Page Summary

Expand Cut Tags

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mdlbear: (tsunami)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's been a long month this week.

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

Not all that good a week. Continued lack of productivity at work, mainly because of meetings this time, but still... I want to take a vacation after Westercon, but I have goals that I can't meet if I do. Bletch.

I haven't done much writing, either. A reasonable amount on Monday, but only a little after that. Grump. Did do more cooking than usual: chicken tikka masala on Monday, and beef Stroganoff yesterday. That was a real win. Lots of shrooms. I note in passing that while Cash and Carry has great prices, it doesn't have a very big selection, and few if any small packages.

On the plus side, I did a pretty good job of noticing and identifying my mood Friday. On the minus side, the mood in question was despair. Cat therapy helps, but not completely.

A fair amount of computer-related work -- got my raspberry pi up and running, with both Raspbian and OSMC (on different cards). OSMC (Open Source Media Center) looks like it would work well as a music and video player. Being one of the original cards, it doesn't have much in the way of RAM, so it wouldn't work as a desktop with my current workload. I also swapped my desktop machine for one of the two that have been sitting behind my desk ever since we moved in.

Moderate amount of house-project work.

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

Moderately productive week. Lots of computer configuration and upgrading work, which is always an easy way for me to feel like I've done something, even if it isn't all that useful. I have a new desktop computer, in a nice little Shuttle box, but haven't fully switched over to it yet. Because browser tabs, mostly. (I also got the raspberry pi booting, finally. Which mostly required looking at the installed card and noticing that, not only did it not have an OS installed, but it wasn't flagged as bootable. The Pi is one of the original 512Mb ones -- it's dog slow. Still, it has a lot of potential as either a media center or a special-purpose controller. I'm guessing that used, older pi's are dirt cheap on eBay.

My new monitors arrived at work; I took advantage of the opportunity to re-arrange my workspace (see notes for 0615We) -- and to get back into writing, with xmonad as my first topic. Xmonad really wins for this, because the physical arrangement of the monitors becomes almost irrelevant. By moving the laptop in front of me (because it has a usable keyboard for once) with the dock under the monitor, I not only freed up a sizeable amount of desk space but freed up my second thinkpad keyboard to come home with me. Win.

Last weekend also included a lot of cleanup work in the garage and the back yard -- the huge piles of junk and lumber have been hauled away. I really hated to lose the lumber, but it had been out in the rain for too long. I was, however, able to save most of the hardwood.

As indicated, I have been writing (see notes for 0614Tu). My goal is to write 500 words most days. (I missed yesterday because I was hacking on my journaling makefiles, which sort of counts in terms of time if not bytes.) This post is intended to hit today's word count, and, no, I'm not going to count the notes.

So that raises a question for you, my loyal readers. The article I'm writing on xmonad isn't done yet, but I do have two days worth of work on it. Should I post "episodes" as I go along? Maybe I should phrase that differently -- would anyone object if I did post what amount to partial rough drafts? Feedback would be useful. Because otherwise, that's what I'm going to do.

Some other ongoing projects will also be included in the word count, notably "Songs for Saturday" (or occasionally Sunday, if I'm being lazy) and the "River" posts. I will find or create a tag for the Linux-related stuff, like the aforementioned xmonad article, and probably "adventures in home computing" as well. Fiction is somewhat unlikely; I'm pretty bad at it, especially plotting. Metafiction and prose poems are a distinct possibility, though.

There. 500 words. Approximately, since wc doesn't distinguish between actual content and markup. At some point I need to do something about that, but I'm not going to worry about it right now.

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

Not a great week psychologically, on the whole. Frazzled. Burned out? Probably. Lots of random, depressed-sounding self-talk, and practically everything I see or think about reminds me of something I've done wrong. In most cases the mistakes are unfixable, with drastic consequences. Doomed? That's how it feels. Doomed. (Cue Imperial March from Star Wars: doom doom doom doomty doom doomty doom...)

On the other hand, I've gotten almost all of the household computers -- at least, the ones that aren't G's -- upgraded with Ubuntu 16.04. It's a fast, easy install even on modern machines with secure boot, and my bootstrap script for setting up Gnome flashback, xmonad, and the other stuff I rely on is working pretty well now. I've also resurrected Kat's Acer Aspire (which I dubbed "aspie" because, while it's brilliant, it has trouble communicating -- took me forever to find the key combination that brings up the boot menu). And Emmy's Dell, which I'd thought had a broken charging port, turned out to just need a real Dell charger. :P

G is a professional system administrator -- he can do his own upgrades.

I also bought a new washer for downstairs. It arrives Tuesday, which means that this weekend's project is clearing a path to the downstairs laundry room. Also, most likely, putting up shelves in the garage and the downstairs closet, and curtain rods on N's door.

Yesterday's amusement -- high point of the week, actually -- was Ticia waking me up and teaching me how to play fetch. Really -- she batted her crinkle ball off the bed, picked it up and brought it back, batted it off again, brought it back, ... By that time I was awake and had gotten the hint, so I tossed it for her to fetch. Did that a couple of times. She doesn't usually bring the ball back to me, so I suspect that she thinks she invented the game all by herself. And so she did.

See also, xkcd: My Friend Catherine.

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

Hmm. Interesting week. Mostly in the Chinese sense.

My boss seems to be somewhat more confident in my abilities than I am. It is not clear that this is entirely a good thing, especially if it tempts me to become complacent. But, yeah. Low self-esteem. I haz it.

I think I've managed to spend a few minutes noodling on the guitar every day this week. Mostly minor and suspended chords, but still. Music. It does tend to confirm that my mood is mostly minor and suspended.

My home hacking continues to be centered around xnomad. I've pretty much abandoned gnome at this point. Xmonad is blazingly fast, lightweight, works beautifully with a varying number of monitors, and seems to help me concentrate on the task at hand.

I've also upgraded a couple of netbooks to Ubuntu 16.04; not entirely successfully, but the one with hardware problems is the smaller of the of the Dell minis. The keyboard was crap when I started, and has not been helped by the fact that the hard drive is underneath it. Swapped the 16G SSD for a 100G hard drive pulled out of something a long time ago. That, and getting through a couple of boxes of shredding, has at least given me some sense of accomplishment.

The most "interesting" day was Friday, though, when I got home and it finally occurred to me to research burnout. Um... yeah. Nearly a perfect match for the problems I've been having at work over the last year, not to mention the depression, dysthymia, occasional sleep problems, and the fact that I lost ten pounds over the course of a month or so last year. (Not that I'm going to complain about that! But...)

Anyway.

