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i am in my thirties and have somehow spent my entire life under the impression that the only difference between hard and soft water was that they taste and feel different. and which one you preferred was based entirely on what you were used to. now i find out that hard water is why my clothes get so fucked up so fast. people without hard water don’t agonize over how many times they can wash a soft blanket before it stops being soft. all those years of reading online discussions about how showering should only take five minutes and every other day you should just rinse your hair out with water. my intense confusion because if i try to take a five minute shower i come out looking and feeling dirtier than when i went in. if my hair gets wet in the shower and i don’t shampoo it i come out looking like i fell in the creek. if i gave myself a quick soapy rinse before work and then ran out the door without extensively moisturizing i would be the itchiest bitch alive in five minutes. i just assumed it was a body chemistry thing. now you’re telling me that other people don’t have that. that i am in Special Circumstances because every time i step in the tub i am effectively taking a mineral bath.

don’t get me fucking started on hard water and yes i am writing this right in the post i am so sorry op but where i live we have hard water (there’s a higher Very Hard level) so i would like to rant with you about how showering makes your skin so itchy and how you live and breath dandruff because your scalp is crying and how soap won’t rub off your hands no matter how hard you scrub and how drying yourself with a towel just leaves you clammy and how you have to wipe every surface down to combat the accumulation of limescale even though it doesn’t help so everything is spotted white and how your plants can just start dying because of the shitty shitty water and how you can technically drink tap water but it tastes terrible so you have to go on pilgrimages to mountain towns to get water from their fountains and how, since we’re ranting about shampoo, you think your hair is Irrevocably and Horribly damaged until you go to a city with soft water and wash it there one (1) time and your hair comes out silky and shiny and like a goddamned commercial yes i am still pissed knowing what my hair could be like if only i weren’t washing it with liquidized minerals

I hope I’m not barging in too hard, but I saw this in the notes and I thought I should tell y’all in case nobody has yet:

It’s possible to plumb a water-softening device into your home pipes. I have one, as do most homes in my area.

I’m *guessing* that for y’all there aren’t big displays of softener salt readily available in every grocery store and most convenience stores, otherwise you’d have found out sooner (although it’s also possible you *do* have displays and didn’t notice because you didn’t realise they were relevant to your interests, I could definitely see myself doing that), but some models run off of resin beads instead and only need the resin replaced every few years (possibly at the cost of worse taste than salt-based systems, but I’m not sure about that part).

I was doing some googling on prices recently because mine is getting old and decrepit, and it looks like it’s on the order of a few thousand if you don’t already have your pipes set up for it, or a few hundred to slot in a unit on piping already designed around it. I’m aware that a few grand is a lot of money and that many people don’t have the authority to make those kinds of changes to their homes, but it’s still good to know that it’s *possible* to have soft water without having to move to a naturally-soft area.

#reblogging again for the comments #i feel like i have heard of this contraption but never in this country #and i’m pretty sure if if my unlces had known about it when their house was in construction (decades ago) they’d have set it up #i mean we have houses here that up until recently didn’t build in something as basic as heating #and just slapped the radiators and pipes on after everything was finished #but yeah I don’t think it’s an option here #(and if it were it wouldn’t be because my god thatya lot of money) #thank you reblogger #and now you know


#conversational aglets #(I mean technically mine is also retrofitted given that I’m pretty sure my house predates the local water grid) #(but fortunately somebody *else* dealt with that) #PSA #domesticity #the more you know

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I’ve been wearing my respirator for a while now and I put on a normal trifold mask because I need to do a lot of talking and I forgot how hard it is to get a seal on these things. I keep on adjusting it because I breathe and get a jet of air in my eye.

right? that’s the worst part imo

Have you tried putting a strip of medical tape (or a band-aid) over the top edge?

It’s still more annoying to seal than an elastomeric, but a lot less annoying than trying to seal a mask *without* tape.

andmaybegayer replied: “@brin-bellway haven’t tried that, I’ll have to keep a roll in my bag of masks


#conversational aglets #illness tw #the more you know #recs

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one the one hand, washing my hands after moisturizing them kinda defeats the point

on the other hand, I need to use my computer. I’m not gooping my computer



Three useful tactics:

1. Moisturise in tiny amounts (so that it’s pretty much all been absorbed by the time you reach your computer), making up for it in frequency.

2. Moisturise at bedtime.

3. Wear gloves over the top. (Also combines well with 2, to avoid gooping your bedding.)



unfortunately there is no tininess of amount that will make my fingertips not feel goopy. if somebody else wanted to rub the moisturizer into the tops of my hands it wouldn’t matter because I wouldn’t have to touch my keys with it

I am extremely weird about hand cleanliness with my stuff and basically only my stuff. I don’t care much normally but if you are using my keyboard, controller, or guitar, you gotta wash them grubby little mitts

I can rub it into the backs of my palms without using my fingertips, by rubbing them together, but I can’t really get the backs and sides of my fingers well done, which is historically a problem area

I technically can use the computer with gloves on, and I have done it in cold weather, but I feel so much less competent at typing and mousing that I really avoid it when possible

I do moisturize before going to sleep and wear gloves over it, but since I prefer to do so after I finish reading on my phone, and I’m often very sleepy by that point, it’s less than maximally reliable

the best solution to this problem is to adequately humidify my environment such that I don’t need to moisturize at all, but until I get the right quantity and quality of humidifiers sorted moisturize I must, and deal with some level of goopiness I must also

the best time slot for moisturization I’ve found for me personally is before going for a walk, as I usually wear gloves anyway and don’t use my hands much



>>unfortunately there is no tininess of amount that will make my fingertips not feel goopy

I do hear some brands absorb a lot slower than others, so it’s possible switching brands would help. I’m currently experimenting with Live Clean’s “intense moisture” lotion and finding it decent. (A bit of poking at Amazon suggests that Live Clean *exists* in America but might be harder to find there?)

>>I technically can use the computer with gloves on, and I have done it in cold weather, but I feel so much less competent at typing and mousing that I really avoid it when possible

Same, TBH. Apparently it works well for some people, though, and sometimes I’m desperate enough to do it myself.

>>the best solution to this problem is to adequately humidify my environment such that I don’t need to moisturize at all

I run a humidifier in my bedroom overnight, and if I’m not working food service I generally find that moisturising once a day is enough (with larger quantities in winter). But I *am* working food service, so I need to break out the big guns in order to get anywhere near keeping up.



Also, while we’re on the subject:

I’m not sure where it falls on the absorption-speed spectrum, but in terms of *effectiveness* the best lotion I’ve yet encountered is Beekman’s honey and orange blossom: the only one that’s ever allowed me to actually *keep up* with food-service levels of handwashing instead of just partially mitigating the damage. Horrendously expensive, though, which is why I’m still experimenting with other brands. (Probably less horrendous in America, with domestic shipping costs.)



yeah some brands are better than others. even very good ones by this metric are imperfect, tho, and tbh I don’t want to spend that much money on goo

if I am only washing my hands for textural reasons I can use water without soap which is much less damaging to the skin, so theoretically with good enough humidification I don’t need any moisturizer. I have achieved this level in new york, it remains to be seen if it’s possible in colder & dryer places.


#conversational aglets

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#a bespoke meme? for me? #aww <3 #I didn’t actually laugh aloud but it still amused me enough to reblog #protect your galaxy brain: wear a helmet #(though on a serious note: apparently spiked bike helmets are rather less effective because they can’t deal with skidding well) #(I came across a pro-bike-helmet interest-group website in my research and they were like) #(”look we know that those kids’ bike helmets with the mohawks or dinosaur shapes on them are cute but please don’t”)

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So, I am looking at the chip news and side-eyeing current news out of  and eyeing getting a replacement laptop now while supplies are still relatively available.  (Nothing too fancy, the use case here is mostly word processing + light gaming + web browsing – admittedly that last tends to involve *lots* of Firefox tabs.  Longevity is also preferred for the same reason I’m looking at getting a new laptop in the first place, which IIRC points more towards laptops intended for enterprise use.)  Which I have not done in some time.

Unfortunately, I’m a bit out of date on tech stuff and also short on more RL techie contacts at the moment, so I’ll ask here for the scuttlebutt:  What brands are the good brands now, if any?  HP used to be my go-to but they’ve been pissing me off for a while now.  AFAIK Dell still has their bad rep, I think Acer may also be on that list, Lenovo remains Chinese Commie and thus I don’t trust them, and I severely mistrust the Microsoft Surface line long-term given some of what Microsoft has been up to lately (laziness will be warring with that wariness wrt converting the old laptop to a Linux testbed).  Who does that leave?  And if I have to go for one of the aforementioned bad options, which one is least bad?

(Pinging @poipoipoi-2016)



So personally, for some historical reasons, I pay the Apple tax (that for various reasons wasn’t; that is one of the historical reasons) and dual boot for workflow reasons.

I also last bought a laptop in 2014 and you can still find “Greatest laptop ever made” posts about my admittedly slightly collapsing MBP from 2014.

Of course, Apple doubled down on China so…..

The Dell and HP business lines seem to be at least relative oases of competency comparatively though once again I couldn’t speak for Linux compatibility, I know there’s a couple of vendors doing Linux first laptops and someone on the feed was trying to buy one.

And also, frame.work is the new home of the 10/10 repairable Framework laptop with completely customizable parts. (Excellent job, also there’s a reason why we generally don’t let you do that). Currently only available in 13-inch form, but that might be where I’d put my money in 2021.

/Or hang out on NotebookCheck reviews until you find a set of tradeoffs you like.



is chip stuff continuing to get more fucked? should I give up on waiting out the fucked up chip stuff and just buy all my replacement parts now

ok I mean I basically have to replace my lightweight laptop now because in addition to slowly falling apart (2015 purchase! that’s $30/yr of depreciation baby) it’s also exiting the manufacturer support period. and running arbitrary linux on it will leave me with zero usable usb ports



I’d been aiming for one of my usual Dell business laptops for my most recent laptop purchase, but eBay was pretty picked over in the summer of 2020, so I ended up getting an HP ZBook 15u g3. It’s turned out pretty well for me (apart from those couple of weeks after my only Dell-to-HP power-cord adapter broke and I found myself with no power cords I could use; one is none, folks!).

Is Linux compatibility on PCs still an area of concern? I think it’s been quite a while since the last time installing Ubuntu posed me any major problems. Is that just because I’m using a (relatively) normie distro?



it’s not nearly as big of a thing as it used to be but you can still get unlucky and have some poorly supported hardware. nonstandard features can also be hit or miss



Anecdotally, I threw together a 5800X desktop for lulz and the 2.5GBE ethernet did *not* work at all period, nor did the wifi card in that motherboard. 

That is of course the motherboard from which the magic smoke leaked about a month later, so I replaced it with slightly sidegraded hardware that, critically, only came with GBE and a slightly older wifi card.  Worked perfectly.  

Related: After a bit of toying in alsamixer to turn on the front panel, this is the first time I’ve been able to play 1080p video with sound in Linux *ever*.  First attempt 2004.  



it happens still! it’s a risk! if you’re running linux I still advise you to look up all parts before buying them. but you can usually get away with not

tbh I think network stuff and motherboards are unusually likely to have problems because there’s relatively many varieties and manufacturers. almost intel or amd or nvidia chip has at least bad support. but that’s three companies who all provide some level of support to an existing linux developer community

(see also)


#Linux #conversational aglets

How to peel a peach in 10 seconds! Easiest Method!

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first, put it in your large pot of boiling water…



anyway I’m coming around to the conclusion that peaches are one of those fruits not worth smoothieing. if ya gotta peel it that’s too hard.

however I gotta eat like twelve pounds of fruit in the next week. that’s a lot of fruit. at least some of that is going to need to be blended with ice cream so I can pipe it straight into my body



The secret to peeling peaches is to buy nectarines and eat them with the skin on.

The *other* secret to peeling peaches is to buy canned peaches.



I don’t mind eating peach skin. that’s fine. I hardly peel anything before I eat it. but I’m not sure I want it as a smoothie texture



There’s still the canned peaches, though.



tbh I think the last thing I need to do right now is buy more peaches. that seems like the opposite of progress towards eating all of these peaches that I already have


#food #conversational aglets

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so strange to me when people pretend that reading subtitles doesnt severely affect your experience of a show. like, unless its very low on dialogue, youre gonna spend most of the time staring at the bottom of the screen. like, its totally valid if thats a valid tradeoff for you, or if it isnt dubbed, but it clearly IS a tradeoff



today on posts from a parallel universe: ????????

this has not been a problem to me, ever*, and I watch stuff with subtitles on all the time (including stuff in languages I am fluent in, because parsing audio is a pain sometimes.)

*(ok technically I had problems with subtitles when I was a tiny child, which I’ve always attributed to not yet being able to read very fast. Maybe this is an acquired skill you need and I picked it up early because of American cultural imperialism and my parents (correctly) hating dubbing)



I was *already* missing most of the details of what was happening on the screen [link], so there isn’t much to lose by turning on subtitles.



Oh yeah, reading subtitles absolutely severely affects my experience of a show, because I can actually understand what anybody is saying and therefore what’s supposed to be going on. ;P

I think the original post is about anime due to the “if it’s not dubbed” bit, but like… I have somewhat accidentally never watched an anime in my life. We’re talking 100% spoken English media here, for me. I just have bad enough auditory processing that the “tradeoff” is between understanding while only looking at the characters 90% of the time (rough estimate, but I know I can read a Terry Pratchett novel in four hours, I read *fast*), or not understanding at all.

(I also have a *lot* of issues with dubbed media. I would always rather hear the original inflections since I’m going to be reading subtitles anyway. Is hearing completely different voices and performances supposed to affect your experience of a non-English-original show less than “the one-inch-high barrier of subtitles”? :S)

(I mean, I will grant, ability to read fast and comprehend what you’re reading is frustratingly rare, at least in the US. One of the big things that’s driving me crazy at my job is being told by the support team “it’s unreasonable to expect us to read all that” when I ask for help and try to give them the information they’ll need. So maybe it’s a more average experience to find yourself absolutely hobbled by subtitles. But really… that doesn’t sound like a subtitles problem.)



I think you’re being overly uncharitable. People who have a harder time with text or images than with audio deserve sympathy too.

Note that I *didn’t* say subtitles don’t make it harder for me to parse visuals! They *do*, and I can absolutely see how someone’s sensory processors could be set up in such a way that subtitles do more harm than good. It’s just that *my* sensory-processing bandwidth is so small and so text-weighted that *most* of the things being sacrificed are things I would have had to sacrifice regardless, and *many* of the benefits received in exchange are things I needed.

(I recently read a *transcript* of a TV episode after watching it with subtitles and discovered that–despite the subtitles being helpful on net–I had *still* missed some of the dialogue. I’m really not that good at interacting with stories on a synchronous basis in general. Real life is *somewhat* easier because it doesn’t run on Chekhov’s Gun rules: the background details I missed very often *don’t* ever become important.)



i probably am being overly uncharitable. reading comprehension / reading speed is a sore spot with me anyway for a number of reasons, and ever since we went to work at home and therefore text-only support at work, those reasons have been piling up, to a point where being outside the standard deviation on that bell curve is a huge part of why i’m in a major depressive spiral and currently unable to work. (well, being outside the standard deviation and other people being *assholes* about it. but also just having to answer the same question five times when i’m trying to get help, and then being penalized for having long calls.)

anyway. yeah. i guess this one hit more of a sore spot than i realized, one where i don’t have a lot of sympathy to spare right now. :S


#*hug* #conversational aglets #is the blue I see the same as the blue you see #depression #discourse cw? #this probably deserves some other warning tag but I am not sure what

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controversial personal finance opinion: if you have enough wealth you should own some physical gold

financialized gold has most of the downside of real gold and also none of its special upside, so not that

gold does not, as a rule, gain in value, and it’s vulnerable to theft, but it also does not, as a rule, lose in value, and also the rest of your assets are vulnerable to theft too. gold might have a higher risk but diversification is still valuable

in the event you lose access to your financials and have to leave – maybe not likely, but not impossible, apparently something like 1% of humans in 2021 are or have been refugees – gold jewelry particularly is both portable enough you can take it and universally recognized as valuable enough you can trade it. just don’t get it in your teeth



*Is* this controversial, even in the broad form stated here?

I kind of figured that there was broad agreement that there exists *some* level of wealth at which diversification into gold is worth pursuing (for the reasons you give), but that different people’s estimates of what that wealth level is vary by orders of magnitude, and some people would put enough forms of philanthropy above gold on the to-do list that in practice no one would ever reach the gold stage given our world’s current amount of philanthropic fruit to be picked.

(I’m not sure where I would place the threshold: I think it’s probably somewhere feasible to reach, but far enough beyond where I am now that it’s not urgent for me to figure out the specifics.)



a lot of people would argue that you should at some point diversify into financial instruments which abstractly reflect the value of gold, but I think many of those people would say you should not buy actual physical gold.

to pin myself down a bit while still leaving a lot of wiggle room, here’s some points on my Gold Advice Spectrum:

  • if you need your money to be liquid in a normal economy any time soon, don’t buy gold
  • if you have enough money to retire indefinitely on, I think it’s worth having something like a month’s money or so in precious metals
  • if you’re bill gates you should actually should have buried a chest of treasure somewhere



What…what reasons do *they* give for wanting to diversify into gold? You can’t hedge against the collapse of your financial system by buying things that *depend on said financial system*.

I mean, okay, I guess you can hedge against *certain, partial* collapses that way, but it’s far more limited.

I should mention here that I literally wrote a post once titled “Diversification is an important part of building an investment portfolio” [link], in which I frame prepping as being essentially a way of shorting your civilisation: since almost everyone is very long civilisation pretty much by necessity, being also somewhat short civilisation is a good hedge (though I think you should still be net long). I also wrote a comment on a different post in which I called [maintaining stockpiles of soap and canned food and air filters] “pandemic insurance” [link].

That Gold Advice Spectrum seems pretty reasonable.

@cthulhubert​ replied: @brin-bellway there’s a certain degree of over-correction against physical gold buying because Alex Jones and some other right wing conspiracy nuts flogged buying real gold for ‘when the degenerate modern economy collapses’.

I mean, that’s traditionally how it works, right? If you think something is going to collapse, you short it and then write a report laying out your evidence and reasoning to try to convince others to do the same. Yeah, I disagree that one should be net short civilisation and think people who do that are setting themselves up for failure and pain, but short sellers are very often wrong and their existence is nevertheless a useful corrective.

(…yes, I think I *did* just draw a connection between the hate that Crazy Prepper People™ get and the hate that short sellers get.)



I think if you were genuinely going to short-sell civilization, gold’s a ridiculous thing to have. Like money itself, the value of gold is a social construct.

What you should be investing in is booze and pharmaceuticals. Set up a greenhouse that does not run on any electricity, or that gets all of its energy from solar panels, and grow food there year-round; you’ll have something to eat, something to trade, and if you are legally able to, maintain, like, one marijuana plant, so if civilization collapses you can go whole hog into growing marijuana. Once the pharmaceutical industry collapses, alcohol and marijuana will be incredibly valuable as painkillers again. And because drugs expire much more slowly than they claim on the label, keep a huge supply of ibuprofen, acetominophen, allergy meds, and so on… they’ll still be good ten years from now. Birth control, if you live in a place where it can be obtained OTC.

Hard liquor and wine are probably your best investment – they are commonly considered to improve as they age, and in a post apocalyptic world, everyone will want to get drunk. (I mean, not literally everyone. I wouldn’t drink alcohol after the apocalypse because it tastes disgusting and has no benefits I want. But most people.)

Me, I’d also get, like, a million solar chargers for phones and Raspberry Pis, and a whole lot of USB stick drives with adapters. Then I’d download Wikipedia every several months, and any medical database that allows me to download the whole thing, and as much info as I can get about maintaining phones and Raspberry Pis. Probably ebooks and databases on carpentry, plumbing, electricity, electrical generation, making wine and beer, etc, etc… I’d have a few hundred of the Pis in boxes, in a climate controlled room, probably with the boxes sealed in a plastic bin with a lid, and I’d have USB sticks with image files to put on the Pis. I’d use phones and tablets as monitors, or tiny monitors with low power requirements, so that I’d have a place to read my stored downloads. Then when the internet crashes I’d have huge amounts of information I could share with my neighbors so we could restore the amenities of civilization as quickly as possible, as many of them as possible. There won’t be making any new computers for a very long time- clean room tech is very complex – but keeping existing machines that use very little power in good repair, unused and protected from the elements, will help a lot.

Physical books are also very good but are heavy, not very portable, and easily destroyed by any kind of extreme weather – weather applies to computers too, but you can store vastly more information on 1 small computer than you can on 20 books, and then you put 20 replacements for your small computer in there. Still, if you’ve got space for a library and you don’t live somewhere it is likely to flood or burn, stockpile books. Nonfiction that give you information about how to survive, of course, but also, languages, books on cultures, history, and include a lot of fiction. People will trade a lot for escapism, and DVDs have a much shorter shelf life than books do.

All of these are more valuable trading goods than gold. You can’t eat gold, you can’t use it for anything but making things pretty (and making high-tech things you can’t make if civilization collapses.) I might buy silver and copper for antimicrobial purposes (and then I’d have to figure out how to keep them from tarnishing), but gold is overpriced and is only of use to a civilization – I mean it can be one with much lower tech levels, but you still have to have, like, blacksmiths.

You know what else would be valuable? Blade sharpeners and the knowledge of how to use them. Also, blades. Guns will be very useful for a while but modern guns require far too much technology to remain supplied with ammo, and all you can use them for is hunting and killing. But blades can be used for hunting and killing, and preparing food, and gardening, and so on and so forth. Knives, axes, scythes, machetes, and yeah, swords. Mostly because people think swords are sexy. They’d make good trade goods.

The only circumstance where gold is useful is where your specific country’s financial system has collapsed, but everyone else is okay. If you’re American, that’s not gonna happen. We’re too intertwined with the world’s financial systems. If we go down, so does most of the world. (This is not a good thing.)



…yes? Both/and, and gold is certainly one of the lowest-priority items for the reasons you give.

However, it’s important to note that people think gold jewellery is sexy and trade-good-y too, and also I am not American (well, okay, I pay the Americans tribute in exchange for right of return, but that just makes it easier to become a refugee there: it doesn’t mean never becoming a refugee in the first place).

You either got the idea of solar-powered phones and downloading Wikipedia *from me*, or else it is *very* strange that people in your apocalypse stories aren’t doing this: I once commented on one of said stories remarking on its absence and doing a special-interest infodump about it.

>>keep a huge supply of ibuprofen, acetominophen, allergy meds, and so on… they’ll still be good ten years from now.

Naproxen doesn’t just suppress the pain of menstrual cramps: at higher doses, it actually *makes periods lighter*. I would go with naproxen over ibuprofen, though acetominophen still has its place.



Didn’t know that about naproxen… very interesting!

I actually have had the ideas about solar-powered phones, Wikipedia, and the like for a very long time, but I just haven’t done that many stories about apocalypses, and one of them, everyone who survived is a child, so they’re not really going to have thought of most of that. The only other one I can think of is the zombie apocalypse one, and there, I have been mentally working out details like that… among other things, in that world there’s still an Internet, because there’s enough people who managed to keep power plants and data centers running that Wikipedia is still up. (Netflix, sadly, is not.) The only people we’ve spent a lot of time around in that story are specialized for being medical professionals and scientists, but I’m pretty sure there are techy types around. (It might possibly have been that one you commented on? Not sure.)

I’m working on another one I call “Mad Max The Librarian”, which has pigeons carrying USB sticks, and a guy going on a road trip with weapons and fighting off all kinds of bandits and cultists to find surviving books and bring them back to a protected, well-defended library.



>>Didn’t know that about naproxen… very interesting!

Yeah, I found out when I went to my doctor for dysmenorrhea. She told me to get a bottle of OTC naproxen and take double the dose given on the label, starting two days before my period’s due (or when it starts if it catches me off-guard) and ending when I’m far enough along that the problems would have stopped by now anyway. It’s working great.

(Doubled-up OTC naproxen is a bit cheaper than buying prescription naproxen out of pocket, but if I ever get drug coverage she’ll write me an official prescription.)

((Don’t take prescription-strength naproxen without medical supervision if you can help it: you can fuck up your liver. Peri-menstrual naproxen is relatively safe because you’re only taking it a few days a month, but it’s still best to be sure.))

>>(It might possibly have been that one you commented on? Not sure.)

It was the zombie one, yeah. I originally messaged you with it privately (possibly you don’t get messages properly on the sideblog?), but I’ve been wavering for ages on whether to post a slightly edited version publicly, so here it is:

(Please treat what I am about to tell you as more of a “you have accidentally stumbled into a special interest” than as criticism per se.)

The tech level in “Norris and the Plague Doctors” feels off to me. It’s too low: there’s stuff missing that should still be working.

It first struck me when they’re talking about electricity, and they *never mention solar power*. Not once. The hospital compound doesn’t have it, the homesteaders don’t have it, the rich people’s houses are never explicitly ruled out as not having it but if even the homesteaders don’t…

(*By default* the kind of solar setup a rich household would get would immediately stop working when the grid goes down, but if you pay extra (batteries are getting cheaper over time, but for now: for the most popular brand (Tesla), it’s USD$4,500 fixed cost + USD$6,500/13.5kWH of storage) you can install power-outage-insurance batteries. Most household roofs can’t fit enough solar panels to go fully self-sufficient, but from what I’ve been able to tell so far in my research, if done right a roof setup can let you switch to merely rationed electricity during a long-term outage.)

[edit: I found out later that the keyword to search for regarding rich-people’s-houses-resorting-to-off-grid-electricity-in-a-crisis is “hybrid solar systems” (a hybrid of on-grid and off-grid).]

Once that got me thinking I started noticing other stuff.

Norris assumes that rich people’s cars all run on gasoline and gasoline alone, and while that could be an in-universe oversight on his part, I would expect a modern-day rich neighbourhood to have some electric and/or plug-in-hybrid vehicles. If such a vehicle is in either the same household as a solar+storage setup or they’re in two cooperating households, you’ve potentially got long-term car access. You’d have to use it very sparingly: we’re probably talking an entire day’s electricity ration for a 40mi round trip (a decent rule of thumb as things stand is 4 mi/kwH, though it depends on car and driving style). (Plug-in hybrids don’t currently have a 40mi full-electric range from what I’ve seen, so you’d need a full-electric car or restrict to even shorter trips: 30mi would be pushing it.)

One of the main reasons Norris is glad to have Internet access is because it means he can read Wikipedia, and while again that could well be an in-universe oversight by the characters, the fact is that anyone reliant on *continuous* Internet access *during an apocalypse* to read Wikipedia is doing it wrong. Somebody please get this child a Kiwix server.

And speaking of devices that can run Kiwix, there are no smartphones. The only computer is a rigged-together desktop that probably doesn’t even have an emergency uninterruptible-power-supply battery, let alone the ability to actually *function* for extended periods on intermittent power while on the run from zombies. You can get quite a bit done, info/comms-infrastructure-wise, with just a bunch of Android smartphones (iOS is much more dependent on access to Apple servers and therefore much less useful in a grid-down), ~USD$25 – $50 of portable solar chargers per person (characters who didn’t already have these may well be able to salvage them at a camping-supplies store), and at least one (1) group member who didn’t have mobile data and oriented their smartphone setup around not having reliable Internet access (who can then bootstrap the rest). Apps to turn smartphones into off-grid walkie-talkies (or more likely walkie-writies) are still in their early days overall–I wrote an entire post about this recently: https://brin-bellway.dreamwidth.org/67770.html–but file-sharing alone should have a fair number of uses, especially if at least one of you packed the right files (or can obtain access to the broader Internet long enough to fetch them).

I look forward to Mad Max the Librarian.



“gold is overpriced and is only of use to a civilization – I mean it can be one with much lower tech levels, but you still have to have, like, blacksmiths”

I’ve been pondering this thought ever since it drifted by on my dash last week, and maybe it’s just that I have a very particular background, but I try to imagine how my civilization (US) would collapse below the level of having blacksmiths and I draw a blank. There are just (in my experience) too many people around who do historical reenactment type skills for fun. I am not personally a blacksmith, and I don’t personally know any blacksmiths, but I am very sure that if the nearest big city (I think about 2 million people) had a catastrophic civilization meltdown to the point where Wikipedia on a solar Android phone would be needed, that there would be *somebody* in the local SCA or fiber arts guild or equivalent who knew how to blacksmith and what the necessary components of a forge are.

(I am personally a very skilled spinner and knitter. I don’t currently own a spinning wheel, but spindle whorls are easy to make even if drop spinning is a royal pain in the shoulders and takes forever. You find me some spinnable fibers, I can eventually produce clothes. Find me an abandoned Lowe’s for PVC pipe and a few fiddly metal bits, I can *build* a spinning wheel and produce a bunch of clothes, as long as you want them knitted. We’ll need somebody else for weaving, I don’t carry any looms in my head.)

Sorry, I’m rambling, but what I’m trying to say is, my default post-apocalyptic scenario involves still having access to a lot of the sort of Iron Age technology levels, because many of those live rent-free in my own head and I’m familiar with the existence of people who can recreate the rest.


#(solar-powered portable Wikipedia is useful in a surprisingly broad variety of situations but I take your point) #conversational aglets #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers #apocalypse cw #discourse cw?

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