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

Hey, it's Thursday! Today I'm thankful for...

  • A well-timed first paycheck, with welcome sign-on bonus. I'll have to save most of it; I'll probably need it for taxes.
  • Paid vacation.
  • Cats, and especially Curio-snuggles.
  • Kitties and bears and goats, oh my!
  • My younger daughter's new boyfriend. I love seeing her happy.
  • 38 wonderful years, as of tomorrow.
  • A party here on Saturday. See the Rainbow's End site for directions.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The next party at Rainbow's End in West Seattle will be Saturday, January 4th. It's the usual (well, if you consider it as a continuation of Grand Central Starport's tradition, it's usual) potluck bash: kids, friends, musical instruments, and ingredients for stone soup welcome.

It will run roughly from noon until midnight. Allergy alert: we have cats and guinea pigs. The cats will be confined upstairs during the party, but normally roam throughout the two upper floors -- don't forget your antihistamines if you need 'em.

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

So I came out (last) Friday morning to discover that the van's driver-side side mirror was missing -- apparently somebody had driven by and scraped it off. Growf. Came out this morning to find the battery dead, but that's another blog post.

In spite of that, I discovered that my mood was unexpectedly good on Friday. No idea why. It apparently lasted for a couple of days. I also seem to be bouncing back pretty quickly from back stress; that's a good thing, too.

Saturday we had Rainbow's End's first official party, organized by Emmy. Went very well, though we could have used more people. Fun! Our chili went over pretty well, but I'm thinking that maybe we should do Stone Soup next time.

We decided to drop Orycon this year -- Colleen simply isn't ready for travel.

I started using my phone's exercise app again (CardioTrainer). I *really* need to lose weight. So far it's not working.

... and the big news -- we got the "final" version of Naomi's website (delivered on CDROM -- how 20th Century!), and I put it up: Welcome to Rainbow's End Massage. It needed a few tweaks (and still does), and I had to email her designer to get the (Adobe Illustrator) source for the images. It still doesn't show up on Google (though the designer's test site does :P); I'm hoping that a couple of blog links will help in that regard.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

Welcome to Rainbow's End's first annual "somewhere around Halloween" party. This year it will be Saturday, November 2nd. We are celebrating not only our first Halloween in the house, but the official opening of Rainbow's End Massage.

Continuing in the grand tradition of the parties at Grand Central Starport this will be a potluck, running from noonish until the last guest leaves. Residents of the house include filkers, foodies, a software geek, a massage therapist, and two cats.

Rainbow's End is located on 37th Ave SW in West Seattle, between Genesee and Dakota.

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

Our last party at the Starport is over -- it was a good one. Lots of people came out of the woodwork to wish us well. Some tears. I sang a little.

I mailed in a copy of my pension paperwork. Again.

I packed, for this week's trip to Seattle. Since one of the companies I'm interviewing at bought the tickets, I'm flying on airlines that charge for checked baggage -- heck with that! I'm taking Chami and my old, huge REI backpack/suitcase. It holds almost as much as the suitcase.

I'll be arriving late tonight, and leaving Thursday afternoon. I have interviews Monday and Tuesday afternoons; Wednesday is still open. Hint.

Some interesting links, mostly from people at the party.

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

Quote of the day:

Colleen (raising glass): To the move!
me (raising glass): To adventure!
Colleen: To adventure!
YD (walking by): Hobbit!




Public Service Announcement: The Starport House-Cooling Party is today! Lots of stuff being given away, including books. Potluck, as usual.

I refreshed my job application at LabKey, this time via StackOverflow. And put in for a couple of jobs at Facebook. And did a little music practice in the morning, which is a habit I want to get back into. And a walk! I'm trying to get back into a productive routine, and not doing all that well at it.

I realized, during my walk, that I had probably made a copy of my pension paperwork. And indeed I had, so I'll mail that in today.

Did some more packing and organizing in the office.

Some links.

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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)

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)

So... back to "work". Quotes, because (as it has been for the last couple of weeks) it was more about leaving than getting anything new done. I have 19 years worth of files to triage, after all. Meanwhile, Colleen is triaging her cookbooks, which is an equally gargantuan job.

The next -- and quite possibly the last -- party at the Starport will be Saturday, June 9th. There's a move to Seattle in our near future. It's rather hard to wrap my head around.

I installed the new-to-the-house 1900x1200 monitor. Very nice, though it uses more power than its 1900x1080 predecessor, and has less contrast. On the plus side, along with the extra inch or so of vertical pixels, it stands taller so more of it is visible without having to look down.

Several links in the notes. Most of them are political :( If you prefer horror with entertainment value, try this gorgeous retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, using silhouettes.

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mdlbear: a locomotive engine dangling from a hole in a building (trainwreck)

It was a weird but basically good weekend. Basically, I hit the ground running after receiving my layoff notice on Thursday. Somebody at our party on Saturday (you probably missed it) asked me whether I was planning to take a couple of months off before I started job-hunting. My answer was a very cheerful "Hell no! Would you like a copy of my updated resume?" I can't afford to gather any moss.

Because of the combination of a rather large refinance and a serious drop in the housing market, I am no longer planning to stay in Grand Central Starport after I retire, whether that's six months or six years from now. That realization has been extremely liberating (can you say "albatross"?); I am now looking for work both in the South Bay and in the Seattle area. The ideal, of course, would be finding someplace near Seattle that's willing to pay for relocation expenses. Many thanks to my dear sister-of-choice, [personal profile] pocketnaomi, for the conversations that helped me realize what I had to do.

The selfsame moment I [let go]
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.

Link of the day: House of Cards - James Keelaghan - YouTube (via philkmills' comment on my S4S post).

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

Wednesday was a pretty good day, though I didn't take a walk. I drove home toward a gorgeous full moon rising, with wild geese flying overhead. You know, I should have been suspicious at that point.

In the evening, [livejournal.com profile] jilara brought over the yukata that she had taken home to hem, and I found its belt tucked away at the bottom of one sleeve. It's lovely.

Thursday morning I got in to work and was greeted by $BOSS and $CFO, and the news that I'd been laid off. Along with two other researchers in my building, and at least two three people in Menlo Park. Plus two from Japan who decided to leave the company rather than go back.

Public service announcements:

  • New tag: 8.3%
  • Party tomorrow at Grand Central Starport. I will have copies of my resume.
  • I am currently looking for work in the San Jose and Seattle areas. Please address job-related correspondance to steve@savitzky.net or ssavitzky@gmail.com.
  • I will be available to start work any time after April 1st

Felt very restless yesterday evening. Should have taken a walk.

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

A very special Thankful Thursday today. Today I am thankful for:

  • Three weeks' notice and 6 months of severance pay
  • Friends
  • A great set of soon-to-be-ex coworkers
  • My skill as a programmer and software architect
  • My 65th birthday, in less than a week
  • The Starport's annual "It's Green" party on Saturday.

Yup. Laid off, after 19.5 years at Ricoh. It's been a good run. I can't afford to retire; I took about half the equity out of my house, and the housing market has taken almost all of the other half. I'll consider work either locally (Silicon Valley) or in the Seattle area, broadening to include Oregon and Utah if it becomes necessary in a couple of months.

I'll have copies of my resume at the party on Saturday. See you there?

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

I've actually gotten quite a lot done, including no less than three complete run-throughs of my Consonance set (plus some discussion with Naomi about it). Well, ok -- that plus my tech reports is about all I got done. A short walk on Tuesday.

Public Service Announcement: My Consonance concert will be at 7:30pm on Friday, March 2nd. That's, like, tomorrow night. Actually, I feel ready for this one.

Another PSA: Grand Central Starport's annual "It's Green" party will, as usual, be the Saturday after Consonance, March 10.

Quite a few links. They're pretty much all good; just look in the notes and take your pick.

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

I must say, yesterday was the best party we've had all year, and maybe longer than that. The fact that we were able to combine it with New Year's Eve may have helped, and though some people left early to go to other parties, we had a pretty good group at midnight. We finally closed up at about 2am.

Actually, if "the party isn't over until the last guest leaves", that would either be around 10am today when [livejournal.com profile] netolu when home, or tomorrow morning when Chaos flies back to Washington.

As often happens, we have food left over -- though the chili I made from chuck roast in the crock pot was gone well before midnight, we still have a reasonable amount of ham and a little of the "wimpy chili" left. Less of the latter than before I had a bowl for brunch, though.

Hippo, Gnu, Deer!

In the links, slothman provides links to DRM-free ebooks.

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

Second notice: there's a party this Saturday at Grand Central Starport (maps and contact info at the link).

The usual potluck winter thingie. The household contains one person with a gluten sensitivity, three allergic to blueberries, and one allergic to mushrooms. Bring something you like to eat; we'll have chili and ham on the stove.

There will probably be filk singing. And folk singing. See you Saturday?

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

Yes, once again it's a winter party season at Grand Central Starport. We're having our annual "Somewhere Around New Year's" party on Saturday, December 31st -- it's the usual noon-to-midnight potluck bash.

We're also having an "open house" from roughly noon to midnight on Christmas, mainly for friends who don't have family to be with, though of course everyone's welcome. Gifts, needless to say, are not expected. We'll be making Ukrainian borscht; bring something you can eat, especially if beef-and-cabbage soup isn't your thing.

Both days are likely to include filking.

Maps, directions, and contact information can be found on the household web page.

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

Good day, good party. More people than I was afraid would show up, including (former coworker) Jake. The folks at EWS are working all weekend trying to get their release out; I sang The Mushroom Song for him. He bought a CD :). I may need to package up some more of the Limited Edition; if people are going to insist on paying $20 for a $15 CD, I have to have something extra to sell them.

I made two pots of chili for dinner, since the amount of ground beef Colleen had purchased didn't fit in one pot. The larger pot was a straightforward batch of Caroll Shelby's chili kit -- ~5 lbs of meat with onions, red wine, and a little extra cumin, ancho chili, and Penzey's Chili 3000. The smaller pot had ~2.5 lbs of meat, 5 Serano peppers sliced into little circles and sauteed with the onions, the aforementioned spices in larger quantity, and cider vinegar as well as the wine (2-buck Chuck, of course). Both came out yummy. Some left over, of course; one partly-filled 1-quart ziplock bag of each.

I was out in the living room and social for a fair amount of time (including two bouts of singing), and had conversations in both the office and the kitchen. In between, I worked on configuring Nagios for monitoring the Starport's network infrastructure. Took me a while to figure out whether I wanted to do it as a separate git repo (which I could then pull from for updates), or put just the changes into a subtree of starport/Config and install with make and rsync. I eventually settled on the latter, because that's what I'm doing with all my other config files. This also lets me install things differently on different systems.

Only one link, to Irregular Webcomic! #3198, which marks the end of an era.

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

Well, I'm afraid I missed last week's Songs for Saturday, so I'll give you a bonus round for this Saturday, which is our annual household Halloween party. So here's Bigger On The Inside, based on an actual Usenet post about a visit to the Starport two decades ago. It hasn't changed all that much.

As usual, it's a potluck, noon until whenever. Maps and contact info can, also as usual, be found via the Grand Central Starport home page.

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

Good grief! I shouldn't be surprised -- this happens every time I travel, since I pretty much only post from home. So... It was a good weekend. Lots of solid rehearsal time, and brunch with Chaos on Sunday. Didn't have time to meet up with either of my cousins, unfortunately, but that will probably work better on the next trip, given some time to plan ahead. If I do plan ahead, which I'm afraid is not a given.

It was a rough trip up; I had to get a cab to the airport, the plane was late, and I left my wireless mouse in the terminal somewhere. Put in a lost-and-found inquiry, but don't expect to see it again. Next time I take my wired travel mouse; I don't like it but I'm less likely to lose it.

This was also my first trip with the tennis bag for the travel guitar. It's more comfortable and somewhat lighter than the official gig bag, but doesn't really have enough room for my shoulder bag. A large songbook is pretty marginal. Still figuring out how best to use the space it does have. And it's still looking impossible for me to travel without a checked bag if I want to take a guitar on board. :(

The rehearsal, as I mentioned, went very well indeed. We decided that I should come up for another weekend -- it'll have to be a short one, Friday night to Sunday evening, because I'm running low on vacation time -- in early January. But we're in surprisingly good shape considering the amount of new material in the set. Reminder: you really want to hear our concert at Conflikt.

Another reminder: there's a household party coming up on Saturday!

I also got my netbook, barnard, more-or-less configured with Debian Squeeze; the biggest remaining problem is WiFi. The transition from dhcp3 to isc-dhcp has caused all kinds of havoc; I just realized last night that my router configuration is probably totally wrong at this point, too. No wonder WiFi's been flaky in the house!

Sadness: John McCarthy died on Monday. He was one of my favorite professors at Stanford, not so much because he was a good teacher -- he wasn't -- but because I loved watching the way his mind worked as he worked out programming problems on the board in his LISP class. chipuni posted the perfect epitaph: a single right parenthesis.

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

I have been reminded that I haven't been posting party announcements early enough. The next party at Grand Central Starport will be on Saturday, October 29th. Directions, etc., at the link as usual.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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So we had a party. It wasn't publicized nearly as well as it should have been (my bad), but we got three new adults and two kids, from fliers passed out at Baycon. So that's a win. Jilara and Andrew turned up a few minutes to midnight and we didn't get to bed until after 1. That's a win, too.

The eQuill tablet I brought home was a hit -- everyone I showed it to (which was, like, everyone) liked it. I'm glad I brought the earlier prototype, though; it still has better pen tracking (because the display driver for the production hardware is still being optimized). Altogether a win, though I wish I'd thought to put a long document on one of them to show off the fast page flipping. Next time.

I made what everyone agreed was a good chili, and got in a little noodling. No singing; I didn't get any requests, and didn't want to interrupt the ongoing conversations. That's ok.

One fascinating link: Shock: Windows 8 optimized for desktop tablets - Computerworld via The Mad Filkentist - Microsoft jumps the shark "Interestingly, the Metro UI handles files like the iPad -- documents and data files are associated with the application, and will be managed only from within applications. But in the Windows 7 window, you'll still have old-fashioned file management, where your data file locations are not associated with specific applications and can be moved copied, deleted or modified without reference to specific applications."

Yup, the shark is well and truly jumped. I think that the thing that's going to bite them in the end is that they still think that the user interface is part of the operating system. In fact, for them, the UI is the operating system -- they still call it "Windows", for goodness sake! Now, they've even moved the file system out of the OS and into the applications. In the Unix/Linux world I get to choose my UI, and share files between applications. Which means that I can script complex processes involving multiple tools.

Fun times ahead.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Woke up rather late, with my shoulder still hurting. Methocarbamol needs more testing, I think. Probably more effective for back spasms.

Quote of the day from yesterday's party, as I was carrying a load of chocolate cake into the living room: "Do you know how sexy a man looks when he's carrying chocolate?" Good party.

While waiting for the party to start, I spent much of my time copying down a lot of sef-material from Kaiser's "healthy living" website. Unfortunately the site's not laid out in a way that makes it easy. Also spent some time chasing links in Wikipedia about self-image and related matters. I'd like to point out that there's no evidence at all that I have any "personality disorder" (except maybe depressive); it's just that a lot of the self-help material around identifying emotions is useful to me.

A fair amount of singing -- first in the early afternoon swapping songs with the Bohnhoffs, then toward the end of the evening singing for Naomi.

The day's link sausage also included How to Build a Progressive Tea Party, so it wasn't all that boring introspective stuff.

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

The usual potluck bash; the seasonal excuse being our 35th anniversary. Kids, friends, and musical instruments are, as usual, welcome. Address, directions, maps, and contact information are, as usual, on the Grand Central Starport Home Page.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Good party. About 30 people, according to Colleen. As usual, we bought more supplies than we needed, and people brought more yet. We ended up with industrial quantities of corn chips, salsa, and cheese sauce, and some unopened cheese and cold cuts in the fridge. Sandwiches tonight, I think.

Andy Heninger showed me how to do a simple hearing test using audacity -- generate a "chirp" that sweeps from 1Hz to 20KHz in 20 seconds - that's 1KHz/sec. Mine drops out somewhere around 11KHz :(.

Dave and Joyce came; we had some fun singing some old Tres Gique material with Joyce on bass.

I made it through the day and night mostly on sudafed, and slept very well. Something about breathing, I suspect.

In other good news, Apple has apparently taken the offensive application out of their store. Hardly surprising, but welcome.

The small number of links today include osewalrus: Worshiping The Gods of the Market Place - Free Market Economists And Cognitive Disonance

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

The denizens of Grand Central Starport (in San Jose, CA) will be having their annual "somewhere around Halloween" party on Saturday. As usual kids, friends, and musical instruments are welcome. It's a potluck, so you're also welcome to bring something you know you can eat or drink. These parties typically run from sometime in the early afternoon to sometime around midnight.

Maps, directions, and contact information can be found at the household website.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Getting the ice and soda delivered from Safeway made party prep a lot simpler than usual. I did have to go to Cosentino's and get the graduation cake, and fruit for sangria.

It was a pretty good party, but could have been better -- we I need to publicize more. I could probably have gotten some of my new coworkers to come, if I'd actually thought to tell them about it.

I sang a few songs, and had some nice conversations in the office. But there were no new people to meet; I miss that. I probably ought to try cross-posting the announcements on some communities.

One thing that helps a lot is having learned to pull back into the office when I get overloaded, which is (as it turns out) most of the time. Or the kitchen, doing food prep or cleanup.

Some good links under the cut, as usual. Probably the most mind-boggling is Ride Like the Wind (only faster) (from Andy Heninger during the party) -- a wind-powered car that goes downwind faster than the wind that powers it.

How Scientists See the World (from gmcdavid) is vastly amusing.

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

Our annual June party, celebrating Emmy's graduation from high school among other things, is now officially open for business fun and food. The Very Impressive Cake has been fetched and unboxed, and the bathtub has been loaded with drinks.

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

This coming Saturday, June 12, Grand Central Starport will be hosting its 28th annual two-Saturdays-after-Baycon party, mainly (this time) in celebration of the YD's graduation from High School.

As usual, it's potluck; kids, friends, and musical instruments welcome. Noonish to midnightish. Directions and contact info on The Starport's web page.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Hmm. Good day, I guess. A very small, laid-back party. Guess we didn't get the word out sufficiently. Oh, well. And we did get a new person, and one old regular returning. So that's good.

[livejournal.com profile] exapno wished me a happy happy birthday! May it kick of a fabulous year :) Right now it's looking more like an Adventure. In the hobbit sense of something rather disagreeable that makes you late for dinner. We'll see

I did get in a little noodling and practicing -- nobody was paying attention, which was just fine. Lock-Keeper, which we sing in E, works wonderfully with D fingerings and a short capo that drops the low E. Fun! First time I've tried that trick.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Good party. A little small, as they tend to be these days, but Colleen was home and that made everything work right. This year is starting out so much better than 2009! I spent a lot of time in the office. Now that both Colleen and I are comfortable with that, parties and Wednesdays go a lot more pleasantly.

The Bohnhoffs were there in the afternoon and we swapped songs for a while: I sang the Bears, Riverheart, Toolmakers, and Wheelin'. Chaos hauled her bodhran for Toolmakers, and used my dumbek (which she liked and many people admired) on Wheelin'.

A couple of good conversations, plus a nice wide-ranging IM conversation with N spread out in little snippets over the entire afternoon. Realized that I'm actually overcoming my aversion to role-playing, at least when it involves a little gentle whimsy rather than putting myself in a social role I don't understand.

A little system administration and a fair amount of physical puttering-about.

Good day. Not really happy so much as contented, most of the time.

mdlbear: (space colony)

Grand Central Starport's "sometime around New Year" party is happening on Saturday, January 2nd this year. It's also our 34th anniversary, but the only thing you need to bring is something for the potluck. There will probably be singing at some point.

As usual, it's basically from noon until everybody leaves sometime around midnight. Also as usual, you can find maps, directions, and contact information on the Starport's web page.

No need to RSVP. Hope to see you there if you happen to be in the (San Francisco Bay) area.

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)

Normally I'd be posting a Wishful Wednesday about now, but tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I'll be on the road most of the day, and I'm unlikely to find the time or energy to post. And I have a lot to be thankful for.

  • First and always, Colleen: my lover, partner, dear friend, and wife of nearly 34 years (our anniversary party will be January 2nd; you're invited). (The rest of the items below are in no particular order.)
  • Colleen's slow, unsteady, but definite and pretty amazing recovery.
  • Her scooter, Rosebud. She learned to stand up in it yesterday, which gives her an extra couple of inches of reach in addition to being convenient and stable.
  • My own health, which while not fantastic is good enough to keep me as functional as I need to be. My own gradual recovery from a lifetime of disthymia.
  • My job -- great people to work with, interesting work, very understanding management, and good health insurance. Wow, am I grateful for health insurance this year.
  • Our kids, who are growing up to be Good People in spite of all the mistakes we undoubtedly made in raising them.
  • Our friends, hers, mine, and ours. Especially my sister-of-choice Naomi, my sister-out-law-of-choice Callie, and my sister-of-choice-in-law Marty. (Working out the details of the nomenclature is left as an exercise for the reader.) But also extending to all of you. I'm glad you're out there, even if all you do is leave me an encouraging comment now and then, or write the occasional post that lifts my spirits or makes me think.
  • Music, especially when shared with friends.
  • The filk community, which is mostly who I share music with.
  • Powell's
  • Safeway.com, which allows Colleen to do most of the grocery shopping all by herself.
  • Backups. Not only mine, but the ones made at the Stanford AI Lab more than three decades ago, lovingly restored by BGB and on the web at SAILdart with all of my files not only from that era, but from my years at Carleton, copied from the original Hollerith cards in an honest-to-Turing monoliths-under-glass real computer center. With less compute power than my cell phone.
  • Moore's Law.
  • Good Drugs.
  • Reconnecting with myself.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Yesterday was the "big" work party at the Starport. Huge amounts of progress were made cleaning up the driveway and the back yard, though nowhere near as much as if we'd had the hoped-for 10 people instead of 5. The next one will probably be in January sometime.

I spent most of the day runing errands, doing dishes, and assisting in the kitchen -- yard work is hard on my back, and somebody has to do the support. Infrastructure is my specialty, after all. My impulse buy of a bag of potato chips and a large salami at Safeway (while out for ground beef and large garbags) proved an essential component of lunch. So go me!

I noticed myself feeling pretty good in the morning. Contented and perhaps a bit optimistic. Colleen sent me out for a walk in the mid-afternoon; my mood was basically calm and pretty neutral. I took the Leigh-Parkmoor-Bascom-W. San Carlos route around the neighborhood, and checked out the new $.99 store. It was predictably unimpressive, with a lot of things in smaller-than-normal packages, but the purple shopping carts and tote bags were awesome. I'll almost certainly go back sometime just to get a couple of bags (which are, of course, $.99 each).

Spent most of the evening in the living room being more-or-less sociable. Tried to get printing installed on Colleen's Eee, but no joy. Probably something having to do with my wacko network topology; need to fix that soon. Or it could be Ubuntu's GUI for CUPS. Anyway, grumpf.

And I was feeling a lot less achy and generally slightly-under-the-weather; maybe that was a mild flu? Anyway, a good day. I should do that more often.

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

Today is Wishful Wednesday, when I point at my Caregiver's Wishlist.

Thanks especially to [livejournal.com profile] tetralizard, who sorted my health care receipts last weekend.

And a reminder: Saturday, November 14th, our friend Andrew M Crockett (contact him via the preceeding name, with no spaces, at gmail dot com) has organized a "Starport Hardware Upgrade" work party. This will not be a potluck -- we're supplying food and drink, so you need to contact either Andrew or me so we know who's coming.

We also need rakes and shovels and implements of destruction: we'll be putting in raised vegetable beds in the back yard, and concrete ramps in the front. Besides the "day laborers", we could also use some help in the kitchen and elsewhere inside the house -- don't feel that you shouldn't come if you can't do yard work.

Thanks in advance.

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

It was a good party yesterday; I spent most of the time in good conversations, and a little time singing (including Kanef's new parody of Paper Wings, which he still hasn't gotten around to posting).

While waiting for things to get started I lugged soda out of the guest room; went out to buy eggs, butter, grated cheese, and a bus pass; puttered around the house; and did some re-arranging in my home directory to get more files under git control. So it was a pretty productive morning, too.

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

If you're not at Grand Central Starport right now (and I can see from the empty chairs that most of you aren't) you're missing the party.

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

Again, it's Wishful Wednesday, when I point people at my Caregiver's Wishlist and casually mention that the household could use a little help.

This Saturday we're having our "sometime around Halloween" party on Halloween. It's the usual potluck. There will be children present, so any costumes should be street-legal. Directions and contact info on the household website.

... and just two weeks later, on Saturday, November 14th, our friend Andrew M Crockett (contact him via the preceeding name, with no spaces, at gmail dot com) has organized a "Starport Hardware Upgrade" work party. This will not be a potluck -- we're supplying food and drink. The goals are ambitious: nothing less than making the house handicap accessible, and making the back yard into a vegetable garden. Needless to say, this will take care of a whole bunch of wishlist items if we can pull it off.

mdlbear: (vixy-rose)

Once more it's Wishful Wednesday, the day when I tell you where my Caregiver's Wishlist is.

By way of additional gratitude and just general coolness, you're also invited to our annual "Sometime Around Halloween" Party at Grand Central Starport. This year it actually falls on Halloween.

... and exactly two weeks later, on November 14, some of our friends have organized a Back Yard Work Party to tackle some of the things on the wishlist. Refreshments will be provided at that one.

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)
raw notes )

It was a rather small party -- I forgot to make fliers before Baycon, and only posted one announcement on LJ. Some of the regulars were busy elsewhere, as well. I did my usual thing of holing up in the office with one or two other people (maxed out at three, but that didn't last long) and had some good conversations with friends who might otherwise have left sooner. And on IM as well. So everybody wins.

(I finally verified with Colleen that she likes this arrangement, too. She's the one who pointed out that the people who hang out in the office are the ones who, like me, can't handle crowds well and would probably leave early otherwise. Odd that I never noticed that before.)

Colleen was bemoaning the fact that Rosebud doesn't have a good horn; I went into the bedroom, pulled out the train whistle, gave it a good toot in the living room (startling several guests in the process) and put it in Rosebud's basket. I win.

The party wound down earlier than usual after Colleen went to bed around 10pm. It was a good party, though: relaxed and enjoyable. There's still a lot of beer and soda left.

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

The Savitzky household is having its annual "somewhere around the middle of June" party. If you're reading this and you're not on the Starport WiFi network, you're missing it.

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

As usual, we'll be having our annual June party this coming Saturday. Starts around noon, ends when the last guest leaves. Click the "current location" for Google's take on it, or visit the Starport webpage.

As usual it's a potluck; filking is highly likely.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
to.done 20090314 )

A very odd day. The morning was cold and grey and bleak, and I was worried about something I couldn't quite pin down, although a particular friend was much on my mind. I'll get back to that. Even a visit to Colleen, and seeing her standing (with mechanical assistance) for a few minutes didn't seem to lift my mood much.

I was still lonely and worried after the party shopping, but perked up when people started filtering in.

When the first guest came in the kids were still watching a DVD out in the living room, so I took her into the office for some quiet. I found that I was pretty comfortable doing that at other times as well, when a loud conversation was going on in the living room and interfering with the one-on-one I was engaged in.

Mid-afternoon I had a stray moment to read my email and found that the friend I'd been worried about had been having a temporary but alarming health problem in the morning (been taken care of -- ok now). Do I really have that much empathy, or was it just a coincidence? Probably the latter: my worries were mainly about a different aspect of my friend's life. I can see how one can easily start believing in ESP, but I remain skeptical. Memory is very selective.

The party really warmed up in the evening, and I had a good time. I noticed that I was much happier and more engaged than previously; other people noticed as well. Go me!!

I circulated more than usual, and used my computer a lot less. I also discovered, to my delight, that I can noodle on guitar and follow a conversation -- and even make brief comments -- at the same time. It's exactly the same kind of multitasking I do when I'm driving. Some of the chord progressions came out a little odd. I need to find something quiet that leaves me the same mental space.

I've always liked hugs, but I found that I was hugging more tightly and enjoying it more this time. More to the point, I noticed while I was hugging people that it made me happy. Um... OK then.

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

The usual bash at the Starport on Saturday, March 14. Colleen will, alas, be missing it this year; you are encouraged to stop by her room (watch this blog for the latest information) before or after the party.

As usual it's a potluck, noon until midnight or thereabouts, kids, friends, and musical instruments welcome as always. No need to RSVP.

Maps and directions on the web page, or search on maps.google.com for "Grand Central Starport".

mdlbear: (lemming)

I have asked a couple of people for five Things that they associate with me, to ramble on about in my journal. I extend the same offer to anyone who comments here.

Here are the five things I got from [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi:

Songwriting

I believe I started making up songs when I was eight or ten years old, but didn't actually write any down until I was in college and found myself rooming with two other guitar players. They would have been classifiable as filksongs if I'd ever heard of such things at the time. I only remember bits of one of them, but was told at the last reunion I went to, a decade ago, that one of those former roommates still sings that and another one, which I had entirely forgotten. I keep them in my computer files now.

It was my involvement with fandom and filk that finally "gave me permission" to write songs, a few of which were worth singing in public. As time goes by I seem to have gotten better at it.

I wrote five songs last year, my most prolific year so far, and more than the previous five years put together. Last year also included my two or three best songs so far.

I have a tendency to write lyrics first; if I start with music it may take years for the tune to attach itself to a suitable lyric.

I've helped teach songwriting at a couple of weekend workshops run by Kathy Mar; I don't claim to be much good at that, but you're welcome to read my notes for the 2007 workshop and draw your own conclusions.

Programming

Programming is, in essence, the art of giving orders to an incredibly fast, incredibly accurate, and moronicly literal-minded demon. As such, it represents a very useful skill for game-players and parents. You will note that I do consider it an art, and in particular a branch of literature. (My degree is in Computer Science, but I feel strongly that any field with the word "science" in its name isn't one.)

Another way of looking at it is to say that the inside of a computer is an alternate universe where magic works: programs are spells, and obey most of the usual laws of magic. They also share with traditional magic the fact that a misspoken spell can wreak untold havoc.

Programming, like reading, is one of those activities I do in a light trance state. When I'm on my game (increasingly rare these days) I occasionally look up from my keyboard after what seems like a short time and wonder why it's suddenly gotten dark outside.

House Parties

Our household has four Saturday parties every year: one in late December or early January celebrating the new year and our anniversary, one in March (the "It's Green!" party, now by long-established tradition the Saturday after Consonance) to celebrate Spring, St. Patrick's Day, and our birthdays, one in June (originally to celebrate the anniversary of Colleen's flower business, but now just for the tradition of it), and one in late October to celebrate Halloween.

We also have an Open House every Wednesday -- these were originally devised by Colleen to make sure that she would have adults to talk to even after our older daughter was born.

The house is also more-or-less open during the entire Winter holiday season; we don't exactly expect guests, but are never surprised if they show up, and occasionally invite them.

Our 25th Anniversary party was remarkable in being the only one for which we hired entertainment -- the members of Golden Bough had been to a few of our previous parties, and we booked them a year in advance to make sure they'd show up. It was also the only one we had to rent chairs for.

Cordwainer Smith

... is/was one of my favorite science fiction authors. The name "Mandelbear" comes in part from a post I made in alt.callahans, and in part from one of my favorite characters, the Middle-Sized Bear, in his story "Mark Elf"; my latest and arguably most autobiographical song is called "A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear". My first filk song, "The Shores of the Night", was loosely inspired by another of his stories, "The Lady Who SailedThe Soul".

My favorite story of his is probably "The Dead Lady of Clown Town", though it's hard to pick just one. I especially admire him for his imagery and his narrative style; many of his stories are written as if they were popular history, written years -- centuries, in some cases -- after the events they recount. "Drunkboat" is also worthy of mention; its description of the first journey through hyperspace is simply a translation of Arthur Rimbaud's "Le Bateau ivre".

Janis Ian

... is one of my favorite singer-songwriters, and probably the celebrity I would most like to spend a night with -- swapping songs, of course. She's also a long-time science fiction fan, and more recently author. I see from her tour schedule that she's toastmistress at the Nebula Awards banquet this year. I have yet to run into her at a Worldcon; she never goes to the filking.

I have been known to perform one of her songs, "The Last Train", in filk circles and even at a concert or two.

Her website includes lots of good articles on being a songwriter and performer, backed by 40-odd years of experience. Highly recommended.

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.

Anniversary

Jan. 3rd, 2009 01:16 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

As of right about now, Colleen and I will have been married for 33 years. This is our first anniversary apart, and hopefully the last.

We're having our party nonetheless. Come on over. Stop by Kaiser on the way to congratulate the Cat.

I hope that, 33 years from now, we'll be in a motel on whatever's left of the old Route 66, partying our brains out.

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

There will be the usual potluck New Year/anniversary Party at Grand Central Starport on Saturday. As usual it's a potluck; kids, friends, and musical instruments welcome. Noon to whenever.

It'll be weird as heck without Colleen. Well, I've missed some, too. But missing our anniversary?... Come anyway.

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

The next party at Grand Central Starport will be Saturday, January 3rd, 2009. The obvious date, seeing as it's our 33rd anniversary.

If you weren't here last night, you missed a good party. Good talks with [livejournal.com profile] andyheninger, [livejournal.com profile] victorthecook, [livejournal.com profile] ocelotn, MP, and others. Less tech and more river content to my conversation than at most previous parties, and I was out in the main room more. Sang the three newest songs, and noodled on and off for an hour or so late in the evening.

There was gaming in the sewing room/guest room, which I used as an excuse to have the kids help with picking up and cleaning in preparation for [livejournal.com profile] cflute's visit Friday.

Just for reference, we got fewer soft drinks this time. Of the 2-litre bottles, we had 9 unopened, 5 empty and 7 ranging from partially to mostly empty. The entire Thomas Kemper assortment (12 bottles) of soda was consumed, along with a 6-pack of hard cider, 16 bottles of assorted brew and about half a case of diet coke in cans. And one bottle of zin.

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