Even I have some difficulty with social isolation. I actually did have activities that got me out of the house and engaged with other people.

Still, I got used to making the effort and failing. It kept my brain busy even after I left whatever I was doing at the time.

Too much introspection is not good for one.

I have to mention that the last of the free Andrew Lloyd Weber productions is up on YouTube now. This time it is “Cats” featuring Ellen Paige in the original production. If you love furries, music, and great characterizations, this is for you.

I spend some time doing odd jobs around the house. There’s always something. My latest effort is working on the swamp cooler. The people who did our roof took it off and reinstalled it wrong. There is now a gap between the bottom of the cooler and the top of the duct it blows into. Big loss of efficiency there! I stuffed foam into it as a temporary expedient. It is also not level. The gap ranges from one inch in front to over two in the back.

The swamp cooler is quite heavy but my finely tuned engineer’s brain has worked out a way to lower it without throwing my back out of alignment or pulling arm tendons.

From Wikipedia

And then there are hikes. I post about some of them here. I get off onto weird tangents when I get back. The last hike I was on I waded through a forest of poison oak. That led me to investigate urushiol, the oil in poison ivy, oak, and sumac that most of us are allergic to. I found lots of folk medicine relating to urushiol but very little in terms of scientific research. I’ll probably do a blog post on it soon.

Since urushiol is an oil, the best way to remove it is detergent. Alcohol works well as does vinegar and plain soap but my money is on detergent. Did you know it is used in making lacquer?

Back in early March, I signed up for MasterClass, an online site for hearing interesting things from interesting people on interesting topics. You’ve probably seen their ads all over television. My favorites so far are by Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Scientific Thinking and Effective Communication and astronaut Chris Hadfield on Space Exploration.


The strange thing is that my account suddenly disappeared. When I contacted support, they said my email address was misspelled. Firefox, which supposedly had saved my log on information, suddenly turned up a blank with no information and no email address I tried worked. Took me a while to get that fixed.

Another online source for entertainment is PBS Eons which is basically about paleontology.  I mentioned PBS Space Time, which is a more advanced discussion of physics and cosmology, in an earlier post.

Brave Wilderness is kind of like Steve Irwin meets Indiana Jones meets Jackass. The host’s name is Coyote Peterson and it is insanely popular with 16.5 million followers. He has almost 300 nature videos published looking at many different creatures and the role they play in the environment. Animal Planet is taking him on as a regular contributor.

However, far and away his biggest claim to fame was his climb up the rankings of the world’s most painful stinging insects. He let himself be stung by everything from the mundane honey bee to infamous level 4 stings from the very top of the pain index; the velvet ant,  the tarantula hawk, the bullet ant,  the executioner wasp, and the giant Japanese hornet. Watching him whimper and writhe in agony has turned out to be quite entertaining.


Back to outer space, I am enjoying the videos of Everyday Astronaut, Tim Dodd. He does a good job of explaining some fairly complex material in a simple way.

Lastly, I’ve been following Nickolas Means | The Lead Developer, a series of lectures on how teams succeed against terrific odds or how teams achieve superlative results. I posted a link to his discussion of the Lockheed Skunkworks in an earlier blog post. He emphasizes the importance of letting every voice on the team be heard and taking them seriously.

Or how they can fail miserably. The proper question when something fails is not, “Who is to blame?” but rather, “How did the system fail?” Nobody comes to work saying “Fuck it all! Let Three Mile Island melt all the way to China.” The threat of punishments rarely prevents making mistakes but it does encourage coverups.  It discourages action when action may be needed.

As a rule, everyone is only doing what they think will create the best outcome. If you investigate why they thought they were doing the right thing, you’ll learn far more. If people are free to speak candidly without fear of reprimand, you’ll learn the underlying issues that lead to systemic failures.

Members of a team that failed already feel bad enough. You don’t need to further punish them to deter future mistakes. You need to change the system and its protocols.

That’s what I’ve been watching lately. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.