A productive weekend!

We vanished for the weekend and went out into the great wide world for a day and two nights. We got a lot done, even masked and avoiding most other human beings.

  • We visited our son Alaric in St Cloud. He’s doing well, his only complaint right now is that it’s impossible to get his hands on a PS5, which tells me he’s not facing any major worries right now.
  • We upgraded our phones, something we’ve put off for a few years, even as screens cracked and their batteries got weaker and weaker. We now get 5G, which is great, since it means our brains are also mutating to receive telepathic signals from the Pleiades, and our new third eyes are beginning to erupt. The downside: a few hours spent getting them all reconnected with our passwords.*
  • I got my birthday present. We stopped by Cabela’s and I got a pair of good hiking boots. Some of my pedal miseries lately have been a consequence of always picking up the cheapest pair of shoes possible, and wearing them to destruction (it doesn’t take all that long, cheap shoes last about a year). Now I’ve got a solid pair of boots with firm ankle support and a good fit. We’ll see if they help.
  • We visited our daughter, Skatje, in Wisconsin. She’s finishing up a PhD in computational linguistics, and her subspecialty is Russian. She’s not happy about the situation over there, but she’s very much into the Russian culture and language. So we had syrniki for breakfast. Do not speak to me of the decadent West, when Slavs eat fried cheesecake for breakfast.
  • Then of course we also played with Iliana all day long. I had forgotten how exhausting kids are at three.

Now we are home again. It’s time to get back into my mundane responsibilities.

*Passwords ought to be trivial, except I’m too old. I was an early adopter of the Mac (1984!) and signed up for mac.com network a few years later, which is now defunct. But every time I upgrade an Apple device, it insists on avidly taking up the mac.com network identity and telling me to log in to an extinct service in order to prove I am who I say I am.


  1. whheydt says

    I run convention registration for a regional gaming convention. I see a smattering of mac.com email addresses every year, so at least that part of it still exists.

  2. bmatchick says

    Upgrading from one iPhone to another is automatic. You just put the new phone next to the old one and it will realize what you’re doing and just walk you through a few steps then copy everything over automatically, including all the passwords. It should be a few minutes of interaction, then wait for the copying to finish. Not sure about the mac.com situation as I never got an email there.

  3. Miserable Git Says says

    Good boots are almost always worth it, they just look after your feet so much better than cheap ones and they will make those cold season walks so much more enjoyable. BUT Cabelas! yeah they have a great selection but their behind the scenes campaigning for expanded gun ownership in the US and also Canada is vile. So a very small shame on you.
    I made the same mistake and bought some very nice binoculars from them years ago, not repeating.

  4. nomuse says

    But on the upside, you always know exactly where you are from the feel of the cobblestones.

  5. robro says

    Mac.com evolved. It’s now iCloud. Your Mac.com email address works as an iCloud.com email address and a Me.com email address. However, I suspect the device asking for your Apple ID which might be, but not necessarily, your icloud.com/mac.com/me.com email address. dYou can use any old email address for your Apple ID.

  6. Skatje Myers says


    Computational linguistics is a subfield of linguistics. In CS, we call it natural language processing. They’re overlapping areas, but not exactly the same. Also, Russian is pretty incidental. Mostly I work on extending semantic role labeling to new low-resource domains or languages. Russian just happens to be one such language.

  7. hillaryrettig1 says

    Hi PZ – for your feet, also consider getting custom made sole inserts at some point. pricey, but runners etc. swear by them.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    hillaryrettig1 @ 11
    When you have single-payer health insurance like a lot of countries in Europe, the cost of custom made sole inserts becomes mostly academic.
    My inserts have made it possible to regain my mobility.

  9. robro says

    brigarjohansson — I’m sure you know that you’re just making us American’s jealous with your talk about “single-payer health insurance.”

  10. PaulBC says

    I like how you both have your eyes wide open (with iris completely exposed at the top). Those must be very exciting blocks.

  11. PaulBC says

    robro@14 What? You don’t appreciate our American “freedom to die if you can’t afford to pay for treatment”? You some kind of commie?

  12. PaulBC says

    Boots made me think of this MASH episode which I bet I have not seen in over 40 years (but I saw it again and again in UHF reruns). The memory of Hawkeye stepping in a puddle (of slush I think) really sticks in my mind.

  13. birgerjohansson says

    I mention this as they talk about how the courts are proceeding with the lawsuit against Fox News -a kind of extra gift to PZ
    “Skepticrat 169 Go Tuck Yourself Edition ” at Youtube
    (If you are in Toronto May 7th you can see them live)

  14. says

    At least someone in that picture looks energetic and bouncy. :-)

    Shoes and matrasses are IMO the two things you should definitely never skimp on. I’ve been using hiking boots as regular shoes for years now, and never regretted it. In my experience the longevity makes up for the price premium.

  15. blf says

    rsmith@19, An alternative to hiking boots as regular shoes is a seriously-good pair of regular shoes. (Which also tend to be very expensive, but in line with the Samuel Vimes Boots Theory of Economics, quite probably work out to be cheaper in the end.) Insert caveat here about ankle support.

    For example, roughly two decades ago, getting tired of my shoes wearing out rather rapidly (I did and do a lot of walking in cities, etc.), I decide to spend the €uros and get some robust comfortable (another problem with cheaper shoes) pair. They also look(ed) quite nice, an added bonus. I still have them, and use them, daily (modulo staying-at-home due to lockdowns, etc.). Despite my being very negligent at doing any maintenance of them (which is now showing, with scuff marks and some other (minor?) indications of leather damage here and there), they are in better-than-you-might-expect shape. I’ve had to replace the laces twice(?), and have them resoled once.

    The resoling was kind-of amusing. When it became obvious they needed new soles, I went back to the shop where I purchased them and asked for advice. They immediately supplied the address of a craftsman (who used original parts from the manufacturers), highly recommending the person. So off I went through a maze of (slightly-)twisty older streets, and found the gnome’s cave — which is just about an “accurate” description, a short very elderly gentleman in a cave-like arched brickwork workshop absolutely stuffed full of anything to do with serious footware. He looked my shoes over, hemmed and hawed a bit, then scurried away to the dark recesses of his cave and came back with exactly the (original manufacturer’s) soles needed. A week(? fortnight?) later, all done, at a surprisingly-modest price.

    I’ve since bought a pair of (non-hiking) boots made by the same manufacturer. The laces aren’t as sturdy as they should be, but otherwise the story looks to be the same… no need yet to, e.g., resole, despite being at least a decade old, and in fine shape. I do fear, however, that gnome won’t be around if(? when?) I next need to resole.

  16. robro says

    PaulBC @ #16

    What? You don’t appreciate our American “freedom to die if you can’t afford to pay for treatment”? You some kind of commie?

    Oh, I appreciate it alright. It’s kept me working as I’m approaching 74. I have an adult son and a younger wife who need health insurance. I was going to retire 2 years ago, but then COVID. I was going to retire at the end of this year but now WWIII. (And yes, I’ve been known to describe myself as a communist to my Republican relatives in the South…mainly just to shock them.)

  17. says


    Ankle support is precisely the reason I go for boots rather than shoes. And since I generally take the bike for in-city trips, I don’t tend to wear out soles. What I have found is that the adhesives and/or rubbery bits used in the construction of especially the footbed/sole tend to last about 10 years max before they crumble. That for me has been the practical limit of endurance for shoes.

    Still, much better than a pair that only lasts a year.