Page Summary

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I'll do one of my usual "done recently" posts tomorrow, maybe. For now, the big news: Yesterday Colleen's orthopedist told her she can go back to using her formerly-broken ankle. It's healed!

She has another week and a half of fairly intensive physical therapy to go before she comes home, but I'm getting my wife back!

(For those of you just dropping in from other planets, Colleen broke her ankle the day we moved into the house, on May 24th, and has been home precisely once, for half a day, since then.)

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

Rainbow's End, in West Seattle, is hosting its first housefilk today, with special guest Alexa Klettner, from Germany. Starts nominally around 2pm, but show up any time.

From the West Seattle Bridge turn right on Genesee (one block past the first traffic light, which is 35th Ave), take the second right onto 37th, and park. Look for the sign on the fence; you can't miss it. If you get lost, call me: 408-896-6133.

mdlbear: (crowdfunding)

I've just paid $10 for "The Cybernetic Sorcerers" by YsabetWordsmith -- you can get yours at The Wordsmith's Forge - Unsold Poetry from the October 2-3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. Ysabet is my favorite web poet, by far. Check out her Serial Poetry page and you'll get some idea of why.

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

Because of the recent major increase in anonymous spam comments on LJ, I have disabled them there. Either register, or come on over to Dreamwidth where anonymous comments are still enabled. Besides, I can always use more comments on the DW side.

Also, I've pretty much stopped posting "hippo birdie" posts, in part because the LJ portal is going away, and in part because I've taken the LJ portal and home page off my "AM" list. They were pretty useless to begin with and have become more so. With the demise of birthday posts, I now have no unique content on LJ -- it's all cross-posted from DW.

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: (hacker traveling)
My trusty Linux router has, apparently, been gradually dying. As of Saturday night it was basically unusable, slowing down to a crawl within minutes of a reboot. It passed memory and rootkit checks just fine, though. Sunday morning I decided to scrap it. This may have been a mistake. I tried several different approaches. The mini-ITX box I _had_ been using as my router wouldn't boot. Spent quite a while chasing my tail on that one. Finally, after much flailing, got my WAP on line as the router. Nice and fast, and of course low power. Sweet. I'd been meaning to do that for a while. Except that by then it was 4pm, and nearly time to head to the airport. (Note: I'm up in the Seattle area until Thursday afternoon; I'm available for an interview Wednesday afternoon. Hint.) A couple of things got forgotten, chief among them being testing ssh. Oops. I thought briefly about setting up port forwarding, but got distracted by things like hugging my wife and daughter goodbye. I read my email by ssh-ing in to my file server. But the ssh daemon on the router doesn't appear to be listening to the WAN port. This is an excellent security measure, but right now it sucks. The other thing I do only on the home system is keep my password database. OOPS. Fortunately, I was able to set up email forwarding this morning, so I only lose access to my archives (including a lot of job-related stuff) and anything that was sent to me yesterday. But still... It could be a painful couple of days, and it certainly made for a bad trip yesterday. Flying out of San Jose on a Delta puddle-jumper didn't help.
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.

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)

I am going to be in Seattle from Thursday, 4/5 through Wednesday, 4/11. I'll be arriving at my hotel, the Coast Gateway sometime after 9pm Thursday, and leaving on the 7:30pm flight Wednesday.

Friday through Sunday I'll be at Norwescon, but since I'm not scheduled for anything I'll be available for conversations or phone interviews on a few minutes' notice.

Monday noonish through Wednesday afternoon I'll be looking at apartments and, and hopefully, going to job interviews. You can get to all my relevant information, including my resume, at stephen.savitzky.net.

I'll be going up again in early July for Westercon; I'll take a trip up before that if there are interviews to be had.

We expect to be moving up permanently sometime between July and September, most likely sometime in August.

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.

raw notes )
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.

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

Cat Faber wrote the song, and Lookingglass Folk sang it at Conflikt. But nobody seems to be doing it -- yet.

[personal profile] pocketnaomi thinks it's time somebody did. I'm boosting the signal. Check it out. Watch for more; we're working on it.

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

A pretty good day, despite not getting very much done. Took a 2-mile walk, which went pretty well modulo a little hip pain and the fact that my pants don't fit very well right now. My weight was under 190 for the first time since 2009! It was still down this morning, so it's possible I have some momentum going there. Hope so; my goal is to have a waist again.

I installed Puppy Linux on one of my keychain drives using UNetbootin, which totally rocks! Puppy didn't quite know what to make of the large screen on Cygnus, and it didn't have the right wifi drivers, but it has enough tools to be useful and it'll probably do just fine on my older hardware. UNetbootin, for those who don't know, is a cross-platform program that lets you select from a list of dozens of live CDs, which it then downloads for you and installs on a USB drive. Slick.

