board games at home

Oregon Trail: The Card Game
Olive has always loved this game. Like the old 90s computer game, you pretend you're on a wagon trail in the 1800s trying to go west. Along the way you are likely to die randomly from a highly contagious disease for which there are no vaccines or medical care. We got this out and played a round, but for some reason it's just not as fun this week. I put it away and we probably won't be playing much of it.

This game starts with somebody getting straight up murdered. I find it much more comforting than Oregon Trail. You pretend you're at a party moving around rooms with all your friends laughing and accusing each other of foul play. It took a bit for Olive to understand "process of elimination" but that extra strategy challenge is good for her. Josie and I are competitive as hell at it.

When we just want to survive, we get the dominoes out and play mexican train. Or is it just train? Why mexican train? I did some googling, and dominoes were brought to this world by the Chinese sometime in the 1200s, and the game mexican train was first marketed by a California company. I think we'll just say train.

We don't have this game but Josie really wants to play it. I'm going to try to borrow it from a friend, if we can figure out a way to maintain social distance and de-contamination rules.

Star Wars Risk
I'm reserving this for if we get REALLY bored. Risk takes for freaking ever.

I hate UNO.

I will play Flux - not my favorite, because you can't really be strategic, the game changes totally randomly. But Marc loves it. I think this is because he has more than a smidge of undiagnosed ADHD going on.

riverfest 2019

every year wichita holds a giant festival in late may/early june: riverfest. last year 440,000 people attended. you buy a button, and that gets you into everything all week. being the connected enthusastic wichitans we are, we volunteer. I spend hours in STEM tents teaching kids science activities, our own kids run free among the fountains and bouncy houses, we blow our food budget for the month on funnel cake, pronto pups and lemonade, and marc gets pulled into random DJ gigs and stage help.

last year one of the nights he was helping with the chroma party. it's an electronic music stage show where you squirt florescent non-toxic mostly water paint on the crowd with those single barrel cannon-style water guns. everyone wears white clothes and by the end of the night, they are all the colors. I hadn't been but I said sure I'll help out and watch the kids so they don't get lost in the crowd.

when I got there he showed all the 5 gallon buckets of paint and said they usually ran out too fast during shows, so they had to pace themselves - one bucket an hour! go through a bucket, then break and just play music! but I counted and said man, the show is from 7-10pm, you need two buckets every 15 minutes and you'd still have some left, so you could do four every 15 minutes in the last hour... well long story short, I quickly texted him a plan in near-spreadsheet format, a beautiful schedule of how the paint would go. they needed me.

the group of us tag-teamed climbing up on scaffolds to spray paint. the crowd loved it, people would cheer wildly. Josie even got in on it, I told her to spray out, try not to get anybody directly in the face but you can get their shirt if they're really excited about it, and she was good with it, they loved her, she loved them.

and that's what we did all night. dancing on the scaffold, 1000 people around us with their hands up, DJs taking turns doing their sets on stage, everyone slimy and colorful and smiling ear to ear. the sun went down. I got up on the scaffold with marc and josie. we were out of paint. marc held me close and we cheered and danced with everyone. as night fell, I asked josie... will you remember this all your life? because I would remember it all my life. songs about happiness and sunny days, stars in the sky, people embracing, families, kids, everyone close and everything perfect. i knew even then when the world was normal that I should not take the moment for granted. I wanted to freeze it. sometimes I close my eyes and wish I could video everything in my mind at one time. I try so hard to capture it. other times I try to see if it worked by replaying them, and I see those times a little bit - climbing the tulip tree outside my house when I was 10. singing in the high school choir. running a race, covered with mud. biking the trails in my college town. the sky outside the airplane hangar at night. eating cake on our wedding day. sun through the windows when we said let's try to get this house. my youngest baby sitting in her bath, trying to grab the water. losing count of josie's pedals when she learned to ride her bike. I don't need a million of those times. I just want the few to really be there for me.

where to invest

I realize I said you were a jerk to talk about the stock market while people are dying, but on second thought, I have absolutely no control over ANYTHING so thinking about ANYTHING is a welcome distraction to the COVID-19 outbreak.

