Of Moving and Cheese

My husband is very very (very) nearsighted.  Periodically you accidentally move something he’s counting on early morning before he had his glasses on, and he — no longer goes ballistic, but — says “stop moving my cheese.”

This is of course a reference to some manual or other that said we’re like mice racing to the cheese and don’t like it when our cheese is moved.  Keep this in mind.  the whole post might seem to be about something else but this too is relevant.

The other day we had occasion to drive by the old house, and while I still don’t miss it (Victorians REALLY are a load of work) I realized I missed the neighborhood.  I missed the streets I knew, the places I used to go shopping.  There was this cranky “I wanna be where everybody knows my name” even though that’s not even remotely true, since this is an urban neighborhood and we had neighbors on the street we didn’t even exchange “hellos” with in 13 years.  But there was that longing for the familiar, even the familiar that annoyed, like the little Safeway that never had anything you needed, no way no how.

I found myself driving out of the way to go to the old, pokey, stand in line for hours neighborhood post office.

This has absolutely nothing to do with rationality. It has everything to do with habit in a very physical sense. Because we’re creatures of habit, we like the familiar.  yes, even those of us who like to try new things and explore.

There is a ratio there, and if you flip the ratio of old to new, you start getting panicky.  There is an actual sense of de-stressing as I immerse myself in familiar places, even those I didn’t like that much.  I guess that’s why they say moving is so stressful.  Also why, bizarrely, I found that watching people PACK was stressful, while unpacking and seeing my familiar stuff made me feel better.

Also I noticed as I get older, I find that the change I CAN tolerate is a smaller ratio than when I was younger.  I could travel more, for instance, and stay away longer before I longed for the familiar.

I don’t think I’m strange.  I’ve seen it in other people as well.  In fact I probably fal on the low side of the need for ordered and familiar experiences.

This move, and the prospect of another move soonish, though, has me rattled.  For a year and a half now, some of my stuff has been packed away, and I can’t find my research books in the expected places.

I found on my last move, when we changed my desk and the wall pictures and everything, that I actually prefer the crappy old, cut from magazine pictures I had on my walls when I started out and I was broke, to the new, art stuff I can buy now.  Because the early ones are “How I’ve always worked.”

And that is affecting me in more ways than one, because these last two years have been no-stop change.  Not only in houses, but we lost one of our oldest friends, and also older son moved away, to pursue his studies in medicine.  Not to far away, in our son’s case, and it’s a good thing, but it’s a huge change in family dynamics and all, particularly as our younger son has very little time for us this year.

I find myself disquieted and … off… and longing for “home” even though our next home might very well end up being a place we haven’t even seen yet.  But it will be a place to settle and become familiar with.  A place to make into home.

And as I realized the load of subconscious/unconscious/not really logical stress building up, and that I was powerless to stop it, short of moving to a permanent place and settling in, and making it home, I realized the way tech has affected society, too.

It was sort of okay when it was just computers making communications easier.  And cell phones are so convenient.  Who doesn’t like ease and convenience.

But now the fast communications and the ability to live and work anywhere, and the tech to bypass publishers, and the tech to bypass newspapers, and the tech to bypass stores, and and and and and, are making real and permanent changes to the way we live.  A lot of them.  Faster ones.  We found when looking for a house the first time in 13 years that things had changed completely, even to the sites in which you look.

And I wonder if we’ve flipped the dial on change too far for those who aren’t even particularly addicted to the familiar.

And if that — as well as the crappy economy — explains why we’re all so stressed, out of sorts, filled with apocalyptic feelings that can’t be fully blamed on watching the election season unfold.

Are we a nation of people wondering who moved our cheese?

246 thoughts on “Of Moving and Cheese

  1. For years I – and my family generally – were in a loop for moving every 2-5 years; sometimes faster, rarely longer. Now, we have lived in the same place for nearly 23 years. And I find that the familiar has crimps and edges not usually found in newer places, or more changeable venues.

    Yes I have that tool – it’s in the garage … somewhere.
    Where is that book I was reading last week/last month/last year? To find it was nearly a decade and I sent it to the used book store.
    Or buying a book from said store, to find that it USED TO BE MINE.
    Or having three veggie peelers; seldom is one needed, so how come three?

    Or having mail for the previous residents. Except … we built the house new, and this had previously been undeveloped land. How did THAT happen?!? It’s enough to make you believe in multiple time lines. (Oh, wait – I do!)

    But on the whole the idea of constancy, of permanence (even in our own minds) has an appealing and comforting feel to it..
    Well, worn sneakers; that frayed sweater; holey t-shirts that fit just right.; well-washed jeans that seem to fit like a second skin (and is developing enough frays and holes to show plenty of the original skin).

    Sarah, I don’t envy the position you are in, but do hold out hope for you. Change comes to all of us, but sometimes a shoulder wiggle or a shift of position makes it fit better.

  2. Not long after WWII Vance Packard wrote several books about, essentially, how American society had changed after the war. Before the war the USA had been primarily rural; after the war, a huge percentage of demobilizing soldiers never went “home”, they tended to stay in urban areas.

    From the 21st century, it’s hard to understand how radically *different* the 1950s were from the 1930s… and a lot of people had trouble with that. Others wrote about it. And while Packard is mostly forgotten nowadays, most people remember Alvin Toffler’s “Future Shock” from 1970.

    “It’s not that I want to stop the world and get off, it’s that I need it to slow down for a while to give me some breathing space.”

    The technological and social rate of change did slow down, though.

    “Look! My smartphone has as much computing power as some older mainframes. I can call anywhere in the world, and it receives satellite transmissions that tell me exactly how fast we’re moving.”

    “That’s nice, but the speed limit is still 45 miles per hour…”

    1. As opposed to those who had an even more radical change after leaving rural America for WWII and the staying in the afterlife. Though, that’s not nearly as big a number or percentage as the number both soldiers and civilians who made the same transition in the 1860s.

          1. That’s why I sad “little” rather than “no” impact – I know that happened to some smaller communities. I believe the major impacts, though, came from increasing farm mechanization, postwar industrial growth, and the suburbanization which accompanied it – which was further accelerated by the surge of expressway construction.

    2. He forgot to also note that rural Americano longer needed as many people to run the farms. Mechanization was slowed down drastically by the depression and the war, but resumed with a vengeance after the war. There are communities in West Texas that disappeared in a space of 5-6 years after WW2 because of mechanization. Even if they had wanted to stay, there was nothing for the families of farm laborers displaced by more and bigger tractors/equipment.

      1. Actually, the war was good for mechanization. The market for food was good, and the hired hands kept leaving to do factory work instead.

        1. With so much industrial production diverted to the war effort, was much farm machinery actually available to be purchased?

          1. Very little, which is why mechanization was delayed by the war. A LOT of POW’s were used as farm labor, especially the Italians.

        2. Yes and no, it was great for developing mechanization, but actually implementing it didn’t happen until after the war, because the bulk of both the materials and labor went into more directly supporting the war effort. But a lot of the designs and a fair number of prototypes were developed during the war, production was usually delayed until afterwards, however.

    3. The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage for the enormous impact of the ability to communicate as fast as electricity.

    4. “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On the Farm Once They Seen the Lights of Paree?” — Popular song 1917-1918

      “There is nothing new under the Sun.” — Ecclesiastes

  3. I have a bit of a theory on some of this: as we age, our frame of temporal reference increases.

    When you were ten, remembering back to when you were nine was a tenth of your life, but only one year. Back then, that seemed like FOREVER. When you’re thirty, a year is only “a third” of what it was when you were ten. Not that it passes any faster, but that’s the mental space it takes up in your total temporal reference.

    Thus, as we age, it seems like time actually did go faster once it’s gone. “Kids grow up so fast” – no they don’t, it’s just that the space between when they were in elementary school and when they started off for college is a single decade. We’re constantly packing more and more life-experience into the same cranium, constantly sorting and filing and – eventually – losing bits and pieces of it.

    We invest ourselves in our lives, by definition. As we grow older, it takes longer to achieve that same feeling of settling in, once the old roots have been torn out and replanted somewhere new. We also get a sense of “losing” what we invested in the old growth.

    I suppose I should end with a punchline of some sort, but I somehow don’t feel right about that. Instead, I just hope you’re feeling better about it all, and sooner rather than later.

    1. As I moved into my forties I noticed that, as days began to run together, I no longer remembered most things in a linear, sequential fashion. Instead, I have a much shorter linear timeline, while the bulk of memory has moved off into “the other day.”

    2. Another part might be the nature of the changes. Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, what I saw in older movies generally made sense. Sure, there were differences, but I had experienced waiting for all the tubes to warm up, dialing the phone, making a call (collect) with operator assistance, setting the needle in the groove, changing film, etc. Oddities were things like light bulb ‘exploding’ (imploding – vacuum, rather than gas-filled) and older phone ‘numbers’ (PEnnsylvania 6-5000). While Marty McFly’s jump from 1985 to 1955 was jarring in some ways, it was a fairly small shock. I am not sure a kid from 2016 would get by as well in 1986. I’m not sure I could get by in 1976, and I lived through it!

      1. It is a matter of accelerating rate of change, and that is not simply a matter of individual perspective.

        See: https://www.timetoast.com/timelines/music-device-timeline

        The first source of recorded music, the music box, was introduced in 1811. The player piano and the phonograph came along in (respectively) 1876 and 1877, with 1889 seeing arrival of a rudimentary jukebox (the real thing not appearing until thirty-five years later in 1934.)

        In 1964 the 8-Track tape appeared, although it wasn’t commonplace until the early Seventies, shortly before it was superseded by the audio cassette in 1971. 1976 brought the boom box, 1979 the Walkman appeared, and CDs came on the scene in 1982, leading to the 1984 introduction of the Discman. 1997 saw arrival of MP3 music, leading to the IPod in 2001, followed by the IPhone in 2007. Now you can, in all likelihood, just find whatever you want on Youtube.

        In the last half century we’ve heralded arrival and obsolescence of 8-Track tapes, audio cassettes and CDs — if you had replicated your music collection with each transition you’d have spent a bushel of money to merely keep pace (assuming you could even find all that you had before.)

        The computer industry replicated the progressions that railroads needed a century and the automobile a half-century to transit introduction, multiple start-ups competing and eventual consolidation into a few dominant players in about a decade.

        After a point, you just tire of adapting, especially to technology that offers scant apparent improvement. You give up trying to outrun the Red Queen.

    3. There’s also brain chemistry changes. The same compound that makes time seem to slow in a crisis is much more prevalent in childish minds.

    4. I think there’s another factor as well: I’m working a full-time salaried job. Between that, and coming home to my family, I simply don’t have time to do what I would like to do–studying, tinkering, experimenting. I wake up, go to work, come home, repeat, then have a weekend to (hopefully) break the routine. Sometimes, I look back and wonder “where did all this time go?” and sometimes, I see this time slipping through my fingers, leaving many things undone that I wish I could do…

      When I was ten, I wasn’t nearly as ambitious, so there’s nothing to make me feel like I’m running out of time…

  4. Look at the candidates and their opinions on Israel. Look at the instability the incumbent has helped breed in the Mid East. There are sects of Christian who might look at that and start talking about Plains of Megiddo stuff.

    1. Look at the proposals to do away with cash, “so that no man might buy or sell save he had the mark.”

  5. Human stress comes from a great variety of sources, but I think they can be aggregated under a single heading: differences between desire and reality.

    Many persons ardently desire that certain aspects of their lives never, ever change. Even to think about change in those things stresses them badly. (Just now I’m thinking of a couple that went to extraordinary lengths to avoid ever having or being around children.) But for most of us, adapting to change is possible if the pace is modest and our response is controlled.

    The reality of the American present is a torrent of change, in many things — and some of those things, such as our rights and the respect shown them by others, are fundamental. That’s a major source of stress for many; for confirmation, check out the rate of gun sales. But in some regards, the rate at which we must adapt to change is individually controllable. Most of the improvements in technology are like that. For the moment at least, there’s no law mandating my purchase of a smartphone, a 4K UHD TV, or the latest version of Microsoft Visual Studio.

    All that having been said, the disorientation that comes from change can be good for you. There’s such a thing as being too set in our ways — to complacent about the order of things. A moderate amount of disorientation can be refreshing, perhaps even therapeutic. But perhaps not when the subject is cheese. That’s much too important to muck about with.

    1. Very true–change you can choose and that you can control is much less stressful than the other kind. Change encompassing the decay of previously stable social agreements (rule of law, safety) is VERY stressful.

      And it isn’t just gun sales that are booming. In the county I live in, applications for concealed carry permits have spiked. People who feel they *have* to carry for safety are going to be pretty stressed too.

      Concur re: the importance of cheese 😀 Move mine, and draw back a stump.

      1. change you can choose and that you can control is much less stressful than the other kind.

        Yep, we should have different words for these two categories of change. I’m taking steps to get my house ready to list in January, which involves lotsa home improvement projects, juggling the finances, plotting out when to get dumpsters, etc, etc. BUT, ultimately I’m in charge. If I’m not ready to list on Jan 1, then we move the date until I am ready. Stressful? Abso-frickin-lutely, but this is stress that I (kinda) control.

        1. Yes. Control, or lack thereof is a major factor in stress. And just how bad it is.

          The fast pace of technology is only stressing if you _have_ to adopt it, right now. Either because you are driven by fear or being outdated, or your employer requires you to have a pager, oops, cell phone, no, make that a blackberry, err, android smart phone, and up grade to G7 with these apps . . .

          Without that urgency, you can skip the pager, maybe get a basic cell phone to take on trips, and not upgrade until it dies. You can filter the impact of change, so that the stuff you don’t control can be kept to a manageable level.

          1. The absolutely most stressful situations — they used to tell us in the military all the time — was when one had a huge responsibility, but very little actual control.
            One had the responsibility for the outcome … but absolutely no control over the inputs. This is why — I realized when I was about fifteen years along in my military broadcasting career — that I didn’t want to be a station manager in AFRTS. (Or even consider progressing very much more along that career path, come to think on it.) Every station manager I had worked for, had cracked up in some interesting way. Damn near every one – from serial marriages (first manager I worked for had to keep a second job at the NCO club as he owed alimony to so many ex-spouses) to alcoholism, to failed suicide, to attempting to defraud the government by filing false travel vouchers … every one. They had the towering responsibility of keeping the station going, but no actual control – crappy service from the voice feed, failure of the transportation system to deliver the various radio and entertainment packages, inability to get rid of incompetent or deranged personnel, no support from broadcasting higher levels, being a tenant unit on a base (which means hind-tit anyway when it comes to local logistical support), not being able to get maintenance in a timely fashion … all the bad outcomes were YOUR fault, but the station manager actually had damn little he or she could do to actually address the problems. They were all in the control of other functions or commands.

            Yeah, I looked around, decided to bail, and get my bliss working at jobs away from my designated career field. No, not bitter, much.

              1. Over time, I’ve discovered that I can handle a lot of responsibility. I can handle being the Authority (though I don’t care for it. Too lazy.). But being responsible without having any authority? Sucks hard vacuum.

                1. But being responsible without having any authority
                  The job description for a nuclear power plant system engineer, especially for Exelon plants.

            1. Sounds terribly bloody familiar. Why no, I’ve not used my degree in sixteen years, no… But on the upside, I’m not dosed to the eyeballs for depression or dead, so on the balance, I’ll take what I got. *grin*

            2. My absolute worst job was like that. I was responsible for keeping a library full of college kids quite and orderly — but was not to ruffle any feathers in the process. So I was being constantly hassled about the need to enforce policy, but when I did and someone didn’t like it, the boss wouldn’t support me. There were other issues, but the biggest thing that drove me nuts was the knowledge that my boss did not have my back when anything happened.

              Gaming saved my sanity in that period. I’d go home after work and play Moria (old dungeon-crawl game) until the homicidal feelings subsided. During the worst of it, right before the problem boss took a medical leave of absence, I’d play before and after work. I had characters that could kill ancient multi-colored dragons with ease, and I’d just go tearing through level after level, blasting everything that moved with Orb of Draining and collecting mountains of treasure. Play for an hour or two and the urge to strangle idiots would subside to levels that made it possible for me to function in society.

              And then we got a new boss who’d actually back us up, and all of a sudden I discovered that the other librarians had been feeling that same helpless desperation, and all had been thinking that the problem was *them*, not the dysfunctional working environment. That if only we could just be better people, better workers, we’d be able to enforce policy and maintain order without anybody taking offense at our request to behave in an orderly fashion.

              1. I must admit there’s something cathartic about playing a melee-oriented character in Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer matches. N7 Shadow, AIU, Batarians, Krogan, Cabal Vanguard.

                1. I miss the City of Heroes/ Villains MMO.

                  When I got tired of playing a good guy, I could switch over to someone more on the evil side of things. One mission was where you had to decide whether to make a deal with a bound demon and release it, or to destroy it. My Dr. Faust- based character didn’t understand the conflict…

            3. Sounds like our foster care system, foster parents have the responsibility of raising kids who likely already have some issues and are likely at least partly feral, but they don’t actually have the authority to do anything proactive/useful to deal with those issues or domesticate that feralness. And of course when everyone else sees those kids in the grocery store/church/school, they blame the people raising them for letting the little heathens run wild.

              1. The Obama DoJ and DoE are conspiring teaming up to deploy Disparate Impact analysis to exacerbate the problems, making attempts to impose order on the chaos of public schools criminally suspect. Principals are finding their pay tied to discipline stats, so that the more they impose order in their schools the worse their personal economy.

                See: http://nypost.com/2016/04/10/youre-now-a-racist-if-you-say-schools-need-to-be-safer/

                A large part of the problem, of course, has nothing to do with race — it is a consequence of so many single-parent homes, particularly in the minority community which has most “enjoyed” government’s assistance, but we can be confident no effort to provide stable family structures will be attempted, because kids need that like fish need bicycles.

                1. From the article: “In February, a Colorado teacher sued Thompson School District for firing her when she called the police to report death threats from a 13-year-old student. Carrie Giesler claims superiors warned her against documenting attacks by the boy, who allegedly punched her in the ribs and broke her thumb.”

                  Just remember this every time you read about “declining crime rates” in this country. You can be quite sure that any event involving a “Government Victim Group” you hear about represents 4 or more that are deliberately not being reported. Same thing for arrests vs convictions; “prosecutorial discretion” don’t you know.

          2. Yes. Change is disruption – of familiar places, plans, ways of coping. It costs. We rather like to be in control of how much it will cost, and to be convinced the price is worth it.
            Thus, I do not hate change — but I do hate change imposed from outside, without at least a credible attempt to convince me I should want it.
            And, because I know I can adapt only so fast, pay only so much, I don’t like change that replaces the changes I want to make.

          3. Yes – people often have more control than they think they do. Although I worked in the tech industry (ironically making chips for cellphones), I was the last person in my work group to : buy a cell phone, buy a home computer, install broadband at home. Never did work from home or carry a work phone or pager. I watched as all this gadgetry blurred the lines between work & home, adding to the number of unpaid hours salaried workers put in. Bringing laptops to meetings, where everyone tunes out the speaker and instead plays with their email, mostly having to do with scheduling future meetings and conference calls. Being a neo-Luddite helped me stay sane for over 20 years, and did not hurt either my productivity or my performance reviews/pay. In fact, it probably improved both.