I actually teared up reading, in Ten Questions for Meaningful Career Development, "2. Am I willing to believe that my efforts matter, at least to me?"

I think what I need to do, over the next year or so, is semi-retire. I can't afford to fully retire, and probably wouldn't want to for years. But something less stressful, maybe part time, ... yeah. The hard part will be finding it. There aren't really a whole lot of low-stress jobs for an ageing computer curmudgeon. If you spot one, let me know.

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

Well, it's another year. There always seems to be a lot of potential around transitions like this, but it rarely seems to get very far. A lot of my goals for this year are carry-overs from last year. I've been spending too much time beating myself up over things I regret not doing last year (last decade, last quarter-century, ...), many of which simply can't be fixed. I keep screwing myself over, and I don't really understand it. (More on that in a later post, hopefully.)

This does nothing to help with my depression. It may, conceivably, help me fight procrastination. Maybe. I'll start working on that tomorrow.

I have gotten a few more things done in the last 10 days than in most comparable periods in the recent past. A few. Largely reading and research around tiny houses and shipping container houses, and a couple of fun dives into math.

Last weekend Colleen and I celebrated our 40th anniversary by going out twice: for dinner at the Melting Pot Saturday, and brunch at Salty's on Sunday (the actual day). That, at least, was good. It was a good set of mutual gifts to ourselves -- the last thing we need right now is more stuff.

Speaking of which, my book on tidying seems to have gotten lost somewhere in the clutter. Fortunately, I found a different one yesterday at Half Price Books.

Lots of links in the notes, for those of you following along at home.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: A brown tabby cat looking dubiously at a wireless mouse (curio)

Long month this last week. Last Sunday, when I st/rolled to the West Seattle street fair with Colleen and G, and swapped songs in the Great Room with N, G, and G's friend Ed, seems like it happened to somebody else, long ago.

It's now four days since I helped my dear friend Curio cross the Rainbow Bridge, and learned that I could cry again. Three days since I pulled my left QL muscle again, walked an agonizing third of a mile home from the bus stop, and re-learned how to use a cane. Less than two days since our friend Jim Pearce died.

My sister Naomi was there for me with Curio, and again after my injury. Colleen and I have cried on one another's shoulders more than once. Desti, our household incarnation of Bast, has sat with me and comforted me. Friends have written condolences. My back feels better this morning, but there are too many empty places in my heart, and they ache.

Please, Universe: I understand that life and health are fragile things. You don't have to keep reminding me.

Links and more in the notes, as usual.

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

Rough week. My depression seems to have gotten worse (I have a doctor's appointment scheduled for Thursday and will discuss medication changes), stress from work has been high, my weight is back up after decreasing for a couple of weeks, and, and, and...

It doesn't help that last Sunday was Colleen's mother's birthday, and that today is Father's Day.

On the other hand, Colleen and I had a nice st/roll last week, to the local Farmer's Market about a mile away, which we plan on repeating today with the kids. Because Father's Day.

Pope Francis's much-anticipated encyclical, Laudato si' (24 May 2015), was an interesting read. Beautiful, though I found the theological parts baffling and a little disturbing. Clearly, I'm not part of the target audience; I hope it has a good effect on the people who are, though I don't have much hope. The Catholic Church has gone way the hell to the right since the '60s, when it was a prominent presence on the left.

Links and details in the notes.

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

Another rather unproductive week; this has (finally?) started to worry me enough to put two and two together. Yup -- depression is a disability. Need to get my meds adjusted, I think.

Meanwhile, I lost my phone; it apparently fell out of my bag as I was getting off the bus on Wednesday. Bought a new one on Friday, since it was eligible for an upgrade. So I got the Samsung S5 Mini, which is the next version after the S3 Mini I lost. It's noticably faster, and has better battery life and some interesting features, but it's highly annoying to have to waste hours and hours changing passwords and configuring the new phone. Bletch. Oh, and I couldn't get into my AT&T online account, nor reset the password. After two long (the second was just short of an hour) phone calls, what finally worked was basically deleting the online account and re-registering. Good grief!

They're the phone company; they don't have to have good customer service. Neither, apparently, does Olejo, the company I ordered Emmy's new futon frame from.

On the gripping hand, we had a couple of good band sessions.

Links and more in the notes.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: (flamethrower)

On Thursday my massage therapist gave me the assignment of researching methods of reducing stress, and to pick a few to use. Along the way I found this page, which included a test to assess one's level of stress. 19 or over is considered "high". I scored 30.

Anyway, here's the list:

Keep doing these:
Cat therapy -- especially Curio, who is an excellent villain's cat.
cuddling -- I seem to be touch-dominant, and often forget that fact because it doesn't really fit my self-image.
Do more:
music -- I often forget how good music is for me.
massage -- great when I can get it.
play with stress toys (balls, putty, worry stones,...) -- this seemed like an easy one to add.
Writing (journaling, poetry) -- My weekly "done" posts sort of count, I guess; the point is not to be writing about anything in particular but simply the act of writing.
Hot baths -- a bath takes time, but it's very relaxing and helps me get to sleep, so I should take them more often.
Add:
breathing exercises -- this is an easy one to add whenever I think of it. Even doing just three or four deep breaths is remarkably relaxing.
progressive relaxation -> bedtime?
drink a cup of tea. (comes under the heading of calming rituals)
positive self-talk affirmations? coping statements Stress card wallpaper! -- Some of my sources talked about making a card with positive self-talk on it. Screen wallpaper sounds like a better bet for me.
Harder: -- most of these are hard because they require a solid block of time.
DELEGATE (stress reduction) ... but this one is hard because it requires asking people to do stuff for me.
meditation/mindfulness -- I've been trying the "mindfullness of doors" exercise on and off; mostly off because it's really hard to think of in the moment. Which is, of course, the point. Maybe I should count "the mindfulness of dishwashers".
guided imagery -- ISTR I have a collection of mp3s from Kaiser that I could use for this.
spending time in nature. Trails or parks. Bike riding.
Tai chi / yoga -- this would require actually going out and joining a group. Not to mention finding the time. EEP! Very hard.

The common thread, I think, is that many of these are things I know are good for me / enjoyable / relaxing -- but I still don't take time to do them, or even think about doing them. That probably says something important, but I don't know what.

Advice? Discussion? The notes below were roughly in the order I found them -- the first few came off the top of my head, followed by various websites.

the original notes, with links )

And now I'm going to stop, post this, pet my cat, and make some ginger tea.

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

It's been a week of not liking myself much. In part this is due to working on a self-assessment and peer feedback at work; this is not conducive to a good mood.

