posted less than an hour ago on metafilter
Due to everything, I'll be staying in Canada for Christmas while my parents and siblings celebrate together in the US. Naturally I'll need to ship gifts from here to there, but I'm having trouble finding answers to my specific questions online.You'd think I'd know the answers to some of these questions after living here for over 4 years, but international parcel mail remains somewhat of a mystery to me. Specific questions: Will I have to worry about owing customs fees on either end? Is there a max dollar value per item or per package below which I don't have to pay fees? I expect all the individual items I'm shipping are worth less than ~$50 or so. Can I ship wrapped gifts? I know the general advice is "don't ship wrapped gifts internationally" but I can't find anything specifically about Canada to the US. I don't really mind if the gift ends up getting unwrapped by customs, but I don't want the package to get returned to me. How the heck do I fill out the customs declaration? I usually overthink it, but I honestly am not really sure what level of detail to go into. Can I just write "gifts - $20" and call it done? Ideally I would ship via Canada Post but I'm willing to use a private carrier if it will make life easier. I'll also try to get as many items as possible shipped directly from the seller to my family, but there's some personal/specialized items I'll need to mail myself. Personal anecdotes welcome. Links to official guidelines also welcome if you're better at google than I am. I am also interested in the answers to these questions in the US -> Canada direction so that I can advise my family.

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posted less than an hour ago on metafilter
I have a hard drive with ~3TB of assorted files (html, video, etc.) scraped from a large (public) website at a finite point in time. The files aren't arranged in a particularly human-readable way, but (I think?) in folders by file type. How do I make them my own private google -- or open to the public is fine?My goal is to have this archive in a format where a relatively small number of people could pull up a browser, enter text (or filetype) in a search field, and have relevant results pop up -- really, exactly what Google does. It could be a system where they need to set up an account (ideally free for them), or something open to the public (not sensitive, if not popular either). Difficulty: I understand computers, and 10 years ago might have clawed my way into setting up my own CMS, and maybe an SQL install or something, but I'd rather just have an off-the-shelf product that works quickly and that I can set up with less terminal and more mouse. I'm willing to pay ~$20/month, or maybe more (since this is potentially time limited). One idea I had was just to set up a google drive account, create a shared drive, and upload everything there (though I think uploads are limited to 750GB or something/day). I can try to trim it to under 2GB (the jump from 2GB for $9.99 to 10TB for $49.99 is massive)... Or should I just try to get the data into the cloud somewhere, hope Google indexes it, and create a one-page web interface that routes searches to site:xyz? (Does "hope Google indexes it" work here?) Other ideas are welcome! Thank you!

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posted less than an hour ago on metafilter
Do you know of a really good decaf whole bean (ideally available via mail order) that tastes exactly like caffeinated coffee?I don't drink coffee. A friend really likes coffee but finds decaf versions undrinkable. They tend to prefer French roasts, whether from the bulk section at the co-op or from Trader Joe's; they grind their own beans just before brewing in a French press. They've tried some decaf whole beans from the same co-op store roasters and found them different enough to be not worth drinking. Does anyone know of a really good decaf whole bean (ideally available via mail order) that tastes exactly like caffeinated coffee? (I have seen this previously, but it is ten years old.) Thanks!

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posted about 1 hour ago on metafilter
Please help me troubleshoot my VPN and internet connection woes before I get fired from my new job.Recently started a new job and am having a lot of trouble reliably connecting to the shared network/VPN from home. I have Verizon Fios 100/100-- but in speed tests over wifi from my Verizon router, I get more like 55/55 on a regular basis, sometimes less. As soon as I connect to the VPN (SSL), my speeds are more like 20/10, and I can't actually access the drives (get 'network path not found' error). The IT person seems to think this is a problem with my internet but hasn't been particularly helpful in figuring out how to fix it. Can someone who knows more help me figure out the next best step? It seems like these are the options: -Buy an ethernet cable to see what my actual speeds are/see if my speeds improve enough to connect -Upgrade to 200/200 mbps plan or more (this is fine, I can do this if I actually need to) -Bug verizon and tell them I'm not getting the speeds I'm paying for (I'm not sure if this is true) -Bug the IT person because this sounds like it is actually an issue with my work laptop or the network (I have no idea if this is true) -Other? Thank you in advance for saving my career, metafilter.