Public service announcement: Google apparently added all my gmail contacts as IM "buddies". Growf. I have, accordingly, disabled the gmail and lj accounts in my IM client; if you want to talk to me, you're stuck with Yahoo or AIM for the moment. I'd welcome feedback on that decision.

Link sausage: Can Augmented Reality Save the Printed Page? (cute hack) and What would Sharon do? - Cringely (computers and education).

raw notes )
mdlbear: (snark-map)

Using code from SopaBlackout.org, I'm going to be blacking out the following websites tomorrow to protest the evil, evil bills called SOPA (House) and PIPA (Senate). You'll be able to click through to the actual site.

I'd say "sorry for the inconvenience", but I'm not. It's worth a little inconvenience to help prevent a disaster. Deal. Then write to your congresspeople. Ask them whether they're working for a handful of huge media corporations, or their constituents.

You can find out more here and here.

And listen to The Day The LOLCats Died

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)

Here, in two easy pieces, is how to fix Livejournal's recent problems.

Fixing the comment page.

  1. First, if you're still using an S1 (ancient) style, switch to S2.
  2. Go to your profile.
  3. Go to Journal > Journal Style, and in the box headed <yourID>'s Current Theme click on "Customize your theme" (or just follow the link)
  4. Under "Basic Options", find the line labeled "Disable customized comment pages for your journal". Select "No". (As in "no, don't fsck up my comments".)
  5. Go to Profile > Settings > Display(tab) (or just follow this link.)
  6. Under "Comment Pages", check the box for "View comment pages from my Friends page in my own style"

Fixing DDOS attacks, Rich Text Editor failures, and a host of other problems.

  1. Go to dreamwidth.org and create an account. For the rest of this year you can create a free account without an invite code, but a paid account is well worth the price.
  2. From your profile, go to Organize > Manage Account > Other Sites (tab), or follow this link.
  3. Add your LJ account under "Crossposting", and check the boxes under "Crosspost by Default" and "Display Crosspost Link". Now anything you post on your shiny new DW account will be crossposted to LJ.
  4. Go to Organize > Import Content (or follow the link to Import Journal). Import your old LJ contents. Do this every month or so to import the accumulated comments.

Now, sit back and watch the ongoing decline of LJ with a certain air of amused detachment.

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)

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)

Colleen has asked me to mention that the Starport has air conditioning and fast internet, and that she is almost always home. Call first, but there's no need to suffer in the current heat wave.

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

Somebody in Redmond, WA actually bought a copy of Coffee Computers and Song at CD Baby! That's my first physical sale there in over a year. You can also buy very high quality MP3s of either the whole album, or individual tracks. Yes, that's a shameless plug.

PSA: I lose control over my tone of voice when I'm seriously overloaded and trying to concentrate on a task, especially under the combination of stress and back pain. I curse, loudly, and anyone attempting to say anything to me at this point is going to be snapped at. Maybe I should work on responding quietly, but have no idea how to go about it. Anger management? Something else? Is there such a thing as "frustration management"?

Also along the River, an unexpectedly affectionate response to a comment elsejournal felt... nice, but rather odd.

It was another day of mostly meetings at work. I think my main job for the next couple of weeks is going to be documentation, AKA doing a brain-dump before I return to research at the end of May.

Some good links in the notes.

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

I am not getting on a plane for North Carolina right now. Mom called just as I was getting up, to say that the storm on the East coast was making flights into RDU dicey for today. I looked and found that Southwest was allowing no-cost flight changes, so I booked a flight for tomorrow at 1pm. It'll be getting in pretty late (10:15), but I'm a lot less likely to get stuck in Chicago. Especially since it goes through Denver. (Of course, if it snows there tomorrow I'm hosed, but that doesn't look likely.)

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

I realize that it's rather late, but here's my schedule for the weekend.

1111 Th
  o San Jose, CA to Portland, OR Thursday, November 11, 2010	1 h 45 m 
    #680	 Depart San Jose, CA (SJC) 	1:35 PM
 	 Arrive in Portland, OR (PDX)		3:20 PM

1113 Sa
  o 1:00:pm   2:00:pm	So You Want to Produce a CD
    PNW Ballroom        Making a CD without living on the cutting edge of
			insolvency.
    Steve Dixon, Steve Savitzky, (*)Tony
  o 2:00:pm   3:00:pm	Kinderfilk
    PNW Ballroom        Music for children - Which may include a zombie song
   		    	or two 
    Frank Hayes, (*)Callie Hills, Steve Dixon, Andrew Ross, Steve Savitzky
  o 7:30:pm   8:00:pm	Concert: Tempered Glass
    PNW Ballroom        Concert: Tempered Glass
    Steve Savitzky, Callie Hills

1115 Mo
  o Portland, OR to San Jose, CA Monday, November 15, 2010	1 h 45 m 
    #1685	 Depart Portland, OR (PDX) 	6:20 PM
 	 Arrive in San Jose, CA (SJC)		8:05 PM

I will have lots of free time on Friday, Sunday, and Monday.

mdlbear: (distress)

If you're a US citizen of legal age, please remember to go out and vote.

