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

Moderately productive, though not as much as I needed to be. Story of my life, I guess.

Plans have firmed up: I am retiring next year; we are putting the house on the market in Spring, and moving to New England. We will probably buy a house there, unless things look so bad that we think we'll have to leave the country within the next year. I hate this. At least I can't blame myself for Trump and his gang. I can and do blame myself for the financial trainwreck. I was in denial for a loooooong time. We all were. I still am, to some extent.

Colleen, Giselle, and Naomi have done a lot of decluttering in the sewing corner, cubhouse, downstairs, and some of the books. It's a start. I've started, too, clearing off the clutter from the Great Room hearth, starting to sort through my boxes. I'm still attached to a lot of things; I need to be more ruthless. There are boxes and boxes of little things I never used, kept because there might be a use for them someday. Or that turned out to require more effort than I wanted to spend, and hung around until they were totally obsolete. (A lot of little Linux boxen in that category.) We still haven't started on the garage. For the second time, or is it the third?

Did I mention that I hate this? I hate this.

I've been having a little fun with the guitar I brought in to work last week. That, at least, has been ok. And my family is awesome. And we have cats.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been an exhausting week; moderately productive at work. But a bit more physical work than I've done in a while, plus anxiety and depression, which are tiring on their own. Naomi occasionally tells me to "act my age", usually when I've pushed my body to do something that was easy when I was about thirty years younger. Or fifty. So, yeah. That.

There's a great line in James Keelaghan's song "Small Rebellion" -- "... the job that was your life becomes the job that slowly beats you." That, too.

It doesn't help that my confidence in my ability as a programmer was completely shattered about a year and a half ago, with a series of projects that I completely failed at. OK, maybe just partially failed at -- the first was, fortunately, cancelled, and the second (which would have been trivial if I'd known what I know now) was eventually finished by someone else. The one I'm on now is following a similar pattern. I never learned to estimate, and part of that is the fact that I keep finding pieces that got left out of the design. It's possible that not all of that is my fault -- other people had plenty of input. But it feels like my fault, and because I've been the most senior engineer on all of these projects, one can easily argue that the disasters are at least my responsibility.

In all those cases a contributing problem was procrastination -- that, at least, is undenyably my fault. I've gotten really good at not doing stuff. More generally, not even thinking about stuff that I'd rather not be doing. And here I am, nearly seventy years old, planning to retire in less than a year, with a household that needs to be downsized drastically so that we can move out of the house we love but won't be able to keep. I hate it. I hate myself for the decades of bad decisions that made it necessary.

The next year is going to be rough. The next decade is going to be rough. I'll probably make it through, but I'm not going to like it.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Hmm. Is tonight's major psychological breakthrough the fact that I'm feeling contented, or the fact that I actually noticed it?

My major news for the week is definitely that I had an interview for going full time at Amazon. And scheduled an interview and a phone screen for tomorrow. One way or another, I expect to spend the next few years as a full-time employee. Somewhere.

My major news. THE major news is Nelson Mandela's death. Sadness.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

So... last week was both relaxing and stressful. It was my first full week after my contract ended, and included our second weekend in the new house. Saturday, in fact, we had our first event, a tea party catered by Friday Afternoon Tea.

I had several interviews, and one in-person interview. That was pretty good; my job search was really starting to heat up. I spent quite a lot of money on and around the house, some of it rather inadvisedly. We did save rather a lot by switching from a curved stairlift from Ameriglide (which we found out doesn't actually get permits or use licensed installers in Washington) to a pair of straight ones from Acorn. Saved $4k.

The house has a secret passage! Well, ok, it's a laundry chute. But it was a secret from me, anyway.

I'm going to cut this short (if you really want details, you'll find them in the notes) to get to the last two days, which were kind of harrowing.

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

So, unless you were hiding under the same rock I was all week, you probably noticed that Jonathan Coulton re-recorded "Code Monkey" for Slashdot's 15th Birthday. When I finally listened to it this morning, I realized that it was prime s4s material. Never mind that it's Sunday -- the tag still matches. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

It's kind of appropriate, because I just started my new job this week, as a code monkey. I mean, sure, I have a fancier title than that, but what it comes down to is picking (mostly) well-defined little coding tasks off a list and writing the code. OK, we all get some say in the tasks, too, but it's all part of a huge edifice mostly designed by somebody else.

I've done this before. Recently, even -- what I did on the web services side of $PREV two years ago was like that. I can do it, and do it well, but it was demanding without being all that satisfying. I'm worried that this gig will be similar.

It'll pay the bills, and it'll be challenging and even fun in places, but I don't think I'm going to love it. (You will note that I am not going off on a riff comparing the expected experience to various kinds of casual relationship. This is a Good Thing. Trust me.)

