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

So, in the interest of raising my word count for the day, have a post.

Please note: this post describes a medical situation that turned out not to be the emergency I thought it might have been; I'm ok and, as it turns out, was never in any danger. However, if you have problems reading about medical emergencies, scary symptoms, hospitals, or needles you will probably be best off with the cut text.

tl;dr: I'm ok. Nothing to worry about. )

Lab work, EKGs, and X-rays all looking perfectly normal, around 3:30 am they gave me my discharge paperwork, and I called G for a ride home. He was sleepy; N came instead. Have I mentioned recently how awesome my sister is? She's awesome.

Note that at this point most of the pain had gone away, but there was still a little achiness around my right shoulder, and the second joint of my right index finger was still almost as painful as it had been at the start. It still is, over 12 hours later.

On the way home N, who is a professional massage therapist, said that it sounded like a pinched nerve was the most likely explanation. Specifically, something called thoracic outlet syndrome. Which is sort of like carpal tunnel syndrome, only between your collarbone and your first rib.

When we got home, I put a sick day on my work calendar -- if I go to the ER in the middle of the night I've damned well earned a sick day no matter how much better I feel in the morning.

So here's what Wikipedia says about it: "Pain can be present on an intermittent or permanent basis. It can be sharp/stabbing, burning, or aching. TOS can involve only part of the hand (as in the 4th and 5th finger only), all of the hand, or [...] the pectoral area below the clavicle, [...] and the upper back (i.e., the trapezius and rhomboid area)." Um... right. What they said.

"The two groups of people most likely to develop TOS are [...] and those who use computers in non-ergonomic postures for extended periods of time. TOS is frequently a repetitive stress injury (RSI) caused by certain types of work environments." ... and I noticed, as I sat there at my desk with my right hand on the trackball, that my right shoulder was uncomfortably higher than my left one.

My desk at home, which consists of a sheet of plywood resting on a 2-drawer filing cabinet and a couple of 2x2 legs, is about 3" (7.5cm) higher than it needs to be. That would probably do it.

... so it looks like I need to take everything off my (cluttered) desk, disassemble the thing, make shorter legs for it, and put everything back. Grumble.

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's been a long month this week.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: (rose)

Unless the sound of silent thoughts carries up the Rainbow Bridge, I won't be saying "Happy Fathers' Day" to my Dad. He died a little over 17 years ago. He got me interested in computers, over 50 years ago -- I miss him every time I think "I'd love to call Dad and tell him about..."

Science fiction, and folk music -- he would have loved the filk community. He took me to trade shows and conventions back before they stopped allowing kids in; he would have enjoyed a filk convention. He would have loved my CD, Coffee, Computers, and Song!

Songs for Sunday:

  • The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of -- I wrote this a couple of months before Dad died, and sang it for him on my last visit.
  • Rainbow's Edge -- Mom had asked me to write a song to sing at Dad's memorial. I don't sing this one all that often.
  • The World Inside the Crystal -- Dad was a programmer (when he wasn't being a chemist). I don't think he ever said so, but I'm pretty sure this was his favorite.

Not exactly the playlist I'd planned, but...

ETA: as I hoist my glass of gin I'm reminded of the way Dad made Tanqueray martinis: straight gin -- there's a bottle of vermouth somewhere in the house. For a slightly sweeter version, open the bottle.

mdlbear: (river)

Now that we've said goodbye and good riddance to 2015, it's time to take a look ahead. As I've said before, I don't do resolutions. These are more, um, guidelines. Yeah; that's it. Guidelines.

  1. Music: I tried something indefinite last year, and didn't get very far with it. So this year, let's aim for an album: Amethyst Rose. The stretch goal would be to add Lookingglass Folk.
  2. Writing: Write more poetry, and aim for at least one non-fiction (software-related, most likely) article per month.
  3. Exercise: Walk on weekends. Stretch: get my bike repaired. (That's been on the list since before I moved to Seattle, so I don't have much hope.)
  4. Food: Eat better: more salads, fewer take-out lunches. Take off more weight -- I've been stalled for months. At least under 190, and preferably under 180.
  5. Psych: Last year's "health" goal was all about depression, but I also made a list of plausible stress-reduction techniques, a few of which I actually tried, and I'll keep working on that. But the main thing has to be procrastination. I'll get started on that... sometime? Tonight, preferably.
  6. Web: Convert the main websites to HTML-5 and CSS. Finally get around to writing the correct lyrics-to-HTML converter (using tables instead of monospaced fonts), and a good browser-based songbook/setlist viewer to go with it. Get some experience with popular CMSs: WordPress, and if possible Joomla and Drupal.
  7. Work: Get a new job, or get unstuck at my present one. The former is more likely. If possible, something that's mostly or entirely work-from-home. If not, get started on building a consulting business (web-related, or something else in the software range) that can fill that role.
  8. Household: Get the household workshop set up and, um, working. That means organizing the garage and the downstairs kitchen. Do some serious planning (as opposed to just reading blogs) toward the eventual move-out into tiny houses.
mdlbear: (river)

Here are last year's goals (I'm too irresolute for resolutions). Let's see how I did.

