duolingo shares a lot of basic southern drawl rules in how to deal with vowels and the perfectly logical uses of 'ha', 'ya', and 'ay' when vowels try to be boring. I'm not saying I am going to expertise this shit, but it's nice to be hanging in a language that is like 'maybe more Atlanta around here, but here, rural central Texas farmer is perfect, well done!'

Which has had the funny side effect of having to work codeswitching my English out of 'so that's a lot of drawl' which I can hear and have to fight down. This really doesn't happen anymore unless I'm in a conversation with another Texan (born or assimilated) and on first drawl, we both devolve. (We don't do this around Yankees unless we're screwing with you. Yes, you aren't crazy, it is deliberate, we call this 'fun'.) I never defaulted into a hard drawl--Texas variations include twang and a lot lot lot of Mexican Spanish and Texan Spanish influence and my parents spoke two different dialects of Central Texas (Austin and rural Hill Country)--but once you get any drawl variation, it's fairly easy to adjust to anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon from Kentucky and Georgia to northern Louisiana (French-Creole influence then becomes a thing and you have to rebase the rules).

More importantly, I never ever do it at work, because while everyone is fluent in English, I use 'diction is your friend' rules. We all work in tech, and often, I'm the only native English speaker in the room with everyone else super fluent in English but in second, third, fourth, and fifth position with diffent first language start values of, in order of frequency, Hindi and Telugu (yes, I do feel inferior thanks for asking). So I start precise and read the room as Hindi-first language and Telugu-first language speakers also have some variation in how they learned English. Again, perfect fluency everyone (see me, inferior) but that means it's super easy not to even realize something may be off and double check.

(Note: for any native Hindi speakers who come to Texas; eighteen months, you will be saying y'all regularly, lose some 'g' on more than a few 'ing's, and that's just to start, you won't notice, and that means Texas has claimed you for its own for all time and you're now Texan. You can physically leave, sure, but your linguistic English centers are now ours. Y'all will never leave your vocabulary and those 'g's are pretty much lost forever unless you concentrate very hard speaking for the rest of your life. I didn't make the rules, okay, I'm a victim too, this is just how Texas rolls. Welcome, my brothers and sisters; we're all in this together.)

Now, back to Hindi, which is what i was doing before Arabic southern drawl seduction; I erased all my progress because I remembered nothing, my own fault; it took me way too long to form pattern-recognition of Hindi script when they got to consonant-vowel sounds. When I started, I confirmed I have no goddamn language centers: I knew nothing.

This depressing state of affairs continued until lesson one, level three, and it wasn't like a dramatic flash of memory, an amnesia patient going "I REMEMEBER EVERYTHING" but just--there. And this time, my brain set up correct organization.

The first time, it took me a month to get through alphabet lessons one and two, all five levels, by which I mean until I did all lessons perfectly and that was a lot of repetition for something that still barely stuck. This time, it was three hours, give or take, and even better, everything was organizing immediately by consonant --> consonant-vowel --> consonant-vowel-vowel, etc. And I cannot say this enough; this is not like accessing active memory. I don't actively remember anything from before, but I do know that unlike last time, it's persisting. I no longer feel like I'm writing on a white board with an almost empty marker I keep having to go back and frantically rewrite as it fades (quickly), but have graduated to a number two pencil where I need to be careful of smears but remains legible.

Right now, anyone multi-lingual is wondering what sort of deal with Satan happened that I acquired my native tongue or even understand what language is; welcome to my life. I think my language centers weren't appropriately tested before deployment to the live environment via birth and so are not working by design. And this is why testing is important.

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children of dune - leto 1

many names little time

Reddit's AITA (Am I The Asshole) sub is exactly the kind of place that combines 'infuriating' with 'irresistible trainwreck' with a healthy dose of contrariness in every post.

AITA for letting my 7 year old daughter call my husband "daddy", against the wishes of her biological father (my ex husband)?

