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What I Do Here

If you are here for genealogy, try this: http://walkitout.livejournal.com/tag/genealogy

I write about whatever I am thinking about. It helps me think about it and remember it later. Because I live far away from many of my longest term friends, we don't always get to participate in each other's daily life; sharing my blog is a second-best.

My interests change over time, but at any given time, I am usually very intensely interested in a few things. This might look more organized and logical than it really is. I have two children with autism spectrum diagnoses, and they seem completely normal for my extended family; if I were a kid growing up today, I'd have a diagnosis, too. Try to keep that in mind, if you're trying to figure out what kind of person would write the kinds of things I write.
Summer has blown in for a day or two. It was high 80s yesterday and 90 plus today. I Do Not Approve. I pulled out my old tan golite umbrella for my 2 p.m. walk with M., because with my super short haircut both my ears are at high risk of sunburn with too much sun exposure and right now, even a few minutes feels like Too Much.

It's supposed to rain over the holiday weekend. That's probably my fault for tracking down the sunbrella.
Two sitters means A. got to go see a movie: Angry Birds. She brought her iPad with the game that you can unlock levels if you turn the app on during the end credits. Fun!

T. went to Altitude trampoline park and jumped for an hour, then had pizza.

R. and I went to Woods Hill Table. We had the baguette (because pork fat spread! Apologies to my vegetarian, pork allergic, dietary restricted against pork, etc. readers), oysters, beef tartare (between the oysters and the beef, that's a lot of high-iron content and raw) and the steak.
We had a glass of dolcetto with dinner, and I had a manhattan at the start and he got a sherry (I think -- he may correct me in the comments) at the end. Service was excellent as always and everything very tasty. Vegan dessert was an espresso chocolate torte. No coffee, because they've quit serving decaf on account of the sheer volume of water involved in making decaf. That's a relatively new development for WHT -- they used to have this amazeballs decaf espresso called "Deanimator" -- but I get where they are coming from altho I'm not going to adopt that particular position for myself they obvs are doing what they can to live their values and I applaud that.

I don't think dolcetto is going to supplant any of my wine preferences, but it was very drinkable.

Still at the anonymous sourcing level, but starting to develop some plausibility.

Look, I actually don't disagree very strongly with Thiel's argument here:

"I don’t understand people who would spend their lives being angry; it just seems unhealthy."

As a standalone sentence, I think a _lot_ of us would agree with this. Alas, when Thiel actually said that, it was part of a longer statement.

""I think they should be described as terrorists, not as writers or reporters," Thiel said at the time. "I don’t understand the psychology of people who would kill themselves and blow up buildings, and I don’t understand people who would spend their lives being angry; it just seems unhealthy.""

That's no longer a basically sensible, middle of the road thing to say. That is batshit crazy. Is it obnoxious to be outed? Sure. But it was sort of a given that someone was going to aggressively out Thiel, because he was such a classic instance of the closeted gay guy who gives extensively to conservative politicians and is frequently quite mean-spirited in a politically conservative vein. Which, actually, sort of makes the "I don't understand people who would spend their lives angry" seem a little hypocritical, on top of being embedded in a batshit analogy comparing a media organization to a terrorist operation.

I have no idea if the rumor is true, but it is certainly an interesting development in an already incredibly bizarre situation.

ETA: Not a rumor any more.


I actually don't have a problem with someone with resources funding the legal defense (or, in this case, defense in the form of taking the offense) for a person who lacks resources. I'm trying to imagine the circumstances in which I would fund someone's legal battle and _not_ want my name on it (to be fair, I can _easily_ imagine people who might want me to pay their legal costs and not have my name associated with that!). I'm coming up empty so far, which aligns with my perspective on being outed.

