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Shannon A.
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27th-Nov-2016 11:55 pm - The Busy Thanksgiving Weekend
As we closed in on lunchtime on the Friday after Thanksgiving I was determined to find myself a tasty sandwich that I could eat up in the hills above Berkeley.

But Cheese 'n Stuff was closed. So was IB Hoagies. I finally decided to walk all the way up to North Berkeley to get a delicious Andronico's sandwich.

Truth to tell, I hadn't even expected to be back in Berkeley on Friday morning.

One day earlier. We headed out to BART at a quarter 'til 10 on Thursday, for Thanksgiving down in San Marteen. It's the first time we've had Thanksgiving there in I dunno how long, and I think it happened primarily because I quizzed early about plans in San Marteen rather than just waiting and then making our own plans up here when things were getting toward the last moment. So, yay.

K. and I packed pills and toiletries and clothes to stay over night, though we weren't definite about doing so. That's foreshadowing about that whole not-expecting-to-be-in-Berkeley-on-Friday bit.

Jason picked us up in Fremont, because the Warm Springs BART station, now two years late, still hasn't happened. We got to see his new house on the way to San Marteen. It seemed very nice.

Then we were down to San Marteen by noon or so, which was great. There was talking and ping ponging and then dinner around 2.30. More talking and some football watching (which I find interesting enough though it's never something I'd do on my own) and some gaming with Between Two Cities and Dixit. It was feeling like late evening by the time Jason and Lisa and Rob were all planning to head out, but it was only 6 or 7 or something, which was pretty cool — getting such a full day in and still having evening ahead of us.

I was somewhat concerned about staying overnight because of the fact that the heat wasn't working at Casa Wiedlin in San Marteen. There were fires and heaters going all over the house and it was keeping it from being super cold. But I thought it was going to be pretty cold in the morning.

But then there was the pumpkin pie incident.

K. awoke from her post-turkey stupor, ate pumpkin pie, and got sick from it. So we ultimately decided to head home on Thursday night so she could be sick there instead of at someone else's house.

Rob drove us, so we got to talk to both brothers on different car trips.

The Warm Springs BART extension still wasn't open, so he took us up to Fremont.

Friday, I did get my sandwich at Andronico's.

Another side effect of the is-it-a-holiday-or-is-it-not problem of Black Friday was that AC Transit was running a weekday schedule. So I had to hike all the way up to Euclid to catch a bus, and it didn't deliver me quite into Tilden.

But I had a nice lunch in Tilden, then I wrote for a while, then I walked all the way home from there: up through southern Tilden, around Strawberry Canyon, and then down Panoramic Hill. Somewhere over 10 miles total, the exact sort of nice hike in the hills that I'd been wanting for a few weeks.

Saturday was gaming, our first full session of Burning Wheel play. We're still at that uncomfortable point where we're learning a game system, and Burning Wheel is quite complex, which means we'll be there for a while.

But, the gears kept turning and we continued our development of our story.

The AP of our game so far is here though I haven't added this week's session yet. As always, there are too many things to write. (More on that momentarily.)

Sunday was rest (and writing). But after some early afternoon naps, K. and I put up our Christmas tree.

This is an artificial tree that K. found after last year's sawing-the-tree-in-half debacle. Putting the new tree together and spreading out all the branches took forever and was quite exhausting, but I compared it to going across town to pick out a tree, and it wasn't too bad. And that was on top of moving various book cases and a cat tree out of the way to provide space for the christmas tree. And moving a cat out of the way, as Callisto kept insisting on jumping on the top of the cat tree whenever it stopped for a moment in its movements. This made things particularly difficult when the cat tree had to go through low doorways.

After all that, the hanging of lights and ornaments was pretty easy.

So there's now a nice tree in the corner of our living room. Callisto has only made one mad rush at it so far, threatening that she might climb straight up it.

Also busyness this weekend: writing, writing, writing.

  • Prep for Saturday adventure (due Friday night; done). I had fun detailing places and people in our city of Eligium, starting to create the modern basis of our world.
  • Edits and expansions of three Pathfinder ACG strategy articles (due Sunday night; done).
  • This journal entry (done).
  • AP for Saturday's game (due before I forget things; in process).
  • Four D&D Classic histories (due Monday night; three and a half drafted).
  • One Prince Valiant encounter (due Tuesday night; half done).
  • A very long Catan gamopedia (in process).