Friday was pretty good -- I had my first 1-on-1 since my boss got back from a month's vacation, and he was at least not discouraging. And when I stopped by my desk (I'm on loan to another group for a few months; this was my first week there) to pick up the power brick for my new laptop, I discovered that there was a party going on. Gin, hard cider, and an interesting new person went a long way toward improving my mood.

(Saturday was, of course, back to depressingly normal, and today's been discouraging. Especially since it included waking up at 3am. Does that count for Saturday? I'm going to say "Yes": the day doesn't start until I've had coffee.)

As I mentioned, I'm on loan to another group for a while. Same building I was in before our last move; closer to the bus stop. I tried working remotely, but a Windows laptop sucks for that. The HP EliteBook they gave me in trade is less capable on an objective basis, but it's running Ubuntu, which is a major win. Plus, it's about half the weight of my old Dell, and fits in my sling bag. So... also win.

Realized Wednesday night when I found myself doing dishes that I do dishes in order to feel useful. Being useful is one of the few ways I can reliably make myself feel less bad about myself, so I'll take it. And I can usually control it, which I suppose is why I take it so hard when I try to be useful, but fail. Like this afternoon.

Oh, and the new tech from Spinlife will be out tomorrow to work on Colleen's lift chairs, scooter, and power chair. It will probably take another visit, because the tech who came out over a month ago was an idiot. Spinlife will eat the difference in cost for extra visits and mis-ordered parts, hopefully without my having to hire a lawyer to shove it down their throats.

Links in the notes.

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

Well, escrow closed Friday on the Starport. My mood has been extremely volatile, and mostly in the bad direction, all week; took me until Friday to recognize that I was grieving. Knowing me, that probably means I'm in for a long run of it. Maybe I'll write something this evening.

Our hotel experience at Orycon was pretty poor, to the extent that we may very well not be back for the Westercon in 2016. (Ory is moving -- Yay!) But they gave us half a night off the bill, so there's that.

I spent yesterday puttering. The money from the Starport still hasn't shown up; if it doesn't hit my account Monday I'll hit the panic button.

Lasting Relationships Rely On 2 Traits tl;dr: kindness and generosity. Well, yeah. More links in the notes.

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

Lots of puttering this week -- sorting unpaid bills, re-arranging shelves, a little cooking, a little cleaning, lots of mostly-uninteresting work.

Cat cuddles. I really think the cats are better antidepressants than my SSRI, which I've been cutting back on without noticable effects. So far.

And I wrote a poem! Go read: Shifts (also on DW and LJ; follow the linkies). It's already gotten some interesting reactions. I obviously need to update my Lit pages -- there are only three poems there, and I know I've written more than that!

Links, as usual, in the notes.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: a locomotive engine dangling from a hole in a building (trainwreck)

Not such a good week. Productive, but not fun.

I did have some good times with Colleen, going for a drive last Sunday, and to the Northwest Tea Festival yesterday. Colleen's favorite vendor, Silk Road, was a no-show, so she used the money she didn't spend there to buy us lunch. A really great outing.

I spent last Sunday updating old laptops -- they're all old and the ones capable of running Windows 7 really suck at it, but they all make good Linux boxes. I spent the rest of the day working my way through the piles of accumulated bills. Yesterday I spent the evening switching online accounts off of credit cards and onto debit cards.

Today I'll tackle the medical bills, which I've been ignoring for way too long.

Naomi pointed out, rather sharply, that my biggest problem isn't being stupid (though I've done a lot of that), but my habit of ignoring the hard stuff and hoping it will go away. Which, of course, is massively stupid, since ignoring things like that only makes them progressively worse. Which makes them harder to face. And so on.

This is what's called a vicious circle. With BIG SHARP TEETH. I think I need an icon for that.

Oddly, the fact that I've cut back on my antidepressant doesn't seem to have made much of a difference. This leads me to suspect that I should drop the SSRI altogether and switch to something with a different mechanism. Possibly tryptophan.

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

Not really a terrifically good week, though Colleen's friend Bun-Bun has moved up from central CA, which brightened things considerably. And Colleen spontaneously told me how much she loves the house -- it helped a lot.

The main stressor is the fact that I'm basically broke. The San Jose house (I'm starting to not think of it as the Starport anymore -- that's a good thing) is a drain on our resources, my credit cards are mostly maxed out, and my checking account is in the red. (The bank kindly pays up to about $1500 in overdrafts, but still charge me a $33 fee for each item. It helps, but not quite enough.)

It's depressing to think about, especially knowing that it's all because of a long series of stupid financial decisions on my part. Plus a lot of letting things ride instead of making a decision. As I remarked on Facebook, this probably wasn't the best week to start trying to cut back on my SSRI in hopes of reversing the weight gain.

I got a lot of good, and encouraging, feedback from that post. Thanks, folks! It helps.

I've basically spent all weekend puttering, which at least accomplishes something. Still a lot to do, mostly paperwork-like things that I hate. Grumph.

Links, as usual, in the notes. Including Radio3, which I might be able to use to simplify logging links.

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

Not all that bad a week, I guess. Lots of cat cuddles, and a day off for Labor Day. Not all that good, either. Joe Bethancourt died (only a year older than me!), I had to work from home two days to take Colleen to appointments, and as usual I'm broke until the social security payment arrives a week and a half from now. I do not like it, Sam-I-Am.

This coming week looks just as bad, if not worse. And it all goes back to stupid financial decisions I made twenty years ago (and continued making), so now it's basically not fixable. Which doesn't improve my self-image or my mood, either. Nor does my current antidepressant, which I don't think is helping much. Or rather has side-effects that tend to make things worse. GAAH!

Well, there are always the links.

raw notes, with links )

Empathy

Aug. 22nd, 2014 10:31 pm
mdlbear: (river)

Hmm. Haven't done a river post in a long time. *sigh*

Anyway, a lot of recent posts on my friends' pages have been about empathy. Weird subject for me. Several of my friends, and one shrink, have told me that I'm very empathic. It doesn't really feel that way from the inside. I can't "read" people, and sometimes I'm not even sure what they're talking about. I can barely recognize my own emotions; I often guess wrong about other peoples'.

Conversely, they often guess wrong about me. Apparently my sending is as screwed up as my reception.

There's definitely something there -- I recently came across the term "embarrassment squick", which is a pretty accurate description of why I don't go to a lot of movies. I don't seem to like seeing other people do things that I think would make me feel stupid or uncomfortable if I did them.

In fact, in some cases I seem to have a lower tolerance for other people's embarrassment than my own, on those rare occasions when I actually try going outside my comfort zone.

