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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.
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. 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, 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 )
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

I wrote a song last weekend, "Windward". (Here's the original post for reference; you'll note that the lyrics have changed somewhat since then.) It quickly became part of a matched set, since it made much more sense to sing it with the original. Thursday when we sang them for Emmy, Naomi came up with the title "Travelers" for the pair.

This is the second time we've done a pair of songs -- our first was "The Bears" -- "A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear" and Naomi's brilliant "A Tribute to the Middle-Aged Bear". Only this time Naomi wrote the original and I wrote the parody.

Parody isn't exactly the right word for it, of course. Adaptation might be closer. In both cases, what started out as an obvious and silly throw-away ended up cutting deeper than expected, more of a complement than a commentary. It's an absolute delight when this happens. (It's also a delight when you approach the original songwriter worried about whether you'll still be friends after they've read your lyrics, and their response is ``This is brilliant!'')

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

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

So only one day late this time. (Or a week and a day, depending on how you choose to look at it.) Today I am thankful for

  • L-tryptophan. It's too early to be sure, but the effect on my mood seems to have been almost immediate. It goes on my...
  • Amazon subscriptions. Because going out at the last minute for stuff you know you're going to need every damned month really sucks.
  • Conflikt.
  • Having a new song come out way better than I expected.
  • Wheels for Feet, which in spite of being a tiny operation with a clunky web site turns out to be a good place to rent a scooter for the weekend. NO thanks to Spinlife, which still hasn't fixed Colleen's scooter, two months and counting.
  • A work laptop that runs Linux and is small enough to fit in my sling bag. I know, I've mentioned it before. I'm still thankful for the technology that makes my work comfortable.
  • X forwarding over ssh. Likewise.
  • My family. I haven't mentioned them lately, but I love them all dearly. And they put up with me -- truly something to be thankful for.
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

So, yeah. This week's big news is that I wrote a song (see previous post, and maybe the next one as well). It feels good -- I should do it more often. We also did some more garage-clearing. There's now about a three-foot strip cleared -- only about 17 more to go :P.

Apart from the post-songwriting high I've been pretty depressed, and my back has been giving me trouble. Makes for bad evenings. At least I've been able to get out of going on call while I'm on loan to another team, so that took a little pressure off. And my L-tryptophan arrived, which may help my mood. (One of the reasons for stopping my SSRI was to see whether an alternative would work better. Too early to tell.)

Oh, yes. Conflikt. As is usual for cons I was frazzled and unhappy right up to the last minute before leaving, compounded this time by having to rent a scooter. Spinlife will be getting a bill for that, though I doubt they'll pay it. Not much singing so far -- we've been too tired to stay up for the circles. We will get to the Smoked Salmon this evening, though, since it starts at a sane time. And we have a song to sing.

Anyway. Links in the notes, as usual.

raw notes, with links )

For luck!

Feb. 1st, 2015 07:43 am
mdlbear: (chernobyl bunny)
Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

New song

Jan. 31st, 2015 09:32 pm
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

This is the song I posted a fragment of in mdlbear | Bits from three works in progress. It's finished now; the title has been changed from "Wherever" to Windward.


Lyrics © 2015 Steve Savitzky;
ttto: ``Where the Heart Is'' by Naomi Rivkis and Callie Hills

My grandmother came from Odessa
Left on the wings of a wild winter storm.
She swam the Atlantic in winter
To a place where her eggs would be sheltered and warm.
She pushed through the crowd at the beachhead to lay them
Crawled back to sea with a satisfied smile;
She said as she swam through the warm Caribbean,
"Now this is my home now, well at least for a while."
    And she told her new friends with a laugh in her eyes,
    Said, "I followed my heart, and the heart never lies.
    And where the wind takes me no turtle can tell,
    But I'm always at home in the seas where I dwell,
    Because home is wherever I carry my shell."
I was born within sight of Manhattan,
Knew the scent of the Hudson too deeply to speak
You swam Puget Sound with the salmon
And I loved you before I had known you a week.

I'd swum round Cape Horn on my way to Alaska
We met off Vancouver as I paddled through;
You smiled as you showed me your islands and beaches
But your eyes held the question Grandmother's friends knew.
    But I said, "I love travel as much as your eyes,
    So I'll follow my heart and the heart never lies.
    And where the wind takes me no turtle can tell,
    But I'm always at home in the seas where I dwell,
    Because home is wherever I carry my shell."
The water kept rising unnoticed,
A little bit warmer and wilder each year
Came a time when we couldn't deny it:
That the beach we called home would too soon disappear.
So we'll spend a few decades and visit our children,
They're swimming the seas from New Zealand to Nome.
We will leave with the tide, let the waves take us windward,
But whereever we wander we'll always be home.
    And I can't speak illusions, the pain to disguise
    But we've brought our hearts here and the heart never lies.
    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."
mdlbear: (lemming)

So... I've seen this several places. Snippets from three works in progress.

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

Unlike many previous weeks, this one appears to have gone from bad to good (see mood). This is almost entirely because of yesterday -- I got the pot rack up (finally), found a replacement post for the broken one on the cat tree, had a pleasant conversation with a stranger, and noticed that I was cheerful on the way back from getting dinner.

That's the big one -- I wasn't depressed, and I noticed that I wasn't depressed. At the time. And even had a fairly accurate name for it. I fully expect to go back to dysthymia and alexithymia tomorrow, but for now, I'll take it.

We had two technician visits -- one for the phone (which had become unreliable due to the rat's nest of wires in the garage), and one for Colleen's medical equipment. It looks like Spinlife will make good on the bungled orders and repairs, but it's still taking altogether too long.

I've been fairly productive, even apart from the pot rack, with garage-clearing.

Notable quote from a week ago: "Villain's cat. Because if I can't feel good about myself, I can at least feel *evil* about myself." Which probably sums things up pretty well for the week.

Links in the notes.

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

Closer... Today I'm thankful for

  • Friends who come over and cook.
  • Left over rice == fried rice for breakfast!
  • X11, gnome-panel, and the ability to work remotely.
  • More generally, good tools.
  • Being able to answer "50 years" when asked how long I've been in the (software) industry.
  • ETA: Being able to answer "over 50 years" when asked how long I've been playing guitar.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It's been a week of not liking myself much. In part this is due to working on a self-assessment and peer feedback at work; this is not conducive to a good mood.

Friday was pretty good -- I had my first 1-on-1 since my boss got back from a month's vacation, and he was at least not discouraging. And when I stopped by my desk (I'm on loan to another group for a few months; this was my first week there) to pick up the power brick for my new laptop, I discovered that there was a party going on. Gin, hard cider, and an interesting new person went a long way toward improving my mood.

(Saturday was, of course, back to depressingly normal, and today's been discouraging. Especially since it included waking up at 3am. Does that count for Saturday? I'm going to say "Yes": the day doesn't start until I've had coffee.)

As I mentioned, I'm on loan to another group for a while. Same building I was in before our last move; closer to the bus stop. I tried working remotely, but a Windows laptop sucks for that. The HP EliteBook they gave me in trade is less capable on an objective basis, but it's running Ubuntu, which is a major win. Plus, it's about half the weight of my old Dell, and fits in my sling bag. So... also win.

Realized Wednesday night when I found myself doing dishes that I do dishes in order to feel useful. Being useful is one of the few ways I can reliably make myself feel less bad about myself, so I'll take it. And I can usually control it, which I suppose is why I take it so hard when I try to be useful, but fail. Like this afternoon.

Oh, and the new tech from Spinlife will be out tomorrow to work on Colleen's lift chairs, scooter, and power chair. It will probably take another visit, because the tech who came out over a month ago was an idiot. Spinlife will eat the difference in cost for extra visits and mis-ordered parts, hopefully without my having to hire a lawyer to shove it down their throats.

Links in the notes.

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

Well, not quite as late as last week -- that's something. Today I'm thankful for

  • Getting our net/phone wiring fixed. The former rat's nest has been simplified; it'll cost us $89 for an inside-wiring job, but it was worth it.
  • An Ubuntu laptop at work. I needed it because I'm on loan to another group, and working remotely through Windows is a nightmare. Sweet little HP EliteBook; not as capable as the Dell I've had for the last year, but without Windows it doesn't need to be; it's half the weight and fits in my sling bag.
  • Maybe doing better at work than my own self-assessment led me to believe.
  • Gin, hard cider, and new friends.
  • My family.
  • Our house. I still miss some things about the Starport, but Rainbow's End is truly wonderful.
  • added: Wikipedia, source of the new wild turkey icon.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Yeah. So...

  • Salvageable parts.
  • My family. My cats. A roof over our heads and enough to eat.
  • Finding things that Curio likes to eat. Who knew that he would prefer cat food that has veggies mixed in with the meat?
  • "Comix" that aren't always funny, but that speak to me anyway.
  • Goodwill.

NO thanks to:

  • Extremists.
  • Depression.
  • Tight finances.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Not a particularly good week. One of my self-observations yesterday kind of sums it up: "Too much stuff, too many things that need doing, not enough cope, no motivation." Not to mention Congress, Charlie Hebdo, depression comix, two dead computers (which, fortunately, I didn't have much invested in to begin with), starting my self-assessment at work, and starting to clear out our garage.

Self-assessment. Yeah; nothing like working with brilliant, productive, experienced people to make me feel stupid, lazy, and incompetent. Especially when many of them are younger than one of my kids.

Some really fascinating stuff in the links.

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

Well, our anniversary weekend passed without a party -- somehow I'd had the impression that we were having one, but everyone else had the impression that the one the Saturday after Christmas counted for both. So... ok. I went out and got salads, cheese, sausage, scallops, and bacon. Bacon-wrapped scallops, and cheese boards for two. Yum.

Thursday we ordered Chinese from Yen Wor Village -- not as good as Yu Shan, but better than any of the other local places that deliver.

Lots and lots of decluttering, both in my to-do lists and, to a lesser extent, in the house.

I finally found a canned cat food that Curio likes! I've been worried about him. It's made by Natural Balance, and the same duck and green pea combination that's in the dry food he likes (but that we're trying to get him off of, because apparently dry food isn't all that good for cats).

And we finally have a static IP address again -- it's only $5/month from CenturyLink. The tech support person who set it up was completely clueless; I had to go to her supervisor to find someone who knew what reverse DNS was (and how to find it on their damned website, which is slow, poorly laid out, and doesn't trim spaces in input fields).

Finished reading Lauren Ipsum, which will get a separate post later. You'll also find an entry in the notes tagged "ursine", which will get expanded into the start of a planned post series if I can finally get off my tail and write it.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

So. Some goals for 2015.

  1. Music. I'm going to lump recording, songwriting, and making music together, not so much because they're all aspects of the same thing as to give me a goal that I'm more likely to meet parts of.
  2. Writing. I'd settle for one post a week that isn't one of the two scheduled ones, though I'd like to do more.
  3. Exercise. Keeping up the walking on weekdays is kind of a minimum; I'd like to walk a little on weekends, and maybe even get my bike back in working order.
  4. Food. As a minimum, get back to serving salad with dinner on most of the days that I cook.
  5. Software. Get the household intranet back into shape. Finish revising my music-publishing toolchain. Set up a blogging toolchain. Bring my websites into the 21st Century, maybe. Write that HTML5-based lyrics app that I've been thinking about. OK, that's at least five sub-goals; six if you figure that the app and maybe the websites will require getting profficient in Javascript.
  6. Organization. Do more of my 15min items, get my taxes filed on time, and hack my way through the piles of envelopes on my desk and the piles of boxes in the garage. Stick to my damned budget, now that I have one.
  7. Health. This is a stretch goal, but I need to do something about my depression. Or whatever it is. Find help.

Seven. Same as last year. We'll see.

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

Let's get the party announcement out first: we're having our usual "sometime around New Year" party this Saturday, the 3rd. It's actually on our anniversary this year, but we're not expecting presents, just presence. And food. It's a potluck -- food is always welcome.

OK, now the Thankful Thursday: Today I'm thankful for...

  • Having gotten a few things done off my list from last year
  • Software, gin, and a few other things that aren't exactly addictions but are nice to have.
  • Coffee, which is an addiction.
  • Rainbow's End.
  • Cat therapy.
  • Colleen. How -- and why -- she puts up with me I'll never know, but I'm grateful.

And finally, an annotated look back at last year's goals (not resolutions -- I'm too irresolute for those).

  • Get back into recording. I don't think I can manage a whole album, but I can probably manage a lot of scratch tracks and a few complete mixes, and maybe build up momentum that way. Total fail.
  • Eat better. I may not lose weight, much as I'd like to, but nothing says I can't have more salads for lunch. Total fail. Gained 7 lbs.
  • Similarly, walk more. I've gotten horribly out of shape, but my new office is farther from my preferred bus stop than the old one. (The 70 stops only a block away, but I'd have to stand around at 3rd and Pike waiting to change busses. I'd rather walk.) I mostly succeeded at this one.
  • Get the medical bills taken care of. I've been ignoring a lot of them. My sign-on bonus will probably go for that and taxes, mostly. Sort of. The sign-on bonus got squandered, but the taxes and -- I think -- the medical bills eventually got paid, out of the meager proceeds from the Starport.
  • Bring some better order to my motley collection of blogs and web sites, with as much of the content as possible deployed using git hooks. Only if you count what I've done in the last week.
  • Write more! Songs, fiction, essays, whatever. I haven't done any writing to speak of for, what? Two years? Mostly not. I've done written a handful of metafics and a recipe or two.
  • Sell the Starport. Mostly. It did get sold, but a lot later and for less money than we needed.

So, out of seven goals, two total failures, one moderate success, and four "successes" that were mixed enough to feel like failure anyway.

May this year be better.

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

Well, the last few days of last year, anyway. I did a sort of review post yesterday, and should probably do something more cheerful and forward-looking today. But for now...

I also posted my borscht recipe, and sent it to Mom (who's been looking for one for decades).

Dealt with brokenness in LinkedIn that, as I should have realized, was easily solved by tossing its cookies. But, you know, it's not hard to build a website -- even one that uses redirect links -- that doesn't break when its cookies go stale. Amazon and Google do it quite well, thank you.

Managed to get checks sent to a couple of charities. Two got left on my desk, but it turned out that those were among the ones I sent money to over two months ago. Apparently my memory is even worse than I remember it being. Or something like that.

Links in the notes.

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

2014 has been stressful, expensive, and occasionally harrowing, with few high points that I can remember, plenty of anxiety and mild depression, and no major accomplishments that I can think of.

On the plus side, we're all settling in pretty well at Rainbow's End, the Starport has finally been sold (for a lot less money than we expected or needed, of course), I still have a job, neither Colleen nor I have been hospitalized, a major financial trainwreck has been averted, and a couple of enormous bills have been paid off.

Not feeling very celebratory. I guess it will have to do.

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

Or at least well-known borscht. It was a feature of Christmas dinner at Grand Central Starport since the earliest days.

I first encountered a recipe for Ukrainian hot borscht in, of all places, a flier that came with my electricity bill from Pacific Gas and Electric, back when I was still in grad school. Somewhere along the line I lost it, and started using a recipe iPlease to the Table: The Russian Cookbook by Anya Von Bremzen, an excellent cookbook which is now lamentably out of print. This year I just winged it.

This is more of what [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith calls an "algorithm" than a recipe.

You will need:

  • A Very Large Pot. It is difficult to use too large a pot. When our older daughter was two years old, she used to play in ours. We could have gotten the lid on. A wooden spoon long enough to reach the bottom of the pot while you still have a good grip on the handle -- you're going to need it.
  • A large lump of meat. 3-4 lbs of beef chuck roast is a good place to start. At various times we have also added a ham shank, marrow bones, and ribs. Yesterday I used about 5 lbs of chuck roast and the ribs left over from the Christmas roast beef.
  • Root vegetables. Beets, of course, but also parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips. Sometimes we add potatoes, but not this year. We had 9 rather large beets, 3 rutabagas, 3 turnips, and 2 parsnips this year. We have sometimes used as many as 6 bunches of small beets.
  • Onions, garlic, and carrots, which of course are also root vegetables.
  • A head of cabbage.
  • Seasoning: 6 peppercorns and 3 bay leaves. (I couldn't find the bay leaves this year.) Sour salt, optional.
  • Sour cream and fresh dill, for garnishing.

Start by cutting up the onions, chopping the garic, and sauteeing them in olive oil. Meanwhile, brown the meat in a little more olive oil, in the bottom of your Very Large Pot.

Combine the onion/garlic mix with the meat, and add water to cover. If desired, throw in a whole onion and a couple of whole carrots. Put in the peppercorns and bay leaves.

Cut the tops and tails off the beets, and put them on a baking sheet. Turn your oven to 350 and put the beets in to roast.

Take a 45-60 minute break.

Take the beets out of the oven. Cut the rest of the roots into 1-inch cubes. Toss the parsnips and carrots into the pot -- they take the longest to cook.

After you've cubed the raw roots, the beets will be cool enough to handle. Peel them (with a paring knife) and cut them into julienne strips.

Fish the meat, bones, and whole vegetables out of the pot and put in the rutabagas and beets.

Take another break -- about an hour. Put in the turnips (and potatoes if you want them). Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes.

Put the meat back in the pot. Shred the cabbage and add that. Stir, if you can. You may need to add water, too; it depends on whether there's any room left in the pot and whether you want your borscht to be more like a thick soup or a stew.

Let it cook for another hour or so. Drink some vodka (or gin -- I prefer gin). If you're anything like me, your back will be hurting at this point even if you had sense enough to sit down while chopping the roots.

About an hour after you added the cabbage, it's done. If it's too sweet, add sour salt to taste. Add ordinary salt to taste, if you like.

Top with a glop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped, fresh dill. Enjoy.

Serves a dozen or so. For a smaller family, it provides enough leftovers to last all week.

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

It's been a nice, relaxing week - I took Friday off as well as Thursday. Won't be able to do that again for a long while, sadly.

Glenn made roast beef and proper Yorkshire pudding for dinner on Christmas; I made borscht yesterday. We had a few guests over; not many. But the borscht came out well. Next time we'll have to make a much smaller batch, though. Recipe to follow, though you can deduce much of it from the timeline in Saturday's notes.

Despite feeling relaxed, I also feel as though I should have been doing more. I am, as usual, going to have to scramble to get all the charities paid by year's end, and there are probably still some lingering bills and other items. GAAK!

On the other hand, my web resources are in pretty good shape. The whole thing is amost completely deployed with git, the rest with rsync, and "make deploy" works on both. I'm pretty happy about that -- it feels good to get back into toolmaking again.

On the gripping hand -- or is that the griping hand -- I still don't feel particularly happy about myself. This is mainly because, even when I know what needs to be done, I still prefer to waste time reading or puttering rather than do it. Not even the prospect of giving myself a little star in my notes -- which is what that file is for -- is enough to get me off my arse when it comes to writing checks or sorting through envelopes.

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

I'm not going to enumerate my presents here -- that's not the point. Today I'm thankful for

  • My wonderful family.
  • A nice, relaxing day at home with them.
  • Excellent food and drink (many of the otherwise-unmentioned presents were alcoholic). A Christmas dinner that couldn't be beat, courtesy of Ursa Minor.
  • One of my rare posts on G+ that, I think illustrates this crazy place pretty well.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

A lot of puttering this week. Got the hallway bookcase moved downstairs; it's now much easier for Colleen to make her way to the Rainbow Room. Looks good, too. Emmy set up the tree, and moved the cat tree into the nook under the stairs. The cats seem to prefer it there. This was Wednesday; last Sunday I put in shelves there, which also helps with the clutter.

I've also been decluttering my website working directories, fixing broken symlinks, re-arranging the tree in a more sensible way, and assorted other housekeeping. Still some messes there that I have to tackle.

Curio has been a darling; he likes sitting on my desk, on a pad of folded-up fabric, and usually sleeps next to me. Cat therapy for the win. We have excellent cats. Cricket exactly matches the description in Cat Faber's song Villains's Cat, and I expect she'll make a very good one when she grows up. Curio is pretty much already there.

I've been experimenting with luggage; most recently I've gone back to Max, the REI Agility sling bag. Not big enough for my work laptop, but that's an advantage. Tomorrow I'll see how well it works alongside a laptop bag.

Mood's been mostly ok, but occasionally still fragile. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings were particularly bad.

Links in the notes.

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

... and I think I missed last week, too. *sigh*

Anyway, today I'm thankful for...

  • A cat who loves me and likes to sleep next to me. Cat therapy is good for me, apparently.
  • Music.
  • People who love me, too. Damned if I know why, but I'm not complaining.
  • Caffeine and ethanol, my drugs of choice. (And occasionally Irish Coffee, which gives me both at once.)
  • Tools of the trade: bash, sed, git, make -- and learning some new (to me) ones, like cut.
  • The occasional burst of productivity.
  • Spread-spectrum radio, as in WiFi and cell phones. Hedy Lamarr.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I haz apparently been a Productive Bear, at least some of the time. I finally got around to putting grout into the seam where the arch was cut in between the kitchen and the Rainbow Room, and I now have a fourth working UPS and a functioning git-based web deployment system (for everything but the audio files, of course).

On the other hand, we had a one-hour power outage last night that revealed the fact that the server was plugged into the surge protector outlet on one of those UPSs instead of a battery-backed-up outlet. *headdesk*

I transferred my stuff from the shoulder bag I've been using for the last couple of years, to a rolling backpack. Which is clumsy as heck, but more comfortable to use. The major win, though, was putting my wallet and a couple of other essentials into a little shoulder bag (Eagle Creek Sidekick) so that I can just grab that and go out to lunch, or shopping with Colleen. Major win -- it's practically weightless by comparison with the old one. Of course, it can't carry a laptop, cane, rain hat, phone backup battery, coin purse, ... -- which is all rather the point of the exercise.

I have also been coming home hurting, and emotionally fragile from depression and anxiety. So there's that.

On the whole, though, not too bad of a week. I'll take it. Links in the notes as usual.

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

So. A reasonably productive week, at least at home, where I've been cleaning up my server so that I can use git for most deployments and backup, instead of my clunky old rsync system (which worked pretty damned well, but a large USB hard drive represents a pretty big single point of failure, and it did). That doesn't keep me from doing a nightly mirror, but I'll be relying on git for history.

In the process, I wrote the website deployment git hook and make targets, so I can say "make deploy" on my laptop and have the changes checked in, pushed to the server, and pulled onto the web host with no further interaction.

There are still some remaining tasks around asset management, since my audio files are way too big to be flinging around with git.

At work... not so much. I feel as though I'm not being as productive as I should be.

Also on the down side, I managed to tweak my left QL muscle getting into a car on Wednesday. Naomi managed to get it mostly relaxed, but says that I have to start acting my age and learn to move like an old man instead of assuming that my body will just do what I tell it to. Grump.

And we nearly lost our ninja cat, Desti, who snuck out an insufficiently-closed door. She was, of course, wet and miserable and scared, but that probably won't keep her from trying to sneak out. Because ninja cat.

Oh, and two of Colleen's three lift chairs are broken. She's going to have a repair person come out this week. Fortunately the chairs, her power wheelchairs, and her scooter (which also need attention) are all made by Pride, so she can get them all looked at at once.

To end on a high note, and a link, we saw a preview of the first two episodes of the HBO/American Museum of Natural History mini-series Saving My Tomorrow, about young environmental activists. N's kids were interviewed for it, although they didn't appear in the episodes we saw.

More links in the notes, of course.

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

On the health front, I may finally be learning to relax the muscles in my lower back that make it hurt when I walk. Maybe. It also seems to have a lot to do with how heavy my shoulder bag is, so that's going to be an ongoing problem. A backpack would be better, except that it's hard to get off when I take a seat in the bus, and unlike a shoulder bag I can't swing it around when I want to get at something like my wallet.

I've finally started doing some serious system administration/scripting work to get my website working directories the rest of the way under git control. That's done -- I can now say "make deploy" in a web directory and have it committed, pushed to the remote repo, and pulled into the website with no further attention.

In the process, I had to write a script for converting a directory from CVS to git. There are a couple of challenges in that process because the old CVS repositories were in pretty bad shape, with stuff not having been checked in consistently. Not like a well-maintained software project, in other words. Bad bear. No cookie. My websites don't use cookies anyway.

The associated asset archive is going to be harder, because some directories have large media files in them. Like, um... the audio. The goal is to eliminate the use of rsync snapshots for backups (for reasons I will probably go into in more detail in a later post).

Detail in the notes, as usual.

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

Thanksgiving again! My third in Seattle.

Today I'm thankful for...

  • Rainbow's End and all the people (and cats!) in and around it. I could not possibly have made it through the year without you.
  • My family. Special thanks for Colleen and Naomi, who push me to do the hard stuff. That's a pretty thankless task, so thanks again.
  • My friends, close and distant.
  • Music. Family music nights, when we remember to have them.
  • Seattle, my beautiful city, with its excellent transit system, comfortable weather, and zoning that allows us to keep livestock.
  • -- both as a store and as an employer.
  • A buyer for the Starport. I will miss our old house, and we won't see our San Jose friends nearly enough anymore, but I am very glad to be rid of that albatross and its mortgage.
  • ... and, as last year, the fact that things aren't nearly as bad as they could be.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

A bit of a rough week, but with several high spots. The first of which was brunch with Colleen and Emmy at Salty's -- a local seafood place with a fantastic buffet on weekends. Turns out I get a senior discount. :P

I am cautiously optimistic about my mood, between selling the house and starting on l-tryptophan. I think it's generally better, but it's also more volatile -- I run out of cope and go into overload. Not good. Especially because it upsets Colleen, which sets up a positive feedback loop. (Positive in the feedback sense -- it has negative consequences, of course.)

Another high point was music night, Thursday after dinner. The original plan had been for a new friend of N's to come join us, but she ended up canceling. We had fun anyway -- playlist in the notes. We've decided to do it more often, and N is setting things up to spend more time in the Great Room. Which means I have to fix the control on the broken lift chair that we parked there.

To which end I tracked down a soldering iron. The one I bought because I couldn't find my good one, which is still in a box somewhere.

Looking at the notes, I seem to have been pretty productive this week. So... ok.

raw notes, with links )


Nov. 22nd, 2014 07:56 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

2 slices of bacon, 2 eggs, some cooked grain...

OK, fried rice for breakfast.

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

So, after another lenghty break, we finally come around to the Thursday before Thanksgiving. We'll see whether I can get two weeks in a row. But for now, I'm thankful for..

  • Having finally sold Grand Central Starport. An era has well and truly ended, and I'm still somewhat in shock. But still.
  • Rainbow's End.
  • My wonderful family.
  • Cat therapy.
  • ssh -Xf $MYBOX gnome-panel

ETA: The first sentence would probably have been more effective if I hadn't posted this on Wednesday.

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

Well, escrow closed Friday on the Starport. My mood has been extremely volatile, and mostly in the bad direction, all week; took me until Friday to recognize that I was grieving. Knowing me, that probably means I'm in for a long run of it. Maybe I'll write something this evening.

Our hotel experience at Orycon was pretty poor, to the extent that we may very well not be back for the Westercon in 2016. (Ory is moving -- Yay!) But they gave us half a night off the bill, so there's that.

I spent yesterday puttering. The money from the Starport still hasn't shown up; if it doesn't hit my account Monday I'll hit the panic button.

Lasting Relationships Rely On 2 Traits tl;dr: kindness and generosity. Well, yeah. More links in the notes.

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

Between network problems (which I caused), the disastrous US elections, being off my antidepressants (which may have been helping a little after all; it may just be too subtle an effect for this alexithymic old bear to have noticed), pain issues, and just generally feeling harried, it was kind of a bad week.

I threw my set plans out the window, and put together what turned out to be a pretty good little set at the last minute: "Bigger On the Inside", "Someplace In the Net", "World Inside the Crystal", "Millennium's Dawn", "Keep the Dream Alive". Recordings (thanks to Rick Weiss) later this week.

I pretty much nailed the lyrics. A lot of missed notes, but the nice thing about the guitar is that as long as you have the right chord fingered it's going to sound ok no matter how sloppy the playing is. Got comments from a couple of people after the set, so that was nice.

The hotel was a distinct disappointment -- they'd overbooked the handicap rooms (the king room we're in is ok, but it would have been nice to have more manoevering room in the bathroom), and the restaurant didn't have a regular dinner menu. (The bar did have something more like a dinner menu, but it was expensive.) The breakfast buffet was no more than adequate. I see it's in a different hotel next year.

I have so far failed to connect with any of the people I'd been hoping to connect with; this is not unusual but does little to improve my mood, which I think is still somewhat volatile.

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

I've been reminded that this is the 25th anniversary of a very special newsgroup called alt.callahans. My own first post came a couple of weeks later, after I finally persuaded our sysadmin to add it to our news feed.

I have a lot of history with that Place.

I wrote a song, too: "Someplace in the Net". I probably need to totally rework my set list for Orycon. :P

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

Kind of a rough week? I'm not really sure.

On the plus side, we got the washer repaired (a little over $320 for a new drain pump), and I switched the network over from Comcast to CenturyLink. Which was exactly as easy as I expected it to be: swap the router and the extension WAP, and it's done. Sometime I should swap SSIDs back, but it doesn't matter all that much much.

Our group moved over the weekend; the move puts us in the center of $A's main campus (with a nice small caffeteria next door, and the main one only a block away). My hard drive didn't survive it. All my code was backed up, but that still left a huge amount of configuration that should have been but wasn't. Fixed now.

Tapered off my antidepressant. Not much of an effect on my mood; not clear whether it has affected my supply of cope or my weight.

Kind of late, but I've started practicing for Orycon. Not entirely clear what's going into my set -- Millennium's Dawn, Keep the Dream Alive, and QV for sure. That may actually be almost enough, since it's only a half-hour set.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: (flamethrower)

Advisory 01/2014: Drupal - pre Auth SQL Injection Vulnerability

A "highly critical public service announcement" from Drupal [] "Automated attacks began compromising Drupal 7 websites that were not patched or updated to Drupal 7.32 within hours of the announcement of SA-CORE-2014-005 - Drupal core - SQL injection. You should proceed under the assumption that every Drupal 7 website was compromised unless updated or patched before Oct 15th, 11pm UTC, that is 7 hours after the announcement."

Impressive. I think this is an appropriate place to quote one of my father's aphorisms: "A locked car with an open window is NOT a locked car."

If PHP is your open window, you may as well leave the keys on the dashboard where they're easy to see.

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

A couple of dizzy spells, which felt a lot like a return of the orthostatic hypotension I used to get rather frequently before I changed my blood pressure meds, only more severe. Turns out that they could be exactly that, as a side effect of cutting down on my SSRI antidepressant.

Worked from home Friday and half of Thursday due to our office move. Spent Monday (and will probably spend most of today) setting up my desktop box, whose hard drive didn't survive the move. :P Grumble. Only things I'll actually be losing are a couple of little scripts in ~/bin, my .zshrc customizations, and my browser config. Everything else is in git.

Stupidly tried to upgrade the OS on my laptop. Stupid, because it left it practically unusable. A clean reinstall of 14.04 fared better, but there are still some oddities here and there.

Working from home today, too, because I'll be waiting for the washer to get repaired. :P It broke on Saturday. The backup drive on Nova has apparently been broken for a *long* time -- read is ok, but write fails. This may be a timing thing, but switching it from USB to eSATA renumbers the drive letters, so that's kind of a non-starter.

On the positive side, the CenturyLink internet connection is on, and the new modem arrived yesterday. Hopefully today I'll be able to get our network configured -- it may be a simple matter of swapping two routers.

The new building is significantly farther away from the bus stop -- there are closer ones, but it's actually faster to walk than to wait for a transfer. So if it's not raining, I'll do that.

Kind of a rough week. Oddly, the fact that I've cut back on my antidepressant doesn't seem to have made much difference that I can perceive, which says that either it wasn't doing much good, or I'm still bad at detecting my mood. Or both.

raw notes, with links )

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