13th-Nov-2016 07:57 pm - Donald Trump & Healthcare Serfdom
I first realized how broken America's healthcare system was around the time I turned 30. I was writing the checks for the premiums for Skotos' health insurance, and I was seeing the costs rise dramatically year by year. It was having a major impact on our bottom line as our fees literally doubled over the course of several years.

However, K's issues with health insurance were more notable. She applied for private insurance and she was denied due to pre-existing conditions. It was nothing of particular note at the time, just rare fainting and chalazions (eye styes), but the insurance industry had absolutely no incentive to offer insurance to someone who didn't appear to be in picture-perfect health, so they didn't. It was one of the worst examples I've ever seen of capitalism applied to basic human services, to the deficit of humanity.

We were able to get K. on Skotos' insurance, with fees paid out of our pocket. But if anything that amplified my impression of the core problem. I increasingly realized that our health care — our health assurance — depended on being employed with a company. It made ideas like freelancing and even moving very difficult, because either of those decisions could break our ties to our employer-based insurance system.

In other words, it was heathcare serfdom, locking me to the regular system of employment and making it difficult to go too far afield from the location of the company that I wanted to work with. Perhaps the tie was harder to see than those of serfs with their land in the Middle Ages, but it was there all the same.

America's healthcare serfdom ended on March 23, 2010. The Democratic Congress restored the right of mobility to the population by ending insurance companies' ability to reject applicants, to reject claims related to pre-existing conditions, or to charge more for high-risk patients. As is appropriate in a civilized country, Congress ensured that everyone would help each other, with the healthy supporting the sick. Using a complex system of payments and tax rebates, they also made it possible for everyone to get health insurance.

It made freelancing a real possibility, without living under the Damoclean sword of medical bankruptcy. It also fit with the modern idea of a distributed office, allowing employees spread across the United States to each access guaranteed health insurance in their own state.

Skotos changed over to health-insurance-exchange insurance a few years ago. Admittedly, it's far from perfect. The costs are too high and the networks are too narrow. But it wasn't horrible for relatively healthy people, and it made less-traditional business very possible. More importantly, it offered a way to cut the too-strong tie between employment and healthcare.

For the first time in nearly a decade I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. Cost increases finally flattened out, and I no longer had to worry about what to do about medical insurance if a situation arose where my company or my employment would no longer qualify for an employee-backed health insurance.

Meanwhile a new idea fell together for K. and me personally: a move to Hawaii. It was May or June this year when we settled upon this as our intention, for a few years hence. And healthcare was never even a concern, because I knew I could just transition from a plan on the California exchange to a plan on the Hawaii exchange with little problem.

Enter November 8, 2016. Donald Trump won the presidency after running on a chaotic and varied platform that, among other things, promised to dismantle the AMA.

Twenty-two million Americans depend on it. It establishes right of movement, eliminates health serfdom. It opens up new possibilities and removes old anxieties. But it's been the irrational target of hatred for Republicans for six and a half years, so there's every indication it will be gone in a couple of months. Donald Trump's minions even updated their plans on the topic a few days after their unexpected win.

So where do we go from here?

Are we going to return to the bad old days when loss of a job could (eventually, after COBRA runs out) result in the loss of insurance? Will we, the people, once more be bound to our jobs as healthcare serfs?

Trump claims he's going to replace it, but the only specifics on his web site talk about HSAs, which I've always seen as a fancy way of saying, "I don't have insurance."

The ACA was the biggest social entitlement of my generation. It addressed the worst of the human needs not addressed by our then-current government.

If things are rolled back to March 22, 2010, it's going to be ... heartbreaking.

Frustratingly, this proposed repeal is built on lies and unsupported hyperbole that the Republicans are telling about the system. Donald Trump's web site claims that the ACA is unsuccessful due to "rapidly rising premiums and deductibles, narrow networks".

I'd certainly agree that the narrow networks are troublesome. Just last year I wrote about the unacceptable distance I had to go to find an urgent care system. They literally told me to go to Sacramento. I had similar issues with finding an allergist, and ultimately decided to just punt the problem by not dealing with the issue. That's a problem that needs to be fixed.

However the low level of premium increases from 2011-2017 have been a godsend when compared to the decade before. They literally made it possible for me to keep doing what I was doing, what I love, even if the resulting coverage wasn't what I would have liked.