Autographedcat has a post you should read.

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

I will not be cross-posting my LJ comments or links to them on twitter, facebook, or any other social network. I may conceivably cross-post my own posts between Dreamwidth and LJ, though in which direction is unclear, and I haven't done it yet. I may conceivably cross-post my twitter updates to LJ via one of the usual culprits; currently it doesn't represent enough bandwidth to be worthwhile.

I try hard never to put links to other peoples' locked posts anyplace in my LJ, even in friends-locked posts, because I know that some people don't even want the existence of their locked posts known. Similarly, I don't put links to my own locked posts anywhere except in other posts on the same filter.

If I make a comment on somebody's locked post that I think is worth making public, you'll find it here with all the serial numbers carefully filed off.

I actively encourage people to link to my public posts, and have no problem having my LJ name associated with my real one. However, when I finally get around to establishing a presence on Facebook, it will not link back here. The last thing I need is FB rummaging around in my friends list.

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)

If I'm obviously frazzled and desperately looking for something valuable that I'm afraid I've lost, DO NOT say something to the effect of "It's all right." It is manifestly not all right, and you will get snapped at. I don't want to snap at you.

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

Weird day. A little actual work accomplished at work, but mostly the day was dominated by a meeting where we discussed what would happen soon when (if all goes well) our current research project starts turning into a product. It promises to be, um... an adventure.

It was raining all day, which made a good excuse to get in a half-hour walk on the treadmill. Third time in the fitness center. Both of the last times there was someone running on the treadmill next door. I'm not sure they even noticed me.

A couple of days ago I'd spotted the DVD of Where the Wild Things Are in Safeway, and Colleen and I watched it last night. I didn't like it. Painful in spots; none of it lighthearted like the feeling I got from the book. Very hard to suspend disbelief, especially the voices. And very much NOT for young kids, especially if they like the book.

Nice long snuggle and conversation in bed.

Only one link, but it's a great one: a comment by [livejournal.com profile] judifilksign: 'Sometimes, I have to go through the "HALT" to myself: Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?' It's a fantastic mnemonic for a checklist I hadn't realized I needed. Thank you!

PSA: did you know that Grand Central Starport is having its annual "It's Green!" party today? You're invited.

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)

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)

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

Just in case anyone still thinks that letting a third party control your data is a good idea, here's T-Mobile telling Sidekick users that their data has all been lost. If you have a Sidekick, don't turn it off!

I just love the fact that the company that developed the Sidekick is called Danger. And that they were bought by Microsoft.

Have a nice day.

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)

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth, though I sometimes feel as though it might be a welcome vacation. This is just a quick note from Baycon -- I haven't even had time to update my to.do list with completed items. No, I will not tweet them.

High order bits:

The Tres Gique concert kicked serious ass -- probably our best yet. In spite of (or perhaps because of) our having to vamp for half an hour or so while the next act got unstuck from traffic. And we were afraid we were running a little long...

The Tempered Glass concert kicked ass, in spite of Callie losing her voice mid-song toward the beginning of the set. And Naomi having a blood-sugar crash, and my voice flagging a little. We adjusted, moved on, would have had to drop a song anyway, and made it through.

Filk tonight was great fun, though I wish we could have stayed longer.

Caring for Colleen took up a good chunk of time and energy. So did caring for a five-year-old, even a fun, articulate, well-behaved five-year-old.

And finally, an Announcement: Colleen and I are fan guests of honor at next year's Baycon!!!

More if I ever have time.

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

Free to a good home: an HP Laserjet 4 printer. It was in good working order when I took it out of service a couple of years ago, except for wrinkling the paper with an outfeed roller that needed replacing. I have the replacement kit, I've just been too lazy to install it.

Comment here and [livejournal.com profile] jilara will pick it up at Grand Central Starport if you want it in a couple of days. Or just comment, if you want to make snide comments about how slow and expensive the LJ4 was. Or how much older it is than your kids. Go ahead, we were well thought-of in our day.

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

With Consonance coming up, it seems only reasonable to mention that my band, Tres Gique, will have a 45-minute concert slot on Saturday Sunday, at 1pm. I just got a look at the program grid and there it is. My apologies for the temporary confusion to all the people I told it was Sunday; it got changed quite a while ago (I had the choice between 1/2 hour on Sunday and 45 minutes on Saturday), but I neglected to update my calendar. Sorry about that.