  1. Music. I'm going to lump recording, songwriting, and making music together, not so much because they're all aspects of the same thing as to give me a goal that I'm more likely to meet parts of. Mostly fail -- I didn't write or sing nearly as much as I wanted to, and didn't record anything at all. But I did write two songs: Windward (in January) and Ninety-Five Years (in December). And I gave a couple of good performances, but stupidly didn't record them.
  2. Writing. I'd settle for one post a week that isn't one of the two scheduled ones, though I'd like to do more. Almost complete failure on this one.
  3. Exercise. Keeping up the walking on weekdays is kind of a minimum; I'd like to walk a little on weekends, and maybe even get my bike back in working order. Between injuries and laziness, even my weekday walking declined. Mostly fail.
  4. Food. As a minimum, get back to serving salad with dinner on most of the days that I cook. Fail.
  5. Software. Get the household intranet back into shape. Finish revising my music-publishing toolchain. Set up a blogging toolchain. Bring my websites into the 21st Century, maybe. Write that HTML5-based lyrics app that I've been thinking about. OK, that's at least five sub-goals; six if you figure that the app and maybe the websites will require getting profficient in Javascript. I'll give myself 45% on this one: the household's network is back, including internal DNS. The music-publishing toolchain works pretty well, and it's part of a complete make-based toolchain that's been revamped from top to bottom. I did a fair amount of research into HTML5 and CSS, but didn't actually get anything deployed.
  6. Organization. Do more of my 15min items, get my taxes filed on time, and hack my way through the piles of envelopes on my desk and the piles of boxes in the garage. Stick to my damned budget, now that I have one. Hmm. I think I met this one. The garage clean-up was a side-effect of turning 3/4 of it into a second master suite. Taxes got done, my budget was stuck to, and I ended the year no more in debt than I started it. The piles of mail are pretty-much gone -- as of yesterday. Did I mention that I procrastinate? Might have to make that a goal for next year.
  7. Health. This is a stretch goal, but I need to do something about my depression. Or whatever it is. Find help. This was another win. After a harrowing six months or so, I finally got help in the form of regular sessions with a therapist, got my depression more or less under control (thanks to the above plus Good Drugs), and I lost on the order of 15 pounds. (On the other hand, the initial weight loss was a side effect of the severe anxiety over the effect my depression and procrastination were having on my work.)

It's been a harrowing year. Between injuries, some of which could have been fatal (I'm including the rest of the household here, but my nose-dive into a sidewalk definitely counts); months of depression that, in retrospect, could also have been fatal; the death of a beloved pet; and five figures worth of repairs to Rainbow's End -- well, let's just say that I won't be sorry it's over.

What got us through it was the love and mutual support we have for one another, scary amounts of money, and a great deal of help. But we got through it. We got through as a family. There were times when I honestly didn't expect to. But here we are, at the end of another year.

mdlbear: A brown tabby cat looking dubiously at a wireless mouse (curio)

I keep listening to the jingle of the little bell and tag on his collar. Our other cats are quiet little ninjas. When I couldn't find him I'd call his name and he'd jingle. When he stopped responding to his name I knew something was wrong.

I've said that he was "my cat", because he chose me and loved me and followed me, but in truth he was more Colleen's cat. She was the only one whose lap he would sit on. He would curl up there for hours, or sit on the footrest of her recliner, or lie on her chest next to her heart.

When he started being a picky eater, she was the one who made sure he ate, and chased the other cats away from his bowl. She fed him cat treats, and when we had bacon for breakfast she would break off pieces for him.

pictures under the cut. If you're on LJ, go over to Dreamwidth, which does a better job of scaling the pix. )

Finally, here are some links related to FIP:

links, cut for length. )
mdlbear: A brown tabby cat looking dubiously at a wireless mouse (curio)

A bear walks into a bar, and puts a dollar in the jar.

"Kahlúa and cream, Mike." It's not his usual genever, but he's not the first bear to order that drink this week. He takes it to the chalk line and stands for a while, sipping the drink and fingering something in his pocket. Finally, he raises the glass.

"To Curio!", he says, and flings the glass into the fireplace.

He was always my cat, ever since he walked up to me in the shelter two years ago and said so. My sister had to translate for him -- I wasn't very fluent in feline at the time.

He was the most outgoing and easygoing of our cats, always willing to accept attention from anybody, but I'm the one he followed around, and asked to be picked up and carried by. He spent a lot of time on Colleen's lap, too, and when he started getting picky about food, she would empty a can of catfood into a small bowl and make sure he ate it.

At night I would pat the laundry hamper in the hallway and say "Up", and he would jump up for me to carry upstairs to bed, though he often leapt out of my arms and ran up the stairs ahead of me. Most nights he slept on our bed.

I made a pad of folded leopard-print, fuzzy fabric and set it on my desk so that he could lie or sit there and be petted while I worked on the computer. He made an excellent villain's cat. He liked high places; I once found him on the highest shelf in our bathroom, afraid to come down. Perhaps he knew I'd come rescue him.

