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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)

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)

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

Good grief, indeed! It looks like this post is going to try to cover an eventful two-and-a-half weeks; there's no way I can do it justice.

tl;dr: Our Stuff arrived two weeks ago, I flew down and got the Honda and more Stuff, and we're gradually getting unpacked and settled in. I still don't have a job, or even any interviews scheduled, so I've decided to offer dinner at the Herb Farm to anyone who finds me one.

And now a few highlights.

The movers arrived on Wednesday, having had another stop along the way because our 17,000+ pounds of stuff only filled about 2/3 of their big-rig. Props to Billy, who managed to get the rig parked next to our entrance, which the apartment office staff had assured me was next to impossible. Billy and Pam were the husband-and-wife team of drivers; I can't praise them, United Van Lines, Chipman Relocation, and the loading and unloading teams too highly. A very smooth, painless, hassle-free operation.

... that left us with an apartment full of boxes, of course. We still have more Stuff than space, even after paring down a lot and storing almost half of it in N's garage. Well, we knew the job was impossible when we took it.

Speaking of jobs: I got my rejection from EnergySavvy, so I now have nothing on the schedule because the move totally ate my brain. I have until the end of September before my severance pay runs out.

I do not like it, Sam-I-Am.

Two weeks ago (Monday the 30th), something finally clicked in my head, and the apartment felt like home. I was in the kitchen; I knew where everything was, it was small and comfortable and convenient, and I felt like I belonged here. It's still scary, but only because of the job problem, not the move. I like it here.

I discovered something else about myself: I like giving stuff away to people who will give it a good home. More than like it -- it's *wonderful*. I'd been talking with Nathan, the guy who owns the painting service that did such a good job on the interior. I'd been referred to him because he's in a Christian group with Liz. Anyway, the conversation turned to music, and the instruments we play, and he asked about the beat-up old mandolin in the "what the heck do I do with this?" pile by the garage door. And then the balalaika, which I'd bought on a whim in high school and never learned to play.

I ended up giving them to him. I felt both relief in simplifying them out of my life, and joy -- mudita, actually -- in seeing how happy the gift made him. A very middle-sized-bear thing, I think. And I realized that this was one of the things that was making the move an enjoyable experience.

I also realized how much I enjoy traveling by myself.

One reason I haven't been posting has been the difficulty of connecting to the fileserver from outside the firewall; I think I've finally fixed most of that, but also copied my emacs-based posting client onto the netbook. We'll see how that works in a few minutes...

Loads of links in the notes, of course.

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

So it looks like another weekly update. That may be the new norm. Or not; we'll see.

We've moved. Our Stuff is on its way -- apparently it filled a good deal less of the truck than they had planned for, so they added another load. I'm guessing it'll get here Monday. We left Tuesday; we'd been hoping to squeeze into the Honda so that I could take the van up with the stuff like computers that I either hadn't fully sorted or didn't want to be spending a couple of days in a hot truck. We didn't fit.

Yes, we came back from Reno with three people in the Honda, but one of those people was Naomi, with a single small suitcase and a large purse. Not the YD with a *huge* suitcase, a large stuffed critter, and an attitude. We took the van. I'm glad we did; it made the trip a lot more comfortable than it could possibly have been in the Honda, even if it does complicate next week's logistics.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were absolutely frantic, but we managed. I got quite appropriately ruthless with the random debris in the bedroom and office - look at a tray or shelf of the stuff, poke through it, pick out the one or two items worth saving, and toss the rest. Boxes and boxes of it.

When I get back next weekend I'll have to make another pass, and either squash it down into the Honda, or have a roof rack installed. I'd like to avoid having to rent a trailer if I can. There's not going to be much room in the apartment.

The movers came on Wednesday, with Devon in charge of the load-in. A couple of oopses, but nothing too bad. And they took the bikes, which I'd been expecting to have to take up next week, so that's good.

Somehow I managed to forget to pack a VGA and power cable. Again. Idiot bear! But the server came up ok anyhow, so we have a fully-operational Starport network again.

Friday -- yesterday -- I had an interview at EnergySavvy. Funky old building that used to be a warehouse. Parking something of a nightmare; if I get the job I'll do most of my commuting by bus. Great bunch of people, and a company in the energy conservation sector that I could be proud to work for.

We'll see.

Sometime next week we'll have an apartment full of boxes. Gleep!

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

Oh, good grief! An entire week... maybe I should just give up and post weekly. It's been a long month since last Saturday.

The big news was the bad news from Google: they don't want me. All my "cautious optimism" collapsed in a heap Thursday evening, leaving me to wonder how in hell I'm going to pay for the move, the house improvements, and Colleen's ferociously expensive meds. Two months of overlap between work and severance pay would have covered it.

I'm probably screwed. I have one set of interviews scheduled for Friday, but I've been letting the move (and the web :P) take most of my attention. I decided Thursday night that the move had better take all of it for now -- the movers come Wednesday.

*sigh*

I am getting the packing done, at least. A little belatedly; and I'm probably going to panic tomorrow night. The office still has seven boxes and a handful of flats to sort through, and the tools in the garage and bedroom need to be boxed. Gleep! We'll manage, though, because we have to.

"You do what you have to" is familiar, at least -- it was my mantra all through the year Dad was dying and I was flying back and forth to Florida to see him as often as I could. And again, the six months Colleen was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes and I burned through my sick time, most of my vacation time, and about 150% of my cope visiting and taking care of her.

I had help then, and I do now. Liz, Og, and Devon are awesome! And Colleen keeps assuring me "we'll make it." I hope so.

Lots of links. Many of them, unfortunately, are also bad news. Can't be helped.

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

Move-out day is a week from today; we won't be here. There are still some things up for grabs, including a largeish pile of old computers and cases.

Meanwhile, things are mostly sorted and packed, the main exceptions being tools in the garage, and some random debris in the office and bedroom. Come enjoy the pizza, and be amazed at our new bamboo floor, walls without bookshelves, garage without shelving units, and other seldom seen wonders of the modern world.

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

We got up reasonably early on Wednesday, were on the road by a little after 9am after a huge breakfast at Black Bear Diner, and arrived at the Starport in time to order pizza and chicken wings for dinner. Not staying again at the Grants Pass Travelodge -- the 2-bed rooms are tiny, and even the ground floor isn't really scooter accessible. There's just enough room between the bed and the wall to drop my CPAP into.

Og has done yeoman's work on the living room floor; it looks terrific (as long as you don't look at the edges, which are ragged). Liz and Devon did great work packing, though they apparently didn't realize that we wouldn't want to use paper plates and plastic forks for the rest of the time we're here. Normally, you save things like the kitchen and bathroom for the last minute.

I spent most of Thursday and yestday packing. Thursday mostly the office; Friday included taking down one set of the garage shelves. I'm pretty sure now, looking at them, that the end bays were assembled on their sides and tilted up. I think I'm going to leave one set here.

I still have a huge amount of triage and packing to do, even though most of it is almost certainly junk.

Links, as usual, below in the notes.

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

Things are proceeding apace. We had our first home survey by a mover (we had our second today, and there's one scheduled for tomorrow and two on Monday). I was rejected by Zillow, which hurt a bit -- they were my favorites of the ones I'd interviewed at so far. I got the van serviced (the Honda will have to wait until I get back from Westercon). I packed quite a few boxes (though not as many as I'd like).

I received a coding test from EnergySavvy (which I finished a couple of hours ago), have a phone interview with Google scheduled, and things are moving along with Isolon and Facebook.

I had lunch with Colleen at Buck's on Tuesday.

Yesterday I noticed a couple of instances of slowing down and feeling overwhelmed. They've been going on for a while; I'm not sure whether I'm more disturbed by the instances themselves, or the fact that I haven't really taken note of them until now.

No music to speak of beyond a little noodling, but at least it'll keep my fingers tough and nimble. No walkies. Growf.

Some links.

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

A fair amount of packing. Bought more book boxes. The woman who came over this morning to give us an estimate on moving said we have over 400 boxes worth of stuff. I gather that this is atypical.

Some more work on the router configuration, which finally appears to be working more-or-less properly.

I made another batch of black bean and corn salsa. Yum.

I ended the day feeling reasonably contented. That's probably mildly unusual; noticing it is even more unusual. So, yeah.

Quite a few links in the notes.

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

No walk. Hot. Not much else, either -- read SF short stories online, and watched bits of the ACM A.M. Turing Centenary Celebration webcast. It's archived, so I don't feel bad about missing most of it. When I'm physically attending a conference I can stay focussed; there appear to be too many distractions at home.

Quotes of the day:

Vint Cerf: It's like raising teenagers. You don't know how to do it; you just live through it and one day they turn into people.

Paul Saffo: In 100 years we still won't have a computer that can pass the Turing test, but we will have proved that most members of Congress fail it.

Two boxes of books packed from the office, and three boxes of recycling accumulated. The third is still in the office because the recycling bin is, as usual, full.

Linkie: Linus Torvalds Wins Joint Millennium Technology Prize.

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

Tuesday started off with a blood draw at Kaiser for some lab work, and the results dribbled in between that afternoon and Thursday. Notably, this time everything was in the normal range, which means that my triglycerides are under control and I'm officially not prediabetic. Go me!

And I saw the Transit of Venus -- not just via NASA's live stream from Mauna Kea and the fantastic high-res images from SDO on APOD, but in person in my back yard, projected with binocular onto the side of a garbage can. I even persuaded the YD to come out and see.

I've done a lot of packing in the office -- half the bookshelves are empty now. It's progress. I have to keep telling myself that I'm making some. I finally turned up my All World Travel Pass, signed by both of Cordwainer Smith's daughters. Plus some un-deposited checks from the 1990s. Eeep!

I have two interviews scheduled for next week, but was disappointed to get a rejection from Tableau. Oh, well.

[flame] My pension paperwork has apparently not been received. I asked them to send me another copy -- it's been a month. Idiots! (This is Hewitt we're talking about, so not surprising.) Hate. I asked to speak to a supervisor and told them that their website is useless. The only response was that it's only designed to give you estimates, not to actually see the status of your account. [/flame]

The YD, by the way, has been extraordinarily helpful the last week or so. I'm delighted.

Quite a few links. Go look. Oh, and 6.5 Million LinkedIn Accounts May Be Compromised, Change Your Passwords Now if you haven't already.

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

My doctor said I appear to be in good health. My therapist said I appear to be handling the stress well. And Group Health in Washington appears to be affiliated in some way with Kaiser, so hopefully we'll be able to use them.

And I took a walk (somewhat short because it was starting to rain, but pleasant), and brought a lot of boxes, mostly old receipts, down to be sorted.

And tested Kat's old HP scanner/printer -- it fails with an "ink system failure", and might be fixable with fresh ink cartridges. Not worth the price to find out; if you want it, it'll be at the Starport now through the party on Saturday. I mentioned Our Last Starport Party, didn't I? Yes.

At the end of the day I more-or-less fell into bed.

Link of the day is NASA EDGE @ Mauna Kea, Hawaii: Live Webcast Streams - if you hit it before 9pm Pacific time today (Tuesday), the Transit of Venus will still be in progress. (Or check out Astronomy Picture of the Day for a really spectacular view via the Solar Dynamics Observatory.)

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

A week from yesterday, on Saturday, June 9th, we're having our last party at Grand Central Starport. It's been a long run, and a good one. We've thrown at least two parties each year since we moved in 36 years ago, and four most years. Over a hundred parties.

We're moving.

Moving out, moving North, and moving on. Parties at the Starport will probably continue -- our renters are fannish. We will certainly continue to have parties, though perhaps not until we move from our apartment to a house, a year or so down the road.

But... our household, our Starport... yeah. Last chance.

We're also downsizing. A lot. So a lot of things will be up for grabs. We're giving away a lot of books, because we'd rather see them go to good homes than get a few cents for them at a used bookshop. A goodly pile of other stuff. Get it while it's hot.

There will be potluck, and soft drinks in the tub -- bring something you know you can eat, plus enough to share. There will be filking. There will be nostalgia.

The maps and directions are, as usual, on the web at the Grand Central Starport Home Page.

Bonus Song for Sunday: "So Long It's Been Good To Know Yuh" by Woody Guthrie [YouTube].

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

In-person interview, at Tableau's Menlo Park office. Involved some whiteboard coding, which I'm not all that good at yet; hopefully I'll get the opportunity to do some more in Seattle. At least I'd spent some time beforehand reading the Java class library docs -- things have changed a lot since the last time I used it. Fortunately I'm still a quick study for programming languages.

Afterwards I went out shopping for printer ink and packing tape -- ended up getting the tape at Office Max, black ink at Fry's and color at Staples. :P

The house is filling up with boxes.

I have, somehow, acquired what appears to be a bone bruise on my left heel. Wearing shoes/boots fixes it, but ouch anyway. I don't *like* to wear shoes indoors.

The links in the notes below are almost all good. Dark chocolate cuts heart deaths -- Yay! Stuxnet, the worm that targeted Iran's nuclear facilities, was created by US and Israel -- duh. And I didn't know there was such a thing as wrap rage, but it doesn't surprise me.

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

It's been a busy week. I had phone interviews from Zillow and Tableau; progress is being made. And I finished ripping the CDs, or at least the CDs that didn't require manual data entry. And went to U-Haul and bought enough boxes to fill the back of my Honda Civic. (The back seat folds down, leaving an opening to the back of the trunk.)

Wednesday and Thursday were spent triaging the fiction. I think we're down to taking about a third of it. Which is still a lot -- most of it's probably going to go into storage. A lot of what was left has already been claimed; after our party on the 9th whatever's left will get carted off to a used book store.

Naturally, there's still a lot to be done -- not just triage and packing but getting both cars serviced, doctors' appointments (and we're leaving Kaiser's service area, so that's going to be fun after we move), cleaning the house and yard, assorted repairs, ...

No, a month and a half probably isn't going to be enough. But it will have to do.

Gleep.

Only one walk, but at least it was 3 miles.

Quite a range of links this time. Liam Clancy singing "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" - YouTube was very moving. The Open Goldberg Variations: J.S. Bach’s Masterpiece Free to Download is a very cool idea -- PD performances funded via kickstarter. Sheet music sharing via MuseScore.com is also very cool -- a cross-platform, open source typesetting program, a website for sharing, and a program for synchronizing a score to a YouTube video. That's the really cool part.

For those in the SF Bay Area, you'll also want to take a look at Slothman's "Hold Your Nose and Vote on Tuesday, June 5, 2012".

The Pegasus Awards - nominating ballot is up.

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

I spent a lot of time yesterday (and today) ripping CDs so that they can be packed. The ones that aren't in FreeDB, and a few of the ones that, for some reason, my Linux box refuses to read, got sent over to the Mac mini; it worked on a lot of them. I'll have to write a script to translate the filenames to match the conventions I'm using on Linux, but that's easy.

We had an electrician come in to look at our fan/lights -- the fans work fine, but the lights don't. Turns out it's not the remote controls, it's the stupid ballasts. I looked at one -- the insulation on the wiring harness is brittle. Should be easy to replace, in that case.

A little random hacking in the makefile templates, prompted by the fact that the Makefiles in theStarport.org are hopelessly out of date.

Some good links in the notes, several of them music-related.

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

Back in the early days of 2012 we decided to skip Baycon this year and go to Clockwork Alchemy. Best-laid plans? That was before we decided to move to Washington. So we day-tripped the 30th anniversary Baycon instead, to have a better opportunity to say goodbye to people.

Baycon doesn't seem to be in the best of shape. It's gotten noticably smaller over the last few years (we can perhaps blame the other cons in the area for some of that, but I don't think for all of it). I dropped Colleen off in the morning, did some shopping on the way home, worked at home for a while, then left for the con myself in late afternoon. Little to no daytime programming I was interested in; the few concerts didn't start until night-time. I stayed for the open filking on Saturday, but was thoroughly wiped out by the time I got back home.

So I only sang three songs over the weekend, and don't remember most of them. Bigger On the Inside was the last one. Tiny circle.

Some good conversations, though.

I mentioned shopping. REI is having a sale; I picked up an Agility Sling Bag and a Hood River hoodie. The Agility bag, whose name appears to be Angelique, is apparently a redesign of the Mini that I've been using since last year; it's a little shorter and more rectangular rather than tapered. This makes it much easier to get my netbook in and out -- it has a padded sleeve that it fits perfectly into. There's also a nice organizer panel. And it's almost exactly the same size as the Belkin computer bag, and fits perfectly inside Chami. And there are several different ways of attaching it on the outside, as well.

I toyed with the idea of getting a rolling duffle (Ross has 'em for cheap) for gigs, but realized that it would be too narrow to hold the music stand desks. I'll probably get a smaller duffle for use as a carry-on or secondary bag, because the Hartmann and Colleen's SwissGear are already allocated. I used the Hartmann on my last trip North, but could only get away with that because Colleen wasn't going.

Did I mention that I'm a luggage addict?

In other news, I set up phone interviews with Zillow and Tableau, and paid the security deposit on the new apartment.

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

Good day. We have an apartment! It's not quite what we wanted; neither of the available 3-bedroom apartments is scooter accessible. But it's a big 2-bedroom, at Watercrest. And we'll have it before Westercon, so we'll have someplace to stay for a couple of days before the con, without needing to spring for more hotel room nights.

Many thanks to [personal profile] pocketnaomi for doing the necessary legwork in the morning. It wouldn't have been possible without her checking out the alternatives.

A 2.5 mile walk, following my (last) LHH coaching appointment. I have the same problem with coaching -- of any form -- that I do with therapy: I don't know what questions to ask. I'm pretty sure I have problems, but don't have enough of a handle on them to drag them out to be worked on.

Of course, when I am able to identify my problems, they often turn out to be fairly straightforward to solve. So, again, it's the ones I can't identify for myself that I need help with, but can't get it.

A phone interview with Tableau. This went much better than the one with Intentional on Tuesday.

ESR wonders whether the failure of Oracle's patent suit against Google marks the Beginning of the end for the patent wars.

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

Way too much to do more than summarize briefly -- I spent most of the last week in the Seattle area, mostly hanging out with Naomi (and, briefly, Chaos), apartment-hunting, and interviewing. (The latter was mostly by phone, but there was one fairly grueling coding test at PopCap. I may or may not have squeaked through that, but it made for a fascinating learning experience.)

The phone interviews mostly went well, I think. A few stupidities on algorithm questions; I got extra points for having at least heard of topological sorting, even if I didn't get the algorithm right.

The apartment search fairly quickly narrowed down to three complexes, fairly close to Naomi's house, that had 3-bedroom apartments available. As it turned out, we ended up in a large 2-BR; the 3's were either too small for us, or not accessible by scooter. But we have a place.

Friday I had lunch with Chaos at AFK Tavern, a gamer joint. Fun.

Saturday, N. went to an all-day workshop at a massage therapy school she's checking out, and took me along. Great fun -- not enough for me to consider a career change, but enough that I'll strongly consider taking a couple of classes for the fun of it. In my copious spare time.

The only major screw-up, and it was major, was forgetting my meds. Fortunately, the only one I expected to have real trouble with was the SSRI; I picked up some 5000 IU vitamin D (my usual dose is 2000) and St. John's Wort. Worked, apparently.

The big disappointment was that it was overcast on Sunday, so we missed the eclipse. We did see the light change -- it was pretty noticable.

Plenty of links in the notes.

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mdlbear: a pair of interacting galaxies that look like a rose (galaxy-rose)

Both the job search and the house triage continue, if not apace, at least somewhat. I finally feel as though the search is gaining a little traction: I've gotten replies on several of the job applications I've put in, and have three phone interviews set up between now and Monday. And I've taken about nine feet of books out of the office and piled them in the living room to see whether anyone in the Wednesday crowd wants them.

I'll be up in Shoreline from tomorrow afternoon through Tuesday afternoon. Mostly looking at apartments.

My first shipment of tapeless moving boxes arrived. Those were the small book boxes; the medium and large ones haven't even shipped yet.

And I actually took walks both days. I cut yesterday's a little short because my left ankle was bothering me. Growf.

Quite a few good links. A rose made of galaxies is absolutely gorgeous. The best news is "The Bomb Buried In Obamacare Explodes Today-Hallelujah!" -- this is the rule that health insurance companies have to spend 80% of their budget on actual health care. What a concept! Health care after the move still scares the heck out of me.

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

A pretty good day; mostly sort of relaxing. I got in a two mile walk to Zanotto's, the local high-end grocery store, to pick up a few missing ingredients for dinner. And ordered moving boxes. Tapeless moving boxes -- the best kind.

Ogg and Liz came by early to take four van-loads of junk off of our driveway and into the Cleanup Day dumpsters. A lot of the mess is gone now. We still have a lot in the garage and the office, though.

I finally got around to editing Naomi's narration into the Lookingglass Folk at Conflikt 2012 page. Only four months late.

The Mutopia Project looks cool. Crowdsourced PD music scores. Go for it!

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

Finally posted my itinerary/tentative schedule for the next couple of months. And, as usual, didn't do all that much else. Well, there were some things accomplished. Including the phone interview with EDD, which I'd been worried about. It looks as though my pension won't affect my unimployment insurance, because Ricoh stopped paying into it in 2010.

I'm continuing to putter, and got a fair amount of book triage done in the office. Most were immediately snapped up by folks in the Wednesday crowd, which of course was the whole idea. The old turntable, too -- now that we've gotten rid of all our vinyl, we really don't need it. End of an era.

I called PODS and got a quote: about $3200 for a 16' pod. The move will be complicated by the fact that we want some of the stuff to go into N's garage; I'm thinking of PODS or some other container company for that. We'll see. Unfortunately moving.com doesn't seem to have any way to compare prices; I'll have to call them all separately. The salesdroid at PODS was rather pushy.

Link of the day, after a nod toward Richard Lugar's statement, is Rachel Held Evans | How to win a culture war and lose a generation. The money quote:

When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)

Now, I'm part of that 91%; as an atheist and a Democrat I don't see a major shift away from religion as a bad thing. But if you do -- if you're one of the many progressive Christians I know are reading this -- you might want to do something about it.

When I was in college, the churches were hotbeds of radicalism, solidly on the left. They fed the poor, opposed the war in Vietnam, ... Where in Hell are they now?

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

So here's the itinerary for the next couple of months:

May 17-22 -- Shoreline, WA
I'll be up there looking at apartments, and hope to have a couple of interviews scheduled.
May 25-28 -- Bay Area conventions
We'll be day-trippingBayCon and Clockwork Alchemy
June 9 -- Grand Central Starport
House-Cooling Party -- the usual potluck bash.
June 26 -- Logan, UT
I'll be driving out for my brother's wedding, then up to Shoreline.
Late June - early July -- Shoreline, WA
I will again be available for interviews. Colleen will be flying up to join me. Not clear whether the YD will be going by air or by car.
July 5-8 -- ConClusion: Westercon 65
Lookingglass Folk have a half-hour concert gig.
Late July - early August -- moving!
We expect to be moving to the Seattle area -- specifically somewhere around the North end of Lake Washington -- hopefully around the first of August.

Watch out for low-flying bears!

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

Hmm. I hadn't thought it was a particularly productive couple of days, but looking back on them I've done a fair amount. Even a walk.

I've finally started to get some traction on the job search, including talking to a couple of recruiters and my coach at LHH, and filling in some of the background. Actually, the most encouraging thing was looking at salary ranges and cost of living for Seattle. The latter is about 24% lower than San Jose, and my pension (which starts in June) accounts for another 12% or so. Social security, next March, will be another 12%. So not even counting downsizing and tighter budgeting, I'll be able to maintain my current profligate lifestyle on a comparatively modest income.

The really scary thing is still health care. Especially if we can't get Colleen on Medicare early. My cousin Caroline, who has a degree in social work, has offered to help with that, but it's still scary.

Spent quite a while fielding calls from moving companies, after requesting quotes via moving.com. Told them all to call back in June after we've done more triage.

I keep waffling about whether this is a good move, but right now I'm feeling pretty optimistic. Monday was a bit down. Uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner.

Lots of links in the notes.

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mdlbear: (tsunami)

As part of the effort to clean out the garage attic, we've uncovered several file boxes of ancient software. We're talking mostly Windows 3.1, but also some Mac II (Myst, anyone?) and Windows XP games. We haven't had a machine in years that can run some of them.

Give it away, or send it to the dump?

Meanwhile, if you're in the area, feel free to come by, gawk at it, and take whatever you want.

We also have a huge pile of old PCs. Some were working when they were retired. Most have halfway decent cases, SCSI cards, and so on that might prove useful to someone.

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

The house looks very strange: all full of boxes, and big gaps on the shelves. The garage attic has space in it! Colleen and her minions have made huge progress, and I've started triaging the books in the office as well. Half-Price Books in Fremont loves us.

It feels strange, too. Definitely a roller-coaster ride. I was shocked to realize how many lives we're affecting with this; how much we'll be missed; how much a part of the community (for certain values of "the") we and our house have become. It's time, but Oh! it's difficult.

I have not been walking much. Not nearly enough. Nor have I been doing enough music. Though I've at least started there, doing a little work under the Albums directory. This is in part because I really want to get restarted on my second album, and in part because [personal profile] chaoswolf has asked for a recording of The Queen of Night so she can learn it.

I also went to my first (of two) coaching session at LHH, plus another on-site course. That was on Wednesday; I've spent much of the time since then working on my resume and LinkedIn profile. One of the cool things my coach showed me was wordle.net, which makes word-clouds. Very cool, and a great tool for seeing what words are most (over)used in one's profile or resume.

Here's one for Quiet Victories. I'm strongly considering doing this for all my songs.

I received the invitation to my brother's wedding: it's a little over a week before Westercon, in Logan, Utah. So we decided to make it a family road trip. It'll be somewhat crazy, but probably cheaper than flying even when you factor in the hotel rooms and gas. And an Adventure!

Oh. Wait. Adventure?

Lots of links, many of them rather disturbing. But... a sub-$500 3D printer would be way cool. So would a Pebble E-Paper watch.

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

It's been a week. More specifically, a week in Seatac (Norwescon) and Shoreline (apartment hunting and hanging out with Chaos and Naomi). I really have to set things up so that I can easily post from my netbook, don't I?

I had a good con. Nothing on my schedule except a handful of concerts and hanging out. Met Naomi's friend C, who is a delightful person. Bought little posable polymer dragons for me, Colleen, the YD, and Naomi. Our rooms were across the street in the Coast Gateway; I think there are parts of the Doubletree that are actually farther from the convention's function space.

We kept N's room until Monday so she could get some rest, but actually checked out Sunday night. Worth it. Monday we looked at apartments, and talked about job-hunting over dinner with [livejournal.com profile] egoldberg. Tuesday I looked at more apartments, and had lunch with Chaos at a Chinese restaurant that's walking distance from her new apartment in Linwood. A couple of good prospects on that front.

All in all a good visit. I'm still getting used to the idea of moving up there. To the idea of moving at all, after 36 years in the same house, and 43 years in the Bay Area. It's a lot of change to be taking on all at once, but... It was going to happen in the next five or six years anyway, and I was both dreading it and planning for it.

I've spent all morning going through a week's worth of mail and two days' worth of email; I'll spend the rest of today on my resume and my taxes.

There are plenty of links in the notes; go for it. Have a great Yuri's Night!

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

Pretty good day -- I think I got through my first weekend of temporary retirement ok, considering. I got a lot done on my portfolio site, including uploading source code samples and white papers, and copied the expanded summary page to my StackOverflow and LinkedIn profiles.

I also did some searching on glassdoor.com and indeed.com, thanks to a little much-needed prodding from [personal profile] pocketnaomi. That was interesting -- I found a company that had different listings, through a search firm, on glassdoor and indeed. They had yet another, under their own name, on StackOverflow. Sounds interesting, though it may be more intense than I'm looking for at this point.

I also got in a walk (twice around the Rose Garden) in the afternoon, and made dinner (salad, rice, bacon-wrapped scallops, and dover sole). And white wine, in part because we have to either use it or move it.

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

I have finished my penultimate day at Ricoh Innovations. Yesterday I was grieving. Today was more... I don't know. It was exhausting, but there was a certain lightness after boxing up and handing off my notebooks, and putting the last three boxes of accumulated files -- 19 years worth -- into the recycle bin and the secure destruction bin.

I ran out of space in the shredder bin just as I was finishing the second box of files. Then I remembered the ones in the desk's file drawer. Then the man came in and emptied the bin, and I finished my task...

... and did my last backup. Yes, very odd.

The signs are auspicious. The Spring equinox, with the sun rising higher in the sky with each passing day. The weather going from cold and wet to sunny and almost warm. Green hillsides, and leaf-buds. A renter for the house, found on the very day we mentioned that we were looking for one.

I'm not saying it's all going to be easy. We'll have to use a lot less money, and fit into a lot less space. It'll be great if I find a job right away, but I'm 65 years old and have to assume that I might not. It won't change our plans.

As of Saturday I'll be retiring for the first time. Maybe not for more than a couple months, this time, but it's the new steady-state for a bear who is no longer middle-aged. I'll be back. Maybe not for another five years, but maybe sooner.

We'll be moving to an apartment in or near Shorline, WA sometime this summer. Leaving a house we've lived in for over three decades. That we've gotten comfortably stale in. Getting rid of or storing most of half a lifetime's accumulation of stuff. The Buddha had a point -- you get too attached to stuff, and it weighs you down. Time to lighten up. Time to get moving.

Maybe it sounds like I'm trying to talk myself out of a depression, and maybe I am. But I'm also trying to say that I'm basically okay. It'll work. It's an ending, sure, but only the end of a chapter. I'm looking forward to the next one.

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

Not a terribly productive day, but I got in quite a few phone calls, and a 2.7 mile walk. And got the year's non-tax receipts sorted out and put into envelopes for the annual file box.

And my medicare card arrived. That was a bit of a weird feeling.

So... Why Do Magazines Look So Terrible on the iPad 3? Because most of them are shipped as PNG images, rendered for the iPad 2, which has 1/4 as many pixels. That's why. Idiots! Didn't they learn about assuming a fixed screen size when the Mac II came out? Apparently not.

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

Just Friday I wrote "ideal would be to rent the house to fans/hackers. It's perfect - server closet, 2 physical phone lines, shelf space... By Saturday evening we had a household lined up. They're fans, and want to carry on the Grand Central Starport traditions. The rent will cover the mortgage and insurance, and if we're lucky the market will bounce back a little over the next few years.

I spent a goodly amount of time Saturday working on my LinkedIn profile, and a little on my resume and portfolio site (at Stephen.Savitzky.net), and updated some of my other sites.

I took a walk on Friday -- a full three miles. Felt pretty good. And Saturday, after looking at quite a few alternatives, we ordered Colleen a new scooter, the Pride Go-Go Elite Traveller Plus HD. It's about an inch longer than her current scooter, and the deck is about four inches wider in front, which means she can get into it more easily and have a place to rest her feet. The wheels are bigger, too, so it will have less trouble with the kind of obstacles one encounters indoors and on the sidewalk.

Did I mention that I finally dealt with the $1K denied claim in my FSA account last week? It'll help.

We have started to friendcycle cookbooks. Fiction, and the nonfiction books in the office, will have to be tackled soon.

For today's link, see ysabetwordsmith's poem: "Ari and the Atheist" What does it mean to be an atheist in a world where everyone can see that the gods exist?

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

I don't know whether this will be a regular feature or not, but maybe for the next few months. We're moving to Seattle sometime in the next six months. That means we're having to pare down our posessions, for the first time in 36 years. So...

Colleen has been triaging the cookbooks. We now have about 15 shelf-feet of them, in 8 piles and no particular order, that are looking for new homes. Simplest thing would be to come over any Wednesday, but for any other day just call ahead. Colleen is almost always glad of the company.

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

Hewitt, which manages my benefits, has a wretched website, but I finally got connected and, more importantly, found out why my claim for Colleen's lift chair hadn't gone through -- apparently the sales receipt, one of the three pages I faxed to them, didn't arrive. OK, I now know how to troubleshoot that one.

I also got in touch with the pension side, and made the decision to take my accrued vacation in a lump payment with my next (last) paycheck. That lets the pension start up a month earlier, in addition to helping me pay off some of the currently most obnoxious debt.

And, also on the work side of things, I finally got it together and joined LinkedIn. I can see how it could be time-consuming to get going there, but I've already found quite a few people from the DW/LJ and filk communities there.

In other links, here's a video of "Little Boxes" performed on... little boxes. Cute.

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