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posted about 2 hours ago on metafilter
"BBC Dad" Robert E. Kelly (previously, previously) "knows something about interruptions" so he made an ad for Twitter (1-minute subtitled video) to help advertise Twitter's new conversation settings. (People can mark individual tweets so that "Everyone", "People you follow", or "only people you mention" can reply (which means that, if desired, a user can make a tweet un-reply-able). Twitter started testing this feature early this year and now it's apparently available for all users.) Yes, his kids are in the ad.

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posted about 2 hours ago on metafilter
I am thinking of taking an online writing workshop, but it's an asynchronous class, and I'm not sure how well that would work. Please share your experiences.Most of what I'm finding online seems to be focused on whether asynchronous classes are or aren't a good idea for young people. This is a writing workshop for adults with lectures, writing prompts, and discussions. Students post work and receive feedback. I am just having a hard time wrapping my head around this. I think one issue I have is that I'm a member of an online cancer support group that I've had to back away from for my own mental health. I think that not actually meeting people results in a kind of anonymity that can lead to misreadings and misunderstandings. I took a Zoom writing workshop over the summer that I was very happy with, but I did feel like I got to know my classmates because we were seeing each other in real time for several hours a day. So if you've participated in an asynchronous class, please share.

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posted about 5 hours ago on metafilter
Here is the patent. The original text is in Chinese and English text is available through automated translation. Could a good speaker of Chinese with some engineering background tell me how this thing is supposed to work?Context: there's a locust plague going on in Eastern Africa and I'm co-writing a paper about locust-catching methods. It turns out that there are lots of Chinese and Russian patents for such devices (which were pioneered by the US in the 1870s), but they're all in their original language with no proper English translation. I've been able to more or less figure out most of them (they're basically big vacuum cleaners) but I don't get how this one works, except that it has nets on each side, can be mounted on a motorcycle, and the Bernoulli principle is involved. It does not seem to require a power source, but I'd like to be sure of that.

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posted about 8 hours ago on metafilter
Could be books, dramas, podcasts, anything audio based -- but used to tell a fictional narrative. Basically, I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks, as well as some audiodramas. I like the format a lot! That said, I'm looking for audio-based media like this where they reallllly lean into the audio. Sort of like if the radiolab folks made a really elaborate audio narrative. Heavy use of music, editing, sounds, just really really leaning into the "audio" part of the equation.No real snowflake details. I am open to any genre, any type of story, anything really. I just want to see if there is anyone sort of...trying to push the medium? If there end up being a ton of options, I will share a bit about what I like: these days I've been getting back into sci fi and fantasy (I know, narrows it down). I also really like chinese historical costume dramas (I've been listening to audio drama productions of various boylove historical dramas, for example). I like wuxia a lot. I dunno, I think I'm happy to let production quality be the deciding factor, as I consume media pretty broadly, even if I have my favorites.

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posted about 10 hours ago on metafilter
Help me figure out my optimal online teaching strategy... details inside.So my university, being in Australia, is continuing our offering of online classes, perhaps though most of 2021 even. I totally approve - we've technically eradicated COVID here and we are saving the space for distanced versions of classes that have a higher priority for F2F. (I say eradicated, but we're all just one quarantine breach away from another cluster unless we keep up precautions.) But that leads to some questions about how I want to teach online now that I can think about it — I taught last semester in the midst of things, managing to switch from in person to live Zoom pretty seamlessly with my postgrad classes, but that was emergency online teaching. I think I could do even better. One key point is the structure. Last semester, I rolled into a 3 hour live (scheduled) Zoom that was basically the same as I would do with my in person seminars. In the meantime, this semester, there was a bit more consensus about format and that favored 1.5 hours pre-recorded and 1.5 hours as a scheduled live Zoom workshop / tutorial. (I got all my main teaching done last semester.) So, not my favorite, but I can do this format if need be. But... apparently the feedback from students was that they HATED the recorded format and didn't like the work getting flipped back onto them. (I also saw this dislike in my informal reviews from last semester, with people who did my colleague's recorded lectures but then watched mine for exam review... Yes, I am bragging on myself a bit here, but mostly the same material with a different format for comparison.) TLDR: when teaching adults online, what do you love/like/accept/dislike/hate? I've got some ideas after taking an online sake training for fun (here if you're interested), so that was a great example from the learner's side that online live can work, but I may have idiosyncratic preferences... Anyway, thank you in advance!