But the worst lie may be the claim that the Republicans can keep the "good" parts of the ACA, like the protection for pre-existing conditions and the ability for young adults to stay on the parents' insurance. Because without that much-hated mandate and without a complex system of risk corridors that moves some monies to the insurance companies shouldering excessive risk due to sicker patients ... it all falls apart.

So maybe the Republicans don't actually kill the pre-existing condition protections which are what protect us from healthcare serfdom, but if they drop the elements that make it possible, the whole system falls apart. And then the ACA dies a slow, shuddering death over a decade instead of a transitional death in two years, as the Republicans proposed last year.

How does this affect us personally? It's hard to say, but it fills me with dread.

K. is no longer dependent on private insurance. She's managed to access Medicare. Mind you, Paul Ryan has been wanting to kill Medicare for years, and he's already stated it's at the top of his list come 2017. So, that's another potential disaster come inauguration day. But there's some indication that he might leave Medicare for current recipients, and if so, things might be OK for a time. And it'd be a foundation to rebuild Medicare after his voucher system crashes and burns.

Instead, my situation will be the trickier one this time. I find it unlikely that my current insurance carrier will want to dump me, because I'm pretty healthy and California itself has some decent protections for insurance costs. I also don't get any subsidies, so all I need is for the insurance company to keep treating me fairly.

But if the ACA is truly gone come 2017 (or 2019), our plans to move to Hawaii just got a lot harder, because I'd need to sign up with a new insurance carrier then. And I have high blood pressure, and that's a pre-existing condition.

It's probably a bit higher as of November 9, 2016.
9th-Nov-2016 03:13 pm - 5 Things I'm Already Sick Of
1. Democrats Saying that Someone Else Would Have Won

I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, but here's the thing: you have no idea whether Bernie Sanders would have outperformed Hillary Clinton or whether Joe Biden would have or whoever. None. It's an impossible hypothesis to prove because there's insufficient data. We don't know how the states would have broken differently, we don't know how they would have performed in the debates, we don't know what dirty laundry would have come out. We don't know how the general voting population would have reacted to a self-avowed socialist or how they would have contrasted a pugilistic Democrat with Donald.

All we do know is that no one else who actually wanted to run was able to earn enough votes among Democrats to win, and that's not a good argument for being able to do so in the general population.

So, shut up and move forward.

2. People Saying that 538 Should Retire

The pollsters definitely have some 'splained to do because they sucked. The thing is, they weren't off by much at the national level. Final national averages had Hilary at +3% and Upshot is still saying +1.3%. A 2% polling difference is well within the realms of reasonable margin of error and well within the historical margin of error.

Where pollsters utterly failed is at state level polls.

Where aggregators utterly failed is in understanding that Clinton's coalition was inefficiently distributed across the states.

Oh wait, there's one site that didn't: 538. They talked about Clinton's electoral weakness many a time, and said it could easily cost her the election if things dropped to 2% or worse. And there's one site that was giving Donald a one-thirds chance of winning until the day before the election (when it dropped to one-quarter). That's 538 too.

But there are a lot of morons out there who don't seem to understand that a 1 in 3 or a 1 in 4 odd is actually pretty likely. That it means it should come up every three or four elections. And it did.

538 got it right all around.

Now Princeton Election Consortium, the Dailykos, and some other sites that had the odds in 90%+ range for most of the last weeks. They got some 'splaining to do too.

3. People Saying that the Majority of Americans Have Spoken

Yes, Trump won by the rules of the game that Trump and Clinton agreed to before the contest started. (Well, except for the fact that Trump secretly had the FBI and the Russian gov't working for him.)

But don't pretend he has a mandate. And definitely don't claim that the majority of Americans or even the majority of voters spoke.

Well, they did, but they said they wanted Hillary.

She absolutely won the national vote count. Current numbers say by about .2%, while Upshot's calculations say 1.3% when everything comes in.

In other words, Trump's vast mandate is 18% of the population, or a losing minority of about 47% of the vote.

4. Media Not Doing Their Job

The media pretty much made President Trump. Congratulations, take a bow. And it's because they've become entertainment, not the news. Which is a damned shame, because that's not why the gov't gives airwaves to networks. We do it because they promise to practice journalism, not the pablum they're doling out now.

But they treated Donald like entertainment, airing every irreverent breath he took during the primaries.

Then they balanced him with false equivalency, acting like he and Hilary (or any sane politician) were the same.

