The Whatever Digest, 9/12/18

It’s noisy here today. Shall we begin?


First, I want to say I admire the spider who spun a web directly across the doorway to my patio. I admire the creature’s optimism in catching the really large prey. However, I saw the web before I walked into it, so I will not be cocooned and consumed at the spider leisure today. The mosquito in the picture will have to do. However, if I get any solicitors today, I will direct them ’round back.


Second, the reason it’s noisy here today is that we’re having the house professionally power-washed. It’s been a rainier-than-average year here so far, and as a result, the north side of the house looks like this:

And that’s no good. Our neighbor has a small power washer, which would be fine for just around the patio, but not so great for addressing the the second floor. So we hired a pro, who even now is peeling the moss off the siding directly outside my office. It sounds like a combination of thunder and being inside a car wash. The cats are not liking it. But we’ll appreciate it when it’s done.

The one thing the power washer dude warned me is that if the moss has been there for a while, then the siding underneath may be lighter than the surrounding siding, because it hasn’t been weathering at the same rate. Which makes sense to me, but I guess probably goes need pointing out. Hey, as long as the moss is gone.


Third, Hurricane Florence. Yikes. I’ve already let some North Carolina friends know if they need to decamp they are welcome at the Scalzi Compound, which is deep inland. They appear to have made alternate plans, but it’s nice to have a Plan C if you need one. At this point I’ll just say what everyone else is saying to people in this hurricane’s path, which is: Follow evacuation directives, be safe and don’t wait until the last minute, and keep updated on where the storm is going. This is scary stuff.


Got a very nice picture of the new crescent moon in the sunset yesterday, with my Nikon with the telephoto lens zoomed all the way in. I freehanded it rather than having the camera on a tripod, which impressed at least one person on Twitter, but in my experience you can get away with freehanding a picture of the moon if the sun is still out. It’s only after sunset (and the moon has comparatively higher contrast) that I’ve generally needed the tripod.

Taking pictures of the moon (and of the sunset) with my DSLR reminded me I need to clean off the sensor, because dust has accumulated on it and that leaves spots on the photo. I tend to take out the spots using Photoshop, but it’s a long and annoying process using the “heal” tool. I went online to find if there was an easier way to do it, but basically all the tutorials I found were for more complicated process where the guy doing it was “this is really simple…” Wrong! My way is much simpler! Just annoying.

Of course I could just clean my sensor. But that takes effort. Urgh.


Head’s up: Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of Whatever. And I have something special planned for you all. Tune in tomorrow to find out what it is.

No, it’s not cake. Several thousand people visit here a day and another 50k of you get updates via RSS, email and WordPress. I don’t have time to make cake for everyone. Sorry.

31 Comments on “The Whatever Digest, 9/12/18”

  1. John, as I am your friend and in NC I’ll head straight to your compound immediately. [/humour]

    I’m inland and opening my home to a friend and his mom. I’m also checking with my church to see if we are opening our emergency facilities and if they need casseroles.

    Meanwhile, I’m a cat and dog bed. Yes, the 46 lines border collie mix thinks she is a lap dog.

  2. I see you’ve got vinyl siding…a definite plus when it comes to exterior cleaning! Hopefully the relative lack of sunlight on the north wall will keep any fading to a minimum…that’s why the moss likes it there too. Now on to the power wash water spotted windows! Houses are fun…

  3. A modern version of the backwoods directionfinding trick of looking for the side of the tree-trunks that moss grows on — look for which face of vinyl-sided homes has the algae!

    I power-wash the north side of our vinyl-sided home every year or two with one of those small power-washers that you mentioned, even though our house is also two floors (we have a suitable extendable ladder). And while I’m at it I do the outdoor furniture. Amazing how a power-washer can transform aged/drab-looking wooden deck furniture to look like freshly-cut wood!

  4. I love your photography. The pictures are as good if not better than many I’ve seen as winners in high profile contests? Have you ever thought of entering one of those contests? You should.