            1. I can sympathize with this. While I have a computer (indeed, several, because I find it difficult to let go of Turing-complete things) and a desire to do interesting things with those things, because I spend all day on the computer at work, I find it difficult to get on the computer at home, and when I do, it’s generally to pay bills….

      2. “And it isn’t just gun sales that are booming. In the county I live in, applications for concealed carry permits have spiked. People who feel they *have* to carry for safety are going to be pretty stressed too.”

        Interesting. Here where I live, the last time we went out to take the big dog to the vet and hit Wally World and Tractor Supply, I saw a handful more people open carrying at all three places than I had on previous trips.

        1. Tractor Supply is the best place to pick up hot chicks in spring.

          Unfortunately, then you need a chicken coop to keep them in, which can be against local ordinances or HOA rules. 😉

            1. They were keeping the flocks of little chicks under heat lamps that you could feel the warmth from as you walked past.

  6. You don’t think you’re strange? Really? This blog is written by a science fiction writer and read and commented on by science fiction writer, fans, and progressive trolls. Is there anybody here who is not strange? 😛

        1. Of course, you like me.

          Only an insane “strange one” wouldn’t like me. 😈

          1. Around here sanity is not an ON/OFF switch. It’s more a control board with multiple dials, sliders, rockers, and phase gauges…

            But y’all are good company, even for us “sanity challenged” ones.

            1. Snort. Insanity doesn’t run in my family. It ambles along enjoying the scenery and waving at all the nice people.

              1. There are those I now know who, after I first met them, I had this mental image of that person standing around with their broken “SANITY CONTROL WARNING: DO NOT SWITCH OFF” in pieces in their hand, giggling like mad.

                On a different track, when I first heard “off their rocker,” I thought it meant they were mad and ready to whup up on somebody. Because that’s when you got out of the rocking chair. *chuckle*

            2. Does this mean there needs to be dial, slider, and rocker warnings, rather than trigger warnings? 🙂

              1. By the time we get to real(*) trigger warnings, *someone’s* pegged the dial in the red zone…

                (*) Real Trigger Warnings go bang. “Bugger hook off the bang switch until ready to shoot!

                  1. I can’t do caffeine anymore. So my typos when they regularly occur, have gotten more and more odd over the years… and occasionally hilarious.

                    Thanks, I missed that one. *grin*

          2. Just for you, Drak:

            Of course, Obama has been living by it for years, if you listen to it all “shudder”

  7. The “stop moving my cheese” line reminds me of a They Might Be Giants song called “Someone Keeps Moving My Chair”:

    Mr. Horrible, Mr. Horrible,
    Telephone call for Mr. Horrible!
    But before he can talk to the ugliness men
    There’s some horrible business left
    For him to attend to
    Something unpleasant has spilled on his brain
    As he sponges it off they say:
    “Is this Horrible? Is this Horrible?
    “It’s the ugliness men, Mr. Horrible;
    “We’re just trying to bug you —
    “We thought that our dreadfulness
    “Might be a thing to annoy you with.”
    But Mr. Horrible says, “I don’t mind;
    “The thing that bothers me is:
    “Someone keeps moving my chair.”

    “Would you mind if we balance this glass of milk
    “Where your visiting friend accidentally was killed?
    “Would it be okay with you if we wrote a reminder
    “Of things we’ll forget to do today otherwise,
    “Using a green Magic Marker–if it’s alright–
    “On the back of your head?
    “Mr. Horrible! Mr. Horrible!
    “We’re not done with you yet, Mr. Horrible!
    “You have to try on these pants so the Ugliness Men
    “Can decide if they’re just as embarrassing as we think;
    “We have to be sure about this.”
    But Mr. Horrible says, “I don’t mind;
    “The thing that bothers me is:
    “Someone keeps moving my chair,
    “Someone keeps moving my chair.”
    Mr. Horrible says, “I don’t mind;
    “The thing that bothers me is:
    “Someone keeps moving my chair.”

  8. On the “tech to bypass stores” front, a few coworkers were just discussing this. One mentioned has a friend who moved to Seattle, within site of a certain well-known company, and hasn’t been to even a grocery store but a half-dozen times in the year. Instead, he places an order and things show up within about two hours; for some orders they simply walk it over to his house.

    Some of the traditional stores are starting to catch on – the supermarket chain based here doesn’t deliver, but if you place an online order you can pull up to a special parking area, punch in a code, and they’ll come out and load your vehicle up with whatever you ordered. Some of the big box stores are at least allowing you to order online and pickup in the store and/or order in the store something the local store doesn’t carry and have it delivered. Whether that will be enough to stem the delivery-based giant remains an open question which only time will provide an answer for.

    1. Local store will do that, or deliver if that is preferred. There is a fee, but they waive it if the purchase is sufficiently costly. I’ve not tried this. I still like having some direct control on selection and perhaps ox somewhat set in his ways.

      On the other hoof, rather than search various stores around town for an item that might not be there, a web search revealed a few sources, including Amazon and Wal-mart. Wal-mart got the order as store pick-up, even with state sales tax, was less expensive than shipping fees for that thing.

      1. It wasn’t *that* unusual a service back in the days of locally-owned grocery stores. The last of those in my area went away more than 30 years ago, replaced by out-of-state owned chain stores. That kind of service apparently didn’t fit into their accounting system.

        My parents bought groceries once a month. My wife only buys a week at a time, which I find annoying, since we’re always almost out of things. I was astonished to find that some people go to the store every day, either urbanites who can’t manage more than one bag at a visit, or apparently people with nothing else to do with their time…

        1. We have the yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly runs depending on the source.

          Because if you eat a fair bit of fresh meat (particularly fish) shopping for the whole shebang once a month is, as the lefties like to say, “problematic.”

          1. Or even just fresh veggies, bread, etc. When I’m doing a good job of preparing my own meals, I usually need to hit the supermarket twice a week to keep fresh stuff in stock.

                1. Carrots, peas, etc. may be fine, but the green leafy stuff generally doesn’t do very well frozen. And I’ve never had crusty bread taste right after time in the freezer.

    2. Sam’s Club has pull and pick, where they have a personal shopper load up your cart with whatever you order ahead. Some people have them do all their shopping like that and just pull up and pick it up.

        1. If the stores have their personnel pick produce and meats intelligently, then I don’t think there’s necessarily a decline in purchase of raw ingredients.

          1. Intelligently picking for store personnel is different than for you. It is more intelligent for them to pick the produce and meat cuts that are being overlooked by the in-store customers, before they get old enough to have to be thrown out for a loss.
            The same as going to the lumber store and allowing the employees to pick and load the lumber in your truck or ordering the lumber and having it delivered on site, rather than going to the store and sorting through and choosing the lumber yourself. You will get the lumber that everybody else has already picked over.

    3. Em and I are temporarily out in LA, and between Amazon (Fresh, Prime, Now) and a local competitor called InstaCart, we haven’t had to go grocery shopping since we found it…. which is a good thing since the project has put people up within a mile of the office so they don’t spring for rental cars. Yeah, the delivery fees are there, but by the time you factor in cab / Uber since neither of us is up to carrying multiple heavy bags that far, it is still price competitive.

  9. Sweetie, you went from your home of 13 years to a temporary month to month arrangement, then got kicked out by a greedy landlord and were lucky to find another temporary abode. The house you want is being dangled in front of your eyes by financial institutions then snatched away like a yo-yo.
    And you’ve been sick with one thing or another for years now, some of that fixed last year, but not all.
    And your oldest is out of the house, Marsh is nearly so. Your folks are getting older and are very far away.
    To top it all off, your publisher is doing all sorts of stupid chit.
    Portagee, life didn’t move your cheese, it shredded it, fed it to goats, and now you’re expected to milk those goats and make your own cheese.
    Now that we’ve got that all straightened out, need any help with that milking and churning?

  10. There isn’t any thing new in having some amount of change that you find stimulating and invigorating, and having some higher amount of change be disquieting and disturbing. That was the basis of Alvin Toffler’s “Future Shock”, back in the 1970’s. Sarah’s health problems over the past few years probably provided all of the change she was comfortable with, so the additional change of moving merely adds additional stress that can itself cause more health problems.

          1. The Bunnicula series. About Chester the cat, Harold the dog and a vampire bunny. It’s horrible! He sucks the veggies turning them into undead slaves to his vampiric will. Now… “The Celery Stalks at Midnight”

            (Cue ballistic carp)

    1. I’ve eaten cheese that made me live that story in a very unpleasant and stenchiferous way.

  11. Today you don’t even know if the neighborhood will exist long. I once went on vacation in Miami and my dad asked me to see if his old house was still there. I went by and took a picture – It was a Goodyear Tire store. His friend’s house was a Walgreens.
    I drove by my grandmother’s house and there were Cubans living there. It had no screen doors and was wide open through the house from front to back (shotgun house). They had chickens but the chicken coop was fallen down and overgrown. I suppose they just shelter under the house at night. The had goats running loose in the yard.
    I could tell it really bothered him.

    1. My dad’s home from early childhood is now the parking lot of a strip mall. My mom’s first cousin’s early childhood home was bulldozed so somebody could build a larger home.

      1. There’s spot, some forty feet in the air now and supported by nothing but spring breezes and memory, behind a Krogers in a grassy field. Up there is where I was born. My mother can say the same… and about three of the last four jobs she held. A fire, a flood, and a tornado did for those three. I tell her now she can never go back to work, because after she leaves… *chuckle*

        Some things change. People, places. Some others endure- like the house my great grandfather built. And the worn headstones that have stood since my people first decided to keep this spot back in the deep hollows of the hills. There are roads in Europe now built over Roman foundations, which were built over even older worn tracks from who knows how old.

        From the tales I heard when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, people haven’t changed all that much, either. You soak up a lot as a youngster playing on the back stoop when your favorite grandmother is the center of gravity for any and all gossip and news in the community. People still do stupid things, noble things, love and hate and raise little minions- err, children, I mean.