Then they whored after their ratings by describing a horse race even when there wasn't one.

Meanwhile they breathlessly did the work of the FBI and the Russian Government, making up stories about stolen emails, even though any one's emails could make them look bad, then horribly misreporting the FBI's claims about their investigation.

Real journalists would have put the truth above ratings. They would have investigated. They would have said it like it was. They wouldn't have been tricked en masse by criminals in our government and in the former Soviet Union.

There were moments of light in this year's media coverage, when the so-called journalists seemed to realize that their horrible malfeasance might elect an insane idiot to the White House. But they flickered out the next time some tainted raw meat was dangled in front of them, and all their supposed ethics and supposed competence went right out the window.

Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek is excepted from this diatribe. He seemed to be the only one doing his job, but no one cared. Also that guy who found the pussy tape (but not CBS who tried to hold it back).

5. Deplorables Acting Empowered

The worse thing about the Trump campaign is that it empowered the people that Clinton unartfully called deplorables. Let's be more clear and state who they are: KKK Members. Antisemites. True Bigots. Gamer-Taters. PUAs. Other Misogynists. Transophobes. Homophobes. Islamiphobes.

We've seen it spill out into classrooms and into communities and I'm truly, truly sick of it.

I'm hopeful that Donald will leave these deplorables at the altar now that he doesn't need their vote any more. Because that's his modus operandi. I think He is truly an Islamiphobe, that he was broken by 9/11. But I don't think he's most of those other things.

So I hope they'll wither away in the light of indifference now that he's had his way with them.
9th-Nov-2016 10:48 am - Less Profanity About the Election
I stand by the Muslims, the Mexicans, the immigrants, the Jewish, and everyone else who Trump demonized this year in his race for the White House.

I do fear that Trump will genuinely work to make life worse for some of these people, and I will stand by you, even if it's only in what I write and how I act in my day-to-day interactions with you.

I also stand by the people who voted for Trump because they've been left behind by global shifts in the economy and they genuinely think he can make a difference.

I do fear that he's a liar and that he's not going to do a thing to help the poor and the non-college-educated that supported him, that he'll actually make life worse with trade barriers while offering a facade of support through attacking "the other". I'd love to be proven wrong, but if I'm not I hope you'll remember what Trump said he would do for the economy and for the working class ... and measure it against what actually happens.
8th-Nov-2016 11:43 pm - This Fucking Election
[Warning: Profanity Follows.]

I don't even know what to write. Except THIS FUCKING ELECTION.

No one's had the balls to call it yet (though they probably will by the time I finish this entry). But it's obvious that Donald Trump is our next president. No. 45. It should have been our first female president and about fucking time.

But no, a slight minority of our country, who control it thanks to the fucked-up broken nature of our presidential electoral system, have decided that a xenophobic, misogynist, plutocratic, KKK-embracing asshole should be our president.

This isn't like if Mitt Romney or John McCain won. Because they both seem like decent human beings. Donald Trump obviously isn't. Without hyperbole, he's the least qualified presidential candidate in my lifetime, and I mean least emotionally qualified, least knowledgeable, and just the least fucking appropriate. And that lifetime includes the incompetent liar and junkie George W. Bush. So that's really fucking saying something.

I dunno if if Trump will destroy the economy. (Though the stock market is going to hell tomorrow, that I know.) I dunno if he'll throw Mexicans and Jewish people into internment camps. I dunno if he'll roll back LGBT rights. I dunno if he'll wage a war against women's rights.

I mean the advantage of Trump is that he's not actually a conservative.

But my guess is that we'll get the worse of both worlds. He'll do god awful shit because he's a fucking moron that gets by on his inheritance. Meanwhile Mike Fucking Pence will make all the policy decisions that bore Donald, and then it'll be Christian sharia laws for everyone. Merry Fucking Christmas.

I mean I try and convince myself, maybe he'll just use his mighty business acumen and his outsider status to actually turn things around in a good way. But then I remember he's a fucking idiot and that's all a total sham. His fifth bankruptcy is going to be the Disunited States of America after he leads us into a trade war with Mexico or tells China he's not paying any more money back or something else that he's sure will work but is damned stupid.

The thing is I feel great sympathy for some percentage of the people who voted for Donald.

Hillary said it poorly, but her "basket of deplorables" comment was dead-on. There's a decent amount of actual scumbags in Donald's coalition. KKK members and gamer-taters and antisemites and PUAs. Fuck them.