I will be performing on Sunday at 1:45, as well, with [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi and [livejournal.com profile] cflute.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Grand Central Starport has a shiny new fast net connection as of this afternoon. What that means, though, is that we do not have the DSL line that email was being delivered through. Oops.

Expect delays, including while I figure out the optimum way of fixing it.

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)

It's been a while since I posted anything with a significant amount of River content; little things like life, the universe, and everything have been conspiring against me. I'm sorry to disappoint you again, but it seemed as though this was a good time for a sort of re-introduction and status report before we continue our journey.

The River posts started out as a journey of personal exploration, concentrating on mental states, emotions in particular, interpersonal communication, and relationships. Along the way they seem to have acquired a second theme of advice, primarily for geeks like me and people in relationships with geeks. (I'll get into definitions in a little while.) How this geeky old bear found himself in the role of slightly bemused relationship counselor is a longish story that has yet to be told in full, but you'll find bits of it in the archives if you're curious.

There seem to be three main types of River posts. There are, of course, general posts that have a brief mention of a River-related topic -- those usually just get the tag. There are the ones that report on, and usually analyze, a specific incident or event from a riparian point of view -- often these have the phrase "on the River" in their title. And finally there are the more carefully-considered posts, of the sort [livejournal.com profile] cflute calls "The Mandelbear waxes philosophical", which usually have titles that start with the "River:" keyword.

At any given time I may have a half-dozen or so posts in various stages of writing, and another dozen in the form of a title and a few notes. They often stay in this state for months, until I either get tired of beating on them, or they get triggered by some event, usually on my friends list, that makes them suddenly relevant.

Definitions:

Although there are plenty of terms I use in a somewhat non-standard sense here on the River, the only two I want to highlight here are geek and human. I believe I first started using the pair of them in a technical sense in a post titled Humans are from Earth, geeks are from Saturn.

Geek
This is intended as a humorously self-deprecating, fairly general term that covers anyone who, like me, has trouble relating to and getting along with "normal" people. It covers a fairly wide range, including aspies, people with adult ADD, loners, and in some aspects people who are simply terribly shy. Geeks often have an easier time relating to computers than to people; some of my earlier posts have mentioned "hackers" in this connection.
Human
This is meant as a less disparaging term for "normal" people than things like "neurotypical", which is common in the Aspie community.

I'll note immediately that I'm well aware that many people -- probably including most of my readers, fall somewhere in between the two categories, or have aspects of one or the other in different situations.

Sub-tags:

Here are the tags commonly used for River subtopics. This set changes over time, and posts will occasionally have tags that are used more widely.

c9n
Calibration -- getting or soliciting feedback or corrections (outside of LJ -- inside LJ I'd use "query"). You may have met the practice of using a number to stand for the number of omitted letters in "i18n", the common abbreviation for "internationalization".
comm
Communication
def
Definitions. Often also have "Defining my terms:" in the title.
human
The whole "being human" thing (usually in the context of my abject failure at it).
meta
A post about posting. This post, for example.
np
N-person relationships (where n>2). The definition of np-complete and np-hard are left as an exercise for the reader.
psa
Public Service Announcement. Something I want people to know about me.
psych
Psychology, including mental states, psychopharmacology, and so on.
query
Questions of the readership, often for calibration purposes.
rel
Relationship

Books?

The River seems to have spawned some related writing projects. The first, thought of a couple of months ago and introduced in a post titled The River: it's not just a tag anymore, was the comparatively straightforward idea of turning the first year's worth of posts and some selected comments into a book, A Year on the River. It will require some serious editing, of course.

The second, and more recent (as in just this week), is the idea of writing a pair of somewhat more organized self-help books, tentatively titled Relating to Humans -- A Manual for Geeks and Relating to Geeks -- A Manual Mostly for Humans. I envision them being printed back-to-back, like one of the old Ace Doubles. Anybody else remember those? It would make sense because, as I've noted above, many people fall somewhere in the middle. And, of course, because geeks have most of the same problems relating to other geeks that humans do.

(The initial phrase, currently "Relating to", is up for grabs; additional possibilities include "Living with" and "The Care and Feeding of".)

Naturally, both of these projects will start out as wiki-like websites, so that I can get some help -- I'll need it.

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

Colleen and I went for a nice long drive yesterday; around the long loop up the coast and home through Half Moon Bay. It was mostly good, but some disturbing things came up toward the end and I'm afraid my mood crashed pretty badly. Yes, my baseline mood has improved recently (Colleen confirms it, and ordered me in no uncertain terms to stay away from gluten from now on). But the amplitude and frequency of the swings has also increased considerably.

This will be briefer than I would have liked; details have already started to fade. But some of it is very important, at least for me.

Somehow, probably in response to me asking her to clarify something, we got back on the subject of my attempts to get her to answer questions when I didn'tunderstand or didn't hear the original answer. She blew up at me. You may remember a post upstream titled Why I asked. Yeah, that again. Plus something that triggered memories of last March and April when she feared she was losing me (which I've touched on under the title of The Silicon Mistress). And didn't believe me when I said she wasn't, because she was paying more attention to my attitude than to my words.

The combination sent me into a tailspin, wondering whether our relationship had deteriorated to the point where she no longer wanted to talk with me about it. From further conversation, I don't think so. I hope not. She also came up with a fascinating bit of information. It raises more questions than it answers, unfortunately.

She was under psychoanalysis for years, from a very young age; it left her with a lifelong hatred for and distrust of the whole profession. It hasn't stopped us from getting the kids help when they needed it, but she reacted vehemently when I asked whether we would benefit from counseling. I wouldn't know -- I've never done it.

But apparently my way of asking questions, multiple times with different wordings to try to come to an understanding of what she said, sounds to her exactly like what a shrink does. No wonder she rejects it.

Question: what in Hell can I do about this? I can't stop asking her for clarification: if it was important enough for her to say something to me, it's important for me to understand it. Is there a way of asking for clarification that doesn't make me sound like I'm trying to psychoanalyze her?

Public service announcement #1: When I ask you a question I am not trying to psychoanalyze you. Nor am I trying to see whether you know something, the way I would with a kid drilling for a test. I'm just trying to get an answer. When I ask a question it's because you know the answer and I don't. If I ask again in different words, it's because I didn't understand the first answer, or because it sounded like the answer to a question I didn't ask. If I paraphrase your answer and ask you to confirm it, it's because I want to make damned sure I understood what you said, because it seemed to be important.

Public service announcement #2: Please listen. I will usually tell you why I am seemingly asking a question again. If I do, I mean exactly what I say. Please listen to the exact words of the question, too. Don't respond with the answer to the question you think I was going to ask: it will only confuse both of us.

I don't know how I can make this more clear. Suggestions welcome.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

When a post of mine contains a link whose text looks like a hostname or URL (with the "http://" omitted, usually) you can be pretty damned certain that it's the web site or web page itself that I'm trying to draw your attention to.

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

Note: stress, anxiety, hunger, dehydration, and sleep deprivation are a hypergolic mixture. Handle with extreme caution.

Note: There are comparatively few things that can cause a full-scale Mandelbear melt-down, complete with gibbering apologies, silent, dry-eyed sobbing and a deep desire to simultaneously curl up in a ball, storm out of the room, and drop through the floor. Being told by an angry Colleen that I have hurt her without even knowing it -- totally failed at this "being human" thing -- is one of them.

Note for next time: take a big drink of something cold and wet, have a very quick dinner, put any unexpected guests in the care of the kids, and retire to the bedroom with Colleen and two glasses of something alcoholic for an hour of snuggle and catching up.

OK; I'll unpack that.

On the way home from the airport we had some silly argument over caller ID and our cell phones. I should know better than to try to explain something like that to somebody who clearly doesn't care about the technical details, but I was tired enough for it to have seemed important at the time.

The anxiety and stress part was mostly over Colleen's not having heard back about her ultrasound. We were both hungry; I was sleep-dep'd from the con and stressed from travel.

I thought we'd talked enough about the con, at least for a while; there were unexpected guests in the house -- at least, I hadn't been expecting them -- and Colleen didn't want to embarass me in front of them by telling me to stop paying attention to my LJ and pay some attention to her.

Public Service Announcement: It may conceivably embarass me a little to be reminded to pay attention to my wife, but I'm a bear of very little brain, and an occasional whack from a cluebat doesn't hurt. Something along the lines of "stop hanging out with your silicon mistress and talk to me" would work fine. Or, "kiss me now, you idiot!"

As I've said several times, I don't do subtle.

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

This year's OVFF marked the first anniversary of the late-night conversation and song-swapping session with [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi (briefly mentioned here) that I think of as the first sign of the changes that eventually led to the River posts.

It was particularly appropriate, then, that she spent the con crashing in my room. It was something of an experiment, and a very successful one: I experienced much the same level of casual friendliness that's become familiar from years of sharing hotel rooms with my daughters. (Without arguments over who sleeps in which bed or what time curfew is -- a definite plus.)

The con was a good opportunity to re-connect with many of the friends I made last year, and to try to make a few new ones (though not as many as I would have liked). Few of my conversations got as deep as I would have liked them to, and there wasn't nearly enough time for all the conversations I wanted to have. *sigh*

I found it a little easier to start conversations with strangers, including three of my four airplane seatmates. Part of the trick, I think, is simply using my time better: I used to hang out on the edge of a conversation waiting for someone to notice me or for an opening to appear; it never worked and left me feeling left out. Now I try to stand or sit next to someone who isn't in a conversation. I'm still not very good at getting things started, but improving. Sharing a table at breakfast or dinner is always a good strategy.

 

On the negative side, just because I'm increasingly aware of things like body language, subtext, and tacit messages doesn't mean that I'm any damned good at either sending or interpreting them. In fact, it's probably worse: if I recognize but totally misread a message that I would have ignored a year ago, the results are at best highly embarassing. And in my little bear-like brain there's nothing worse than being embarassed. Similarly if I notice that I'd sent a totally unintended tacit message to someone I had no wish to offend. I spent quite a bit of time Sunday evening wondering whether I'd ever be any good at this whole "being human" thing.

I had one of each; no need to go into details on the first one. In the second case, yes, I really did want to finish a LJ post, which I was working on through an ssh connection, without having to worry about the battery dying and the connection dropping. It wasn't a rejection. There are lots of reasons why I'll leave a conversation: I might think it's over, I might have something that needs doing, or I might be feeling left out. I might even be bored, but that's rare, and never happened at OVFF. I'm afraid the person I'd been talking to thought I was rejecting her. Or something.

 

Public Service Announcements:

  • You can't count on me to interpret your body language, tone of voice, or implied messages correctly, even if I sort-of notice that they're there. Use words, if at all possible.
  • There's rarely, if ever, an unspoken subtext to anything I do. What you see me doing is what I'm doing, and I'll tell you why if you ask.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

If you've had a bit of experience with people from other cultures and other countries, you probably know that some fairly common words and phrases have entirely different meanings in different countries that nominally share the same language. For example, the phrase "knock up" means "knock on [somebody's] door" in British English, but "get pregnant" in US English. "Stuffed" means "full" in America, and something unprintably obscene in Australia.

Things get even worse when you're talking about loan-words. "Shatsu" means "shirt" in Japanese, but "pantsu" means "underpants."

OK. Are you good at reading people? You may be surprised to learn that geeks are writing in a different language! When I speak loudly it's more likely that I'm trying to continue a sentence over your interruption, or frustrated at my inability to communicate, than that I'm angry at you. When I ask a question a second time it means that I want to know the answer and missed it the first time, not that I'm ignoring or harassing you. When I express disagremeent with you it means that I have a different opinion, not that I'm attacking you. When I leave the room it means I'm overloaded, not that I don't love you.

It's probably a lot worse if you've learned to trust your readings over what people say. Because what I say is what I mean, and what I look like and sound like is probably completely different from what you've learned to expect.

For decades now, Colleen has been relying on her reading of me, rather than on what I say. Very often she's been wrong, but it's been almost impossible to convince her of that. Her reading says I'm angry when I'm just frustrated, or panicking when I'm just trying to clear up unclear directions before I miss my turn. It's been almost impossible to clear these things up, because she's trusted her reading more than my plain words.

Now, it's also true that sometimes Colleen's readings of me are dead on, and she sometimes recognizes things about my feelings weeks before I notice them myself. That only makes it worse when she's wrong.

It must be a lot like being in one of those rooms with distorted perspective, where your eyes and your muscles are telling you different things. What do you trust?

Public Service Announcement #5: I'm the only one who knows what's going on inside my head. If I tell you what's going on in my head, you should take my word for it. I won't knowingly lead you astray about what I'm thinking or what I think I'm feeling.

Public Service Announcement #6: Your reading of my body language and tone of voice is probably wrong.

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

Public Service Announcement #3: If I ask you a question, it's because I don't know the answer, and I'm interested in hearing it. Period. The only exceptions are if I'm recording an interview with you, or drilling you for a test.

Public Service Announcement #4: I almost never ask "social questions". If I don't know you, or don't want to talk, I'll greet you with some variant of "hello". If I ask "How are you?" I'll take a social "OK", but I'll also be ready for a twenty-minute rant or a two-hour brain dump. Really.

If you think I've asked a question before, there are several possible explanations:

  • I may simply have forgotten your answer. This happens a lot, especially with names, but it can happen with anything if I haven't had a chance to write it down.
  • I may even have forgotten that I asked the question. That can happen especially if I was distracted when, or shortly after, I asked it.
  • I may not have heard your answer the last time. I'm both a little hard of hearing, and very easily distracted. I'll try to use the phrase "excuse me" in this case. If it's very noisy or hard for me to concentrate, you may have to repeat the answer several times. Bear with me.
  • I may have asked the question with different words, and not understood the answer. Or I understood the answer, but it was so different from what I expected that I'm not sure you understood the question. I'm using different and more careful wording in an attempt to get a more understandable, more believable, or more accurate answer. Usually I'll say so, and say which case I'm working on, but I might not always have time. Please try to believe that it's a different question, even if it sounds the same to you.
  • You may have given me the same information in response to a different question entirely (in which case I might easily have missed it in my efforts to understand it as the answer to the question I did ask), or even without my asking.
  • The situation may have changed to the point where I'm no longer certain the old answer applies. I'll try to use the word "still" in this case, as in "Are you still upset at me?"
  • You may simply be mis-remembering, or remembering when I asked the same question in an earlier situation.

There are also cases where you think I should already know the answer. Perhaps you actually told me the answer a few minutes ago, and I got distracted and forgot it. Perhaps it's something that any human being with the ability to understand normal people's emotions ought to have known implicitly. Perhaps it was implied by something you said, and I simply didn't catch the implication. I'm stupid that way, OK?

The fact is, I didn't know. If I ask you a question, it's because at the moment I'm asking it I don't know the answer. If I ask for more detail, it's because I feel that it's important for me to find out. It's OK in that case to tell me to drop the subject, and I'll either drop it or tell you why I think I need to know, and drop it if you still want me to.

I would really appreciate it if you could be patient with this stupid old bear, and not get too upset because I asked you what sounds like the same question in different words a few minutes ago. Please try to listen to my exact words, and answer the question I actually asked rather than repeating the answer I didn't understand the last time, or answering the question you think I intended to ask. Feel free to correct me if you think I'm asking the wrong question, and feel free to ask me why I seem to be asking the same damned question, or to clarify my phrasing.

Please don't get upset because I don't seem to be listening to you. I'm listening as best I can, and trying as hard as I can to understand you. I wouldn't be asking you questions if I wasn't trying to understand you.

Above all, please believe me when I tell you I don't know. I wouldn't lie to you.

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

This is an expansion of a topic I raised in this post, where I wrote:

We never did get to do any wine-tasting (though the wine at the wedding was excellent, as one might expect, and made up for the lack). This occasioned an argument, too: I could hear the disappointment in Colleen's voice, but she said "no" when I first asked her whether she was disappointed. A lifetime of social conditioning will do that. But it's disastrous for someone like me who can't read people very well, and has to get accurate feedback when I try to confirm my guesses. I think the normal expectation is that somebody will understand the tone of voice and interpret the polite denial as a subtle request to leave the subject alone. I don't do subtle, and don't trust my ability to "read" people.

In other words, my ability to perceive moods and emotions in other people -- even in myself -- is highly unreliable and inaccurate; I need to calibrate it by getting feedback from people, to see whether my guesses are correct. My ability to understand implicit communication and hints is practically nonexistent. As I've often remarked here, I don't do subtle.

 

Most people -- "normal" people, as opposed to geeks like me -- appear to rely heavily on one another's ability to read emotions and recognize implied communication. This leads to a social convention whereby a short, polite answer to a question establishes a polite fiction that is often contradicted by an emotional undercurrent that people like me usually miss, leading to total lack of real communication.

So, in the preceeding exchange, we had Colleen giving what I'll call the "social answer" to my question, relying on my (nearly nonexistant) emotional perception to supply the "real answer". Which I still don't fully understand. I understood that she was disappointed, but have no idea what the implied message might have been. "I don't want to discuss it"? "I want to discuss it but only if you want to as well"? "I was disappointed but don't want to get into an argument"? All of the above? Something else? Probably. But I don't think Colleen herself knows, or could give me any help understanding it. It was hard enough calibrating my reading of her mood.

I may never get any good at all at understanding -- or even detecting -- implied messages, but my ability to read emotions is improving, largely because I'm getting a little better at calibrating my readings.

The trick, for me, is recognizing when I'm getting a "social answer", and framing a question or two that will elicit the "real answer". So,

"Are you disappointed?"

"Not really."

"I thought I heard disappointment in your voice. Are you disappointed?"

"Of course I was disappointed. You told me..."

Similarly, take a common social greeting:

"How are you doing?"

"OK."

"You look a little down."

"Well, ... "

What follows the "Well,..." could be anything from "I just haven't had my coffee yet" to "My mother died yesterday" -- the social convention appears to be to give a noncommittal answer and let the other party follow it up if they really care about the person and want the real answer. Or something. I'm still not really sure; all I know is that I have to follow up if I want to get the real answer.

As I say, I'm getting better at this. In other cases I'll try to paraphrase a response that seems to be ambiguous, or request further information when the response seems incomplete. I think that most people find this annoying and perhaps even offensive, but I can't help that -- I need my calibration, my feedback, or I won't understand what they were trying to tell me.

It would be unrealistic and totally unfair of me to ask people to give me a real answer to an ordinary social question. The social answer is what almost all of the people they communicate with are expecting. The social convention serves them well; I'm guessing that it lets the conversation drop before getting into realm of real emotions unless both parties are prepared to go deeper. Basically, it's up to me to figure out when, and whether, I need to follow up.

Similarly, I'm far enough outside most people's normal range of experience that they're almost certain to misunderstand me -- they misinterpret my tone of voice, or look for an implied message that isn't there, and find something I didn't say. They don't follow up, of course. It's up to me to notice when they're misinterpreting what I said, and try to correct it. Often it's too late: I've made them angry or distressed, and they've stopped listening to me. Other times I simply don't notice, and they go off thinking I said something totally different from whatever I actually said.

Public Service Announcement #1: When I say something to you, there is no implied message or hidden meaning. The words I used said precisely what I meant to say, at least if I was at all careful about framing them. If you don't believe me, or don't understand me, or think there was some implied message, ask me.

Public Service Announcement #2: I don't do subtle. If you want to tell me something, use words and say it explicitly and in detail. Don't rely on my ability to pick up hints and hidden assumptions -- I don't have that ability.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

It was still dark when I got up at about a quarter to six this morning; the house was full of little lights. It's amazing how many electronic gadgets we have these days.

I spent the entire day yesterday with IM turned off, and managed to get a solid start on the server-side code we need for a possible demo on Friday. Hacked it together as a Perl CGI, of course. Today I'll be doing the image-processing parts with PerlMagick.

I was originally planning to do it as a stand-alone server based on CherryPy, but decided after looking into somebody else's similar app that I didn't have the time to learn both a new language and a new framework.

Snuggle and conversation ate up most of the evening; I'm not complaining, but I'll have an awful lot of catching up to do. The office and sewing room both need serious organizing and re-packing, and that in turn will get into the garage and attic. Towers of Hanoi, indeed.

mdlbear: (sony)
Wal*Mart shutting down DRM server, nuking your music collection -- only people who pay for music risk losing it to DRM shenanigans - Boing Boing
Hey suckers! Did you buy DRM music from Wal*Mart instead of downloading MP3s for free from the P2P networks? Well, they're repaying your honesty by taking away your music. Unless you go through a bunch of hoops (that you may never find out about, if you've changed email addresses or if you're not a very technical person), your music will no longer be playable after October 9th.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Colleen frequently accuses me of "shouting at" her. I finally figured out exactly what's going on in that process. It's fascinating.

If I'm in the middle of saying something and the noise level suddenly rises, for example a truck going by or somebody starting the vacuum cleaner, I'm going to raise my voice in hopes that I'll be heard over the noise. This also happens in the brief interval between when I figure out what I'm going to say, and when I start talking.

Now, you may remember me mentioning that I don't multitask, and that there really isn't room in my little bearlike brain for more than one of listening, thinking, and talking. So, when I'm talking, I'm not listening. If you start talking, for example trying to interrupt me, my bearlike brain isn't going to be able to tell the difference between your voice and a passing truck. I'm going to raise my voice, and you're going to say I was shouting at you.

I'm not going to argue over whether trying to be heard is the same thing as shouting at you; it feels the same to you. I'm sorry I mistook your voice for a passing truck; I just couldn't help it.

(Note that, if you talk while I'm thinking about what to say next, I'm just going to miss the first few words and stare blankly while I try desperately to both make sense of what I heard and reconstruct what I was about to say.)

Now, I'm also told that I have a tendency to rant, and not leave anyone else an opening to say anything. This also happens when I'm simply blathering; I'm not sure whether the difference between rant and blather is important to anyone but me, and it's not relevant here in any case. The point is, you might be tempted to try to talk over me and hope you'll be noticed.

You won't be. I'll shout over you, and won't hear much, if anything, of what you're saying. Here's what to do instead:

One thing you can say is "Basingstoke". That's the keyword that essentially means "calm down and stop blathering" -- I will eventually wind down my rant and listen to you.

If that doesn't work, or you're in a hurry, say "Shut up!" More than once, if necessary. I'll shut up, and I won't be offended. Honest. I'll be startled, but not offended; in fact I'll be pleased because you remembered what to do. You see, I know that this is a problem. I'll work on it, but it's probably going to be hard, maybe impossible, for me to fix the fact that I can't distinguish your voice from a passing truck while I'm talking. But I've given you a workaround, and I'm not going to be offended if you use it.

Most Popular Tags

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Style Credit

Page generated Apr. 18th, 2014 03:40 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios