scope of the social-distanced socializing
Friday, June 26 2020
Jeff and Alana came over at nearly 5:00pm for some socially-distanced socializing out on the east deck. Initially the plan had just been to have drinks with cheese & crackers, though only Alana, Gretchen and I would be drinking alcohol (since Powerful doesn't drink and Jeff is battling a recent flare-up of gout). We spent a fair amount of time talking about the respective ease or difficulty of getting raises in our various workplaces. Gretchen said she'd always automatically gotten raises at all her jobs (which included union organizing, administrating a prison for Bard Prison Initiative, and working at the Golden Notebook in Woodstock). Jeff, on the other hand, has always worked as a contractor, and has always had to threaten to quit in order to get a change in pay. For me, well, I work for a reluctant giver of raises now, but when I worked for Mercy For Animals, I received two generous raises on schedule.
A question about plants came up, and Alana fired up an app on her phone that uses Bayesian artificial intelligence to identify plants. She had two such apps PlantSnap and Picture This, the latter of which was so general that it claimed to be able to identify anything. I then tested how good it was by having it identify a few small trees from the east deck. Its first choice for a sugar maple was norway maple, which kind of made sense, given how norway-maplesque this particular maple's leaves were. Its second choice was the correct one. For a staghorn sumac, its first choice was tree of heaven, probably because that is almost always the right answer for people identifying trees near their house. But its second choice was sumac. It correctly identified an actual tree of heaven with its first choice. These results gave me enough faith in the technology to want to begin using it myself.
Later I showed Jeff and Alana how small the gear is that I use for recording video of hummingbirds.
At some point, Gretchen increased the scope of the social-distanced socializing to that of a dinner party, quickly making a big salad and a huge bowl of pasta with a combination of pesto and red sauce.
Later, the five of us walked with the dog down the length of the Farm Road and back, with us pointing out places where infamous bear events had happened along the way. The injury on Ramona's shoulder has healed nicely after a couple supergluing attempts; it's now just a straight inch-long line of scar tissue. All the scabs and bits of lingering superglue are gone.
On the Farm Road near its north end this evening, heading south. From left: Gretchen, Neville, Ramona, Alana, Jeff, and Powerful.
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