But a lot of people supporting Donald, maybe even most, aren't. They're poor people who aren't college educated who have been left behind by the economy. We need to figure out how to help them, to bring them back into American dream.

But President Donald isn't going to do a fucking them for them. He spent 20 months lying to them and he's not going to give a shit when he gets into the White House. They were tools, and now that he's done with them Donald's going to throw them out.

(Because that's what rich people do. He'll go buy new ones if he needs them again.)

I hope they see that in 2 or 4 years when he's out there lying to them again and nothing's changed except the future looks even more desperate.

(Just saw the headline, "Trump's speech will be gracious, sources say." It'd be the first fucking time he was gracious in the last 20 months.)

K. has been very worried about the election and I kept telling her, "It's not going to affect us." Because we're white and we're straight and we're relatively well off even if our assets aren't very liquid and we're in a Democratic stronghold and we're planning to move to a Democratic stronghold.

But I've already seen the shockwaves this decision is sending into the stock market. It's going to make it hard to pay this year's property taxes without damaging our savings. And the trip to England we were planning next summer is probably right out.

And then I think that he could fuck up social security disability payments or he could send the economy into hyperinflation. Or.



We survived 8 years of Bush. Surely we can survive 4 years of Trump.

But, FUCK.

The Guardian seems to have noticed that Trump indeed won, while the US news sites are all still playing scaredy-cakes.
25th-Oct-2016 07:28 pm - A Million Years Later
Goodbye to the Dream. I feel like I spent last week out of town (again). Three days of designworkshop were enough to totally fill my brain. It was only on Sunday night and Monday morning that I finally came out of my busy daze and started to remember the things I was working on the and the things I'd promised to people.

So, it's slowly back to work on personal and Skotos projects alike ... but it feels like it's been a million years.

Flying the Unfriendly Skies. I've been putting off getting tickets for next year's Hawaiian trip for over a month, but last night, with all of my October weights off my shoulders, I suddenly felt able to do so. And despite Hawaiian Airlines' ass-hattery this year, I went back to them.

Why? We have miles. In fact, we have more miles than I thought. I spent about 37% of the miles sitting on my account, along with $22.80 for tax and fees and was able to get our tickets to visit the folks next year.

So, I'm giving Hawaiian continued business, despite how they acted this year, but I'm not actually giving them any money. I can deal with that. And based on how many miles I have left, I should be able to do the same thing in 2018 and 2019.

Three years of free Hawaiian vacations! Woot!

The Defernestration Initiative. On Sunday morning, K. and I emerged from our house to find the tree in the median strip of our next-door neighbors entirely destroyed. It was literally ripped into multiple parts. My best guess is that on Saturday night a drunken college student tried to swing around on it. Whoops! (And then onward to more booze at the next party.)

This was one of three trees that were planted next to the apartments next to us about two years ago. Unfortunately, whoever was taking care of them did a bad job. Two died from lack of water. This third one survived its irresponsible upbringing ... but not irresponsible college students.

For those keeping score, drunken college students tried to kill one of our trees too, by backing a car into it. That was just before last winter, and it survived. But it was a year older than the next-door trees, and so better able to take the abuse.

Alas, what could have been five nice trees running along our side of the street has become two. The two in front of our house.

Open the Streets of My Heart! Sunday was Berkeley's fifth annual Open Streets, when Shattuck Avenue gets closed for a couple of miles and stuff happen. Kimberly and I walked it, had lunch at Saul's (on the far side), then walked it back.

Honestly, it was pretty mediocre. It was obvious that the event had been hurt by the last-minute cancellation last week (due to rain), because there just weren't as many vendors out. The crowds were more sparse too.

Every year, I've felt like the event has been a little bit less interesting than the year before. There were more actual fun things that first year, and our NIMBY merchants hadn't yet driven off the food trucks. Now? Pamphleteers, jewelry merchants, and advertisers.

Nonetheless, I always love being able to actually walk up Shattuck and back and feel for just a single day that we're not a car-obsessed culture. Yeah, it's just an illusion, but still ...

And K. did find some jewelry.

Winter is Coming. I fear that my evening hikes have come to an end for 2016.

'SFunny, it wasn't even a thing before this year. But early in the year, my doc advised against biking for a while (as part of a long and fruitless series of medical exams and procedures that brought me nothing but annoyance and pain), so I took up hiking in the hills above our house and I've come to really like the fire trails and other paths there.