Weirdly enough, though, that nightmare fuel isn't the point of this entry. Reading this on reddit and the comments, I remembered how many times this has come up in advice columns, about the massive divide of meaning between being called Grandmother and being called Grandma (huge difference, really) to the point of estrangement before the grandchild has even finished developing internal organs, much less vocal cords. And on one hand, I understand on the visceral level, because yes, words have meaning, but when it comes to names--mom, dad, mommy, granny, grandmother, grandfather--there's a sense that this is not just personal preference, a but something not unlike a cosmic transformation of self or a mystical coronation of a high king or god emperor by divine right.

'Hey, I want to use Nana as my grandmotherly name, but no big, how about Grans?' <-- myth or heresy or something????

'Upon my ascension to grandmotherhood, I take the name Nana, Highest of the Grandmothers, set above lesser grandmothers, and all grandchildren will acknowledge me at the best of their grandmothers as natural law. All usurpers who attempt to falsely claim 'Nana' I will meet with my blade and prove my claim on your dead body and knit your shroud myself' with the clear expectation that everyone will be 'Yes, she who takes the name Nana is the best and most loved Nana obviously, that's just how it is' and all the grandchildren have but to address her by that name to gain their adoration. <-- sounds legit

Does that sound insane? Yeah, but its the only vaguely comprehensible reason why two people would go to the mattresses, die on the hill, meet with pistols at dawn, declare war, and burn the world to settle the question of who gets the name 'grandmother' and who gets 'grandma'.

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I do get part of my attitude about names now has been formed by having a top three name for the year of my birth and remains popular. When I was in Finland, the 'J' sound was a work in progress for a lot of the kids in my age group and younger, and for their parents and most adults, if they spoke English, they learned it later in life. While I'd like to say being like "no don't worry, Yennifer's great," was entirely motivated by wanting to avoid everyone feeling self-conscious and not be a gross American, and yes, that was there, but a very real part was hearing someone call me Yennifer and for the first time in my life having a name of my very own and not shared what felt like half the goddamn country and three to ten in any given space not including the many variations of goddamn Jenny. It was maybe one of the nicest gifts I've ever received from anyone; a name they made right there, just for me.

[Note: Pronunciation was Yen-ne-fer with the n's separated so one ends the first syllable and the other starts the second and the i slid into an e sometimes; I loved hearing it.]

Which is why when someone asks "Do you pronounce Seperis like [this] or like [this]?" my answer is invariably "Yes."

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children of dune - leto 1

how escalation happens

So lets start with the end of the story: according to the labs from my doctor's appointment on Thursday, I am very vitamin D deficient. The helpful and deeply ominous chart showed a range, with 30 to 100 being good, with an alarming legend explaining the following:

Optimal: >=30 ng/ML
Insufficient: 20-29 ng/ML
Deficient: <20 ng/ML

My number? Nine. Yeah.

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Looking up Vitamin D deficiency, boy does that explain a lot.

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children of dune - leto 1

hi and welcome to the new year!

Things I am thankful for in the new year (though to be fair, became thankful for beginning summer of 2019 when I found out about the first two):

1.) Health Savings Account (HSA) covers Uber and Lyft and taxis used to go to appointments or pick up prescriptions. Oh God thank you yes. Yeah, it was still cheaper than buying a car and paying for gas not to be reimbursed, but this? Better.

2.) You can use Amazon receipts for HSA purchases, which is deeply awesome.

Note: if you have a Health Savings Account through work, double check on what it covers. I legit did not believe it covered Lyft and Uber until I tried it no matter what the site said and lo, it worked. Same with Amazon if it's marked as an HSA purchase.

3.) Whole foods had butter at $0.80/lb and for organic $1.25/lb after the new year. I bought 13 lbs. I am not ashamed. I took pictures of my butter mountain, even.

Things I am less thrilled with in the new year:

1.) Cedar fever is trying to destroy me and half my coworkers and i lost three days of work due to that this week.

