Haha! My son brought ham to a picnic

My daughter-in-law, Nadia, gave my son, Kevin, a Spanish ham for his birthday in March (specifically a jamón serrano). 

It's the gift that keeps on giving. He's sicing ham on every social occasion -- including, I learned on Instagram, a Mother's Day picnic. 

How holograms, deepfakes, and AR are raising the dead

Considering his final frontier, 90-year-old Star Trek star William Shatner recently decided to boldly go into an Los Angeles studio and turn himself into a ghost.

Shatner spent five days recording a StoryFile, a type of interactive video created by a company also called StoryFile. Portions of the recording, which were captured by 3D cameras, will be “tagged” using StoryFile’s proprietary system. Later, Shatner’s ghost will be beamed to his family members, to fans via the internet, and possibly to museums and entertainment venues. People will be able to ask Shatner’s ghost questions. StoryFile’s system will “play” the answers, creating the illusion that William Shatner lives, even long after he passes on.

Welcome to the new spiritualism.

A hundred years ago, the idle rich of Europe and America indulged a fascination with the great beyond. A quasi-religious movement called Spiritualism, which began in the 1830s and rose in popularity during times of great trauma, such as during the U.S.’s Civil War. The movement peaked in the years between 1918 and the early 1920s, when Spiritualist ideas spilled over into mainstream popular culture.

The rich and famous went nuts for conjuring the dead 100 years ago. And now, they’re at it again.

Tip for lazy nomads

Set up some devices, like your ebook reader, using your phone’s hotspot. That way, you don’t have to reconfigure the WiFi network in each new location. 

One reason Oaxaca is so covid-safe is that the restaurants don't have roofs

The old and charming part of Oaxaca where we live right now has a lucky feature, and it's one of the reasons we chose to shelter in place here during the pandemic: Most of the restaurants either have no roof, or, if they do, place the dining on top of the roof. You can go out to dinner to most of the restaurants, and you're still outside. 

Another reason is that nearly everyone wears masks. And there's plenty of space, so everyone can keep their distance. 

Update: I'm still stuck in Oaxaca

Now that we're eligible for vaccines, we're trying to fly to the US for a few days from Oaxaca (the place where we've been sheltering in place) to get our first vaccine shot. 

We had a flight booked for last Tuesday, and got a Covid test for that flight (these are the tests where they shove a long Q-tip through each nostril all the way to the back of your nasal cavity), but when it was time to go to the airport we realized that we had left our passports at our previous residence. 

We re-booked the flight, got a second Covid test, and then realized that we had booked a flight that cost $800 more than it should have. 

So we booked another, cheaper flight for today, got a third Covid test. 

When we went to the airport this morning at 6am, protesters were blocking the airport, not letting anyone in or out. (Our taxi driver says they're students paid by a local politician trying to drum up controversy and support through protests.) We went back to our apartment. 

Then, our flight was rescheduled. We took another taxi to the airport. And it was still blocked. The airline rescheduled our flight for later. 

So later, we took a third taxi back to the airport, and found that it was still blocked. American Airlines didn't update the flight information until 10 minutes after boarding time started, so we spent 45 minutes standing in the hot sun at the entrance to the airport (where I took these photos).

We talked to the protesters, and they made it clear they had no intention of leaving anytime soon. 

Now we're trying to book a flight for next week. We'll need to take a 4th Covid test. 

Each Covid test costs $100. Each round-trip to the airport costs $25. This is getting expensive. 

(We're lucky that we have an apartment to go to. Otherwise we'd been standing outside the airport like hundreds of other travelers right now.)

Canned rocks? Why, Japan? Why?

A privately owned railway in Japan called the Choshi Electric Railway operates on only four miles of tracks. Business is bad, so the company is trying to monetize in part by selling rocks from under the tracks. In cans! Why, Japan? Why?