Sean M Puckett

Portrait and fine-art photographer. Radical programmer. Culture activist. Passionate & opinionated, yet kindly. Mind the froth.

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My dad sent me YouTube videos about how superintelligent AI is going to destroy us or something, and how Elon Musk says we have to get off this planet if we're going to preserve humanity.  I sent the following in response:

I’m far less worried about superintelligent AI than about regular old AI, or as it should be called, Machine Learning, that’s used to disguise the human biases that went into creating and training it and thereby used to perpetuate systems of injustice around the world.  You can ask a person why they made a decision and they may answer, but a ML model is almost completely opaque once it’s been trained.

That’s what I’m worried about: Facebook and YouTube turning people into fascists through machine learning that optimizes engagement with a screen rather than empathy with their fellow humans.  

That’s the real problem of AI.  It’s not a hardware problem, it’s not a software problem, it’s a problem of politics; with business being allowed to set the agenda of what is right and normal.

As for Elon Musk — What if Tom Swift, but a megalomaniac?   Like Amazon guy Jeff Bezos, another one of the richest men in the world, who simply can’t fathom how he could possibly spend all his money — on a planet full of climate change, increasing social inequity, and the re-emergence of fascism, and decides to build rockets instead.  

Fuck ‘em.  

If you have power, you should use it to help those less fortunate.  Noblesse oblige — nobility obliges. "Noblesse oblige is a French expression used in English. It translates as "nobility obliges" and denotes the concept that nobility extends beyond mere entitlements and requires the person who holds such a status to fulfill social responsibilities.”

No one does anything alone, we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and if we’re so lucky we get a head start due to wealth or intelligence or race or gender or what country we’re born in, we owe those around us an outstretched hand to help them along. 

That’s the real strength of humanity.  

Not clever white boys who launch sports cars into space for a laugh.


But seriously. Tell us how you really feel.

Sunday mornings we clean. d has taken on kitchen duties, while I do bathrooms, K sweeps thoroughly, then I damp mop. One or another of us will occasionally go around and dust something, or clean light switches, door jambs, handles, under the oven, whatever sticks out as needing attention. It's a ritual. With the number of users and size of our place, a week is about how long it takes for grime/scum to become visible and the cat hair to start drifting out from the corners. Of course, there's spot cleaning when a cat horks, and frequent counter wipedowns and cutting board swaps. But this level of effort and cleanliness works for us.

Sundays are also pickle inspection, and they're doing fine. I pulled out an XTRA MUSTARD and gave it to d to test, and they said "it's got a long way to go, but I can see where it's going."  I ate the rest: it's got a nice flavour on it but needs more bite. So that's a month of fermentation down.

I like your Sunday cleaning routine. I want to implement something similar. Every week has been different since we moved in. I know it can’t be hard to have Reset Hour.
I like this too.
Karen 9/9
It's nice to turn what can be so many ways fraught into an almost mindless performance of duty at a regular time. It's cleaning time, so we clean, and the other 166 hours a week we don't have to think about it.
The egalitarianism of your current household always warms me.

[This comment, hilariously, was originally posted under DK's 22 Random Facts post]
I'd seen it and pondered there. Equity, not equality, for me. From each and to each by ability and need.
By any name, it seems a kind place. :)
I don't like cleaning, most of the time. Maybe I will some day. Or not. It's okay either way.

I bought a 2l jar of Bick's pickles at costco, mostly for the jar, for later use with our own pickles. 

I'm having one of these store-bought pickles with lunch. Man, these are some weak-ass pickles. Decently crispy but they just don't taste like much of anything. I like a pickle that will fight back. Like if you drew a mascot for the kind of pickles I like, it would be like one of those "fighting Irish" things but it would be a pickle with a mean jaw, furrowed brow and angrily cocked hat. 

Fortunately, the pickles we're making are all still coming along just fine. About half of the bins have settled down into just fermentation, the other half still have a bit of residual nonsense on the surface to be spooned off. I believe we're through most of the dangerous period where infection might have set in so confidence is pretty high that they'll all turn out just fine. 

I'll keep checking them every week or so and we'll do an initial taste test at the beginning of October. (Sorry, no photos, they look the same as last week.) 