Things that happened last year that I'm reconciled to now:

1.) I had to buy a new router.

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So that did indeed happen. If you pay for 1G internet and you have a phone with Wifi 6 or computer you can install a wifi 6 card on (they're cheap, like under $40), yeah, get a Wifi 6 enabled router. I am really not over these speeds or the sheer lack of remedial attention my network needs.

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children of dune - leto 1

black friday week is escalating

I am here to bring you deals! And also waiting for some pre-Thanksgiving prep work to get done.

Echo Speakers
Echo Flex - $19.99 ($5 off)
Echo Dot - $22.00 ($27.99 off)
Echo Dot With Clock - $34.99 ($25 off)
Echo Alexa Speaker - $59.99 ($40 off)
Echo Alexa Speaker Plus - $99.99 ($79 off)
Echo Sub - $109.99 ($20 off)

Echo Show
Echo Show 5 - $49.99 ($40 off)
Echo Show 8 - $79.99 ($50 off)
Echo Show - $149.99 ($109 off)

Sonos Beam - $299.99 ($100 off)
Sonos Soundbar - $529.00 ($170 off)
Sonos Sub - $559 ($140 off)
Sonos One (First Gen) - $169.00 ($30 off)

Also, if you're looking for a large, surprisingly inexpensive 4K samsung TV:
Samsung UN50RU7100FXZA Flat 50-Inch 4K UHD 7 Series Ultra HD Smart TV with HDR and Alexa Compatibility (2019 Model) - $327.99. If you buy it used from Warehouse Deals, you get an extra 20% off.

LIFX Bulbs
These are my favorite smart lightbulbs. They're bright (brighter than Hue), they're reliable, and LIFX will replace them for free if one goes out. I bought the previous generation white temperature for my kitchen three years ago and they're still bright and wonderful.
LIFX White and Color A19 - $39.99
LIFX White and Color Mini - $29.99

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children of dune - leto 1

oh my god it's the coffee apocalypse



Twinkie Keurig Coffee

Wait, there's more.

Snowball Keurig Coffee

Honey Bun

Ding Dong

The variety pack: Twinkies, Honey Bun, Snow Balls, and Ding Dong Coffee

Another variety pack of cappuccino and hot chocolate: Twinkies, Snow Balls, and Ding Dongs

Hostess cappuccino.

This is our world now.

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children of dune - leto 1

now there's a black friday week

I love shopping Black Friday deals--or Black Friday weeks--because, for one, I get to see how we're reinventing the slate these days.

The basic slate--or portable flat surface we can write on with erasable substance--was likely invented before the wheel and no matter how much cave painting or cathedral painting or novel writing we do, we never quite get over a need for something we can do that on and also carry easily. Even the invention of paper--several times--then cheap paper, then typewriters, computers, phones, tablets, none of these quite got rid of this basic need for something sturdy that we could physically write on with a stylus type object and then erase. Even if we rarely want to manually shape each letter anymore, or draw, we really don't like not having that option, and we go to extraordinary lengths to assure this continues.

A very real part of me believes the entirety of technology was invented to make a better slate, or if not better, one that looks cooler.

LCD Tablet

There are dozens of them, all LCD, all bright and shiny and still slates. I find this delightful, not least because I didn't really realize I do it, too.

All my laptops now require having a touchscreen, which makes sense; my phone and tablet have adapted me to being able to touch the screen so much that I poke my work monitor impatiently and only then realize it doesn't do that and boy do I resent it. In addition, my current laptop I chose because of tablet and stylus functionality; I can draw and write on it with handwriting recognition. I don't actually use it that often, but it was literally the deciding factor between this model and another touchscreen, identical except for that and somewhat (quite a bit) less expensive.

Yeah, I paid extra to get my late model newest processor all the RAM laptop with responsive keyboard, to mimic a smooth piece of rock with an electronic stylus to pretend to be chalk.

All in all, I think my ancestors would approve.


