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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

After last week on call, almost anything was bound to be an improvement. But my oncall ended at 11am Monday; Sunday night and Monday morning managed to cram in nearly as many pages as any two-day period the preceeding week. By Monday at 11 I was a total wreck. (While I was deep in work on one or two other tickets, the two daytime SEV2's timed out and paged me at 10:30. At which point $BOSS came by. I was almost totally nonverbal at that point - it was all I could do to get out a couple of words to indicate that I was working on it.)

Monday afternoon was predictably unproductive. Since I had two medical appointments on Tuesday I had already planned on taking the day as vacation. I needed it. I was still pretty stressed on Wednesday; almost anything could trigger an immediate adrenaline reaction, and I was snappish and probably no fun at all to be around.

Thank the gods for gin, hot baths, and cats.

It took me all day Wednesday and most of Thursday to get my commits from the week before rebased on top of the stuff S had pushed in the mean time. I finally did make some actual forward progress on Friday, and finally got the workflow to go through the final stage that it had been hanging up on before. (Intentionally vague and generic, I know.)

Even with (and to some extent because of) ten workspaces and who knows how many browser tabs, I still wasn't able to keep things organized. I kept forgetting which tickets went where and what I had done on them, and found several of them open in multiple places. No surprise there.


Have I mentioned dishes? We have dishes. Yesterday around dinner time the kids (Kat and Alex, not g and j) brought down roughly a full dishwasher load from their room. I did one load last night, put one in this morning, and there will be at least another by nightfall.

I finally brought up the rack that I'd had the dishes stacked on in the Starport, and rearranged the shelving to put the corelle conveniently on the lower shelf. I'm tempted to put most of the blue dishes away where they won't get used; one of the problems seems to be that nobody (else) notices that dishes have to be done until they can't find a clean one.

I think I cooked three or four meals this week.


Writing and music. Um... (Posted by accident before I could fill in this part. TL;DR no music to speak of -- ripping CDs doesn't count. Broke 1000 words of writing, so technically met the 500-words-twice-a-week goal, but spread over three days. I'll take it anyway.)

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: (flamethrower)

The only writing I did last week was last Sunday's weekly post. I'll try to do better; hopefully I won't be feeling as harried this week. I did get in some music time -- last Sunday, and yesterday. And some walking with Colleen and Kat, also on Sunday.

Quite a bit of back pain. It's been mostly ok in the morning, but tends to get worse on the way home. Probably something to do with being tired, but also possibly stress. Have I mentioned having trouble identifying my mental state? It's called alexithymia.

The alexithymia also bleeds into problems identifying physical state, because of course they're related. I have trouble distinguishing the physical symptoms of anxiety and hunger, for example. Not to mention distinguishing between wanting food, and needing food. The latter barely registers, and certainly not as hunger, until I suddenly start feeling the symptoms of low blood sugar. Which I have learned to recognize. Or until Colleen notices that I'm starting to snap at people.

Stress is, apparently, another of those states that I don't start noticing until it's been going on too long. And then it bleeds into burnout and depression. (And, no, depression doesn't register as sadness. At all. It's best described as a combination of apathy and despair.) I think I'm noticing a trend here.

I'm getting better at noticing. Look in the notes for an exclamation mark in column 3 -- that means I've actually noticed an emotion while it was happening. They're rare -- the only instance this last week was Sunday.

Speaking of stress, I'm oncall this week. With pages including 6am Tuesday morning -- Prime Day -- and midnight last night. This morning. Whatever. One thing I've noticed is that I don't have enough mental bandwidth. I can't multitask. At all. Period. Things get lost track of.

If a page comes in, I completely lose track of whatever I was doing, including dealing with another page, and it takes me a while to get my context back. Which leads to things like having something like 10 different browser windows open in 8 workspaces, with multiple tabs in each, many of which refer to the same tickets. Because context. And, of course, re-investigating the same thing multiple times because I've forgotten what I was doing an hour ago.

I'm getting a little better at going up to people I don't know and asking for help. But, of course, I'm even worse at remembering names than I am at multitasking, which leads to things like waking the wrong person up at six in the morning. (And forgetting that I had an email in my inbox telling me who the right person would have been. See multitasking.)

(Brief pause -- my desk is being catted on. The absolute best thing I've done for my mental health in years was putting a cardboard box on my desk, attaching it with a couple of screws, and lining it with a towel.)

Back to reaching out and talking to people. I don't think my reluctance to do that has anything to do with what I afraid people will think of me. So, this doesn't seem to have the characteristcs of social anxiety. No, it has more to do with what I think of me, and in particular feeling stupid and at a loss for what to do. Plus total lack of self-confidence, which leads to (or somehow relates to) an unwillingness to "disturb" people.

It's not just at work. Even at home, I take a closed door as a "do not disturb" sign even when I'm pretty certain that the person on the other side (usually N) would be happy to see me. It's hard enough when I know they're expecting me, though I'm getting a little better about that.

In a slightly different direction, some links from [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith about emotional self-care (see Monday, below) proved unexpectedly triggery and anxiety-provoking. So we're talking low self-esteem here, maybe. (Maybe?! Let's get real here.)

It's been a long month this week.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Today I am thankful for...

  • Getting halfway through my week on call without blowing anything up. Or melting down, which was even more likely.
  • Learning to ask for help.
  • Help.
  • Friends. Family. Cats. (There's a lot of overlap.)
  • The fact that I'm still a pretty decent cook.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Almost no writing this week, even counting LJ posts; I have, however, been spending time catching up with home software/ops-related tasks, so I'm going to count that as writing time, if not word count. A little more productive at work than two weeks ago, although I wasted a lot of time getting back to where I had been before a rebase.

Apart from that, though, things are going better at work than I expected them to. I'm getting things done at home, too -- notably, working with Glenn to bring Naomi's enormous new chair downstairs. Tight fit, but we did it. (It's either a huge chair or a smallish loveseat. Either way, it's gorgeous but at 32" just barely fit through the doors.)

Went out for sushi with Colleen, Rabbit, and Chaos, in honor of Chaos's 31st birthday. I'm too young to have a daughter in her thirties, right? Oh. Right.

The high point of the week, though, was going to the West Seattle Summerfest yesterday with Colleen and Naomi. Glenn on the way there, though he left early. Rather than try to load everyone into the van, hassle with parking, and load and unload the scooter, I simply made sure both scooters' batteries were charged, and we st/rolled. Fun.

There was a tiny house on display, from Seattle Tiny Homes -- the bathroom was awesome, with a walk-in tub, washer, and wall-mounted dryer. All in about 5x8 feet. We'll definitely be working with those people. Also with the solar power people. And in the more immediate future, Naomi found a builder that we might use for the basement water-damage repair.

We also bought some fun art prints. And Naomi insisted that I buy a hat, which she said fits me the way my leather jacket does; I can't say she's wrong about that. It's the 8-section style in tweed, but every section is a subtly different color and weave. Kind of awesome, actually.

I told N on the way back that it was the most fun I'd had in a long time; she said that was good, but it's unfortunate that I haven't been having more fun lately. Not sure what to do about that. I procrastinate, so I have a strong tendency to prioritize the more important things I'm not doing over the fun things I'm not doing. And figuring out what "fun" means is another problem -- I also have a tendency to dread doing things, especially new things, but to enjoy them after I get pushed into doing them. I think yesterday's expedition might have been an exception.

Westercon was not an exception -- I hadn't really expected to go, and expected it to be stressful. I enjoyed giving my concert, but hadn't expected to be doing that, either -- I only found out about it after I'd committed to going.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

It's no longer Thursday. I am thankful for

  • Continuing employment.
  • Not being completely disabled by burnout.
  • xmonad, which is probably a lot of why I'm surviving work.
  • Westercon, and a concert slot I wasn't expecting.
  • ... and a chance to catch up with friends I see far too seldom.
  • ... and the fact that Portland is only three hours' drive from home.
  • My wife's cooking. And the fact that my wife's cooking (again).
  • Ticia.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

So, last weekend was Westercon. It was the first we'd been to for a while -- Portland is close enough to drive to in less than 3 hours, so we were able to do it without my having to take any time off.

My concert Saturday evening went ok: Bigger on the Inside, The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of, Millennium's Dawn, Riverheart, The Toolmakers, The Bears (A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear, A Tribute to the Middle-Aged Bear), The Travelers (Where the Heart Is, Windward), Rambling Silver Rose, QV, Ship of Stone.

There were a couple of flubs, but nothing serious -- not bad for next to no prep, but I'll have to get more serious about practicing. I had taken Plink, the little Vagabond travel guitar; that was almost certainly the right choice. Though I think the battery was dead; we ended up micing it for the concert, which got me off to a bit of a late start. Putting my phone, in clock mode, on the music stand turned out to work very well.

I didn't go to any panels -- just hung out in the filk room or the lobby with my laptop. (I'd also brought my work laptop, but never used it.) As usual, I enjoyed it more than I expected to beforehand: I've learned the hard way that it's better -- and I'm less likely -- to regret having done something than to regret not having done it. (Does that construction make sense? Probably, though it's less clear than I'd like.)

Great conversations over dinner with [personal profile] alatefeline on Saturday (or was that Sunday lunch?), and Roy and Joan Sunday. On the whole a good, fairly relaxed con.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I am actually breaking at Friday evening, one day over the month boundary, so as to group all the practicing together here, and the con and concert in the next entry.

So, yeah; this week's big surprise was finding out Thursday morning that I had a concert coming up Saturday evening. I hadn't asked for one, but apparently Colleen did. Um... thanks, I think. (Spoiler -- it actually went surprisingly well, though not quite as well as the run-throughs. Nervous.)

I hadn't asked for a concert or answered my participant questionaire because up until two weeks before the con I was still waffling about whether or not to go. I knew it would be stressful, and I knew it would be fairly expensive (though driving, skipping Friday, and coming back Monday instead of Tuesday helped a great deal). I also knew I'd regret it if I didn't go. On the whole I'm glad I went (especially since I got to meet [personal profile] alatefeline). But I'm exhausted. I must be more introverted than I was even a few years ago.

Made Boeuf Bourguignon on Sunday -- came out quite well, though I think not quite as well as the Stroganoff the night before. I made a stupid mistake with the pepper, but managed to skim off most of it and didn't get anyt complaints. I have not, unfortunately, been keeping up very well with the dishes.

While on the subject of food; Monday around 12:30 I noticed that my blood sugar was getting low. It didn't feel like what I usually label as hunger, i.e. wanting food. Something is definitely miswired there. If there's food around and I'm not deeply engrossed in something, I'll want to eat it. If I'm in a flow state, which I was a couple of times this week (Yay!), I won't notice food, and will eventually run out of energy. The situation is probably not helped by the amount of coffee I drink.

Friday some idiot came within inches of getting herself killed when she started ambling across the street against the light, with her nose in her phone, and in front of the bus I was riding to work in. (It's not exactly a street -- it's a bypass lane on the left-hand side of 4th Avenue. To get to the island where one can board the bus, one has to cross that lane. But, still...) That's one of the reasons I don't try to read -- or text -- while I'm walking.

Only a little writing -- just one day with over 500 words. But two solid practice sessions, so that's good. Put up shelves in N's closet -- that was good, too. I have to keep reminding myself to feel accomplished after that sort of thing. (Like last week, the only emotion I actually noticed while I was feeling it was despair. I'm altogether too good at that one.)

Close enough to 500 words -- I'm going to stick a fork in it.

Notes & links, as usual )


Jul. 1st, 2016 07:33 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I didn't ask for a concert at Westercon this year, because up until about two weeks ago I wasn't sure I'd be able to affort to go. (It's marginal, but it's important enough in terms of keeping in touch that we decided to go anyway.) I also don't read my email very closely if I'm not expecting anything in particular.

So you can imagine my surprise when I took another look at the schedule and saw that I have a one-hour concert slot tomorrow (Saturday) at 6pm.

There may be a lot of old favorites in this one.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

You may want to start with Part 1


Xmonad is a tiling window manager. That means that, with very few exceptions, it lays out all of the windows in your workspace so that they completely fill the screen. You can have multiple layouts, and flip between them with a single keystroke. You can bring a workspace (there are 9 by default, but you can add more) to your screen with a single keystroke, or send a window to a workspace.

And the whole thing is configured using a text file that is actually a program, written in the functional language Haskell. I'll get to that later.

One of my main gripes about Gnome, etc., and one of the things I miss the most about CTWM, is that when you first start a program its window shows up at some random location on the screen, with whatever size the program thinks is appropriate. If you don't like those choices you have to move and resize the window yourself, and then do it all over the next time you log in. (There are some exceptions -- many newer programs remember where you put them last, and older programs, from the CTWM era, can be given a starting geometry.)

Xmonad's layouts are all deterministic, which is to say, predictable. When you start a program, you know exactly where it's going to be on the screen. When you change the layout, you know where everything is going to go. If you want to move a window into the main position (most layouts have one; e.g. the left-hand column) it's (as usual) just one keystroke to put it there.

But the best thing, and the reason I switched to xmonad in the first place, is the way it treats multiple monitors: it simply assigns one workspace to each monitor.

Undock your laptop, and its screen stays exactly the same. The workspaces that were shown on the other screens simply go back into hiding with all the others, and are still only a keystroke away. When you have multiple screens, you can move a window to another screen, or bring a workspace to a screen, or warp the pointer to another screen, all with single keystrokes.

When you go to a conference room and plug in a projector, a workspace immediately shows up there and its layout automatically adjusts to the projector's resolution and aspect ratio. When you get a new computer -- all the developers at work got new laptops just a month or two ago -- just copy your configuration files to it and everything will be exactly the same as it was on the old one. (Sometime later I'll write about my portable configuration, which makes it possible for me to set up my entire working environment in mere minutes.)


So let's go a little deeper into those magic keystrokes. First of all, you have to know that all of the commands (you can't really call them shortcuts) include a key that xmonad calls "Mod" (short for "modifier", of course). Mod is initially defined as Alt, but the first thing any Emacs user is going to do is redefine it as something else, usually the "logo" key. (That's the one on the left between Ctrl and Alt that usually has a Windows logo on it. If your keyboard has replaceable keys you may be able to get a penguin for it.) On old laptops that don't have a logo key I use Ctrl-Alt, but that's a matter of taste.

You also probably want to know that Mod-? gets you a list of all the commands. And that there's a fantastic collection of tutorials, documentation, and sample configuration files at

When xmonad starts up, you see a totally empty, black screen. Most people, myself included, add a status/navigation bar at the top, but you don't have to. I'll get to that later. You can start a program by typing Mod-P, or open a terminal window with Mod-Shift-Enter. You will immediately notice that the first window you open fills the screen. If you open another, xmonad will tile the screen with them, showing them side by side.

If you start a third program, it will get added to the right-hand column. You can probably see where this is going. When you move the mouse pointer into a window, it gets a thin red border to show you that it has "focus".

If you decide that you started things in the wrong order, move the pointer into the window you want to put in the left-hand column (the "master" column) and hit Mod-Enter. You close a window you're done with using Mod-Shift-C.

Here's where it gets interesting: Mod-Space will switch you to a new layout, with the master column turning into a master row, and all the other windows across the bottom. Hit Mod-Space again, and the currently-focused window goes full-screen. (I reconfigure my full-screen layout to put a row of tabs across the top. Wondering how to see the hidden windows? Mod-Tab moves focus to the next window in the stack. It also works in other layouts, so you don't need the mouse to move focus around. If you spend most of your time in a terminal and an editor like vim or emacs, you can throw your mouse away and still be productive. Mod-Shift-Tab moves focus to the previous window.

Mod-2 puts you into a second workspace. There are nine of them. (I add two more -- 0 and -.) If you want to move a window, say from workspace 2 to workspace 1, use Mod-Shift-1. That's kind of a recurring theme in xmonad -- Mod-something does one thing, and Mod-Shift-something does something related.

You can see that in action if you add an(other) monitor. Now, workspace 1 is in the left-hand screen, and 2 is in the right-hand screen. Think of the two of them as West and East.

Now, Mod-w will move the focus (and the mouse pointer) into the West screen, and Mod-e will move the focus into the East screen. Mod-1 through Mod-9 will bring that workspace into whatever screen has the focus. If the other workspace was already visible, they trade places. (Some people don't like that, so you can change it so that it just moves focus into the other screen if you select a workspace that's already visible.)

Add a third screen to the right of East, and call it Right. Now, Mod-r and Mod-Shift-R do exactly what you would expect. (There are no bindings for T, so I suppose that if you have space for a fourth screen you could use it for that.)

There are more key bindings, to move focus (Mod-j and Mod-k focus the next and previous window, respectively; shifted, they swap the focused window with the next or previous window), to shrink and enlarge the master area (Mod-h and Mod-l respectively), or increase or decrease the number of windows in the master area (Mod-Comma and Mod-Period respectively).

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Not all that good a week. Continued lack of productivity at work, mainly because of meetings this time, but still... I want to take a vacation after Westercon, but I have goals that I can't meet if I do. Bletch.

I haven't done much writing, either. A reasonable amount on Monday, but only a little after that. Grump. Did do more cooking than usual: chicken tikka masala on Monday, and beef Stroganoff yesterday. That was a real win. Lots of shrooms. I note in passing that while Cash and Carry has great prices, it doesn't have a very big selection, and few if any small packages.

On the plus side, I did a pretty good job of noticing and identifying my mood Friday. On the minus side, the mood in question was despair. Cat therapy helps, but not completely.

A fair amount of computer-related work -- got my raspberry pi up and running, with both Raspbian and OSMC (on different cards). OSMC (Open Source Media Center) looks like it would work well as a music and video player. Being one of the original cards, it doesn't have much in the way of RAM, so it wouldn't work as a desktop with my current workload. I also swapped my desktop machine for one of the two that have been sitting behind my desk ever since we moved in.

Moderate amount of house-project work.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

It seems unlikely that I'll write 500 words today, unless I write something else immediately after finishing this post. But anyway, today I'm thankful for...

  • Cat therapy. Just being around Ticia raises my mood more than just about anything else. Sometimes I'll just sink into her purr and drift contentedly.
  • An excuse to go back through my river posts. Maybe my idea from a couple of years ago of collecting them into a book is still a good one. They have deteriorated considerably since I started my weekly "Done" posts -- they were actually daily when I started; they took over the mind-space and time that other writing was occupying.
  • Colleen. How she manages to put up with me -- and why -- I will never know, but I'm glad she does.
  • xmonad -- both for providing a great desktop environment, and for giving me something to write about. By extension, Haskell, the language it's written in.
  • Writing. Even if I didn't get anywhere near 500 words tonight.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

As I mentioned about a week ago, I've been trying to write more. And since my current obsession is a program called xmonad, well, ...

This is incomplete: it's about the first day's worth (I've been trying to write about 500 words per day). Comments and suggestions are, of course, welcome.


My new 27" monitors arrived at work; I took advantage of the change to rearrange my work space. Before, it was the set-up I've had for most of the last three years -- monitor in front on a stand, second monitor on the right, and my laptop on the left. The new laptop, however, has a decent keyboard (with trackpoint and three buttons), and the monitors between them occupy about 2/3 of the desk.

The new arrangement has the laptop dock under the "middle" monitor; the laptop, being a business-class Dell, has both a pointing stick and a middle "mouse" button. The laptop's keyboard is decent enough that it can replace the thinkpad keyboard I've been using for the last couple of years -- it's a high-end Dell, and has both a pointing stick and a middle button. (The middle button has part of the Unix desktop environment since the mid 1980s; it means "paste", and I use it all the time.) The monitors are about 50% bigger, pixel-wise, than the laptop, and are arranged "traditionally" with the laptop on the left.

You can probably see the problem with this arrangement. The total workspace is about 7000 pixels wide, and it's not even arranged in a straight line -- to get from the laptop to the "middle" monitor you have to move the cursor to the right, but the natural direction would be straight up. What's more, when you undock the laptop the whole thing collapses down to a "mere" 1920x1080. It's no wonder that most of the programmers in my team have opted for a single 30" monitor, and keep their laptop (almost invariably a mac) closed while they're using it.

Fortunately, I anticipated this problem months ago, and started using a window manager called xmonad.


One of the things I love most about Linux is the fact that the program that manages the layout of the screen and the behavior and appearance of the windows on it is not part of the operating system. It's a separate program, sensibly called a "window manager", and it runs in user space as a perfectly ordinary application that just happens to have a couple of extra hooks into X, which is the (also ordinary) program that actually controls the display, the keyboard, and the mouse.

Being an ordinary program -- and not even a terribly complicated one -- anybody can write one, and many people have. For a long time I was using one called TWM (Tabbed Window Manager, but the T originally stood for Tom's). Later I started using CTWM (Claude's Tabbed Window Manager), because it introduced the then unfamiliar notion of multiple workspaces. (Before CTWM, these could only be found in an experimental system at Xerox where they were called "rooms". Apple introduced them decades later, as part of MacOS X.)

You've probably heard of Gnome, KDE, and Ubuntu's horrible Unity desktop environments. Down at the bottom, they're just window managers plus a couple of utilities for doing things like putting up the familiar bar (Gnome calls it a "panel") full of menus, launcher buttons, clocks and other widgets. You can, in fact, run gnome-panel under any window manager, and I did for a while. They also include a "session manager", which handles things like starting the panel and making sure that applications get notified when you log out, so that they can save their state and exit cleanly. I've been using Gnome for years, and loved it for its configurability.

But Gnome's configurability comes with a cost -- every time you move to a new computer, you have to spend an hour clicking around in control panels and property windows to get everything set up the way you like it. And every time there's a major upgrade, something is a little different. It's a cost I no longer have to pay.

Part 2

mdlbear: (rose)

Unless the sound of silent thoughts carries up the Rainbow Bridge, I won't be saying "Happy Fathers' Day" to my Dad. He died a little over 17 years ago. He got me interested in computers, over 50 years ago -- I miss him every time I think "I'd love to call Dad and tell him about..."

Science fiction, and folk music -- he would have loved the filk community. He took me to trade shows and conventions back before they stopped allowing kids in; he would have enjoyed a filk convention. He would have loved my CD, Coffee, Computers, and Song!

Songs for Sunday:

  • The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of -- I wrote this a couple of months before Dad died, and sang it for him on my last visit.
  • Rainbow's Edge -- Mom had asked me to write a song to sing at Dad's memorial. I don't sing this one all that often.
  • The World Inside the Crystal -- Dad was a programmer (when he wasn't being a chemist). I don't think he ever said so, but I'm pretty sure this was his favorite.

Not exactly the playlist I'd planned, but...

ETA: as I hoist my glass of gin I'm reminded of the way Dad made Tanqueray martinis: straight gin -- there's a bottle of vermouth somewhere in the house. For a slightly sweeter version, open the bottle.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Moderately productive week. Lots of computer configuration and upgrading work, which is always an easy way for me to feel like I've done something, even if it isn't all that useful. I have a new desktop computer, in a nice little Shuttle box, but haven't fully switched over to it yet. Because browser tabs, mostly. (I also got the raspberry pi booting, finally. Which mostly required looking at the installed card and noticing that, not only did it not have an OS installed, but it wasn't flagged as bootable. The Pi is one of the original 512Mb ones -- it's dog slow. Still, it has a lot of potential as either a media center or a special-purpose controller. I'm guessing that used, older pi's are dirt cheap on eBay.

My new monitors arrived at work; I took advantage of the opportunity to re-arrange my workspace (see notes for 0615We) -- and to get back into writing, with xmonad as my first topic. Xmonad really wins for this, because the physical arrangement of the monitors becomes almost irrelevant. By moving the laptop in front of me (because it has a usable keyboard for once) with the dock under the monitor, I not only freed up a sizeable amount of desk space but freed up my second thinkpad keyboard to come home with me. Win.

Last weekend also included a lot of cleanup work in the garage and the back yard -- the huge piles of junk and lumber have been hauled away. I really hated to lose the lumber, but it had been out in the rain for too long. I was, however, able to save most of the hardwood.

As indicated, I have been writing (see notes for 0614Tu). My goal is to write 500 words most days. (I missed yesterday because I was hacking on my journaling makefiles, which sort of counts in terms of time if not bytes.) This post is intended to hit today's word count, and, no, I'm not going to count the notes.

So that raises a question for you, my loyal readers. The article I'm writing on xmonad isn't done yet, but I do have two days worth of work on it. Should I post "episodes" as I go along? Maybe I should phrase that differently -- would anyone object if I did post what amount to partial rough drafts? Feedback would be useful. Because otherwise, that's what I'm going to do.

Some other ongoing projects will also be included in the word count, notably "Songs for Saturday" (or occasionally Sunday, if I'm being lazy) and the "River" posts. I will find or create a tag for the Linux-related stuff, like the aforementioned xmonad article, and probably "adventures in home computing" as well. Fiction is somewhat unlikely; I'm pretty bad at it, especially plotting. Metafiction and prose poems are a distinct possibility, though.

There. 500 words. Approximately, since wc doesn't distinguish between actual content and markup. At some point I need to do something about that, but I'm not going to worry about it right now.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Today I am thankful for...

  • My therapist.
  • My family.
  • Scraping by.
  • Stock vesting.
  • Whisky Wednesday, and gin in the fridge.
  • Writing.
  • Xmonad, in part for giving me something to write about.
  • More generally, Linux.
  • The Demoscene, and the coworker who introduced me to it.
mdlbear: (g15-meters)

I've gotten a lot done this week, at work but mostly at the house. We have a truck coming Wednesday to haul away the pile of junk that's been sitting in the back yard getting water-damaged since last year when we sorted through the stuff in the garage. This week I've been adding to it, and especially yesterday when I disassembled the pile of wood sitting on top of the old blue workbench. The latter, and most of the wood, were in sorry shape. It hurt a lot to see how bad they'd gotten. I did manage to save most of the hardwood and vertical-grain Douglas fir, so it wasn't a total loss, but close.

Well, we didn't really have room for the workbench, anyway.

I've also been through a couple of the boxes behind my desk. Including the one labeled "tiny computers". It seems that, over the years, I've spent an inordinate amount of money on small Linux-based devices that I mostly haven't taken the time to get working. There's a list in the notes, under 0611. And then there are the laptops (all but one of which have been recently upgraded to the latest Ubuntu, so that's good), the two Linux boxes in tower cases that are still perfectly functional, but I don't need them, the old Android tablets, ...


I've found other "treasures", too. I'm not sure nostalgia is good for me. Too many reminders of things I haven't done, or started but abandoned. It's easy to blame depression, and I do, but that doesn't make it any easier. Or less depressing.

I think it says something -- damned if I know what it says -- that while I noticed last Sunday that I had put in a good day's work and accomplished a lot, I didn't connect that fact with a feeling of accomplishment, or any other emotion. (If "accomplishment" even counts as an emotion. I think it does, but I'm not sure. That probably says something, too.)

Music note (see 0611 -- yesterday was busy, too): At the suggestion of the guy who sits next to me at work, I looked up the Demoscene and watched a couple of videos, and a documentary, on YouTube. Mind-blowing. Especially when you consider that, say, "Chaos Theory" by Conspiracy -- the whole thing, music and video -- was entirely generated by a 64K program in real time.

The demoscene reminds me a lot of the filk community, and it makes me want to see what could be done for World Inside the Crystal that way.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Not a great week psychologically, on the whole. Frazzled. Burned out? Probably. Lots of random, depressed-sounding self-talk, and practically everything I see or think about reminds me of something I've done wrong. In most cases the mistakes are unfixable, with drastic consequences. Doomed? That's how it feels. Doomed. (Cue Imperial March from Star Wars: doom doom doom doomty doom doomty doom...)

On the other hand, I've gotten almost all of the household computers -- at least, the ones that aren't G's -- upgraded with Ubuntu 16.04. It's a fast, easy install even on modern machines with secure boot, and my bootstrap script for setting up Gnome flashback, xmonad, and the other stuff I rely on is working pretty well now. I've also resurrected Kat's Acer Aspire (which I dubbed "aspie" because, while it's brilliant, it has trouble communicating -- took me forever to find the key combination that brings up the boot menu). And Emmy's Dell, which I'd thought had a broken charging port, turned out to just need a real Dell charger. :P

G is a professional system administrator -- he can do his own upgrades.

I also bought a new washer for downstairs. It arrives Tuesday, which means that this weekend's project is clearing a path to the downstairs laundry room. Also, most likely, putting up shelves in the garage and the downstairs closet, and curtain rods on N's door.

Yesterday's amusement -- high point of the week, actually -- was Ticia waking me up and teaching me how to play fetch. Really -- she batted her crinkle ball off the bed, picked it up and brought it back, batted it off again, brought it back, ... By that time I was awake and had gotten the hint, so I tossed it for her to fetch. Did that a couple of times. She doesn't usually bring the ball back to me, so I suspect that she thinks she invented the game all by herself. And so she did.

See also, xkcd: My Friend Catherine.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Today -- Thursday, for those keeping track -- I am thankful for

  • Employment
  • Nibbles
  • Therapy cats
  • My family
  • Ubuntu
  • Xmonad
  • Spare laptops
  • Figuring (some) things out about myself
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Kind of a rough week. My main accomplishments, such as they were, were a result of puttering around the house: finishing the third box of shredding from the garage, clearing out a couple of boxes from the cubhouse (and finding quite a lot of stuff that I'd been looking for), things like that. Progress at work, but not as much as I would have liked. Stress is not conducive to anything that requires concentration.

More stress than I would have liked, too, though things have gotten a lot better since Monday. I think I've managed to noodle on the guitar for at least a few minutes every day -- it seems to help.

QOTD: As affirmations go, "I have not yet failed" is probably never gonna compete with "All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well" but some days it's the one that really resonates. -- Ursula Vernon. Maybe quote of the year.

Along the way I've upgraded a couple of laptops, and (I hope!) finished tweaking my xmonad window manager configuration. Most laptops in the house are now running Ubuntu 16.04; a few are still on 15.10. Upgrading laptops and tweaking config files isn't really productive, but it's somehow comforting and gives the illusion of productivity.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Hmm. Interesting week. Mostly in the Chinese sense.

My boss seems to be somewhat more confident in my abilities than I am. It is not clear that this is entirely a good thing, especially if it tempts me to become complacent. But, yeah. Low self-esteem. I haz it.

I think I've managed to spend a few minutes noodling on the guitar every day this week. Mostly minor and suspended chords, but still. Music. It does tend to confirm that my mood is mostly minor and suspended.

My home hacking continues to be centered around xnomad. I've pretty much abandoned gnome at this point. Xmonad is blazingly fast, lightweight, works beautifully with a varying number of monitors, and seems to help me concentrate on the task at hand.

I've also upgraded a couple of netbooks to Ubuntu 16.04; not entirely successfully, but the one with hardware problems is the smaller of the of the Dell minis. The keyboard was crap when I started, and has not been helped by the fact that the hard drive is underneath it. Swapped the 16G SSD for a 100G hard drive pulled out of something a long time ago. That, and getting through a couple of boxes of shredding, has at least given me some sense of accomplishment.

The most "interesting" day was Friday, though, when I got home and it finally occurred to me to research burnout. Um... yeah. Nearly a perfect match for the problems I've been having at work over the last year, not to mention the depression, dysthymia, occasional sleep problems, and the fact that I lost ten pounds over the course of a month or so last year. (Not that I'm going to complain about that! But...)


I actually teared up reading, in Ten Questions for Meaningful Career Development, "2. Am I willing to believe that my efforts matter, at least to me?"

I think what I need to do, over the next year or so, is semi-retire. I can't afford to fully retire, and probably wouldn't want to for years. But something less stressful, maybe part time, ... yeah. The hard part will be finding it. There aren't really a whole lot of low-stress jobs for an ageing computer curmudgeon. If you spot one, let me know.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Monday I got my new work laptop,and spent altogether too much time (much of 2 days, spread over 3) configuring it thanks mainly to an obscure bug in my .bashrc file.

It seems that, in Ubuntu 14.04, the wrapper script that starts sessions for lightdm -- or maybe just terminal sessions -- is written in bash (rather than the safer and more usual sh), so it naturally sources the user's .bashrc file on startup. This is usually a good thing, since the user's environment ends up being configured the way they like it. When a terminal emulator like xterm or gnome-terminal starts up, it uses whatever is in the $SHELL environment variable to create its shell. This fails when one has the seemingly-innocuous like "SHELL=$0" in one's .bashrc file.

This normally does exactly the right thing, because when you start a program -- and in particular a shell -- $0 is bound to the path that was used to start the program, and all is well. Unfortunately, in 14.04, the wrapper script is started in an odd way, with $0 bound to "bash" instead of to "/bin/bash". So terminals don't start, because they can't find the shell. What hurts is that the line was put in to fix a similar bug in RedHat, where shells were getting started by Gnome with $SHELL set wrong.

Anyway, by mid-week my job-related anxiety level was sky-high, and has remained that way.

Most of what I've been doing around the house counts as puttering.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

RainbowCon 1 happened last weekend, and it was wonderful. The guests were Decadent Dave Clement from Canada, and Tim and Annie Walker from the Uk. Programming also included gaming -- I'll get to that -- organized by Naomi's friend Steven Schwartz. Con suite by Mama Colleen. Con chair and head of programming was Naomi Rivkis, and I was Con Bear (my badge read "Ursa Major").

I don't think people knew whether to expect a large house filk, or a small convention. We wanted a small convention, and I think we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. Attendence was in the low to mid 30s; we were aiming for 30-40. Enough with the stats.

Naomi and I worked out most of the schedule the weekend before. We left it up to the guests which order they wanted to go in, and although we had suggestions for other programming we left the final decisions up to them too. They decided to put Dave's concert on Friday, a Stan Rogers sing-along Saturday with Dave and Tim, and Tim and Annie's concert Saturday night. We had three workshop slots scheduled. I'll get to that.

Dave (with his wife Liz, who had done the driving), Tim, and Annie arrived Monday. Tuesday they all went with Naomi to Dusty Strings, to rent Annie a harp. (The only instruments they came with were Tim's button accordion and some whistles.)

Naomi was jumped by a large djembe, which followed her home. Its name is Rebel.

Tim and Annie needed guitars; one each, plus one they could leave tuned to DADGAD. Fortunately this household has more guitars than cats. They seemed a little awestruck by Snuggles (the Martin O-15); the Applause that I brought out for DADGAD had apparently last been used by Talis.

OK, so that brings us to Friday. In addition to pulling guitars out of my hat I also got the maypole up, with Chaos's help. I'll get to that.

Friday got off to a somewhat late start, so the opening ceremonies sort of tailed off early into the introductory circle. We started, naturally, with "Bigger on the Inside" as an introduction to the house.

During the introductory circle, dinner break, and some of Dave's concert, people were voting for their favorite workshops. They did this by dropping poker chips (they're not just for bardics anymore) into paper bags, with a blue chip representing their pick for the 90-minute slot.

After the concert we finished tallying up the poker chips, and did a little last-minute negotiation with the attendees, which resulted in the 90-minute slot getting sea shanties and kitting out your home studio in parallel, and the vocal and harmony workshops getting combined into one.

The poker chips then re-emerged in the poker chip bardic. Our variant on it has people using their chips in blue-red-white order, but with no need to complete a round before moving on to the next color. Instead, an earlier color jumps to the head of the queue if mixed colors are on the floor. It worked very well -- people had time to think about what they wanted to do or hear in their own time, rather than holding up the next round while they struggled to come up with something.

Saturday we actually had two full tracks of programming during the afternoon. Three at one point, since the Cat game (Did I mention gaming? There was gaming.) overlapped the sea shanty and home studio workshops. The build-a-dragon game overlapped the "sensitive percussion" workshop earlier in the day. The afternoon ended with the Stan Rogers sing-along concert. (We skipped the scheduled critiqued one-shots due to lack of interest, and went for a longer dinner break.)

The evening had Tim and Annie's concert, which was wonderful, followed what was intended as a ball-of-yarn chaos, but after we noticed that there was never more than one person queued up we just passed the ball around.

Sunday started with the Ecumenifilk circle, moderated by Annie, followed by the drum circle, led by Dave. And featuring several of the household's assorted drums and my box of random small percussion instruments that had been left around from Saturday's workshop.

After that was the Maypole dance. Unlike last year (RainbowCon 0 was Naomi and Glenn's wedding) there were enough experienced dancers to keep things running smoothly.

After that was the vocal/harmony workshop, where I had surprisingly (to me) little trouble keeping to my assigned part. Then there was the jam, and closing ceremonies.

Then most of those who were left went out for dinner. The restaurant, 13 Coins, is right across the street from the airport, so even the people who had to catch planes could come along.


Rainbow Con II will be held next year, with guests Alexa Klettner from Germany, and Trickster and King (Ada Palmer and Lauren Schiller, the touring subset of Sassafras. We expect it to be as amazingly wonderful as RC1.

We'd originally thought that we'd move the con to a hotel after it got too big for the house. But we really liked the small size -- it gives people a chance to hang out, talk, and make music with the guests and each other. We may end up capping the membership if it threatens to get out of hand, but it will stay at Rainbow's End as long as we're there to run it.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Um... yeah. Been a while. I'd originally planned to post Monday after last weekend's house con, Rainbow Con 1. But I didn't. I'll post an actual con report later; for now I'll just say that it was amazingly wonderful. We had around 30 people, and everybody had a great time.

Work has been rough. Things are falling through cracks at an increasing rate. I should leave. I can't afford to, but it'll probably kill me if I don't. If someone dropped half a million dollars in my lap, I could pay off most of the house and get by on social security and pensions. As it is, ... It's a constant reminder of how much the situation is of my own making.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

ysabetwordsmith | Poetry Fishbowl Open!

Go feed the fishies.

mdlbear: Welcome to Rainbow's End (sign) (rainbows-end)

The big news for this week is RainbowCon 1, this coming weekend. But other than that...

Colleen lost her uncle in a car crash. So not exactly a good week. Busy and somewhat rough week at work. Lots of tidying, moving of boxes, and so on. So my back hurt most evenings. Naproxen is my friend.

Finished my taxes, sort of at the last minute. Owed about the same as last year, which was a pleasant surprise, considering that before I started Sunday it was showing about twice that. I could have handled it, but glad I didn't have to.

N and G moved down to their new suite in the basement. It'll be gorgeous when they get moved in. I helped with putting up shelves, but the last two I put up weren't level. Grump.

... and when I couldn't give Naomi a coherently practical reason why I was prioritizing clearing a way to the garage, she said, "Oh. It's an emotional need then. Go ahead." Oh. Yeah; I guess I have emotions these days. And other people can still notice me having them when I can't. Which uttterly fails to surprise me.

Can't think of anything else worthy of mention.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Done with my taxes. I owe quite a lot, but it's less than last year and about half what I was afraid I was going to have to pay based on what the software was showing me when I started. Not complaining.

I fastened a large cardboard box to my desk and lined it with a towel. The cats love it. Hardly any trouble anymore with cats walking across my keyboard. In addition, Desti is a great lap cat, especially when I'm sitting in the Rainbow Room with Colleen.

The work downstairs is almost done! There's still some electrical work left in the garage, but other than that it's basically habitable. Movers come tomorrow at noon for the big stuff, i.e. furniture.

xmonad is still cool, though not quite as much so on my work laptop due to downrev versions of xmobar and dzen2, the auxiliary status bar programs. Neither of them works well enough to give me clickable desktop names. But the only time I really care about being able to navigate without the keyboard is when there's a cat on my desk, and that only happens at home.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Today I am thankful for...

  • The towel-lined cardboard box on my desk. It currently has Ticia curled up adorably in it.
  • The (admittedly slight) possibility of retaining my job for a while.
  • My family.
  • People in my family getting jobs! (Still a few more to go. Come on, universe!)
  • Haskell and xmonad, for giving me something fascinating to study.
  • The increasing probability that Bernie Sanders will get the Democratic nomination.

NO thanks to the IRS.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

So.... not too bad of a week. Busy, which is good. I gave a presentation at work on Friday; it appears to have come across well despite not being nearly as smooth -- or as well-prepared -- as I would have liked. There is, of course, a strong connection between those two: I did most of the work Sunday and Monday. Still, ...

I spent most of my spare time configuring xmonad and studying Haskell. Haskell is a pure functional programming language, with a somewhat peculiar syntax. Xmonad is a lightweight tiling window manager, written in Haskell. I love it! Its use of screen space is extremely efficient, and you pretty much don't have to worry about how windows are arranged because it's automatic. (You get your choice from a wide range of possible arrangements. Configurable as heck.)

When I had to go back to gnome (while I was trying to figure out how to get a network manager applet) I found myself trying to tile windows with the mouse. Ugh. Now that it's in pretty good shape I'm going to put it on my work laptop. It's glorious on a laptop.

The latest Ubuntu upgrade seems to have done slightly weird things to html-helper-mode. At this point I'm inclined to go with the flow and stop trying to use hanging indent for paragraph tags. Not as pretty, but it actually works ok in HTML5, which gets back to human read/writeability from the strictness of XHTML.

Chaos and Rabbit are moving in. Hopefully by mid-day today. Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I seem to have mostly switched to xmonad as my window manager. This is a Good Thing -- I seem to be better able to concentrate with a less-cluttered screen. (On the other hand, I'm less productive while I'm still hacking on the configuration. That may be less of a good thing. There are, unfortunately, still a few things that don't work well in it.

Meanwhile, despite being fairly productive at work, I have gotten behind on a couple of longer-term things -- namely taxes, and a presentation that I'm supposed to be giving next Friday. (It's more fun to read Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!.)

It was quite warm several days this week. That is not expected to last, but it does indicate that Spring may be on its way. Not to be confused with the Spring Framework. Which I am not happy with.

I am also starting to do yard work again, after neglecting it for almost all of last year. (Partly because depression; not clear on the rest.)

Sigh. Too many things have fallen by the wayside. I, perhaps, am one of them.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

A good week for Sanders supporters. Last Sunday we went to the Bernie Sanders rally at Key Arena, and yesterday was the Democratic caucuses. (There was another rally Friday evening that G and N went to, but I didn't.) As you probably know, Bernie won big in all three of Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii yesterday.

The rally was amazing. He's an electrifying speaker, with a message that resonates deeply with this old radical's values. We need him in the White House.

This was the first time I've been in a caucus, and despite the reference in Alice it wasn't dry at all. Mostly fun, with some boring bits and too much standing.

Inspired by the Functional Programming Principles in Scala course that our team's reading group is taking, I have branched out into Haskell and started to set up xmonad, the tiling window manager that rocks. The main reason for that is the way it handles multiple monitors, which looks like a great match for the way I use my work laptop, always switching between stand-alone at meetings, and plugged into multiple monitors on my desktop.

Still trying to wrap my head around monads and category theory in functional programming. Multiple Wikipedia dives on that one.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

It's actually Thursday, and today I an thankful for...

  • Free drinks (courtesy of $WORK's team event).
  • Commuting by bus. See above.
  • My therapist. It isn't so much about therapy as having someone to talk to who can point out that things aren't as wretched as they feel.
  • Bernie Sanders.
  • Walking, and finding that my self-talk isn't completely toxic this time.
  • Belize.
  • My kids. Who are turning out to be very nice people, even if it is unlikely that they'll be able to support me in my old age.
  • The cats, and especially Ticia. Except when they're walking on my keyboard.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The week started with my 69th birthday, continued on through Pi Day and Colleen's birthday, and ended with dinner in Port Townsend celebrating Emmy's birthday a week early (to keep from being out of town for caucus day).

It was also a busy and productive week at work. Finally. Winding up in a corner with a window in front of me after the move seems to have helped; there is also more space in the new layout, and fewer TPMs, both of which reduce the cross-talk. I started working on my taxes, which probably won't be quite as bad as last year.

Pretty good week, considering.

Considering that I'm well over half a million in debt, in a house that is just what we want but which we won't be able to afford if I lose my job, which seems likely because I'm neither enjoying it much nor performing as well as I need to. I'm depressed and anxious, both with good reasons.

Looking back over years and decades of horribly bad decisions, and wondering whether there's any way out of the hole I've dug for myself. Probably not.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: a locomotive engine dangling from a hole in a building (trainwreck)

How the fuck did I get to be 69 years old? I'm still busy misspending my youth!

Speaking of misspending, I managed to scare the heck out of myself by transferring money for the mortgage payment to the household account, then paying it out of my personal account because I didn't think the transfer would post quickly enough. Wrong on both counts. No lasting harm done, but still...

In other news, although I've been a little more productive than usual, I'm seriously concerned that it isn't enough.

Taxes are in progress. It's probably going to be a trainwreck again.

Not really a good year. I think that, from about March through September, I was basically out of my mind with depression and anxiety. I may have my meds stabilized now, but I'm still having to deal with the fallout from what I screwed up.

The last few days I've been swinging between despairing (finances) and whatever state I'm in when I have a purring, blissed-out cat next to me. I don't think it's either happy or contented, but whatever it is it's better than the alternatives.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Been a while, looks like. Today I'm thankful for:

  • Having enough spare laptops and hard drives to make fast repairs
  • Ubuntu, and being able to introduce it to a new user -- who likes it
  • Being reasonably productive at work, for work's definition of reasonable (Finally?)
  • A sister who insists that I take care of myself (when I don't think of it)
  • Hugs
  • Cat therapy
  • This year's prices on SSDs -- I remember when $50 would buy you a kilobyte
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Not a great week -- they rarely are -- but not too bad. Reasonably productive. As I wrote on Wednesday, hopefully that's the new normal for work. Quite a lot of laptop updating and some upgrading, cascading from N's disk failing to boot. Not clear whether the data is recoverable, but meanwhile she has a couple of options for laptops that work.

Our team's reading group has started taking Coursera: Functional Programming Principles in Scala. Which inevitably kicked off a couple of days' worth of Wikipedia dives into functional programming. And category theory, because monads. I'm going to have to learn Haskell next.

I want to get back into recording; so far the only thing I have to show for that is picking up my guitar twice to get back into practice. We'll see how far that goes.

Sometime on Friday I apparently noticed that my self-talk has gotten increasingly negative and self-critical, especially while walking. Which may have something to do with not walking as much as I used to. (The fact that the factual content is, as far as I can tell, accurate is NOT HELPFUL.) I did manage to reschedule the appointment with my therapist that I had to put off a couple of weeks ago. So that's something.

Your attention is drawn to the following music-related links:

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It's only been two days since my last "done" post, but I wanted to finish off the month, and in any case it's been a fairly eventful couple of days.

Lots of Linux configuration stuff (and more today), much of it triggered by the hard drive to SSD upgrade I did on my laptop. Tweaking is still ongoing, but mostly it's done (for example, I'm posting from it). And Sunday I nailed a configuration problem (having to do with locales, but showing up only as inability to start gnome-terminal over ssh). Fun!

Yesterday had been set aside at work for doing or learning something new. I spent the day learning the Go programming language. It has a lot to recommend it: fast as a bat, first class functions, real closures, duck-typed interfaces, coroutines and channels, documentation done right (i.e. simple, ordinary comments). A few things to dislike, but I'm likely to try some small projects in it.

I could still have gotten more done. Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Happy March 1st!

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Productive? Got a fair amount done at work, and finally went ahead and bought a solid-state drive for (laptop) Cygnus. And spent almost all day yesterday installing and configuring it. In preparation for the upcoming Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release, I installed 15.10. Naturally, a lot of things broke. Boots faster, but what I was really looking for was the self-encrypting feature.

Interestingly, you can't even get into the BIOS or boot from an external drive without giving the disk password. That's good, if occasionally annoying.

In other news, the Younger Daughter has moved out of the house, and in with her boyfriend. That feels indescribably weird. With N's kids still in the house, it's not exactly an empty nest, but... weird.

We have an extra room upstairs now.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Mixed. Good week in some ways -- Thursday's basement-cleaning exercise with Giselle and N went a lot better than I expected. Getting rid of considerably more than we're keeping, which is good. Still need to do something like that in the garage.

My back hurts.

My back was not helped by spending all of yesterday sitting in uncomfortable chairs -- first at Lenscrafters while Emmy got her eyes examined, then at Harborview where they sent her for a CAT scan because her right optic nerve was swolen. *sigh* This happened back when she was 18; at that time the diagnosis was pseudotumor cerebri (which means that the pressure inside your head is high for no obvious reason), and she was told to lose weight. That's almost certainly the case this time, too. Not how I'd been planning to spend my Saturday, and not my favorite way of getting father-and-daughter time. Grumpy bear is grumpy.

I have not gotten much done at work this week. Grump.

Notes & links, as usual: )
mdlbear: (valentined)

Productive? I'm not sure. Probably. Progress at work, though not as much as I would have liked, and a fair amount of clearing in the garage. Found many things that have been missing for years, including my box of good chisels. Also, an ENT appointment (follow-up to my faceplant; see 20151124Tu.)

Also, any week that includes Scalia leaving the Supreme Court is pretty good in my book. Impeachment or even retirement would have been better, but this was the only way given the current political environment.

We nearly lost Ticia, who bolted out when someone left the Great Room sliding doors open; fortunately she hadn't gone far, and Naomi and I make a great cat-retrieval team. Whew!

I've also been getting re-acquainted with LaTeX, which has evolved quite a lot since I wrote my filk-formatting macros. I'll be rewriting those shortly. Meanwhile I've also been doing some work in my Config package. Partly that's because I've been working on the equivalent package at work in preparation for getting an upgraded laptop.

Plenty of links in the notes. GOOD links! Your attention is drawn particularly to the first detection of gravitational waves (more links in the notes), this amazing music video, and this news article, which features some kids who people who know us will recognize.

Notes & links, as usual: )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

A fairly busy week, but also full of frustration. Both because my bank's transfers to other banks appears to be broken, and because work seems to be two steps forward and one and a half steps back. Grumble.

I have, however, done a decent amount of cleanup in the garage -- mostly a matter of consolidating, but I've eliminated an entire row of boxes, and discarded quite a lot of junk. That must count for something.

You may note, however, that I'm not doing much else -- basically just working, reading, and sleeping. Not terribly exciting. Though I have shifted a lot of my time into the Rainbow Room with Colleen -- apart from the smaller screen it has no disadvantages except when she's watching a video I'm not interested in.

Notes and links, as usual: )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Wow -- I actually thought to do this on Thursday this week! Will wonders never cease? Anyway, today I'm thankful for...

  • The fact that I'm still employed. This kind of amazes me, as seen through the usual haze of depression and anxiety. But I'm not complaining.
  • My amazing family.
  • Our cats, and especially Ticia. There is something inexpressably comforting about sleeping with a cat.
  • DW and LJ friends who write the poetry and fiction that I love.
  • Fountain pens.
  • Ubuntu. And an employer that allows it to be used on company laptops.
  • Tiny houses.
mdlbear: (crowdfunding)

ysabetwordsmith's Poetry Fishbowl is Open!

I just posted a prompt. So should you.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Conflikt was this last weekend; I'm posting on Monday so as to get in the whole con, as well as the end of the month. It was a pretty good con, though I ended up doing very little singing. Missed the smoked salmon (dead dog) filk -- Colleen was fading and neither of us was willing to spend much more money on hotel food. Dinners were bar snacks, because they were cheaper.

I had conversations with two new (to me) people, and did a little catching up though not as much as I often do. I actually spent much of my time listening to concerts and working on my lyrics-to-html conversion. Which looks really good now, since it no longer relies on monospaced fonts. Not on the site yet, though.

Also not on the site yet is my Sasquan concert, which I finally got the audio for.

In other news, there are lots of good links, mostly related to tiny houses. If it wasn't for the possibility of eventually moving into someplace we can actually afford I would have no hope at all. Even with that, it will probably come too late, and our house will take too long to sell. I've been making some progress at work, but it's like slogging through mud.

Financial ruin is only a paycheck away, and despair is never far from the front of my mind. I have noone to blame but myself, of course.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Not too bad, I guess. Made some decent progress with work. Several more dives into tiny houses, and found open source design software that we can all use: Sweet Home 3D.

Somewhat relatedly, I finally tracked down and finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It's a skill that's going to be useful in a few years when we downsize, though I don't think it's entirely applicable.

I also installed a cat5 cable from the demarc in the basement to the corner of the living room where I keep my computers. The idea is to move the DSL router here and have a much more reliable connection to it.

My weight has been creeping up -- don't like that.

Links in the notes, as usual.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Ironically, my copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering has gone missing. In the clutter. Probably in the Great Room. I did, however, do a pretty large amount of decluttering in the garage. In the process, I found four boxes of missing Christmas ornaments and, best of all, the box containing my block plane, jack plane, chisels, and soldering irons! I've been looking for that one for over a year.

I was especially happy to find my Oryx 50 Temperature controlled soldering iron, with its home-made stand. The fact that I'd already bought replacements for the planes and the soldering iron doesn't matter -- these were old friends, and I'm happy to be reunited with them.

About the only thing to be happy about. I'll take what I can get.

It's also the start of annual review season; I did the two that were due on Friday, including my self-review. Nothing like a self-review to show me how little I've accomplished this year. And I still have to write up the reunion debacle. I think I spent a lot of this year out of my mind.

Lots of reading, mostly about tiny houses, and lots of nice cat cuddles, mostly from Ticia.

Lots of links in the notes. You know the drill.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Well, it's another year. There always seems to be a lot of potential around transitions like this, but it rarely seems to get very far. A lot of my goals for this year are carry-overs from last year. I've been spending too much time beating myself up over things I regret not doing last year (last decade, last quarter-century, ...), many of which simply can't be fixed. I keep screwing myself over, and I don't really understand it. (More on that in a later post, hopefully.)

This does nothing to help with my depression. It may, conceivably, help me fight procrastination. Maybe. I'll start working on that tomorrow.

I have gotten a few more things done in the last 10 days than in most comparable periods in the recent past. A few. Largely reading and research around tiny houses and shipping container houses, and a couple of fun dives into math.

Last weekend Colleen and I celebrated our 40th anniversary by going out twice: for dinner at the Melting Pot Saturday, and brunch at Salty's on Sunday (the actual day). That, at least, was good. It was a good set of mutual gifts to ourselves -- the last thing we need right now is more stuff.

Speaking of which, my book on tidying seems to have gotten lost somewhere in the clutter. Fortunately, I found a different one yesterday at Half Price Books.

Lots of links in the notes, for those of you following along at home.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: (river)

Now that we've said goodbye and good riddance to 2015, it's time to take a look ahead. As I've said before, I don't do resolutions. These are more, um, guidelines. Yeah; that's it. Guidelines.

  1. Music: I tried something indefinite last year, and didn't get very far with it. So this year, let's aim for an album: Amethyst Rose. The stretch goal would be to add Lookingglass Folk.
  2. Writing: Write more poetry, and aim for at least one non-fiction (software-related, most likely) article per month.
  3. Exercise: Walk on weekends. Stretch: get my bike repaired. (That's been on the list since before I moved to Seattle, so I don't have much hope.)
  4. Food: Eat better: more salads, fewer take-out lunches. Take off more weight -- I've been stalled for months. At least under 190, and preferably under 180.
  5. Psych: Last year's "health" goal was all about depression, but I also made a list of plausible stress-reduction techniques, a few of which I actually tried, and I'll keep working on that. But the main thing has to be procrastination. I'll get started on that... sometime? Tonight, preferably.
  6. Web: Convert the main websites to HTML-5 and CSS. Finally get around to writing the correct lyrics-to-HTML converter (using tables instead of monospaced fonts), and a good browser-based songbook/setlist viewer to go with it. Get some experience with popular CMSs: WordPress, and if possible Joomla and Drupal.
  7. Work: Get a new job, or get unstuck at my present one. The former is more likely. If possible, something that's mostly or entirely work-from-home. If not, get started on building a consulting business (web-related, or something else in the software range) that can fill that role.
  8. Household: Get the household workshop set up and, um, working. That means organizing the garage and the downstairs kitchen. Do some serious planning (as opposed to just reading blogs) toward the eventual move-out into tiny houses.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Hippo Gnu Deer, two Ewes.

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