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   Denisovans and tardigrades
Wednesday, November 27 2019
It being the day before Thanksgiving, the workplace was kind of unsettled and not especially industrious. This was compounded by the fact that today was the last day for both Andrew (a SQL-knowing support person) and Victoria (one of the C# developers). At some point Marcus ordered pizza from Salvatore's for the office, and I was given the option of ordering something without cheese, so I picked an eggplant sandwich (hold the pesto mayo!). It wasn't very good, but it was so meatlike that I thought it might actually be meat until I saw the tiny seeds. It came with fries, which were great. I shared some of those with Ramona the Dog, who was a pretty good girl today.
Alex let me out early, and on the way home I stopped at the Tibetan Center thrift store for the first time in at least a month. But there was nothing for me there, something that was immediately clear to me when I saw that some crappy old wireless routers had been priced at $20 each. I wonder if this has anything to do with the new lady who works there, a witchy thick white woman who keeps her hair in dreadlocks. This is the same woman who, Gretchen tells me, once bitched at her at Hurley Ridge Market about some trivial issue of sanitation, only to have Gretchen carnivore-shame her grocery cart in response. In any case, the golden age for the Tibetan Center is over, and if I return there, it won't be soon. I should try to find some other thrift store where I can scratch my thrift store itch, though I can't think of a better demographic to supply the sorts of things that interest me than the one that donates to a charity working on behalf of Tibet.
When I got back home, Gretchen's parents were there in the living room in front of a roaring fire. They'd gotten in late last night and had somehow found things to do all day while Gretchen and I were off working. I ended up sitting there with them chatting non-stop untile Gretchen came home (that had to be at least two hours). It was a wide-ranging conversation driven, for some reason, by things I'd learned about in recent years that they had never heard of. For example, they'd never heard of the Denisovans, a species (or subspecies) of humans known only from genomes sequenced from remains in a Siberian cave and the Tibetan plateau. They found all that very interesting, and my father-in-law immediately used Google to learn more. My telling them about the tardigrade (the phylum of tiny, nearly-indestructible water creatures that vaguely resemble eight-legged bears) went similarly. They were so struck by recent paintings of a tardigrade and a crown jelly that they wanted them, so I said they could have them.
Tonight the four of us drove to Uptown Kingston and had dinner at Palizzata, the fancy new Italian restaurant in the space that had once been a south-Mexican restaurant, an Indian restaurant, and, when we first came upstate, a Chinese restaurant. The four of us had actually been part of a party eating a celebratory meal immediately after Gretchen and I got married back in 2003. Palizzata reflects a stage of gentrification beyond a level Gretchen would prefer, though she gives them props for having a vegan menu and offering that menu to all diners they seat. Unfortunately, though, the food just isn't that great. I had the pasta pomodoro, and it was okay, but I would've been happier with the spaghetti & marinara sauce at the Plaza Diner in New Paltz. I also had a new (or at least unfamiliar) IPA from the local Keegan Ales brewery, but it wasn't anywhere near as good as the IPAs I normally drink.
Tonight Gretchen's father was doing the driving in the rental car (an Infiniti, supposedly a luxury brand). Driving rental cars gives our inlaws a lot of exposure to different vehicles, which can influence their purchasing decisions later on. This Infiniti was not making a good impression. Part of the problem was the poor design of the dashboard, which constantly showed a bright white depiction of an analog clock. This reflected against the windshield, and tended to obscure the view out the front at night. Had the designers actually driven the car? Perhaps the clock could be turned off, but none of us could figure out how. Not only was it bad for visibility, but it was a poor use of display real estate. Much more useful information (perhaps in muted colors) could've been displayed in its place.
By contrast, Gretchen's father said that he'd had a really good impression of an all-electric Hyundai, but he hadn't been able to see one in a show room; the nearest Hyundai dealership is in Northern Virginia, and Hyundai doesn't sell all-electric cars in that state. Perhaps instead they sell cars burning that clean coal we all no longer hear much about.

Ramona at the edge of the solar farm today. Click to enlarge.

Ramona looking up at a squirrel or something back in the office complex.

Ramona waiting to get into the outside doors near the office.

Ramona waiting to get into the office.

Ramona waiting for a treat in the office.

Gretchen and her parents in front of Outdated in Uptown Kingston as we walked around after dinner tonight.

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