People who are not regular readers of my blog and/or who don't know about my past should be clear: I have a _really clear idea_ of the kind of punishment meted out to people who come out as other-than-straight when their family and entire acquaintance since birth is rabidly opposed to other-than-straight. Been there. Done that. There wasn't -- and will never be -- a happy ending for me or my sister, in which our parents tell us they want us to be a part of their lives. We are by no means alone in this situation. I have zero sympathy for people who continue to support institutions which oppress people based on gender orientation, expression, etc.


Further followup: http://www.businessinsider.com/peter-thiel-confirms-secret-battle-against-gawker-sparks-outrage-over-free-press-facebook-board-member-2016-5

I don't necessarily think you _should_ read the comments thread, but it gives a flavor of what kind of feelings are in play. A _lot_ of people don't like the Denton empire, and would like to separate what they do from "journalism". A fair number of people think that there is some kind of line that can be drawn between what is "private" and what journalists are allowed to cover. A small number of people are troubled by the idea that this might lead to limiting who can help support a law suit they are nominally unconnected to, in an effort to harm the defendant.

That last is probably the most interesting component of this particular dust up. We have laws against filing suit that you don't expect to win, that are designed to exhaust the resources of the defendant (SLAPP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participation). However, we don't have laws against what Thiel is doing. I'm a lot more comfortable with what Thiel is doing, once it is widely known that he is doing it -- when that kind of money flow is obscured, it is deeply problematic.

But this strategy -- fund attacks until the defendant shuts up -- is troubling from a free speech perspective. My understanding of the current lawsuit is that it hinges on privacy.


Given how easy it is to draw a line between publishing a sex tape of a celebrity and publishing naked photos stolen from someone's phone, and how desperately most of us would like to put a stop to the latter (and, honestly, probably the former, too, because even people who like watching the sex tapes should be starting to get sick and tired of the ensuing decades of celebrity that we all have to endure), I think that Thiel has picked a pretty solid case to go after Gawker on.

I don't care for Thiel (and that's not a new feeling for me). I definitely think that some of the Gawker coverage is pretty despicable (but I think that about basically EVERY news organization). I _don't_ want to see laws saying you can't contribute to someone's legal efforts (altho I'd be fine with requiring some transparency for support above a certain level either individually or collectively). I _do_ think that state laws against publication of private facts that are not of public concern are laws that are worth having and enforcing -- even if that means we wind up spending a fair amount of time litigating the question of "public concern".

I think that if billionaires are above board about the lawsuits they contribute to and their goals in doing so, I don't see a real difference between them and a well-organized political or charitable activist organization bundling small donations to accomplish the same goal. I don't see an overall threat to freedom of publication in our society in this situation. But I'll keep paying attention, in case someone makes a compelling case to the contrary.


When a kid throws up, the schools don't really want that kid around until a decent interval has passed. Even tho I was pretty convinced that T. is Just Fine and only threw up because he got himself so worked up about a variety of things which had offended him (oh, gee, I wonder who he might have gotten that from), he stayed home from school today. He actually stayed in bed in the morning so it is Just Possible he actually was ill. However, by late morning he was up asking for a Healthy Breakfast (yogurt was acceptable to him). Then he wanted a movie (Monsters Inc. Again. Good thing I like that movie.) and popcorn. I exploited his interest in Healthy Eating by first offering him baby carrots and then delivering the popcorn after he'd had a chance to eat some of the carrots (in the event, he ate all the carrots, but you know how it is in front of a movie with crunchy snacks).

I caught up on some blogging, chatted with my sister on the phone, and then T. and I went for a walk around the block. After that, we walked (I walked, he scootered) down to Julie's Place for lunch. It is not quite 1 p.m., and he's looking a little bored so I may suggest another activity in a few minutes.
I got a lot of small things taken care of: summer haircut (short all around this time and a bit longer on top), some food prep (cooked bacon, made coleslaw). T. went off with his sitter, which was a near thing because her day had included news of a silver alert on a member of her extended family (it turned out okay; since getting the car keys away from the person in question might be conflicted, I suggested lojacking the vehicle so at least they would be able to track the vehicle down. Turns out lojack is a bit of an obscure term. Basically, it involves putting a transceiver in the car and if you report that it has gone missing/stolen, the registry will activate it and then the transceiver will talk to appropriately equipped police cruisers within a few miles of it). A.'s babysitter showed up, but that didn't last: her car started making an odd sound almost immediately -- possibly a serpentine belt that she has already had replaced once has gone bad again. I retrieved A.