Ring 2 Doorbell - $129. If you voice order with Amazon Alexa--and you don't need an Alexa device, you can do it through the Amazon Music app--it's $99. Original price was $199. I had Ring (original) and yes, it's worth the upgrade; battery pack, so you can pop it out, better battery life, and being HD, much better picture.

Ring is super popular with IT people at work--any given meeting, you get used to hearing three to five people's Ring app audibly detect motion--so I spent part of today wandering through dev to spread the good news.

This is a sampling of what's available today. This shit literally changes at 2 AM every day.

FireTV Cube - $89.99 ($30 off)
FireTV Stick 4K - $24.99 ($25 off) with code 4KFIRETV
FireTV Stick + 2 Months Showtime - $19.99 ($20 off)
FireTV Recast 500 GB - $129.99 ($100 off)
FireTV Recast 1 TB - $179.99 ($100 off)

FireTV Bundles
FireTV Stick + Echo Dot - $41.99 with code ECHOTV
FireTV Stick 4K + Echo Dot - $46.99 with code ECHO4K
FireTV Stick 4K + Amazon Basics HD Antenna - $59.99 ($30.97 off)
FireTV Blaster + FireTV Stick 4K + Echo Dot - $79.99 - okay, in case you're wondering what a blaster is, when paired with a Fire TV Stick and Echo Alexa or Echo Dot speaker, it gives Alexa to all your entertainment equiptment with IR. Yes, it's basically a universal remote except stationary and your voice instead of keys. Actually, pretty cool.
FireTV Stick 4K + FireTV Recast + HD Antenna - $174.97 ($50 off)

Ring Doorbell Bundles
Ring 2 + Echo Show 5 - $139.99 ($69 off)
Ring 2 Doorbell + Fire TV Cube - $218.99 ($100 off)
Ring Peephole Cam + Battery Pack + Echo Show 5 - $179.00 ($138.99 off)
Ring Video Doorbell Pro + Echo Show 5 - $179.00 ($159.99 off)

Echo Show (Gen 2) Bundles
Echo Show (Gen 2) + Sengled Lightbulb - $187.98, which is weird because if you get it without the lightbulb, it's $229.99. Yeah, that--exists.
Echo Show (Gen 2) + Wyze Camera - $205.76

Sonos Playbar + Mount + $50 Amazon Gift Card - $699.99 ($89.98 off)
Sonos Beam + $30 Amazon Gift Card - $399 ($30 off)
2 Sonos One SL (black only) + $30 Amazon Gift Card - $358.00 ($30 off)
Sonos One (Gen 1), White - $169 ($30 off)

Kindle (Gen 10) + $5 Ebook Gift Card - $59.99 ($30 off)
Kindle Paperwhite (Gen 10) + $5 Ebook Gift Card - $84.99 ($45 off)
Kindle Oasis (previous Gen) + $5 Ebook Gift Card - $149.99 ($100 off)

Echo Dot - $35.99 ($15 off). Using Alexa Voice shopping, $22.99
Three Echo Dot Bundle - $64.97 with code DOT3PACK

Amazon Alexa Whole House Music

So some entries back, I talked about how the Alexa Echos are bar none the cheapest way to set up an affordable full-house music experience that is very listenable. No, you're not going to get Bose or Sonos, but I do have a Sonos Beam as well as four Dots, an Echo, and a Show, and it's great and would be great without the Sonos Beam.

Right now:
Echo Dot (Gen 3) is $34.99 but if you buy over Alexa voice shopping, you can get it for $22
Echo Alexa is $99.99 but may drop to $49 over Black Friday week.
Echo Sub is $109.99, down from $129.99
Echo Studio is $199, which is pricey--that's more than a Sonos Play:1 and equal to Sonos One--but also has Dolby Atmos, and as we all know and mourn, Sonos lingers in plain Dolby.

