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Anddddd here we go

Let’s see… since we arrived in the US late on Monday, I’ve signed up for Instacart, GrubHub, Postmates, 1stdibs, and Nextdoor with my “spam” email account. This is an account I only use for things that I suspect might get sketchy with my data. I am filled with regret.

I’m suddenly getting a lot more spam. Even though I’m now living in California under the CCPA, at least one of these platforms—let’s be real, probably a few of them—seems to be disclosing my email address to other unrelated service providers.

Shame on me for signing up, I guess? I haven’t identified the culprit, but I’m going to give it a go. Will also delete a few of these accounts.

I’ve just had a look at deleting my Nextdoor account and of course you have to contact them to do it. Unfortunately 1stdibs, Postmates, and GrubHub are all the same, you have to contact support to close your account. WHY? It absolutely doesn’t have to be like this! Scummy.

This is one of the bits about living in the US that I’ve been most dreading. Whelp, here we go.


Edit at 6:09pm:

I’ve sent CCPA requests to nearly all of them to find out more about the disclosure of my information. I can’t send one to Postmates since I only got through the very first step of signup, just gave them my email address and then never added my phone number since I don’t have a US mobile number yet. According to their privacy policy as of today:

We do not currently have a reasonable method of verifying the identity of non-registered users to a reasonable degree of certainty, as we do not maintain enough personal information to enable us to verify non-registered users with sufficient certainty. Thus, we cannot honor the access or deletion requests of non-registered users at this time.

Bull. Shit. In my humble opinion. Something as simple as a “forgot password”–style link would surely do. If it’s good enough for verifying identity for a password reset, it’s good enough for this purpose.

IDK why this makes my blood boil, but it does.

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Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu

Gem made Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu for Sam and I when we visited her place a while back. So, so good. I wanted something similar so tried making it the other day and omg. I now fully appreciate her making it for us, it took a while! Forgot that she said she used slightly less pepper than it called for, when I made it I used the full amount and it was borderline too hot to handle. 🔥 Still delicious though, will definitely make it again. The cornstarch method is super effective too, would be good with all sorts of sauces.

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Landed in SF

The sun setting over San Francisco in June

So.

After a lot of planning and quite a few delays, we’re now in the US. We’d considered NYC for a long while for a whole host of reasons, but we ended up in SF. Our first week has been overwhelmingly sunny so I’m thankful for that. It’s nice to be “home”, but it will be a while before it feels like it.

It was a weird journey. Very overwhelming, but in a way that makes your mind go blank and surrender rather than spin out. The trip itself was eerie, so empty. Wearing a mask for 32 hours wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Silver lining: a face mask makes the air on a plane feel much less dry.

I might go in to it a bit more at some point, but that’s enough for now. Slowly adjusting to feeling like an immigrant in my home state after 10 years in the UK.

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“Notes from No Man’s Land”

To read: Notes from No Man’s Land, a book of essays by Eula Biss. Published in the US by Graywolf Press and in the UK by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

A note by Rebecca Solnit:

Two of the qualities that make Eula Biss’s essays in Notes from No Man’s Land compelling and beautiful are precision and independence—independence from orthodoxies of the right and left and the conventions of literary essays and their displays of sensibility and sensitivity. And whatever topic she takes up she dissects and analyzes with startling insight that comes from deep reading and original thinking. She’s important to this moment, important to the opening up of what essays can be, important for setting a standard of integrity and insight, and she’s also a joy to read.

Thanks Bec for the ref!

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NOW

Added a NOW page to this site. 👍

Here’s the first version, for posterity when it gets changed in the future.

We moved out of London in March. Originally we planned to live with family in West Yorkshire for two weeks before moving to the US 🇺🇸, but that’s been quite delayed by the virus 🦠. Now we’re living in temporary accommodation until moving to the US is more feasible. This move will mark the end of a 10 year period that I’ve lived in the UK 🇬🇧. I’m looking forward to a new adventure, and I’ll get to show Sam a few of the places I spent earlier years. But I’ll miss a lot, particularly the friends and family I love.

Work-wise 👩🏻‍💻 I’m currently: adding some new functionality to the Modern Art website; wrapping up a bunch of coding-for-designers workshops for the LCC MA GMD students; developing the WIP 🚧 open-source WordPress theme that powers this website; chatting with folks about tech and other stuff in free weekly digital coffee sessions 🤖☕️; and consulting with a few orgs in the US and UK.

Limited free time is currently taken up by: sorting through belongings to prep for the move; Animal Crossing 🐻; walking and foraging 🍄; catching up with friends on FaceTime or Whereby; cooking and baking with a limited subset of kitchen tools (challenging!); and remotely contributing to the choral collective Musarc 🎵.

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Make a PDF looked like a scanned doc using ImageMagick

You can make a PDF looked like a scanned document using ImageMagick. Useful for all the unfortunate orgs that still don’t accept electronic signatures and such.

Make sure you have ImageMagick installed and then run this on the command line:

convert -density 140 input.pdf -rotate "$([ $((RANDOM % 2)) -eq 1 ] && echo -)0.$(($RANDOM % 4 + 5))" -attenuate 0.1 +noise Multiplicative -flatten -attenuate 0.01 +noise Multiplicative -sharpen 0x1.0 -colorspace Gray output.pdf

Based on this Gist but with some tweaks based on my preferences.

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Added layers to my hair

I’ve been growing my hair out for a little while. I loved having it short, but the £££ required to keep it up is not something I’m willing to commit to just yet. I’d like to give long hair a try but get put off when it gets around shoulder length. Not keen on feeling it around my neck and I hate finding long hairs on my sweater, pillow, etc.

It’s at the I-can’t-stand-it point now, looking pretty Basset Hound-y, so time to cut it.

I followed this YouTube tutorial with a few modifications to account for my wavy hair and lack of any straightening options. I skipped the trimming steps since I’m ok with the length right now, it just needs a better shape so that it’s less heavy at the bottom.

These are the basic steps to add layers.

  1. Gather your tools. Make sure you have enough clips + hair ties and a pair of actual hair scissors. I think ours are this pair from Sanguine, about £14.
  2. Assess how much you’re going to take off. Stand in front of the mirror and assess how long you want the shortest layer to be. Do not pull your hair straight to do this. If you have hair that is anything but stick-straight, you need to make sure you account for the loss of length when it is dry. Once you’ve decided, take a small section of hair from the very top of your head in line with your ear, hold it at the length you’d like, and then measure how much you’re planning to take off. Make a mental note or something to remind yourself of how much you’re planning to take off so that you can refer to it when you start cutting.
  3. Assess the angle you’ll use. In one hand, continue to hold the small section of hair that you grabbed in the previous step at the length that you want your shortest layer to be. In the other hand, grab another small section of hair from the same side of your head just behind your ear. The two sections should be directly on top of each other, neither of them should be further towards the back or the front of the head. Pull each section directly away from your head and towards each other. You want to bring the very end of the bottom section up to meet the point at which you’re planning to cut the uppermost layer. On my hair this was a roughly 45 degree angle. If / when my hair gets longer, I might be pulling it more directly upwards like the stylist does in the video. Remember the angle you establish since you’ll use that in a moment.
  4. Section your hair. Separate your hair in to sections by making a centre part from your forehead back to the nape of your neck and then additional top-to-bottom parts on either side of your head. Make sure each of the sections is tightly secured. I separated it in to four parts as he recommends in the tutorial, next time I’ll do six though since it would suit my hair thickness a little better.
  5. Trim the first section. Let down one of the front sections, and then brush it up and out in the angle you established previously. Holding it up at that angle, slide your finger or a comb through from front to back just around the height of your ear, and then let the lower piece down. This is forming a decent base so that you retain the length. If you don’t do this, you might end up getting some shorter layers falling out when you try to put your hair up! Run your brush through again at the required angle to get it smooth, and then put in a hair tie. Slide the hair tie down the hair keeping it at the required angle until it is a few centimetres above the length you’re planning to cut. Bring this loose ponytail slightly forward so that it is easier to see without pulling any of the hairs in the hair tie. Use your fingers in your non-dominant hand to splay the ends out a bit, and then point-cut in to the ends until you have taken off roughly the amount of length you planned to take off. Remember, you can always take off more later. Err on the side of caution.
  6. Trim the remaining sections in the same way you trimmed the first section.

I’m pretty happy with the results. This technique will do for now, but I’ll absolutely head back to a stylist once all of this is over with and we’re settled somewhere. Will miss Dean. 🙁

Related: See this video for what seems to be a decent scissor-over-comb men’s haircut tutorial…

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CSS note-to-self: `position:fixed;` is not respected within transformed block elements

Note to self: position:fixed; is not respected if the fixed element is within a transformed element.

See a very old meyerweb.com article on the topic. Apparently this is expected behaviour, not a bug, hence why people are still encountering this funkiness nine years after Eric Meyer’s article. As he suggests, it’s a little counter-intuitive!

In my case, it related to a fixed element within a <div> that was being transitioned from off screen to on the screen. I was able to get around it by reversing the transform so that when the element needed to be fixed, I set the containing element to transform: none;. That wouldn’t work in every case though, so YMMV.

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Instagram be GONE

My old Instagram account has been languishing unused for about two years, finally got round to moving the images and videos over here. Now I’ll be keeping all that content on this site in a photolog. If they open up their API a bit someday then I’ll syndicate from here to there, but I’m not holding my breath.

Note to self: use Handbrake to convert .mov videos to .mp4. The standard “Fast 1080p30” preset (see docs) is fine for now.