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

The only major news is that we have a firm date for when the previous owner of our house gets all his stuff moved out: June 30th. That's about three weeks sooner than the original worst-case plan, so Colleen and I will have the entire month to get moved in, rather than a week. Yay!

I don't seem to have done much this week. I did get the car charged, and deposited a bunch of checks (including some old enough that I'm not sure they're still good -- I need to get a lot better at that). Mostly I sat around the apartment exploring an assortment of math topics on Wikipedia and YouTube.

It turns out that, thanks to a paper I wrote back at Carleton with one of my math professors, it can easily be determined that my Erdős number is officially 7. Unofficially, if one includes patents as well as actual math papers, it's 4. That still probably exceeds the number of people reading this who knew what an Erdős number is before reading this. The official value almost certainly does.

I did some actual programming yesterday (which I made more progress on today), aimed at bringing my song formatting and typesetting into the 21st Century. Mostly that means switching from postscript files to PDFs everywhere, upgrading to LaTeX2e, and simplifying the build process. There are still a few formatting issues that need to be dealt with; I will be having some fun this week refactoring my horrible old style files into classes.

There was some discussion in comments elsewidth about finding a therapist; I did a little link chasing. Not going to do anything about it until after we move.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

I'm not sure what to say about this week. It's been very stressful; things appear to have worked out ok, most if not all of the stress-causing things are gone, but my self-confidence (what little there was of it) is more-or-less completely gone. I just don't know. Something like that.

Well, let's go for the really good stuff first: Colleen and I are now covered by Medicare part D (drugs) and a supplemental (medigap) policy. They're with ExpressScripts and Premera Blue Cross, which is what we had with Amazon, so the transition appears to have been smooth. Whew!

Now the -- damned if I know. Last Sunday Naomi and I went car-shopping, and bought a red Chevy Bolt. Beautiful car; lots of great safety features. Electric. Expensive. The cargo area holds Colleen's scooter, though just barely.

Wednesday I went down to REI, which is the closest place with a DC Fast Charge station that I can use, and discovered that the car we'd bought didn't have that feature. It turned out to be an option. Driving up to the dealership I spent the entire trip berating myself over not checking. It took most of the rest of the afternoon, but they were able to find a (blue) Bolt with equivalent features, plus DCFC, and do a swap. It was very stressful; they'd originally found me a white one, but white isn't visible in fog, and here we are in Seattle. So, ...

It's hard for me to say enough good things about Bill Pierre Chevrolet, on Lake City Way. Saying they went well out of their way to accommodate our requirements would be a massive understatement. They, and their Ford dealership next door, are highly recommended.

So now we have a blue Bolt, which we have named Molly. (Puns involving drywall anchors are not appreciated -- Molly ius a little sensitive on that point.) She's a wonderful car.

There are a couple of hopefully minor problems. The main one is that there aren't nearly as many fast charging stations as we thought there would be. I don't think that it would be possible to drive cross-country, for example. Maybe to San Jose, but it would take very careful planning. Another is the cargo space - we couldn't drive to an airport or a convention in it (which is ok; we still have a van). Another is the cost -- I've never spent that much on a car before. (In absolute terms. I still vividly remember when we bought our first minivan, a Mercury Villager, and paid more for it than we'd paid for our house a decade before.)

But the biggest problem isn't with the car, it's with me. It's mostly after I make a big, expensive decision like that that I start second-guessing myself, and wondering whether I'd made a huge mistake. It was really Wednesday (see above) that started that process. It combines with the problems I'd had last week and all through May with our health care, which I made worse by not realizing that when Amazon told me they'd continue my health care, what they meant was that they'd subsidize my COBRA benefits. Ricoh hadn't done it that way; I'd made some wrong assumptions, and my HR person at Amazon simply hadn't gotten back to me at all about it.

Hmm - both of those problems have been due to things people didn't tell me. Unfortunately, that doesn't help me feel that they're any less my fault. I think I'm supposed to think of everything. One reason I'm comfortable around computers is that if I don't think of everything, the computer will tell me (by doing what I told it to do, not what I expected it to do) and I can fix it. Real-world stuff terrifies me because I can't go back and fix most of it. But if I try to think of everything before hand, I never actually go out and do it. Can't win. (Can't break even. Can't leave the game. Laws of Thermodynamics in words of mostly one syllable.)

"I can't fix it!" is something I end up saying all too often.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (e8)

I'm really glad we got Colleen's medicare coverage straightened out (or mostly -- her Part D (drug) coverage is not fully functional yet, nor is her supplemental policy). Because she went in to Shoreline Clinic for lab work on Tuesday after her visit to the SSA office, and Wednesday we got a call telling her to go to the ER and get IV fluids, because her creatinine level was high. That's related to kidney function, and in this case indicated a problem with her catheter.

So she spent the rest of the week in Northwest Hospital; she was discharged Friday. And Medicare covers it. I spent much of the week doing medicare-related paperwork; being retired may be relaxing once you get to actually do it -- retiring sure isn't. I'm still not done with Colleen's.

Meanwhile, I've been reading. I finished Counterexamples in Analysis, which is a really fun read. It had been used as the textbook for Advanced Calculus up until the year I went to Carleton, so there were enough copies lying around for me to get intrigued by such perverse creatures as "a space-filling curve that's almost everywhere almost nowhere". In the process, supplementing it with Wikipedia dives, I've finally gotten a little more comfortable with ring theory.

Last night, between John Baez on the number 24 on YouTube and a bit of digging on Wikipedia, I also started getting the hang of the Monster Group and E8. They turn out to be related to the Binary Golay code, a 24-bit error-correcting code invented by Marcel Golay, who I knew of because he'd collaborated with my father on the Savitzky–Golay filter!

I've also been reading Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces - it's mostly review for me, but it's a good presentation and there are a few good nuggets in there. The Codeless Code, a collection of software-development koans, is also worth of note, and of everything I've mentioned here is probably of the most interest to people casually interested in the sociology of software development. Or possibly Zen Buddhism.

I've also been looking around Don Knuth's home page -- Don was my favorite professor at Stanford -- which eventually led me back to Surreal Numbers. I see that I don't have a good set of links for those.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Big week. The sale of Rainbow's End (now "Rainbow's Ended"?) closed on Tuesday, after a marathon clean-up session. (The buyers had done a walk-through Monday evening, and called with a list of things that had to be cleaned up. If they weren't done by EOD Tuesday, they were going to hold up closing. Since the closing for our purchase was scheduled for Wednesday, that was a non-starter. Cleanup had to be done.)

First (realtor) Chris and I cleaned up the messes left by the movers who ghosted on us last week, the housekeeper, and me when I came by both Thursday and Sunday and simply ran out of spoons. I think some valuable things may have been hauled off by the guys from 1-800-GOT-JUNK, but I was pretty low on spoons at that point.

After that, (this is still Tuesday!) I met G at UHaul to rent a truck so that we could get his motorcycles out of the garage. Fortunately, our housekeeper (G', if you've been following the details of my notation) offered to store them at her house. We probably came within inches of dropping a bike, more than once.

After that, I came back to the house (no longer ours, since they did close on time) to pick up the hazardous materials we'd taken out of the garage, since GOT-JUNK doesn't do hazmat. I came around to the front after that, and took a blossom and a bud from the Royal Amethist rose. Then I sang "The Mary Ellen Carter" on the way home to keep from losing it.

Wednesday, the purchase of our new house on Whidbey Island closed. I also learned that 1. the household hazmat site on Aurora Avenue is closed on Wednesdays, and 2. latex paint is not considered hazardous, so they won't take it. I was, and still am, too short on emotional cope to react significantly to either event.

Thursday I bought cat litter for solidifying the paint. I was kind of out of it, and didn't do much except reading (see links).

Friday I found out that C had not gotten signed up for Medicare. Damnit, she was positive that she had; if I'd known we could have done it when we visited the office to deliver our marriage license. Weeks ago. Shit. I also took care of the nine cans of paint that actually had room for cat litter to be added.

Saturday I tried to get C signed up for Medicare, and failed. (I failed again today.) There's still a lot of other stuff I've been neglecting.

Meanwhile, I've been doing paperwork mostly connected with health care, utilities, you name it. If I'd been under any illusions that retiring was going to be less stressful than working, well, ... Maybe it gets better? Damned if I know. I've also been reading a lot, mostly math and computer science, probably because it gets me into a flow state where I'm not really aware of anything else. Not being aware of anything mostly sounds pretty good right now.

Oh, yeah; I ought to schedule an appointment with my therapist. Not that that's been doing any noticable good lately. I have difficulty imagining how it could do any good, which may be part of the problem. (That's not a new thing; except for learning about CBT and getting me on the first of a series of drugs that may or may not still be working it didn't do a whole lot for me back in California, either.)

And don't get me started on politics.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

I spent most of the week sick, miserable, and barely able to breathe at times, but got quite a lot done regardless. Everything is now out of the West Seattle house, which I suppose could be called "Rainbow's Ended" now; the third and final pod has been taken away, and all of the paperwork for both the sale of the old house and the purchase of the new one has been signed, in sessions with the respective traveling notaries. The respective closings are Tuesday and Wednesday.

In other news, my final payment from Amazon arrived -- less than I expected because I hadn't allowed for social security and medicare -- but my promised health care still hasn't. Should have just started COBRA and asked them to pay for it, which is probably what's going to happen.

Oh, yes -- our sink fell down. It had apparently been glued to the underside of the counter with a thin bead of silicone; the maintenance guy came by and propped it up with 2x4s. I feel like I'm living on Desolation Row.

Yes I received your letter yesterday, about the time the doorknob broke,...
When you asked me how I was doing -- was that some kind of joke?
Right now I can't read so good; don't send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them from Desolation Row


OK, so it was the sink and not the doorknob. My poetic license hasn't expired yet.

I do seem to be experiencing less anxiety this week, and I'm starting to look forward to living on Whidbey Island. I still don't feel as though I'm getting as much done as I should, but I do note in passing that I've updated my resume and three of the five websites that most needed it. I've gotten out of the apartment at least five of the last seven days, though not necessarily on foot. The other two did include something that might count as exercise, however.

BTW I'm feeling quite a bit better (physically) today, though still not up to par. Psychologically I'm still having problems. It's like a break-up, or losing a pet -- I keep wondering whether there was anything I could have done differently. It's going to be a rough couple of months, until we can actually move in -- we gave the present owner a 60-day leaseback, though it's not entirely certain that he'll use all of it.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been another rough week. This week it's been mostly health care -- I found out Tuesday that Amazon hadn't continued my health care as they said they were going to, so I was unable to order Colleen's humira. (Which, at $1800 for two doses, isn't something one wants to pay for out of pocket.) My HR contact is looking into it, but it took several days to get through; meanwhile I went online and signed up for Medicare Part D and identified a Medigap provider (ExpressScripts and Premera Blue Cross; both for continuity and because they seem to get top reviews. Who knows how long that will last under Trump(Doesn't)Care.)

I know there's something called compassion fatigue. Is despair fatigue a thing? Or is that just another phase of despair? I find myself incapable of being surprised at whatever outrageous thing Trump and the "Republicans" have done each day. (I put "Republicans" in quotes because they are rapidly turning this country into a right-wing dictatorship. I feel powerless to stop them.)

Onward. Had a really good trip with Colleen up to Whidbey Island; we went up the whole length of it and came back by way of Deception Pass. It's been a very long time since Colleen and I went out for a drive that long that was just a drive -- our occasional loop drives along the California coast were probably the last ones. It was a little too long, but it went ok.

I've been spending much of my spare time catching up on my reading. For some reason I'd stopped reading LWN (Linux Weekly News) sometime around the first of the year; in the last two weeks I've completely caught up. You can see the results in the links, most of which came from LWN, or indirectly by way of Sacha Chua's awesome Emacs News. I've also been finding Whidbey-related links. At some point I need to go back through my to.do archives, extract all the links, and aggregate them. They're kind of useless scattered across blog entries the way they are.

I've even done a little walking (not quite every day, and not much because I seem to be walking at about half my old 3mph pace), a little music, and a little hacking (almost entirely cleanup tasks). On the whole, I appear to have been keeping myself busy in a relaxed kind of way, though I haven't yet fallen into any kind of routine. Later, hopefully.

But.

My last few trips down to the house we used to call Rainbow's End (should we call it "Rainbow's Ended" now?) have been increasingly sad and discouraging. We put a lot of ourselves into that house; it was a large part of what we were as a family. Now we're scattered. We'll come back together, mostly, on Whidbey Island in a little over two months; it may very well be wonderful -- I hope it will -- but it won't be the same. I can't keep from thinking of what I might have done differently, over the last few decades(!), that might have made it possible to stay there. Hell, we all made decisions that seemed like the right thing at the time. Can't be fixed.

"I can't fix it!" is probably what I say most often when things are going badly. It always feels like my fault. I don't think I can fix that, either. I should shut up and go for a walk with Colleen.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

So. My first full week of retirement. I want to say I haven't gotten much done, but in fact I seem to have been fairly busy. I've done some work required for selling the old house, and quite a lot of research and discussion around whether we can live the way we want to in the new one. I've taken several walks, including a few st/rolls with Colleen. I've ordered and installed a new keyboard for Cygnus, my main computer. I've started catching up on my reading -- back issues of Science and Linux Weekly News. Pulled out my guitar a couple of times for noodling. I haven't had any panic attacks.

It still doesn't feel like all that much. Apparently I was well on my way to burnout, judging by the amount of pleasure reading I haven't been doing -- I hadn't read LWN since the beginning of the year -- plus the amount of other stuff I haven't been doing. Although one could easily argue that most of that is due to my hatred (fear?) of paperwork.

There is an enormous amount of paperwork (including bill-paying) that still needs doing, and I'm having a lot of trouble getting started on the projects I want to do. But there is, presumably, time.

This coming week will be busy -- Naomi and the kids are moving out of the Seattle house, and I'm still needed to help pack up the garage. Sometime this week we should hear back from the seller about our inspection response; if they accept that it will take a big load off all of us.

I still worry.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been a long month this last week.

  • We are very close to buying the house on Whidbey Island. Just a couple of things we have to check.
  • As of Friday, I am officially a Retired Person. (I've been a member of the AARP for 20 years. It's still weird.
  • I had a couple of panic attacks. The fact that I know what they are, how they work, and how to deal with them is helpful, but they're still something of an ordeal.

I had a very nice send-off party from the team at work; another team member was moving to another team, so it was a combined affair, and of course combined with the weekly Friday "Beer 30". I will miss those people. Naomi was able to come up for the party, so we were able to do a little singing (set list in the notes). Damned good thing, too -- I had greatly underestimated the amount of stuff I would be bringing home. I would have had to call a cab.

For some reason I'm not seeing all that many events this week outside the house-related stuff. Oh, well. Maybe that's enough.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Another long month this week. Guess we're going to keep having those for a while. Didn't finish doing my taxes, but figured out an upper bound and filed for an extension. OK, that was the easy part.

Wednesday, on short notice, Naomi and I went to Whidbey Island to look at houses. The first was quirky and magical, especially the land, but it would have taken quite a lot of work to make it habitable. The second was move-in ready and a safe bet, but it's never going to be much better than what it is now. The safe one was going to be looking at offers Thursday, so we put in a bid for asking price. We got it.

Thursday, in addition to finding out that our bid for the Whidbey Island house had been accepted, we got the counter-offer from the buyers for our Seattle house. We now have the choice between getting the work done ourselves, which would get us more money but has some risk, and giving the buyers a price reduction. It may come down to cash flow.

Saturday, Colleen and I decided to go out for dinner... and found the elevator broken. You can read about that little comedy of errors (none of them ours) downwhen in my previous post. A few things stand out:

  1. An SOP that includes "call the fire department" for after-hours elevator maintenance is clearly wrong.
  2. If you're going to have maintenance people "on call" but don't have an SLA for them, you have a problem.
  3. If the only contact information on your website is a phone number, a twitter handle, and a facebook name, something that would otherwise result in an annoyed email is instead going to make you look stupid in public.

Still worried.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been a week. I accepted my retirement package. It's the same amount of money as if I kept going until my original target date; if the notice is too short, they should have thought of that earlier. They are going to have to do a lot of scrambling -- there's a lot left to do. My teammates are probably going to be shocked -- I think my boss was, too; he apparently found out about the deal only days before I did -- and I'm rather sorry about that. Not sorry enough to keep working for two more months without any financial incentive for it, though.

In other news, we got two offers on the house, and accepted the higher one (25K over asking price) with the second as backup. We will have to make some concessions; it looks as though there's some $30K worth of sewer damage. Hopefully it will still come out in the neighborhood of our asking price.

Notable among things that went missing during the move to the apartment were my Android tablets. I'd meant to pack the 7" Nexus, at least. And I packed at least two bluetooth tablet keyboards. Oh, well. With two extra netbooks (blackbird and purple), the mac mini (whitewood), the server (nova), and a spare laptop (raven), it's not as though I'll lack for compute power. Networking in the apartment is incredibly slow; not sure how much of that is interference, but both ethernet and the A band work a lot better. Unfortunately neither Cygnus nor Raven seem willing to talk 802-11a.

On the other hand, I found my missing ORCA card (in my wallet in the one compartment I had overlooked) and the missing tax forms (in a separate folder, so thin that I thought it was empty). Still missing at least one form, with the interest from my HELOC.

I finally (on Tuesday) started working on my taxes. For that I use my old Mac mini, in part because unlike the Windows 7 partition on my laptop it's still receiving updates. Next year is going to be something of a nightmare; I may finally have to send them to an accountant. For now, TaxCut works fine.

Yesterday we went out to look at houses again. Another dome -- I like them, but it was at the top end of our price range and would have needed another $50K to make it work for us. The other place, in Auburn, was perfectly respectable and undoubtedly the best we can find that close to Seattle. But do we really need to be that close?

I also spoke to a (different) lender - this one is a long-time friend of our realtor - about the change in plans around retirement. Looks ok -- my credit is excellent (for the first time in years, I think), and I'll be making somewhere between 70 and 80K/year. More if one counts N's contribution to the household as rent.

The major omission of the week was following up on C's humira -- they were supposed to have called me back Monday. I was also very late getting in a call to my financial advisor -- that will have to wait for Monday, since "Good" Friday was a holiday.

The idea of retiring is beginning to be a little less surreal, though I don't think I could actually call it real yet.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been a week. Not only are we moving house, a large number of people are moving from LJ to Dreamwidth. I'd already mostly moved, and since I have a permanent account I'm not likely to leave completely, but I've been reducing my exposure -- the entire journal is marked "adults only" and I've taken off all of my interests and most of my personal details. I also gathered together and posted a few notes on the process, under the tag ljexit. Feel free to crosslink, and to use the tag yourself.

Monday was a bit rough, both emotionally and physically exhausting, from spending all day at Rainbow's End organizing and sorting. I did some finishing-up Tuesday night, taking advantage of a dentist appointment and the resulting personal day, when our mover failed to show up. (We found out later that he'd been in an auto accident on the way up.)

Tuesday night was miserable and mostly sleepless, and I woke up on Wednesday with a queasy stomach and muscle aches. It was a close enough match for flu that I called in sick. As it turned out, though, it's more likely to have been physical overwork, lack of sleep, dehydration, and low blood sugar from having been thinking about things other than self-care for much the previous two days.

Thursday at 1pm our listing went live: 4126 37th Ave SW, Seattle, Washington 98126 | The Warmack Group. If you're reading this and interested, the open house is this weekend, and you only have a couple more days to get an offer in.

Friday I got in to work late, having gone with N. to look at another house. I very much wanted to get in to work for the last meeting of the day, with $BOSS and $HR_PERSON. Um... yeah. I've been offered an "early" retirement package. (Scare quotes because it would be only a couple of months before my target date.) I may very well take it. The emotional roller-coaster ride one might expect from having to look reality in the face from up close, but at this point I think I'm ready.

Saturday -- yesterday -- Naomi and I went to look at The Dome House in Monroe. It was magical. Almost perfect for us -- EXCEPT: it's isolated as heck, at the end of a mile of twisty, narrow, gravel road. Haul the garbage to the dump yourself. Lots of unpermitted, unfinished construction in the barn. It would have been perfect for who we were 20 years ago. *sigh* I wouldn't have missed seeing it, but it makes me sad to have to pass it up. N called it the other end of the rainbow. Had a great talk with the owner, who is moving to someplace dryer for health reasons.

So that's the week. I'm glad it's over.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

This was a week of settling in to life at Split End -- our apartment in the U District. Unfortunately, we took pretty much everything that was in the kitchen -- even after taking two boxes back there's much more than we have room for. Yeah, the boxes fit in the apartment, but...

Much sadness about leaving Rainbow's End. Yes, it's an adventure, and Naomi says that she likes the way that I almost always say "yes" to adventures. I grumble about them while they're in progress, but then find that they were worth while. And she's basically right. I worry, and I get down on myself for the decisions that seemed like good ideas at the time, and freak out occasionally, but apparently I keep doing it. So here we are.

I have, however, been having a pretty rough time of it emotionally. Near as I can tell, because alexithymia. (Which is to say that emotions are happening, but I can't usually tell what they are. Only that they hurt.)

We are preapproved for a $300K mortgage on a second home. We will probably make any offer we make contingent on selling RE just so we don't get stuck with two mortgages if it doesn't sell right off or the buyers back out after the inspection. But still.

We can haz internet. Went with Comcast, because they do service with no contract. Had the devil's own time getting connected, in spite of the fact that Comcast could see and provision my modem just fine. Turns out that the only way to get a DHCP lease is to *reset* the modem! Remind me to stay away from TP-Link equipment in the future. (It also took me a long time to set my router up -- apparently you have to reboot it after a hard reset. Otherwise it just hangs in the boot loader, possibly waiting for a TFTP load.

Saturday we went to look at houses in Snohomish. The first was amusing; we were basically run off the property after the owner drove by our van to let us in, and saw our Obama bumper sticker. Ooooookay then. Thanks for telling us what we needed to know about the neighborhood.

The second place was superficially attractive; it even had a ramp--in the pictures. They had apparently removed it. It was, however, in pretty poor shape, with water damage to the floors and foundation issues. So we'll keep looking.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Nasty, uncomfortable things!

As my dedicated readers (all three or four of them) are probably aware, Rainbow's End is being sold. It goes on the market, in fact, in a couple of weeks. (BTW, if you want a superb 6-bedroom house in West Seattle, complete with concert hall, ...) In order to present the place in the best light, we have vacated the top two floors, replaced the carpets, and removed the stair lifts. Colleen and I have been sleeping on our sofabed in the Rainbow Room.

Saturday, we moved. Or, rather, went out to a terrific Japanese restaurant in Port Townsend to celebrate the Younger Daughter's birthday, while our moving crew hauled what turned out to be three truckloads of stuff to the apartment. The plan was for us to drive home; pick up (cat) Ticia, (guinea pig) Clea, and (guitar) Plink; come back to an apartment full of boxes; and get settled in. Um..., not quite. In retrospect, leaving Clea at home was the best decision I made all day.

Because the keys, with the all-important fob that gets one into the building and then the elevator, slipped off a box and went through the crack between the elevator and the floor.

Meanwhile, I was driving home. Attempting to follow slightly confusing directions, on a phone that suddenly did not have a visible display! It was particularly confusing because I had missed a turn, and the phone was trying to direct me to turn around. But I didn't know that, either. I pulled off at an intersection in Kitsap that had a convenience store where I could use a bathroom, and switched to Colleen's phone. Fighting, again, with Google Maps, that wanted to direct me to a route it thought was faster, using a ferry. The last thing I needed was to wait an hour or two if I missed the ferry. Of course, I spent nearly that long in a traffic jam in Tacoma.

The traffic jam in Tacoma was where N called me to give me the bad news about the keys. The backup plan was to get buzzed in using the building manager's door code. Which worked fine until I used it too many times figuring out how to keep the garage door open, and said building manager started sending it to voice mail. (I'd thought that it was automated. Nope.) Leaving me outside in the cold, Colleen and Ticia inside waiting for an elevator, and both our phones, plus the litter box that actually had litter in it (we'd sent an empty one ahead), in the van.

After some kind person finally let me in, we proceeded to the apartment. Which is where we determined that we had no phones, no cat litter, and no way of getting back into the elevator after getting them. After meltdown, panic attack, or whatever it was, I proceeded to knock on doors until I found someone who actually opened the door and said they would buzz me in. I arrived downstairs just about the same time as the police, who were investigating an apparent intruder who was knocking on peoples' doors. This is apparently a standard MO for homeless people in the area.

Fortunately, at this point I was well beyond the panic and able to see the humor in the situation, so I had a pleasant conversation with one cop while another went upstairs to knock on my door to confirm with Colleen that we actually lived there.

It wasn't until I got back to the apartment that I took a good look at the phone and realized that the screen wasn't dying, it had just had its brightness turned all the way down. I also figured out that setting up my phone to let people in couldn't be done without having an account set up on dwelo.com. And we had a nice visit from the young lady who had called 911 to report me.

I've lost track of how many anxiety meltdowns I had; at some point I got over the panic and had a nice bout of acute depression.

We have spent the rest of the weekend in the apartment, finding out what's missing and what we have to send back to Rainbow's End to go into the storage pod after all.

Today has been cozy and domestic, sorting through boxes and figuring out which things we actually have room to keep in our apartment's tiny cabinets. And eating veggie, because while I was able to find two cans of crabmeat, the only can-opener we had was a battery-powered one that Colleen had just purchased. Batteries not included.

Oh, and did I mention the scratches I got as I attempted to corner a terrified Ticia and get her into her carrier? Those too.

Meanwhile, here we are.

Notes & links, as usual )

posted late because my emacs client is flaking out. Probably due to the HTTPS redirection.

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

As things become increasingly sureal for me, it's appropriate that the week opened with Salvador Dalí's Long Lost Collaboration With Walt Disney.

It has not been a good week. Naomi found a nice apartment for Colleen and me, in the U District. We will move in next weekend. The prospect of splitting the household, even temporarily, is tearing me apart, especially since we don't know where we're going to end up, or when.

We've continued to look for a new home. The Maple Valley place was magical and lovely, but between wetlands, well, and septic system it's almost impossible -- perhaps completely impossible -- to build anything new on it to replace the mobile home that's too old to be financed. When we eventually move, it would be just as hard to sell as the the present owner is finding it, so we'd be trying to buy a new place with over $250K tied up in the old one. Not good. But it was the only place we've seen that looks as if we could simply move in with only minimal work -- and we'll need to move soon.

The combination of grief, depression, anxiety, burnout, hopelessness, and guilt -- the latter over the incredible number of screw-ups over the last thirty years that got me to this place -- is getting worse and worse. I just want to crawl into a hole, and things that need doing continue to pile up.

In other news, the country I live in is rapidly becoming unrecognizable. Amazon's TV adaptation of The Man in the High Castle is horrifyingly apropos, and Trump Supporters Reaction to Amazon's Resistance Radio is both Sad and Hilarious. Have a billboard.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been a busy week here at Rainbow's End -- last weekend was g's Bat Mitzava and the associated parties; this weekend my Mom is visiting, and we had a few of the local cousins visiting yesterday. In preparation for last week's parties, we had the Great Room almost completely cleared out.

That, of course, made things interesting for this week's party, especially since many of our folding chairs are also in the pod. But between the purple sofabed, my desk chair, what was once Colleen's sewing chair, N's old recliner, and a couple of clunky metal folding chairs that had been languishing on the porch, we managed. We used three of our folding tray tables as a makeshift buffet for cheese and crackers, the blue coffee cups as wineglasses, and had a great afternoon and evening of food and conversation. Never found an opening for music, but...

We are trying, so far without success, to find an apartment for Colleen and I to move into for the next couple of months. Furnished apartments rented month-to-month are mainly for corporate clients, which can afford to pay hotel-room prices: 3-4K/month is typical. There's one place for about 1600, but the rooms are small, the "kitchen" is a tiny microwave, and they don't allow pets. We could manage unfurnished, though it would mean hauling our beds and Colleen's chair.

I was on call this week at work; I found someone to swap with for the weekend, so I'm off the hook until some weekend in May. $PROJECT officially launches (dialed up to 1%) on Monday, which is my actual birthday. So there's that.

I'm not in the best shape physically -- anything that requires me to bend over, like cleaning the floor or changing the bed, is likely to be very bad for my back. Bringing in the desk chair from the Great Room, however, is definitely helping. At least half my problems were caused by trying to use a computer from a folding chair. It also helps that the desk chair lets me use my heating pad.

I'm almost certainly not in terribly good shape emotionally (modulo alexithymia, of course). Leaving the house is hard. Well, grief counseling is one of the Middle-Sized Bear's job functions. I should probably re-read "Mark Elf" to remind myself of that.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

I was on vacation this last week. Which means that it was extremely busy, but in a different way from work. That's not a bad thing. There were two major events, so we'll take them chronologically.

Monday Naomi and I went out looking at houses with (realtor) Chris. There was one place that we found that looked intriguing, and two that we thought were worth trying for. The intriguing place, the third one we looked at, was a five bedroom place for about 280K, the high end of our range. It had two usable sections, plus a huge unfinished basement. It would have cost us about another 100K to remodel to the point of usability. (Another place, less interesting, was an absolute dump, but had a large back yard that we could have easily put a tiny on.)

The first place we looked at was a great-looking mobile, fairly new, for an astounding price. I figured, correctly, that it would be selling for considerably over the asking price. When we saw the place in Maple Valley, we pretty much didn't care. We took G, Colleen, and the kids out Thursday evening. They loved it as much as N and I did.

I'm not going to say much about it until after we have an offer in, and there could still be dealbreakers in the inspection and feasibility study, but it's basically everything we were looking for: a piece of land with an existing cottage for me and Colleen, and space for a tiny house for N and G. (One kid in each.) The price is right on the edge of what we can buy for cash (and we'll have to) after our present house sells.

OK, that's the first thing.

The second was g's Bat Mitzva. It was wonderful, and g basically blew people away. It was followed by a small party for the visiting family members on both sides -- we provided the space, and g's dad and step-mom provided the rented equipment and food. Those are getting used today as well, for the kids' party.

I'd forgotten (or never knew) how wonderful the music was -- it's been over 50 years since the last one of those I'd been to, and for that matter they may not have been that musical. The entire Hebrew portion was chanted. I never learned the language, despite my heritage, but it didn't matter. I just let myself be carried away on the music.

Wish us luck on the house transactions!

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Long month this week. Colleen started feeling ill Monday, and didn't eat anything to speak of; she spent most of the day dozing in her chair, and decided to sleep there at night. About midnight she called -- she'd fallen out of the chair; no telling whether she'd slipped when getting up, or accidentally hit the lift button. Called 911 for help. In retrospect, we should have had her taken to the ER at that point.

I decided to work from home Tuesday, which was a Good Thing. About 3:30 when I went up to check on her she was incoherent -- "out of it". Called 911; she was too weak to walk to the lift, so they had to carry her down in a stair chair. She had about three different bladder infections and was severely dehydrated; it was the low blood pressure from the latter that accounted for the weakness and incoherence.

Harborview's cafeteria is actually pretty decent.

She was discharged Friday; was good to have her home.

Meanwhile, since being with a sleeping person in a hospital leaves one with lots of time, I'd managed to get in about 2.5 days worth of work, and finally got the CR I'd been working on shipped Friday. I went in to work Thursday afternoon after establishing that C wasn't going to be discharged that day, and had my annual review conversation with $BOSS.

I'd been very skeptical about the new annual review process, which is absolutely freaking weird. Peer reviews have two questions, with a 60-word limit for each:

  1. What is this person's superpower? (required)
  2. Do you have any growth ideas for them? (optional)

The manager's part of it is the same two questions, only I think without the 60-character limit. The self-evaluation part has four questions.

As I said, skeptical. But it actually seemed to go very well: it's designed to highlight your strengths, and completely ignore past performance. The feedback I got from my peers (my manager could see who wrote which one, but one gets them unedited) was basically dead on. The fact that $PROJECT was in "friends and family" testing and stalled due to something that wasn't my fault (fixed by Friday) helped a lot.

My favorite superpower was "CraftWeaver". Others mentioned my willingness to mentor and answer questions from newer devs. Someone specifically mentioned the fact that when someone sends out a question in email to a wide audience, I'm usually the one who jumps on it with an answer. The most common growth idea was that I should speak up more in meetings.

Of course, the other thing going on in the household is moving. I got the tools sorted on Sunday, and with several peoples' help got the art sorted, mostly Sunday and yesterday. N's criterion for keeping art is pretty loose, based on the fact that it stores flat and can be rotated. Chaos and the Dwarves also took quite a lot of it; there are comparatively few pictures left in the discard pile. Most of the furniture is gone from the Great Room; the only things left are the klic-klacs (which we're keeping), the blue sectional (which we're keeping through next week), and the piano. Want a free piano?

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Things are getting seriously packed up now. I spent five hours yesterday with the organizers getting my papers in order; there's an apalling number of unpaid bills and even uncashed checks in there. Today's session will focus on my tools and other clutter in the Great Room, I think. A few items have gone missing; hopefully packed. N lost track of some irreplacable photos; two of the four had been packed and were ready to go out with some other artwork, but the other two turned up in the bottom of a bookcase, apparently put there by a previous organizer.

Our closet and kitchen have also been decimated. Naomi put some items up for free on NextDoor -- that seems like the most effective way to get rid of stuff that we would otherwise have to donate anyway. Cx came to take the smaller bookcases. A few antique items have been sold.

Chicken tikka masala twice this week -- last Sunday, and yesterday. It's quick and tasty, though I probably should do some other things too. (Well, I can do chili, stroganoff, stir-fry; I just don't usually.)

$PROJECT at work hit what I hope was the last snag Friday; hopefully we can get that sorted out Monday.

I still can't reliably distinguish between physical and mental symptoms resembling exhaustion or depression.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Rough week. There are going to be a lot more of them.

Almost all of the books we're keeping have been moved out to the pod, and most of the other Great Room stuff as well. So have our CDs and DVDs. The breakfront and buffet have been cleared and sorted; they'll go soon. Half of our booze is gone, as are the 12-string and the M-Audio Quattro and preamp. Our housekeeper, G', has taken the hot tub and has claimed the piano. My brother wants the musk ox (a marvelous sculpture entitled "Here I Stand") and the bound volumes of Analytical Chemistry that have Dad's articles in them.

Haven't started on the garage yet. Need to get the tools sorted and listed. Ugh. Pictures first full week in March -- that'll be tight. We basically have only 19 days left, because the final weekend will be taken up by g's Bat Mitzva.

Things are increasingly surreal. I alternate between nostalgia, regret, depression, and terror, with random, inexplicable stretches of calm and occasionally even optimism. I guess adventures are like that. Nasty, uncomfortable things.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Did I mention that we're moving? We got a portable storage unit just a week ago. It's pretty big, but we're downsizing a lot, too. We might make it. Naomi has hired an Organizer to help; I got to work with her yesterday and she is indeed fantastic.

At this point I have my desk cleared and ready to go away, and pretty much everything in boxes and bins. I have a big stack of hard drives to wipe, about the same size stack to wipe or repurpose, and a huge stack of laptops to go through. Friday I helped N clear out the area downstairs that needs to be repaired; Travis started yesterday. I'm tired and pretty much brain-fried.

We've been making progress at work, but there are still problems. I'm on call next week, at least until I can find a substitute. That will be complicated by the 6" of snow predicted for tomorrow.

I've been hating having to move, but I have to say that actually clearing out the junk and downsizing radically is rather cheering. Don't know whether that's because it's doing something, or something more specific to what we're doing, but whatever it is, I'll take it.

I have a fair amount of stuff that should go to a good home. A really nice tower PC in an Antec P150 case -- it's nearly silent. A 12-string guitar. Some recording gear. A 15" Gem PA speaker (Musician's Friend has them on sale every so often). A piano.

Oh, and a really awesome house. 6 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, two living rooms, two kitchens, and a great room/concert hall that seats 70, all fully handicap accessible. Going to miss this place.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (distress)

This last weekend was Conflikt, our local filk convention. GOH was the incomparable Judi Miller; Vixy and Tony were the toast-band, Mark Peters was Interfilk guest, and there was the usual assortment of other guests, including Mary Crowell doing a concert and album release party.

Mark's guest panel was unusual -- he's the sound person for OVFF, so it was a combination talk and live demo. Fun! Judi, in addition to being a simply amazing sign-language interpreter, has a beautiful singing voice as well.

I only sang a few songs: Windward, plus helping Chaos with Filk Inside the Circle (her filk of World Inside the Crystal) Saturday; The Bears and Millennium's Dawn on Sunday while the brunch was going on elsewhere.

Some lovely catching up with people, and I met a couple of new people (Halley and Becca)

I've been stressed all week about the impending move (impending -- that's what doom does, right?) plus the impending (see above) live tests that our project really isn't ready for. Last night was particularly bad; a combination of con drop, frantic sorting, and some highly stressful cleanup. When I finally got to bed I just curled up into a ball for a while. Cat therapy helps some.

Sorting is hard. There are a lot of old memories that I'm having trouble processing, not to mention just plain grieving. Still, there are bright spots. For a while now we've been tossing some items into boxes labeled "Interfilk". There were three of them. It took me an hour and a half to unpack everything and put bid sheets on it; I think we amounted to about a third of the items. *Sigh* a lot of history there. But when something's been in a box for the last five years, or ten, and you haven't missed it, there's really not much point in hanging on to it.

Doesn't keep me from wishing I didn't have to.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (distress)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

Moderately productive at work. Less so at home.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    So. Trumped.

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

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

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

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

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Went grocery shopping with Colleen yesterday. Exhausting.

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

    Edit after discovering that I'd missed Saturday.

    mdlbear: (flamethrower)

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

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

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


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

    Rather an unproductive week at work.

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Oh, yeah: the link:

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

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    mdlbear: (tsunami)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Moderately productive. Two "publishing events".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

    I think I cooked three or four meals this week.

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It's been a long month this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

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