But the rain has started to come down, and the trails are getting muddy, and soon enough we're going to lose a precious hour of evening sunlight.

So I'm going to need to figure out how to get my evening exercise again. Maybe nighttime bike rides, maybe Dance Dance Revolution which I haven't done in a few years.

But winter is (sadly) coming.
23rd-Oct-2016 12:05 am - The Lafayette Reservoir
I was severely at loose ends today, between my gaming being cancelled, and not having any brain space to make alternative plans due to the Rebooting the Web of Trust design workshop. So, pretty spontaneously today I decided to go out to the Lafayette Reservoir.

I'd tried to visit one other time, while I was abike, and discovered they had annoying restrictions against bikes most of the time. It struck me as even more discriminatory today when I discovered that they were even banning bikes from getting up to the parking lot where all their gas-guzzling, environment-destroying cars were allowed to park.

But I digress.

The point is that I biked out to Rockridge BART, locked my bike up there, then BARTed out to Lafayette, with the intent to walk the mile to the Reservoir.

Of course I immediately regretted not having my bike when I got to Lafayette because I discovered the main path leading from BART to the downtown is blocked off through the end of November. So, it was a quarter of a mile out of my way to go back and forth to my intended place for lunch, Baja Fresh.

And then I discovered that the Baja Fresh had gone out of business, so it was half-a-mile out of my way, straight away from the Reservoir, to Taco Bell. (I later learned there were some acceptable restaurants along the way to the Reservoir, but I didn't want to take the chance of that not happening.)

And thus I ended up walking a mile and a half to get to the Reservoir, but I suppose walking was the purpose of the day.

The entrance to the Reservoir is an ugly asphalt-choked road with pedestrian paths a clear afterthought. But once I got up to the Reservoir proper, I found a lovely area with shaded picnic areas and entrances to the paths around the Reservoir.

I took the outermost trail, which runs along the edges of the Reservoir property line. It's in very challenging and hilly terrain that often jogs straight up then straight down and the whole trail is almost 5 miles. I quite enjoyed it; it was good hiking, of the sort I've enjoyed lately. I was also pleased to discover that it's not an entirely segregated path. There are about half-a-dozen official paths out to the local communities (most of them not marked on any maps). There should be more, but the existing ones at least help to make the path more of a community resource. (And make it so that you don't have to come into that main entrance to get into the Reservoir.)

One of the few marked alternate entrances to the Reservoir is at Meadow Park Ct. west of the Reservoir. Sadly the area seems to be inhabited by hateful NIMBYs who would fit right into many parts of Berkeley. They'd put up a sign at the clearly official entrance to the Reservoir saying that "iPhone Maps" was wrong and that if people were trying to get into the Reservoir, they should go to the main entrance off Mt. Diablo. I have to presume the area contains some ex-hippies-now-Trump-voters who have gotten pissed at people parking on their street to hike in the Reservoir, so they posted their little lying hissy-fit sign.

So, if you want to visit the Reservoir to hike, that's where I suggest you park. It's labeled "Lafayette Entrance 1" on Google "iPhone" Maps. You won't get the amenities of bathrooms and picnic tables, but you'll be on one of the main trails within 10 feet of entering the park.

I walked in and out of the park through some of the entrance along Moraga Way on my way back, and eventually left the park entirely atop a hill above Mt. Diablo Way. I'd been hoping that one of these routes would be more attractive and closer to BART than the main entrance, but I'm not convinced that's the case.

Though not ideal for walking from BART, several of them would be move convenient if you had a bike and needed to lock it up before entering the park — Lafayette Entrance 1, an entrance at the end of Paseo Grande, and an unmarked entrance up a semi-secret (but clearly official) stairway off of Calle La Montana were all straight off the street, which is probably superior to the quarter- or half-a-mile walk I had to make from the main entrance. So, if I was biking, I might take one of those.

Anyway, great hike. And quite relaxing, except when I had some college-age alcoholics behind me talking up a storm. "I try not to drink Monday to Wednesday," one says. The other replies "I try not to binge drink on the weekends." It's clear that they're both talking about extreme efforts of will. But then the second alcoholic follows it up with, "I feel like I'm pretty good at not drinking during the week. I mean Happy Hour, that's different."

So much for will power.

But I just, stopped, let them pass, then I had some nice solitude again, which was what I needed after three days spent Rebooting the Web (of Trust).
21st-Oct-2016 11:21 pm - Reboot Tres, Day Tres
This morning, for the first time all week, the BART trains ran on time.

Apparently we don't need to elect Donald Trump after all.


So today was the third and final day of the third and not-final Rebooting the Web of Trust.

People were lower energy today. The crowd was a little smaller because some people had to go home and the three-quarters of the group still around were more likely to be staying at their tables and quietly working. But the time was clearly useful because we pushed about 15 minutes past our planned stopping point of 4 o'clock because people wanted to do just a little bit more work.

My group actually finished up a very rough draft of our paper, which is an engagement model applied to a refugee situation. The ultimate goal is to merge UN SDG 16.9 concerns with self-sovereign identity modeling. Yesterday, our group fleshed out most of this engagement model of a refugee arriving in a refugee camp and eventually receiving a visa, then I wrote about 75% of it yesterday and today.

There's still much to be done, including some revising of the text and some better integration of the narrative with the goals of the work. I wouldn't actually consider it a first draft for something I was working on individually. But as a group project in a time-constrained environment, I'm quite happy with what we got down, and the best part is that the other group members (in particular, Joe A., whose idea it was, and who will be lead editing) can now go through text and better tune it to his ideals, without time constraint.

(And I'll get to see it again afterward, as the RWOT editor.)

Our goal for these design shops has always been 3-5 white papers or specs, and I think we hit 5 papers in final form for each of the previous ones, with some stragglers that didn't hit our repository for various reasons (such as publication at another site).

At our final plenary today I recorded plans for either 12 or 13 potential papers, and I know that at least my original group absolutely drafted two complete papers during the conference itself. I think there was a little more of that and some strong momentum in the other groups for finishing what they got done during the workshop.

End result: I'm very confident we're going to considerably exceed our original goals this time around. There was even one code prototype, which we've never had before, and was another sign of the workshop's higher level of success.

Even better, almost all of these potential papers are true collaborations between at least two people (in a couple of cases, two people bringing together different protocols and meshing them, which is extremely cool) and in some a half-dozen or more people. This was something that was somewhat missing at the second Rebooting Web of Trust, which had more single-author papers, so I'm glad Christopher was able to restore it here.

I was bone tired when I got back to Berkeley today. Apparently three days of heavy social work will do that. I think I'm even more tired than after the five days of off-site in Canada last month, but I was more active here — more actively talking, more actively participating, and sometimes helping to lead.

So two days of rest(ish) will now be welcome.

I'm even expecting to mostly put aside my personal projects which take up much of my "free" time ... because I did most of the writing I usually would have over the weekend on my BART trips this week. (I outlined five D&D related histories on Monday and Tuesday night, in prep, and just barely managed to finish up first drafts of all those papers on my six BART trips.)

So tomorrow, some biking or walking (and, yes, some editing of those five histories).

Then on Sunday some Open Streetsing in Berkeley ... and maybe no writing or editing at all.

And then it's back to the regular work week, but Rebooting the Web of Trust III was my last really big project for the year (well, other than editing that excess of RWOTIII papers ... and preparing the fourth annual membership drive for RPGnet).

20th-Oct-2016 11:04 pm - Reboot Tres, Day Two
As far as I can tell the whole BART system is falling apart. I mean in the last few years I've been noticing that maybe 1 trip in 10 that I take has a delayed train, which is much worse than ye olden days of the '90s when I used to take it all the time.

But today there were delays for the second day in a row (and I also know BART had major delays on Monday, because I saw them on my Google Maps when I mapped out getting to the Rebooting the Web of Trust events).

Today's delays started in the morning, when the delay was being quoted at 15-20 minutes due to an equipment problem between 12th Street and West Oakland. (It wasn't quite that bad.) Then this evening I found that there were claiming 10 minute delays in San Francisco due to … equipment problems. (It was worse.)

Then, to add insult to injury, once we finally made it back to the East Bay another train "cut" in front of us at 12th. So said, the BART train operator. She seemed surprised, perhaps annoyed. So we waited outside of 12th Street for some time.

Then, to add insult to insult, we also sat waiting outside of Ashby for some time because of a "police hold" on the train ahead of us at Ashby. Odds are that it was the train that cut us off at 12th Street. So, maybe they're excused if there was a Speed situation and the train couldn't drop below 50 mph ... until the crack squad of BART Anti-Terrorist Cops (BAT-CO!) finally dealt with the terrorists, them dragged them off the train at Ashby.