The Echo Alexa speakers are better than the Dots; the Studio is much better than the Echo Alexa; Sonos is very much better than both and Bose may be better than Sonos (I don't agree but whatever), and we could do this for a while. If you want multiroom music, though, you really don't have to wait for an upgrade in your income bracket to get it.

Personal experience has taught me not to listen to audio snobs and their refined ears--ambient sound is the most important part of the multiroom experience. One Dot alone is sad; three Dots aren't too bad and listenable; two to three Dots when playing with my Echo Alexa sounds really good; and when they're all playing together with my Beam, it's honestly amazing. The only thing I'm really missing is a sub to get bass, but that's for after Christmas sales.

This math works pretty much with any decent speakers at affordable; yes, we'd all love a Bose or Sonos system, but I'll be honest; unless you're a hardcore audiophile, you generally aren't going to notice unless you work in some audio field and your ears are spoiled. A pair for stereo + subwoofer is honestly all you need to get you started, and now that we have wifi speakers, you don't even have to worry about cords or going into the walls to get your speakers hooked to each other.

Your multi-room music experience could start today with two Alexa Dots and a Sub for $155.97 (+tax) if you Alexa Voice order two Dots at $22.99 and get the sub for $109.99. If you want the full size Alexa speakers, you can get the Alexa Sub bundle for $249.97 (individually, they would be $309.97).

Amazon Alexa Home Theater

Yes, it's here.

You can not only do whole house music with Alexa--you can create a budget Dolby Atmos Home Theater with HD sound. Her's how to do it.

You need one of these:
Fire TV Stick 4K (49.99) or Fire TV Cube (199.99)

Up to two of these:
Echo Alexa ($99.99)
Echo Dot (Gen 3) ($34.99)

And one of these:
Echo Sub ($109)

In the Alexa app, go to Devices and click on the + at top right to get groups. Select Set Up Audio System. On the next screen, select Home Theatre. Select Fire TV on the first screen, then the sub and either two speakers or an existing stereo pair--that is, two Alexa speakers you already have paired for stereo.

Right now, the limit is one (1) sub and up to two (2) Alexa speakers. Dots and Alexas both qualify: the Shows do not.

So you can get a Home Theater with high def Dolby Atmos for as low as $179.97 (+tax) with one Echo Dot ordered over Alexa Voice Shopping ($22.99), the Fire TV Stick 4K/Echo Dot Bundle ($46.99) and Echo Sub ($109.99). Your entire Home Theater would be $20.01 less than a single Sonos One (Gen 2).

Yes, this is the last section

Also, I'm currently testing this robot for my niece and nephew for Christmas. Yes, this was also a transparent excuse to buy a robot and play with it, that is why I love having nieces and nephew. So far? This is the shit. Robot responds to both the remote and gesture control and is programmable. It also dances and sings. This is very much a kid's toy, but it's also on the level of a kid's toy that they can learn from. Honestly, at $29.99, this is a really good deal. I'll update if I find anything sketchy, however.

ETA - I lied, one more

This list may be updated as insomnia happens.

Semi-Hidden Deals

These only show up on the page header if you go to a qualifying item because why make this easy.

$45 SlingTV Credit if you purchase a FireTV - the link has all the specific FireTV items covered, but FireTV Stick, FireTV Stick 4K, and FireTV Cube are on there as well as bundles.

Free Echo Dot with Fire TV - this refers to the literal TVs by Insignia and Toshiba, which--if you're looking for a 4K TV, are also on sale; Insignia 55 inch 4K TV is $279 and that's the most expensive; they go down from there.

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children of dune - leto 1

this really could have been predicted yet I am still surprised

Due to multi-family demands, Thanksgiving (aka At Mom's Thanksgiving) will be the Saturday after.

In a sane world--or with a sane me--I would have realized that meant Official Thanksgiving (11/28) could be celebrated with doritos, fake cheese, samosas, fresh cherries, ice cream, and vodka. Or at least, I would have realized it before I ordered Thanksgiving-related groceries in a pre-Thanksgiving panicc that include none of that but do include a 12 lb turkey, the ingredients for brine, the makings of three (3) to four (4) side dishes, and a can of cranberry sauce, and I really wish I could say that at least showed sense, but no, that was only because I couldn't find my recipe for cranberry sauce and panicked.

But. Let's talk about this turkey. A 12.04 lb turkey, rather, which I'm not actually sure will fit in my freezer no matter how I Tetris this shit, but that's a worry for one hour from now when it arrives. I just scanned my soon to arrive grocery list and I am pretty sure at least some portions were done in a fugue state. Apparently--for reasons unclear--I also purchased Turkey broth, which is twice the price of chicken with no discernible difference in flavor, and I cannot work out what happened.

But also, three (3) to four (4) side dishes; granted, not complicated ones, but this ties back to the turkey situation in which I ignore good sense and also forgot the only people involved in eating this are me and Child and worse, I ordered no doritos or fake cheese at all.

If anyone needs me, I am watching the shape of my fate descend upon me (with occasional digressions) via the delivery map.

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children of dune - leto 1

cherry cola is no longer my friend

So, I think I am getting sensitive to whatever is in Cherry Coke or rather, cherry cola syrup, but pretty sure it's going to turn out to be both.

This is based on the fact that ritalin generally makes me calm and focused, and after one glass of this, I'm jumpy and scattered by even non-ritalin standards to the point its an effort to write this.

Context: ritalin is--in some ways--not unlike valium or maybe xanax when it comes to the concept of 'calming'. I use 5 mg as a sleep aid (but only when I'm tired and am planning to sleep now; the window is ten minutes before it won't tip me over). It never, ever, ever makes me twitchy.

This isn't the first time this has happened, however; today was a test.

Since I got a Sodastream and control my own soda destiny entirely, for soda I get plain cola syrup so we can mix things in, but I've gotten cherry cola syrup twice now. The first 4 bottle batch I don't remember for sure, but I do remember the second batch, because I stopped halfway through (bottle 2) and switched back to cola due to the same feeling. It's been over a month, and controlling for all variables (not my period, have taken all meds correctly for a week, am eating), I tried again and yeah this is real.

So now switched back to regular soda and am so. Damn. Annoyed.

First it was anything decaffeinated (as in, things from which caffeine has been removed with solvents), then artificial sugars (splenda is still pending), then it was something in Monster drinks made with sucrose (sucrose is not the culprit, btw), now...something in fucking cherry cola soda. I get this falls under the category These Are Not Real Problems, because they aren't; they're all easily avoidable for the most part. For that matter, I hate the flavor of most artificial sugars (splenda foams and freaks me out but tastes fine) so diet anything has been a no-go, and when it comes to decaffeinated anything, I never drink those anyway because I like caffeine; one might say it's a selling point. But like, what's next? Orange coke? All coke? Monster Fruit Punch wasn't a huge sacrifice, but Cherry Coke is now edging into territory Things I Actually Like. And also, as I don't know what in cherry cola syrup is the problem exactly, I don't know what else is now affected that has the same chemical or whatever.

This concludes my scheduled whining over nothing. Bodies are weird.

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children of dune - leto 1

GBBO is the devil

Finished series 7 of The Great British Bake-Off, and fighting urge to make puff pastry pies and seven layer opera cakes made up of ingredients I can't pronounce but sometimes involve the word 'curd'. Send help or baking supplies.

Does anyone have an urge to have a fan meetup where we do nothing but bake in a kitchen that if we blow it up, is covered by someone else's insurance (though yeah, not getting that security deposit back)? There should be some kind of resort where all the rooms have magnificent fully equipped kitchens (and a full bar for obvious reasons) and you can get packages like 'Ten Breads and Pastries' and 'All the Cake' where they supply you with baking supplies, daily (hourly?) housekeeping, and a bottle of vodka (for...reasons).

...imagine the foods I could set on fire or failed breads I could sob over in a kitchen I don't have to clean afterward.

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