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

I have this feeling I should post something for the end of the year, which is fast approaching (and probably well past for most of my readers by now).

It's been a year. Or maybe a decade. I had three jobs, which is as many as I had in the previous two decades. I/we bought a house and moved into it -- last time I did that was 38 years ago. We have cats -- last time I had a cat was, I don't know, about 60 years ago? Something like that. Colleen spent months in hospitals and nursing homes.

I'm looking forward to a couple of years of being settled. I'm not likely to get them, of course. Next year I have to sell the Starport, add on to Rainbow's End, catch up on a hellacious number of medical bills, get the cars repaired, go to my 45th college reunion, ... Well, we'll see. Tomorrow is another year.

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

Or anyway, the last ten days of last month. I finally got around to doing some much-needed maintenance on the computers and their configuration... and figured out why the UPS kept turning itself off -- it must have been doing its periodic battery test... on a totally dead battery. :P

I also got the backup scripts back in operation. I now have a complete, almost-ready-to-boot mirror drive as well as my traditional incremental backup. What, me paranoid?

The Shuttle box I've been using as a desktop system is dead; it runs for a few minutes, then kernel panics. Possibly memory. Not going to worry about it; it's had a good run. I seem to be doing ok with just the netbook for most purposes.

Colleen's caregiver turned in her resignation on Monday, after leaving early Saturday for a family emergency, and not showing up at all on Monday. That's ok; today was going to have been her last day anyway. We've doubled Emmy's allowance.

The YD is just as good a caregiver as May was, and more concerned with cooking things the whole household would like to eat. I'll miss the occasional spicy dish, but that's what sriracha's for.

Colleen is mostly doing better, gradually getting her strength back. The YD is more willing to be firm with her about exercise than May was, so that's a plus, too. Of course she did spend the week with a fever of 102, not eating, and ended up spending most of the weekend in the hospital. (With a UTI, low blood pressure, dehydration, and messed-up blood chemistry.) She's better now, as I said.

The LG washer/dryer combo arrived last Saturday; they couldn't actually install it because there wasn't a 110V outlet within reach. Got that taken care of, and finished the install myself. Not as tight against the wall as it should be, but it'll do. It's nice to have the extra laundry capacity.

Somebody, probably May, didn't close the door to the deck firmly enough, and it blew open. Naturally, out little cat burgler found it and went outside. She hadn't gone far, though; after I tracked her down Naomi coaxed her back inside, looking wet and bedraggled. I doubt she's learned anything from her little adventure, though.

Oh, and the idiot Republicans let the government go into shutdown. Again. The problem with coming up with a string of lies aimed at getting stupid people to vote the way you want, is that eventually they end up voting in stupid people who believe the lies. Oops. Did I mention idiots?

Links in the notes.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (poly-heart)

Almost a week. Starting out rather rough: the YD was injured in a near-accident on the bus on Monday, Colleen had an endoscopy appointment on Wednesday (mine is this week), and in between I was very stressed and close to overload. This makes bears grumbly. Grumble.

On the other paw, the house gets closer and closer to reality. It's going to be a strange household -- strange even by Seattle polyamorous fandom standards, I suspect -- but it'll work. It'll work precisely because of its strangeness. Hmm. That really wants a separate post, doesn't it?

It's not something I ever expected. Living with kids younger than my younger brother's grandkids? Taking on over half a megabuck in debt when I'm old enough to retire? Am I crazy? Of course. And I have the prescriptions to prove it.

Quite a few excellent links, spanning much of the Space Marine kerfuffle.

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

Another week gone by. Do people prefer the weekly dumps, or daily dribbles? Inquiring minds and all that.

Worrying news on the job front -- $COMPANY, which last I heard was about to hire me as soon as they got through some back-office stuff, has re-organized. There's a new hiring manager, and apparently he has some concerns. AARGH! I have a new set of interviews on Tuesday. If this falls through I'm unlikely to get anything before my severance pay runs out.

In retrospect it's a good thing I couldn't get a Friday slot -- I apparently came down with a 24-hour virus of some sort. With luck I'm over it now, but I was pretty miserable yesterday afternoon and evening. Went to bed 10:30ish and slept for 11 hours.

In other news, I've done a little music with Naomi, and fixed a mysterious problem I'd been having with my mail reader.

I have been realizing more and more how much we'd been relying on Colleen's support network back in San Jose: Liz (and Marty and Alison before her), Safeway.com, ... Housekeeping, shopping, and driving Colleen places are nearly a full-time job. I'll be happy when the YD gets her license.

Speaking of the YD, she's an official AVON Representative now.

I want a Nexus 7 and a pair of Want. Also want Equator D5 Studio Monitors. Grump. When I get a job, damnit...

Since the Hugos were announced, I've been reading Digger by Ursula Vernon, the winner for best graphic story. Go read it -- it's amazing.

Lots of links, as one would expect for a week's worth.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (cthulhu-santa)

Between now and next weekend the Starport is pretty much open every day: we take in strays for the holidays. Today's menu is borscht, honey-glazed ham, and the smoked duck my brother sent us. The annual "sometime around New Year" potluck is January 2nd, a week from tomorrow. (The only exception is that we'll probably be off on a family outing this Sunday.)

The [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf and [livejournal.com profile] selkit will be hosting on New Year's Eve.

If you feel like stopping by any time in between, you'll be welcome if anybody's home; it's usually a good idea to call ahead except for today, Wednesday, and next Saturday.

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

A fairly busy day; a lot of stuff got mailed. Getting the taxes off, in particular, was a great relief. I walked down to the pond, but the water was too murky to see the koi.

The usual aches and pains; they didn't get bad until evening; I took some cyclobenzaprine before going to bed. I'm not sure which helped more: that, or the shoulder rub I got from T a little before she left. It would be nice if my body would just plain work. That, and my flying car...

 

The day's link sausage consists of JsonML, a cool markup and templating system that can operate on the browser side of the web, and this heartwarming story about a high school football team going pink to fight breast cancer (link from [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi).

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

Once again, the folks at Grand Central Starport (San Francisco Bay Area) are having their annual Halloween(ish) party; this year it actually falls on Halloween itself. As usual it's a potluck; costumes are optional but should be street-legal. No pets, but there may be filking. If you have special dietary requirements, bring something you're sure you can eat.

Directions and maps are linked from the household web page. Or you could just try clicking the "location" link.

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

Colleen's going to be hanging around the house all day, so if you're near the Starport and want to borrow a cup of air conditioning and internet, come on over.

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

Again, a pretty good day. I'm not sure what's making the difference, but I'm not complaining. Colleen and I are starting to think about ways of taking some of the caregiving and errand-running load off of me (see comments on this post in particular). I expect to be posting more about this later.

The short version, though, is that she's going to be shifting a lot of the grocery shopping to Safeway's online store, and holding a Ladies' Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society meeting on Tuesday nights to give me some time off.

Colleen went off to San Francisco in the afternoon with Marty and Ali to a 50%-off sale on Britex's remnant floor. I'm delighted -- she had fun, and came back happy and unharmed, and planning additional fabric-oriented mayhem. (See previous paragraph.)

The "Being Mindful" group finally started up at Kaiser. (For those not into the latest psychobabble, it's about the theraputic version of Buddhist meditation techniques aimed at achieving mindfulness: a "mental state, characterized by calm awareness of one's body functions, feelings, content of consciousness, or consciousness itself.") Mindfulness looks like a useful addition to my mental toolkit, and I'm starting to try to apply it. (Tag: zen.)

Finding a support group for caregivers may take a little more work; there's one at Kaiser, but the description is specific to caregivers of Alzheimer's patients.

And the YD made dinner -- the chicken was OK and a trifle underdone; the roasted zucchini slices drizzled with olive oil and maple syrup were surprising and wonderful!

I don't think I mentioned it at the time, but [livejournal.com profile] artbeco's gorgeous Amethyst Rose card that I ordered from her Etsy shop arrived a couple of days ago. Wow.

Good conversations, a little silliness, a happy Cat, and snuggle. Yeah, a pretty good day.

mdlbear: (iLuminati)

We've been looking all over the house for Colleen's MP3 player, which has been missing ever since she came back from her last Remicade appointment. She wanted me to figure out how to put it into shuffle mode, which I thought I had done.

As it turned out it wasn't in the purple tote bag under the table, which she was positive was the one she'd taken to her appointment. It was in a green Whole Foods tote mostly full of empty Coke cans, which someone had hung up next to the washing machine on one of the hooks we use for bags of cans and bottles to be recycled. There was also a bag of peppermints in there.

I am simultaneously overjoyed that it's been found, mildly annoyed that someone (undoubtedly trying hard to be helpful) would have put it where it didn't belong without looking or asking, and considerably amused.

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

The party last night was a fairly low-key affair, but several people showed up who probably wouldn't have if they hadn't felt the need to drop by Colleen's hotel hospital room and give their regards.

Got some awesome hugs.

Since I spent most of the evening sitting out in the living room trying to look sociable, if not actually being sociable, I didn't get much of the one-on-one conversations I really prefer. Sorry about that -- you'll have to catch me either online or on the phone if you want to talk. Around lunchtime is usually good, though Monday and Tuesday of this week look kinda shot.

It's been a weekend unconducive to getting things done around the house, but I finally have the bottles cleaned out of the front bathtub to the point where somebody could actually, like, bathe in it.

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

It was incredibly nice to have Colleen home for a Wednesday, even if all there was time for was the shopping, and a little less than three hours at home. The house misses her when she's gone.

I had originally decided to work from home on Wednesdays, but had meetings in both the morning and afternoon. I did skip my lunchtime walk and spend an hour or so with her instead.

She's in pretty good spirits, considering, and feeling a lot better.

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

Colleen is now at a point where it's safe for her to leave the nursing home for up to four hours at a stretch when she's not hooked up to the IV, basically any time between 1:30pm and 8pm. Today I picked her up at 4pm (after collecting the Y.D. at school, since she's suffering from a muscle cramp of unknown etiology and would have found it next to impossible to walk home). She'd been waiting in the lobby with Joyce.

It was good. The house felt right with Colleen sitting in her usual chair; there were laughter and hugs and snuggles. For about half an hour we just lay on the bed with her head on my shoulder -- that's what both of us miss the most. Oddly, it wasn't too hard to take her back, though we left in something of a rush. I sat with her for about 40 minutes and held her hand, and helped her set up her little artificial Christmas tree.

She'll be coming home Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; she also has an appointment with her gastrointestinal specialist on Thursday. I'll be working from home on Wednesdays; it's the perfect day both because of the amount of errand-running needed and because it's the same day that one of my coworkers works from home.

The only problem with her coming home some afternoons is that people coming to visit her get very confused; happened to her friend Marty today. I may have to print up something for her to put on the bed.

Thankful

Nov. 27th, 2008 08:40 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I don't always do one of these, but today there's a lot to be thankful for:

  • I have my family, pulling together in a time of crisis. Most especially I have Colleen, with me for over a third of a century, and two children who are growing up into beautiful young women.
  • I have, oddly, a son-in-law who loves my older daughter, and who gets along with the rest of the family.
  • My Mom is still alive, happily running the library at her retirement home a month shy of her 88th birthday.
  • I'm gainfully and happily employed, for a company that gives a damn about society and the environment.
  • I have music, and Tres Gique looks as though it's going to work as an almost-real band.
  • I have my heart back. Whether from a hormonal shift, a higher dose of Vitamin D, or good deep conversation when I needed it, I do.
  • I've had a year on the River; a year of extraordinary personal discovery, deep conversation, friendship, love, profound writing, long walks, and a series of experiences that, while sometimes painful, I have taught me more than words can easily express.
  • I have my friends, online and offline. Filkdom, fandom, and random, I love you all. Thank you.
  • I have love: people I love and people who love me.
  • ... and I am profoundly, inexpressibly thankful that Colleen's health troubles started before we drove down to LOSCON, so that she could be cared for close to her home, family, and friends.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

(Background: Colleen is in the hospital for what's looking like a 6-week stay. See this post for the previous update, and the Starport web page for up-to-date contact info, including room#.)

The bottom line is that it will take about six weeks for Colleen's intestine to heal. They can't remove the bad part surgically because repaired segments tend to turn into problems down the line. Can't win, in other words.

As of this morning she was rather grumpy. It's well known that grumpy old people survive better, so I'm rather encouraged by this in a backhanded sort of way.

This morning she had just gotten the news that they were going to move her to a different room, but as far as I know it hasn't happened yet -- I'll post when/if it does. Hopefully the new room will have Wi-Fi as well as cell phone service (which she does have, fortunately); I'm also bringing in a travel router in case Kaiser's IT staff need something trustworthy they can plug into their LAN.

Now that we've sort-of gotten over the shock, the household is starting to adapt. I'm proud and delighted at the way our [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf has stepped into the role of interim alpha female in the household, taking things like phone calls, Wednesday pizza, grocery shopping, and transportation arrangements in stride. Kudos for our Wolfling daughter.

I've been adjusting as well, working hospital visits into my schedule again, and changing my online priorities. I'll still keep up with my friends list, but will probably make fewer comments and spend less time active on IM.

I'll be heading out to see her in a couple of minutes. More later tonight.

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

This weekend, we will be having our annual sometime-around-Halloween party at Grand Central Starport, Saturday, November 1st; you'll find maps, directions, and contact information at the link.

As usual, it's a potluck -- kids, friends, and musical instruments are always welcome. Costumes are encouraged, but not required.

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

Yesterday's wedding was wonderful -- outdoors on the top of a hill, with a stunning view and perfect weather. The site, the couple's new home, will be opening as a winery in 2010. For now the "winery" is a huge metal barn, which is where they held the dinner. They rolled up the door on the west side for a perfect view of the sunset.

The bride's parents are old friends. Dave Uggla, who graduated from Carleton College the year before me, is probably the only person in California whe remembers me without a beard. I met Joyce folkdancing at Stanford, and we shared an apartment for a couple of years before Dave moved in (and I moved in with Colleen). Joyce and their son Jordan are members of Tres Gique. Their daughter, Linea, is less than a year younger than our daughter [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf.

 

We got lost getting there. Twice. Turns out that the big sign welcoming you to Fairplay, California is not on Fairplay Road but on Grizzly Flat. There's a house at the same address as the winery. Oops. I remarked at one point, after tempers had cooled a little, that the whole thing would probably have been highly enjoyable as someone else's LJ post.

In the morning after breakfast we decided to explore in that direction; I got thrown off by the fact that the directions we had from Google Maps, while accurate and suitable for coming from the motel (West on US50), were highly misleading when coming East from Placerville. We tried to go back from Fairplay by unwinding the directions, when I discovered that both Kat and Colleen had totally misunderstood my unwinding request, but in totally different ways. We ended up far off course and in bad temper; I'll get into that under the cut in case you want to skip it.

 

We were coming from Placerville because we went there for breakfast (or brunch). We were looking for someplace to have Hangtown Fry, and wound up at the Buttercup Pantry, which advertizes itself as the "Home of the Hangtown Fry". Never mind that they also advertize themselves as having opened about a century after that dish was invented, for a miner who ordered the most expensive items on the menu after striking it rich. He got oysters, eggs, and bacon. Yum. I don't think that smoked oysters are strictly authentic, but the total effect was definitely made of yum.

We'll be back at Buttercup this morning, though I'll probably try something else.

 

River: reading maps and reading people )

I'm probably never going to get this "being human" thing right, am I?

Well, it was a good wedding, and we ended the day contented and safe. I'll take that any time.

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

Let's see...

I woke up at about 7:30 after a full 8 hours of sleep, thanks to cyclobenzaprine and aspirin. The neck and shoulder pain from yesterday were mostly gone, and my left eye wasn't glued shut. Good start.

My latest patent disclosure was accepted; now I just have to figure out how to describe it to a lawyer well enough to get it written up. One of my coinventers -- the one with the degree in EE -- will have to implement it, though I might be able to cobble together a simulation.

Had a good walk; took in the hill in both directions, but rather slower than I could have if I were in better shape. Took 1:15 or so.

Joined in a fascinating conversation in the lunchroom. It takes about a petabyte to record all the information you encounter over your entire life: audio, video, and text. How long before that fits on a cell phone?

Got a happy phone call from the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat and a brief, delightful email from [livejournal.com profile] cflute that brightened the afternoon even further.

Tracked down the code I'm going to use as a base for one of the projects I'm starting to work on.

Came home a little early to spend some time with the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf; took her to the train station at 7:00. She'll be getting on her train to Seattle (and points North) in a little while.

It'll feel odd without the Wolfling around the house.

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

This was originally going to be a post about "friendly families". Friendly families do things together as families -- they visit, go places together, do things together, sometimes celebrate together; they keep in touch when they're apart. The kids play together, if they're of similar ages; otherwise the older ones may babysit the younger ones. They go to one anothers' parties. They usually have a network of mutual friends.

You find them a lot in fandom and the SCA. The House of the Anonymous Bosh was a huge, sprawling household with a couple of families at the core and a several more orbiting closely; many of us haven't been in the SCA in years, but we're still fairly close. Still friendly. Still going to one anothers' parties and inviting one another to our kids' weddings. Still meeting at conventions. Comment on one anothers' LJs...

But family outings are rare, now that the kids are old enough to have their own social lives, and they're not really all that interesting. It turns out that the interesting phenomenon is the curmudgeons. There are usually one or two in every family gathering; I've often been one of them. At SCA events I'd spend most of my time reading. On Wednesday nights at the Starport I could usually be found in the office, especially when the conversation in the living room got dull or excessively loud. Sometimes some of the other geeks will join me there -- there's always plenty of Linux and Perl to talk about. Sometimes it's the musicians who end up geeking in a corner. Or the cooks in the kitchen, or the costumers in the sewing room.

M is one of Colleen's best friends, and one of her daughters is my Younger Daughter's best friend; the Y.D. used to babysit her younger sister, and still loves playing with her. Her husband, D? I rarely see him except when he comes to collect one of the kids from our house. He feels out of place at our parties. That's OK.

There are people who do come over on Wednesday nights, and attend every single one of our parties, but aren't social at all. They'll sit in a corner and read a book from our fanishly-extensive library, or hide behind their laptop, or use one of our computers. That's OK, too.

I'm trying to be less curmudgeonly these days; at least now I'm usually one of the ones who hides behind a laptop, with a guitar within reach for the occasional request. But at the same time I'm less concerned about it. I'm not all that sociable, and sometimes it's a strain. And even when I am feeling sociable there are times when I'll pull someone aside for a private conversation, if only to avoid subjecting the rest of the party to one more run-through of "Quiet Victories" or "The River".

I think that recognizing this phenomenon makes me more comfortable with it, in others as well as in myself. There's no reason to feel like a bad host if someone is only there on Wednesday for the beer, the books, and the bandwidth. Grand Central Starport is a very comfortable place, even for curmudgeons.

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

The party here at Grand Central Starport (in San Jose, CA) will be starting sometime around noon (or whenever guests start to arrive), and ending a dozen hours later or thereabouts. It's a potluck. There will be filking. Maps, directions, contact information, and so on are on the household web page.

9:30 -- Quote of the Day

[livejournal.com profile] flower_cat: Let the kids sleep as late as possible on a party day."
me: Right. That way we'll have somebody to let the last guests out at 2am after we've gone to bed.
Cat: There's method in my madness...

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

There will be one of our four annual parties here at Grand Central Starport (San Jose, CA in case you're just tuning in) this coming Saturday. Maps, directions, contact information, and so on are on the household web page.

As usual, it's a potluck. There will almost certainly be filking, if only to show off my latest song.

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

Yesterday evening was our usual household open house. I've been trying to spend more time out in the living room being (at least a little bit) sociable, rather than retreating to the office and waiting for the geeks to congregate there. It mostly worked, now that I've made a little music-geek's corner with an armless chair, music stand, guitar stand, and tray table for a laptop. Now that Colleen has her EeePC, we had at least as many laptops in the room as people for much of the evening.

Joyce and family came over, and we ran through the songs on the Baycon setlist. It's coming together nicely. We'll have another rehearsal Monday at Joyce's, and again next Thursday after [livejournal.com profile] cflute arrives. Those will include more detail work; with a live audience, even a small one, you can't do much more than just run through the songs with a little critiquing in between, and there are more distractions.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

This past weekend was a heck of a lot of fun, but not much actual work got done around the house. Worth it.

I did, however, get to a minor bit of system administration that's been in my queue for a while: I took down my office workstation (Harmony), put it on the newer of the two BackUPS Pro 600's (the old one, which I rescued from work, doesn't provide as much information over the serial line), and moved the mirror drive from an external case to an internal tray.

There are still some oddities on that machine -- it really needs a new motherboard and CPU. It's pretty far down on the queue, though.

I also uploaded [livejournal.com profile] artbeco's wedding pictures; it's up to the Wolfling to wrap something useful around those. Took several hours; our upload speed sucks. Fortunately there were plenty of other things to do.

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

We spent a delightful, relaxing weekend with the [livejournal.com profile] jenkitty. She got up at some ridiculous hour to fly down from Seattle Saturday morning, and left Sunday evening. We (me, the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat, and the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf -- the Y.D. wasn't interested in the kinds of things we had partially planned) piled into the van with Colleen's wheelchair and spent all day Saturday driving back from the Oakland airport (which has been extensively renovated since I was last there, and had surprisingly little traffic) by way of San Francisco.

The entire weekend was an exercise in real-time scheduling. We drove along the waterfront, passing up the food paradise of the Ferry Building because of large crowds and a lack of parking, past the tourist traps of Fisherman's Wharf, South on Van Ness, West on Geary past Japantown, and had a late breakfast at the Cliff House. Crab is a house specialty. Yum.

South on the Great Highway to Golden Gate Park, and parked under the de Young Museum. We need more museum time. The textile gallery was showing Turkmen weaving -- wow! The pace and interaction are vastly different when I'm wheeling Colleen around, but it wasn't unpleasant by any means.

After the museum we went next door to the Japanese Tea Garden. This was mostly a matter of Jen and Kat exploring widely while I tried to figure out how to get around with Colleen and the chair. On occasion I failed miserably; fortunately the Cat is still fairly mobile under her own power. No disasters.

Finally, we drove down to San Jose via Skyline Boulevard (as far as Woodside), took a turn past $WORK on Sand Hill Road, and tried to figure out where to have dinner. We'd originally identified a couple of places in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, but it was still too early and the Wolfling really didn't want her sister to be entirely left out, so we went home, let the Kitty take a nap, and headed out to Kobe, our favorite sushi boat place.

The evening was a combination of filking, conversation, and looking at the proofs of the wedding pictures, which [livejournal.com profile] artbeco brought over for us to sort through.

Sunday the Kitty slept in while I went out for bagels and Scottish lox, then a walk to the Rose Garden. There was time for Jen to have a bagel before going out "silly food shopping" to Cosentino's with Colleen. Colleen's been shopping there for nearly three decades; most of the staff are old friends. Dinner was huge pieces of lamb (which Colleen pan-broiled with Greek seasoning) with saffron rice and caprese (which I made). Quick, simple, and delicious.

All too soon it was time for Jen to leave. I combined the trip to the airport with dropping the kids off at their gaming session a couple of blocks down Coleman Avenue. All-in-all a delightful weekend; I just wish there was some way to do it more often.

Capped the weekend with a pleasant drive with the Cat.

mdlbear: (hill-of-three-oaks)

Note to my friends: this is a much happier post than the one I'm glad I didn't finish this morning. Things are well with me. Thank you for your patience. (/me waves cheerfully at those who have had the most to put up with from me over the last couple of weeks.)

Yesterday and today had a distinct feeling of transition; many things have become clearer in my mind, and I've started putting them into practice. Events have converged, and emotional uphevals have been processed. Things are different. The ghosts are gone, as they should be, and a few hours after the April finally left the planet by way of the International Date Line I felt as though a weight had lifted from my heart. The fires of Beltane have done their work, burning away the last of the old year's dead leaves and fallen branches.

Let's start with work. )

Colleen's wheelchair arrived yesterday. )

Wednesday night was a little different, too. )

Other things, too, are sorting themselves out. )

Spring is here, and by some ways of reckoning it's the New Year. Wherever you place that mark on the calendar, I hope that the fires of this Beltane have burned away your sorrows, and that the year to come brings you joy and contentment.

Balance

Mar. 20th, 2008 08:38 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Here's wishing a happy -- or at least a calm -- Equinox to those who mark it. It seems like a good day to talk about balance.

My life, like my finances, has been significantly out of balance for years. Things are starting to find a new equilibrium, though sometimes I feel like I've finally gotten it all together just in time to be forgetting where I put it.

Things like blog reading and IM usage are still a bit of a problem -- I always tend to do the fun stuff first -- but I'm trying to limit them and have been mostly successful. This week, anyway.

Financially, it's too early to say for sure, but I may have finally gotten both the Cat and I interested in setting up a household budget. Suggestions for Linux programs or locally-installable web applications will be gratefully accepted. (The ones I know about from "apt-cache search budget" on Ubuntu are grisbi, homebank, and equonimize; haven't had a chance to look at any of them.)

I may have been the only one to notice that last night's selection of cheeses was smaller than usual.

Balance plays a part in conversation, too. Last night's geekish conversation in the office was marked by comparatively little of it; people were more intent on making their own points -- repeatedly -- than in noting their areas of agreement and disagreement and moving on to something more interesting. Yes, scanning, printing, and vector drawing programs in Linux are broken. You really only have to say that once. Yes, human interface studies and guidelines are important. But if you dumb things down to match what your study has determined to be the "average" user's expectations, you leave off what may be a surprisingly long tail of users who aren't average and weren't included in your pitifully small study. (It's my blog -- I get to have the last word there.)

I'm blathering. Balance. Right.

(Note: The trainwreck and river tags are for discussion of financial and psychological issues respectively; there will be corresponding filters for non-public aspects of these, but I haven't started using them yet.)

mdlbear: (xo)
I'm posting this on my XO in the living room of the Starport: there are five laptops (all but one runnng Linux) and two smartphones visible. I have my XO in tablet mode sitting on the music stand, with my thinkpad keyboard in my lap.

I love our parties!
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Just a reminder: there's a party here at Grand Central Starport today. The tub is full of drinks (mostly left over from the con suite at Consonance); ice will be added at about 10am. We're ready; are you?

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

It's not exactly a party, but the Starport will be open all day tomorrow (New Year's Day) in case anyone wants to drop in. No guarantees on the food, so bring something if you want to be sure there's something to eat. We have plenty of soft drinks and a reasonable amount of beer.

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

If you're reading this post on Saturday, December 29, you're missing the party. If you're in the neighborhood of San Jose, come on over. The usual potluck bash.

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

Yeah, well... Grand Central Starport is open today and tomorrow for anyone in the area who wants to borrow some coolth and a fast net connection.

After a nice 5-mile walk (yay! finally!) and a light lunch, I set out to the dangerously seductive Southern Lumber for shelving and a couple of tools. We'd gotten Elfa shelf standards and brackets yesterday, but not the necessary 4-ft 1x8's. And I know there's a level in the house, but I couldn't find it, and the level in my ancient and cheap combination square was rattling loose in its housing and effectively worthless. Picked up a couple of paintbrushes, too, after determining that I did have Varathane Diamond Finish.

... And some sandpaper for the ancient Black&Decker electric sander, which died after about three shelves. Out of ten. Turned up a hand sander, and carried on: I knocked off the corners with a block plane, and [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf finished off with the sander. Power tools are useful, but hand tools are more satisfying.

I set up five plastic lawn chairs in lieu of sawhorses. Varathane Diamond is a fast-drying, water-based finish; in 95-degree weather it was dry to the touch on the first board by the time I finished with the fifth. Two coats on both sides of five shelves by the time the Wolfling was finishing up the sanding on the last one. We'll do the rest tomorrow; I was wiped.

Had some of the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat's yummy sangria and finished installing the Wolfling's shelf standards.

Went over to [livejournal.com profile] lisa_marli's party for a couple of hours, and to deliver pre-order disks to her and [livejournal.com profile] capplor, who I knew would be there because she'd (they'd?) stopped by to ask for directions while I was outside finishing. I still owe Robin a disk -- I didn't pack enough to cover her freebies. Sold one numbered set (can't rightly call them per-order sets anymore).

Now I'm back home, munching salami-and-cheese and finishing up another glass of sangria. Happy Bear.

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

Yesterday was our annual June party. It was lightly attended, but there was plenty of good conversation. As usual, the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat held court in the living room, where the conversation is wide-ranging and occasionally raucous, while I stayed mostly in the office where it's quieter and the talk is geekier -- mostly about computers and music.

Sold two more preorders.

I spent Saturday morning and much of the afternoon reconfiguring Dantooine, the 800MHz nini-ITX box that I had been using as a workstation before I built Trantor, as the new print server and Linux client machine, the latter so that guests would have something to browse with. I really need to ditch the old 17" Hitachi CRT -- anybody want a nice boat anchor monitor? Showing its age a bit, but still very functional.

Configuring the printer went well, though it took me a while to figure out that the PPD files in the hpij package were newer than the ones in hplip, which was installed by default. I worked on system admin rather than the audio editing because I wanted something that was easier to interrupt as people arrived at the party.

Managed to squeeze in a short (2-mile) walk at about 4:30; the logistics just didn't work out for a longer walk in the morning.

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

As usual, we're holding a June party at Grand Central Starport. Noon until it breaks up, probably sometime around midnight. Directions at the link. The usual potluck bash.

It used to be celebrating the anniversary of the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat's florist business, but but now that she's folded that up and moved on, it's just a party. There will almost certainly be filking.

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

Did I mention the rehearsal with Joyce Monday night? I thought not. Got through much of the tentative setlist and a lot of my songbook -- I'd printed her a copy Saturday morning to give her at her husband's 60th birthday party on Sunday. Guess I didn't mention that, either. Got in some singing there, too, both my stuff and good old hymnal singing out of Rise Up Singing. Joyce is part of a group that's been holding monthly "songfests" for years; I occasionally tag along.

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

The tax data-entry is done. There are still a few receipts to be sorted out, mainly from charities, but those are just supporting documentation: the actual numbers come from the check register and the AMEX year-end summaries. I still have the various forms 1099 and the W2 that I need to get out of their envelopes, but those get entered directly because they don't have to be subtotalled.

So I'm going to declare the data-entry finished, and spend most of tomorrow on music (and being social with our various guests -- we've invited three or four, and we often get drop-ins). Call ahead if you want to drop in, and bear in mind that our idea of an Easter celebration involves barbecued rabbit and a ritual showing of The Wicker Man.

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

With the Fiancé ([livejournal.com profile] selkit) coming down soon from the frozen North for an extended stay with the Wolfling, the question of upgrading our miserable 384Kb/s DSL line once again comes up, this time with some urgency.

the alternatives in detail )

OK, so I seem to have convinced myself that Sonic is the way to go. So the main choices are:

  1. Switch to Sonic on my existing DSL line and take my chances with how long I'm without service during the transition.
  2. Add Sonic on my primary line, then drop the secondary. Take my chances on how long it would take, including the possibility of AT&T putting roadblocks in the way like they did last time. Smoothest transition -- only one DNS change.

Any advice? There are additional questions, like how to bridge my email and locally-hosted websites if I go with option 1. But we'll go with this one basic choice for now.

I really don't have the time to be messing with this, but that's another matter.

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

I've actually gotten quite a lot done today, but not the things I really wanted to do: recording and a good solid walk. I'm sorry, walking to and from the far of the parking lot at three different stores doesn't count. And there's our party tomorrow -- I think I'll try to go out for a walk early.

On the other hand, I did get new strings put on Snuggles (the Martin O15), bought an air mattress and pump, switched desktop computers so that I can put Harmony back in the bedroom studio for recording, taken the whole crew (including [livejournal.com profile] selkit and [livejournal.com profile] roaringmouse out to Red Lobster for dinner, and bought an engagement present for the kids. That was fun: a copy of Joy of Sex inscribed "RTFM". Came pretty close to breaking [livejournal.com profile] selkit, which after all was the whole point of the exercise.

Not to mention dishes, and a trip to Ikea to shop for a bedframe for the Wolfling.

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

My current morning schedule does not give me time to: get dressed, take meds, read cartoons, blogs, email, take the kids to school and work, do the dishes, glance at the newspaper, make and eat breakfast, and get anything else done.

Computer- and album-related tasks will have to wait for evening.

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

Turns out it's almost exactly 5 miles to get home after dropping the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf off at work. The trip takes about 25 minutes; roughly twice what it takes to get there via an almost-empty I280. Going back on the freeway would take about the same 25 minutes as surface streets, but with more stress and the added risk of an accident or other blockage at one of the two major interchanges along the way.

Israeli filker [livejournal.com profile] moshez showed up last night; unfortunately after most of the regulars had left and the kids gone to bed. We swapped some songs anyway. He's in the area this week installing software at a customer site.

Finally got Makefile and HEADER.html files into my Tracks directory and its Tracks/net/ subdirectory. They're a little rough; eventually more information will get into include files and most of the process of preparing a track working directory for upload will be automated.

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

Just a reminder to the locals on my flist that the Starport has power and air conditioning! Y'all are welcome to come over and share the coolth. There's a gas grill in the back, and a supply of potato chips (more potassium than bananas).

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

Yesterday was hot. Luckily our house has AC; [livejournal.com profile] ciarhwyfar, her daughter, and [livejournal.com profile] kshandra were using it as a refuge from the heat. We'll be open today, too. Then we wonder why our power bills are so damned high. Yet another thing to blame on global warming... Luckily I had gone for my walk fairly early, though it was already hot at 9:30.

Went to the Golden Bough concert in Pacifica; it was significantly cooler there by the ocean. Fantastic, as usual. It was still warm when we got home at 11:30.

Also did a little shopping for laptop accessories. Found a sleeve-type case by Case Logic that's about 3" too wide, but since it's soft it can fold over to fit in my rollie. After considerable searching, found a very small BlueTooth mouse by Macally. Nobody makes a BT trackball, or even a small trackball. Closest I've seen is a Targus "presenter" which not only has a trackball but a couple of keys for controlling a presentation program, and even a laser pointer. Also fairly expensive, and not BT; on reflection, the fact that it doesn't have to be paired could be an advantage.

mdlbear: (kill bill)

A day full of annoyances. Trying to get an authorization code to transfer thestarport.org out of Network Solutions Problems, and discovering that the email they were sending wasn't getting through. Turns out our sysadmin had installed a new spam-filtering appliance on Monday, which of course had a new address. The DNS hadn't propagated to Netsol yet. And the problem I was having yesterday was that the mail server for what used to be the lab's domain when I set up my contact info, rsv.ricoh.com, was down. Naturally it took until 11am or so for our admin to arrive and fix it. But by that time I'd already changed my contact email address to point to my home address here at thestarport.org.

Went out at noon to Fry's (taking the fact that my ankle is bothering me as a sufficient excuse to skip my usual walk) to buy an MP3 player. The ad assured me that the Samsung I bought would play ogg files, and indeed they have a reputation for doing so. Just to be sure, I checked several other vendors (having noticed that many of the boxes had phone numbers on them) and determined that, no, none of them played oggs.

What I didn't discover until I got the damned thing back to work was that it's totally locked down, and will only play files if you transfer them with Windows Media Player. So much for Samsung -- my respect for them just went down several notches.

Actually got a little work done in the latter part of the afternoon (mostly nailing down and documenting the encrypted blob format that [livejournal.com profile] finagler's software is writing) before trying to get an appointment with my doctor. The next available one was August 1st until I mentioned the ankle, at which point I got one for this Friday. OK, I understand about triage. By this time it was 5:05 and the opthalmology department was closed, in spite of the entry in the phone directory that said the appointment desk was open until 5:30.

Back to Fry's to exchange the MP3 player. One thing about Fry's -- they'll take their stuff back for just about any reason. That's why I keep going there.

Aside to whoever took the glass bottles out for recycling: would it have killed you to unstack the bins and put the bottles in the one labeled "glass" instead of just setting them down in the driveway?

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

We had a small but pleasant housefilk last night, mainly because the Bohnhoffs thought our party was this week instead of last week. [livejournal.com profile] caplor and family also showed up. The Younger Daughter, [livejournal.com profile] super_star_girl did yeoman service keeping the little ones happy while the rest of us sang.

For the last couple of years the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf has been getting deeper into filk; she sang a couple of her own parody songs, and sang with me on "House Carpenter" and "Demon Lover". Did a great job, considering that not only had we not rehearsed, but she hadn't even seen "House Carpenter" before we did it. She's still a little shaky on pitch, as I was (and still am to a large extent, if I don't have a guitar underneath me for reference).

Dead cow

Apr. 11th, 2006 09:02 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Our new freezer now contains about 250 pounds of dead cow (a hind quarter) in addition to what it had in it yesterday. It occupies the bottom two drawers, and a couple of shelves on the door. Considerably smaller than I expected, actually -- it came in two long cardboard boxes. It was more like 350lbs before being dressed (more like un dressed, I should think).

Annoyances

Mar. 26th, 2006 08:52 am
mdlbear: (grrr)

My annoyance over the state of the house is definitely on its way to the critical point. (What happens at that point is unclear, but it may involve a shovel, a grass rake, and a box of yard trash bags.)

This morning I went to make pancakes. The drawer where the measuring cups normally live was empty. I was able to find a one-cup dry measuring cup (one) and the one-cup liquid measuring cup on the counter. There are three salad forks left, out of a set of eight. There are things on the dish drainer that have been there for two weeks, because nobody knows where they belong. The chair where I normally put today's paper contained two stacks of books from the "duplicate/old/unwanted -- please take me" box, topped by a steam iron, a cookbook, and a guitar book, all slightly soggy and stuck together. I've been up for two and a half hours and I'm still all alone (which I don't mind). I've had my pancakes; anyone else who wants some can make their own.

I'm going to finish putting away the dishes, and then go out for a walk.

mdlbear: (borg)

This year Over the course of the last 12 months I've upgraded the Starport's three dual-boot machines from home-built 500MHz Win98 boxen to low-end (~$250) Fry's WinXP boxen. I was starting to think that I should have staggered the upgrades, as many people do, and bought only one new machine each year.

But then I started contemplating the recent announcement of delays to Windows Vista and Office 2007 and realized that, if I'd actually done that, I could easily have ended up with three different versions of Windows in the house. This way, I may have unwittingly timed things just about right; I can probably get another three years out of the machines I have, by which time they might have fixed the most egregious bugs in Vista and come out with Release 2.

This still leaves me with the question of what to do with the old machines, but I'll think of something. Streaming audio, backups, diskless X terminals, and fileservers come to mind.

Tracks!!

Mar. 3rd, 2006 09:39 am
mdlbear: (audacity)

The Starport has been in a state of happy chaos (no, not you [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf) getting ready for Consonance. No less than four "hotel" guests last night. And since [livejournal.com profile] cflute is one of them, that means tracks! Flute and vocals on Silk and Steel, and the long-awaited second vocal track for Demon Lover.

Be warned! the corresponding oggs (which you can find from the index) are very rough mixes, not too well balanced, with a substantial amount of clipping. Ugh. Unless you're morbidly curious you might want to wait. Or come to my twofer (or whatever I can sign up for) at Consonance.

The web/working directory reorganization proceeds apace, but there's nothing much to see on the public web yet except for the Tools directory, which is still incomplete and probably only of academic interest at this point.

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

Just because our new kitchen faucet is on a nice high tower that lets you pile an extra nine inches or so of dirty dishes in the sink, that doesn't mean that you have to do it! People who cook in our kitchen should clean up after themselves.

Yes, I know: I'm living in a fantasy world.

Update: Although the white corel dishes are almost indestructible, it can be done if you drop something heavy on top of one. Or step on one. Kids with messy rooms, take note.

Safety Tip: Do not wrap a sponge around the sharp edge of a knife to wipe it off, hoping that it won't slice into your fingers just as easily as it slices the sponge. The last thing I need when I'm out to dinner is a call to pick up a kid in the emergency room. Wipe each side of the blade separately, holding the edge away from you and wiping from the back of the blade toward the edge, i.e. also away from you. Gamers may like to think of it as the same action you use to wipe blood off a single-edged dagger.

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

Yesterday's housefilk was good, though a little smaller than we expected. According to [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat, who's better at paying attention to such things, we had about 25 people drifting through. A few more sent their regrets due to illness or car trouble. We had a total of four guitars, though not all at once; I got in a lot of singing.

Along the way I ended up running off a couple of copies of my songbook -- a 22ppm laser printer makes fast work of 105 pages, but you do have to remember to top off the 250-sheet paper tray. If I'm going to do this for profit, and eventually I intend to, I'm going to have to fix the scripts to make two different books: one for my personal copy, and one for publication with only my own songs in it.

Sometime last week -- might actually have been last Sunday -- I picked up some cedar closet lining for the walls in the back bathroom. Unfortunately, it's about 2/3 the thickness of the stuff we installed 20 years ago. Grumble-grumble-don't-make-it-like-they-used-to-mutter-grumble. Fortunately, the tub installers put in plywood instead of drywall, so it comes out just about even.

I also acquired an Elfa file cart at the Container Store, taking advantage of the final weeks of their 30%-off sale. Hopefully that will make it easier to organize my receipts for taxes. Don't laugh!

I'm still hoping to do some recording this afternoon, though I'm likely to end up spending most of my time on laundry and dishes.

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

... but I didn't expect grand opera! The kids are singing at one another. Sounds a little like an argument, but they're giggling, too.

I don't want to know

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