        Put it another way, change is constant- but there’s a rhythm to it. Some people just pick up on it faster, I think. I’m a little jealous of those who can not only feel the rhythm of change, but dance to it. *grin*

        1. The neighborhood where my dad grew up in Santa Monica is hardly recognizable. Razing an old house and raising a new on is nearly impossible to get through the city planning department. Remodels on the other hand are easy to get approved. So what you get are “one wall” remodels. As long as the foundation footprint stays the same and one original wall is standing, whatever is done is merely a remodel. Architects can design amazing custom houses within those constraints. But it certainly ins’t Grandma’s house any more.

          1. Up here in Silicon Valley (in some jurisdictions; Zoning Varies) all you need is eight feet of wall and a corner to call it a remodel, and that has to stand long enough for the inspector to finally show up and certify what is left of the old place. The result is you see rapid disassembly activity, a long period with eight feet of wall and a corner standing there with the permit request paperwork affixed thereto, then once baksheesh is paid the resumption of work and the new place goes up.

            The other thing you see is the result of the zero-lot-line monstrosities being build years back that blocked out the sun for their neighbors: Contractors now have to put up poles with orange construction fence tacked up in rough approximation of the roofline of the proposed new place, and leave it up for a comment period, so the neighbors can evaluate the new lines in various times of day lighting to see if they still get any sunshine.

            So driving through tonier SV municipalities like Palo Alto and Los Altos Hills, you come across these odd suspended orange sculptures way up in the air, moing sightly in the breeze, held aloft by poles over eight feet of wall and a corner on an otherwise empty lot.

        2. A few decades ago I was chatting with someone from eastern Europe, who commented that he had lived in three different countries… in the same house.

          1. There’s the old Russian joke:

            “Where were you born?”
            “St. Petersberg.”
            “Where did you go to school?”
            “Where do you live now?”
            “And where would you like to die?”
            “St. Petersberg.”

            1. Heh. You could very easily do an Eastern European version if you were long lived enough:

              Born in Bohemia
              Grew up in Czechoslovakia
              Came to adulthood in Nazi Germany
              Hit middle age in the Soviet Union
              Aged in Czechoslovakia
              And now live in Slovakia


              (I have relatives that that describes.)

                1. *nod* Most of my family in the Old Country didn’t either. What the Boche didn’t kill, the Soviets did later.

                  There were still a few left around the BRNO region when my uncle and I visited shortly after the wall fell, though. Very few, but a few.

                  1. a cousin got to visit before the fall with ours still there. One of them now even spells his last name the same way as my side the family. Does enough international business that it helps them pronounce the name right. Here in Texas there are some distant and later arriving relates who retain the old spelling (no H) Others from my side really changed it around Kalish, Kalisher, Kalislek (had to be a typo and someone went with it) and some I forget now.

                    1. “Here in Texas there are some distant and later arriving relates who retain the old spelling (no H) Others from my side really changed it around Kalish, Kalisher, Kalislek (had to be a typo and someone went with it) and some I forget now.”

                      Ah. San Angelo/Rowena area? Or down around the Czech settlements in Ennis?

                      <— Havalak, Havalek, Czerniki, Czernowitz, Kwaznitzci (sp?), Banaczek, and, ah… damn. I forget the other two branches. All the "CZ"s blend together sometimes. 🙂

                      And there's still a Slavik branch of the family that originated in the Carpathians near Wallachia, way back when, too.

                      My mom's family here immigrated into West Texas in the late 1890s, before the Great War, and some later just prior to WWII. Those were the last ones to get out before WWII.

                      I used to love the old detective TV series Banacek because he had the same last name as some of my (distant) cousins on my mom's side of the family. 🙂

                    2. *nod* In Rowena, at least, those were probably some of my mom’s relatives, distant or close. My uncle owned a pretty good sized working farm and ranch not far outside of Rowena when I was a kid growing up.

                      I suspect that the family still does, but I’m not sure – I lost contact with some branches of the family as most of my older uncles and aunts passed on.

                      (I don’t care to bet either way: I know that in Oklahoma, the kids broke up and sold off the ancestral family spread after my great uncle and great aunt died. So… *shrug?*)

              1. My grandfather was born in Selish in Austria-Hungary (great-grandfather fought for Kaiser Franz Joseph; came home from the front dying of [we think] malaria), was raised in Czechoslovakia in Veľká Sevljuš & joined the Czechoslovak army, was incorporated into the Hungarian army when Hungary swallowed his home city of Nagyszőlős, and now the city of Vynohradiv is in the Ukraine. Wikipedia is cute: “There are multiple alternative names used for this city due to its location and history”.

                1. I’m girding my loins (metaphorically) for editorial and reader complaints when the alt-history books come out because I’m using the Pre-WWI names and borders in the first two books, and part of the third. There will be a map, though.

                  1. One would *hope* that readers of, y’know, alternate history would have at least some passing interest in history… Enough that any complaints would be the definite minority, anyway.

                    Of course, my blinkered optimism gets me in trouble sometimes. Heck, I was hoping we’d only be half as broke as a country by now…

                    1. Then again, I seem to recall that some of the complaints against Larry Correia’s Grimnoir series that takes place in an alternate 1930s timeframe include “FDR would never have put Americans in concentration camps, for any reason!” and “Office of the Coordinator of Information is a stupid name for an agency” (which turned out to be a real agency from the time period…) While at least one of them was a complaint about something obscure (who has ever heard of the OCI?) it’s interesting that (1) Larry did a good job researching his history for his books, and (2) the complainers don’t know history as well as they think they do…

                    2. Ah, but when I pick up a Correia book, I don’t immediately go to the alt-hist well. I say “Sweet! More badassery and action!” *grin*

                      Still, I get where you are coming from. Some folks, you never can quite satisfy.

                2. “Wikipedia is cute: ‘There are multiple alternative names used for this city due to its location and history’.”

                  Heh. Yeah, there’s more than a few stories like that over there.

            2. The Russians, with their passion for renaming cities and streets to reflect the political winds, renamed Tsaritsyn to Stalingrad. And when Stalin got purged, they renamed the city Volgograd.

              The citizens of Stalingrad didn’t think much of the new name, and last I heard had gotten the Duma to agree the city could also be known as Stalingrad.

              They *paid* for that name. Stalin and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are gone, Hitler and his Third Reich are gone.

              And Stalingrad is still there.

          2. That sounds like my grandfather’s story.

            I was doing some genealogy on him – he died in 1959, and there wasn’t much written down. Just a some census records, a street address, and a naturalization record, plus a word-of-mouth memory that he’d been born in “Selisht”.

            It took a long time to figure things out (and a younger cousin’s immigration record showing an alternate name).

            He was born in Russia (1898).

            When he emigrated to the US in 1920, his home was part of Poland.

            Post WW2 it was part of the USSR.

            And it’s part of Ukraine now.

            The name changed repeatedly. And it had different names at any given time depending if you were speaking Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Yiddish, or Hebrew.

            1. I’ve heard similar from people whose ancestors were from the Mount Lebanon region. Are they Syrian, Ottoman, Lebanese, or just tired of being asked (and then corrected)?

    2. I went back to my Poppo’s old house. All the surrounding houses had been purchased to use for for parking lots. Yep. Trees and old midwestern homes and ….. nothin’ but asphalt. Weird sensation seeing that.

  12. Change that I choose I can deal with, because to an extent I can pace it. Change that is forced upon me is a whole ‘nother matter, and one I often resent, especially if it comes from an impersonal bureaucracy. The weather I can cope with, because it is amoral and there’s nothing personal about tornadoes or dust storms. I don’t like them, but they are part of life out here. But having a sense that the people pushing society to change are doing it in part because, even though they have no idea that I exist, they dislike the ideas and philosophies that I believe in, well, I want to dig in my heels, sink my little claws into the ground, and squall, “You can’t make me! You ain’t the boss of me!”

  13. “Are we a nation of people wondering who moved our cheese?”


    Behold – the Power of Cheese!

  14. Life is a dance on the knife-edge of chaos; any stability you feel is entirely illusory. You may fight the forces of entropy for a bit, but in the end, they win. Every time.

    Embrace the change, because the mark of a life well-led is the ability to dance the dance with the gods of chaos and confusion, and survive. Nothing static endures; how many of the “great buildings” of Europe, and the temples of Japan have endowed forests lurking in the background, to enable replacement of parts and pieces? Nothing is static, in this universe of ours. All is flow, and change. Energy moves through the system, in all its myriad ways. To attempt to freeze that flow is foolishness personified, for it will not end well. Embrace the flow, influence it, and guide it. You can’t stop it, and if you did, you’d be stopping life itself.

    Part of the reason I see such failure around me in the nation’s political system is that there is this illusion that things are fixed, finite, and static. Life is not a zero-sum game; the answer to another man’s poverty is not to take away from someone who has wealth and material things through hard work, but to enable that poverty-stricken person the chance to overcome their issues on their own. Should they not? Well, sadly, that’s how the universe works: The slow wildebeast gets the lion. Attempting to interfere with that process is, essentially, folly. I don’t have a problem with using systemic surpluses to aid those that “can’t hack things”, but there need to be limitations–That surplus is not yet infinite, and may never be. Those that won’t or can’t carry their own weight need to deal with the fact that at some point, the rest of the body politic might not be able to support them.

    Things happen. Dealing with them is an art; and, something we should all embrace. The future isn’t known, and the past can’t be changed. Dance in the now, and make your goal to be such that your life was an improvement, an embellishment on the face of the universe, rather than a blot or a disgrace.

    Change is eternal, and nothing remains the same, even the dead. Every time we’ve attempted, as a race, to stop the clock? We’ve failed. So, let us not strive for the impossible, and instead, dance with the dark gods of chaos and confusion. That, alone, will dismay them…

    1. I would disagree. You don’t dance with dark gods–that way lies Saruman.
      Instead, you look them up and down, spit in their faces, then re-create what order you can in the new world.

      1. Your problem is that you frame chaos as bad, and order as good.

        The universe is inherently chaotic. Most systems in it are chaotic. The problems we have are when we try to impose stasis and order on things that are inherently incapable of them. It’s like the disastrous policies here in the West, where we’ve suppressed natural wildfire as policy for the last hundred years or more. Where has that gotten us? Natural systems are suppressed, the natural life cycle of the forest is disrupted, and invasive beetle species that can’t survive fire are destroying the high mountain forests. Let nature take its course, and you won’t build up the tons of ground-story fuels that create the funeral pyres that are now the norm for forest fires. If they let the understory burn, then the trees wouldn’t catch fire at the tops, and we’d have a lot less destructive fires happening.

        Chaos is life, and you do well to embrace it. The imposition of stasis and order where they don’t belong are where most of our problems stem from. Nature is not static; we live in a changing world. It’s like the AGW fanatics, who fail to recognize that the warming of the planet is a generally good thing, in that we have more arable land available, more plant food in the air, and that since we’re at the end of a glacial period, this is actually a return to the state of balance we were in before the last glaciation. Better to cope with the change, than try to stop it–Because, the size of the system we’d be trying to stop is immeasurably huge on a human scale.

        1. The problem IMO with Order vs Chaos is that while too much Order is stifling, too much Chaos is lethal.

          In a truly Chaotic universe, Life won’t be possible.

          There is Order in Nature, it’s just too complex to be easily predicted. 😀

          1. And, thus the necessity for dancing along the knife’s edge…

            An excess of order is as lethal as the excess of chaos, and we have to balance between the two voids…

            1. He wasn’t the first to use Order vs Chaos themes in Fantasy stories. 😉

        2. No, 60guilders was clearly taking the dark gods of chaos and confusion at their word.

          Chaos and confusion can be evil without “order” being all that’s required for good, especially when we accept that there’s a difference between “I can’t see the rhyme or reason” and true chaos.

          1. Mmmmm… I’ve always taken the dichotomy between order and chaos as being on an entirely different axis than the one between “good” and “evil”. They’re neutral, along that axis. You can have chaotic good as well as chaotic evil, and evil order as well as evil chaos. All you’re quantifying along the axis of order/chaos is the amount of organization that’s visible to the naked eye.

            1. “Chaotic good” isn’t truly chaotic, though– if it were truly chaotic, it couldn’t be good.

              Someone who is good is not just as likely to eat your face as the ice cream you hand them.

              The “chaos” in that is more along the lines of how easily predicable a thing is.

              1. Someone who is good is not just as likely to eat your face as the ice cream you hand them.

                In the D&D alignment system, that would be “Chaotic Neutral”.

                aka “My DM won’t let me play an evil character, so I’ll be CN to screw over the other players and then be nice to a kid on the street.” 😉

                1. My DM actually let me play a chaotic neutral rather than chaotic evil. I can do “a hazard to those around you,” I can’t do “wishing harm on others.”

                2. The problem of alignment is that it consists of taking every moral issue that the wisest have cracked their heads over for millennia, misunderstanding half of it, boiling it down into a set of gaming mechanics, and handing it over to a bunch of sophomoric players (some of whom have the excuse of being actual sophomores).

                  1. The problem of alignment is twits who imagine a game reflects real life, such as those who imagine Monopoly a perfect expression of Free market Capitalism.

                    I s’pose we could devise a board game version expressing Socialism, but who would play it twice (and for those who might: there will be blood.)

                    We could also contrive a board game version of being in prison … call it “Hard Time” or some such.

              1. I’ve never really taken the dark vs. light thing as being equivalent to evil vs. good, to be honest. My interpretation of “dark gods” has always been that they’re the realists, the ones that tell their adherents “things suck, and this is what it’s going to cost you” vs. the ones who are all sweetness and light, never mentioning that itty-bitty detail about blood sacrifice being part of the payment plan… Vulcan was a “dark god”, in my book. Dour, cynical, realistic to a fault. Apollo, on the other hand? A “light god”, and a bit of a happy-go-lucky feckless poof, to be honest. In the Norse pantheon, Baldur was light, Odin was dark. I’m not sure I’d follow Baldur anywhere but to a party, while with Odin, you knew that he was likely using you, but would be doing so on the way to victory…

                Dark as in “darkly cynical”, not “darkly evil”. Your mileage may vary…

                I’ve never really trusted that whole “go into the light” thing; that’s a really bad move for a cockroach, for example, and I’m not entirely convinced that “the light” is an altogether good place to be, for a human being… Yeah, it may denote heaven, but on the other hand, it may also be a realm of pointy-toed shoes that like to squish the likes of us.

                1. Of course, the evil beings likely have experience in pretending to be “Angels Of Light”. 😉

                    1. “err… that should be John Steed…”

                      I liked your first version better.

                      Does John Sneed wear a snood? Or possibly even have a snood?

                2. Okay, now that makes sense–Copybook Headings vs. Marketplace. Now I’m tracking.
                  So, just out of curiosity, where would you rate Yahweh on your “dark vs. light” scale? (No offense will be taken)

                    1. Joel, in your own time, ping me on face book sometime next week. I need some brain storming on how a rabbi would deal with vampires. (Other than crankily. I’m aware of that. At least this one. Look, he’s my character.)

        3. Incidentally, since I do have some familiarity with the forest issue– it’s not suppressing the natural fire patterns that got us in trouble. It’s when the activists suppressed the harvesting we’d used to replace them.

          I’ve heard that in those places where they were slower to position activists than others, the beetles didn’t become a problem until the strangely contained fires or “trail clearing” where infested trees use to be stopped happening.
          Nobody was dumb enough to tell me names or dates, and I didn’t even realize that might be a thing until years later.

          Order doesn’t mean stasis.

        4. ” Most systems in it are chaotic.”

          Are you using the physic definition of “chaos” here? Because if so, it’s the fallacy of equivocation, and if not so, it needs some substantiation.

    2. Much of the reason that government is too inflexible is the last century’s concentration of power in DC. Small local governments can dance to whichever tunes the local citizenry likes.

      1. Chaos is good, in that it allows for fine-grain actions. The impulse to control is what leads to the concentration of power at higher and higher levels, and I think we all know where that’s led us: Into folly. Order is a finite “good”, in that there’s only so much of it that can be achieved over a limited period. Coming together to fight WWII? Possible. Building a moon rocket, through NASA? Yep, a good thing–But, do note where we went with NASA after the project was complete: Nowhere. We now have the chaotic free market working on getting us into space, and that’s working a hell of a lot better. NASA could have done the same work that SpaceX and others are doing, but the Single Stage To Orbit idea died on the vine inside the bureaucracy.

        Order is really only possible in small doses, over short periods of time. Go anywhere past those things, and you’re really asking too much of people. The VA should have been tasked with a finite mission: Care for Civil War veterans, and that was it. After the mission was gone, they should have wound it down, and started another organization to administer to the veterans of later conflicts. Too much power, too much money, too much energy became lost in the tidal eddy of the VA, and we have the dysfunctional, sclerotic organization we have today. We shouldn’t be trying to run things with these vast, permanently-mandated organizations; instead, we ought to be empowering things with limits that are actually amenable to control by the people they’re supposed to be helping. The fundamental problem with all these systems is that they’re inflexible, and all too prone to being captured by what Jerry Pournelle calls “The Iron Law of Bureaucracy”. That’s the insanity of it all: We know this stuff won’t work, over the long haul, but we keep doing it, time and time again. Whether it’s the VA or Microsoft, we keep trying to solve problems with these vast bureaucratic edifices that simply don’t work, over the long haul.

  15. This has absolutely nothing to do with rationality. It has everything to do with habit in a very physical sense. Because we’re creatures of habit, we like the familiar. yes, even those of us who like to try new things and explore.

    Almost everyone likes garlic.

    Most people that try it like pickled garlic.

    Nobody wants to live off of pickled garlic, and if you find someone who does they’d be best avoided.

  16. I don’t know if I entirely like the modern celebration of disruption and super-rapid-change, and not being able to count on anything. Growth is good, stasis is bad, but this seems more like a celebration of destructive tendencies by a society that’s forgotten how creative activity actually happens – a sort of cargo cult version of capitalism.

    If life get’s disrupted too much, it dies. If people’s lives get disrupted too much, they can’t plan anything. People who can’t plan anything make no long-range investments or plans, reap no rewards from long range investments, don’t start families or build houses, and die.

    If people can’t keep up with this super-fast red-queen’s race, then who is driving it? Not the people who are being disrupted.

    1. We’re in what I suspect is a unique era for the “rate of change”. Heretofore, even the most rapid changes took literal generations to fully penetrate society; look at the difference in uptake time for things like color televisions and then look at how quickly we moved from basic feature phones to smartphones in the cellular industry. What took decades only a short generation or so ago, now takes place in a fraction of that time. Is this something that is likely to continue, at this rate? I don’t know, but I suspect that as Moore’s Law starts to slow down, we’re going to see an ease in the rate of change, and a more thorough digestion of the existing technologies.

      Case in point: That “smart” cell phone you likely have to hand, near you? What the hell have we really done with that damn thing, that’s new and innovative? In terms of human organization and culture, I mean–Sure, we’ve now replaced the back fence with FaceBook, but as far as “New and Improved” ways of doing business? The rate of innovation is actually minuscule. Show me a game-changer for how we do business in terms of organizing ourselves, which takes advantage of all the geo-location and communications wizardry that’s embodied in that phone. Is there an easier, more effective way of mobilizing people for emergencies? Disasters? Nope, not a bit of it–We’re still reliant on a system that was designed around fixed landlines, and no ability to track or direct resources and trained personnel to respond to problems. There should be a means to quickly and effectively mobilize a mass of strangers at a park, in order to immediately search for a lost kid, but do we have such a thing? Nope.

      Change and innovation are only beginning. Attempting to hold back the floodtide is going to be exactly as effective as King Canute was, when he made his point to his court.

      Change comes. Cope. That’s all you can do about it. It’s far more effective to try to work with the flow, and influence it to do good things than it is to try to gum up the works by damming the channel.

      1. There are constructive changes and destructive changes, and they have very different sources. The invention of all of this computer wizardry is a constructive change, for the most part. The availability of things which expand our range of choices is good.

        The kind of changes that our cultural mouthpieces try to slip into the same mental-bin are not the same sort of thing: The reason why no one can find jobs anywhere? They’d like you to believe it is an inevitable side effect of automation, not an impossible to survive business environment that makes it literally impossible to employ people unless you have net profits of millions a year. Sorry, the sci-fi automation utopia that they depict does not look like our thoroughly destroyed industrial centers and decaying cities. The reason why people are having a hard time is because destructive forces in our society are making their lives harder.

        If they make their lives too hard, you get Venezuela, (or Cambodia, or the Hunger Games), not some vibrant post-cyberpunk world.

      2. PS: I recognize that I’m not king of the world, and I have to adapt to circumstances. But I also want to resist the urge to rationalize every experience I happen to be able to survive as somehow good or constructive.

      3. > how quickly we moved from basic feature phones to smartphones in the cellular industry.

        A common observation, but it ignores the fact that the industry went to smartphones as the default long ago. If you *don’t* want a smartphone, you have to go through a tedious hassle to get something else… and you still have to pay the subsidized price of the smartphone you didn’t want.

          1. Option 1 : Buy cheap prepaid ‘candybar’ or ‘flip’ phone at xMart or a refurbished phone (last one I bought cost $5). If you don’t want to pre-pay, get a basic calling plan with the appropriate SIM card.
            Option 2 : Buy a cheap prepaid ‘smart’ phone at xMart but DON’T buy a data plan (I bought an Android phone for < $30). You get the advantages of the better user interface (particularly for texting), full features (internet, etc) when near a wifi hotspot, you can even use it as a car navigation system in offline mode. Works with the same plan as a basic phone.

            1. You can buy a prepay smart phone and prepay the data plan as well – all with cash, and the authorities absolutely hate this.

              Note how often the evil “burner phone” is an element solely associated with the criminal element, even on fluffy comedic mystery shows like “Castle”.

              Which to me is the best argument for havnig one.

              And yes, do not activate with a credit card as they insist you should. YOu never know what you don’t yet know.

              1. Yes, but the price for minutes for a prepaid phone seems to be based on “nobody would buy a prepaid unless their credit was so bad no provider will sell them a contract, therefore we will screw them as hard as we can.”

                For a “use it for emergencies” communications device, no problem. For general telephone use, ouch.

            2. Option 3 : Don’t talk on the phone, don’t text with the phone, don’t listen to music, watch streaming video or read books on a phone.

              “With this phone you can stream movies and watch them anywhere!”
              “Why would I want to watch The Magnificent Seven on a screen the size of the palm of my hand anywhere?”

              Embrace your Inner Amish and only adopt new technology that serves your interests.

        1. Market forces, m’dear… If the industry could sell more feature phones than smartphones, they would.

          What I find annoying about the whole thing is how little real utility the damn things have, given the amount of investment we’ve made in the whole concept.

          Frankly, by this time, I’d have expected to see them utilized a hell of a lot more than they are, if only for things like emergency organization. Only thing is, nobody is doing a damn thing with them to expedite that.

          1. Utility – this. is it fun to have Vienna’s weather as the first default on my smartphone? Yeah. Is the thing any more useful in my world than a dumb-phone and my pocket day-book? Nope.

            1. Like I said–We’re using these marvelous things as toys, when the potential is so much greater.

              We’ve got geolocation built into most of them, as an example. Why, for the love of God, are we still building firehouses and massive 911 call centers to centrally manage and direct emergency assets? Why can’t you, as an example that could certainly use some damn refinement, simply have your phone enable tracking for people with EMT and medical skills, and vector them in to situations where they’re needed? I recently ran into a friend of a friend whose husband died from a heart attack at a local soccer venue, and whose situation would have been greatly enhanced had there been less time for response, and a more knowledgeable responder than a basic EMT, who didn’t recognize the exact condition this gentleman had, which killed him.

              What’s ironic? The doctor, who eventually was called into the hospital to try and save his life, was literally a block and a half away while this guy was dying. He never knew it. With better knowledge, enabled by these “toys” we all carry around these days, he could have been vectored directly over to where this guy was when he had his heart attack, and maybe have saved his life. Instead, he was called in to the hospital after a lag of an hour and a half, while he was literally within walking distance to be able to save the guys life, had he but known…

              There’s a lot more we could be doing with these things than we are, which is the point I’m trying to make. Right now, we’re caught in the “lag time” between the technological possibilities, and the cultural adaptations to make these things happen.

              The ubiquity of the so-called smartphone is an enabler we really ought to be taking better advantage of, to create more efficient and human-scale social organizations, as well as make them simultaneously more effective.

              1. They’re starting to get smart phone apps to help with that. For example, PulsePoint helps 911 dispatchers notify any trained first responders that have the necessary app on their phone, to get CPR and/or AED response to people who need it before EMT/paramedics can arrive.

                1. Which goes back to my point… Some of the functionality I’m talking about should have been built into the very first phones, baked in from the beginning. We’re only now starting to get around to doing this stuff, and its all being done very haphazardly.

                  What we really ought to be doing is prototyping what’s going to happen and how we’re going to implement personal implant technology, which is something I expect to come along about the time I’m dying of old age. Conveniently. Bastards.

                  1. In the earliest phones, the network and bandwidth weren’t there. (The first generation were analog!). When I worked for Palm, we were essentially building one of the first smartphones, but making the network work was difficult because there wasn’t really one, even though the signals were digital, the towers interfaces with the analog system.

                    Man, if it weren’t for the tech crash, we would have had iPhones in 2002. But they wouldn’t be nearly as powerful as what we eventually got.

              2. They’re working on it.

                When I was a girl, there was a big whooping siren that would go off to let the volunteer firemen know there was a fire and they should check their radios. When I moved back to Connecticut as an adult, I noticed — after a time — that it no longer was going off. They had resorted to such means.

                (Not all to the plus side. I still remember the trip back from the restaurant where we were driving down the highway, and suddenly there were flames shooting through the roof of a building beside it. The parents had time to arrange that our father would drop us all off at the foot of the driveway, and our mother would go to call it in while he went to fight. And some silence after. Then the siren went off and we knew someone had called it in. Nowadays you have no way to know.)

              3. You’re just trying to put some poor, hard-working dispatchers out of work.

                You seem to forget that the purpose of most of these programs is providing sinecures for the relatives and cronies of city councilpersons. Any actual public benefit accrued is purely incidental.

          2. > If the industry could sell more feature phones than smartphones, they would.

            They force smartphones on their customers because they want to sell overpriced “data plans.”

    2. Diminishing returns will eventually kick in, and in a lot of ways has.
      Ponder the fighter plane. You had a U-uuge leap in tech between 1942 and 1946- from radials & props to jets. From the P-40 to the P-51 to the F-80 in 4 years.
      However, we pretty much hit the peak of that curve in the mid-sixties, and its been pretty much diminishing returns ever since. For instance, the F-15 has been in front line service for roughly 40 years. In that same time span we went from the Wright flyer to the P-51.

  17. Not only did they move the cheese, they’re trying to convince us to eat the soy-based cheese substitute product. Which is no 15 years aged cheddar!
    The bigger problem isn’t the change, I think, it’s that the narrative is static by comparison. Maybe instead of encouraging young adults to buy houses we should tell them to buy RVs.

    1. The soy based substitute is approved by the FDA, there fore it is better for you. No questions allowed,

  18. I think you’re right. The thing is – change is going faster. Three things happened this yearish…

    (a) Humans lost to AI in Go.
    (b) CRISPR gene technology was used to develop a breed of mosquitos that, if released, would most likely eradicate malaria.* Of course, they haven’t been released yet – there’s real worries about releasing tiny flying siringes containing gene complexes that modify germ-line DNA. But, nowadays, eliminating on of the great plagues is essentially a 9 month project for a graduate student. I know graduate students – this scares me.
    (c) Trump is on track to win the Republican nomination.

    (a) points to eventual human obsolescence. Within the next century, and probably within my lifetime, computers will be able to provide thought at a lower energy cost than feeding a human. The societal changes have started, and will accelerate. For the near term, the dominant effect appears to be downwards pressure on unskilled labor, but it won’t be that long until a wonderful AI is posting excellent novels on Amazon. 🙂

    (b) points to the end of humanity as a single species. Well within my lifetime, possibly in China (preliminary tests on nonviable human fetuses already done) – truly genetically superior babies will be born in quantity. On the bright side, schizophrenia and many other mental illnesses are likely to disappear. Not going away – boosting the workforce IQ by 30-60 points will be a real competitive advantage.

    (c) points to the disruptive power of mobile communication. I think it is more hopeful than many feel. Trump couldn’t have gotten this far 20 years ago. But, he built a nation-wide movement essentially for free. And, by doing so, he has clarified Republican politics – and raised issues that have been conveniently ignored by both parties. Bluntly, free trade pacts and lax immigration policies have benefited the nation while also exerting measurable downward pressure on employment and wages for the lower 50%. The downside is, um, probably the fracture of the Republican party. But, eh, the reliance on a shrinking bigot vote that no one planned on appeasing wasn’t a stable system anyways. Give it a few decades and I expect a much healthier party will actually push for individual liberty and a smaller government. Give it a hundred years – and I hope we’ll have a government that the public can actually keep tabs on. Personally, I think the NSA’s primary mission should be spying on and publishing the behavior of our elected representatives…

    I’m serious about CRISPR though – the potential actually scares me. I guess we’re roughly 2 breakthroughs away from making the involuntary remodeling of humanity into a summer project. Now, probably not _all_ of humanity – I mean – birds and mosquitos aren’t ideal vectors…but…

    *Cool actually – idea is that they’re modified so that they don’t carry malaria. And, also so that, if they breed with other mosquitos, the babies will have both copies of the gene in question modified for malaria immunity. So, yah, it probably would work (some question about species interbreeding, but…easily solvable…)

    1. Trump is the candidate of the mass media. Yeah, he could have got this far. It’s amazing he still can do it, without anyone exposing the game.
      He’s the guy they want against Hillary.

      1. I was expecting the media to wait for him to get the nomination before they turned on him, but he made that impossible just by being himself.

        1. They are still pulling their punches. It is just that a) some new media isn’t, and the new media that is may have been bought by the Russians or somebody b) The issue is often delegates now, and those aren’t necessarily relying on mainstream media.

      2. I agree with you one hundred percent. They’re grooming him to be the McCain of this cycle. The interesting thing is, it may backfire on them, and actually help him get into office.

        The thing I can’t quite decide, as of yet, is whether or not Trump is playing a game with all of us. Given the poor organization he’s displayed in places like Colorado, where he and his advisers haven’t done a damn thing to try to understand the nomination process, he’s beginning to strike me as a vanity candidate who isn’t really serious about winning. If he gets the nomination, I think he’s possibly going to panic and realize he may really get the job, and have to produce–Which might lead to him throwing the election to whoever the Democratic nominee is.

        Interesting time, interesting times. I can only hope that Cruz manages to pull a rabbit out of his hat, because he’s the least bad out of the entire lot. I have to admit I’m enjoying the spectacle of the establishment Republicans having to deal with the after-effects of their sidelining of the Tea Party. Because, you can pretty much trace a line from that to the current mania for Trump…

          1. Hell, on the other hand, he might actually do a good job… I don’t know, and I’m not going to vote for him in the primary, being as I see Cruz as the lesser of two evils. He may not be electable, but I think I’d prefer the semi-certainty of dealing with him than the crap shoot (literally, in several senses of the term…) that Trump will be.

            And, to be forthright, I can see some paths down which Trump might go that would earn him my vote–All dependent upon who he selects for his cabinet and so forth… But, given the shit-show that his nomination campaign is showing, I’m not sure that he’s likely to go down those paths, either. I can’t quite see myself clear to voting for Hillary or Bernie over Donald, but I can see a couple of ways that might happen, personally.

            I find myself praying for the fantasy of a Marine friend of mine, that GEN Mattis is parachuted into the convention as a candidate in the general election. Now, that’s a guy I could get behind, if only for the sheer pleasure of watching heads explode world-wide…

            Hell, if we’re really gonna burn it all down, we might as well have a few laughs while we’re at it, eh?

    2. Point b)…

      Ever been to a mensa group meeting? Or been around a high concentration of higher i.q. people? That particular set of characteristic comes with some… baggage. Oh, not always, but often enough to be a definite trend. Unintended consequences, I’m sure.

      But of the ones I know, well, the Chinese might be exacerbating their sex ratio problem (or growth rate problem?), too. I mean, “couldn’t organize a bonk in a brothel” is a phrase that comes to mind…

      1. Yeeeeaaaaahhhh… I’m going to go out on a limb, here, and predict that the first idiots who try to genetically engineer improved intelligence in human beings are going to wind up with a metric shit-ton of “unexpected problems”. As in, break-the-bank kinda problems…

        We simply don’t know enough about what the hell goes into human intelligence, in the first place. The Chinese try to build them some sooper-genius supermen, all I’m going to do is step back out of the way of the impact area, shake my head, and wait for the inevitable “unanticipated side-effects” to happen. I bet money they wind up with a bunch of autism cases that make the run we’re getting naturally look tame.

        There is no way that anyone is going to be able to engineer this stuff, given what we know at the moment. Hell, there’s a study out of Seattle, talking about how they’re mystified that they’ve got all these cases where people have the genetic markers for all of these dire physical problems in their genes… But haven’t developed one sign of actually having them. In other words, they have genetic defects, and are asymptomatic for the syndromes associated with them. Put that in your hat, and smoke it, Mr. Immagonnabuildmeasuperman. We. Do. Not. Know. Enough.

        It will be interesting watching the results, though. I expect disaster, just as with any large project of that nature. First folks there are gonna pay a huge price, and the rest of us are going to (hopefully) learn some lessons.

        1. A very good sub-plot on Deep Space 9 was with Bashir being the insanely well adjusted and normal example of an “improved” human– and he was considered a bit of a screw up at that.

        2. Re: “there’s a study out of Seattle, talking about how they’re mystified that they’ve got all these cases where people have the genetic markers for all of these dire physical problems in their genes… But haven’t developed one sign of actually having them.”

          Link or title, please? (I tried a search, no luck.) Thanks.

          1. Here you go… I’m not sure if it will make it through moderation, though:


            I’m not really surprised by this, to be honest. I think we’re really arrogant to even be thinking we’ve done more than scratch the surface with this stuff, and that it will be generations and a lot of hard work before we reach the point where we can point to a specific gene and say “Yeah, that’s the one that will make this baby smart as the dickens…”.

            My best guess is that there’s a bunch of different genes that program for intelligence, and they all work differently in different individuals. Copy what works over here in Ted’s genetic lineage into Susan’s, and you may wind up with an imbecile instead of a sooooper-genius baby. Until someone can explain to me all the spooky crap we’ve found in twin studies, where people’s lives have followed near-identical trajectories, despite having been separated near birth and then raised under different conditions, I’m going to hazard a guess that we don’t know enough to be meddling with the genes, other than by modifying some of the most basic flaws, i.e., genetic diseases. And, from this study? I’m suddenly wondering if we even know enough to be doing that…

            1. Especially considering a good working definition of “intelligence” I’ve not yet seen. Oh, there’s a lot of ideas about what intelligence is, but like pr0n, most folks seem to operate on a “I know it when I see it,” level.

              I’m really missing my college access to stuff like Nature now, as the original article is behind a paywall. I always thought of Mendelian conditions as rather stark: you have the gene, you get the expression. But biology and organic chemistry are… complex (esp. given my limited knowledge of them).

              Intelligence, however we are going to define it, will be affected by a whole host of variables. Raw ability to learn might lean more genetic early on, but how that raw ability is harnessed and trained is less genetic than environmental. So meddling with the genes… sounds a lot like playing craps with the lives of the unborn. Not something I’m all that ethically comfortable with.

              1. Indeed. I have seen research that suggests schizophrenia is a disease that’s been captured in our DNA and blocked off; the disease seems to be “released”, though, if you get sick at a very young age–in particular, shortly after you’re born. Apparently MS has a similar mechanism, and apparently both diseases seems to have antibodies when the mechanisms to contain them fail.

                But the question remains: are these types of diseases merely defects that our bodies can’t get rid of? Or do they provide advantages? It’s well-known that sickle-cell anemia can dampen the effects of malaria, yet if fully expressed, is a disease in and of itself. My sister is a diagnosed schizophrenic who has her disease under control by drugs; it’s entirely possible that, not only am I an unexpressed schizophrenic, but that my creativity and mathematical abilities are enhanced by me having this gene…

                Now, the Chinese efforts to produce hyper-intelligent people have another flaw: the Chinese have a natural propensity to equate “intelligent” with “scholarly”…yet in many ways, good scholars aren’t necessarily what we think of as intelligent. Bill Gates, for example, wasn’t a good scholar, but he knew his technical stuff, and had good (if questionably moral) business savvy. We don’t think of Steve Jobs as a scholarly type, either. Would China’s efforts produce a Gates or a Jobs? That’s highly questionable as well…

                1. IIRC, there has been a significant correlation established between Autism and genius, for certain values of each.

                  For that matter, imagine the problems of teachers instructors indoctrinators confronted by a classroom of adolescent super-geniuses. Think Dolores Umbrage and the Weasley Twins.

            2. Thank you! Yes, I agree. It’s crazy to think we have enough of a clue to mess with stuff like this.
              PS Sorry — things went crazy again shortly after I posted that comment, and this is the first time I’ve remembered to go back and read your reply.

        3. In my experience, the only way to make people smart is to repeatedly smack them with a cluebat (alternatively, a clue-by-four will also suffice) until they demonstrate no need for further application. In earlier eras Reality tended to serve that purpose but we no longer enjoy that service, key sectors of our society having long ago divorced Reality.

          I gather that on many contemporary college campuses they have even issued restraining orders against Reality intruding.

    3. …boosting the workforce IQ by 30-60 points will be a real competitive advantage.

      Oh, yeah, bump up the FoxCon line workers IQs by 30% while leaving their party-apparatchik managers and company executives as is – what could go wrong with that?

      1. Ever read any Vernor Vinge? A Deepness in the Sky has some interesting ideas in it, about how that might play out.

        Me, I strongly believe that any attempt to engineer better humans is going to end in tears, for a long time. Fix a few problems, sure. Cure genetically based diseases, very likely.

        Build a better human? LOL… First, tell me what the hell makes us human in the first place, and point to where it sits in the DNA. Then, convince me that that is all there is to it, because I’m highly, highly dubious of that proposition. DNA and genes are likely only about half the story–The rest resides elsewhere in the cellular machinery, much of which I don’t think we have the first clue about how it functions. I think it’s really hubristic for the biologists to be making pronouncements about how everything works, when they can’t even tell me how to reliably predict disease. The news out of Seattle I refer to up thread is a clear indicator that there’s more going on than we have conceived.

        1. The fundamental and inescapable problem with trying to “engineer better humans”, is: Better for whom? And as for those obsolete humans: Obsolete to whom?

          Nevermind whether we have the ability to do it: What motives will the enterprise be driven by? From what I can tell, it’s just another gloss on nasty inter-tribal warfare (which seems to be lurking beneath 90% of the so-called thinking of mankind (swinging into one of my more misanthropic moods this morning): Tribe A wants to kill Tribe B and take their stuff. (Decrease the surplus population of those pesky Irish! Liquidate the Kulaks! Clean out flyover country of all the irrelevant dirt-people!) Tribe A wishes Tribe C were more useful tools to them (but still pliable and willing to do their bidding.)

          Seriously, you are proposing that: 1. You are treating these hypothetical babies as tools and things, to be shaped according to some project of yours. 2. You want them to be competent and superior to all the other tools which have failed to make your utopia work. So … you’re going to give them powerful minds?

          1. I don’t know. Maybe, in the implausible future where the program is run by people who have a clue how to make it work, it will be fun watching the Chinese deal with actual geniuses, rather than people who are good at passing the imperial exam.

            I don’t imagine they’d take well to being assigned a purpose in life by some dim bureaucratic representative of a barbaric and banal culture.

          2. 2. You want them to be competent and superior to all the other tools which have failed to make your utopia work. So … you’re going to give them powerful minds?

            Yep. Lefties often have this crazy idea that if people were actually smart, they’d support Lefty ideas. 😦

        2. Perhaps the most benign way this could possibly go is parents trait-selecting for their children. That’s about the only set of people who have any motives that align with the goals of the child. To everyone else, the child is a tool: A potential serf, a potential slave, potential cannon-fodder, a potential “problematic” “obstacle”.

          1. To be honest, I don’t think I’d trust even the parents to trait-select. If you think they wouldn’t screw things up, I’d like to invite you down to the local ball field, where we can watch all the “sports parents” living out their dreams through their kids. On the way, we can stop by the theater, and look over the “stage mothers”, as well.

            My suspicion is that the first few iterations of this “engineer better people” are going to work out about the same way that the eugenics movement did, historically. You’re going to have a couple of huge Thalidomide-level mistakes, and then the whole idea is going to get discredited, with the final result being that we’ll do gene therapy only for a few generations while everyone forgets the horrors, by which time we may have figured out enough to do more than some minor fixes.

            Fortunately, the human race is fecund enough, and sufficiently recursive, to overcome the mistakes. The inheritors of the world may well be the backwoods Luddites who don’t participate in the first attempts, but we’ll manage.

            If I were modeling the whole thing, I’d posit that success would come through a gradual process of selective reproduction, and with minor tweaking for obvious defects in the genes. We don’t understand what the hell goes into intelligence, or personality, but I’m going to bet that there’s an absolutely huge genetic component to it all. Twin studies, and watching a couple of families I know make me certain that the scales aren’t balanced, at all: Nature is probably closer to 80% of who we are than is nurture.

            In any event, I expect the first few attempts at this to end in hubristic, bloody tears.

    4. c) Trump is no where near certain. He’s gotten a big boost from media coverage, but that doesn’t compensate for his carelessness with the delegate game. Manafort is potentially out of date, and may be too little, too late. I personally suspect the whole Russkie loving angle may be enough to torpedo the campaign. (Even if the Podestas, top people in the Hillary campaign, are also linked to a Russian SVR proxy.) In a bit over a week, New York will be deciding over ninety delegates, of which under twenty will go to the state winner. We’ve no idea what will happen with the CD delegates, except that rules favor spoilers given Trump’s usual performance. If Trump gets lower than eighty, he is probably out.
      b) There’s enough possibilities for hideous accidents in engineering humans that I expect screw ups to dominate. I do not expect such programs to prosper. That said, I’m also a skeptic on eugenics in particular and technocracy in general.
      a) At least half of what is happening with the labor market is regulations artificially raising costs. I’m ignorant enough of Go that I’m not convinced that it can’t be shoved into the category of ‘things machines do well and humans do poorly’. If it can, the distinction between that and the category of ‘things machines do poorly and humans do well’ may still be fairly short.

      1. b) There’s enough possibilities for hideous accidents in engineering humans that I expect screw ups to dominate.

        I suspect a strong argument could be made for engineering less intelligent humans. Studies have found a negative correlation between intelligence and happiness and a wide variety of mundane tasks tend to be far more tolerable to the somewhat dim than the rather bright (although I find the ability to listen to an audiobook while engaging in “dull” activities (housework, lawn care, data entry, e.g.) greatly enhances both the experience and the quality of the output.

    5. a computer being able to beat a person in Go does not mean a computer capable of independent creative thought.

      1. An “AI” was put on Twitter and was shut down because… well, it was corrupted by Twitter, I guess. 😉

    6. re: eventual human obsolescence
      Don’t worry — increasing the Minimum Wage by roughly 100% will prevent a collapse in the market for unskilled labor, especially once “surly”, “lazy”, and “consistently fails to show up on time for work” become recognized as the code terms for prejudice that they are.

      re: Shrinking Bigot Vote
      The evidence is that the Bigot Vote is expanding at a very rapid rate, but the fact they’ve relabeled it “the SJW Vote” has obscured that fact from the inattentive.

      1. That and they’ve redefined racism and bigotry to (surprise!) exclude the darlings of the SJW cause.

        Again, I’m shocked. Really.

  19. Delurking to say I love the little nod to The Wizard of Oz in your “no place like home” essay. I can never read those words without hearing them said.

  20. Let me throw this one in. I was cleaning out my sent folder on one email account and found out that I had sent someone this quote: “We experience moments absolutely free from worry. These brief respites are called panic.”
    Cullen Hightower

  21. Yanno. I’m beginning to think folks are using “change” like they do “weather.”

    The rainstorm last week? Weather. The sunny day followed by a cool snap? Weather. Hurricane Katrina followed by 10 years of drought? Technically “weather” but…

    I mean, not to go all ad Hiterlum on you, but the swop out from living in Lithuania in 1929, to Lithuania during the Nazi occupation and then Stalin’s can also be called “change.”

  22. Sarah, you mentioned before that you cannot do research on tablets. I would like to propose that you are wrong. I’m sure that you’d be able to do research on tablets, you just need the right conditions.

    I am convinced that the following conditions need to be satisfied:

    First, you can’t do research on a tablet. You need at least two as a very bare minimum, but more probably three, and four would certainly be ideal. And they can’t be dinky tablets; each one has to be at least 10″.

    Second, you’ll need a way to sync data between the multiple tablets, so that you can have all your research accessible between them. The tablets need to be clones of each other. It would probably be nice to have all this accessible on your phone as well (and it might not hurt to have an extra screen at hand, even if it’s rather small), but once syncing is available, this probably won’t be an issue.

    Third, you need a way to easily convert books to an electronic format. A small high-resolution camera that can be attached to a small-ish tripod (like the one that happens to be on my phone) would probably do for this. It’s not hard to make a book scanner, but it *does* take time and effort to do the scanning, and then tie the books together into a big PDF. And there’s almost certainly a lot of room here for data compression, and if we can throw in OCR, that would be really nice too. It would be *really* nice to have an app that can automatically tie these documents together into a PDF.

    Fourth, you’ll need a way to create notes and marginalia. Ideally, this system would take a PDF as a read-only base, and then allow you to type, hand-write, and draw notes, for each document; perhaps even have multiple sets of marginalia. (As a mathematician with machining and engineering tendencies, being able to draw pictures and diagrams is *very* important for me!) You’ll also want a notebook for taking notes as well, but it might be trivial to expand the “marginalia” app so that it could have blank pages, lined pages, and graph pages (perhaps even log and polar pages!) all readily available. Come to think of it, it would even be fun to throw in 2D and 3D geometric constructions, and calculator modes as well…but that’s just bonus!

    So, yeah, I don’t believe you when you say you can’t do research on tablets. I just wish I had the time and resources I need to “convince” you. (As you can probably guess, I’ve been thinking about this for years…indeed, I’ve been thinking about this even before the technology was available to accommodate my desires!)

    1. Perhaps it could be done that way, but since it means multiple devices, and new linkages (which easily become breakages) it’s just that much simpler to just use an outright desktop/laptop and be done.

      1. The reason why I have this in mind, though, and the reason why I won’t go for a desktop or even a laptop, is that they simply aren’t portable. This is why I want to use tablets.

        The problem with books is that they aren’t all that portable either. One or two are, to be sure, but if you wanted to bring a calculus book, a handful of topology books, a hefty Real Analysis book, three complex analysis books, and another topology book or two, and some Algebra books, then you’re talking about serious weight. It’s not practical to bring them everywhere you go, and you need shelf-space to access them…and if you need to move to a new place, you need to stick these things in boxes, which makes them even less accessible.

        I don’t have much experience researching history, but I would be very surprised if there weren’t similar issues…

  23. Part of the clinging to the familiar is that thinking requires effort and humans are naturally averse to effort. Habits are a way of reducing the cost of navigating each day.

    As a general rule, the older you are the more balls you’re keeping in the air and the more you need to make the shifting of them a routine process, distributing the effort to muscle memory and freeing the cerebral cortex for more essential tasks, such as calculating the relative displacement of a B-cup and a D-cup and considering whether the graph can be extended linearly to DDD-cups or whether there is a slope involved requiring algebraic functions.

  24. That’s all very well, but in what sense are the fleas low? I hope it’s not humor, that would bite. Although we shouldn’t leap to conclusions.

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