Does any of this make sense? There isn't really a point to all this; I'm just rambling. Anyway, thanks for listening.

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

We got a little rain this last week -- nice. I also Got Stuff Done, for certain values of stuff -- put up some 1x2 battens to hold up the bamboo screen around the deck, and paid some long-overdue bills. And made dinner on Monday. But as usual not nearly enough.

We have an(other) offer on the Starport; we'll see whether this one sticks.

On the down side, Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall died. The former set off the predictable post-celebrity-suicide followup; both good and bad. Mostly good, as in advice for both the survivors (no, it's not selfish) and the depressed (see particularly Boggle-the-owl's post, I don't like the phrase "a cry for help"...). Here, have a stick.

The Shooting of Michael Brown by a cop last Saturday also had the predictable fallout, and triggered an acute case of deja vu. I've seen it before, in the '60s (civil rights protests) and '70s (Vietnam War protests). Back then we called them "Police riots". I am not feeling very optimistic right now.

Links in the notes.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: (hp-c)

I'm available. I don't promise to be coherent after 11pm, but you can call any time. 408 - 896 - 6133.

(Inspired by ysabetwordsmith | Moment of Silence: Robin Williams. His death has, understandably, shaken up a lot of people.) (The userpic? Citalopram.)

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

I guess there's something about knowing how bad it's going to be. Also knowing that I can pay off my tax bill in installments, because it's going to be bad. Really bad. There's a reason why my financial posts are tagged "trainwreck".

I finally got off my arse and sorted my piles of receipts and the like, and this morning (so it's not in the notes yet -- you'll have to wait until next month) installed the software (which I still think of as TaxCut) and did the preliminary data entry. There are still some sizeable pieces missing, but I've been making progress.

I also got a couple of phone calls made -- I hate making phone calls.

I was depressed and anxious most of the week. At least I noticed -- for someone with alexithymia, that's an improvement.

On the up side, we watched Frozen last weekend -- excellent. Passes the Bechdel test.

Links in the notes.

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

It snowed last night. Emmy finally got to be outside while it was snowing -- she grew up in San Jose. Me, I'm just glad I don't have to try driving in it -- I'm long out of practice. I may walk to Trader Joe's later.

I've spent altogether too much energy trying to get Colleen's prescriptions transferred to Express Scripts. Depressing. My prescriptions transferred with no problems; I suspect that the problem with hers is that Walgreens' records have her birth date wrong. But the website(s) are miserable, and their tech support and customer support people don't know much about how they work - I got information that was manifestly incorrect from them. Bletch.

A couple of times I've just wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. Is there such a thing as a depression attack?

Meanwhile, I'm worried about this year's taxes. Very worried. I almost certainly don't have enough withholding this year, so I'm likely to be screwed. My sign-on bonus from Amazon is completely gone.

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

Lots of puttering around the house -- the holiday season is always good for encouraging that kind of thing. Especially since we're *still* missing a couple of boxes of Christmas lights and ornaments. Gaak!

Some good links; this time I'm going to talk about a couple of them.

I bought a poem from The Wordsmith's Forge - 2013 Holiday Poetry Sale. Today is the last day, so act fast if you want to buy a poem at half price. The poem in question is "The Last Rose of Winter", a rather unconventional love poem. Somehow I knew it would be something I wanted to read.

The other interesting link was to an article with the somewhat less than informative title The boy whose brain could unlock autism It's actually about the "intense world" theory: that autism is a defense mechanism against sensory and social overload, caused by too much empathy rather too little. Oh. Right, then.

Indeed, research on typical children and adults finds that too much distress can dampen ordinary empathy as well. When someone else’s pain becomes too unbearable to witness, even typical people withdraw and try to soothe themselves first rather than helping—exactly like autistic people. It’s just that autistic people become distressed more easily, and so their reactions appear atypical.

Many of the other symptoms are due to withdrawal during the time when children are usually learning things like reading body language and other social cues. So, yeah -- my self-diagnosis of mild Asperger's may have been correct after all.

More links, as usual, in the notes.

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

We're moved. I moved the last two van-loads of stuff out of the apartment Friday (twice as much as I'd anticipated), and turned in the keys. Exhausted. I ended up working only about a half week last week.

Saturday, Colleen moved (or was moved) from the hospital to a nursing home: Park West, on California Avenue in W. Seattle. It's about 5 minutes' drive from the house.

The cost of 6 weeks in a nursing home, even with insurance, is terrifying. I am all out of spoons, and right on the edge of overload. If I sound snappish, please forgive me.

In other news, Rainbow's End is full of boxes. A pot of gold would come in handy, but I don't think we packed it.

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

It's been a long, rough month this last week. It started last Monday with Colleen's endoscopic procedure to clean out her bile duct. That was apparently successful, but left her very bloated (they pump air in to give them space to work). She couldn't burp it up, because she was hurting too much to sit up or move around. And did I mention the mobility issues?

As a result, she couldn't keep much of anything down. Friday she fell in the bathroom, having missed the scooter by inches. The EMTs arrived only 15 minutes after the movers.

Did I mention that we moved Friday? Yeah. Stressed much?

The EMTs helped her up, but her pulse was racing, and they were unable to get a good blood pressure reading. They called an ambulance and took her to Northwest, where they immediately started pumping a very dehydrated Colleen full of fluid. Oh, and did I mention the diarrhea?

In the afternoon, I got a call at work from Naomi - the movers couldn't get either of the recliners up the stairs. I called Acorn's tech support to find out how to get the seats off the stairlift, and then had to explain how to take the back off the smaller of the two recliners to get it in through the bedroom door. :P

Sometime that afternoon, Colleen was transferred from Northwest to the UW main hospital. Not clear why.

Saturday, Colleen's pain levels finally subsided to the point where she was able to notice the extra pain in her right ankle. She'd broken it in the fall.

The "holiday" weekend was spent alternately moving (we'd cleverly had the movers take only the furniture, figuring that we'd take the boxes and electronics in the van) and visiting Colleen in the hospital. There was more stuff left in the apartment that I'd realized. Growf. I was only able to manage two loads/day.

Yesterday we found out that Colleen's ankle is broken in such a way that she can't have a walking cast. So she's going to need 24-hour care until it heals enough to walk on. Great.

<whinge>

Devon went home this morning. The dishwasher appears to be broken. There are still a couple of van-loads up at the apartment; fortunately we don't have to be out until Friday. One of our sets of apartment keys is missing. My depression is back, enough that I'm walking slowly enough to notice. Did I mention that my left ankle hurts? My tax refund hasn't arrived yet, and I need it.