  5. Back when I was relatively poor (and extremely frugal) I had a home with the same north-facing moss and mildew problem. I used to spend an afternoon with a bucket full of a water, bleach, and soap mix and a long-handled brush, most of it on an extension ladder, washing off the mess. That worked well and the house definitely looked better afterwards

    But Ive always been like that, and still am–I hate to pay someone to do something I can do myself even though I now have the income to do so. I’m always amazed at the number of my neighbors who pay to get relatively simple tasks done, through maid and lawn services or hiring a handyman, but talk about how little money they have left after their bills are paid.

  6. no cake!?

    > But there’s no sense crying over every mistake.
    > You just keep on trying till you run out of cake.
    > And the Science gets done. And you make a neat gun.
    > For the people who are still alive.

  7. FL Transplant:

    Most things that need getting done we handle ourselves. But neither Krissy nor I wanted to tackle this one, so we were all “let’s contribute to the local economy.”

    Catherine Asaro:

    Thank you! I don’t enter contests mostly because I’m lazy and because for my photography at least, showing off the work here takes care of my need for outside approbation.

  8. Maybe the spider is hoping to catch one of the cats? You might want to tell it that’s not such a great idea. I’ve never seen a spider win against a cat.

  9. Assuming a burrito that included cake as one of its components, what else would go in it? Do we really want to know?

  10. Butbutbut if you clean your sensor, you could use one of those air puffer thingies that look like a rocket ship!

  11. @jack lint re: cake burrito.

    If we’re going truly sweet burrito, then the following:
    1. Spread a thin layer of pudding of your flavor preference, or nutella, or some other sweet, tasty spreadable food on the tortilla. (I would probably use cheesecake flavored yogurt or something similar, but I’m weird that way).
    2. Lay strips of cake (long and thin, maybe 1/2″x1/2″x3″ each) in the middle of the tortilla.
    3. Top with mousse and/or curd of your choice. Maybe add chocolate chips.
    4. Add a ribbon of a tart, fruit based filling if you did not use curd. Help cut through the sweet overload.
    5. Wrap and enjoy!

    (And yes, I’m weird. But if you want to know all the possible uses for yogurt, just say the word.)

  12. I recently purchased a new 1200 lumen flashlight and when I took it out onto the back deck to test it the other night (my gawd it’s bright!) it illuminated a giant spider web containing a thumb-sized spider in the middle of it that was right in line and at face-height with where I would normally walk to get to my grill. Not sure I would have even seen it in the daylight, which would surely have resulted in me doing the spider dance had I found it with my face rather than the flashlight. Don’t get me wrong, I love to dance, but man, I HATE the spider dance!

  13. I’ve had spiders build their webs across my *driveway*. No, spider, the car is not tasty for you. Or for anyone else, for that matter.

  14. I just stopped by to say that I really enjoy reading these daily digests. You get your dose of short form Scalzi writings without having to open Twitter. And in a slightly longer form, which is a plus. Keep on!

    On the subject of spiders, our boat gets them, and I really like them, because more spiders, less mosquitoes. Once I wondered why our windex (on top of the mast) was stuck. Turns out there was a spider web in there.

  15. Will the special thing include lots of pictures of Scalzi cats with human servants?

    That aside, please keep doing the digests. Sometimes I want to read something short on Whatever and reading the longer pieces wind up getting put off till later.

  16. We’ve been debating whether to go the do-it-ourselves power-washing route or to support some local business by paying them to do it for us. Given that we’re in our 60s and have multiple artificial joints (three hips and a knee between the two of us), we’ll probably go with supporting a local business, though it’ll have to wait until after we pay to have the dying ash tree in the back yard safely removed.

    Your comment about the sound that power-washing makes, and the impact of that sound on the cats, is instructive. Our three will probably spend the day cowering in the basement when we get the house sprayed down.

  17. Hey I’m here in Morrisville NC, just outside of Raleigh, and you didn’t invite me! Now I see how you REALLY feel about me.

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