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

A few days ago I got a comment on my weekly post that went Oohh, you're doing what looks to me like a bullet journal? Only online. So I wrote a quick explanation. And then I realized that I might be doing something unusual, that I ought to write up in more detail. So here you are:

The Legend

Let's start off with the file called Journals/Dog/legend.do:

			       ===legend.do===

= item flag notation for to.do and to.done files:

= notation for to.do and to.done items:
  = note: keep  o to do  * done  x abandoned  ~ modified  . in progress
  & added after completion  (recurring items get * when completed)
  $ financial transaction (flagged as  o before completion)
  ? query/decision...  - choice  + chosen  ->chosen
  @ link/research
  ! emotion noted at the time, or soon after.  NOT added the next morning; 
    I'm trying to pay more attention at the time
  | body sensation worthy of note: pain, noticable change...
    (more recently replaced by %; should maybe go back to |)
  : observation or external event.  Weather, news, etc
    + external observation with positive emotional content
    - external observation with negative emotional content
  % observation/insight about myself
  # meta - flags, flist, filters, ...
  <b>...something I feel good about...</b> (may be added next day)
  <i>...something I feel bad about...</i>
  [ ... ] delete from public posts
  ... ongoing items
  " quotation
  ' interior dialog

= Notation for meetings and conversations:
  <- point to bring up.  After meeting, point to bring up next time
  *- point brought up
  x- point not brought up
  ~- point partially brought up, or brought up in different form
  &- additional point raised  
  -> information/point raised by someone else/consequence/resolution
  => action item for me
  =* action item done
  <= action item for somebody else.

===

The History

My usage has shifted a little over the years. I first started posting "to.do" items around 2006, though I'd undoubtedly been using at least the o and * flags for years before that. At first, since I was part of a support group working on procrastination and avoidance, I used it as an accountability thing: I would post a list of open items, followed (hopefully) by the items as they got checked in. It was a little discouraging, until somebody suggested just posting about what I'd done. That led to &, and my expanded use of the file as more a log than a to-do list and calendar.

Whenever the list of "done" items got too long, I would move them into a ".done" file -- the first one I have is 2006.done. In 2009 I switched to quarterly archives; by 2009/q4.done the file had most of its present features. By 2011 I was archiving monthly. I don't remember offhand when I stopped making daily posts in LJ and switched to weekly.

Sometime in September of 2011 I decided that the set of unfinished and probably never-to-be-completed items had gotten too long, and moved it to wibnif.do, as in "Wouldn't It Be Nice If..." My present Makefile plugin reports the current number of unfinished items in to.do and wibnif.do; the current numbers are 70 and 126 respectively.

The Files

So there's that. The file is called to.do, and edited with emacs. There are a couple of important marker lines in it:

=========================================================================================+
Ongoing:                                                                             89->|
recurring items and long-term goals go here
=then===================================================================================>|
this contains entries from the first of the month to the present
=now===-^-===this-month-v-==============================================================>|
scheduled items for later this month
=later===-v-===this-month-^-============================================================>|
scheduled items after this month
=sometime===-V-===later-^-==============================================================>|
items with no specific due date
=Done-v-================================================================================>|

Dates, in the form mmddWw (e.g., 0122Su), start in the first column; flag characters are indented two spaces. The marker at column 89 makes it easy to properly size the editor window when I first open it after rebooting; it's where lines wrap.

I'll put approximately-scheduled items in the this-month and later sections after the dated entries, and a few of the more important ones above =now. That doesn't keep me from procrastinating them, but it does help keep them where they'll be noticed.

Note that, except for the breakpoint at =done, entries are in chronological order from top to bottom. That makes this a log, not a blog or feed. My to.do and its associated history (see below) are one of a handful of journal-like collections under my Journals directory; the to.Do lOG is kept in a a directory called Dog.

The Archives

By now, I have a fairly well-established routine:

  • I maintain the to.do file using emacs, of course.
  • Sometime on Sunday, I move the last week's worth of entries from the working location near the top of the file, to the end.
  • At this point I still have the week's entries in the Region (emacs terminology for the current selection). I move point down two lines to scoop up the HTML boilerplate that I'll need for my weekly post, and copy (M-w).
  • Then I run lj-update, currently bound to M-L, and yank into the body. The boilerplate is arranged so that all I have to do is move back up two lines, cut, down one, and yank.
  • From there it's an easy step to go back to the first line (which is invariably the start date) copy it, and yank it into the subject line.
  • Write my summary. Edit out any [...] sections, if necessary.
  • Post.

Then,

  • Every month -- actually, on the first Sunday of the month, after making my weekly post -- I move the month's entries to yyyy/mm.done.
  • Every so often I go through and pull out obsolete entries, marking them with * or x as appropriate, and put them after the preceeding week's entries at the end of the file.
  • Every year, on New Year's Eve, I gather up my list of goals and make my end-of-the-year post.
  • The next day, I cons up my new list of goals and make a New Year's post.

Variations

I keep other, project-specific, to.do files. Most of them are much simpler, with undated items above the =done line (which is usually just a line of equal signs), and dated items after it in what I now call a "work log". It's convenient, because I can just go to the end of the file and make an entry, but it wouldn't work nearly as well if I had to schedule things.

mdlbear: (distress)

Rough week. Feeling doomed at work; things aren't coming together as quickly as they need to, and I'm not seeing things that should be obvious. Getting old, and I don't like it.

I thought leaving the Starport was hard. This is going to be worse. I guess it's like getting old -- I have to do it, but I don't have to like it.

If I haven't grown up by now I don't have to, right?

We've been doing a lot of sorting. Colleen and I have been through our closet (though there's still a lot left) and bookshelves (about half done), and I sorted books in the Great Room with Naomi. We'll probably have to do another pass.

There were a few small triumphs. I managed to track down the lyrics to Naomi's song "Staying Home Tonight", which had gone missing -- we'd performed it back in 2007. Took grep-find on my home directory (including both mail and LJ archives) to find it.

The emacs grep-find function is wonderful. Basically it searches for a pattern in the contents of every file in your current directory tree, and flags every hit the same way it flags compile errors, so that you can visit each one and do whatever investigation or fixing you need to at that point. You can run the same thing on the command line, but then you don't have the convenient integration with the editor.

Back to small triumphs -- Monday we had (new Honda Odyssey) Rosie towed down to the dealership in Tacoma where we'd bought her, to have her blocked fuel line fixed. Got her back yesterday. And I surprised and delighted Naomi last night wth The Pharos Gate, which I'd just finished reading and which she hadn't known existed. Hmm. Should do a review of the series, shouldn't I?

A comment on last week's post has inspired me to write up my journaling system. It looks like what's now called a "bullet journal", but predates the eponymous fad by at least half a decade. Hmm. Should put together an emacs mode, or see if I can tweak org-mode for it.

A Wikipedia dive starting at Irregular Webcomic! #3594 led me to the article on Slouch hat, which in turn led inevitably to the Tricorne and Bicorne hats. Does that make the slouch hat a unicorne?

Notes & links, as usual )

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

(Just as an aside, I note the fact that I think it necessary to put a question mark after my mood whenever it's "ok" or better. This says something about me, but I have no idea what.)

The week was bracketed by two excellent celebration meals -- brunch at Salty's last Sunday to celebrate Colleen and my anniversary, and dinner at 13 Coins to celebrate N's birthday.

Within those brackets were car problems. Our new van ran out of gas while parked on a hill; we have not been successful in restarting it, so it's going to require towing. That's complicated by the fact that there's a car parked in front of it that hasn't moved in weeks, so that will require knocking on the owners' door and talking to them. Our old van needs to have its right rear tire replaced -- that's scheduled for Monday. I do have to give myself credit for making the call, but mostly I just want to crawl into a hole and hide.

One of the guinea pigs died. We've had them for almost five years; she apparently passed quietly in her sleep after a day or two of lethargy. Poor little critter.