I was in a lot of reddit groups about investment, personal finance, financial independence - I have left all those groups. people were being stupid, saying oh great this is a time to buy stocks since they're all so low! and when I said no it's not they said "you don't have a crystal ball!" and called me names. OR there were people saying now is a great time to SELL because OMG END OF THE WORLD GET OFF THE BOAT and those people are selling low, and when you look at their post history a lot of them were the types to always predict the next recession - as in, every three months for the past ten years, they've predicted that we're on the brink of the next recession.

I left all the group to ignore all of them.

then I got curious about who's right. what does history really tell us. I found a site that would tell me about all the monthly averages, what were the previous crashes, how long did you have time to buy at the "right price", how long until it recovered? I put them in a spreadsheet.

2011 US Credit Downgrade
August 2011, 11% drop from the previous month.
How long did it take to bottom out? 1 month
How long were we within 5% of that minimum? 4 months
How long until we recovered? 7 months

2008 Housing Bubble
October 2008, 20% drop from the previous month, followed by another 9% drop in september
How long did it take to bottom out? 4-5 months
How long were we within 5% of that minimum? The ultra low point was March 2009, whent he market was 43% below where it was the previous year, but then it really started bouncing back. There were a good 6 months decreases leading up to that.
How long until we recovered back to where we were? S&P 500 didn't get back above 1200 for two whole years... 26 months.

2001 Dotcom crash
9% drop in March (dot com bubble) followed by an
11% drop in September (9/11) followed by another
11% drop in July 2002 (more dotcoms? worldcom scandal? who knows).
How long did it take to bottom out? If you could from March 2001, 23 months!
How long were we at the bottom? 4 months, around the first quarter of 2003
Hog long until we recovered? S&P was around 1300 before the crash. It hit it again in September 2006. Five years.

so here's why I left all my reddit groups. the posts were basically asking...

when do I invest my money? well, the market will take years to recover, so you've got plenty of time to think about it.

is now a great time to buy? no, we are months away from finding the bottom. if you invest in stocks now, rest assured you are throwing your money away.

I have money, where should I invest it?

the stock market will turn your money into a line in a database that slowly rots.

or you could consider... isn't doctors without borders and "investment" right now? with medical facilities already in bad shape around the world, they have the infrastructure to help the people who have nothing.

or direct relief, who's gone straight into disaster-affected communities for decades, who just delivered 800000 N95 masks to chinese healthcare workers?

or the international rescue committee, constantly helping the people who's lives are shattered by crisis, finding the weakest healthcare systems now to offer aid?

I know that money will build a future. maybe not for me personally, but for the world I live in. My future is uncertain now. My company is hurting. Part of me wants every dollar in my emergency savings account. But I also know that right now I am still getting a paycheck - and not everyone can say the same thing. So I am donating. Not much, but I am trying. And I'm ready to help friends. That's what you should do if you have money to invest. Really invest.

the friday five: happiness

1. What flower makes you the happiest when you see it?
not really into flowers but there are random daffodils that pop up in my yard that do make me a little happy. and the kids absolutely love them, which makes me even happier!

2. What song always makes you feel better?
songs have to copy my mood, I can't listen to Lizzo sing Good As Hell if I'm not already a little happy. Tonight I was feeling a lot, and turned on Hamilton. I listened to George Washington sing about leadership and history having its eyes on this moment, on the brave, the wise, the fearless. There is always a song.

3. Do you enjoy making people laugh or are you more afraid of them laughing at you?
I love making people laugh! I won both club and area toastmasters contests one year for my funny speech about my time working in a shoe store.

4. Have you ever been called ‘The Life of the Party’ and for good reason?
It's a really nerdy party that would call me the life of it, but I'm sure it could happen.

parties :(

5. Do tee shirts and bumper stickers make you laugh?
here's one. be a lert. the world needs more lerts.

chewy review

I used to get my pet food through dr. fosters but last year they got bought out, stopped carrying my dog's food, I didn't like how petco handled the buyout automatically switching me to a WAY more expensive brand without my permission, so I bailed. I thought about just using pet food as my amazon add-on stuff to get to free shipping, but then tried out and I like them for now.

reasons to not use amazon:
1) I heard they'd gotten kind of evil about how they treat their workers. or, as marc so nicely pointed out, "gotten evil? no that means they've BEEN evil, you just found out about it!" always honest.

2) it's nice to look at a download of lines on credit card statements and immediately tell what you spent on pet food, versus what you spend on random stuff off amazon. let's face it, I buy stuff I don't need sometimes. Not always! I try not to order more than once a month anymore, and it's mostly for things like birthday gifts but you know how it is. gets you sometimes.

