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

It's been a busy week, with a lot of ups and downs. Question first:

Question: Does anyone in Oregon have the space to put up two or three travelers the night of August 20th, in or near the path of the solar eclipse? (If it's three the third would be Colleen, who needs access via ramp or at most three steps.) Thanks in advance.

Good stuff: We (me, Naomi, and Colleen) went to the Whidbey Island Fair last Sunday - lots of fun. We learned how to identify poison hemlock - see bad stuff below -- and made a couple of useful contacts. The second (of three) pod arrived and was unloaded.

We got kittens! More specifically, Naomi got kittens -- the kids and I were just along for the ride, since the point of the exercise was to get kittens that would be hers. We went to NOAH, in Stanwood, and found two adorable little boys: Bronx, and Happy, who was immediately renamed Brooklyn. The first kitten you adopt from NOAH costs $125; the second is $75. They really want your kittens to have company. Now begins the (hopefully not too lengthy) process of introducing them to the other cats in the household. Followed to re-introducing the two household cats to one another. That will be harder.

We have new floors! Instead of the icky brown carpet, we have nice wood-grained laminate similar if not identical to what we had in the apartment. Good lookingm easy to roll or slide things on, and best of all easy to clean.

I have our laser printer on the network -- it has to be hard-wired, but fortunately it turned out to be easy to set up the Client Bridged configuration of DD-WRT.

The repeal of Obamacare was narrowly averted, so that's good.

Bad stuff: The flip side of Obamacare is that I don't get it anymore -- I have Medicare. I got a call from our mail-order pharmacy, informing me that Colleen's Humira now has a co-pay of over $1000. It was $5 last month, but the free "copay assistance" card isn't available to people with Medicare. Welcome to the American health doesn't care system. There's a "patient assistance foundation", but we're unlikely to qualify now, based on our income.

Also, as mentioned above, we have poison hemlock on the property. Lovely plant, originally imported (by idiots) as an ornamental. Now a Class A (shoot on sight) noxious weed. Whee! There is also something that looks suspiciously like giant hogweed, which is also on the list, but which may not be considering the size and color of the stems. I'm going to have to learn some botany.

... and of course I got distracted making dinner, and never got back and posted this. So it's Monday morning already. :P

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

I opened up LJ this evening to find that the posts it's showing are out of sequence -- the top post on my friends' feed is from yesterday sometime, and there's a later one further down the page. It isn't most recent comment, either: both of those are from an account that turns comments off on crossposts.

My conclusion is that either they're using some kind of ranking system which they're not telling us about (and which I didn't see any setting for that that might fix it), or possibly that crossposts are arriving weirdly out of sequence. So...

PSA #1: If you're posting on LJ and not DW, or posting different content on LJ, I might not see your posts.

PSA #2: If you're crossposting and redirect all your comments to DW, I'm going to stop reading you on LJ to cut down on clutter. (If you allow comments on LJ I'll still go over there and read them, if I can find your post. That is, obviously, no longer guaranteed.)

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

Moderately productive this week. And I've been doing quite a lot of writing, mostly on Quora. Which is seriously addictive. One of the reasons I like it, I think, is that it demonstrates to me that I know more about people and relationships than I give myself credit for. It also inspired me to get started on the article about singly-linked lists that I've been meaning to write for months. (The draft can be found here, but be advised that it's only about half finished. Look again on Tuesday or thereabouts, or wait for me to post it here.)

That raises a question: If it ends up being long (currently at a little over 1000 words), do you have a preference for long posts under cut tags, or shorter installments without cuts? What's a good length for installments? (For comparison, my current weekly posts seem to be running 250-500 words before the cut, and I haven't heard any complaints.)

I'm not even going to try posting my Quora answers here or on Facebook; I am cross-posting most of them to Twitter (@ssavitzky) -- the bandwidth there is so high that nobody is likely to feel as though I'm spamming their feed. I do link a few of the more interesting answers in the notes, so you can see for yourself.

Anyway... Moderately productive at work, though meetings have eaten up a lot more time than I allowed for. Only a couple of overloads at home. Blood pressure higher than I like, but my doctor isnt worried yet. More in the notes.

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: (river)

I haven't been writing much at all lately. I'm thinking it's time I did. There are a good number of things I'd like to get back to work on; some of you might have preferences or suggestions.

Part the First: Once and Future Posts

There are several series of themed posts I'd like to get back to work on. I suppose I might be able to put out one or two -- not one of each, though that would be really nice -- every week. We'll start with the ongoing series -- there's a lot of meta work that needs to be done, like a landing page, tagging the strays, and so on.

Not to mention copying them onto my website, and working out a way to host them there and have them crosspost onto DW, LJ, etc. rather than the other way around.

The River

The longest-running series of blog posts so far is The River -- posts here tend to be introspective, on sub-themes like friendship, love (whatever that is), stress, depression, and the care and feeding of geeks. If you want to start at the beginning, it's here at skip=500. Gleep.

I'm going to keep going with this, of course. At one point I was thinking of gathering the posts between 2008 and 2010 or thereabouts into a book, with the title Two Years On the River, but of course never got around to it. Plausible?


Most of these articles never got onto LJ; it's a series of artcles on my website over a decade ago. This is mainly about Linux. Other articles along that line include Adventures in Family Computing. Repost them on DW? There are also a lot of computer and networking posts that could easily fall into this category.

I could probably put things like cooking, woodworking, and my post about how to load a dishwasher under here.

Things with Tales

This one really needs some organization. I've written about several of my "things", including luggage, laptops, and musical instruments, but the only tagged one at the moment is The Hartmann bag.

Songs for Saturday

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I should get back to it. Even though it quickly became rather a lot of work, it had and has the advantage of being based on (but be careful always to call it please) research rather than originality.

It occurs to me that I could easily fill this in by posting some of the notes/backstories of my songs. Hmm.

Songs and Poems

In addition to writing more of these, I need to go back and consolidate the tags, since I see that I've also used "songs" and "poems" in a couple of cases.

Should I post highlights from the past? Dredge up some of the poetry I wrote in college and type it in? Grovel through the usenet archives?

Understanding Ursine

This is a project I've been thinking about for a couple of years now; I seem to recall making a bit of a start in a River post. You see, my use of language tends to be a little, shall we say, idiosyncratic. Words and phrases like "sorry" and "working on it" could easily generate a longish post.

Part the Second: Fiction

I've always wanted to write science fiction. I've always been pretty bad at it. This may be something I could work on. There are two longish pieces that were, at one point, almost "finished" in the sense of having a beginning, middle, and end, with a semblance of plot in the middle. Both would require a fair amount of work.

Rambling Rose

This is probably the closest thing to a finished story, best described as the back story to my song The Rambling Silver Rose (and something of a sequel to Bound For Hackers' Heaven. It's 700-odd lines; maybe serialize it here? That would be good for a couple of posts. What's a good size?

A Place to Run Free

Bound For Hackers' Heaven isn't just a song; it actually came out of a story that I wrote back in 1988. Along with several others, some of which are on my CD. And it's part of the backstory to Silk and Steel. It has a lot going for it, and it needs a nearly-complete rewrite. I mean, 1988.

It's written as a series of forwarded emails. The absolute minimum that could be done to fix it would be to change the framing to make them blog posts, pin down the dates (in 2030 and 2038), and change the author of the cover letter from Lexy to the viewpoint character, Lady Melody. Who is an AI built into a guitar.

On the other hand, a rewrite would be a pretty big can of worms to open -- the temptation would be to fill in more pieces of the blog, and to tie it in with S&S (which takes place at least seven years later, and there's a huge hole in between). (It's also 150 years before Rose; the Lady is still around, of course, and so is Hacktown, which gets a brief mention.)

But it would be fun. I think.

Part the Third: Longer Non-Fiction

Of course, any of the post series could turn into a book, though not all of them would benefit from such treatment. Here we turn to the few projects that were planned from the start as books, and are far enough along to actually have a hope of getting finished.

Neither of these is on the web, and both are written in LaTeX (which isn't an insurmountable problem -- there's a LaTeX-to-HTML converter which I've used quite a lot).

The BIG Number Book

This is actually pretty much finished, and has been since 1999, except that it's meant as a kids' book, so it needs illustrations. A large number of them.

The Magic Mirror

If Rambling Rose is the back-story behind The Rambling Silver Rose, The Magic Mirror is the back-story behind The World Inside the Crystal. Inside the computer is a world where magic works.

I really need to get back to this. The oldest commit log message, from 1998, says "initial checkin of Aug 18, 1996 version". The only thing after that is a minor spelling correction. So, yeah. Needs updating.

There's an outline and the chapter heads, but it's very incomplete. And of course it predates most of what we think of as the Web.

So there you have it.

Thoughts? Did I mention that I tend to get paralyzed when I have too many choices? Yeah, that. Did I also mention my recording projects? I did not. Those have been stalled for a few years, too.

Sometime soon, maybe even this week, I should post something more about where I intend to go from here. Getting the nonfiction books onto the web might be good places to start, though it's always tempting to spend time revising, editing, and organizing rather than actually writing.

I don't have a very good track record with New Year's resolutions, either.

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

Not much going on here at Rainbow's End. This is probably a good thing, on the whole. I worked from home May Day afternoon to avoid the insanity of parades and demonstrations -- I would have had to cross Fourth Avenue, the usual parade route, to get to the bus stop.

I had a nice shopping expedition with Colleen yesterday, to Home Depot and Safeway. We used the van -- which she can finally get into! -- and the stores' scooters.

I also spent some time yesterday writing up a summary of the writing projects I'm wanting to get back to. Some are pretty current; others haven't been touched in decades. So I'll probably post that later today. I'm thinking most of it will be behind a cut -- it's pretty long. The alternative would be serializing it in three or four parts. Thoughts?

raw notes, with links )
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)

I finally made the call to my benefits people that I should have made two months ago, to find out what the options and prices were going to be to keep my medical and dental COBRA coverage going. I was not expecting the total to be more than the mortgage on the old house! $2100. I am *so* *screwed*

And I actually have a gap in coverage, between the end of this month (when Ricoh stops paying for it) and the time I pay my first bill. At which point they cover me retroactively. I went ahead and got my crown started before I knew the details, but that'll be ok.

I still have a month, I *think*, to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. Anyone have recommendations re: GroupHealth vs. Blue Cross/Blue Shield? If I can get into that now, I can drop my COBRA coverage and just go with Colleen and the YD.

On the job front, $A3 looked at my resume and said "other candidates are more qualified". So much for that. $A also rejected me -- that was actually a relief. On the other hand, my interview at $D was the easiest so far -- I think I have a good chance at that.

And on the gripping hand, the CTO at $T wants to talk to me on Wednesday. Looking at the company and what they do, I *really* *really* want it. And I think I'm a good fit. And it's a cool product -- I signed up for a month's free trial, and at $40/year may very well keep it. Unlimited file sharing from your own computers, with nothing stored in the cloud.

Only problem is the overlap with $D, which I expect to hear about next week. They'll probably want me to start on the 15th. Tight.

I went to my interviews by bus again. I *love* being this close to the bus line and downtown.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone have a recommendation about internet service? The choice is between Century Link (which seems to be the default phone company for the new apartment) and Comcast (which seems to be the default cable company unless there's a place where I can hang a dish). I'm leaning toward Century Link because Comcast has such a horrid reputation.

The other possibility would be to get all three services -- cable, internet, and phone -- from Comcast. I don't like that idea much. I checked, and can't keep my UVerse service -- they don't serve that address. Grumph.

Inquiring minds need to know.

mdlbear: (tsunami)

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

Give it away, or send it to the dump?

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

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

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

Hmm. Mixed. Distinctly mixed. Had bagels and lox for brunch (well, actually, Colleen had bagels and lox, I had my lox on a gluten-free "English" muffin, and the YD had hers neat. Then we headed up to San Francisco, intending to go to the DeYoung Museum, which the YD needed to visit for her art history class.

The parking lot was full, and most entrances to Golden Gate Park were blocked; there must have been something going on there. So we fell back to Plan B: the Cantor Museum at Stanford. The Cantor has a huge collection of Rodin sculptures; I love it. Colleen and I had a blast.

The YD was bored. And unfortunately, I misinterpreted her sitting down and saying "I'm done" as meaning *"done with the museum" rather than "done with this gallery", so Colleen and I left her there while we explored the upstairs. This proved to have been a big mistake; she was in tears at having been abandoned.

We took her out to dinner, partly as compensation, and partly because I was starving and didn't want to cook. We went to Jasmine, our favorite local Chinese place. We hadn't been there in several months; they seem to have a new chef and a slightly different menu. Yum.

But I didn't get much else done. A little work toward replacing the audio on the Conflikt concert page with a better recording, but didn't actually get it done. Blarg.

I also found out that the Westercon 65 web site is out of date and woefully short on contact information. Anyone out there know who I should contact about a filk concert gig? (Hint: not Rick Weiss; that's part of the "out of date" thing.)

A few links in the notes.

raw notes )
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)
I'm heading up for Seattle in about an hour; Colleen is heading up Friday and will be arriving arund 10:40 am. The way the logistics work out, I probably won't make it to the airport in time to meet her.

Could somebody who knows her be there to help her fetch her luggage and get to the hotel? A vehicle isn't necessary -- the hotel has a shuttle that can handle her scooter. But she will need help bag-wrangling.

Thanks in advance,

Oh, yeah; I'm using a wheelchair today in the airports, for the first time. Just totally wiped out with arthritis, and/or maybe a mild flu (though no detectable fever).
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Not too bad, but I really didn't get anything done except for what I'd consider puttering. Even at work, where I did a good number of little things while not getting much done on the big ones. Story of my life?

And even though it was perfect weather for walking in, I didn't: I got busy with something and the next time I looked up it was 1:30.

I made dinner, too, since the YD was apparently indisposed. Also, as usual, laundry, replacing the failing CFL bulb in the laundry room, and assorted other little things.

I went splat about an hour early; Colleen had gone to bed ahead of me while I was in the tub, which is also unusual. I don't think either of us was feeling up to par; I know I wasn't.

Also when I got home, I found 174 tweets in my twitter feed. If you're out there expecting me to keep up, don't. Send me an email. Same goes for G+ -- the larger post limit means that even with only two dozen people in my circles, I can't possibly keep up. I read about two pages worth of each in a typical day; the rest falls off the bottom and never gets seen.

Going meta for a moment, I've been wondering why we don't get nearly as many people at Wednesday nights and parties as we used to. (I know that I haven't been terribly good at party announcements, so that may be part of it.) So if you've been staying away from the Starport for some reason, could you let me know? Send email to my user name at if you don't want to post it. Or should I put this in a separate post and screen comments?

The most appalling link of the day is Topeka, Kansas City Council Considers Decriminalizing Domestic Violence To Save Money. See, the county has stopped prosecuiting misdemeanors, so Topeka gets handed the domestic violence cases under a city ordinance. This, people, is what the teabaggers mean by "cutting government spending".

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

So... this is a test of crossposting from Dreamwidth to LJ. Assuming it works, my plan is to use DW for posting longer articles (e.g. things in the River and Adventures in Family Computing series), and continue posting my daily "Done Yesterday" posts, memes, and so on in LJ.

Every week or so, I'll import LJ back to DW. So DW will end up with the complete set of posts and comments, but the daily posts (being effectively back-dated) won't show up in your DW reading page. They will show up on your LJ friends page.

Alternatively, I could post everything on DW first. That would be simpler, of course; I wouldn't have to import as often, and my post stream would be the same in both places.

So what's more valuable to you? A place where you can read a low-bandwidth stream of (hopefully) interesting articles uncluttered by daily updates, or the ability to read my full set of posts on whichever service you prefer?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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

I have a tentative setlist for my Baycon FGOH concert (Saturday at 5pm). It times out to considerably too long, especially allowing for sound checks and so on, so I'm going to have to cut at least one, more likely two songs. Also, the order is almost completely up in the air. Suggestions?

here's the list, and some notes )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A good day, and productive for a Saturday even though most of that productivity was mere "puttering". I got the 2009 receipts sorted, finally, and did some web hacking on the intranet, which has been sadly neglected of late.

Took a st/roll around the Rose Garden with Colleen. Delightful, warm weather. Finished chording out "Falling for Lancelot", and did some practicing. My voice was somewhat wrecked for some reason, so mostly chords.

Picked some sweet peas from the front garden at Colleen's request, and made dinner consisting of steak, kasha, and cole slaw, with strawberries and whipped cream for desert.

The raw notes for the day include the entire router/dsl upgrade saga, spanning roughly the last month. I'm feeling pretty good about that, even though I would have saved a heck of a lot of money if I'd done it a year ago.

I'm starting to think that I need an issue tracker for some of this stuff, rather than cluttering the list with unfinished items that the format isn't really suited for. Suggestions? (Flat files, please, not a database.)

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

Well, it's "Wishful Wednesday" again, for the first time this decade. You'll find the actual Caregiver's Wishlist here.

I probably ought to do some refurbishing on it, now that it's the new year. Also, is every other week too much? Too little? Inquiring minds...

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

A pretty good day. It even started off well, with not oversleeping, and using the new coffee grinder. Tastes great, and there's a lot less grit getting through the screens on the French press. Needs two scoops instead of 1.5, because of the coarser grind.

No walk to speak of; I spent much of lunchtime sending a package and buying groceries (OK, beef jerky, nori, and prunes) for next week's lunches. And some time chasing links.

I spent some time in the morning reading Ricoh's Corporate Social Responsibility pages. I don't often mention the name of the company I work for, but I figure that a company that takes social and environmental responsibility seriously enough to put it into the code of conduct that every employee is required to sign off on (which is why I was reading it) deserves a bit of a signal boost.

The evening was an expanded Date Night, moved from Thursday so that we could go to dinner (Chinese: Jasmine) and the annual Golden Bough holiday concert. We took not only the YD but Marty and her daughter (the YD's best friend) K. Good fun was had by all; it was M and K's first GB concert, and they had a blast.

When I got home I went to look for a credit card bill that I'd misplaced (and therefore was late on); I didn't find it but did find two other bills I'd misplaced. Grump. Well, they're all paid now, though they won't go through until Monday night or so. Dumb bear!

I seem to be reading and enjoying more poetry and short fiction these days, mostly through my LJ flist. Go me! I might even try writing some... Not sure why I stopped -- I wrote a lot of poetry in my college years. Some of my posts have turned into prose poems, though. I'm not so good at plot; a form that can be almost pure description is a good fit for an easily-distracted -- oooh! Shiny!

Link sausage is, as usual, up in the notes. I'd just like to highlight Gizmodo's list of Essential Android Apps, and The NY Times' Ninth Annual Year in Ideas.

Would people prefer it if I put the links in a separate post from the daily "what happened and what I thought about it" post?

mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)

I'm an old bear, and rather set in my ways. But now that Colleen has an Ubuntu-based netbook, we're looking for a good mail reader.


  • Gnome or, preferably, desktop-independent. She doesn't use KDE.
  • Must be able to handle multiple POP and IMAP accounts.
  • Not too complex.

Another possibility would be to suck everything down using fetchmail, but she would still need a good mail reader. Feel free to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of fetchmail you have an opinion on it.

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

This will probably continue to be a regular feature. Today I am thankful for:

  • Colleen, and the fact that her health is continuing to improve.
  • The wonders of modern medicine. In particular, adalimumab and prednisone.
  • And let's not forget our many friends, local and long-distance, and citalopram, both of which are helping both of us stay sane.
  • Particular thanks to [ profile] screaming_angel for upgrading the OS on Colleen's netbook, and Rick for weeding the front yard. Both of these were wishlist items.
  • Our family, both by blood and by choice. Especially our kids, [ profile] chaoswolf and [ profile] super_star_girl, and our sisters by choice [ profile] pocketnaomi and Marty. (OK, is my wife's sister by choice my sister-in-law by choice, or is there a better word for it? Inquiring minds.)
  • Silliness.
  • Singing over the phone.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The weather stayed clear up until evening -- it's a good thing I got my walk in early, even if it was only 45 minutes or so.

We had dinner out at Black Angus with the kids. It'll be the last times we do that until Consonance, most likely.

We stopped at Barnes and Noble on the way home; there was a bewildering array of self-help and psychology books, including Therapy for Dummies. I didn't get any: I have a couple in the queue, and I have no way of knowing what's likely to be useful and what's crap. Recommendations?

Looking at the Five Things meme, I realized that I'd have a difficult time coming up with five things to ask about for most of the people on my friends list. Other people seem to be just the opposite: they have an easy time coming up with things to ask about, but a hard time answering. OK... I can just barely wrap my head around that, but it doesn't really surprise me.

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

This one's about the languages of love. No, not the Romance languages, despite their suggestive name and the fact that both French and Italian lay claim to the appellation. I'm talking about The Five Love Languages -- Dr. Gary Chapman's hypothesis that

unhappiness in relationships is often due to the fact that we speak different love languages. Sometimes we don't understand our partner's requirements, or even our own. We all have a "love tank" that needs to be filled in order for us to express love to others, but there are different means by which our tank can be filled, and there are different ways that we can express love to others. Dr. Chapman's divides love languages into five categories: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

There's a good summary of the languages here on Chapman's website, but a much better way to assess yourself is to take this 20-question version, since it actually compares each language against the other and gives you numeric scores. I strongly suggest you and your spouse/partner/SO/sweetie both taking it, and discussing the results. I found mine (behind the cut) somewhat surprising -- I would have expected words to come out higher. For that matter, see if you can get your (older) kids to take it.

You see, love isn't about treating the other person the way you want to be treated, it's about treating them the way they need to be treated. Saying "I love you" in the language they understand best. I've written about this upstream, but this clarifies it a lot.

Mismatches in language can cause a lot of havoc. If your language is "gifts" but your partner's is "quality time", they may weep at an expensive present because you could have spent the money on an intimate dinner for two at their favorite restaurant. If "acts of service" is high on your list but low on theirs, they might not even notice all the little things you've done for them. They might be waiting for a good-night kiss or a simple "I love you".

So, query for the audience: Were your results surprising? Your partner's? Will knowing this make a difference?

I'll start: )
mdlbear: (distress)
[With permission, from a locked post by my nephew, because I felt it needed wider distribution.]

So, can someone explain to me what the Republicans stand for these days?

See, I was listening to a party guy on the radio [the show was On Point, on NPR] on the way home talking about what they need to do to regain power. That got me wondering if the Republican party stands for anything other than hate?

- small government? I think not.
- individual freedoms? Yeah right.
- fiscal responsibility? Have you looked at our deficit?
- pro-business? I can't really see how.

- hate against pregnant women who want an abortion? Check.
- hate against gays who want to marry/adopt/have eights/etc... Yup.
- hate against people with drug problems (ie - throw them in jail) rather than rehab for them? Yup.
- hate against individual rights by limiting civil liberties? Yes.
- hate against the environment? I think so.

There was a caller who said that when he watched the democratic convention he saw a group of people full of hope and positive energy. When he watched the republicans he saw anger and fear. Is it any surprise Obama won?

So, I'm serious here. I know some of my friends at one point or another considered themselves to be republican. Step up and explain why please. I really want to know.

[I also have a link to this Salon article that essentially asks the same question.]
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Yesterday morning I left to take the Y.D. to school without putting on my glasses. Not the first time, either. My current prescription is mild enough that I can occasionally get away with this, but still... Dumb.

By permission, (from [ profile] pocketnaomi someone who can claim attribution in a comment if she wants; I forgot to ask), we have this intriguing question:

What do you do when you're being dumb and you know it and that doesn't seem to have any effect on whether you keep doing it or not?

To which I will sheepishly add:

What if the dumb thing is not doing, or putting off, something that you really need to do?

I'll go first.. )
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

I was on the point of sending a copy of "Pack Up Your Sorrows" in email to a friend to cheer her up, but took a good look at the lyrics. Apart from the fact that it didn't actually look all that cheering, I didn't really understand it.

"The Mary Ellen Carter" is more my style. It's gotten me through a lot of bad times. OK, it's not exactly cheerful -- defiant is more like it -- but it's cheering.

What songs cheer you up?

added 9:35am I also meant to add "Desolation Row". Obscure, sure, but snidely funny and greatly cheering in a "things are rotten here, but what the hell, it's home" sense.

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

Two sets of questions for you, inspired by my post on social answers and calibration. The first set doesn't have "right answers", it's just a kind of survey.

  1. Do you consider a "social answer" a form of dishonesty (i.e., a lie), or a convenient shorthand based on a social convention that certain socially-incompetent geeks like me never learned to understand?
  2. Do you give "social answers" yourself?
  3. If so, is there usually a subtext, and do you expect the listener to understand it?

I'll give mine: 1: shorthand; 2: only rarely except with strangers; 3: not a conscious one/no.

The second set is stuff I don't have a clue about. I'm asking because I very much want -- and need -- to learn how to get better at interacting with people.

  1. Is it usually safe to ignore the subtext, or is it usually something very important that will cause problems if I miss it?
  2. Is it socially acceptable to probe for further details?
  3. If that's situational, is there any way to tell when it's acceptable?
  4. Can a 61-year-old geek learn this arcane skill, and if so, how?

I don't have answers for those, obviously.

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