I miss Colleen. The compensation, such as it is, is that the house still isn't in good enough shape for her to come home anyway.

</whinge>

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

The last week was dominated by the prep for my colonoscopy on Monday. This involved a week's worth of a low-fiber diet, which was highly annoying. The procedure itself went as well as could be expected, and I was able to have Naomi pick me up about the time they let me go. I understand perfectly why they don't allow people who have been drugged into unconsciousness to drive; after I got home I put the dirty laundry into the drier and came within a second or so of adding the soap.

Mom says that after 85 they don't bother, so assuming I don't need one more often than once every decade or so I only have two more to look "forward" to. The results will come back in a week or so.

Friday the stairlift arrived, and on Saturday I took Colleen down to check it out. She loved the master suite, especially the shower. I expected her to like it, but it was nice to have that confirmed.

The yard work was pretty much done by then except for the last of the planting -- it looks fantastic. Work inside the house is progressing; there's a lot of dust. It's going to be a bit dicey with credit until my tax refund comes in.

Lots of good links, many of them from the footnotes in ysabetwordsmith's latest serial fanfic, "Coming Around", and her (related) "three weeks for dreamwidth" posts.

More, as usual, in the notes.

Side note -- I'm considering putting my "done" posts somewhere else, in favor of somewhat irregular postings with more substance. Anyone not bored by the detailed notes? Inquiring minds need to know.

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

Somehow it doesn't seem as though much happened. A quick look at the house shows that this is not entirely true -- huge progress has been made on the improvements, tens of thousands of dollars have been flung around with abandon (including a 50% down payment on the landscaping, and starting a household checking and savings account), the front yard, massage studio, and lower front bedroom have been torn apart, several new holes have appeared, and so on.

None of this was my doing, of course, except for the financing. I have merely been plugging along at my job, filing the inevitable extension on my taxes, and generally muddling along considerably more slowly than I would like.

This week's quote/self-observation comes from Friday: "Middle-sized bears are extremely timid creatures, but are occasionally so oblivious that it doesn't matter."

Meanwhile, Seattle has been declared #2 among the 12 best places to live in the U.S.. San Francisco is #1. I think the Twin Cities cheated, with Minneapolis nabbing 12th place and St. Paul coming in 10th. (The differential doesn't surprise me -- St. Paul is a university town.)

Other good links amongst the notes, as usual.

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

So... this update includes the entire month so far, and my first full week at Amazon. Don't expect me to say much about that; they're sticky about that kind of thing, with good reason. I can say that it's a very steep learning curve.

I've been carpooling with Naomi a couple of times a week; her school is an easy walk from work. It also forces me to get out of the apartment earlier, which is a Good Thing even if it does mean that I have to leave some of my blog-reading for evening.

Nothing like feeling overwhelmed at work, plus having unpaid bills come home to roost, to make me feel stupid. I know, that's the depression talking. But it'stalking really loudly! Which makes it kind of hard to ignore.

Hmm. OK, so here's the problem. Thinking about an expense like a parking ticket, some bills, etc. reminds me of how stupid I was to have incurred that expense in the first place. So I don't want to think about it. Which means that it goes unpaid for a little longer, which makes me feel even more stupid... See how that works? Feedback. :P

I've also been chronically sleep-deprived for most of the last couple of weeks. The fact that I *hate* going to bed early isn't helping.

Links in the raw notes, as usual.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (poly-heart)

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

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

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

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

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

So, welcome to 2013. So far it's starting out pretty well, with three very productive days at work, and spurts of productivity at home as well. I've done some walking, though not as much as I'd like, and even a little practicing. Colleen and I went to our doctor's appointments on Saturday. I get to stay off my morning BP meds! Colleen, OTOH, needs to go back on hers.

And Thursday was our 38th wedding anniversary! We celebrated by going out for dinner-for-two at Anthony's seafood restaurant in Alderwood. Dinner consisted mostly of molluscs - a double helping of oysters, clams, muscles, and clam chowder. Plus drinks and dessert.

The free test coverage tool in Eclipse is pretty good. Fun!

We had house guests on Sunday; anyone in the Seattle area who wants to visit is welcome to come on over, given a few hours' notice.

Quote of the week:

Colleen: What are you depressed about?
Me: Depression doesn't need a reason.

As well as the year is going, I'm still apparently feeling pretty depressed and very, very stressed. I think I'm trying to do too much, but there's no helping it. I was kind of shocked to find that Colleen's last hospitalization was in 2009, only a little less than 4 years ago. It feels longer.

For you TV fans out there, here's a great write-up about the plot holes in WWII on the history channel.

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

We had a good Christmas weekend. And week, for that matter, though it had its major low points as well. Monday -- Christmas Eve -- was the worst, between Colleen's temporary crown coming off, her scooter battery not charging, the fact that I hadn't bought any stocking stufers... Add back pain, sleep dep from a long night Friday (don't ask), and general grumpiness.

At least I actually noticed that I was depressed, angry, disappointed, and anxious. (And that the anger and disappointment were largely directed at myself, as usual.) Things improved from that point, thankfully. The evening and Christmas were lovely, with Naomi and her kids, Chaos and Rabbit, and Chip and Eli on Christmas.

We had roast beef on Monday, and borscht on Tuesday. I think the borscht was my best ever.

  1. Boil about 3 lbs of beef roast, an onion, two carrots, four peppercorns, and two bay leaves in water to cover for about two hours, until the meat is cooked and the veggies are nearly falling apart.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the tops and tails off three or four bunches of beets, and roast them at 350 degrees until you can push a fork through a beet. This takes an hour or so.
  3. While the beets are cooling and the beef is boiling, cut three parsnips, four turnips, and four carrots into julienne strips.
  4. Set the meat aside, and toss the veggies.
  5. Put the cut-up veggies into the broth, and start peeling and cutting up the beets. Expect to be caught red-handed.
  6. Add the beets to the broth. Shred half a red cabbage and toss that in,
  7. Cut up the beef and toss that in. Add a little more water if it looks like it needs it.
  8. Serve with sour cream and dill.

Tasty. We have, of course, been eating left-over roast beef and borscht all week. Only the YD is complaining; Colleen and I are not.

Naomi gave me a lovely REI Quantum Shoulder Bag for Christmas; it seems to want to be called "Red". I think her real name is Veronica, but she won't admit to it.

Red is about half an inch too short for my 15" work laptop -- the two corners stick out like little silver ears. Terribly cute. It can be forced into the main compartment, but my plan is simply to put a waterproof flap over it in bad weather. Other than that it's perfect; I really like having a bag that zips on top instead of having a flap, stays vertical when I swing it around to the front, and holds 9x12 envelopes without crumpling them.

A reasonably productive, if short, week at work. I made several stupid mistakes, but was able to recover fairly quickly thanks to git.

The usual collection of good links. Cringely has a post on Reagan and Newtown, about how Reagan destroyed the country's mental health system. There weren't nearly as many homeless people before Reagan, either -- there were places where crazy people could go to be taken care of. I read that Monday morning; it added to my depression.

Every once in a while I want to take a vacation -- just me, and nobody I had to be responsible for. *sigh*

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

OK, I guess that could also have been "done this month". Felt like it, too. Between a dentist appointment (crown prep, only I think I also ended up getting a root canal out of the deal), and some unexpected errand-running, I ended up missing about 6 hours worth of work. Managed to make up most of it, but not all. PTO would have been really nice to have had.

On the other hand, it was a pretty productive week, both at work and at home. So I'm not going to complain too much. I am going to complain, though. I Do Not Need the many kinds of stress that I had to deal with. No, I'm not going into details; you can probably figure most of it out from the notes.

There were some good things, though. Went to Alderwood Mall with Colleen, Emmy, and Naomi. Oysters for lunch at Anthony's -- yum!

On the gripping hand, with several restaurant meals under my belt (literally), my weight has crept up over 200. Do Not Like. And my blood pressure is edging up into the Not So Good range; both of these are probably related to my having run out of my BP pills, which include a diuretic. (Not to worry -- I'm still on one of my two BP-related meds, and will be setting up an appointment soon to deal with the rest of it.)

Found out that one of the developers in my "pod" is 25 years old. That's younger than my older daughter! No wonder he seems a little inexperienced...

Um...

The YD's laptop wasn't charging. She was freaking out about it for a day or so, until she noticed that the charging cord was badly frayed just at the strain relief. Problem solved, since it was a 19V charger and I had another in my Big Box of (power) Bricks. Win.

Quote of the week: "[I have] started thinking about the contradictions inherent in the fact that I like learning things, but am very uncomfortable when I feel that I'm out of my depth. Fallacy somewhere, I fancy."

Link of the week: The Wordsmith's Forge - Poem: "The Formless Ones". Very powerful; possibly triggery (nightmares and PTSD following rape). Part of Ysabet's "Path of the Paladins" series; I think it stands pretty well on its own, but you might want to chase links from her serial poetry page to the rest of it.

I'm also intrigued by the idea of An asexual YA heroine? Why not?. As I said in a comment there, " I have no idea where I am on the a/sexual a/romantic spectrum -- alexithymia will do that -- but it's more on the a- side these days, and a book like this would probably have done me a lot of good when I was a YA."

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

It suddenly occurred to me, a couple of days ago, to wonder whether my nearsightness (which went uncorrected until, I think, first grade when we discovered I couldn't see the blackboard) has anything to do with my difficulty understanding facial expressions and body language. I would have had trouble seeing those, during the prime years for developing language ability.

Interesting to think about, anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some links.

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

Much of the afternoon was eaten up by Colleen's phone. Yesterday evening it fell into her recliner and got pinched in the mechanism. It mostly worked, but a sensor was broken that caused it to turn the screen off when you made a call, and not turn it back on. We ordered a new one via insurance (which required a phone call -- the web interface didn't work), then proceeded to the AT&T store to get a GoPhone to tide us over in the interim. And back to the store, when we found out that her contacts hadn't gotten transfered. So I spent most of Earth Day making two trips in my car. Right.

The fact that smartphones and dumb phones use different size SIM cards is stupid and sucky. Also the fact that smartphones aren't available cheaply. *sigh*

When I first realized that the contacts hadn't transfered and that I was going to have to make a second trip, I had a brief screaming meltdown. Apparently I'm closer to the edge than I thought. I guess it's not surprising -- I am under a lot of perfectly understandable stress right now. I just hadn't realized it.

I need to pay more attention to self care, don't I? I always have a lot of trouble with that -- walks and music are about the only things I know of that I can do to relieve stress, and I never make the time for them when I have "important" things to do. :P

Silly old bear!

'One Day on Earth': The Most International Movie Premiere Ever looks pretty amazing; I hope it comes out on DVD sometime soon. FORTUNE Magazine's Top 100 Employers to Work For was interesting, but not as useful as one might hope -- there are only two or three with IT-type jobs in the Seattle area (though, oddly, Google's Seattle-area offices aren't mentioned).

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

Really weird day. I ended up feeling thoroughly exhausted, almost certainly from stress rather than physical effort. I didn't even take a walk, though a dozen or so trips from my office to the shredder bin may have counted for something, and my back was complaining mightily by the end of the evening.

Took home the shelves I'd made to go under the desk, and the first of four boxes of Stuff. It'll have to be sorted again once it's at home, which is slightly grumpy-making.

For link sausage, check out filkertom's "Farewell, Earl Scruggs", and "21 Lessons in Sustainability from the Great Depression" at TreeHugger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So... I guess the main thing that happened yesterday was the idiocy with my pension, which you can read about in the previous post or in the notes, so I don't have to repeat it here. Which is just as well for my blood pressure; it's already too high. That started around 2pm; I spent the rest of the afternoon pretty much a basket case.

Maybe I'm a little bit fragile right now? Oh, right.

After having tried my monster 1600x1200 monitor on the desk, I decided to take home the 17" Samsung, which is now sitting comfortably atop the mac mini and its backup drive. Its first task will be running the application formerly known as TaxCut. Since I have no intention of running it on the Windows partition of my netbook, thank you very much. Not going there.

As for links, how about Out of Reach 2012: National Low Income Housing Coalition, wherein it is shown that there is *no place in the country* where one can afford rent on a minimum-wage job. Just what I needed to know right now.

OK, go look at S. J. Tucker's music videos. Much better.

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

Yesterday was a pretty good day, despite some setbacks. I got a little "carpentry" done in the morning, making a back-spacer for Colleen's recliner to keep it the right distance from the bookshelves. The necessary 30" looked shockingly far, but was of course exactly right. I had measured it, after all.

Then we went up to San Francisco, to visit the DeYoung Museum, which the YD wants for her art history class. She is, finally, getting interested in going to museums. Naturally, the DeYoung is closed on Mondays, never mind the fact that it's a holiday. Headdesk. Fortunately, the California Academy of Sciences is right next door (ok, across the concourse, but in any case close enough). It turns out that the YD had never been to a planetarium! Never been interested in going, before, but she loved it.

I managed to lose the parking-lot ticket, so it cost $25 for parking. In addition to making me feel particularly stupid for having put the ticket in the same pocket as my phone.

We took Highway 1 down to Half Moon Bay; a pleasant drive that we don't do very often. There's a fish market just after the turn onto 92, where I picked up some ahi tuna, which we had as sashimi for a late lunch when we got home. The guy at the counter also sold me three more chunks, at a reduced price, which I'd been planning to use for dinner. When dinner time came, though, they tasted "off" and didn't smell all that good; I dumped them and made sausages instead.

I spent the rest of the evening kind of zoned out and apathetic, though I did do some more reading in The Language of Emotions. It's fascinating, but difficult, and I can't tell whether it's just my alexithymia making it difficult, or whether it's totally bogus. One of the things I'm having trouble with is her notion of "boundaries", which is absolutely central to to all of the visualization work the book is based on. She actually equates it with "aura". It doesn't seem to be all that closely related to what Wikipedia says about "personal boundaries":

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits.

... which it also distinguishes from "personal space". And McLaren doesn't. So...

I understand personal space, sort of, I think, but either version of "personal boundaries" seems to be a concept I have trouble grasping. That probably needs to be a full-bore River post at some point.

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

Hmm. Pretty decent, I guess; some music, a walk, and some reading. On the other hand, my netbook flaked out twice, and I ended the day feeling rather restless. More on that later.

On my walk I tried out the Cardio Trainer app on my phone. It immediately started talking at me, and playing the one song I'd downloaded as a test to see if the phone could play oggs. But once I'd gotten it properly configured, it seemed to work ok. Expect better walking stats, on those days when I remember to use it.

The phone's AMOLED screen is bright enough to use outdoors in the shade; that's a major win, and makes me glad I went for the Pantech over the HTC.

I've started reading The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren. It's rather odd. I alternate between little "aha" moments, and wondering what language she's writing in. It's going to take some serious work, but will probably be valuable.

I'm hoping the netbook's flakiness turns out to be Firefox and flash. However, it just occurred to me that a memory test might be in order.

And, ok, about that restless feeling. I'm wondering whether it's bleeding over from my economic trainwreck, where I'm feeling trapped by a lifetime of inaction and bad decisions. Not much I can do at this point, hence the trapped feeling. It would make some kind of sense, but I'm not sure that rationality really applies here.

It is, perhaps, appropriate that the song I've been working on lately is "Landscapes": "In your heart and your mind/I am traveling blind..." Something like that. Only it's my heart, too.

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

It's kind of ironic -- two days ago I wrote a post asking my friends to call me on my mistakes. Then followed it up with another post that several people called me on. Quite rightly, because I got carried away by my own rhetoric, and lost track of the points I was really trying to make. Being angry, upset, and short on sleep can lead to stupid mistakes, as I damned well ought to know from occasionally trying to drive in that condition.

It's doubly ironic, because I was trying to call some friends on their mistakes. Let's try again, shall we?

Sometimes you have to tell a friend something they really don't want to hear. It's hard. Sometimes it involves a mistake they don't realize they're making, which is bad enough. Sometimes it involves something they're afraid to admit to themselves. That's worse; because it can be perceived as a threat to who they think they are. You can lose a friend, messing with that kind of dynamite. Been there, done that.

Usually they don't listen, but if you're really their friend, you have to try. Sometimes, as in the case I'm thinking of at the moment (I'll get to some specifics further down), you make stupid mistakes that dilute your message. It's really easy for them to focus on a fact you got wrong, or the hurtful way you said it, and to ignore the message.

It's all to easy to give up at that point, or to not even get to that point. To pat them on the head and say "I hope everything gets resolved" or some such, and go on your way hoping that you were right. It's guaranteed to make your friend feel better, which is a good thing, right?

Maybe not.

(Aside: I now understand a little better where religious evangelists are coming from. But I'm not going there tonight.)

So let's get to the specific case in point. If you're tired of seeing posts about what's going on with my friends in Seattle, you might want to stop here. Or, better, you might want to read on and comment if you see me getting it wrong again. Because I think it's important to keep trying.

 

Here's the main point: my friend (not "former" friend -- if I didn't still care a lot about her, I'd just give up on her) has said repeatedly that she's not a danger now. That "I do not wish her harm". That she's on her guard now, and has her temper under control.

That. Is. Her. Mistake. How can she possibly know?

It's been less than two months since the assault. The court has ordered a psychiatric evaluation, but that hasn't happened yet. Let alone any therapy that might be recommended (or required -- I don't know how these things work) as a result. She hasn't yet finished -- may not even have started -- the anger management program that would teach her how to keep her temper in check.

I don't think she ever wished to harm her partner. But she did. She says that her temper is under control. But she said that before the attack, too. She was wrong then, what makes anyone think she isn't wrong now?

She said "But that isn't me" -- but if that's true, then there's somebody else in her head, who comes out when she's angry and takes over her body. Maybe I'm wrong about that bit -- I'm neither a psychiatrist nor an exorcist. It sure sounded like that, the times I heard her voice when she got angry.

That kind of thing can take years to get a handle on -- I've spoken to some of my friends who've struggled with various forms of dissociation. It's not something that she can fix in a couple of months before even knowing in detail what she's up against. There's a reason why she's going to be under the court's supervision for the next two years, and why an order of protection runs for a year and can be renewed for a second.

It's going to be a long, hard road. And it's going to require deep, lasting change, which I know from talking with her former partner is what she's really terrified of. No wonder she's looking for shortcuts!

 

But this isn't just about my friend, it's also about her friends. Yeah, some of you, too.

Do you really you're doing her a favor when you let her lie to herself? When you let her shift as much of the blame as possible to her victim? When you tell her you hope this all gets resolved soon? Cat makes a good point - "resolved" doesn't mean "blows over and everything goes back to normal", but more like "good progress getting her life back together". She's doing that, and I applaud her for it.

How about telling her the truth -- that she's looking at a couple of years of court-ordered inconvenience and hard psych work? And, if you're really her friend, that you're going to give her all the help and encouragement you can, but she has to start walking down that road herself before she can get to the end of it.

... it's getting late, and I'm liable to say something stupid if I keep going in this direction. Must. Keep. Walking... G'night, friends.

ETA: I know all of her friends wish her well, and that some of you may be giving her good advice and help behind the scenes. Keep it up! I've been trying that route, too; there's a lot of email you haven't seen. She's going to need a lot of support from all of us over the next couple of years.

ETA(2): Barring something very unusual happening, I expect this to be my last post on this subject. Flame wars are unproductive and exhausting, and I may not be getting any wiser, but I'm certainly getting older. I hope to provide more light and less heat in the future.

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

I must be getting old. {No, Dad, you've gotten old. Get used to it.}

Wednesday I left my bifocals at work and wore the computer glasses home. The prescriptions are close enough that I didn't notice until I went looking in my bag for the computer glasses. And yesterday I forgot both my usual bill-paying session, and my Thankful Thursday post. I haven't done a Songs for Saturday in weeks.

So much for momentum.

Nevertheless, I've been sleeping better, taking care of myself more or less, and getting quite a lot done at work. We went out to lunch Wednesday to mark the end of R and P's contracts; a tasty Indian place called Tandoori Oven. It seems to be a Bay Area local chain. Tasty and inexpensive. I still like buffets, though.

And R finally "got" what I was trying to explain to him yesterday about PTYs, with the result that everything is now working. Go us!

I also started work on thinning Plink's neck a little. I'm trying to get it down closer to where my other guitars are, to make the thumb barre on D and F a little easier. I think I'm about halfway there, mostly using a scraper.

Back to forgetting. I spent almost all of yesterday evening out in the living room with Colleen; it's possible that I was distracted by her food porn TV, and perhaps just by being away from my familiar desktop. It's definitely easier to work on the large screen, and I'm more likely to pay bills when I can actually reach out and touch them.

Some links, including fan "mail" for Wheelin' in comments to ysabetwordsmith's "Hard Things" post. Yay!!

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

As expected, my computer glasses were at work. And the case was lying on the floor, where it had evidently fallen out of the computer bag. So that's not so good. Have to find a better location for it.

And Kat's keys were successfully retrieved, and sent up via express mail. She'll have them tomorrow. On the way back from the post office (San Jose main) I stopped off at Fry's and bought a portable CD/DVD writer, which I've felt the need for for some time. Blu-Ray is still too expensive, and I don't need it when traveling.

Another reasonably productive day at work, but (due to the above) no walk.

Good link: Endlessland's Patented Ways To Combat Low Self-Esteem, Anxiety, and Depression -- good advice. Don't remember where I found that.

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

Weird day. I got up at 11:20 -- which is to say, five hours later than usual. Maybe standing up much of the day before making soup had something to do with it?

I actually spent much of the day in the living room with Colleen. And I took a 2-mile walk.

But I also read, maybe too much, about alexithymia and emotional intelligence. I suppose that might have been part of my mood crash in the evening. That and beating myself up over not having gotten good stocking stuffers for the kids. And I'm too used to letting Colleen do all the holiday shopping. And, and, and... I was in pretty sorry shape when I finally crawled in to bed.

But it was a bed with Colleen in it waiting for me. So that was good.

There are links in the notes. DuckDuckGo is an interesting new search engine.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (river)

Today I have been reading about Emotional Intelligence, at a site I found while looking up alexithymia, which is basically the opposite, and is a condition I already knew I have.

I think it probably explains a number of things about me, including the fact that I have trouble communicating with Colleen, and the fact that I haven't gotten much out of therapy. With both of the therapists I've tried, I've seemed to go through an initial period of getting my immediate questions answered, and then I run out of questions and am left with a vague feeling that something is wrong or missing, but no words to express it with.

I suppose it must be frustrating for everyone else, too -- the therapists who can't help me because I can't coherently express what's wrong, the women I've had brief relationships with who felt that there was something important missing that they couldn't quite pin down. My kids. Colleen.

I don't know whether there's much to be done about it. Here's a list of "feeling words" -- many of which don't even seem to me to describe feelings at all.

There's a related term: Emotional Literacy. I had an experience of its opposite, emotional illiteracy, yesterday, when I completely failed to pick up on the emotional consequences of something N said to me in an IM.

I've been told that I have a lot of empathy. Sometimes I wonder. Other times I think I suppress it because it overloads me. Other times I'm just plain baffled.

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

Hmm. The day had its ups and downs, I guess. I feel particularly good about my st/roll with Colleen around the Rose Garden, and I got some practicing in, and major bug-fixing done the new makefile for recording directories. And quite a lot of decluttering, and a verse and chorus of a parody (still in progress).

On the other hand, I got very stressed in the early afternoon -- not sure whether it was sensory overload, family friction, or what -- the walk helped a lot.

On the gripping hand, I actually noticed at the time that mailing my filk to Naomi and getting thwapped for it made me happy. I may be getting better at that.

On the fourth hand, I wound up feeling very discouraged, especially when Colleen pointed out that I hadn't gotten any of my usual oddball stocking stuffers. She sent me out into the cold; Fry's was closed, but CVS was open and had gift cards and some suitable small tools.

So the day ended pretty well, at least.

No links. Must have been busy.

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

Probably not such a good day, on the whole. My new netbook, Cygnus, arrived, which pretty much blew the afternoon. It took four or five reboots to get through all the Windows upgrades. When I got home I installed Ubuntu 11.04, which went smooth as glass up until the end. It took an additional two installs to figure out that (1) you have to be careful about how you install grub and (2) the proprietary video driver is buggy.

The fan stays on all the time, which is annoying, but it's not really noticable from a normal working distance. At least to me, but I already know my hearing is deteriorating. And Windows 7 may be the best one so far, but it's still Windows, and I still hate click-to-type. On the plus side, it's a dream to type on compared to the Dell, and all the hardware Just Works in Ubuntu.

I had a serious adrenaline spike about 25 minutes after reading [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi's post about what happened Monday night. It's often difficult for me to figure out what causes a spike like that; this seemed pretty straightforward. Although, from the timing, it could have been excitement at Cygnus's arrival.

I made an appointment to see my doctor about the neuropathy.

Some good links in the notes, and one bad one -- don't click over to Naomi's post unless you can handle a detailed description of domestic violence. Sorry about that.

I really want to shake [livejournal.com profile] cflute and ask "What in hell are you and what have you done with my friend?"

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

You know it's been a bad day when hearing of Anne McCaffrey's death wasn't the worst thing to happen. Or even the second worst.

The neuropathy was the second worst. Both feet, feeling like they were on fire after standing for a few minutes. Probably diabetic neuropathy, though there could be other explanations.

And then there was hearing that one of my good friends had assaulted her partner, my sister of choice [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi, in a fit of blind anger. Naomi and her kids are safe, but I was shocked and saddened. I will post more on this later. Soon.

Physical pain isn't always the worst kind.

raw notes )

Most Popular Tags

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Style Credit

Page generated Oct. 1st, 2016 12:12 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios