Hot public sex in the park!

I came across these two having hot, shameless public sex in the park!

Walking Minnie Friday afternoon on the footpath around Lake Murray, as we do almost every day, I saw a half-dozen people standing around looking at something on the edge of the path.

When I got closer, I saw this is what it was.

I kept a prudent distance in case they were poisonous rattlesnakes. (What do I know from rattlesnakes? I’m a New Yorker born and raised – we don’t have snakes, just garbage strikes.) Later, Julie found a photo on Facebook nearly identical to these videos, and the person taking the photos identified the snakes as California king snakes, non-poisonous, and they eat vermin too. So you two lovebirds just go at at and make plenty of little baby snakes.

Aeropress

I’ve been using Aeropress to make coffee every day for a few months now. I like it because it makes great coffee, it’s fast and forgiving, and the Aeropress itself is cheap – about $25.

The Aeropress doesn’t care if you use the precisely right grind. Measuring can be approximate; at first I used a scale and measured coffee and water to the gram, but now I just scoop and measure by eye. The coffee still tastes great.

No need to even boil water: We have a third tap on our kitchen sink that dispenses water at the right temperature for the Aeropress, about 175 degrees. Many people have those; I suspect the Aeropress may have been designed with that in mind.

Cleanup is easy: Just rinse and use a damp sponge to wipe the parts that come into contact with the ground coffee.

I make four cups of coffee at a time first thing in the morning, which requires two runs through the Aeropress. That sets me up for the whole day.

I’m currently looking for a container that I can brew the coffee into and keep it hot for the hour or two it takes me to drink it all. Previously, I’ve been making the coffee in a glass beaker and then transferring it to a Thermos. But I think I might be able to make the coffee directly in the Thermos – just use a funnel to catch the brewed coffee. I’d be balancing the Aeropress on top of the funnel on top of the Thermos, which sounds precarious but I think I can make it work easily.

On the other hand that might result in a huge mess and a trip to the emergency room. I’ll try it tomorrow. Adventure awaits!

Updated Saturday 5/19: The adventure ended anticlimactically. The entire assembly of Aeropress, funnel, and Thermos was too tall to fit under the instant hot water spigot. I was left scrambling to find a suitable container to brew the coffee into, while the ground coffee in the Aeropress got damp. The coffee still tasted good, though; like I said, the Aeropress is forgiving.

Getting the Due app working with the Apple Watch

For years, I found the Due iPhone timer useful. It’s much more flexible than the built-in iPhone timer app, and I used it often.

But then I got the Apple Watch in December and Due was incompatible with the way I use the Watch.

My iPhone is silent at all times; when I get a notification I just get a nudge on my wrist from the Watch. It’s one of my favorite things about the Watch.

But, alas, the Due app doesn’t work with the Apple Watch.

Sure, it’s supposed to work. Due has a Watch app. But it’s unreliable.

Or so I thought.

I had been using the Due Watch app to set timers. A week or two ago I thought, “What if I use the iPhone Due app to set timers?” And so I started doing that and it works great. I set the timers on the iPhone and they go off reliably and silently on my Watch. Hooray!

By the way, you may well ask what’s so great about Due?

First, you can have multiple, custom presets.

I have many presets, including one for five minutes and one for 20 minutes, because I often need to time things for those two intervals.

The iPhone timers app has no support for presets, and with the Watch timers app, you take the presets Apple gives you and you like it.

Also, the Due app lets you set multiple different types of timers.

Apple’s built in iPhone and Watch timers keep going off until you press a button to turn them off. The Due app has timers that go off for a couple of seconds, and then stop on their own.

The Due app also supports reminders that will go off every couple of minutes and keep nagging you until you switch them off. That’s handy for things you really need to do sooner rather than later, like take a pill or feed the dog or dial in two minutes early for a conference call.

Captain Mitch’s Whiz-Bang PR Tips! (a continuing series)

Note to my friends in PR: One of the best ways you can enhance my chances of writing about your news is to tell me about it before it’s announced. This is called an “embargo,” and it’s common between PR people and business journalists. (An embargo is an agreement though – don’t just send me your news and assume I’ll sit on it. Ask first.)

When I see an email from a PR person that says their client announced a thing this morning – i.e. it was already public by the time I got the email – my pinky finger is starting to move to the DELETE key.

If Apple Mail performance is slow, uncheck “Load Remote Content” in preferences

My work mail is Microsoft Office 365, which I access using Mail.app on the Mac. Recently, I noticed performance had become so slow as to become painful. Mail downloaded just fine, but when I clicked on a message it took forever to open, and when I marked a message as read it took forever for the message status to change.

The solution: Go into “Preferences” and make sure “Load remote content in messages” is unchecked. Loading remote content means the Mac has to go out to the Internet and download images, which takes time.

It’s probably a good idea to uncheck that for security reasons as well as for performance.

I don’t recall whether that box is checked or unchecked by default. Previously, I had it checked – messages set to download remote content automatically. And that’s what was slowing down my Mail performance. I unchecked it, and mail performs just fine for me now.

If I want to see remote content, such as images, for a particular message, I can click a button on the top of each individual message, and the remote content downloads quickly enough.

Most of the time I don’t bother. I don’t bother reading about 99% of the email I receive anymore.

A note to my PR friends

Your pitch needs to fit in the length of a tweet. I am not kidding about this. I have 2,400 unread emails now, mostly PR pitches. I give a pitch one sentence to get my attention. If it hasn’t grabbed me by then, I just hit delete and move on. (signed) A Cranky Editor

Overheating MacBook Air problem solved (I think)

I think I resolved my problem with the MacBook Air overheating. A gentleman on Reddit said the keyboard cover I’d bought to keep the MBA clean was suffocating the machine. It’s running cool as a cucumber now.

I may try again to move the MacBook Air in front of the big display, which is where I like it. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for having it off to one side and out of harm’s way.

The problem with using the Internet for work

The problem with using the Internet for work is you start in one place, and end up in another, bewildering, and clearly not-work-related place, and have no idea how you got there.

This is particularly true when you’re a journalist, as I am. It is even more true when you’re using Facebook.

I started out doing this legitimate work thing and ended up reading about the Riverworld series of science fiction novels, which I love, and which begat not one but two TV series pilots. Which is odd, because after a TV pilot fails once it’s surprising to see someone try it again seven years later.

I have absolutely no idea how I got from where I started to Riverworld.

Although if the novels are correct, we are all going to Riverworld eventually.

The novels are fantastic – or at least the first three are – and I’d love to see somebody do them right for TV.

Troubleshooting my overheating MacBook Air

For nearly the last 20 years I’ve been working on a laptop configuration with the laptop off to one side, propped open, and attached to a big external display. The external display is my main desktop, and the open laptop is secondary. I use an external keyboard and trackball to drive the thing.

A month or so ago I moved the laptop — currently a 2015 MacBook Air, which I bought new — to the FRONT of the display. That meant the laptop screen was below the big monitor, and I was typing on the laptop’s built-in keyboard and using its built-in trackpad. I LOVED that. I got much better use out of the laptop display.

But I noticed it was running slow. I opened Activity Monitor and found a process called kernel_task was using up a ton of memory and CPU. What the hell is kernel_task, I asked myself. Google to the rescue.

kernel_task is a fake process — it intentionally soaks up processor resources to slow your Mac down and keep it cool.

I could hear the fan running loud.

Aha, I said to myself.

Elsewhere on the Internet (I’ve lost the link) I saw a suggestion that using a big external display and the onboard display together could make a MacBook Air overheat. That’s lots of pixels for the Air’s relatively wee processor to draw.

Another potential cause of overheating: Running the MacBook Air on a surface that does not provide adequate ventilation.

I was doing all of that. So I moved the MacBook back to its stand, and kept working.

This morning, I noticed the MacBook was running slow and hot again, even while I had it on a stand with adequate ventilation. So I closed the clamshell on the MacBook and am just using the big display as my only monitor. The MacBook performance improved a little right away, and now the fans are off and the MacBook is running pretty well.

I’m about to take my exercise break. I’m going to shut down the Mac and let it cool completely while I’m out. Then I’m going to try one other thing: I bought a keyboard condom back when I was using the MacBook keyboard as my primary input; it’s possible that the condom is blocking air flow and causing the MacBook to overheat. I’ll try getting rid of that and see if I can at least get the two-display benefits by keeping the MacBook open and to one side while I work.

Although on the other hand there’s something to be said for the focus of having just one display.

Update Sunday 4/8: Problem solved (I think).

Next time will be different

Me every six months:

“I hear DevonThink is a great app. I have never given it a good workout. I need to give it a fair try!”

[opens DevonThink]

[overcome by confusion]

[closes DevonThink]

At this rate my eval period will last 40 years and I’ll never have to buy it.

TARDIS in my bathroom

When we remodeled the bathrooms last year, I asked Julie for something Tardis-like in mine bathroom, because I am such a Doctor Who fan. But (I said) I don’t want it to be weird and fannish and obvious – make it discreet, I said.

She had this pattern of very small tiles put in next to the shower control, which is just perfect.

Mildly interesting encounter with a possible paid Russian troll

A few months ago, I was still getting drive-bys writing random pro-Trump inflammatory slogans on some of my political posts on various social media sites. These seemed to be cut-and-paste comments, insulting liberals and only tangentially related to anything I actually wrote.

To amuse myself, I started replying with comments like, “Greetings comrade! Do you get paid in rubles or dollars?” “How is the benefits program for pro-Russia trolling?” “Is it very cold in Moscow this time of year?” and so on. I really had no idea whether these were actually paid Russian trolls or garden-variety American trolls. I was just amusing myself at the expense of random rude strangers.

I was thinking last night about this one guy who showed up a few months ago. He left the usual “Libtards die! Trump rules! MAGA!” rubbish, and I replied in kind and I figured we were done. But then he started turning up on other posts – and he was just posting regular comments there. I’d post a cat video and he’d make a comment, “Cute!” I’d post a car ad from the 1950s and he’d comment “Great car!” And then after a couple of days of that I never heard from him again.