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posted about 11 hours ago on metafilter
Fell out of love with dream job. Can't quit. How do I finish this PhD ASAP?For various reasons (including respect for my collaborators and my desire to have a PhD), I can't quit, but I've got 1.5-2 years to go. Unfortunately I have completely lost any intellectual interest in doing the actual day-to-day work for the PhD. But the more I drag my feet, the more I impede my collaborators, and the further away graduation day moves. Also I cannot really phone it in because I am leading a team of people. How do I graduate? We have very regular meetings, deadlines, momentum, great advisors, etc., and I have a clear path to graduation. The problem is just me, a leader who has lost passion for this project. I feel intellectually bored and trapped, and that combined with physical trappedness (due to pandemic) has made me quite depressed and obviously not so good at working. Also I am in the weird situation of having wanted to drop out of the PhD for quite some time, but the project being so successful that I am still on my way to graduate. The thing that literally gets me out of bed is the thought of graduating and exiting this particular career path, but then when it comes to doing the day-to-day work, I just face this massive void of "There is endless work, I don't care, and I want to leave." I'm lucky enough to have a therapist and a solid group of friends, though no significant other (as you can tell, the PhD is my ball-and-chain). I also moonlight in other roles that I am passionate about and would gladly try to turn them into full-time work, though for the time being I have to finish the PhD. Can people tell me "light at the end of the tunnel" stories? Did you (or someone else in art or life) grit your teeth through a job and emerge stronger for it? Do you have PhD-specific coping mechanisms, like support groups? Or, I dunno, on the commiseration front, do you have readings about how Work Sucks and all laborers are inherently alienated from the products of their labor under capitalism and thus must rise up in solidarity?

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posted about 11 hours ago on metafilter
Woodworkers of MeFi: what's the best way to finish a door with painted details so that it can be used as a dining table? Specific issues inside.OK, so I've made a table out of cast aluminum legs and a midcentury men's room door from an architectural salvage place. It's really cool, but it has some specific issues (chipping of the veneer in places, screw holes all the way through in places where the push plates were attached originally, a vent/grille in the bottom third of the door that I'm just going to use as a built-in tray, with a 1/4 inch wooden lip around its edge). Most importantly, I want to preserve its character (ie. don't want to stain it or strip it), and don't want to wreck its key feature: the word MEN painted in midcentury lettering at the top. But I want this to last and not be destroyed by spills and drinks, etc. I have an idea of what could be done to preserve it but have just cobbled this idea together through internet research, so am looking for confirmation of this method or some revision suggestions. Right now, am thinking I'll fill the chips and holes with a BluFixx clear resin pen to even out the surface (I don't mind seeing the chips, but don't want them to chip further and want the surface to be flat), and then just wipe the whole thing down really well and brush lacquer it with a semi-matte lacquer. I thought of doing a full 2-part resin pour on it, but am not sure it would self-level around the grille--and am also worried that it would get so shiny that it would bounce a lot of light around, being placed near big windows, and it would be hard to see the lettering. Finally, I wasn't actually planning on sanding this before lacquering, because I don't want to ruin the letters. Will this be OK? The door currently has its original finish on it.

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posted about 11 hours ago on metafilter
I'm just beginning to feel ready to date after more than a year of recovery after a terrible relationship. Specific silly question inside.I've seen this man around and he's always caught my eye, so I was quite excited when he connected and wrote me on social media after I played somewhere (I'm a musician). We exchanged a few long-ish messages over the last week, but a protective voice is closing me up now. He hasn't asked me out or flirted really, and nor have I, but he always takes significantly longer to reply than I do. The last time he took 3 days, apologised after, and sent especially long messages. I haven't responded yet because of that protective part of me. There's something about his communication that isn't particularly warm though he seems like a good person, so I'm not sure what his intentions are. Perhaps he's just being friendly... or maybe he's shy? Because of the trauma of the previous relationship, I'm not really wanting to take big risks by asking him out or giving out strong signals. I wonder about just stopping the texting, but then I don't find men attractive often, and I find him VERY much so, so I wonder if I shouldn't give up over nothing. Thoughts?

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posted about 12 hours ago on metafilter
I'm looking for a decent, introductory-level biography of Descartes. I have no interest in a staid academic biography, but rather something aimed for novices and maybe capping out at 250 pages (in English). I have the academic background, but that was a long time ago, and I'm interested in a refresher only. Does such a lighter biography exist? Thanks in advance!

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posted about 13 hours ago on metafilter
They were all women. At the time the photo was released, only one leader of the five-party coalition was over the age of 34. Previously on MeFi...

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posted about 14 hours ago on metafilter
In 1998 or so [year could be off] I remember reading a cheerful poem either in a child's book or child-friendly book in the strikingly joyful voice of several frogs very happy about... water? The poem was unusual in that it was laid out as a call-and-response or simultaneous-speaker text, where both voices were on the page at the same time. I can't confidently recall any of the words in the poem.This is a really weird question, I know, but the internet is turning up absolutely nothing, and I'm trying to explain this poem to someone else.

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posted about 15 hours ago on metafilter
The drawstring gift bags that Amazon uses for gift wrap are perfect:* shiny and sparkly, not matte * generic designs and colors that work for any occasion or recipient * sturdy enough for many, many reuses * completely opaque * drawstring means no complicated wrapping technique needed for odd shapes or multiple small gifts * perfect mix of stiff/soft fabric means no tissue paper needed, unless the gift is fragile. Paper gift bags need tissue paper so the gift doesn't rattle around loosely. Most fabric drawstring bags need tissue paper so they don't just drape and flop around the gift. Are there any copycat drawstring bags for sale anywhere? I'd like to buy gifts not-on-Amazon and wrap them in excellent reusable drawstring bags.

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posted about 15 hours ago on metafilter
This is a long shot, but I'm curious: are there any stores (which offer online shopping) that carry products (food or otherwise) from Malta in Canada? I'm gathering possibilities for a Christmas gift. I'm in the US so can't visit in person. Thanks Mefites!

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posted about 15 hours ago on metafilter
Cold weather is coming. How do I entertain a toddler when the regular options are out?My wife and I have a 2-year-old kid and live in Chicago in an apartment. During the summer and fall, being able to go hiking/doing outdoor activities kept us busy and entertained. It's getting too cold to take the kid to the park for extended periods of time and Chicago winters are brutal. We aren't comfortable seeing friends indoors at this point (multiple family members/friends sick with COVID) so that's out the window. Kid is crazy active and doesnt really focus on screens or Zoom activities -- just wants to climb, throw stuff and do physical activity. I'm taking care of the kid during the day and working nights and need activities for daytime hours and weekends that get us out of the house and are as safe as possible. I'm from outside the midwest and navigating cold winters with kids is a new thing in general. What are our options so we're not going stir crazy trapped in an apartment for the next 3 months?

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posted about 16 hours ago on metafilter
My previous question was here: https://ask.metafilter.com/345655/Nervous-Breakdown-Covid-19-and-Work-How-Can-I-Overcome-This I'm giving an update with additional question and more answers now six months have passed.- First off thank you for the outpouring of support, kind words, and people who messaged me directly with advice and kind words. -Funnily enough, I looked back at my first Mefi post I wrote 7 (soon to be 8) years ago. https://ask.metafilter.com/232393/Graduating-soon-with-a-BA-from-a-Canadian-Uni-Job-search-help-please-I-have-two-years-writing-experience - I had graduated with a Philosophy degree and was positive I would work as a journalism. It's funny sometimes how life works out! I never thought I'd be here today. - I lucked out and got a job with the Federal government. I'm in help desk, working with a small team. - I support a very specialized software suite in addition to regular support requests. While my job was interesting at first, I'm extremely bored right now. - I did have offers with other companies (Managed Service Providers), but I felt those jobs would be high stress and demanding, which are things I didn't want to deal with while I got "better." - Of course I know I will need to accept that I'm autistic, have ADHD, and struggle with anxiety/depression. These aren't things that hinder me, they simply make me who I am. - I'm seeing a psychologist, and the psychologist follows an ACT model, or Acceptance Commitment Therapy. - The core idea is I'm to embrace my thoughts, thank them, and then work towards bettering the thing I'm worried or upset about. For example: I'm worried that I'm not saving enough money, so I will create a budget, and follow it. As a result, I will feel great a few months or year later when I have a lot of savings in my bank account. - The problem is I feel "stuck." I catastrophize that I'm not earning enough, I have a dead end job with the government, and I'm slowly losing my skills - Of course this is silly, as life never ends - there's a lot of things I can study, and plenty of people go back to school in their 30s or 40s. - An interesting quote I read today is "Is any profession worth it? Try doing the thing you like most every day, and eventually you'll get full of it. The same goes for your job. One day you'll wake up and say to yourself, is this all there is to life?! That's just how it goes I suppose. Try not to think long-term and instead enjoy each moment given to you. You'll hate your job either way you put it. Good luck." - Overall, I will say I'm doing better than before, and I feel I'm on the right track in terms of learning to deal with my emotions. - Any advice on what to do now? Apologies of my thoughts aren't coherent.

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posted about 16 hours ago on metafilter
Do Rats Have Orgasms?

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posted about 16 hours ago on metafilter
I've run across this quote a few times recently, at times attributed to the Buddha and at times to anonymous. Assuming it is correctly attributed to the Buddha, could someone supply the original source so it can be encountered in context? Also very welcome would be secondary sources discussing its significance.

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posted about 17 hours ago on metafilter
Assuming you might need them for legal proof in the futureMy sister has a crazy ex who stalked her for a while. She's free and safe now and has been for several months, but she has a new phone and new phone number that is not linked to her old one. (for obvious reasons.) The old phone is a piece of junk that barely charges at all. It looks like it's on it's last legs and going to die. We took it to a place to fix it and was told that there was no way as even the repair person couldn't figure out how to charge it. Even with a new battery it does not charge. We'd like to get all the ex's old messages off the phone to keep them just in case it's necessary in the future. The text messages are not saved on the sd card though and they seem to only come up on the phone itself. Is there a legit way to transfer all the text messages to a laptop or something? Or is the only way to photograph frame by frame each message with a separate camera?

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posted about 18 hours ago on metafilter
Why did renewables become so cheap so fast? And what can we do to use this global opportunity for green growth? A new report from Our World in Data.

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posted about 18 hours ago on metafilter
I absolutely love BattleBots and I'm excited to finally see the 2020 season. I don't have cable. Does anyone know where I can stream it?

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posted about 19 hours ago on metafilter
(Content warning transphobia) I'm worried I'm turning into a TERF. No queer-friendly therapists or community available to me. Who can I talk to or how can I train my feelings to match my values.My intense feeling of grief, disappointment and stress at Elliot Page's coming out as trans is very at odd with my intellectual cheer on his behalf at finding his authentic self. I'd actually been vaguely concerned for Page's well-being based on interviews the past few years so hopefully this will bring him peace and joy. But, as a small-b butch woman in her forties I'm feeling a loss. I get that this isn't my loss to feel, that Page wasn't what I (and he) thought, but the feeling that I am being edged into a narrower and narrower space between binary expressions where I'm the one who's wrong (again) persists. I hate feeling this way, and I have that this feeling is so close to the way transphobic women talk, reason and agitate. I absolutely keep these shitty thoughts to myself and argue against them where I see them dogwhistled by others and love my trans homies, we are all one family. I've been having complicated feels for a while about (forgive me) "butch erasure". The thought that the ways I expressed my gender as a kid would, today, if my parents had loving, open intentions, probably been interpreted as gender questioning. Intellectually I realize that of course that it's more a struggle to get validated as trans than to accidentally transition. A coworker was telling me her kid may be trans as they hade anything to do with being a girl. I wanted to ask if their kid has any women who look and act like me in her life, her mom is about my polar opposite. Equally I've been having weird and shitty reactions and thoughts about "women in X" where X is a male dominated field or hobby. There is a growing number of women in these fields which is great. There's also a disproportionate number of trans women, which is also great and arguably an even harder row to hoe, but I can't seem to be as excited or identify as easily. It's gotten that when I hear a woman has done something in a field like that I find myself googling to see if she is trans. I worry that this is some displaced obsessive disruptive thoughts, and while that is something I could possibly talk to a mental health person about I don't have any access to someone who would take that seriously I think, because of their own generalized transphobia. Any frameworks for dealing with these thoughts or how I can work through them without encumbering trans people more? Is there an aspect of queer theory that handles this? I am fearful of the internet as I am afraid of and disgusted by those who would tolerate these thoughts and "get their claws " in me. At the same time as I feel these are bad questions and I don't want to put them on the internet, I don't know where else to ask. Mods if this just feels like a transphobic screed I understand if you need to not post it.

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