3) heard on reviews that their boxes are sturdier for shipping heavy pet food stuffs.

chewy gives you a 5% discount if you sign up for autoship - but you can set it to just about any duration and change it at any time. so if I suddenly realize I'm out of ferret food but good on dog food, I just go change my autoship to ferret food only and hit ship now. and it's like "we'll ship this same order of ferret food in six weeks!" so I have six weeks to change my order around again, I just set myself a reminder to check on supplies. it's like I'm manually autoshipping.

this week they've been nice. I placed my order, and got a message saying they were a little behind because of the coronavirus and needed about four days, then I got another message in a few days saying they were still working on it. basically they're behind, but communicating, and that's better than nothing.

ferret escape

Marc told me this story when I got home from work one day last week.

He was in the kitchen and heard a scratching noise. Opened the basement door to see if a ferret had gotten into the basement - we try to keep that door closed, but sometimes forget. Nope. Heard it again. Figured it was a ferret trying to get into some closet they're not allowed in. After it wouldn't quit he looked around and this time saw frankie scratching at the outside of the back door, wanting back in.

This is in the true outside world, as in, not in the house at all. the world of tall grasses, fast cars, confused people, squirrels, possums, dogs, cats, raccoons, snakes, badgers, bears, alligators... well maybe not all that in Kansas. But I have seen raccoons.

She was cold and wet and we have no idea how she got outside. We do let them run around the house during the day a lot, even have a litter box in the upstairs bathroom for them, but marc and I are both of the opinion that outside doors are kept closed? I saw watson standing at the threshold one day when I left it open bringing groceries in, I didn't know he was out of his cage, I was like "whoh close call!" but this was a genuinely close call.

Last year we took frankie camping and let her roam a little bit outside under close supervision, but she kept trying to explore under tents or cars where we couldn't watch her so she lost that freedom.

at least she was smart enough to know where the door back in was.

everything is cancelled

I am safe and healthy and grateful. My family is safe and healthy. We have food, shelter, clothes, and a neighborhood to take walks. a dog. friends. social media. all the streaming services.

but it's really hard for me to see the world around me shut down.

I am not working from home yet... not sure how that will work. we work in teams, we go out to airplanes support people who are physically building and repairing them, how will that play out?

everything else shuts down around me instead. the st. patrick's day parade, the used book sale at the library, the kids engineering expo, the local science museum, conferences I was excited to present at, I just watched the announcements tumble in and each one makes me feel a little bit like crying but I know there are people who are genuinely sick or losing family members and they do not have what I have. I know there are people who can't get a paycheck and don't have an emergency savings account. My family will survive.

Marc said he really had to scrounge to make dinner, people are so freaked out at the grocery stores stocking up like crazy. he got one of the last pounds of ground beef and cans of tomatoes. there are no paper goods.

there is one sick person from a neighboring county who was brought to a wichita hospital. he'd been traveling internationally, he tested positive for COVID-19, that's our one case so far. there are more in kansas city.

things I do to mentally escape:
1) listening to amy poehler's "Yes Please!" on audio CDs in my car
3) walk my dog
4) teaching josie origami

oh that's right. 2000 sheets of origami paper showed up at my house for my makerfaire booth this year, I was going to teach all the kids sonobe unit origami. no events though. no gathering kids. just paper. maybe we will make cranes. they are good luck.

friday five: olive's dream house

good morning, thefridayfive!

1. If you could build a dream house, what rooms would it have?
One day I made Olive a little wood doll house she could paint and I loved her rooms so much, I think we might as well use it as the dream house. I think she was five years old. She told me the rooms were assigned as follows:
1) Glow in the dark
2) Dance room
3) Haunted ghost room (painted black)
4) Art studio
5) Attic for sleeping and watching TV

2. What is the best dessert in the world?
Hazelnut chocolate truffles

3. What is your favorite thing to do on vacation?
Camping. I love waking up in nature and spending a day outdoors, walking on trails, watching the kids play, snacking and drinking wine.

4. What is your favorite time of day?
Morning, when I'm awake but nobody else is and I just filled up my coffee.

5. What relaxes you more than anything else?
Working on my art projects. I put on music, go down to my tiny workshop, glue and paint and do creative things. Make tiny boxes or finish laser cut designs. I'm making a collage right now. It is very relaxing.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

If you've ever heard the expression "life sucks, then you die"... read about life in late 1800s east london! what an uplifting book! be a woman, born poor, maybe your parents die and you're raised by various siblings or sent off to relatives, maybe you're just married off young and start having a lot of kids because there's no birth control. not even abstinence - your husband is allowed to beat you if you refuse his sexual advances. when you have babies they might survive, might not. husband cheats and you run out, or you're an alcoholic and get kicked out, and then your choice is to work 12 hours every day in a crappy factory or as a servant, either way you get no days off. so maybe freedom lures you out and you shift your time between sleeping on the streets or tolerating a workhouse during the cold months. everybody in the workhouse is sick and miserable and using the same barrel (that was the toilet yesterday) to bathe in after a week of doing the most boring work possible for a few bowls of rat-infested food. you might strike out and get a boyfriend who you stay with for a little, might not. then you get murdered. and everybody says you were "just a prostitute".

"The Five" goes into the background of the canonical five Jack The Ripper victims: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. Mary Jane Kelly was a prostitute, until she found a partner to form a long-term relationship with, but then he ran out of money and she had to go back. Elizabeth Stride was sent off as a teen to be a domestic servant and became pregnant out of wedlock, which police assumed must be her fault and she must be a prostitute. There isn't evidence linking the other women to prostitution, unless you use a very lose interpretation of the word, applying the label to a woman who has sex with a man who she can split rent with.

I would describe them as homeless women, that is the one thing that the first four had in common. They were sleeping on the streets. The murderer did not have sex with them, they did not scream out, there were not signs of struggles, they were just asleep. The book doesn't go into the murders themselves. Each life just ends, after all the struggles and broken relationships and family disappointments.

The author's goal is to dispel the myths and give voice to these victims by telling their stories. A lot of it is written in a tone of "she would have..." based on research done on the areas, traditions, and news of the times they lived. it explains a great deal about life in the time period, and will make you feel lucky to have a better life. But it might also make you think about the choices we still give to the working poor. When are we really helping, when are we more interested in judging, and how can we actually help them improve their lives? Or do we just write them off, like it feels like the world did with these women?

my top comment livejournal friends

Anyone remember how to find your top commenters? I just manually did it, but there's probably a widget someplace. Heck, I probably WROTE one someplace. But today I just went to and downloaded my last 500 commenters, and excel spreadsheeted this list (the COUNTIF function and I are in loves.)

***EDIT*** Here's how you find your top commenters! Thanks for that tip, susandennis!

(you have to swap out that &startid=33300 with your own number - my advice is start with a million, then it'll show you the maxid, then subtract 500 from that)

If nobody comments here with the better way to do it, I'll either find my script or write one so I can be lj famous again.

But all that aside, I want to say thank you hugely to everyone who comments in my lj. You are helpful and inspirational and keep me motivated to write here! I wish I returned as many comments on my friends list. I was really surprised at this list... my spreadsheet ranked EVERY commenter, and even down in the people who only leave 1-2 comments, I still recognized names.

Much love to...

1) lookfar (who left 31 out of the last 500 comments... wins!)
2) siglinde99 (29)
3) coercedbynutmeg (26)
4) ironphoenix (25)
5) gilda_elise (19)
6) anais_pf (19)
7) dadi (16)
8) lepid0ptera (15)
9) lantairvlea (14)
10) brittdreams (14)
11) andrewducker (13)
12) secret_woman (13)
13) daphnep (12)
14) susandennis (12)
15) baron_waste (11)
16) athene (10)
17) calzephyr77 (10)
18) slemslempike (10)
19) petrini1 (9)
20) jume (8)
21) pineapple_sour (8)
22) shutterbug (7)
23) filmstar (7)
24) okoshun (6)
25) elainegrey (6)
26) smittenbyu (6)
27) asher63 (6)
28) astrogeek01 (6)
29) kyliejeanne (6)
30) fauxklore (6)
31) chezmax (5)
32) zhelana (5)
33) dark_phoenix54 (5)
34) livejournal (4)
35) koremelanaigis (4)
36) davesmusictank (4)
37) fansee (4)
38) harbourwitch (4)
39) sextangles (4)
40) nanila (3)
41) tweekers (3)
42) springheel_jack (3)
43) belleweather (3)
44) metawidget (3)
45) excentric397 (3)
46) asphaltcowgrrl (3)
47) sherlock999 (3)