(More likely it was rowdy kids or a drunk or a homeless guy, because East Bay.)

If you're keeping track that's 3 major equipment problems, 2 police actions, 1 medical emergency, and 1 driver taking "cutsies" in 2 days of travel to and from San Francisco.

I actually wasn't annoyed in the morning because I headed out quite early in case any one wanted to get started on our project early. So the train running late didn't stress me at all. I just sat down on the floor (no seats on BART, of course), pulled out my computer, and wrote.

As it happened our group didn't gel until well after the start time, but from there we had a day much like I'd hoped, with a small group working on the 12-step use case / customer-support-model that we were planning. We talked about it for a few hours, and after lunch when discussion drifted to self-sovereign identity and other philosophical ideas, I just started writing. With some help from Z., we got about half of it first drafted. It'll be easy enough to finish tomorrow.

I was more annoyed by the BART problems in the evening, because the workshop went quite late and it felt like the last plenary dragged, as people described their projects, then took many questions, which were mostly references to other projects they should look at. An hour in and on public transit after that was ... unpleasant.

I was leery of this workshop running three days this time, but at least for my group, it's worked out well. We got things sorted on Wednesday, we got things outlined and written today, and we'll get things finished tomorrow.

Previously, at our first Web of Trust, the writing crashed straight into the finishing on the last day and it made things a bit frantic. But, it was kind of cool in a Project Runway running with scissors sort of way.

One more day, and then I rest. Saturday's Burning Wheel game was cancelled due to too many people being away or having babies, and I wasn't at all sad, because the day of rest after three days of heavy socialization will be welcome.
19th-Oct-2016 11:03 pm - Reboot Tres, Day One
Lucy Cat woke me up at 6.30 this morning. Bad Lucy Cat. No treat. (Actually, she got her treats anyway a few hours later.)

Today was the first day of the third Rebooting the Web of Trust design workshop. It was in San Francisco again, at a nice Microsoft space in SoMa.

It started annoyingly enough with BART delays. By the time I'd gotten in to SF, they'd said that that was a track switching problem between Embarcadero and Montgomery and a police action and the good 'ole "medical emergency". But they were quoting us 20-30 minutes delay, and the delay at least from Berkeley to Montgomery was only 11 minutes.

And so I got into the Microsoft space a few minutes before the hour instead of 15 minutes early. I was a little disappointed that we didn't get a big, beautiful high-rise space like we did last time in SF, but in contrast, the Microsoft space seems to be an actually used community workspace, which is its own type of cool.

It was nice to see a number of people I know from the identity and privacy name spaces and also to be well received by them, presumably because of the good work I've been able to put in on the previous two workshops (and on the papers afterward). And I suppose because it's also a number of people that I've had friendly interactions with over the last year.

As always, I was impressed by how quickly the workshop gelled and broke into individual groups, each working on their own topic. After the somewhat chaotic second Web of Trust, in New York earlier this year, I feel like this one is going to be better at producing some strong collaborative papers. (The second one did meet our goal of 3-5 papers, but they were more frequently single-author papers, which just doesn't generate the same type of creative innovation as a good group process can.)

I'm always a bit concerned if I'm going to be able to find a group that I personally can contribute to, but as always I quickly found myself stuff to do. There was one group that called to me, and within a short time I was pretty sure that I could contribute considerable writing to the group. In fact, Chris later came over to see if I could scribe for a different group, but we decided that I was better to stay where I was because I had passion for it already.

Today was mainly organizational and brainstorming. But if things go the way I like, we'll sit down tomorrow and write through the day.

Oh, and there was good food along the way. K. and/or Chris have really got that down good. I had Noah's Bagels and Cream Cheese for breakfast and then a taco and a fajita for lunch. (I can see already that I'll put on weight this week, but so it goes.)

As usual in SF, I walked out to Civic Center to come home. It was probably unnecessary, as this workshop is running a little later than the previous one (10-6 instead of 9-5), but I hit my 10,000 steps for the day shortly before getting home, so it was clearly the right choice to get my exercise in, despite the lack of time to go out and actually hike in the evening or something.

And that was Day 1 of what's literally the third design workshop I've attended sn the last year (since the first was last early November) and the fourth major group get-together like this (counting the Blockstream offsite in Kelowna).
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