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

I didn't post Sunday because I was still at Worldcon. And yesterday I was just too wiped out. But here I am, days late (and thousands of dollars short, but that's another complaint).

Sasquan made a pretty good filk con. That's literally all the programming I got to. The concerts, mostly; not even much open filking. I had a half-hour concert slot; it went well. Riverheart, For Amy, The Stuff That Dreams are Made Of, Where the Heart Is, Windward, Toolmakers, Keep the Dream Alive. Most of my most intensely emotional repertoire; my voice broke a little on everything but Riverheart and Toolmakers, but not so much that I couldn't keep singing.

If you have a recording of it, I need a copy. Thanks. I'll mail you a thumb drive, or you can share it on Google or Dropbox. No processing necessary -- I can handle raw .WAV or (better) .FLAC files.

Until this year I rarely did much more than choke up a little. The last time I remember really having trouble making it through a song without crying was 1986. (See last song in the set.) I seem to be more open to my emotions -- my grief, anyway -- and that's a good thing. It's worlds better than being numb.

The smoke -- much of central Washington is on fire -- was particularly bad Friday night. Saturday was almost clear, but it came back Sunday.

I spent a lot of my time, including most of my time sitting in concerts, writing. Mostly, the Rainbow Bridge page, and Curio's page under it; the latter is still in progress, so I won't link to it yet. It's hard.

Links and more details in the notes, including a couple of Wikipedia dives and the preliminary setlists.

raw notes, with links )

At Sasquan

Aug. 21st, 2015 07:16 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

We arrived at Sasquan, or rather at our hotel, around 3:30pm. after having left at 10:15, only 15 minutes behind schedule. Not too bad a drive; would probably have been close to the 4 hours Google said it would be if we hadn't run into bad traffic in Seattle and road work in the middle of nowhere.

Several good conversations.

My only program item is my half-hour concert today (Friday) at 2:30pm. I'll be doing mostly songs from the album I need to get (re)started on Real Soon Now(TM), Amethyst Rose.

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

So the big things this week were getting the drains fixed (for somewhere north of $10K), and getting word from Safeco that they'll cover a good part of the water mitigation. Though not all of it, and none of the reconstruction afterward. But that's still something in five figures that we won't have to deal with.

We will still need a loan.

Last Sunday I finally started practicing for my half-hour set at Sasquan (Friday afternoon). First time I've had to stop singing because I was crying -- For Amy followed by The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of just hit all my buttons, but I even choked up some on Where the Heart Is and Windward. Losing a home is also a trigger right now - that's still a danger, if anything happens that makes me unable to work.

Oh, yeah; about work. It seems that the part of the late project that I thought was simplest, isn't (for non-technical reasons -- basically office politics). I was, apparently, relying on old information when I made the estimate. :P

I was able to get through my entire set last night without even choking up. There are still some rough spots in the chords, but that's something I can work on.

My back is pretty much back to normal (meaning it aches a little when I over-use it, but I can mostly take it for granted). Now, of course, my right knee is giving me trouble. Cane GOOD.

My mood is now merely down, rather than severely depressed and anxious. I'll take it.

Some interesting reading -- links in the notes.

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

Rough week, though not as bad as the week before. It scares me how close I am to the edge -- in several ways.

On the good side, the potential trainwreck at work has been averted (or possibly just postponed; too early to tell for sure). N has given me a firm talking-to (because she noticed that I respond best to a firm talking-to when I think I deserve it), assuring me that we're family even if I screw up completely, and that we'll find a way to make things work. On good days, I can believe it. Mom was also very encouraging when she called me on Sunday. My back is just about back to normal (which of course is dangerous, since I might be tempted to do too much and re-injure it).

On the bad side, the downstairs is still a disaster. We're going to have to take out a loan for the repairs, which are going to be extensive (and expensive) due to the long-standing water damage. Jeff, the guy from (water mitigation company)Servpro, was very helpful and informative. He arrived just as the plumber was leaving -- the plumber was not helpful.

On the gripping hand, the loan will mean that we won't have to worry too much about the construction budget. We decided to try to make the kitchen into a spare room. Can't be officially a bedroom because it doesn't have an alternative fire exit, but we don't use it as a kitchen.

I completely failed to notice that Tuesday was also Ame's birthday; I only remembered on Thursday when the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing reminded me. She would have beem 25 years old. (She assured me that it was ok, and besides, she has Curio now. Yes, some of my ghosts talk to me. It's comforting even though I know, intellectually, that it's all in my head. The grief is also in my head, so it works out.)

Links in the notes.

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

Bad week. Everything is falling apart at once.

The house has water damage in several places -- insurance will hopefully cover the immediate damage from the washer with the broken door seal, but the ancient drain pipes have also out, and the pre-existing damage *isn't* covered. And the upstairs washer is so full of wadded-up lint that it's not worth fixing; not clear whether a stuffy or something came apart in there, or it's just the same lint we've been gettig. Flawed design. The appliance guy didn't help, by not showing up TWICE, and not telling us about the problem on either of his two previous visits.

We brought Curio's ashes home yesterday. He's now sitting on the top shelf of the (appropriately enough) curio cabinet -- he can finally stay there as long as he wants. They also gave us a little clay tablet with his pawprints, and his name stamped into it. That's in the cabinet with his collar and the little packet of his fur, under the watchful eyes of the ceramic flying pig.

I'm secondary oncall at work this week (my first time; I somehow managed to avoid it so far), and feel like I've been falling farther behind every day despite working flat-out. I feel like I'm failing.

Not to mention the fact that I stupidly locked up my work laptop by typing my home machine's password at it, too many times, before I'd finished my coffee this morning. Because I stupidly set my screen background to the same picture of Curio as my home computer. I'm going to have to go in and get my account unlocked. (Added: the desktop worked -- apparently only the laptop was locked, because it wasn't on the VPN at the time -- so I was able to do the deployment I had scheduled, which went encouragingly smoothly; I'll get the lappy dealt with when I go in tomorrow morning.)

The fact that my psych meds were ineffective until we changed them a month ago didn't help, either. I was walking around in a fog of depression and apathy.

I'm burned out. I long to retire -- it would also help a lot to have somebody at home -- but don't see how I can afford to at this point. It will be next to impossible to get a new job at my age, no matter how much I need one, but I'm working on it, because $A is killing me.

The only good news is that my back seems to be pretty much back to normal, though I still have to be careful. And that, after I spoke with my TPM, I'm going to get some help with my late project. Things might not be as bleak as I feel. Might. Dinner and a talk with my Mom helped, too.

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

Rough week. I made it through only with help from Emmy and her friends, who were able to do the lifting I needed. Drove to work Thursday and Friday. Got a fairly large amount of work done, including yesterday and today. I'm continuing to lose weight; not entirely clear whether that's due to anxiety or the fact that I've been skipping breakfast. Initially that was because of the back, but now I seem to have gotten used to it.

I'm like a cat. When something is going wrong my first instinct is to crawl off in a corner and hide. Doesn't work.

I suspect that the depression has been killing my ability to focus; now that I'm finally coming out of it I can see the damage it's done, and work to mitigate it. Hopefully.

It's very clear that what makes me vulnerable to QL muscle problems is my love of shoulder bags (and to a lesser extent any unbalanced load). I have switched to backpacks. I have two rolling backpacks, but neither is especially comfortable as a backpack; I'm using the Lenovo backpack I got from $A. On the other hand, my back continues to improve; the last couple of days it's been down to an easily-ignorable ache most of the time. Walking helps, standing hurts. Taking the bus Monday was marginal due to the rough ride; I should be ok now that the pain is down to a manageable level. I've gone from being unable to move without the cane, to finding it more of a hindrance most of the time.

Posted Curio: Memories, pictures, and resources last Sunday, partly in response to a request for links. The raw links are in the notes, slightly updated from what I posted.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Not a whole lot to be thankful for, but...

  • My back being much better than it was last Thursday. Of course, that's not hard.
  • Not crying whenever something reminds me of Curio.
  • My cane.
  • Work as a distraction.
  • Good Drugs: methocarbamol, naproxen, acetaminophen, and bupropion in particular this week.
mdlbear: A brown tabby cat looking dubiously at a wireless mouse (curio)

I keep listening to the jingle of the little bell and tag on his collar. Our other cats are quiet little ninjas. When I couldn't find him I'd call his name and he'd jingle. When he stopped responding to his name I knew something was wrong.

I've said that he was "my cat", because he chose me and loved me and followed me, but in truth he was more Colleen's cat. She was the only one whose lap he would sit on. He would curl up there for hours, or sit on the footrest of her recliner, or lie on her chest next to her heart.

When he started being a picky eater, she was the one who made sure he ate, and chased the other cats away from his bowl. She fed him cat treats, and when we had bacon for breakfast she would break off pieces for him.

pictures under the cut. If you're on LJ, go over to Dreamwidth, which does a better job of scaling the pix. )

Finally, here are some links related to FIP:

links, cut for length. )
mdlbear: A brown tabby cat looking dubiously at a wireless mouse (curio)

Long month this last week. Last Sunday, when I st/rolled to the West Seattle street fair with Colleen and G, and swapped songs in the Great Room with N, G, and G's friend Ed, seems like it happened to somebody else, long ago.

It's now four days since I helped my dear friend Curio cross the Rainbow Bridge, and learned that I could cry again. Three days since I pulled my left QL muscle again, walked an agonizing third of a mile home from the bus stop, and re-learned how to use a cane. Less than two days since our friend Jim Pearce died.

My sister Naomi was there for me with Curio, and again after my injury. Colleen and I have cried on one another's shoulders more than once. Desti, our household incarnation of Bast, has sat with me and comforted me. Friends have written condolences. My back feels better this morning, but there are too many empty places in my heart, and they ache.

Please, Universe: I understand that life and health are fragile things. You don't have to keep reminding me.

Links and more in the notes, as usual.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: A brown tabby cat looking dubiously at a wireless mouse (curio)

A bear walks into a bar, and puts a dollar in the jar.

"Kahlúa and cream, Mike." It's not his usual genever, but he's not the first bear to order that drink this week. He takes it to the chalk line and stands for a while, sipping the drink and fingering something in his pocket. Finally, he raises the glass.

"To Curio!", he says, and flings the glass into the fireplace.

He was always my cat, ever since he walked up to me in the shelter two years ago and said so. My sister had to translate for him -- I wasn't very fluent in feline at the time.

He was the most outgoing and easygoing of our cats, always willing to accept attention from anybody, but I'm the one he followed around, and asked to be picked up and carried by. He spent a lot of time on Colleen's lap, too, and when he started getting picky about food, she would empty a can of catfood into a small bowl and make sure he ate it.

At night I would pat the laundry hamper in the hallway and say "Up", and he would jump up for me to carry upstairs to bed, though he often leapt out of my arms and ran up the stairs ahead of me. Most nights he slept on our bed.

I made a pad of folded leopard-print, fuzzy fabric and set it on my desk so that he could lie or sit there and be petted while I worked on the computer. He made an excellent villain's cat. He liked high places; I once found him on the highest shelf in our bathroom, afraid to come down. Perhaps he knew I'd come rescue him.

Maybe a month ago he started eating less, and became more solitary. His breathing became labored. His last two weeks I would often come home to find that he'd spent all day in our closet, or on the cool tiles of the shower stall. I would carry him to Colleen, but he would only pick at his food. His last week, he was completely miserable; we made the earliest appointment we could. It was barely soon enough.

you may want to skip this part. Wish I could have. )

Somewhere in there, Naomi reminded me that cats live in the moment, and we had done the best we could to make his last moments good ones, surrounded by the people he loved.

And he had one last gift for me: he taught me to cry again. Long ago, I forgot how. Thank you, Curio, for giving me back my tears.

The bear sits back down, and puts a tattered red collar on the table in front of him.

In the end, he walked across the Rainbow Bridge calmly, eyes open and tail held high. In Valhalla, he's finally able to go outside, get wasted on catnip, and sleep on the grass in the sunlight. In the evening he walks across the tables -- he was never a lap cat except for Colleen -- and begs for scraps from the feasting warriors. He's especially fond of beef.

Sometimes, late at night, he'll go visiting. There's a petrified forest where it's always twilight, and a glade where stands an Amethyst Rose with obsidian thorns as sharp as Curio's claws. Sometimes Bast goes with him. Bast willing, I'll see them again some day.

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Not much to be thankful for right now; it's been a bad month this week. I'll do what I can.

  • Two years with Curio, a wonderful cat who taught me just how much of a cat person I am, how to live in the moment, and several things I never knew about love.
  • Compassionate people.
  • Having a licensed massage therapist in the house when you need one.
  • Hot water.
  • Good Drugs. Special call-out this week to naproxen and methocarbamol.
  • Things not being worse.

NO thanks to

  • feline infectious peritonitis
  • my left quatratus lumborum muscle.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

L o n g  week. Nevertheless, it feels as though a whole lot of things didn't get done. A lot of things did, though.

Monday after work we went up to Mukilteo for Kat's 30th birthday dinner at the local Mongolian Grill. Um... does that mean my daughter is 30 years old? Eeeep! Also the drain pump on the upstairs washer died. Again.

Tuesday I had an appointment with the therapist at UW Shoreline Clinic. Possibly helpful. Now reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Also took Colleen to a dentist appointment in the afternoon.

I didn't get around to calling the repair place about the washer until Wednesday.

Thursday G came home from the hospital. I worked from home. We'd been planning a celebratory dinner, but everybody was just too wiped out, so we ordered pizza.

Friday the repair guy came out and made the obvious diagnosis, but didn't have a new pump on the truck. :P I went out to Trader Joe's and bought a pile of steaks for the delayed celebratory dinner.

Yesterday I was mostly a vegetable. Except for two loads of laundry (and four drier loads) -- thank goodness for the downstairs laundry room -- making dinner, a load of dishes, a not-entirely-successful PT session with G, ...

OK, I guess I've been doing things. I haven't been all that productive at work, though, which is a potential problem. I think I'm suffering from the fact that $WORK, like most workplaces these days, is explicitly set up only for extroverts. Not only is it open seating, without even cubicles, but you can't get anything done at all without interacting with other teams, and asking for help frequently. No wonder I seem to be burned out. I just hope I can make it to the end of the year, when my next batch of stock vests.

Oh, did I mention the back pain? Back pain. Left QL muscle.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

Not a great week, but not terrible. The new antidepressant seems to be helping, and I've been moderately productive. Well, at work, anyway. Wasted all morning Friday on chat with CenturyLink trying to figure out why gigabit internet is available for new accounts (like for our basement "apartment") but not for the line we already have. I'm most likely to simply open the new account and drop internet from the house phone. Having a hardwired phone is good for emergencies anyway.

Thursday I finally got over 10,000 steps; first time since I got the new phone, which includes an always-on pedometer app.

Went out to buy fans yesterday. Home Depot sold out two weeks ago; so did Target. Bed Bath and Beyond had them, but most were expensive. Ended up spending 40 on a stand fan for the Rainbow Room, and 30 for a table fan for Emmy. Really wanted box fans, but there were none to be had.

Colleen and I watched the fireworks on livestream from one of the local stations.

Lots of anxiety, still some depression, and a fair amount of back pain. The latter may be related to the chair I've been sitting in in the Rainbow Room -- it has inadequate back support. Will probably have to do something about that, because I need to spend more time with Colleen there. As for the depression, my overall mood seems to be up a little, but it may be more variable. Still get overwhelmed, and I seem to have gotten worse at functioning through it. We'll see whether the ramped-up dose improves things.

Lots of good links in the notes:

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Been a couple of weeks. Today, mostly, I am profoundly grateful that things are not as bad as they could have been. More specifically, I am grateful for

  1. Things not being worse. (Could that be because nobody has told me to cheer up recently?)
  2. My family
  3. Being alive
  4. Good Drugs
  5. Music
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Mixed. Very mixed. Mostly bad.

The good stuff first, I think: we managed to recapture the cats when they escaped on Tuesday, and I had a couple of fairly productive days at work. Maybe that should be "at", since several of them involved working from home. And, of course, the recent Supreme Court decisions. My feeds are still full of rainbows.

OTOH, it will take about $5K to get gas turned on for the house, unless we can figure out a way to install a furnace. Which will cost even more, though it will be more efficient our current electric heating, and save money in the long run. And the really bad news: G was in an accident. Not nearly as bad as it could have been -- just a badly broken left arm (humerus), and a hairline fracture of the left fibula near the ankle. The fact that it's hairline means that he will be able to walk on it as soon as he can tolerate the pain. The fact that the broken arm is on the same side means that he can't use crutches.

OTGH, I'm on a new antidepressant (bupropion, which I've heard good things about), and should know in a week or two whether it's helping. Meanwhile, I'm stressed, still very anxious about work, and altogether not all together.

A LOT to be thankful for, but still not a very good week for the family.

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

Rough week. My depression seems to have gotten worse (I have a doctor's appointment scheduled for Thursday and will discuss medication changes), stress from work has been high, my weight is back up after decreasing for a couple of weeks, and, and, and...

It doesn't help that last Sunday was Colleen's mother's birthday, and that today is Father's Day.

On the other hand, Colleen and I had a nice st/roll last week, to the local Farmer's Market about a mile away, which we plan on repeating today with the kids. Because Father's Day.

Pope Francis's much-anticipated encyclical, Laudato si' (24 May 2015), was an interesting read. Beautiful, though I found the theological parts baffling and a little disturbing. Clearly, I'm not part of the target audience; I hope it has a good effect on the people who are, though I don't have much hope. The Catholic Church has gone way the hell to the right since the '60s, when it was a prominent presence on the left.

Links and details in the notes.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Been a while. Not feeling particularly good, especially about myself. So...

  • Cats.
  • Ethanol.
  • Caffeine.
  • Silly stuff.
  • The Pope, mostly.
  • Hanging on by my fingernails.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

A much better week than it could have been. (That may not be saying all that much, but...) I've been dreading my first one-on-one with my new boss (formerly grandboss, but boss moved to a different group about a month ago and hasn't been replaced yet), because I haven't been nearly as productive as I should be. My best guess is that it's due to depression, which has been getting worse, but knowing that doesn't really help.

This article in The Atlantic cites research to the effect that deadlines, especially externally-set deadlines, help with procrastination. Duh. Also not particularly helpful.

LookingGlass Folk, on the other hand, got in two more practice sessions; things are going pretty well musically.

Elseweb, meanwhile, Bloomberg Business Week devoted an entire issue to a 38Kword article by Paul Ford titled What is Code?. The web version is interactive (with coding exercises, simulations, and other fun stuff), and a behind-the-scenes article elsewhere, What Is 'What Is Code?', points to the whole thing on GitHub. Ford's article is aimed at managers with no technical background; it's entertaining, highly readable, and highly recommended. I suspect that a certain bright middle-schooler would enjoy it.

More links in the notes.

raw notes, with links )

...a n d ... a trivial edit to get it crossposted after updating my passwords.

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

Another rather unproductive week; this has (finally?) started to worry me enough to put two and two together. Yup -- depression is a disability. Need to get my meds adjusted, I think.

Meanwhile, I lost my phone; it apparently fell out of my bag as I was getting off the bus on Wednesday. Bought a new one on Friday, since it was eligible for an upgrade. So I got the Samsung S5 Mini, which is the next version after the S3 Mini I lost. It's noticably faster, and has better battery life and some interesting features, but it's highly annoying to have to waste hours and hours changing passwords and configuring the new phone. Bletch. Oh, and I couldn't get into my AT&T online account, nor reset the password. After two long (the second was just short of an hour) phone calls, what finally worked was basically deleting the online account and re-registering. Good grief!

They're the phone company; they don't have to have good customer service. Neither, apparently, does Olejo, the company I ordered Emmy's new futon frame from.

On the gripping hand, we had a couple of good band sessions.

Links and more in the notes.

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

... in ysabetwordsmith's Poetry Fishbowl!. Today's theme is "outgrowing old ideas."

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

Lookingglass Folk has started getting back into regular band work sessions (around noon on Sundays), and had a good discussion last week about playlists. And I posted a s4s (Songs for Saturday) post yesterday. So that's good. And I got some nice, and much-needed, cat time from Curio and Desti.

On the other hand, a lot of depression, anxiety, and overload this week. I'm... ok?... at the moment, but have very low expectations. The fact that depression can be counted as a disability is interesting, but it doesn't actually help -- I can't use it as an excuse for not getting stuff done. Even though work has often seemed like more than I can handle, even though I don't seem to be operating at anything close to the level I need to be at. Which, of course, feeds back into the depression and anxiety.

Help! I'm being attacked by vicious circles!

Links, and more, in the notes.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: Welcome to Rainbow's End (sign) (rainbows-end)

In view of this article in praise of clutter, on NYTimes.com, it seems like a good idea to post "Bigger On the Inside" as today's Song for Saturday, a tradition that has been sadly lacking of late. Note especially the lines ""It's all the friendly clutter here / That makes it feel like home." Yeah, that.

I don't seem to have a recording of the most recent version, but The Baycon 2011 version does have audio: [ogg] [mp3]

This is very much our household's anthem.

Bigger On The Inside

© 1991, 2014 Stephen Savitzky. Creative Commons by-nc-sa License Some Rights Reserved.

Our house is bigger on the inside than it looks from on the street
There must be something odd about the way the corners meet.
We warn our friends about it, but they always seem surprised,
And I sometimes can't imagine how our stuff all fits inside.
    We have computers, toys, and magazines, and quiet cozy    nooks;
    The bathroom's lined with cedar planks, and the living room with books.
    There's boxes full of god- knows-what  in the attic up above,
    And we always keep good company and love.
Colleen is halfway buried as she crochets up a quilt 
I'm getting in some songs before my voice begins to wilt.
Kids are shouting back in Emmy's room, the pizza's getting hot;
Folks come over every Wednesday whether we're at home or not.
When we moved North to Rainbow's End some things got re-arranged;
The family's gotten bigger, but the main things haven't changed.
Folks are singing in the Great Room, and the chili's getting hot;
They come over every Sunday whether we're at home or not.
    We have computers, toys, and magazines, and quiet cozy    nooks;
    The bathroom's lined with tiles and the living rooms with books.
    There's boxes full of god- knows-what  in the cupboards up above,
    And we always keep good company and love.
There's a gallery of science-fiction pictures in the hall,
And something's taped or bolted on to each square foot of wall.
Our children's closets look just like a baby dragon's hoard;
It's true that we're disorganized, but at least we're seldom bored.
There's a guest crashed on the futon couch who's too wiped out to leave,
And something in the fridge that's been there since last Christmas eve.
We're packed in five dimensions, and through the twilight zone,
It's all the friendly clutter here that makes it feel like home.

Inspired by a friend's account of a visit to our house. At the Younger Daughter's insistence I have pluralized ``daughters'' in verse 2, and at the older's insistence changed the name in verse 3. Now, of course, ``some things got rearranged'', and the former verse 2 has moved down to verse 4, where ``daughters'' has become ``children''.

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

Rough week, mostly. Especially from Sunday through Tuesday; Naomi speculated that I may have been fighting off a bug. It's also possible that it was due to hypoglycemia or something else. Colleen's health is better, so that's something. The recent changes are, finally, working.

Curio's weight is back up -- almost to where the vet said it should be -- and I've been getting some good cat therapy from him and Desti. Cricket, though, has been a little escape artist. We're having to make sure she's locked up if more than one person tries to go out.

My workgroup is moving, so I worked from home Thursday and Friday -- that helps. I'm not enjoying work much, though; that's a problem.

Form CC-305 OMB Control Number 1250-0005 [pdf] "Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability" came by at work, and it lists major depression under "Disabilities include, but are not limited to". So (after sleeping on it) I checked the damned box. The label says "YES, I HAVE A DISABILITY (or previously had a disability)", so it doesn't matter whether I can handle it now. Not clear that I can, really. The label on the box is amusingly reminiscent of "Are you now or have you ever been..." -- which I guess is one of the reasons I hesitated.

Links in the notes.

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

The week's notable events were Mother's Day (including an expedition to the Burke Museum with the Younger Daughter), and Rika's house concert on Thursday. The latter was very thinly attended, but we had fun anyway. We have seating for 25-30 people. I found a couple of folding camp chairs on sale at Walgreen's for $10; used one last night for a couple of songs.

I turned up several long-missing items in the course of re-arranging furniture and looking for other missing items (which of course were nowhere to be found -- there may be a conservation law in effect here). Emmy put the Great Room into concert configuration and back; she's kind of unobtrusively amazing.

In the software area, I now have a workable 2-monitor configuration using x2x(1) between nova (the "server", running Debian Jessie) and trantor (the "desktop", running Ubuntu Trusty Taur). It's a very usable setup, if slightly odd-looking.

I'm back with my own group at work, though still working on some of the stuff I've been on loan to. I'm not really happy there, but it's a job.

ETA: and I somehow managed to post this a day early. :P

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

Hmm. Long week. The week included a lot of moving stuff around setting things back up after the wedding; that's probably what's behind my current back problems. (See QOTD from yesterday.)

My loaner project at work is winding down, though not as quickly as I'd like. Not feeling very good about work right now.

On the gripping hand, the Great Room looks fantastic, with much more room in its new configuration (blue couch in the SE corner). And Colleen's new baker's rack nightstand has been installed, and looks great. And I upgraded Nova to Debian Jesse, which rocks. (Not entirely clear what I'll do with the extra monitor space; possibly mostly devote it to the to.do file, which I usually edit on Nova anyway when I'm at home. x2x rocks, too.

I have to tell you about x2x(1). (For those of you still stuck on legacy operating systems, the equivalent is synergy or, if one of your machines runs linux, x2vnc.) It's the exact opposite of a remote desktop application (which you get for free in Linux) -- it lets you share a mouse and keyboard between multiple computers. You just sit their displays side by side, tell x2x which edges are next to one another, and your mouse slides smoothly between them, taking the keyboard with it. Cut and paste work perfectly. Indispensable. I also set it up at work, between my desktop and laptop.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

me: I keep reminding my back that when I told people I was going to spend this weekend recovering from last weekend, I meant it as a joke. My back isn't listening. I think it's related to a cat.

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

Long week. Long day yesterday. Contented bear, but my back hurts and I'm not as conscious as I might be.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way: things continued to go full speed sideways at work, and the car was in fact totalled in the accident. I cleaned it out Tuesday and spent some time grieving -- I really liked that car, and it had served us well for a decade.

Apart from that, it's been awesome. I finished the maypole on Sunday - literally, with sandpaper and Watco Danish oil. Had fun showing it off to the builders and friends. Wedding guests started arriving Wednesday.

The Great Room was cleared out (mostly onto the balcony) and decorated with billows of rainbow-colored fabric hanging from the beams. It made a really amazing space. It still makes an amazing space; we'll be leaving the fabric up for the forseeable future even after the furniture is brought back in.

The ceremony itself, officiated by Heather Dale, was one of the most moving weddings I have ever attended. Not just the musical part ("As I Am", which was a wonderful choice and worked perfectly with the choreography), but the vows they made not only to one other but to the children.

The music afterwards was also pretty amazing.

The technical aspects -- the maypole and my admittedly minimal but functional PA setup -- came off perfectly.

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

The First of May, the First of May...

International Labor Day.

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

Productive week. Very. Also a very bad week. Let me explain.

On the productive side, we -- mostly I, actually -- did some final clearing-out and organizing in the garage, and Kat and Glenn got their piles of stuff out. The maypole's cross-section went from a square with rounded corners to an actual circle, and it looks remarkably Polish now. Colleen got her catheter and bag, so we have a greatly-reduced laundry and garbage load. A lot of the framing in the addition has been done, and the garage portion is a couple of feet bigger than I expected it to be. It was also a pretty productive week at work.

On the bad side, I got into a fender-bender -- my own stupid fault -- so we don't have the Honda right now. And I could have used it yesterday. And Colleen's new prosthetic bladder means that she can't take baths. Which means no walk-in tub. And a screw vibrated loose on the router, which could have been drasticaly bad but wasn't. And my back was hurting for much of the week.

On the in side (where every silver lining has a cloud around it), not getting a walk-in tub means saving tens of thousands on the upstairs remodeling. And it's practically impossible to be depressed while wielding a jointer plane. Found that out last night.

Links in the notes as usual.

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

Mixed? L O N G week. I got my taxes filed (at almost the last minute, with glitches), and got the router jig finished (with some problems, which I hopefully fixed yesterday). But I've also been a lot less productive than I need to be at work; that's potentially a huge problem.

Yesterday we got the garage cleaned out (to the extent necessary) with the help of a couple of day laborers that N. hired. They did a fantastic job, in about half the time we'd expected. There are still huge piles of boxes and things that will have to be moved eventually, but it's all in the area that's going to become a garage, and there's space around it. (There's also a huge pile of lumber stacked on the workbench that's going to be moved into the garage after they're done. And the playroom and downstairs hallway are full of boxes, waiting for the shelves that haven't been put up yet. And and and...)

Links in the notes as usual.

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

As often happens, I managed to end the week feeling frustrated and unproductive despite getting, actually, quite a lot done. Past failings have the most to do with it, as in I didn't restart working on taxes until Saturday evening, at which point I got around to noticing that the printed returns from the last two tax years have gone missing. And I couldn't find the final sale documents from the Starport, either, so made do with the estimates. Doesn't matter because everything but the depreciation I took last year was excluded. And of course I hadn't yet gone through my charity and business receipts. AAARGH!

Clearly, my record-keeping sucks. And I haven't been practicing. And things are somewhat behind at work. I need to work on these things.

On the plus side, though, I did make progress on my work project, and even got one of my more questionable design decisions validated (so that's work I *don't* have to redo). And I made a phone call I've been putting off for months, and got the thing done, and it wasn't as bad or as embarrassing as I expected it to be. And I've gotten a lot done on house projects (because anything is more than fun than taxes, including shifting boxes around and taking out the garbage).

And my laptop is fixed. Also in the computer area, I'm getting pretty good at configuring new Ubuntu installs. :/ And I found a ThinkPad USB Keyboard w Integrated Touchpad on eBay, at a price way too good to pass up. (I've been seeing them going for over $400!) Unlike more recent versions, this one has a built-in 2-port USB hub, and a small touchpad that recognizes 2-finger scrolling. (But not, ironically, on a Mac. Though since it doesn't have a logo key, it's useless on a Mac anyway.) I'm not expecting to get the leather carrying case, since this is a used item.

And my family is, as usual, awesome. Including the four-footed members. My health is holding out pretty well. Physical health, anyway. (Notice how I resisted the temptation to add a string of qualifications that amount to me not taking as good care of myself as I could.) (Notice how I used "could" in that sentence instead of "should".) That's progress, of a sort. I'll take it.

On the whole, looking at the above, I think this has been a pretty decent week, even with the taxes unfinished. Links in the notes, as usual.

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

The perceptive reader will have noticed that as of April 1st I have stopped putting a space between the numerical date and the day of the week. This saves approximately 10ms/day, and may be the most productive thing I've done all week.

Or else not. I took Cygnus in for repairs, set up a desktop computer to replace it, got the remodeling contract signed, went to appointments with the dentist and the urologist, picked up Colleen's repaired sewing machine, built the jig for turning the maypole, fixed the Honda's bumper, paid some bills, and set up a laptop in the Rainbow Room for watching livestreams.

It is a measure of how much stuff I'm not getting done that this can still be considered lazy and unproductive. The main problem is taxes, but there are others.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Today I'm thankful for...

  • Livestreamed video.
  • Finding stuff Curio will eat.
  • My family.
  • My team at work. Nothing like being loaned out for a quarter to highlight the differences.
  • Affordable LED lighting, pocket supercomputers, and other wonders of modern technology.
  • Gear. Sometimes the oddest stuff comes in handy.
  • Decent keyboards.
  • Rain. Also, not being in California anymore, where they don't have it.
mdlbear: (lemming)

With bonus poisson d'Avril.

mdlbear: (tsunami)

Not a good week. Nightmares and (almost entirely silent) meltdowns. Mostly panic over taxes and other money problems, though the fact that Curio isn't eating well doesn't help, nor does ongoing work stress, nor taxes.

On the other hand, I did (finally) go out and get the wood for the Maypole; it was a great deal more expensive than I expected, but... ok. Nobody has redwood, and nobody has cedar longer than 12'. N. suggested using a Christmas tree stand; that will probably work and has some distinct advantages. Like, not putting a hole in the lawn.

I wasted several hours yesterday and today booting up (or trying to) several different old computers, because my laptop is in poor shape. I'll take it in for service on Tuesday. Also wasted a lot of time and spoons fighting with the mac mini. MacOS is almost unusable as of Yosemite; they even turn off scrollbars by default! IDIOTS! Back to using the laptop today, because I decided to do a thorough backup before taking it in. So far it seems to be behaving itself.

Also wasted a great deal of time looking for tax info, which I was too careless and/or stupid to keep track of. That's looking to be another nightmare, what with selling the Starport.

At least the Honda has its mirror and is otherwise working pretty well; service came in well north of two grand, which is about what I expected. They didn't fix the bumper -- I'll probably have to go to a body shop for that. Unless I can fix it myself, which isn't impossible. I think all it's going to need is a few whacks with a deadblow hammer.

My mood hasn't been improved much by getting unfriended over a FB post. Wouldn't mind much except that I liked the person in question, but her posts have been getting more stridently conservative lately, and I'd been getting more and more uncomfortable reading them. My post was a re-share of the link she'd shared and agreed with, with my comment:

Re: Superintendent Stands Up In A Big Way For Principal Facing Atheist Backlash This has attracted a lot of highly predictable agreement from conservative Christians. Ask yourselves this -- would it still be ok if the principal had been quoting from the Koran? How about the Satanic Bible? Do you imagine, even for a moment, that he would still have his job in that case? Because what you would think about that is *exactly* what an atheist thinks about his bible quotes.

Well?

I'll admit that the second paragraph is a bit gratuitously confrontational, but I don't think it's out of line considering the article and the massively approving reactions it got from the original poster and her friends. *sigh*

Looks like I won't be going to Indiana for a while, either.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

Very mixed week. On the positive side, I had a terrific birthday brunch at Salty's with Colleen and Emmy, my weight is down (and about time!), I've been sleeping less, we got the rest of the garage cleared, and the garden is being professionally worked on (Naomi's birthday present to me). On the negative side, I got very little work done, I went into a full-on depressive meltdown Wednesday night, my health insurance company announced a major data breach, I've been sleeping less, and the garage work hurt more than it did two weeks ago, when I actually lifted more.

The observant reader will note that sleeping less is in both categories: I like the extra time in the morning, but it probably isn't good for me and I end up being pretty useless earlier in the evening.

I finished reading Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky last night. Very informative about the bad effects of stress, and how it works. Very little about how to manage it -- pretty much the only concrete suggestion is exercise, and that only helps if you want to do it (forced exercise is stressful). Which I don't. Except for walking, and even that often hurts too much to be enjoyable. Possibly because of stress. This is called "being attacked by a vicious circle". Vicious little feedback loops with big sharp teeth.

I may need to think should be thinking seriously about finding a less stressful job. The problem with that is that I probably can't afford to. Meanwhile, I get angry at the idiot headhunters who keep offering me jobs in Silicon Valley, and try to keep my head above water while swimming madly upstream in the Amazon. Which is less metaphorical than I'd like.

Lots of good links in the notes.

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

Strange week. The first half, at least, was terrific -- I was in New Orleans for a symposium at Pittcon | Conference & Expo. The symposium itself, sponsored by my mother in honor of my father, was Monday morning. Since everyone else arrived Sunday evening and I got in late Saturday, I had all day Sunday to myself to explore the French Quarter. Which I did.

I ended up walking six or so miles, which was surprisingly easy. Of course, it was all completely flat, but still. Spent about $50 buying CDs from street bands. I hadn't brought a guitar, and didn't need it -- didn't do any singing at all. Lots of good conversation, though. People I haven't seen in a decade and a half.

The symposium, Chemical Heritage Foundation - New Perspectives on the History of Infrared Instrumentation, was Monday morning. The high point was Foil Miller's talk: Anecdotes Involving Some Infrared Pioneers. At 99, he's "old enough to have known many of the pioneers of infrared spectroscopy personally", as it says in the abstract. It was followed by a luncheon at the Bourbon House. New Orleans is mostly about the food and the music.

Friday was my birthday. I turned 44 (hexadecimal), a number which contains two "1" bits, so I suggested that my cake have two candles on it. Saturday was, as everybody reading this probably knows, "The Pi Day of the Century"; I managed to get posts out at 9:26 on DW/LJ, Twitter, and Facebook.

The work week was short, frustrating, and unproductive even for a short week. The team I'm on loan to wants me to do my work in a new framework, which was only explained to me last week, and isn't even fully implemented yet, let alone documented. :P

I've been wondering why I always have so much pain when I get home from work, but not from walking all day in New Orleans. I'm beginning to think it's stress. Bletch.

And of course Terry Pratchett died. He was two years younger than me.

Links in the notes, as usual.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: (120-cell)
Not sure how close I'll get; using the web client in part because I can tweak the posting time. Also queued up on FB and Twitter.
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

So today I am 0x44 years old, and thankful for

  • Surviving this long.
  • My family. Especially Mom, this time.
  • A chance to visit New Orleans (for the first time) and see lots of people I hadn't seen for 15 years or more.
  • Beignets and cafe au lait at midnight.
  • Coming home.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Really stressed and depressed most of the week; I suspect it's because I was thinking of my father, who I miss terribly. Mom is funding a symposium in his honor at Pittcon, which is why I'm in New Orleans. I've spent most of today walking around the French Quarter and buying CDs from street musicians. Which I'll probably talk more about later this week, or next week.

Yesterday was the travel day. My 24" Travelpro suitcase turns out to be the perfect size for a carry-on; it's probably the biggest that will fit in the overhead bin on a 747 without forcing it. Need a name for that one. I took Max (the sling bag) and a collapsable duffel that's perfect as a second, under-seat bag -- it holds Max plus a stack of magazines plus a snack, with room left over. Wouldn't have worked if I'd decided to take Plink, though. That'll probably require a custom gig bag.

Lots of puttering in the garage and around the house, and I put new batteries in Colleen's power chair. The old ones were practically dead; the new ones were expensive but should last a good while.

... and it looks like CC&S qualifies me for an associate membership in SFWA; at around 7000 words, it falls a little short of the qualification for full memership. Think I should go for it?

Links in the notes, as usual. Bear should go splat.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Back on schedule, for the moment. Today I'm thankful for...

  • Chocolate, gin, and being able to afford them reasonably often.
  • My family, local and extended.
  • Getting things moving.
  • Public transportation.
  • Our cats.
  • My health. No thanks to Colleen's health, though her doctor may have a handle on some of it.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Pretty good week, actually, though things are going more slowly at work than I'd like. Meanwhile, we had the organizers (from a company called Eliminate Chaos) in on Monday; they (with me and Naomi) got through half the garage. More, really, because there's more empty space in the half we didn't get to.

About 40 boxes of books, a lot of luggage, and several boxes of fabric were brought into the house for later. I'm going to have some shelf-building to do. Fortunately we also have a lot of shelving components. And a sizeable pile of stuff for Chaos(wolf) to haul off.

Perhaps inspired by this, Emmy arranged with our housekeeper to get her room cleaned, which makes room for the futon that's in the garage. Whee!

Meanwhile, I have been trying various stress-reduction techniques. The hot bath I took on Wednesday did a great job of un-knotting my back. Have to do that more often.

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

Happy first of March. In like a lamb, here in Seattle.

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

On Thursday my massage therapist gave me the assignment of researching methods of reducing stress, and to pick a few to use. Along the way I found this page, which included a test to assess one's level of stress. 19 or over is considered "high". I scored 30.

Anyway, here's the list:

Keep doing these:
Cat therapy -- especially Curio, who is an excellent villain's cat.
cuddling -- I seem to be touch-dominant, and often forget that fact because it doesn't really fit my self-image.
Do more:
music -- I often forget how good music is for me.
massage -- great when I can get it.
play with stress toys (balls, putty, worry stones,...) -- this seemed like an easy one to add.
Writing (journaling, poetry) -- My weekly "done" posts sort of count, I guess; the point is not to be writing about anything in particular but simply the act of writing.
Hot baths -- a bath takes time, but it's very relaxing and helps me get to sleep, so I should take them more often.
Add:
breathing exercises -- this is an easy one to add whenever I think of it. Even doing just three or four deep breaths is remarkably relaxing.
progressive relaxation -> bedtime?
drink a cup of tea. (comes under the heading of calming rituals)
positive self-talk affirmations? coping statements Stress card wallpaper! -- Some of my sources talked about making a card with positive self-talk on it. Screen wallpaper sounds like a better bet for me.
Harder: -- most of these are hard because they require a solid block of time.
DELEGATE (stress reduction) ... but this one is hard because it requires asking people to do stuff for me.
meditation/mindfulness -- I've been trying the "mindfullness of doors" exercise on and off; mostly off because it's really hard to think of in the moment. Which is, of course, the point. Maybe I should count "the mindfulness of dishwashers".
guided imagery -- ISTR I have a collection of mp3s from Kaiser that I could use for this.
spending time in nature. Trails or parks. Bike riding.
Tai chi / yoga -- this would require actually going out and joining a group. Not to mention finding the time. EEP! Very hard.

The common thread, I think, is that many of these are things I know are good for me / enjoyable / relaxing -- but I still don't take time to do them, or even think about doing them. That probably says something important, but I don't know what.

Advice? Discussion? The notes below were roughly in the order I found them -- the first few came off the top of my head, followed by various websites.

the original notes, with links )

And now I'm going to stop, post this, pet my cat, and make some ginger tea.

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

Actually a pretty good week, modulo dysthymia, stress, and back pain. Productive. We found a great garden sculpture company at the home show, and I did a lot of work in the garage yesterday. Including bringing up the hanging lamp that used to be in our kids' room (later the sewing room) at the Starport, and hanging it in the Rainbow Room to replace the floor lamp I broke on Tuesday.

We had music Thursday night, which was also a big win. Details in the notes. I need to sing more.

The L-tryptophan appears to be working. In other mood-related news, I took an online test to see whether I'm experiencing stress. High is 19+; I scored a 30. Ya think? I'm under orders from my massage therapist to research ways of reducing/managing stress. Helpguide.org is one of the best sites I've found so far.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Today I'm grateful for...

  • Good advice from my massage therapist.
  • Cat therapy.
  • Self help websites. Special call-out to Helpguide.org, where I'm researching stress reduction tonight.
  • Music night. People who like my songs.
  • An OS that doesn't come pre-installed with crapware. (People with strong opinions about the systemd controversy may disagree.)
  • Working for a company whose website's users are customers, not product.
  • Sleep.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I have been a Productive Bear this week, mostly in the garage, though I also wrote and posted a poem. (The first version was typed into the comment box on LJ, which may not be the best way to work, but whatever gets words onto silicon is ok.)

I also dealt with repair people -- we now have a functioning washer, scooter, and lift chairs.

Wednesday I read the recently-republished "Vanishing Act" in Lapham’s Quarterly, and so encountered The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett. I finished it yesterday. Simply amazing. A brilliant fantasy, written by a nine-year-old girl, that... I don't know. Just go read it.

I also had to deal with a fair amount of pain, especially in the evening. No fun. And Tuesday the stream of bad news and idiocy on Facebook got to me, to the point where I wrote "I am too cynical and depressed to continue reading facebook tonight.". Bah! There are better things:

Yesterday was, of course, Valentine's Day; I spent most of the day in the Rainbow Room with Colleen listening to music, and made a most excellent dinner consisting of lobster tails, beef Wellington, crab-stuffed mushrooms, and asparagus. All for roughly the price of a rather cheap dinner out. I'm not complaining.

Links in the notes, of course.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: (space colony)

Round Dance - 2138

It looks nothing at all like the old pictures.

Every lunar morning the little robot scoop-trucks
Fan out from their bases on the mare and
Scuttle back to where they left off.

They lower their scoops at the edge of the excavation,
Each one eating its fill of the rich lunar dust.
Then they raise their scoops,
Reverse to get clear,
Turn counter-clockwise,
And scuttle back to their base to dump their load.

They make as many trips as they can
Before the night can strand them.

Just as they reach their base by twilight
The railgun, its batteries full of the long day's sunlight,
Fires its daily rounds toward L2.

We have danced this dance for a hundred years tonight.

From the February 2015 Crowdfunding Creative Jam, inspired by an image prompt: lunar mining by ysabetwordsmith.

The poem is set 100 years after the hacker exodus of 2038. The factories described here are fully autonomous; their fleet of scoop-trucks can pick them up by their flanges amd move them when they have cleared an area too large to cover in a lunar day. The AIs that run them are gentle and generous, and most have taken up crafting of some sort as a hobby.

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Today I am thankful for...

  • Expert repair people who fix stuff. The house now has two more working lift chairs, one more working scooter, and one more working washer than it did on Wednesday.
  • Stuff that works.
  • Flexible work scheduling.
  • My drugs of choice: ethanol and caffeine.
  • Links to Good Stuff.
  • Finding things I had misplaced.
  • Pizza with anchovies.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The two big items this week are my new song, and the apparent success of L-tryptophan in treating my depression. The song is definitely a keeper. I think it's probably too early to tell for sure about the tryptophan.

Music was big even without the song -- the week was bracketed by the last day of Conflikt at the far end, and last night's Tricky Pixie concert at the near end. Both were amazing.

The Wolfling recorded our debut performance of Travelers: you'll find her videos on YouTube. Watch Where The Heart Is and Windward. It came off surprisingly well for a brand-new song.

More links, as usual, in the notes.

raw notes, with links )

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