I was thinking about this exchange the other night. Imagine you’re a guy working for a Russian troll farm. You work in an open office somewhere in Moscow. You sit at your computer, running searches on keywords in social media and leaving inflammatory comments on American social media posts. It’s a job, like any other, and you take breaks from work like everybody else. You notice this one guy “Mitch Wagner” – you left one of your troll-comments on one of his posts the other day, and noticed that most of this guy Mitch’s posts aren’t political. Many are, but Mitch also posts a lot of cute animal videos and retro ads from the 70s and stuff. They’re mildly entertaining so you check out his page every once in a while and when you see something you like you leave a nice comment. Then after a couple of days of that you lose interest and move on.

I saw this written on the sidewalk near home.

Startup idea: Google competitor called “Giggle,” a search engine for kitten GIFs. 

It’s exciting to get a delivery from Amazon, even if it’s a bullshit purchase. “OMG my toothpaste is here! I’m so excited!”

Telemarketing

I’ve been getting several robo-spam phone calls daily for the last few weeks. They seem to be coming from my area code and exchange, (619) 402-XXXX.

On the one hand, it’s a pain in the ass.

On the other hand, as robocalls go these are easily filtered. If I see a call coming in from (619) 402, I just reject it.

Telemarketing is a perfect microcosm of the failure of our current system of government and economy. The only people who like telemarketing are the very small segment of the population that makes money off it. These people are basically stealing other people’s property, same as if I came into your house and borrowed your car for a while without your permission. Everybody else in the world hates telemarketers. In a functional democracy, telemarketing would have been banned instantaneously, the moment it began – but we do not live in a functional democracy, and so telemarketing has lingered and festered for 25 years.

Related: For the past few years, when strangers start a conversation with me, I generally assume they want money from me, so I greet them with a cold, hostile face. So maybe telemarketing isn’t such a trivial issue after all, in that it contributes to alienation from each other.

Same for email. I just got an email from a stranger commenting about a blog post I did on weight loss. I got a warm feeling for a second, but then I saw it was a robo-generated message from someone who wanted me to add a link to their report on dieting – SEVEN SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TIPS! When I get email from strangers, I assume it’s someone who wants me to send them money, or do something that will help them make money. If I get an email from a stranger, my finger is hovering over the delete key before I even start to read it.

Things vs. Omnifocus for managing to-dos on the Mac, iPad and iPhone

I switched from Things to OmniFocus a month ago, but now I have gone back to Things.

Omnifocus is too fussy. It really, really wants you to add tasks to projects and areas, and that’s extra work.

Many of the tasks I create in a to-do list come from email, and on OmniFocus, adding tasks from email on Mac is broken. On the other hand, Things handles that easily.

Both Things and OmniFocus will let you forward email to the app – which is great when reviewing email on your phone – but Things adds a nice touch to that process. Things adds a link back to the original mail. So when I’m back at my Mac, I can just click a link in the Things task and I’m back to the email I want to deal with.

Things is a better-looking app than Omnifocus. Reviewers often use words like “gorgeous” and “breathtaking” to describe Things, which makes me roll my eyes so hard I might strain something. It’s an app, not a painting or sunset. Still, Things is a nice-looking app, nicer looking than OmniFocus, and that’s something.

Things makes it easier than OmniFocus to just add all your to-dos to one long list, while also breaking out additional projects and areas where needed. Like I said, OmniFocus really, really wants everything neatly sorted out into projects and areas and stuff, and that’s an unnecessary hassle for the way I work.

Things supports tags, and you can assign keyboard shortcuts to tags, which makes it easy to prioritize tasks.

Because organizing tasks on OmniFocus requires thought, I was letting them stack up in a disorganized pile and therefore I stopped trusting Omnifocus, which is fatal for to-do list software. Friday, I started out the day by writing a note in Apple Notes of what I needed to do. That’s exactly what I need to-do list software for. At that moment, OmniFocus had become effectively useless.

One area where I do like Omnifocus better: You can attach images to tasks. Things does not support attachments, though you can link to items, such as docs stored in Evernote or Dropbox, which is an ok workaround.

I am writing this so the next time I am tempted to try this silly time-wasting experiment I will hopefully just check this note and save myself the hassle.

Tricking myself

There’s a productivity trick that almost always works and I don’t use it anywhere near often enough. 

For the past couple of days, I’ve been worrying about a report I need to create at work – not an article, an internal report, which I’m not accustomed to doing. The deadline is approaching, and my stress is ratcheting up. It’d take a few hours to do – not a lot of time, but I didn’t feel like I had that time to spare. 

Today I said to myself, “Look, just open a Microsoft Word document, pick a template, put your name at the top and then you’ll have started it at least.” It’d only take five minutes (I thought) but it’s five minutes less work I’d have to do later. 

And I did that and then I figured, well, might as well do the first paragraph. And having done the first paragraph, I figured why not do the second. And having done the second….

And now the document is nearly done. It will probably need just a half-hour to polish and then I can send it on its way. 

Why don’t I do that trick more often? Because it works every goddamn time.