Moderately productive at work. Less so at home.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

So 2017 started with an inch of snow on the ground, and the entire week has been unseasonably cold. Welcome to global warming? I spent most of last week trying, with limited success, to catch up on the things I'd fallen behind on over my week of vacaton. I may survive the month.

Now that LJ has moved its servers to Russia (dropping HTTPS and at least a hundred pro-Ukraine blogs in the process), it seemed like a good time to disable comments on my crossposts and direct all comments to Dreamwidth. If you're reading this on LJ you can comment there with OpenID as [yourname]@livejournal.com. But I think you'd be better off making yourself a Dreamwidth account, importing your LJ, and crossposting. Just ask if you need help -- I've been giving out lots of advice.

The other news is that we (N and I) bought a new (to us) car -- it's a 2004 Honda Odyssey which (who?) seems to be going by the name Rosie.

We have also done quite a bit of cleaning-up and downsizing; first order of business is to get the downstairs cleared out so it can have a new floor and kitchen cabinets installed. Needs doing.

... and yesterday I transplanted my storage server into a small case. It's back on the mini-ITX board I'd had it on for the last couple of years; the smaller case makes a lot more room on the shelf. Downsizing.

Looks like it's going to be an interesting year. Lots of adventures. Nasty, uncomfortable things.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

I'm not going to go as far as some people, but I'm going to turn off comments on my crossposts, for several reasons:

  1. to save me the trouble of having to import them into Dreamwidth,
  2. to reduce my presence on Livejournal, now that it's wholly owned by Putin and Trump,
  3. to encourage people to move to Dreamwidth.

Apropos of that, if you have a DW account that I'm not reading yet, just comment on this post and I'll add you.

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

So now that 2016 is dead and buried -- not necessarily in that order -- let's see what we can make of 2017. Hopefully the goals will be more achievable, if not necessarily easier, because if they're not I'm going to have trouble surviving the next year.

  1. Downsize. Get rid of as much stuff as we feasibly can, so that we can...
  2. Sell the house. Preferably in such a way that we can move out somewhere around the middle of June.
  3. Retire. If possible, after the house is sold. If at all possible, after my stock vests in mid-June, because we're going to need it.
  4. Move. No idea where; we've had enough monkey wrenches lobbed into our plans that I could start a hardware store.
  5. Settle in. We will have emergency exit plans, but hopefully won't have to use them.
  6. Take care of myself. Self-care is one of my weak points. Diet, exercise, ... damned if I know -- I hate exercise.

Is that too much to aim for? I hope not. There are a few things I'd like to do, if I can:

  • Get back into recording.
  • Do a lot more writing. I wrote a book once; it's not impossible for me to do it again.
  • Do a little woodworking.
  • Do something that will bring in a little money. I'm not sure I'm up for contracting again, but writing could do it. So could an album or two. And maybe I could start a patreon.

Seventeen years ago I wrote a song, "Millenium's dawn.". It was nostalgic, and disillsioned, and had a place between the last two choruses where a verse ought to have been, but nothing seemed to fit. A year and a half ago, I wrote that verse.

Now we're out where the daylight can find us,
But our journey has hardly begun;
There are old bridges blazing behind us,
And we're drawing new maps as we run.

If we want the bright future we charted
We must chase down our dreams where they've gone,
And finish the work that we started
By the light of the Millenium's dawn.

  Yes, we'll make the rockets thunder
  To carry us up past the skies;
  We will build new cities of wonder
  To gleam in the bright sunrise;
  
  Here's hope to heal your sorrow
  Now that the old dreams are gone,
  And the past has turned into tomorrow
  After the  Millenium's dawn.

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

It was a long year last week. 2016 is dead and buried; it wouldn't be hard to do better, but I don't expect 2017 to make the effort.

I was going to put a summary of the year here. I'm not up for it. See my previous post for a wrap-up of what I mostly didn't do. I can't think of any major accomplishments to report, except maybe living through it. That may have to do.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (chernobyl bunny)

Hippo, Gnu, Deer

two ewes

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

2016 SUCKED. Right up until the end, and it's planning to stick around for an extra (leap) second just to rub it in. I want to be up at 23:60 to watch it die. Not that I expect 2017 to be any better.

Last year at this time I wrote It's been a harrowing year. [...] What got us through it was the love and mutual support we have for one another, scary amounts of money, and a great deal of help. But we got through it. We got through as a family. There were times when I honestly didn't expect to. But here we are, at the end of another year.

Um... Yeah. That. Less money and outside help, but certainly Trump's election provided a lot in the way of outside motivation. Any plans we had at the beginning of the year were basically blown to hell in November.

So... let's look at last year's goals. Guidelines -- that's what I called them. Anyway.

  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.
    Pretty much a total bust. And I gave two solid concerts and didn't manage to record either of them. 10% if you count concerts, 0% otherwise.
  2. Writing: Write more poetry, and aim for at least one non-fiction (software-related, most likely) article per month.
    No poetry to speak of. Between DW and Quora I managed quite a lot of writing, but very little of it was organized. Maybe 35%.
  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.) Nope.
  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.
    I ate a lot more leftovers this year, My weight went up ten pounds, thanks to my doctor taking me off my diuretic. I dunno - 10%?
  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.
    Or later. I did get a fair amount done, though, and my dysthymia and anxiety were mostly under control -- at least up until November. 40%.
  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.
    Well, I got the lyrics converter written, if not actually deployed to the web. And my favorite emacs mode for web, html-helper-mode, has been upgraded to HTML-5. In addition, I put three projects up on GitHub. 75%?
  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.
    Hmm. I did get unstuck. My present project looks dicey, but we may be able to pull it off. I may still have to jump ship, but if I can make it until next June I should be due for more stock, which the gods know will help. I'm going to give myself a 90% on this one.
  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.
    Well, ... I'm not sure how to rate this one. A lot of organizing in the garage, to be sure. And the planning. Not the plan we expected to have, to be sure. But we have a plan.

To quote the song that has become another household anthem, "All the dreams that I had when we started, Have crumbled to dust in my hand."

Well, here's to an age that's departed,
And to pictures we drew in the sand.
All the dreams that I had when we started,
Have crumbled to dust in my hand.

Guess I'll pull a new map from my pocket
Never mind where the old ones have gone
And I'll look for a new road to follow
By the light of the Millennium's dawn







And we -- all of us together -- did. We found our new road. It looks kind of steep. OK, very steep. More next year, but the way forward involves selling the house, retiring, and moving. Hopefully in that order, because otherwise we can't afford it.

Wish us luck!

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

Just in case you were wondering just how private your LJ is now that the server's in Moscow, we have:

  : wget https://mdlbear.livejournal.com
    --2016-12-30 16:59:04--  https://mdlbear.livejournal.com/
    Resolving mdlbear.livejournal.com (mdlbear.livejournal.com)... 81.19.74.1
    Connecting to mdlbear.livejournal.com (mdlbear.livejournal.com) [...]
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 301 Moved Permanently
    Location: http://mdlbear.livejournal.com/ [following]
    --2016-12-30 16:59:11--  http://mdlbear.livejournal.com/

... which means they are deliberately downgrading the connection from https to http. Wouldn't surprise me if blocking Dreamwidth is next.

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

Thanks to a heads-up from [personal profile] madfilkentist, I can now confirm that LJ's servers were, in fact, moved to Moscow. The lag was presumably due to DNS propagation delay, which sometimes takes up to a week.

Geolocation data from IP2Location (Product: DB6, updated on 2016-12-5)
    Domain Name	     	  	Country		     	Region	City
    mdlbear.livejournal.com	Russian Federation 	Moskva	Moscow
    ISP					Organization	Latitude	Longitude
    Rambler Internet Holding LLC	Not Available	55.752220153809	37.615558624268
    (End of the road for LiveJournal [The Mad Filkentist])

See also my previous post on the topic, mdlbear | Dirty deeds afoot on LJ

One thing I forgot to mention: after you've set up an account on Dreamwidth, you should claim your Livejournal OpenId. That links your DW and LJ identities, so that anyone importing data from LJ will see comments as coming from your DW account even if you wrote them on LJ.

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

So we come to the final Thursday in 2016. I am both thankful that it's nearly over, and afraid that next year will be worse. In addition, though, I'm thankful for...

  • My family. They're all wonderful people, and I am really glad they're in my life.
  • Having a definite plan for next year.
  • Therapy cats.
  • The drugs that keep us all functional.
  • My job, which I am somewhat surprised that I still have, but I'm not complaining.
  • Warm blankets.

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

Several security-minded people on my reading list have been moving from Livejournal to Dreamwidth; some have even deleted their LJ accounts. Meanwhile, huge numbers of Russians have been moving their blogs to Dreamwidth. Apparently LJ has quietly moved all of their servers from the US to Russia. That LJ availability glitch a couple of days ago? Yeah, that. A large spike in the number of new Dreamwidth accounts being created by Russians.

As for me, I'm not changing much: I don't lock posts (I think I have maybe two or three, and those are merely somewhat embarrassing), I post only to DW, and I and have it set up to crosspost to LJ. I have permanent accounts in both places, so dropping LJ wouldn't be denying them any money at this point.

There are some things you can do:

  1. Get an account at Dreamwidth.org if you don't already have one.
  2. Set it up to crosspost to your LJ account. Unlike LJ, Dreamwidth is a US-based organization that, unlike LJ, is entirely supported by its users.
  3. Every so often, back up your LJ journal to DW.
  4. Subscribe to the DW journals of all your old LJ friends. Note that DW separates your access-control list from your reading list -- none of this abuse of the term "friend" that LJ does.
  5. Don't post any secrets! Especially not to livejournal. Go back and delete anything you wouldn't want to be read by any three-letter agency on either side of the pond.

Notes from today's investigations: )

Let's put it this way: regardless of whether LJ has actually transferred your journal to a server in Russia, you should consider the privacy of your livejournal to have been breached.

Sorry to be the bear of bad news.

ETA: LiveJournal servers moved to Russia: darkoshi

As some people have pointed out, this doesn't change very much. Sure, it adds support for the notion that LJ's Russian owners are slime, but we already knew that. Move to DW, set up crossposting, delete all non-public posts, don't give LJ any more money, and carry on.

ETA 12-30 Looks like DNS updates have finally propagated:

  : Geolocation data from IP2Location (Product: DB6, updated on 2016-12-5)
    Domain Name	     	  	Country		     	Region	City
    mdlbear.livejournal.com	Russian Federation 	Moskva	Moscow
    ISP					Organization	Latitude	Longitude
    Rambler Internet Holding LLC	Not Available	55.752220153809	37.615558624268

(thanks to: The Mad Filkentist)

mdlbear: (crowdfunding)
Ysabetwordsmith has posted a Call for Themes, wherein one can suggest themes for upcoming Fishbowls. There are perks for linkbacks.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I'm taking a "vacation" -- actually a staycation with enough housework and other difficult tasks to make it more likely something I'll need to go back to work to relax from -- between now and next year. This last week was pretty relaxed at work; there was a group party on Monday, and I gave a short concert. Mostly funny computer songs, as one might expect.

We're doing the holidays a little differently this year, because N and her kids are out of town until Monday. So we had my kids yesterday, doing nothing in particular today, and doing the household celebration and gift exchange tomorrow. Boxing Day is traditional for that in some cultures, and besides it's Hanukkah, so that works anyway.

As part of the downsizing process I'm moving the household fileserver into a smaller case. I'll be going back to the Intel atom mini-ITX board, and I found the case I'd been looking for. It's just tall enough for two 3.5" hard drives, and two stacked card slots which I probably won't have much use for unless I decide to put the mirror drive in an eSATA box.

Emotionally (and it still seems odd to be writing that word, because alexithymia) it's been something of a roller coaster. A woman smiled at me and said hello on Tuesday; I noticed that I was unreasonably happy about that. Not sure why that seemed notable at the time, but it was. On the other hand I had a couple of severe anxiety attacks (or something -- all I'm really sure about are the physical effects). Actually, come to think of it, they often occur after I've been frightened, when whatever scared me has gone away. So there's that.

I'm constantly on edge, often irritated at nothing at all, and feel kind of -- is "fragile" the right word? Sometimes I scare people. I hate this.

I've gotten a little more used to the idea of retiring and moving, but I hate that too. These things are probably all connected, and connected to Trump as well. I guess it's good to have somebody to blame who's really evil enough to deserve it.

Have a happy Christmas, merry Hanukkah, or whatever else you're celebrating.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Moderately productive, though not as much as I needed to be. Story of my life, I guess.

Plans have firmed up: I am retiring next year; we are putting the house on the market in Spring, and moving to New England. We will probably buy a house there, unless things look so bad that we think we'll have to leave the country within the next year. I hate this. At least I can't blame myself for Trump and his gang. I can and do blame myself for the financial trainwreck. I was in denial for a loooooong time. We all were. I still am, to some extent.

Colleen, Giselle, and Naomi have done a lot of decluttering in the sewing corner, cubhouse, downstairs, and some of the books. It's a start. I've started, too, clearing off the clutter from the Great Room hearth, starting to sort through my boxes. I'm still attached to a lot of things; I need to be more ruthless. There are boxes and boxes of little things I never used, kept because there might be a use for them someday. Or that turned out to require more effort than I wanted to spend, and hung around until they were totally obsolete. (A lot of little Linux boxen in that category.) We still haven't started on the garage. For the second time, or is it the third?

Did I mention that I hate this? I hate this.

I've been having a little fun with the guitar I brought in to work last week. That, at least, has been ok. And my family is awesome. And we have cats.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been an exhausting week; moderately productive at work. But a bit more physical work than I've done in a while, plus anxiety and depression, which are tiring on their own. Naomi occasionally tells me to "act my age", usually when I've pushed my body to do something that was easy when I was about thirty years younger. Or fifty. So, yeah. That.

There's a great line in James Keelaghan's song "Small Rebellion" -- "... the job that was your life becomes the job that slowly beats you." That, too.

It doesn't help that my confidence in my ability as a programmer was completely shattered about a year and a half ago, with a series of projects that I completely failed at. OK, maybe just partially failed at -- the first was, fortunately, cancelled, and the second (which would have been trivial if I'd known what I know now) was eventually finished by someone else. The one I'm on now is following a similar pattern. I never learned to estimate, and part of that is the fact that I keep finding pieces that got left out of the design. It's possible that not all of that is my fault -- other people had plenty of input. But it feels like my fault, and because I've been the most senior engineer on all of these projects, one can easily argue that the disasters are at least my responsibility.

In all those cases a contributing problem was procrastination -- that, at least, is undenyably my fault. I've gotten really good at not doing stuff. More generally, not even thinking about stuff that I'd rather not be doing. And here I am, nearly seventy years old, planning to retire in less than a year, with a household that needs to be downsized drastically so that we can move out of the house we love but won't be able to keep. I hate it. I hate myself for the decades of bad decisions that made it necessary.

The next year is going to be rough. The next decade is going to be rough. I'll probably make it through, but I'm not going to like it.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Ysabetwordsmith's Poetry Fishbowl is Open! This time, the theme is "All the news is dark, so light a candle." I left a prompt.

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

Moderately productive week. I am still not entirely confident about the project I'm on at work, but there's a chance we may pull it off. Some work on improving my websites. Some good progress (mostly on Colleen's part) at downsizing the household. Plans for the next year are firming up.

I have decided to retire next year. And many decades of shortsighted and stupid financial decisions mean that we won't be able to keep this house after I stop working. So... downsizing. It's sad, but also liberating: for the first time in years I am not terrified of losing my job. "The realisation that one is to be hanged in the morning concentrates the mind wonderfully," and it was the looming prospect of possibly having to flee a Nazi-occupied country within the next few years that made us decide to do it now rather than later.

Meanwhile, listen to Songs That Help Ease Anxiety, and go read Catherynne M. Valente's The Beasts Who Fought For Fairyland Until the Very End and Further Still --

We must say Yes to the story where, after a long battle, the dark lord is cast down into infinite nothingness or burnt to a crisp or at the very least sent to bed without supper, and everyone cheers and dances and has a party afterward. But most of all, we must say Yes to the truth and the speaking of it. We must say No to silence.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

So I took the week off from work. I'd originally planned to return from Orycon Sunday afternoon, and go in to work Monday and possibly Wednesday. The best-laid plans... Monday was occupied by the drive back from Portland, Tuesday by medical stuff (including a urology appointment on short notice for Colleen), and Wednesday by waiting for the tech from Acorn to show up and do the proper inspection that the tech who had arrived early on Monday had failed to do. So.

Spent much of the week on personal software projects. Wednesday and Thursday I was mostly hacking in my .emacs file, fixing some long-standing annoyances with html-helper-mode (and incidentally lj-update-mode, which is partially derived from it). Friday and Saturday I worked on the build software for my website Songs pages -- you can see the results (so far -- there's still quite a bit of prettying-up to do) on LookingGlass Folk's Songs. The LgF page was the main motivation -- it's been a broken link on the site for years. The secondary motivation was putting my songbook on GitHub.

In the course of doing this, I finally got around to writing tests for the makefiles -- predictably, they turned up lots of bugs. By no means complete, but I now also have an easily-extensible test framework that I can use for the rest of MakeStuff and my other make-based projects like Honu.

Thursday we had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat. Glenn spatchcocked the bird -- this was my introduction to the technique, which lets a 16-pound turkey cook in two hours with a beautifully crisp skin. Recommended. There were just Colleen and I, Glenn and Naomi, and N's kids. The YD had dinner with her boyfriend's family, and Chaos spent the day working on term papers. The tenants ate at C"'s parents'. (I may have to go to subscripts.)

Fair amount of political stuff in the links; not going to re-hash most of it because apparently Post-Trump Stress Disorder is a thing, and I haz it. I can, however, recommend moem's Cybersecurity for the Trumped series, and Tor Browser.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

It's time for another year's worth of gratitude. On the whole, 2016 has not been a great year -- about the best I can say is that I -- and my family -- lived through it. OK, here we go: This year I'm grateful for...

  • My family. All of it -- family of blood, family of choice, Colleen, Chaos and Neko, Naomi, Glenn, the Roo and The Duchess, Mom, the relatives we hardly ever see, ... the whole crazy bunch of us. They're what's keeping me alive.
  • Our wonderful house, Rainbow's End. For all its plumbing problems, it's still a great place to live. I will miss it when, sooner or later, we can no longer afford to keep it.
  • Music. The songs that keep us going: "The Mary Ellen Carter" in particular; "Gentle Arms of Eden", "Quiet Victories", and "Kitchen Heroes" as well; and we've recently added "The Bells of Norwich" and "Millennium's Dawn" to that list. Songs of hope, determination, and defiance -- we need them now more than ever.
  • Friends. Thanks for the late-night conversations, the hugs, the blog comments, the words of encouragement and comfort, and just knowing you're there. You know who you are, and I love you.
  • Work. I'm getting weary of it, but I'm glad my employer still wants me, for the moment.
  • Hope. Pandora, 2016, you're a bitch, but at least you left us that one.
    Here's hope to heal your sorrow,
    Now that the old dreams are gone,
    And the past has turned into tomorrow,
    In the light of the Millennium's dawn.



No thanks to most of what 2016 has brought us, aptly and obscenely summarized in The 2016 Song. Not safe for work, because 2016.

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

Rough week. Even a con, with a concert that came off well, didn't help all that much. My anxiety--or whatever it is, because alexithymia--levels are through the roof, even after cutting back on coffee and Facebook time.

Getting through the concert did reduce my stress quite a bit; that effect lasted through the rest of the weekend. A couple of great conversations; the one we had Sunday evening/night reminded me a lot of the conversation I had with Naomi all those years ago at OVFF, which arguably led to a lot of what's happened since. So, yeah. Friendship is good. Making new friends is wonderful.

I'd originally planned to leave Sunday afternoon. I'm incredibly grateful to Naomi for giving me an excuse to stay on the extra day. I wouldn't have missed that conversation for anything. (That's assuming, of course, that I'd known about it ahead of time. One can't exactly schedule such things. One can, however, be open to them when they happen. I seem to be moderately good at that; it's just getting started that's so rare.)

The concert. Well. Of course, being totally frazzled leading into it, I neglected to record it. I'm hoping that the woman who recorded it on her cell phone gets back to me -- of course I neglected to get her contact info, too. The set list was drastically revised after the election; what we ended up with was:

  • Kitchen Heroes
  • Quiet Victories
  • Windward
  • Nemesis
  • Mary Ellen Carter
  • Bells of Norwich
  • The Times, They Are A Changin'
  • Gentle Arms of Eden
  • The Dreamer
  • Ship of Stone
  • Millennium's Dawn
  • Most of them had new arrangements--N has started composing harmony lines. Millennium's Dawn, with her harmony and the new last verse, worked particularly well. Bells of Norwich was new to me, as was the guitar part for Nemesis. You know things are going to be different when QV is the second song in the set.

    Oh, yeah: the bad stuff. Colleen's stairlift finally broke past my ability to jury-rig it. Much cursing, while I set up the sofabed in the Rainbow Room. (Although that was another good reason to stay the extra day at the con -- the sofabed is horribly uncomfortable.)

    ...Aaaaand the ... ugly? Maybe. N handed me a card that said "YOU MATTER". Which is something Colleen says to me quite frequently, also. That started a train of thought, because it reminded me of an article that had come by earlier in the week and that I felt... odd... about. Some initial reactions below in the notes. I know it's meant to be encouraging; to make me feel good about myself or something like that. It doesn't, though, and I can't figure out why.

    I really hate important stuff I can't figure out. If it was a server I'd be busy analyzing logs and cursing the lack of comments in the code. Come to think of it,...

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    So here we are at Orycon. For some reason I'd forgotten to register Colleen, so we had to do that at the desk.

    Here's my schedule:

    1118Sa
        o Is Open Source Really Open? Salon C (LL1) Sat Nov 19 10:00am - 11:00am
          Blake Hutchins, Frank Hayes, Mark Niemann-Ross, *me (moderator)
        o Concert: Steve Savitsky Mt Hood (2) Sat Nov 19 1:00pm - 2:00pm
    
    1119Su
        o The Changing Face of the Computer Interface Sunstone (3) Sun Nov 20 12:00pm - 1:00pm
          *Frank Hayes, Jeff Soesbe, Matt Huntley, Matt Huntley, Rhiannon Rhys-Jones, me
    

    The concert is going to be good. Promise. The setlist was completely revised last week (for reasons that should be obvious).

    mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

    Hmmm.

    • My family. Special callouts for N, C, and g.
    • Hope. Feeling way too much like Pandora, except it wasn't me that opened the damned box.
    • Therapy cats.
    • Music. Special callouts for "The Times, They are A-Changin'", "Desolation Row", and "Julian of Norwich"; the last two being on opposite ends of something or other.
    • Ethanol and caffeine. Also toward opposite ends of a different scale.

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

    So. Trumped.

    I suppose I'll get through the next four years somehow. But the possibilities range from disagreeable to agonizing to desperate. N tells me I'm stronger than I think. I hope she's right.

    What the hell can I say? The Joy of Tech comic... National curl up in a Ball Day kind of says most of it. I'm still not uncurled.

    "I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

    "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

    ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

    Notes & links, as usual )

    mdlbear: (flamethrower)

    Today I am not grateful for much of anything besides my family, therapy cats, #safetypin, and the fact that I have not personally seen any of the ugliness going around. Yet.

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

    My right peroneus muscle is still painful. No idea what I did to it or am doing wrong, though one article suggested that it could be plantarflection due to sleeping under heavy blankets. So maybe I should go back to sleeping on my side instead of on my back. Sleeping on my back is fairly recent, so that may be fairly simple.

    I've been doing a lot of puttering, and arguably a lot less practicing than I should, given that I have a concert in less than two weeks at Orycon. I've been practicing most days this week (see notes), and I think my calluses are back, so that's something. Need to print out my set and start doing more complete runthroughs.

    Halloween was fun, going out with N and her kids. Gave the adults someone to talk to.

    I've been taking care of the critters, since N, G, and g are away at OVFF. Cricket's been in the Great Room, mostly hiding in the Cubhouse -- at least, that's where I usually find her when I come in. Ticia's been pretty good about not trying to come in, though I still have to warn her away from the door.

    Puttering. Yeah. G' did some major re-organizing and cleanup involving the downstairs closet and playroom, and the upstairs closets. Unfortunately, this was accomplished mainly by moving things into the garage and craft room. I've been gradually moving stuff to more sensible places. Some of the decisions have been good ones, though; I'm not complaining about the kitchen cabinet re-org.

    Oh, yeah: the Cubs won the World Series. I'm not a sports fan at all, but that's pretty extraordinary. If it's a sign of the apocalypse, I'm hoping that it continues with the person the wingnuts are calling the Antichrist getting into the White House. And that's the last thing I'm going to say about politics until November 9th at the earliest.

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    Almost productive this week. The weekly design meeting brought some much-needed clarity to my current project, and provided the justification I needed for the simplest design, which I had already partly implemented. Win. Also Q4 scaling. The service I'm working with is one of the easy ones -- it's old, deprecated, and most of the use cases have been moved to its replacement. So it's already massively overscaled.

    I've started practicing for my concert at Orycon - late as usual, but I'll get there. Also as usual, it will take a day or three for my finger-calluses to come back.

    Reading: finished Mindline and Family, completing the Dreamhealers series by M.C.A. Hogarth. I should keep better track.

    Not getting much housework done. That could be a problem. Something about motivation?

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    As usual, a fairly unproductive week at work, made even less productive by the fact that we had to be out by noon Thursday so they could move everyone on the floor to a slightly larger floor next door. And we're only supposed to be in that location for another 6-9 months. Not that I really expect to be there that long.

    I actually got some work done after the afternoon meeting (I never turn down free food) that was scheduled after our move deadline - it was just a matter of finding a quiet place and firing up my laptop.

    I need to talk to my financial advisor. I've been putting it off -- I'm really good at that -- but it's gotten more serious now that I'm about to turn 70 and will have to start withdrawing money from my retirement accounts. Plural. And now that $A stock is up over 800. (That suggestion courtesy of my therapist.)

    Friday I tagged along with Colleen and G' while they went to C's urology and doctor's appointments. And, of course, Mazatlan, the Mexican restaurant across the parking lot from Urology Northwest. In between, C and G' went to Costco while I hung out in the UW Clinic (across another parking lot from Costco) and tried to get some work done. This was hampered by my having forgotten to bring my VPN token :P Need to pick up a spare to keep in my backpack.

    Actually, should keep one in my backpack and one at home, and stop keeping it on my badge lanyard. In fact, ... *puts token in backpack* Less likely to get wet in the rain.

    Went grocery shopping with Colleen yesterday. Exhausting.

    The big insight for the week (see Sunday) is that not only do I not multitask worth a damn, but it takes me a long time to context-switch. I'm at my most productive when I can work on one thing pretty much all day. Which is one reason why being on call sucks so much.

    Notes & links, as usual )

    Edit after discovering that I'd missed Saturday.

    mdlbear: (flamethrower)

    Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature. I am still kind of blown away. I mean... He's one of my personal heroes, and I've always known that there's a difference between a songwriter and a poet who sets their poems to music. The latter are quite rare. Most -- all? -- songwriters know which side of the divide they fall on. But... But... Nobel Prize!

    Meanwhile, here I am on Desolation Row. Our predicted storm of the century wasn't even the storm of the decade; but it still did quite a lot of damage. The zipper on my pants broke -- again. We have a crack in the floor of our basement, which of course water is coming up through. I cut a corner too close and badly scraped the side of the van. What's left of my self-confidence is somewhat in tatters.

    They're spoon-feeding Cassanova
    To get him to feel more assured
    Then they'll kill him with self-confidence
    After poisoning him with words.


    Ok, so at least I don't have to worry about that. Also on the plus side in no particular order, we never lost power, we can see the crack because I have been procrastinating getting the floor re-done since our flood last year, our second tenant has moved in, and all the damage to the van was cosmetic. So there's that.

    Rather an unproductive week at work.

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    Pain levels, in particular standing for any amount of time unsupported in the evening, have been pretty high lately. Mostly hips, though there's still some pain in the right leg. Do not like, and it makes me snappish as well as lazy. Also, I was extremely congested last weekend and well into the week. In combination with the muscle aches and weakness Sunday I almost suspect flu. Almost. Some kind of virus, certainly.

    I worked a little on my setlist; most of what little practicing I did was guitar. Which is ok; my fingers were kind of in bad shape and my playing obviously needed the work as well. It's mostly going to be off my (still-planned) second album, so I thought a little about Amethyst Rose and felt sorry for myself for not marking her birthday this year.

    Quote of the week, from a T-shirt by way of G:

    Most programmers struggle with 2 things:
    0. Cache invalidation.
    1: Naming things.
    2: Off-by-one errors.


    It doesn't mention being on call or facing hard deadlines, but those are right up there. It's been an uneventful oncall this time -- the only times I was awakened at 4:30am were by Ticia. I also spent altogether too much time in meetings, when I should have been working the ticket queue.

    I continue to be wasting too much time on Quora, and quite a bit reading poetry and fiction on DW. Well, at least Q keeps my word count up, and I've been getting a little positiveifeedback via Twitter. I mostly don't try to track everything, but you'll find one of the better answers below at the end of yesterday's notes.

    Also in the notes, The What-He-Did: The Poetic Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith, and this stunningly beautiful pic for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    2016 can go hang itself. In the last week the filk community has lost Lucy Stern, Kira Heston, and JoEllyn Davidoff. Colleen's friend Bev lost her fiance. The folk world lost Oscar Brand. Enough!

    The rest of it seems kind of lame. I'll try. Meanwhile, there's this infographic of the stages of grief vs reality.

    I successfully replaced the USB port on Colleen's tablet -- I am now feeling fairly confident of my ability to fix modern computing devices. Meanwhile, though, Colleen had expressed an interest in replacing both her tablet and her kindle with a Kindle Fire, so when I spotted a used Fire HD 6 on sale at, well, a fire sale price, I got it for her. So now I have a Kindle paperwhite. I may go back to reading books on the bus instead of news. It would be good for my blood pressure.

    My hypertension also provided a convenient excuse for not watching the presidential debate. I already know who I'm voting against, thanks. First election I can remember where Darth Vader and Cthulhu dropped out early.

    At work, my sit-stand desk showed up over the weekend. Having a desk that goes down to a proper typing height, which for me turns out to be 25.5 inches, is wonderful. Tried standing a couple of times -- it hurts to do more than a couple of minutes. I'm supposed to work up to 15 minutes out of every hour. Probably not happening, but we'll see.

    Also got my Microsoft ergonomic keyboard; it took me most of the week to get used to it, but it may work. If not, I can always go back to the Thinkpad keyboard. I bought one of the newer ones for home, which means that I could swap the older one I'd been using there for the one at work, which had developed a dicey space bar.

    Finally got around to paying a few bills. I suck at that kind of thing.

    My depression and anxiety numbers were down -- 5 each -- at my session with my therapist on Tuesday. I'm not sure the therapy is doing me much good except as a way of getting something of an objective reading on my mental state, but that's probably a good thing in its own right.

    Somebody sent me a link that his daughter found and suggested putting on Interesting Places for Kids. Which I did, but it's so horribly out of date that most of its links are broken, including all of the links to it, now that I've dropped the places.to domain. (Tonga raised the rent, and I didn't think it was worth it.) Oh, and also the build system, which relied on the no-longer-maintained cPIA: XML Macro Processing in C for templating. Need to put that on GitHub. Thought I had, actually.

    Oh, yeah: the link:

    As the father of two 6th grade girls (twins) I've been looking for weather resources to help them with their natural disaster project in their Earth Science class! Your weather guides have been a big help. As a thank you, I wanted to send you this page that one of my daughters found: http://www.aaastateofplay.com/staying-safe-outdoors-in-severe-weather/.

    And I'm primary oncall next week. Oh, joy! It's probably going to be a busy one, though hopefully not as rough as the last one.

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    At work, we finally ran the numbers again and figured out that, no, $PROJECT is not going to be finished in October. Current target is mid-December, but even that may be a stretch. The good thing is that it isn't all my fault, though I still blame myself for most of the bad planning.

    At home, I finished pulling up the bindweed. There are some stragglers, but at least it's no longer covering 50' of walkway.

    I finally put in my passport renewal - I found the one place in the area that's open on Saturday, after trying on Wednesday at the courthouse and balking at the metal detector because I knew I was carrying a knife. The process of applying in person has gotten a lot quicker since the last time I did it, but I'm still down on myself for procrastinating past the point where I could have renewed by mail.

    It looks like we'll have a second tenant, so we'll be getting a little more rent. Because of initial clustering, she'll be referred to as C''. Our current tenant is C'. (I've picked up that notation from Haskell, in which "'" (pronounced "prime") is considered a letter. Haskell gets it from math, of course, but it's gone out of fashion in CS because programming languages are always hungry for quotation methods.)

    I finally ordered one of the newest Thinkpad (KU-1255) keyboards -- it's still good. In some ways, slightly better than my older and much-beloved XK-8855s -- the one I'm using at work has developed a flaky space bar. (Too many aliens hanging out in it, presumably.) I like the fact that it has the page-up and page-down keys in the empty spaces above the left and right keys. Not only does that make the best use of available space, but it means that if I shove the keyboard under the monitor stand to protect it from cats, I can still navigate effectively in the browser. I don't like that the function keys are smaller and require a "FnLk" keystroke, and that it has a stupid micro-usb cable instead of one built-in with a compartment on the bottom you can curl it up in.

    Otherwise, not too much to report. Some links on depression, though as I note on Monday, five of the ten symptoms of major depression start with the word "change", which is kind of useless when you can't remember a time when you've been that way for as long as you can remember. (You have to have 5 to be diagnosed as having it.)

    awesome-awesome: A curated list of awesome curated lists of many topics is indeed awesome. So is Make a Lisp, which is a collection of Lisp implementations in dozens of different programming languages. The idea of implementing Lisp in make makes (recursion intended) my head hurt. In a good way -- I love GNU make.

    Notes & links, as usual )

    mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

    Ok, better late than next week? Anyway, today I'm grateful for...

    • Revised schedules. Still dicey, IMO, but at least it's possible.
    • Not being the only one responsible for the schedule slip.
    • Our tenant. Rent is not to be sneezed at.
    • Rain.
    • Ubuntu laptops with SSDs
    • Thinkpad keyboards. (Just got a new one. The one I'm using at work has developed a flaky space bar. Maybe too many aliens hanging out in it?)
    • Ticia.

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

    Back to work after a nice but too-short staycation. I got a little over half of my list done, and a few more started; that's about what I expected. (The actual list is in the notes, between Sunday and Monday.) I also spent all day Saturday (see last week) reconfiguring my household server after some hard drive corruption. So Nova has been switched from Debian to Ubuntu, and is being used as both the file server and my main workstation. Which has some advantages.

    The vacation definitely reduced my stress level, though I think I'm still way behind on things at work. That wasn't helped by my swapping my secondary oncall, originally scheduled for the second week in October. However, I found the memory leak that's been blocking one of our deployments for weeks, so I'm feeling fairly pleased with that.

    The charging port on Colleen's tablet finally got to the point where no cable in the house was making good enough contact to reliably charge it; I ordered a new part and some tools. Then ordered more tools, because the kit I ordered didn't include decent spudgers. (I love that word!)

    I'm still spending too much time on Quora. Their user interface continues to suck, though, and I gave up on cross-posting to Facebook because they insist on posting an irrelevant image with a picture of the first few words of the question, instead of actual text. Still cross-posting to Twitter, and getting a little feedback there, but I don't actually read Twitter so I don't much care what it looks like. I put links here in the notes when I write something I'm reasonably pleased with.

    In spite of my expertise in programming, I find myself mostly answering dating and relationship questions. I figure that 40-odd years of marriage at least indicates some familiarity with the subject, and in most cases the answers are pretty obvious. "How do I know whether X likes me?" "You ask them." "What should I do after she (always she -- funny thing aout that) rejected me?" "Leave her alone and go look for somebody else." I also do it because many of the other answers I see are not only clueless but amount to recommending harassment.

    I think the real reason I do it is that it counteracts my near-total lack of self-confidence in my social skills. Not that I can actually apply those "skills" in the field, of course. Not that I take my own advice and, um, practice. Oh. Right.

    If you're looking for something fun to read, Lúthien: Tolkien’s Badass Elf Princess is a great retelling of "Beren and Lúthien in "Badass of the Week" style.

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    This post covers most of my week-long vacation, so while it's not quite time for a wrap-up of my goals, I can say that I met about half of them. Which was about what I expected.

    The big accomplishment for the week, without a doubt, was posting my one-line Linux setup/configuration package up on GitHub. (I then spent much of the rest of the week debugging and tweaking, but that's also to be expected.) It's called Honu, after the Hawaiian name for the green sea turtle, because a turtle carries its home around with it. The README starts off with this quote from my song, Windward, because I just couldn't resist:

    Where the wind takes us next year no turtle can tell
    But we'll still be at home, come high water or hell,
    Because home is wherever you carry your shell.

    The implied puns on $HOME and sh(1) are, of course, entirely intentional.

    Honu is meant to be fairly general; it's expected that any user -- including me! -- is going to want to customize the heck out of it. To that end, there's a sample customization package, also on GitHub, called Myrtle. Of course. (My own customization package, which you will not find on GitHub, is called Mathilda, after LookingGlass Folk's name for the narrator of "Windward".)

    It hasn't been all roses and rainbows, however. I've spent an inordinate amount of time coping with the bindweed (morning glory's evil twin) that has overgrown the walkway along the south side of the house, sorting a year or two's worth of mail, and recovering from last week's disk crash on the server. I've been doing quite a lot of writing, though a lot of that has been on Quora, so I'm not sure whether that counts toward my daily writing goal, or away from it.

    I'll say one thing for Quora, though -- it makes me appreciate my own knowledge and social skills. Being able to answer questions is a real boost to my self-confidence in both those areas. Who knew?

    Psychologically, well, ... mixed. I've definitely been less stressed out the last two days of the week than the first two -- I was able to handle a trip downtown that turned out to be a total write-off, due to things being closed/not where I expected, quite calmly and even with a little wry humor. The check from last week's stock sale arrived on Tuesday, which helped. On the other hand, it still apparently doesn't take much frustration to put me back over the edge.

    I was a total wreck on Sunday. I seem to handle stress a lot better when I'm by myself. With Colleen around, especially, I get into a horrible feedback loop. By the time I got home I could probably have used an Ativan, but my prescription on those has long since expired. I settled for reading and gin. Low blood sugar may have contributed; I'm not sure I can tell the difference between anxiety and hunger. Alexithymia in action.

    I am not ready to go back to work tomorrow. I may never be ready. I'll do it, but it won't be pretty. Notes & links, as usual )

    mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

    So it's Friday already. Today I am thankful for

    • A week's vacation. I needed it. It's not long enough.
    • The check I was expecting and worrying about, arriving in Tuesday's mail. (I would have saved myself a lot of anxiety if I'd had enough cope to set up an electronic transfer.)
    • Gin.
    • Getting things done.

    NO thanks to

    • bindweed
    • offices that aren't where you expect them to be, and close early
    • stuff that piles up because of procrastination

    mdlbear: (tsunami)

    If yesterday is going to be typical of this vacation (I'm taking all of the coming week off), I'm going to need a month or two of work to recover from it. Not fun.

    Friday Nova, my main server, developed a corrupted root partition. I've been keeping an eye on that drive for a while, and had a replacement on hand, so I set up a transfer of the home and data partitions and went to bed. So far, so good.

    Yesterday was another matter entirely. Installing a new copy of Debian should only have taken an hour or so. Hah! Instead, I was plagued by a long series of problems, which took me pretty much the entire day to finally analyze. These included:

    1. A corrupted download of the Debian installer. It appeared to work ok, but the keys on the right-hand side of the keyboard kept generating the wrong characters! WTF?
    2. Apparently the idiot Intel motherboard I used for my server won't let you change the boot order of your hard disks (despite having a BIOS option that claims to do exactly that), and it considers a USB key to be a hard disk. So if you have a hard drive that doesn't already have a bootable OS on it, it will keep the damned thing from booting.
    3. Snowflake, the box I've been using for a desktop apparently has a similar problem.

    I eventually ended up using the only other working spare system, Trantor, to install Ubuntu. I then swapped the disk into the former Snowflake, which is significantly faster and quieter than either Trantor or the Atom board I'd been using for Nova, so that's a win. I also decided, since I now had Ubuntu on Nova, and it was the fastest machine I had, that I would use it as my desktop as well as my fileserver. There are some potential problems with that, but I have to admit that it's convenient.

    It will probably take me a while to get everything on (Novo) Nova configured -- I still need to start doing backups, for example, and don't have a web server up yet -- but at least I have DNS and my main file store up and running. But there was a lot of frustration involved.

    The frustration made me more susceptible to other sources of stress, so sure enough, that happened too. Kat and Rabbit are in the process of moving out into their own apartment (finally!), so they brought movers in to handle the bed, the futon, and some other large furniture. Which meant taking the seats off the stairlifts.

    And, of course, Colleen woke up and walked down the first flight of stairs before calling for help. I hastily put the seat back on the lower lift, and told Colleen (not exactly calmly -- I was pretty stressed at that point) that she should have gone back to the room, sat down, and called for help.

    Then the lower lift wouldn't go back up to its charging position. It was already pretty badly damaged from previous moving attempts; it turned out that the limit switch that detects whether the seat is turned properly had finally broken to the point of unusability. Its little cam follower had been crumpled up from previous clumsy seat replacements. There ensued a frantic search for my multimeter (and a hasty battery replacement) so that I could identify the normally-closed contacts on the switch and move the connectors to them.

    At that point I went back to my struggles with the computers. Just as I was getting things pretty stable there, Colleen went up to bed. Or tried to: the bottom lift didn't want to go up. Again. More swearing. More switches to reconnect. A quick trip to Google to look up error code E6, which turned out to be the bottom limit switch. Which hadn't given us any trouble up to that point.

    ... by that time I was a complete wreck. My stress level was not helped by being worried sick -- literally, by that point -- about the fact that the check from my stock sale still hasn't showed up. And berating myself about not being persistent enough to figure out from Morgan Stanley's miserable website how to do a direct transfer.

    The one good thing about all this is that I tend to wake up around 4:30 when I'm stressed. When I feel as though I don't have enough time to get everything done, it helps.

    It's been a long month. September is fired. Notes & links, as usual )

    mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

    Today I'm thankful for:

    1. Ticia.
    2. Colleen.
    3. Our new tenant, who is only here for about a month, but extra income is useful even when it's temporary.
    4. My daughter and partner moving out this weekend. I mean, I love her, but... It will be good to have a little more space, and it will help a lot with the food budget.
    5. A long weekend, and a week's vacation after that.
    mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

    Moderately productive. Two "publishing events".

    1. Sex and the Single Link is up on my "formal" website, Stephen.Savitzky.net. This is, despite the clickbait title, an article about the joy of singly-linked lists.
    2. MakeStuff is up on GitHub. This the first of several projects I intend to put up there; it's the collection of makefiles and scripts that powers all my websites. You can see it in action here.

    Apart from that, and a bunch of Quora answers, not a whole lot going on. One my Quora answers led to a good discussion on the comment thread. Fairly prodctive at work, though as usual not quite as much as I wanted to be.

    One particularly interesting article for the programmers in the audience, Developer Differences: Makers vs Menders, which seems to describe me fairly well.

    Also of note, the first episode of the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Podcast: Ordinary Women by Heather Rose Jones ([livejournal.com profile] hrj on LJ) is up.

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

    Moderately productive this week. And I've been doing quite a lot of writing, mostly on Quora. Which is seriously addictive. One of the reasons I like it, I think, is that it demonstrates to me that I know more about people and relationships than I give myself credit for. It also inspired me to get started on the article about singly-linked lists that I've been meaning to write for months. (The draft can be found here, but be advised that it's only about half finished. Look again on Tuesday or thereabouts, or wait for me to post it here.)

    That raises a question: If it ends up being long (currently at a little over 1000 words), do you have a preference for long posts under cut tags, or shorter installments without cuts? What's a good length for installments? (For comparison, my current weekly posts seem to be running 250-500 words before the cut, and I haven't heard any complaints.)

    I'm not even going to try posting my Quora answers here or on Facebook; I am cross-posting most of them to Twitter (@ssavitzky) -- the bandwidth there is so high that nobody is likely to feel as though I'm spamming their feed. I do link a few of the more interesting answers in the notes, so you can see for yourself.

    Anyway... Moderately productive at work, though meetings have eaten up a lot more time than I allowed for. Only a couple of overloads at home. Blood pressure higher than I like, but my doctor isnt worried yet. More in the notes.

    Notes & links, as usual )
    mdlbear: A tortoiseshell cat facing the camera (ticia)

    Not a bad week, but not very productive, either. Tuesday was a write-off, and Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday weren't much better. I've been making myself sick with worry about Ticia for some time now, because the way her abdomen looks reminded me too much of the way Curio looked when he was dying of FIP. Well, after missing Ticia's appointment on Tuesday due to traffic, I finally got her seen on Thursday -- nothing to worry about: what's distending her tummy turns out to be simply fat. So relieved.

    I actually got some work done on Friday. I also had some good experiences on the bus, in both directions. Good conversation on the way home, and I got some nice smiles from people I helped with the fold-up seats in the handicapped section. Apparently not being consumed by worry makes me more easygoing in social situations. Who knew?

    (Most people apparently know things like that. It's not a direction my mind usually goes. I am gradually developing more self-awareness in that direction, but it takes work -- it's not one of the things I'm good at.)

    I have been learning about self-compassion, at my therapist's suggestion and following some timely links from ysabetwordsmith. Apparently it's better for one than self-esteem, which is a good thing, because I don't have a whole lot of that. Nor self-confidence. Self-compassion doesn't really help at all with that, but it makes it easier to live with.

    My therapist also spoke to me Tuesday about setting boundaries. That's another thing I seem to be bad at. It gets complicated, though, because telling people "no" feels too much like being unkind and antisocial, and both of those are things I have to actively work at not being. I have my best experiences in social situations when I'm being more open (see above) rather than hiding behind a wall. Or a book, phone, or computer, which are even more effective things to hide behind. How the heck do ordinary humans balance those things, anyway?

    (I'm not all that great at human, either. Let alone adult. (Both "human" and "adult" are being used as verbs there. Deal. (Why, yes; I've been coding in Lisp since 1970. Why do you ask?))) Oddly enough, this doesn't prevent me from answering questions about relationships on Quora. Them as can't do, teach? In my more self-confident moments, I try to remind myself that somebody who's been contentedly married for forty-odd years to the same woman may actually have learned a few things here and there.

    *sigh* It really all comes down to self-confidence, doesn't it? I'm not even confident about my programming ability anymore -- too many recent bad estimates and missed targets. I'm hanging on by my fingernails.

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

    So, a day late again. And much more than a dollar short, for that matter. But anyway. I'm grateful for:

    • The fact that my cat, Ticia, appears to be healthy. A little overweight -- what I was afraid might be fluid in her abdomen turns out to be fat. Finding this out was expensive, but it was well worth it: Curio had had that same symptom, and...
    • Ticia. I am glad to be one of her favored worshippers. (Though, for a goddess, she's pretty easygoing. Unlike Desti, who plays the role to the hilt.)
    • Compassion. I am learning about self-compassion, which is apparently a thing, and supposedly works better than self-esteem. This remains to be seen. I'm not very good at it. Oh. Right.
    • Electronic sphygmomanometers. My doctor has me watching my blood pressure carefully after taking me off my diuretic because it appeared to have been affecting my kidney function. Some instability earlier in the week, but it seems to have settled down now.
    • Along those lines, not having postural hypotension nearly as often.
    mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

    I've already posted about last Sunday's medical adventure, so I won't go into that except to say that the exercises N gave me seem to be helping -- I don't seem to have much pain in my right hand beyond the usual arthritis. It has, however, taken all of the last week to get to that point.

    Since the pain was most likely due to my working position, I've put in for an ergonomic evaluation at work. I need to lower my desk at home, too, by about three inches. A leg length of 25 inches should do it. Not looking forward to that, since it will mean taking everything off the top. Fortunately it's possible -- the desk is nothing but a sheet of plywood sitting on a filing cabinet at one end and a pair of 2x2s at the other.

    Come to think of it, cleaning off the top of my desk is probably a good thing to do every couple of years.

    Tuesday or Wednesday I saw a woman on the bus wearing a T-shirt that read "Open Source and Feelings", and had a bit of a conversation (should have spoken up earlier, because she got off at the first stop downtown). Turns out it's a conference -- I'll try to remember to go next year. The videos from last year are up, and I spent most of Saturday watching them.

    A lot of the videos are about empathy, which I'm interested in and I'm told I'm good at (cf. A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear) in spite of my alexithymia. I realized that my hanging out in a facebook group for people who've lost their cat to FIP is probably good exercise for that particular skill.

    I also realized that I could be considered a member of a category -- I hesitate to call it a minority -- that's underrepresented in the tech industry: old people. Whether that insight can be turned into something useful is, at this point, an open question. A quick Google search turned up a lot of links about teaching seniors how to use these scary things called computers -- what used to be called "computer literacy" and maybe still is. I didn't see much about the people like me, who have been working with the things for the last half-century. One of the talks from last year's OSFeels was titled "Back in My Day..." -- by a fifty-year-old. Sheesh! I was working at Zilog making the stuff he talked about using as a kid.

    Saw a question go by on Quora to the effect of "what should a fifty-year-old programmer do?" My answer was basically "keep writing programs." Now that I think of it, there's probably a reason why so many of the questions asked there sound naive to me.

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

    So, in the interest of raising my word count for the day, have a post.

    Please note: this post describes a medical situation that turned out not to be the emergency I thought it might have been; I'm ok and, as it turns out, was never in any danger. However, if you have problems reading about medical emergencies, scary symptoms, hospitals, or needles you will probably be best off with the cut text.

    tl;dr: I'm ok. Nothing to worry about. )

    Lab work, EKGs, and X-rays all looking perfectly normal, around 3:30 am they gave me my discharge paperwork, and I called G for a ride home. He was sleepy; N came instead. Have I mentioned recently how awesome my sister is? She's awesome.

    Note that at this point most of the pain had gone away, but there was still a little achiness around my right shoulder, and the second joint of my right index finger was still almost as painful as it had been at the start. It still is, over 12 hours later.

    On the way home N, who is a professional massage therapist, said that it sounded like a pinched nerve was the most likely explanation. Specifically, something called thoracic outlet syndrome. Which is sort of like carpal tunnel syndrome, only between your collarbone and your first rib.

    When we got home, I put a sick day on my work calendar -- if I go to the ER in the middle of the night I've damned well earned a sick day no matter how much better I feel in the morning.

    So here's what Wikipedia says about it: "Pain can be present on an intermittent or permanent basis. It can be sharp/stabbing, burning, or aching. TOS can involve only part of the hand (as in the 4th and 5th finger only), all of the hand, or [...] the pectoral area below the clavicle, [...] and the upper back (i.e., the trapezius and rhomboid area)." Um... right. What they said.

    "The two groups of people most likely to develop TOS are [...] and those who use computers in non-ergonomic postures for extended periods of time. TOS is frequently a repetitive stress injury (RSI) caused by certain types of work environments." ... and I noticed, as I sat there at my desk with my right hand on the trackball, that my right shoulder was uncomfortably higher than my left one.

    My desk at home, which consists of a sheet of plywood resting on a 2-drawer filing cabinet and a couple of 2x2 legs, is about 3" (7.5cm) higher than it needs to be. That would probably do it.

    ... so it looks like I need to take everything off my (cluttered) desk, disassemble the thing, make shorter legs for it, and put everything back. Grumble.

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

    Fairly productive at work this week, though I lost Friday to an all-day training session. (I made up some of that yesterday in between lab work and my doctor's appointment. Went in early because the appointment wasn't until 1:40, and I wanted to be able to have my coffee before noon.) I appear to be in pretty good health; my blood pressure was 129/75; which is decent.

    The training Friday was a workshop on Scrum. Tl;dr: we've been doing it wrong. Which is not unusual. My impression has always been that it works best for things that can be built incrementally -- the idea is to break things down into "features" (corresponding to "user stories") that can be built in one sprint -- typically two weeks -- and end up done, in production, and demonstrated to the customer at the end of that. The theory is that the team gets more and more familiar with their product and their process, so they get better at estimating. And there's an expectation that developers are mostly fungible -- anyone can pick up any of the tasks and finish it in a couple of days. (Specialists like QA, tech writer (we should be so lucky!), and maybe a web developer, don't count.)

    So let's look at the project I'm currently on: We have four developers. One is building a new service, one is working on the web front end (and just came on board), and two are working in different, pre-existing services that they've never worked on before. The work being done in the latter case is such that a sizeable number of pieces have to be in place in order for anything to work. Meanwhile, other teams are working on other parts of the same services, with somewhat different requirements. Theoretically, each of the three main developers could work on any of the tasks, but in practice there's a lot of context in each of those sub-projects that it would take a long time for anyone else to ramp up on.

    It doesn't help that the manager and web developer are in Vancouver, and that most of the design was done almost a year before the work started, under a different manager, by three developers one of whom got pulled off to work on a totally unrelated project. This leaves only two of us with any real context.

    On the other hand, I've been having fun with configuration files and makefiles. The latest hack was adding color-coded labels to the workspaces in my xmonad setup. You say "ws 2 to.do", for example, and you get a color-coded label at the top of the screen in workspace 2. The labels use standard resistor color codes, and include a clock (because the quick thing was to base them on xclock). Here. (Need to get this onto github soon.)

    Writing: met my minimum goal of 500 words two days a week, but just barely. Both were in PJ (short for Private Journal), so not on DW or the website where you can see them. Sorry about that.

    Notes & links, as usual )
    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.

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