Friday, April 14 2023
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
It's been unseasonably hot for a few days now, and today temperatures actually reached up into the 90s. That almost never happens in the first half of April.
Late this morning, a young site inspector named Cameron came out to our house and did a more detailed inspection of its site and structure in preparation for a possible installation of an array of leased solar panels. He needed to know about things like the depth and spacing of rafters, and he had little metal stick he could use to make unobtrusive holes through the drywall to get some of the numbers he needed. Some of the work he did was from within the laboratory. He asked about one of my piles of stuff, and I said they were various projects but that mostly I'm a software developer "until I get replaced by robots." Cameron chuckled and mentioned that he too has been playing with ChatGPT.
For a Friday, I had an unusually productive day in the remote workplace. After untangling a mess involving a complicated query written in Linq (a C#-based data query regime similar to SQL), I packed up the Forester with the things I'd need at the cabin. I'd be spending the weekend there with the dogs but without Gretchen, who had a prior restaurant-hopping adventure planned with Lisa P. down in Manhattan.
The Forester still lacks a functioning air conditioner, so I had to drive with the windows partially-down all the way to the cabin. When I left the house, temperartures were 91 or 92, though they gradually dropped as I headed first north and then northwest on the Thruway. Somewhere between Amsterdam and Johnstown, probably near the boundary between Montgomery and Fulton counties, the temperature suddenly fell about six or seven degrees into the mid 70s. When I got to the cabin at around sunset, the temperature there was about 64. First, though, I made a number of stops: for groceries at the Price Chopper, for a bottle of gin at Spirits of the Adirondacks, and an Impossible Whopper with no mayonnaise and two large orders of fries at Burger King. When I finally bit into that burger at the cabin, I discovered it did have mayonnaise, which made me wonder if it was actually an Impossible Burger. (Poorly-paid fast-food employees have been known to be intentionally deceitful about this in the past.)
As I neared the cabin on Woodworth Lake Road, I noticed there was still a pile of dirty snow on the south side of the road, where it was more sheltered from the sun by evergreens and the bank above the roadway. On the north side, the snow was almost entirely burned away, and there wasn't any to deal with at all at the beginning of our driveway. (Recall that a little over a month ago, there had been a steep bank of snow blocking access to our driveway that me and the dogs had had to climb over.)
As always when traveling to the cabin with the dogs but not Gretchen, once I opened started eating the stuff from Burger King, I split one of the orders of fries between the two dogs. It's a treat they've definitely gotten used to.
Everything except for the solar system seemed to be in order at the cabin. So I fired up the generator and pressurized the cold water system (since I no longer have to worry about pipes freezing until November). The only thing that seemed to have been damaged by freezing temperatures in the house was the India-style bidet hose on the upstairs toilet. When I went to blast my ass, I noticed it had a slow leak near the nozzle that was impossible to stop. Evidently water had frozen in it and destroyed or displaced an o-ring.
I was easily able to get the internet working again, which allowed me to do the usual thing I like to do after arriving at the cabin on a Friday night: drinking gins with tonic and checking my usual web haunts. I was particularly struck by one tidbit in a video about the looming dangers of AI: that feeding an fMRI display into a AI (one presumably trained on data collected from the same person while they are watching various videos) can reconstruct the video that person is watching. That's both amazing and terrifying at the same time. The point being made here is that all AIs are basically doing the same thing: looking at ordered data and either extrapolating from it or mapping it into another domain of ordered data. But to AIs, it doesn't matter much what the ordered data is. It could be pixels, words, DNA, sound, video, or massive meshes of sensors. This AI stuff and the creeps I have about what Joy Tarder might be up to had me avoiding the consumption of cannabis, which is another thing I like to do on a Friday night at the cabin.
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