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

Well. This was my first week at work in six months. It'll take a while for me to get the hang of it, and for the stress to go away. It's demanding, and promises to stay demanding, and I'd gotten very used over the last 6 months to having lots of free time.

The whole week was mostly paperwork and setup. It's my first encounter with development using Windows, Eclipse, and Maven. Plus Rally. Confluence is familiar, at least, and along with the two other new guys I've made a few edits to the "new developer setup" page. So... yeah. Steep learning curve. I hope to be writing code next week. I'd better be.

I like commuting by bus. This is a good thing, because as a contractor I don't get free parking. I don't get a lot of things. Like paid vacations. Orycon is going to be a weekend blitz this year. Fortunately it's only a 3-hour drive; we'll be able to drive down after work on Friday and come back Sunday night.

My stupid body seems to have decided it wants at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Do Not Have The Time! I especially miss having an extra hour or two to myself in the morning. One hour (if I get up at 7 and leave at 8) is barely enough for the usual round of drugs, nose-watering, tooth-brushing, and a quick breakfast. A shower is pushing it. Well, maybe I'll get into a stable schedule eventually.

Apropos of tooth-brushing, we went to Costco and I found a two-pack of Sonicare teethbrush (that's the plural of toothbrush, isn't it?). They'd been strongly recommended by my new hygienist. We did end up spending quite a lot more there than I'd intended.

I also spent more than I'd intended at the Container Store, getting tracks and standards for the living room. I finally decided not to try anything fancy. I have one, 4' shelf up, for the guinea pig cage. It's a huge improvement. I also got a pair of stacking bamboo shelves to go between the chairs - the stack is low enough that it fits under the overhang of the arms, and I've clipped a pair of drink holders onto the end. Big win.

Today I may have time to buy wood for the bookshelves.

Colleen had wanted to check out Bellevue Square, which is next door to Lincoln Square (where the Container Store is), so we did that. Ghastly. It's laid out so that you have to do a lot of backtracking if you're on a scooter, plus it's noisy and crowded. We didn't even bother with the first floor -- there was a long line for the elevators. If it wasn't for having the only Container Store in the state I wouldn't go back there at all.

I did some cooking -- Polish sausage with beans, carnitas soft tacos, ... The really huge thing this week was that Colleen cooked dinner on Friday! That's wonderful progress -- it's been a really long time since she was able to do that. The fact that our kitchen is almost an ideal layout for scoot-through cooking helps. She only needed help a couple of times; getting a hot pot of pasta between the stove and sink for draining is still well beyond what she's capable of. So far.

Some links. Watch out for the first one -- it's going to be very triggery for some people. Harrowing and heartbreaking, but you need to see Amamda Todd's video if you can handle it.

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

Tuesday I moved nova, the printers, and the starport (inside) router to the computer desk; moved polaris (the outside router) to the corner of the kitchen where the phone jack lives; and set up (linux desktop) algol and (mac mini) whitewood. Everything works! Much better signal from the routers, though there is still the occasional glitching from starport which I suspect is due to 802-11G/N issues.

Tip: it helps if you turn the printer on before trying to print a test page.

I did quite a lot of re-organizing, which resulted in a usable amount of space around the desk and several other items going to useful places. Decided to use Elfa "easyhang" shelving on the long livingroom wall -- it'll be fairly expensive, but a lot less than the price of even freestanding bookcases.

My copy of Cat Faber's new CD, The King's Lute, arrived in the mail. It's wonderful -- go get one. Cat is an absolutely brilliant songwriter. There are several songs on there that I need to learn.

Wednesday I got a confirmation of my COBRA health plan selections. WTF? I didn't recall making any. Thursday I got a letter dated the 5th saying that they couldn't contact me. WTF? Five phone calls later, on Friday, I determined that they had my area code wrong -- I might conceivably have messed up when I updated my profile, but they had my email address and never sent anything to it. The last person I called, Susan, was extremely helpful and pleasant to talk to. This was Friday morning, and may have been due to my already having decided what to do.

After determining that I had already received more from my FSA than I'd put in so far I dropped it, saving myself at least $860. (There was another $430 payment due, but I had already determined that I wasn't going to continue my COBRA coverage after my coverage from $K kicks in in December.) I also dropped my vision plan.

Friday I also (finally!) followed up on my house, car, and renter's insurance. And saved quite a lot. I should have done that months ago, of course. I don't know where my brain was between June and September. Well, job-hunting and moving and unpacking ate up a lot of it, I'm sure. Anxiety, apathy, and depression probably ate up the rest.

Colleen and I visited the Northshore Senior Center in Bothell -- it was only $50/year for a couple membership. If she can get transportation it'll be a great place for her to hang out, especially the quilting group.

I made several tasty meals, including a great corned beef hash using the potatoes that had been cooked in the slow cooker with the beast. Details, along with the usual links, in the notes.

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

Feeling good, and even optimistic, is something of a new concept for this old bear. I am having a little trouble wrapping my fuzzy head around it. Does that make sense?

There is still the nagging worry that, now that I've turned in the last of my paperwork, $K or $D will reject me at the last minute. I don't really believe it'll happen, but we're not talking rationality here.

The dresser arrived Saturday. It's lovely, and large, and went a long way toward organizing the bedroom. Now it's my side of the bed that's still a mess. That'll be harder, because there's noplace to put a dresser there.

Having given up on the foolish notion of putting a desk next to the bed on my side, I went over to Naomi's and gound the pieces for my old computer desk. The one I made a couple of years before Chaos was born, and put into storage when we remodeled the Starport the first time. It's now on the short wall of the living room next to the sliding door onto the balcony. I'm gong to put an Elfa track over it this morning, and have already moved the printers and strung Cat-5 over to the phone jack in the kitchen.

Putting the rolling file under the desk where it belongs naturally adds a fair amount of space -- it is now possible to walk to the gray recliner when people are sitting in both facing chairs. Which is good, because the corner by the desk is still pretty crowded.

Now I just have to move the computers: nova and the inside router (starport) to the desk, and the outside router (polaris) to the kitchen. Unfortunately, there's no phone jack in the area that is pretty clearly meant to be the entertainment corner. Not so odd, really; the apartment building predates DSL. I might be able to summon up the energy to do it this morning -- it has to be a morning when the two women are asleep so that nobody wants to use the net connection.

Oh, and I used my SAD light Monday, for the first time since the move. Maybe it'll help. I'm also trying to shift my schedule back to waking up at 6:30 instead of 7:30 or 8; I need at least an hour in the morning to get out the door in reasonable working condition. Preferably two, but that will take longer, I suspect.

Links, as usual, in the notes. Check out "It’s Opus, it rocks and now it’s an audio codec standard!" and The Wordsmith's Forge - Unsold Poetry from the October 2-3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. I put money on two poems from this: "The Cybernetic Sorcerers" (co-sponsor because of net-lag) and "Promises to Keep" (which combines global warming and sea monsters).

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

The CTO of $T called me at the originally-scheduled time on Wednesday, not the rescheduled time on Tuesday -- by that time I'd already made my decision. Thursday I went in and signed the paperwork with $K for my contract job at $D. I start Monday the 15th. There are a couple of good perks from $K, including free access to SkillSoft courseware. (I think I also get that through my recently-renewed ACM membership.)

Even after only six months of "retirement", the thought of going back to work is somewhat scary. It's also rather surprising how few of the things on my list I got done. (Of course, "moving" was also on the list, and occupied an unexpectedly large fraction of my time. But still.)

I'll be at Orycon. The plan is to drive down after work (possibly after a short day) on Friday, and return Sunday night -- it's only a 3-hour drive, which makes it possible. I think I will have a concert, though I might have missed my window for that by not turning in the questionaire on time.

Of course, now that I know I'm going to have an income, I promptly went out and ordered a few things that I'd been waiting on. The first to arrive, because it was nearly instantaneous, was the download of Cat Faber's new CD, The King's Lute -- the physical copy will arrive soon. (You get the download, which includes the sheet music and lyrics, free with the CD.) You can get yours at her Bandcamp page. I highly recommend it -- Cat's a brilliant songwriter and a fine performer. This album is drawn from her recent "Alice Day" posts. It's hard to pick favorites here, but I think I'd have to go with "Cedarglass" and "Atheist's Anthem".

I really need to get a Bandcamp page up, don't I? Good project for tomorrow? Maybe.

I also pulled down a copy of Heather Dale's Perpetual Gift (which is free, as the title indicates, but I made a donation anyway).

Oh, and Janis Ian will be at the Triple Door in Seattle, Saturday, April 6th

The usual collection of links in the notes. Here: have a CPR ad, with zombies.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (wtf-logo)

Yesterday I had a dentist appointment at 11am, to get my teeth deep-cleaned. As I was pulling in to the parking lot I got a phone call from $K (the contract agency) saying I'd gotten the contract at $D.

In spite of the fact that I think I'd probably prefer a full-time job at $T, which is a smaller company with a really cool product that I actually want to use, the timing for that just isn't likely to work out -- I haven't even had a phone interview yet (I expect one this afternoon, but still...) So my mood has been distinctly mixed -- it was something like depression last night. (I'll get to that later.)

The teeth-cleaning went very well -- the hygienist was surprised that I was able to handle it with just a topical anesthetic. Yeah, there were a couple of twinges, but I often get worse from my arthritis just getting out of bed in the morning, and much worse after sitting with my legs crossed for half an hour.

Which brings us to the evening, when I was feeling depressed, and made a joke about something I thought was unrelated that N. misinterpreted as sounding suicidal. And then couldn't get back in touch with me.

Apparently several of my followup IM messages simply got dropped on the floor between here and there. And she couldn't raise me by phone or text, apparently because I was reading a book in the Kindle app! The text, in fact, finally arrived a minute or so after I exited the app. WTF?????!!! Anyone ever encounter that one?

OK, getting back to the down mood. I don't know how much of that is due to uncertainty over $D vs. $T, how much is due to simple relief, and how much is due to the fact that I've gotten used to being "retired". Have I mentioned alexithymia lately? It means that, very often, I don't know what I'm feeling. It's a problem.

A few links in the notes, though nothing exceedingly noteworthy.

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

High-order bit, out of sequence. I got a call this morning from (contract agency) $K saying I have the job at $D!!! There's a slight chance I may be able to swing something at $T, but I'm not going to count on it -- the timing is rotten, and I'm not in a position to take even a medium-risk chance over a sure thing.

I may, however, have screwed up my medicare by misunderstanding the way the various special enrollment periods interact. GAAAAK!

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled update. I took Colleen down to RainFurrest Saturday, then came back up to hang out with Naomi and work on music (and laundry) for a couple of hours. Then I picked her up, grabbed some dinner (corned beef, from the crock pot), and we attempted to go to Wayward Coffeehouse. Didn't make it. Colleen's scooter nearly tipped over after it suddenly lost power trying to get out of an underground parking garage the size of a postage stamp, with a too-steep ramp. At that point, after I stopped shaking, we headed back home.

Have I mentioned that I lose control over my voice when I'm stressed? Trying to talk to me makes it worse. Trying to "calm me down" makes it *much* worse. Probably not fixable at my age. I'm not (usually) in a panic, I just don't have the bandwidth to both deal with the situation and try to figure out what to say to people and where they are and what volume to set my voice at to be heard without seeming to shout. I shout.

Sunday I made corned beef hash, hash browns, and fried eggs for brunch, and went out for a walk during which I had the revelation that of course I can't cope -- my coping saw is in storage. I know: lame.

I don't even remember what I made for dinner.

The usual collection of links in the notes.

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)

Saturday Colleen and I took a drive around Lake Washington (getting somewhat lost in a side trip to West Seattle), and when we got home I cooked probably the best salmon dish I've ever made -- pan-fried with butter, olive oil, and garlic, then added a little wine to steam it until done. Took a leftover portion over to Naomi's, and did a little music. And some thinking about my Orycon set, assuming I have one. Just finished the rest of the leftovers this morning. Yum!

Colleen said "This is what a Northwest dinner is supposed to taste like."

And I broke a tooth somehow - nice big chip off the side of a much-filled molar. Doesn't hurt, fortunately, but it'll probably need a cap I can't afford. Grump. My severance pay runs out at the end of the month (i.e., Friday), and with it their portion of my COBRA coverage. Grouch. Scared Bear. Set up a dental appointment for tomorrow.

Applied to three different positions at $A2 and one at $T; haven't heard yet. Finished coding homework for $D, and got an interview scheduled for Friday.

$D is going to present a difficult decision if I get it. It would be a great company to work for, but I wouldn't be working for them -- I'd be a long-term contractor, going through an agency, $K. $K's health care options look pretty poor, compared with what I've had and what most direct hires get. It might not cover either of Colleen's non-generic drugs. There may be workarounds, but if they don't work we'll be really screwed. TMI maybe later if comments ask for it. Sucks. Still, I'll probably have to take it. Both that and $A look like they're likely to be more pressure than I want, but...

If I hadn't been stupid over the last 20 years, I'd be able to retire comfortably now. As it is, I'm starting to think about how soon I can get away with it. Not now, though. Not yet.

I know, I know. Life sucks. Deal. Do I haveta?

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

Bad week. No biscuit.

I went in to my interview on Tuesday with $COMPANY feeling very optimistic. I was wrong. Thursday I found out that they didn't want me. CRASH.

Now, of course, I can see all the ways I screwed myself over. Going back years, to not being more involved in open source projects and not keeping my skills up-to-date. And back six months to the layoff, not keeping office hours and browsing the web instead of working through the skill-building list I set up right at the beginning. And back one month to the interviews at $COMPANY, not starting in right away playing with their software. Sure, I spent a lot of time reading the documentation, but I didn't have anything to show for it.

That was stupid.

I get my last severance check at the end of next week. Damned if I know what happens to my COBRA health coverage -- they were paying for it up until now. I'm going to have to spend all next week scrambling.

Um... in other news, I've been doing a fair amount of walking, finally. Including a nice ramble around the Convention Center and Freeway Park, after my interview.

Lots of good links, including the awesome xkcd: Click and Drag (zoomable view and more in the notes) and some great open-source stuff by way of Linux Weekly News, which I'm finally catching up on.

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

I think I'm doing a little better -- I've definitely shaken whatever virus I had on Friday, and I took a couple of short walks (not wanting to overdo it while recovering). I'm still stressed over $COMPANY -- my new interview is tomorrow. It's 10am -- I'm hoping that the new hiring manager will take me out to lunch, like the previous one did. If he doesn't offer, I think I'll ask -- it's important.

I finally did something I should have done months ago, or even last week, and pulled up the ACM's "books 24/7" page. Currently reading about Hadoop and jQuery, with a Drupal book in the queue. I was pointed at the page by an update email.

Some progress on the apartment, with a couple more boxes collapsed and the spices sorted out a little better. We'll get there. I think.

Quite a few good links in the notes, including some of the results from a link-chase on St. John's wort, which I've been considering. Not going there -- it interacts badly with too many other things. OTOH I should probably try dropping my statin for a couple of weeks before my next blood work, to see if I still need it.

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)

On the job search, the week was pretty much a waiting game. $COMPANY hasn't contacted me yet, probably because the HR person was out of town last week, and the hiring manager was on vacation this week. I did meet with the headhunter on Thursday, and had a good conversation. So that's pretty good. I had phone screens Thursday (with Amazon) and Friday (with WhitePages).

The one on Friday was interesting -- the person I was originally scheduled to talk to was unavailable, so the call was from the CTO. Which was great, because we were actually able to talk about why I didn't seem to be a good fit. This probably applies to many of my other recent rejections: PopCap, Zillow, Google, and Facebook. And my apparent success with $COMPANY.

There are two factors: seen from their side, I simply don't have any experience with huge web "properties" or the technologies they use. I'm not familiar with Ruby on Rails (which WhitePages is using), have comparatively little PHP, no database experience to speak of... I'm a fast learner, but that's not the same.

... and on my side, I'm just not all that interested in that kind of work. I like building websites -- small ones. I like building infrastructure that developers can use to build the big ones. I like having my software out in the wild where I can point to it, but apparently that really means I want to work on stuff that developers can use. I want to get into working inside open-source software, not just on top of it. Or on part of some proprietary software product like a game, or the stuff Intuitive or Tableau is doing.

I want to work on cool stuff that's appreciated by my peers, not invisible behind the scenes at a website, no matter how popular and cool that website may be. And, perhaps most importantly, I want to work on stuff that I believe is making the world a better place.

... change of subject ---

Yesterday I drove down to Longview (the closest Kaiser facility) with Colleen -- two and a half hours each way -- to see if we could get our prescriptions renewed and Colleen could get her disability forms filled out for DMV and ORCA. Partial success. Colleen only got 6 months of disability, and one month of her prescriptions. Mine haven't been transfered at all, so I'll have to go down again in a week or so.

It would never have occurred to me that Kaiser wouldn't have a nationwide, unified computer system for medical records and prescriptions. But they don't. GAAAK! If I'd known how much of a nightmare health care was going to be, I might not have moved. I call it "the health don't care system" for a reason. And I have yet to get two consecutive identical answers about what I can do next.

Anyone have suggestions for Seattle-area HMOs? I know GroupHealth works with Kaiser, which might be a plus, but don't know whether they have good in-network specialists for Colleen's Crohn's disease and other problems.

We stopped in Olympia for dinner at the Oyster House. I think the last time we were there was 20-odd years ago on the way to or from a Westercon. It's gotten better.

Last Monday -- Labor Day -- we drove out to Leavenworth. Lovely drive.

I read the Hugo-winning novella The Man Who Bridged the Mist -- marvelous! And re-read "The Dead Lady of Clown Town".

... And I had a couple of bouts of depression. Not really surprising considering the health care and job situations.

Links and details below in the notes.

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

Well, it's less than a week since my last update; must be getting a little better. I've made slow but steady progress on unpacking and setup -- there are shelves up over the bed now (still room for one more, but I can't find the necessary brackets -- they must still be in a box somewhere). Probably one I didn't pack, which will make it harder to find. But progress.

I had several phone interviews, and a full day of interviews at $COMPANY on Wednesday. That one looks like a great fit for me, and I'm told they agree, but until I have an offer in hand I'm still officially looking.

Many thanks to [ profile] egoldberg.

I took the bus to my interview -- major win. Yesterday, when the YD wanted a ride to the convention center to meet somebody who was there for PAX, I pointed her at the bus. It's under half an hour on the 522, which compares favorably to my commute by car from San Jose to Menlo Park. One thing I'm still getting used to is how much smaller Greater Seattle is than the SF Bay Area -- it's 50 miles from San Jose to San Francisco. I like being this close to downtown.

I also took a couple of nearly-three-mile walks. Go me! Now let's see whether I can do that more often.

Not surprisingly the links down in the raw notes are full of political crap and job-search hints.

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

My mindspace continues to be largely occupied with day-to-day stuff: unpacking, installing shelves, shopping, cooking... Life is starting to settle into a routine, though, and I'm enjoying it.

We finally got over to a DOL (Department of Licensing -- WA's partial equivalent of the DMV), where the YD and I got new IDs and driver's licenses respectively. Colleen has to come in for a driving test (!), which is a major incentive for her to exercise. She has about 2 more weeks; I suspect she still won't be ready, but would be delighted to be proved wrong.

We also got in to the bank and updated our information there. And I rolled over my 401K -- I had misread the mail they sent me, so ended up with an actual check. Unfortunately I won't get the withholding back until I do my taxes next year. :P Too bad -- could've used it NOW.

A couple of phone screens, but no in-person interviews yet. Growf! Several online resume submissions, but I have low expectations from those.

On the home computing front, I pulled my laser printer out of storage (for resumes), and finally fixed Starport's DNS (which turned out to be a bad forwarder). It works fine now. Much better than CenturyLink's WiFi, which keeps crapping out on me.

The bedroom shelves are nearly done -- all the tracks and standards are in place, and most of the shelves (except for a few near the bed, and in the laundry closet). The dining room is next.

The usual collection of links and details in the raw notes, below.

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

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

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

And now a few highlights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I also realized how much I enjoy traveling by myself.

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

Loads of links in the notes, of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We'll see.

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

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When we left our intrepid, if somewhat reluctant, adventurer he was in the process of moving in to his new apartment in Lake Forest Park. (When the rest of the family arrived on Tuesday it somewhat inevitably acquired the name North Starport; the only other serious contender was Starport North, but that doesn't have the built-in pun that justifies the new URL.)

Tuesday the 3rd was busy. I had an interview at Facebook (that resulted in a rejection, and a severely dented passenger-side front door thanks to a concrete post in the parking garage) in the morning, came back to Shoreline for some badly-needed rehearsal time, then down to Seatac to pick up Colleen and the YD at the airport.

That's when I found out that Colleen was en route to the ER, having gashed her leg on a closing fire-door coming out of the jetway. GLEEP! (And someone dinged the front bumper of my car in the Lowes parking lot.) By the time we finally got everybody back to the apartment and got settled in, I was pretty thoroughly frazzled.

Internet turned on sometime Tuesday as well; it was supposed to have been the previous Thursday, but I'd given them the street number of the office rather than of the building. Oops. But at least I could be frazzled with a live net connection.

I'd brought up quite a lot of stuff in the van, but there were still some omissions. Like, a phone cable and a computer power cord. Minor -- I made do quite well with the netbook, though stuff like posting on DW went by the wayside. Oh, and pillows. I borrowed a set from the Wolfling, who stayed with us in the apartment Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Tuesday evening we had dinner with Chaos and her new BF, Rabbit (James).

Wednesday we made our expedition to Central Market. Thursday we had dinner with Naomi and her kids, then made our way to the Seatac Doubletree for Westercon.

Saturday was my concert. Formal setlist and recordings later, one hopes; for now, the set was The Fox, As You See, Wheelin, The River, Riverheart, Boom Gone To Bust, Kitchen Heroes, and Inherit the Earth. The first half was something of a minor trainwreck, but I felt good about the second half.

A few good conversations at the con; nothing very deep, but people are glad to see us moving up to the area.

Monday was a full day of interviews at Google's Seattle office. I really hope I get that one.

Yesterday noonish we set out for finally set out for home. Old home? The apartment -- and the PNW -- is already starting to feel a lot like home. There's nothing like a couple of drives through the desert to make one long for a place where it's cool and moist a lot of the time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some links.

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

Sunday morning, just hours before my flight left for Seattle, our router finally became unusable. It had been deteriorating for quite a while; I have no idea what the problem was. It would be good for a while after a reboot, then the lags would get steadily worse. By Sunday the "while" was down to about five minutes. I spent the rest of the day struggling to recover.

By the time I had to leave I had gotten our Linux-based WAP more-or-less configured, but it turned out that I had neglected to test ssh-ing in from the WAN side. So I spent the entire week without access to the files on the inside of the firewall. Including my email archives and password database.

Fortunately, I was able to set up email forwarding from to my gmail account, so I didn't miss much. Next time, though, things will be different. I'll write about that at some length later, for the geeks in my audience.

The flight was paid for by one of the two companies I had interviews with, Zillow. They'd booked through the aptly-named (and ended up paying more than they would have through Southwest); my flights out were on Delta, and back on Alaska. Bletch.

I arrived in Shoreline well after midnight, and flopped into bed.

Monday morning I went with Naomi to get my first look at the new apartment, and pick up keys. Spent the rest of the week slightly croggled by the idea; there's nothing that makes it quite as real as a set of keys and a tape measure (which I wielded on Wednesday).

Monday afternoon was my interview at Zillow -- several coding tests and a lot of data structure and algorithm questions. I think I did ok. Gorgeous view from the 31st floor, a block from the waterfront. Great atmosphere -- it would be a fun place to work.

Tuesday afternoon was Intentional Software. Tougher questions for the most part, no idea how I did on that one. Very opulent and quiet offices, which I guess is what you can expect with Microsoft billionaires bankrolling it. Brilliant people; on average an older crowd than Zillow.

We'll see.

Wednesday I ran errands with Naomi, and we had lunch in Columbia City at a diner called Geraldine's Corner. Yummy chili with a side of excellent hashbrowns. After that she showed me the huge Goodwill in that area. I'll be back.

Thursday morning I had brunch with Chaos at another diner -- Shari's in Lynnwood. Which left me with just exactly enough time to drive down to Seatac and return my rental car. The trip back was, mercifully, nonstop, so I was able to get home in time for dinner. And to finish fixing the network setup, which only took about an hour once I had access from the inside.

All in all, a good trip.

Quite a few links in the notes, such as one accumulates over the course of five days without an update. The New Map of the Solar System has all thirteen planets (counting the five dwarfs).

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

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

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

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

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

Some interesting links, mostly from people at the party.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yesterday Colleen, the YD and I went to the local Greek Festival and dropped a sizeable wad of cash on yummy Greek food, while listening to Greek music. No formal walk, but I was on my feet for about an hour.

I also packed up a lot of the science books and most of my "to be read" stack. Triaging books is hard.

Lots of links. Including How Downsizing Gave Us More, which would be apropos except that it's entirely a "we did it" article, not a "here's how." It mentions the 1-year rule, but I'm not sure how well that applies to some of our stuff. For example, the 2x2 space frame from our old apartment, that let us put up shelves without driving screws into the walls. It's been 36 years, but that's going to be useful again.

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

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

We're moving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

mdlbear: (river)

It's going to be a bit of a wild ride here on the River. I seem to have been drifting for a long time. (I know, I've always viewed my journey downriver as a walk along the bank, but I can damned well mix my own metaphor if I want to.)

And I know that most of what I've written about under this tag has been relationships, friendship, and the care and feeding of geeks. But every once in a while, you have to change direction. And it's happening now.

Grand Central Starport is full of boxes now -- we're moving in less than two months. (How much less is, at present, a matter for some speculation.) I'm also changing jobs. What job I'm changing to is, at present, also a matter for speculation.

I believe I've mentioned alexithymia. I have it -- a difficulty detecting and identifying emotions and other mental states. I believe what's going on now is a mixture of anxiety and stress, mostly. And although I'm getting better at identifying and dealing with anxiety, stress is another matter.

Guess I'm going to learn.

I'm not sure exactly what went into the decision to move from the Bay Area to the Seattle area; economics (cost of living's 25% less) was only part of it. And certainly the fact that I have family and close friends there was a factor. But I don't think that's all of it. Both Colleen and I were ready for a change. Big change. As I said, we'd been drifting. 36 years in the same house, 19 years in the same job... one gets stale, somehow. Complacent.

And, yes, I've always taken the hobbit's view of adventures -- "Nasty, uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner." It takes a certain amount of concentration to look at that big bend in the river coming up and look forward to finding out what's around it.

The house is full of boxes; we're moving from 1850 square feet of house and 1600 of garage, to a two-bedroom apartment (and some storage in Naomi's garage). The bookshelves have been ravaged. There's an apartment waiting for us in Lake Forest Park, empty of everything but major appliances and potentiality. Potential energy, soon to become kinetic energy.

Is that white water up ahead?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The Pegasus Awards - nominating ballot is up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some good conversations, though.

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

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

Did I mention that I'm a luggage addict?

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

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

I seem to have spent basically the entire day working on coding problems from Tableau (C) and Zillow (Java). Fun. But I didn't get out much at all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plenty of links in the notes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oops! Here, out of sequence, is the to.done for Thursday. Most of it was an LHH webinar on interviewing essentials -- hopefully I'll have a chance to apply that when I'm up in Seattle next week.

I had a burst of pain in my left arm, probably from twisting it and pinching a nerve -- I'd had my elbow resting on the buffet next to my chair in the living room; it's a little too high for real comfort.

Some links, mostly political. One to Wikipedia on Martin Luther King, Jr -- I found it startling and scary that younger people don't remember the time when many -- perhaps most -- churches were liberal. It seems to be pretty rare now. Of course, I also remember when "liberal" wasn't considered particularly far left.

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

Well, all I can say is that it felt more productive at the time. Morning and most of the afternoon were taken up by an LHH webinar and filling out the job application for Planetary Resources – The Asteroid Mining Company. As it turned out, yesterday was the last day they were taking them, so I was cutting it pretty close. Grump.

And after dinner Colleen and I went out to the local mall for a st/roll. Which was probably healthier than it would have been going out in the heat during the afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch out for low-flying bears!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lots of links in the notes.

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

Some work on self-assessment, more tweaking of the resume and various profiles, conversations about hard topics, and some tasty cooking. Wonderful hang-out time with Naomi and Colleen. One walk, and a lot of puttering. Lots of links. Which means I spent too much time on the web.

Saturday night I went out on the porch with Naomi to look at the "super moon". It was gorgeous and serene.

In other words, not a very productive weekend. Goal for today is to finish the self-assessment around career change. insists on a full street address. This means that they're always going to be showing me jobs in the San Jose area. Foo.

We sat down and realized that we really can't afford to maintain the YD down here for a year while we're up in Seattle. So we're back to looking at 3-bedroom apartments. If we'd had a chance to think it through, we might not have decided to move -- but that would have required finding a job quickly. The money will stretch farther in Seattle.

I still don't know my bottom line.

Amazingly enough, I keep running into people on my flist who haven't read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. Go read. It's about hidden disabilities, and I guarantee you know somebody who's dealing with that stuff; for whom counting spoons is a daily challenge. And along those lines, here's How To Illustrate Wheelchairs In Comic Books

WANT: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. First Android tablet I've seen that really does what I want at a price I can afford.

Anybody using Huntsy: A Dashboard for Your Job Search? Looks interesting, though I haven't decided yet whether it's worth the trouble.

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

Progress? A lot of puttering, and two job applications. N. persuaded me to set a minimum goal of 2/week. And I re-pinged Google. Apparently I've let a couple of emails get stale on my stack, so I've gone back and replied to some of them.

Thursday's webinar on career objectives was useful -- that's one of my highest priorities, since just about anything in the IT field is going to be a career change from "software research". The other high priority is figuring out what my budget is going to be, since I'm highly unlikely to be making anywhere near the same amount after the move. I need to know what my bottom line is.

The house is looking much "better", thanks to the efforts of minions good friends Devon, Liz, and Ogg. Huge amounts of stuff have been recycled, friendcycled, donated, sold to used bookstores, or put on the discard pile. What's left is probably still too much for an apartment, but it'll go into storage until we get into a house a year or so down the road.

Some of that stuff hasn't been touched in over two decades. Three, in a few cases. Gleep!

We're running across some fascinating old stuff, though. One of the most interesting was an old self-assessment I did toward the end of my previous job. Not all of it is relevant anymore, but it's interesting.

AT&T pushed an update to my phone, but it still wasn't Ice Cream Sandwich. :( I installed Eclipse, thinking that I probably ought to get familiar with it, and do some Android development. We'll see how far I get with that, but my Java is pretty rusty and could use some work.

Naomi and I had time yesterday to work a little bit on our upcoming Westercon concert set. We discovered that I can, in fact, come up with harmonies. Not in real-time, but once I have the chords down I can pretty easily improvise a harmony line that fits them, and Naomi has a good enough memory for melodies that together we can make it work. Cool!

I'm still not walking nearly enough, though I did do a 1.4mi loop around the neighborhood yesterday morning.

Several links. Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? Probably. And I and many of my friends in filking show up in Eye On The Bay: Those Other Conventions Pt. 2

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

Yay! [personal profile] pocketnaomi is here visiting!

I have a new tag: "quest". It's intended to cover the job search, housing search, and moving. It's also intended to recognize that this is more than any of those separately, reframing it as a major life change. "Adventure" might have done, too, but I don't like adventures. Nasty, uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner. Oh, wait.

Took a webinar about changing careers on on LHH's website, added "mentoring" and "technology transfer" to my lists of skills, and started to research green and ethical companies by chasing links from, which has received awards in both areas.

I've been waking up horribly early, mostly worrying about finances, and especially about the effect of the move on the YD. Monday I managed to get back to sleep, and slept through my alarm as a result. Yesterday I woke up somewhere around 4:30, and gave up and got out of bed around 5:15. Slept well last night, so maybe I'm more-or-less reset now. Hope so. Though I could do with a couple of hours less sleep.

Some good conversations last night about the move. Sort of encouraging.

A couple of links in the notes; nothing extremely noteworthy.

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

Yet another piece of the Rose Garden puzzle dropped into place this afternoon: I now know how I Never Promised You a Rose Garden made a journey into the unknown go from frightening to familiar.

It made it into a Quest. A fantasy journey.

I know this story. I love it, in all the hundreds of variations that I've read. Sure, the scenery is unfamiliar. You expect that in a fantasy. Sure, it's going to be tough going and scary at times. You expect that in a quest.

I may not have ever been on this journey before, but now I know what story I'm in.

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