I like the idea of a pickle mascot.
A&N Produce here in our neighborhood is the kind of place where the produce is excellent, truly, as long as you plan on using it in the next five days.

They have a pickle barrel and those pickles do not disappoint.
There is a fair chance that, if we find a need for additional cukes to pickle before the end of September, we'll be able to get a few litres at non-wholesale prices at the market. Depending on weather, etc.

I wonder how well beets would take to fermentation....
Fermenting beets is a very common practice!
Make some red beet eggs (or ecks, if you're dutchy) while you're at it. :)
Karen 9/3
I had my first pickled egg (twas red) at Burning Man last year, and I was like "Where has this manna been all my life?"
Karen 9/3

A local store was having a sale on Roma tomatos, $7 for a 25lbs, half bushel. Like, fuck yeah. d went out with the wagon. Except they had none. Produce guy says when they put them out on the floor, they disappear right away. Well, of course! 

Other store was having red peppers for $8 also for a half bushel. Which, holy shit. So, okay, fine, we can do that. d brought home a box and cored them and cut them up into half inch strips and we put them in the dehydrator, where they'll sit on the balcony overnight at 130F. And in the morning they'll be crisp.  

Yes, a dehydrator is a thing we have! The tomatoes would have gone into the dehydrator too, sliced into 1/2" thick discs. Maybe we'll get lucky tomorrow. We forgot pictures. Maybe pictures of the dried peppers tomorrow.

when the apocalypse comes, I'm going to your house.

Our small green children are doing fine. 

We’ll look in on them again next week!

[drool] I want to attend the opening gala.
Tasty, tasty children.
Looooooookin' gooooooooood!
Lazy question (feel free to just tell me to google it; I promise not to be offended): Are all pickles fermented, or are these special fermenty pickles? Also, I notice none of your pickles are on the sweet side. Is that just a preference (some folks don't dig sweet pickles) or do sweet pickles not work in this neato fermenty way?
Some pickles are fermented. Fermentation produces a distinctive sour taste (kosher dills, kimchi) and uses brine rather than an acidic (usually vinegar-based) solution.

We don't crave sweet pickles, but fermented sweet pickle recipes exist (
Hmm. The link doesn't seem to work, and I didn't find it roaming around on the site?
Weird. It doesn't work for me as a direct link. The title of the 2013 entry is "LACTO-FERMENTED SWEET PICKLE SLICES"
Yeah, same for me, too! So weird!
This is the perfectly-viewable page/URL I get when I google it... looks straaaaangely like the same dang ol' URL Sean gave:

(PS: Why is their addition of an oak leaf the coolest thing I've ever heard of? Had no idea oak leaves could be used for culinary purposes. Ya learn somethin' new everyday!)
I don't crave sweet pickles either, but sometimes I want a fermented pickle that is a little more balanced--mostly sour but maybe with a hint of sweet. Wondering if that is achievable.
MMMmmmmm. Sweet-ish pickles!
Ah! Thank you for the explanation. Very cool!

Between your pickle-making, Annie's honey-gathering, and Grant's canning, I really want to make something that helps me carry summer into the cold months. Probably too late for that now, but next year.
Karen 8/27

The usual scum and mouldy bits of detritus on the surface of the water to spoon away. The mould is aerobic, that's why you have to submerge the pickles, so only the anaerobic fermentation bacteria can eat them. A few bins needed topping up water. A couple had white snowflake colonies instead of the usual green mold. I dunno what that is, but I just spoon some of it out and make sure the pickles are underwater.

So far so good.

the white snowflake colonies are how you make the Invasion of the Body Snatchers doppelgängers.

It's been a crap couple of days. Breakthrough anxiety, indecisiveness, gloom, and exhaustion. Coupled with having my studio in pieces pending a trip to IKEA for some shelves for a new workstation, so there's no art happening.

I've given myself permission to take the day off of feeling bad about not doing anything hugely productive (like go to IKEA alone on transit to bring shelves home on a dolly) so maybe I can reset energy levels and expectations. 

High functioning but sometimes crash hard.

Yes, I've been taking my meds. I still think my dose is right because some days I feel over medicated and other days I have crashes so it's probably a good balance overall? Though I will probably talk to my doctor about being able to self regulate between 10mg and 20mg when I next see her. I think I have the self awareness (and the daily mood log habit) to manage my dose a little. We'll see.

I did a lot of volunteering with the SummerWorks performance festival earlier in the week and at the end of last week and it was great fun and I got a lot of positive feedback. But also it was pretty exhausting, mostly standing, and with all the walking to/from (about 4km each way). So there's a plausible reason for the exhaustion. 

Still, it sucks to wake up and have breakfast and want to go right back to bed. Instead I'm having coffee, typing this, and probably read or game later.

Self care.

Dude. I don't think that IKEA has really packed stuff for reasonable human transit since the 1990s. I think, since they opened the store in Elizabeth, NJ, they decided that a significant enough portion of their target market is taking the bus back and forth from NYC and wants delivery anyway, why keep making and selling furniture that really can fit in the back of a Prius?
Well, just as one size doesn't fit all, one day doesn't fit all, either. I think it would be great if you could self regulate your dosage up and down a bit. I hope your doctor agrees.

I love your approach to self care, the very first step being giving yourself permission to have an off day and a day off.

So hey, we made pickles again today.

Last weekend, d had reserved a half bushel of #2 cukes from the farmer's market vendor who also has all the delicious herbs (including dill), price $30. We picked it up this morning, along with some dill flowers. Instead of buying garlic from the market, I got pre-peeled cloves from the Korean grocer. Easy that way to be sure they weren't moldy.

So for each 3 litres of pickles (we made 7+) I used

  • 6-8 dill stalks
  • 4 smashed garlic cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 aniseed star
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 bag of cheap black tea (for tannins)

One batch had a couple hot chiles chopped up and tossed in. Another han double the garlic. Another had double mustard.

These are submerged in 5% brine and sitting in the closet. I also saved some brine from the last batch and "started" them with a splash of that culture.

It was a team effort. K did a lot of cuke trimming and washing, and also cut down the plastic trays we're using to push the cukes under water. D cut and trimmed and ran to the store for more mustard. All I really did was pack the bins, and do a little washing. It's so much easier with a team. And everyone has an investment in the food they'll later enjoy.

With better process and ingredients that aren't mouldy, I'm reasonably sure we won't lose any to infection this year but I guess we'll find out!

Yay! And, pickle pics please?
Karen 8/11
When's the tasting party? :)
Last time I said they weren't done for 3-4 months. This year they've got a starter culture so probably before the frost.
[Gazing into the mid-distance, thinking to self: What does one bring to a pickle-tasting party to complement the flavors...?]
Anne Mollo 8/11edited
I gave away all of my jars. :( I have pickle envy.

There's quite a bit about life that could be improved, and where we're able, we're working on it, but I am very happy to be sharing it with the person to whom I've been officially married for sixteen years today. SCHMOOP.

I feel reasonably confident we'll make it to the next power of 2, thirty-two thanks to good health and a stable living situation. If we make it to sixty-four, I'll just state my wish that it not be with significantly lessened quality of life.

If we actually hit one hundred and twenty eight, I will assume we've been at some point uploaded into solar-powered robotic carapaces clattering around the searingly hot, wind-scoured remains of human civilization, making a living wrenching the last few bits of rare earths required to keep ourselves alive. I wonder what kind of sex we'll have?

It'll likely involve a lot of electrical zapping, clanking noises, and mechanical giggles as you trade various armoring back and forth and model it for each other. Don't forget your oil cans.
Something like peacock spiders, but the size of a Doberman. Picking up old YIELD signs, bending them into clever hats, and leering with telescopic eye-stalks.
My ass is not so shiny, except metaphorically speaking.

I need to learn more twerk. Spider twerk.
So now I need to DuckDuckGo what it means to have a metaphorically shiny ass.
Is DuckDuckGo really where it's at now? Asking for a friend. <3
Karen 7/26
Well, it's less dollars and data for the Goog-el monstrosity. DDG's search is usually adequate though might require a little more scrolling. The big thing is they don't keep a file on you. I've switched all my browsers and devices to DDG.
Sean M Puckett 7/27edited
Thank you for the info!
Karen 7/27
I had to <strike>google</strike> DuckDuckGo peacock spiders. Pretty!!!
Anne Mollo 7/26edited
They dance! So cute!
Hey, that is awesome. Congrats!
Karen 7/26
Congrats! That's something (I feel) to be proud of.