I tried to talk A. into going out to dinner with R. and me, since that would likely have been what we had done if both kids were supervised by other people. Alas, the only restaurant she was interested in is the one with golden arches. Oh well.

T. came home and either he ate something that disagreed with him (possible) or he just had a Really Bad Day (this theory supported by interacting with him, listening to the sitter, and reading what his aides had to say in his home log). He cried a long time and then threw up. So no school for him tomorrow, because we can't really be sure it wasn't some kind of stomach bug. Fingers crossed. If he's energetic, I plan on having him help me clean his room and maybe get rid of some of the crap layered on top of the kitchen table.
It was another busy weekend day. I took T. to soccer in the morning and had a great time chatting with a couple of the other parents. Then it was back home for lunch, unusually -- he had leftovers from Saturday's dinner. Next up was the horse. It had been drizzling during soccer in town, but there was a dry spot in Chelmsford over the stable and its surrounding area. Another pleasant convo with a parent. After that, we stopped at Whole Foods and picked up a few groceries for the upcoming week.

T. and I had dinner at 99 in Westford. Since the Red Sox won their game, T.'s dinner was free. The bar there does not have a rye, but their Maker's Mark Manhattan is excellent. Also, that fresh haddock they are serving is fantastic.

ETA: Oh, and the Oasis arrived! By USPS, delivered to the mailbox without so much as a honk. Yeah, cause _that's_ a good idea on a Sunday. I heard the truck and went out, but how many people consistently even check their mailbox on a Sunday? Having the device in hand confirms my suspicions that the gadget reviewers who think this thing is overpriced are all out of their minds. This is by far the most amazing ereader ever. It is completely painless to read in any light level: crisp screen even in sunshine, lovely backlighting. The page turn buttons take a few minutes to get used to but are fantastic -- it is so nice to have the physical buttons back. The case is very lightweight, but if you want you can take it off while you read and if you do, the device itself is almost unbelievably lightweight. And it is so classy looking, compared to all the previous entries in the kindle series. If you are dead broke all the time, sure, it's not worth going into debt over. If you are a one book a month reader, it is over kill to own. But if you have the space in your budget for regular nice dinners out and you are a (near) daily reader, the cost of this is a no brainer. It's like owning an extra set of eyeglasses so you don't have to wear the same pair every day and you have a backup pair. It's like owning a really nice coat with seam sealing and good style in a color you truly love. The up front cost is higher than seemingly substitutable goods, but the experience is really different. In our society, everyone picks and chooses among the things they care to spend extra on, and what they buy the cheapest version of. This is a readers' ereader.
T. and R. went to Earthbest and got there so early they were before sound check. Ooops.

Meanwhile, I took A. to gymnastics, where at the very end, she tripped and bashed her shin hard. Ow. Oh, and we stopped and got a present for her friend's birthday party at Learning Express on the way to gymnastics.

After lunch at McDonald's, the next activity was a birthday party at Goldfish in Westford. Goldfish is a small indoor swim instruction facility. It has excellent temperature and noise isolation between the swimming area and the observation area. Which is so much more amazing than you might realize if you've never been fully dressed and waiting through a kid's swimming lesson. The chairs -- not benches! -- are even comfortable. A. had a great time playing in the water for a little over an hour, wearing a life vest because even tho she sometimes can swim three lanes (the distance across the small pool), sometimes she doesn't feel like it. Fortunately, she was happy in the vest and there were other kids in similar circumstances so there was no stigma.

Alas, by the time fruit cup, juice boxes and cupcake time rolled around, she'd pretty well run through all the energy she had for the day (remember, gymnastics earlier). She lost it completely so we left about five minutes before the end of the party so no harm no foul. It was really nice, and I may try signing her up for lessons there when school is out.

We stopped at Roche Bros. for the chocolate chocolate cupcakes that she was so broken up about not getting at the party (and which she then proceeded to not much care for once she tried them). I turned her over to R. and took T. out to the Pub on the Common for dinner, where he ate half his sandwich and saved the other half for lunch on Sunday. He also had water to drink instead of chocolate milk. He is really trying to make healthy choices. It is sort of weirdly amazing and wonderful.
On Friday, R. and I had two sitters until 5:30 p.m., which was not enough time for a dinner out. We'd had a small lunch out earlier and R. got a bike ride. I'd walked with both of my walking partners, but by the afternoon, I felt recovered enough to do the 3 mile loop again. We stopped at True West for drinks, which was quite pleasant. That's the most mileage I've had in one day this month -- I have not been feeling well, but seem to finally be getting better.
Things are getting a little back to normal around here; we had two sitters in the afternoon so we went out again. Despite it being a half day, it was a pretty easy day for me.

I went in for a regular eye checkup. The only objection I have to these (other than that I'm getting older, and thus the potential for Bad News is rising every year -- but so far, my prescription is stable, I can cope with my aging eyes without bifocals and pressure etc. are normal) is the dilation, because it takes me 4 or 5 hours to recover from that, which sort of means the rest of the day is effectively destroyed. R. tells me this is actually sort of typical for people with our eye color; he tells them and they use a less powerful solution and rinse it out immediately. I had no idea you could even ask for this, but I'm going to try to remember that for next time. I did buy new glasses this time, because last year I got backup glasses with transitions so I'm still wearing glasses from 2 years ago and they are showing wear (altho the screws aren't backing out or anything, so they've been very durable and high quality).

A. went to play therapy. They've been making cupcakes at play therapy, but the therapist uses coconut oil and A. doesn't like coconut so the cupcakes came home. Fortunately, I bought a cake mix for them to use with no milk products so at least _I_ can eat them. Or possibly _not_ fortunately, depending on one's point of view.

R. and I went out to dinner at Seoul Kitchen. Good bar (I got a rye manhattan with a twist -- they used Bulleit), excellent bi bim bap (I got beef -- there were many choices tho!), and unagi. R. was less impressed by the bulgogi. He says he'll try the bi bim bap next time, but I'm thinking I may do a little more extensive ordering of sushi next time. Friendly service and not crowded -- I think it's more of a lunch place.
Our second babysitter is somewhat recovered from recent surgery, so R. and I got to go out to dinner (Crossroads -- it's always odd going to a restaurant where everyone asks about your son, but they love him, so it's all good). Even better, C. got A. to work on her homework and they did some reading while at dinner, so we didn't even have to cajole A. into that. Nice.

I took all that extra time and put it to good use: I spent a lot of time reclining on a couch or my bed, watching network television that was sitting on the Tivo: Three episodes of Bones and the season finale of NCIS.

Speaking of that latter SPOILERS RUN AWAY NOW OR ZOMBIE KORT WILL RISE AND GET YOU, between the photo, the scarf/shawl/wrap/blanket that Tony was sniffing and Tony's thoughtful, Ziva always had a go bag, followed up with, "Ziva loves Paris", and the statement that he was going to Israel for answers, I feel like Tony believes that Ziva is still alive and faked her death and is waiting for him to join her with the kiddo. So you may be crying and believing that she is dead, but I choose otherwise.

I picked up T. early at school so he could go get a red strip put in his hair. They did it up right: bleached it more or less to white then dye on top. It looks fantastic and he's very happy about it.

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