Maybe a month ago he started eating less, and became more solitary. His breathing became labored. His last two weeks I would often come home to find that he'd spent all day in our closet, or on the cool tiles of the shower stall. I would carry him to Colleen, but he would only pick at his food. His last week, he was completely miserable; we made the earliest appointment we could. It was barely soon enough.

you may want to skip this part. Wish I could have. )

Somewhere in there, Naomi reminded me that cats live in the moment, and we had done the best we could to make his last moments good ones, surrounded by the people he loved.

And he had one last gift for me: he taught me to cry again. Long ago, I forgot how. Thank you, Curio, for giving me back my tears.

The bear sits back down, and puts a tattered red collar on the table in front of him.

In the end, he walked across the Rainbow Bridge calmly, eyes open and tail held high. In Valhalla, he's finally able to go outside, get wasted on catnip, and sleep on the grass in the sunlight. In the evening he walks across the tables -- he was never a lap cat except for Colleen -- and begs for scraps from the feasting warriors. He's especially fond of beef.

Sometimes, late at night, he'll go visiting. There's a petrified forest where it's always twilight, and a glade where stands an Amethyst Rose with obsidian thorns as sharp as Curio's claws. Sometimes Bast goes with him. Bast willing, I'll see them again some day.

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

So. Some goals for 2015.

  1. Music. I'm going to lump recording, songwriting, and making music together, not so much because they're all aspects of the same thing as to give me a goal that I'm more likely to meet parts of.
  2. Writing. I'd settle for one post a week that isn't one of the two scheduled ones, though I'd like to do more.
  3. Exercise. Keeping up the walking on weekdays is kind of a minimum; I'd like to walk a little on weekends, and maybe even get my bike back in working order.
  4. Food. As a minimum, get back to serving salad with dinner on most of the days that I cook.
  5. Software. Get the household intranet back into shape. Finish revising my music-publishing toolchain. Set up a blogging toolchain. Bring my websites into the 21st Century, maybe. Write that HTML5-based lyrics app that I've been thinking about. OK, that's at least five sub-goals; six if you figure that the app and maybe the websites will require getting profficient in Javascript.
  6. Organization. Do more of my 15min items, get my taxes filed on time, and hack my way through the piles of envelopes on my desk and the piles of boxes in the garage. Stick to my damned budget, now that I have one.
  7. Health. This is a stretch goal, but I need to do something about my depression. Or whatever it is. Find help.

Seven. Same as last year. We'll see.

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

Let's get the party announcement out first: we're having our usual "sometime around New Year" party this Saturday, the 3rd. It's actually on our anniversary this year, but we're not expecting presents, just presence. And food. It's a potluck -- food is always welcome.

OK, now the Thankful Thursday: Today I'm thankful for...

  • Having gotten a few things done off my list from last year
  • Software, gin, and a few other things that aren't exactly addictions but are nice to have.
  • Coffee, which is an addiction.
  • Rainbow's End.
  • Cat therapy.
  • Colleen. How -- and why -- she puts up with me I'll never know, but I'm grateful.

And finally, an annotated look back at last year's goals (not resolutions -- I'm too irresolute for those).

  • Get back into recording. I don't think I can manage a whole album, but I can probably manage a lot of scratch tracks and a few complete mixes, and maybe build up momentum that way. Total fail.
  • Eat better. I may not lose weight, much as I'd like to, but nothing says I can't have more salads for lunch. Total fail. Gained 7 lbs.
  • Similarly, walk more. I've gotten horribly out of shape, but my new office is farther from my preferred bus stop than the old one. (The 70 stops only a block away, but I'd have to stand around at 3rd and Pike waiting to change busses. I'd rather walk.) I mostly succeeded at this one.
  • Get the medical bills taken care of. I've been ignoring a lot of them. My sign-on bonus will probably go for that and taxes, mostly. Sort of. The sign-on bonus got squandered, but the taxes and -- I think -- the medical bills eventually got paid, out of the meager proceeds from the Starport.
  • Bring some better order to my motley collection of blogs and web sites, with as much of the content as possible deployed using git hooks. Only if you count what I've done in the last week.
  • Write more! Songs, fiction, essays, whatever. I haven't done any writing to speak of for, what? Two years? Mostly not. I've done written a handful of metafics and a recipe or two.
  • Sell the Starport. Mostly. It did get sold, but a lot later and for less money than we needed.

So, out of seven goals, two total failures, one moderate success, and four "successes" that were mixed enough to feel like failure anyway.

May this year be better.

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

2014 has been stressful, expensive, and occasionally harrowing, with few high points that I can remember, plenty of anxiety and mild depression, and no major accomplishments that I can think of.

On the plus side, we're all settling in pretty well at Rainbow's End, the Starport has finally been sold (for a lot less money than we expected or needed, of course), I still have a job, neither Colleen nor I have been hospitalized, a major financial trainwreck has been averted, and a couple of enormous bills have been paid off.

Not feeling very celebratory. I guess it will have to do.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mdlbear: (hp-c)

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

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

mdlbear: (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: (river)

It's a pretty low-key "party", so I'm sitting here watching most of the guests playing scrabble with Colleen and thinking about goals for the new year. I don't do resolutions -- I'm totally irresolute. But a couple of things to shoot for? I can do that.

  • Get back into recording. I don't think I can manage a whole album, but I can probably manage a lot of scratch tracks and a few complete mixes, and maybe build up momentum that way.
  • Eat better. I may not lose weight, much as I'd like to, but nothing says I can't have more salads for lunch.
  • Similarly, walk more. I've gotten horribly out of shape, but my new office is farther from my preferred bus stop than the old one. (The 70 stops only a block away, but I'd have to stand around at 3rd and Pike waiting to change busses. I'd rather walk.)
  • Get the medical bills taken care of. I've been ignoring a lot of them. My sign-on bonus will probably go for that and taxes, mostly.
  • Bring some better order to my motley collection of blogs and web sites, with as much of the content as possible deployed using git hooks.
  • Write more! Songs, fiction, essays, whatever. I haven't done any writing to speak of for, what? Two years?
  • Sell the Starport.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I have this feeling I should post something for the end of the year, which is fast approaching (and probably well past for most of my readers by now).

It's been a year. Or maybe a decade. I had three jobs, which is as many as I had in the previous two decades. I/we bought a house and moved into it -- last time I did that was 38 years ago. We have cats -- last time I had a cat was, I don't know, about 60 years ago? Something like that. Colleen spent months in hospitals and nursing homes.

I'm looking forward to a couple of years of being settled. I'm not likely to get them, of course. Next year I have to sell the Starport, add on to Rainbow's End, catch up on a hellacious number of medical bills, get the cars repaired, go to my 45th college reunion, ... Well, we'll see. Tomorrow is another year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More links, as usual, in the notes.

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

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

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

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

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

Long month, the last week and a half. Let's see. A week ago last Thursday I got an offer of a 3-month contract at Amazon, which I took immediately. Since it's through KForce again, I had very little paperwork to do and everything continues much as it has been. Colleen got her diagnosis of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, which is associated with immunosuppressant drugs, hypertension, low K and Mg. All of which she had.

Friday I cancelled my Norwescon concert -- I really wasn't ready, and was already under too much stress.

Saturday it looked as though Colleen was coming home, but by the time I got there her blood pressure had gone up to really scary levels, and they decided to keep her until it stabilized.

I spent most of the weekend shuttling back and forth between North Starport, Rainbow's End, and the hospital in between. I slept at RE, with Naomi and I keeping one another company.

Monday I picked up Chaos and Emmy, and went out to dinner for Emmy's 21st birthday. Blue C Sushi, which was expensive but able to satisfy the YD's craving for plum sake. I have two drinking-age children now.

I didn't notice any hill.

Tuesday Colleen came home. KForce called and told me I was supposed to start Wednesday.

As it turned out, my boss at Amazon had been expecting me to start on Monday the 1st (i.e., today), so things weren't quite ready for me. More or less ok, though; they were at least able to get me a badge and a laptop. (A Thinkpad T400, which isn't half bad.)

Last weekend was Norwescon. The "surprise open mic" that took the place of my concert was Saturday night, and I gave a perfect demonstration of exactly why I cancelled. GAAK. I should know better than to try to sing anything off book. Especially when I'm unprepared and stressed.

I was plagued by charger problems all weekend, but at least my computer charger worked most of Saturday when I really needed it to. The "geek toys" panel was a lot of fun. I read off the specs for the Cray 1 from the web browser on my phone, which had it beat by orders of magnitude. (How many orders of magnitude depending on which spec you looked at. 8MB of RAM? How... quaint.)

Sunday we had dinner at Romio's in Kirkland, on the way to take Chaos home.

Aha! moment -- I figured out that apologizing (which drives Colleen crazy) is my way of trying to make myself feel better after screwing up (especially in a way that hurts somebody else). It mostly doesn't work very well, and if Colleen tells me to stop, or I'm afraid she will, I can spiral downhill very quickly. (Started to write "downhell", which is actually a pretty good description of it. What was I doing in that handbasket, anyway?)

Didn't do a lick of open filking, but I enjoyed the concerts, and spent a fair amount of quiet time in the Green Room. Which was good for (introvert) me, even though I didn't realize at the time that it was what I needed.

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

I had a long week the last two days. Tuesday evening, Colleen scared the heck out of me, driving off the path in her scooter, and reporting blurry vision and headache. She seemed really confused, as well. I gave her some aspirin, sudafed (she's been fighting a cold all week), and nose spray. It passed in about an hour, and she seemed perfectly normal by the time we went to bed, except for the headache.

I woke up at 3:30 am and was scared enough to dial 911.

TMI, possibly triggery. Enter at your own risk. )

(TL;DR:) The most likely diagnosis at this point is something called Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (PRES) - a rare side effect of some immunosuppressant drugs, including the one she'd just increased the dosage of for her Crohn's disease, augmented by hypertension and low magnesium and potassium levels.

She's recovering well, and is currently in room 341 of Northwest Hospital in Seattle. She can have visitors. Norwescon is iffy.

But I was able to take a phone interview in the waiting room, and the interviewer said that he was going to recommend hiring me. So I have a 3-month contract at Amazon, Starting sometime next week.

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

Did I mention that I hate roller coasters? This last week has been one.

Tuesday started out great -- Naomi picked me up and drove us down to Cortiva, her massage school, which was having a free clinic day. I had two lovely massages, concentrating on my back, shoulders, arms, hands, and calves. N's new GF was there, too. We had a couple of nice talks.

Then at 4pm I was in a suspiciously small meeting with Ryan, the manager in charge of the Disney ID group, who had hired me back in October. Sure enough, there had been a surprise budget cut. My last day will be March 8th.

Same day as the house closing. Oops.

From there it was all downhill; I gave the bad news to our real estate broker, who at first said to go through with it anyway, and then had second thoughts. Thursday I spent packing, trying to work from home, fielded a phone call from a headhunter and a phone interview with Limelight Video Platform. (I now have three headhunters and one company recruiter working on the problem, and it looks as though there won't be much more than a few weeks of gap between jobs.)

I also spent Thursday getting more and more fragile and frazzled; by the time we got to the airport I was pretty much a wreck, and by the time we finally got in to the hotel and got to bed I was seriously depressed.

Sometime Friday morning, while I was out at Fry's buying a new power brick for the netbook (I'd brought one; I just didn't realize that it was still set up for Colleen's Dell), I got a call from the mortgage broker, Kathryn, who said that the deal was still on. She'd explained to Dave that, although Disney had terminated my contract early, I was still employed by the contract agency, KForce. SHE UNDERSTANDS!

Now, if only the underwriter understands. That's still a risk, and I'm not going to be comfortable until I have the keys in my hot little hands. It could make my last day at Disney rather interesting.

And we could still end up with no house, and a pile of new furniture in our living rooms. If that happens, Naomi wants to build. I think that could work, but only if we can figure out ways to cut the price drastically; a first cut put the construction costs at around $700K, which is about twice what I'd feel comfortable with.

This old spectacled bear is, I'm afraid, also a skeptical bear.

But, after spending much of Friday afternoon chasing down pay stubs and bank statements and emailing them to Kathryn, I felt much more relaxed. Margaritas, prime rib, and hugs from friends completed the process, and it looks like I'll actually be able to enjoy the con.

Did I mention that I'm at Consonance this weekend? I apparently hadn't mentioned it before, leading to several people wondering whether we'd show up this year. There were times when I had my doubts.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (poly-heart)

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

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

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

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

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

A lot to be thankful for. It's been a while.

  • HOUSE! We're buying a house!! We found the right house!!! Burble.
  • Having an income and credit score that made it possible to put in an offer and get it accepted. My credit score just squeaked by; things have gotten a lot more difficult since the days of sub-prime mortgages and easy money. Not complaining.
  • The multifunction peripheral at work, and especially its fax function. I am not grateful for the paperwork, only for its ultimate goal and the ability to handle the stuff expeditiously.
  • Colleen.
  • My sister and soon-to-be-housemate, the amazing [personal profile] pocketnaomi. Who found THAT house, made arrangements, greased skids, made molehills out of mountains, and generally made things happen.
  • My health, and the ability to continue coping when it breaks down somewhat.
  • The git distributed version control system, which made it possible to work even in the absence of a VPN connection.
  • Gainful employment.
  • The filk community, and most recently Conflikt.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Seriously, I know damned well that 1920x1080 is the only resolution I'm likely to stick to this year. But here's my wish list anyway. You can laugh at me a year from now, while I try to run away and hide.

So, this year, I'd like to

  • lose some weight. Like that's ever worked. OK, it worked in 1969.
  • get in touch with the people I know are up here -- filkers, fans, relatives... Yeah, I'm real good at that.
  • do some recording. Because I have so much more free time than I did over the summer when I was out of work.
  • do some writing. Songs, articles on software, software... I think I have a list here.
  • Um... about that to-do list.
    349 undone, 279 in to.do, 70 in wibnif.do @ Tue Jan 1 12:57:35 PST 2013
    Yeah. That.

... so anyway, that's the plan. What could possibly go wrong?

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

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Well, not quite. I've had worse years, but losing my job of 19 years, turning 65 (the week after getting my notice), moving to Washington (at my own expense), and job-hunting for six months all added to my stress level. Let's just say "exciting".

After a couple of gigs early in the year, Lookingglass Folk hasn't done much this year, and I haven't done much except for a couple of concerts. No writing to speak of except for my sporadic blog updates. No programming to speak of outside of work. No recording at all.

My exercise has gone from almost-daily 2-3 mile walks to maybe 20 minutes a couple of times a week, and I've gained a few pounds, though not as much as I thought.

My dysthymia seems to be back, and I'm as unsocial as ever. This does not help when one is trying to make contacts and friends in a new city.

Enough of that.

I'm also living much closer to my older daughter, Chaos, and my sister of choice, Naomi. I can commute by bus, to a job where I'm learning a lot. My health is pretty good, and Colleen's is holding up -- she's walking a little more, though only a little. I've become a Wicked Landlord(TM).

Hopefully 2013 will be less exciting.

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

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

Interesting to think about, anyway.

mdlbear: (river)

There aren't too many mileposts here by the river, but I let one of the few slip by last Sunday without noting it. I was busy, and couldn't get to the system that I do all my posting from. (Have to fix that, but that's another project.)

Anyway, I made my first posts on LJ on June 10th, 2002.

It's been a long, strange trip.

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since I recently prompted a wonderful poem: "The Bear Spectacle", in ysabetwordsmith's recent Poetry Fishbowl!, this seems like a good time to post about The Bears.

The Bears are a suite of two songs: my semi-autobiographical "A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear", and Naomi Rivkis's wonderful parody of it, "A Tribute to the Middle-Aged Bear". We (or I, if I'm performing solo) usually do them together. You sort of have to do that with the really good parodies, otherwise lines have a tendency to leak from one to the other, and either hilarity or havoc ensues.

The best (ok, only) recording of the two of them together is part of my Fan GOH concert at Baycon 2010.

The Middle-Sized Bear is one of my favorite characters in Cordwainer Smith's story, Mark Elf. You'll find out all about him in the last section, titled "Conversation with the Middle-Sized Bear". He formed part of my "Mandelbear" persona on the old newsgroup alt.callahans, but it was only a few years ago that I discovered that he was also a large part of my personality as well.

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

I'd like a rewind to, um, New Year's Day. Last year. Thanks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe not.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

mdlbear: (river)

I'm going to try to keep this post pretty close to the surface; the next one downstream may cut a little deeper. You've been warned.

If you're my friend, and I do something wrong, or stupid, or hurtful, I really hope you'll be a good enough friend to tell me about it. If I make excuses, or try to feed you a line of bullshit, I hope you'll call me on it. I need you to call me on it -- that's how I learn.

I'm not all that good at being human. I make a lot of mistakes; and miss a lot of cues that might be obvious to someone more sensitive, and sometimes I hurt people without intending to. If you ignore it, or let me brush it off with an offhand apology, I'm likely to do it again.

My parents always told me that "just apologizing isn't enough."

Sure, I'll apologize, and try to repair the damage I caused. Sometimes it's not repairable, which makes me sad. I'll probably offer either an excuse, or an explanation. Don't let me get away with excuses.

I realize this is a difficult concept for some people, maybe even most people, but there's a big difference between an excuse and an explanation. An excuse involves putting the blame on somebody or something else. "The dog ate my homework." "He just came out of nowhere and rear-ended me." "I didn't mean to, I just sort of blew up."

An explanation is an attempt to identify something that I can do differently next time. "I put my homework where the dog could reach it." "I wasn't paying attention to the side streets; I must have been thinking about something else." "I seem to lose control when I get angry, and say things I don't really mean." See the difference?

My Dad was a scientist, and I'm a computer programmer. I know it deep in my bones -- I can't bullshit nature. I can't sweet-talk a computer. There's always an explanation, even if I don't know how to find it. People are more difficult, and I'm more difficult still. It's really easy for me to lie to myself. Or rather not lie, exactly, but to gloss over what really happened because knowing the truth, the reality, would make me uncomfortable.

A friend is, often, someone who's willing to point out uncomfortable truths. Someone who's willing to stand behind me and push me to own up to my mistakes, to stand beside me and hold my hand when I do.

If you see me doing something wrong, call me on it.

mdlbear: (river)

It's a day late, but... I'm thankful for:

  • Friends who care about me enough to call me on my bullshit.
  • Being willing to listen, and fix my mistakes if possible, when they do.
  • The scientific method, which is basically exactly that.
  • Naomi and Colleen, who have been just that kind of friend when I needed it, more times than I like to think.
  • Having been turned down by someone I'm now glad not to have gotten more deeply involved with.
mdlbear: (river)

Um... right. You can tell it was a productive day from the small number of notes? Something like that.

Because, aside from not taking a walk due to working through lunchtime, it was a very productive day. I got a couple of overdue bills paid, practiced a couple of songs, blew through my JIRA task list at work, helped the coworker who's integrating audio into the client, and did some long-delayed web stuff in the evening.

I also spent the entire evening in the living room with Colleen working on Cygnus -- it's a real pleasure to have a netbook that has a full-sized keyboard with good (i.e., IBM-like) key feel.

I finally folded up at 11:30. DO NOT LIKE this "need to get more sleep" thing. I know, self-care and all that. It still sucks.

I don't know what it was about those two bills. They're from Kaiser, because my employer switched our plan from a from the HMO plan we've had since forever, to one that sends me two totally incomprehensible bills every month. And because I tend to put off anything that smells of paperwork. Which reminds me to get my W2 out of my bag.

Anyway, that's done.

I also don't know what it is about some of my coworkers. I mean, R is an experienced contractor, and can't be all that much younger than I am. But he's a Mac expert, uncomfortable with the command line, and shows an appalling ignorance of such Unix fundamentals as processes and PTYs. I've seen this before -- S back at my previous gig had similar problems.

I really don't like to think of myself as smarter than most people -- when you're one of a handful of researchers that doesn't have a PhD it's hard to hang on to that illusion -- but I probably do have a much broader range of experience than most. Starting in the days of vacuum tubes and Hollerith cards can do that, I guess.

One link, to Whose site is it anyway? | Files That Last. Worth a read if you have someone else maintaining your website; my employer ran afoul of this last year.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (river)

It was a good day, though slightly strange, and very much a day "on the River".

Most of my mindspace was taken up with working on another "difficult" email. The word is in quotes not because it wasn't, but because that's really an understatement. But she asked what it would take, for the sake of our old friendship. N and I had to give it all we had, and we did.

The day was well-spend indeed, but draining. As you may know, I'm not very good at "feeling" my emotions; I mostly have to go by the physical symptoms. I can tell you that I felt a heck of a lot more exhausted after hitting the "send" key than I did after my 3-mile walk in the afternoon. (It was perfect walking weather, BTW.)

I finished the day by making crab lasagne for [personal profile] chaoswolf's last dinner at home. A pound of crabmeat, a box and a half of rice noodles, a quart and a half of cottage cheese, two pounds of grated cheese, and a quart and a half of bechamel. Go me! (Next time I'll go back to ricotta, though; the cottage cheese is a little too moist.)

Only one link: Public Domain Day 2012: Five things we can do in the US. It celebrates the works entering the public domain this year. But not in the US, thanks to the latest extension our idiot congress passed. Opposite of progress.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (river)

I get attached to things. Sometimes I hold on to them even after they're worn out. I have a dozen boxes of old T-shirts, big stacks of old bags and backpacks, a shelf of manuals for dead programming languages and ancient computers I was fond of once. I'm getting a little better about letting go of the things that are really broken, though I still keep many things that I think -- or hope -- might be repairable.

It's especially sad when what's broken is a friendship.

mdlbear: (river)

Right now I just sort of feel like crawling into a hole and curling up in a ball. Not depressed, I don't think, and it doesn't feel much like sensory overload. But something seems to be more than I can handle, even if I have no idea what it is.

It's true that I've been getting things wrong, and not getting things done, for the last couple of weeks. Maybe it's all just gotten together and hit me all at once.

OK, depressed. Still don't know why.

mdlbear: (river)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A good day? Mostly. I went up to the Menlo Park office for a meeting, and took my walk to and around the little artificial pond in the nearby park. I was struck by how many phone conversations I recalled while passing the place where I'd had them. Apparently location is a powerful trigger for me. (Now I'm finding that just thinking about the places brings back more memories. Eeep!)

I spent some time comparing netbooks -- I am now thinking of a Thinkpad X120e. The HP Pavilion dm1z has gotten better reviews, but I really want the pointing stick and middle mouse button.

I also spent some time researching laryngopharyngeal reflux (again). After rejecting the idea of using omeprazole (which interferes with citalopram metabolism), I decided to try raising the head of my bed about 10". This appears to have worked -- I woke up able to breathe and without having to constantly clear my throat. So... YAY!

Another patent with my name on it has issued. I have very mixed feelings about this: there's a sense of accomplishment, but I really hate the idea of software patents (which this is, like most of mine). I have 24 now.

A long phone call from a lonely Wolfling -- she's depressed, and I don't know how to help. I don't know what to call that feeling, but it hurts. Empathy? Maybe that's why I kept my feelings buried for so long, and so deep that I didn't know I had them.

A couple of good links: Ysabetwordsmith's Asexual Awareness Week Wrapup, Liralen on the difference between religion and faith (among other things). As a total outsider to religion, I've mostly seen its bad side; "faith" in particular has always baffled me.

Hmm. This one seems to have gone a little deeper than usual. Have to do more of that.

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

Over Labor Day weekend I moved from a software development job at Ricoh eWriter Solutions, back to R&D at Ricoh Innovations. The preceeding Wednesday morning, as part of my weekly status report, I sent around email pointing to a farewell document, When I Go - Steve Savitzky's Farewell To EWS.

The title was a blatant excuse to embed this video of Dave Carter's When I Go, performed by Pete & Maura Kennedy on YouTube. Go watch and listen. I'll wait.

I love that song. Talk about New Song Energy -- of course I tracked down the chords, downloaded it, and learned it. I earwormed it for nearly a month.

Here are Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer performing it live. It wasn't my first whirlwind romance with a Dave Carter song -- I vividly recall practicing "Gentle Arms of Eden" on Naomi's bed, about an hour and a half before we first performed it in pubic, at Consonance 2009. Why don't I have the audio for that one up? Hmm.

Anyway, that's my Second Songs for Saturday. Enjoy.

mdlbear: (river)

So here we are, in the middle of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. I first became aware of this two years ago, and kept putting off posting. I'm not, after all, disabled -- you wouldn't know to look at me that I have multiple chronic illnesses. That I'm limited. Most of my limits aren't physical, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.

"Out of sight, out of mind"? Not so much.

So let's get the obvious physical problems out of the way first. The biggest one is sleep apnea. Hence the "facehugger" userpic -- I sleep with a CPAP. With it, I can get a halfway-decent night's sleep. Without it, I snore loudly, wake up tired, and have a greatly increased risk of heart attack or stroke. I like my facehugger, even though it's annoying and takes up a lot of space in my carry-on luggage. I worry about the power going out, though. (Yes, I have a UPS for it. Thanks for asking.)

The other one is Celiac disease. Also known as "gluten sensitivity". "People with milder coeliac disease may have symptoms that are much more subtle and occur in other organs rather than the bowel itself. It is also possible to have coeliac disease without any symptoms whatsoever. Many adults with subtle disease only have fatigue or anaemia." Yeah. That.

If I eat wheat, rye, or barley I only get a little bit of intestinal pain. What I get is mostly more depression.

One of the two mental illnesses I have is called dysthymia. It's not the same as major depression -- you can think of it as chronic, minor depression. With emphasis on the chronic part. I literally can't remember when it started. Can't remember when feeling "ok" didn't mean feeling noticably better than usual. I do remember reading a post where someone talked about "reaching out for joy" and not having any idea what she was talking about. I still don't, really.

I'm taking an antidepressant now, and it's worth the side effects, but it's not a "cure" -- all it does is move my baseline up a little, so that "ok" is normal and "good" isn't too unusual.

The other thing the antidepressant does for me is give me a little more "cope". I can usually deal with setbacks and stress without falling apart or becoming paralyzed and unable to function. Usually.

The other one is alexithymia. That's the one that's really hard for me to describe, because what it means is that I find my emotions hard for me to describe. Usually, they're hard for me even to notice. I can sometimes notice that I'm happy if I can catch myself smiling. If I'm shaking, it may take me hours -- or days -- to figure out where I was because I was afraid, angry, relieved, happy, or just hungry.

Maybe it ties in with the disthymia -- it's probably hard to learn to recognize emotions when your range mostly goes between "blah" to "ok". Maybe it ties in with being easily overloaded, so that I learned to block emotions rather than being overwhelmed by them. I'm still working on it.

So... there you have it. Nothing that rates me a good parking spot, or a reserved seat on the bus. I could walk for five miles any time I wanted to. But I don't usually want to -- that's how disthymia limits me. Walking feels "good" for some definition of the word, but I don't know that definition, so I don't have a good way to remember how it makes me feel. That's how alexithymia limits me. I could go on.

But I won't. I think I'll stop here. I'd go have a beer, but it's made from barley.

mdlbear: (spoiler)

Michael S. Hart invented the eBook in 1971, and founded Project Gutenberg. He died on Tuesday, of a heart attack. He was only five days older than me.

Official obit: Michael S. Hart - Gutenberg

Obits at Boing Boing and Ars Technica.

mdlbear: (river)

It's been a long, strange trip. It still is. The journey started three and a half years ago on livejournal, with this post and this song.

It's been quite a while since I was posting regularly on this tag, since I was looking inside and trying to understand myself. Even longer since I really used the river as a metaphor for this journey, or posted about friendship or the care and feeding of geeks. I don't think I've ever gone back and read through the whole thing. I want to change that.

I'd like to make at least one River post every week. Realistically, that's not likely to happen, but it's what I want to aim at.

About two years ago I thought of collecting the best posts and turning them into a book, which would have been called A Year On the River. "Three and a Half Years..." doesn't have the same ring to it, somehow. (No fair mentioning Two Years Before the Mast.) But that's still a possible back-burner project, maybe with crowdfunding.

And less than a week ago, I won a custom icon from the amazing [personal profile] meeks. I love the way she captured the idea of reflecting, which I hadn't even thought about but was obviously there all along. I'm using it for the first time on this post, and hope that it indicates a turning-point both in my posting habits and in my journey of reflection and self-examination.

Come walk with me again? We're about to go around a bend.

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

Hmm. This is a hard one. I'd call it ok, except that I spent pretty much the entire work day saying goodbye to people, which is sad. I'll stop by occasionally, and try to keep in touch in other ways, but it'll still be difficult.

My last day at EWS coincided with with the monthly all-hands meeting, where each of the three of us who were going back to research got handed a fern for our new office, and a couple of bags of chocolate-covered nuts. And tasty food -- burritos from Chipotle -- augmented by platters of spring rolls and fruit brought in by (lab tech) Grace.

I got several hugs, which was nice. People said they'd enjoyed working with me, and mentioned Middle-Sized Bear qualities like gentleness -- that felt a little odd, but good. I gave out a few of my personal cards.

On the gripping hand, I seem to have gone back to being as bad as ever about making phone calls, and especially to friends. I Do Not Like this, and it makes me feel bad about myself, but I'm not sure what to do about it. It's weird, because I like talking to people, but I don't want to interrupt anything more important (of course, anything must be more important than talking to me, right?). *sighs*

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

A pretty good day. I finished the last of my assigned JIRA (issue tracker) tasks at work, and got most of my office packed -- 9 boxes worth. Of course, several of those were never actually unpacked from the last move.

And I won a custom icon from [personal profile] meeks in her weekly drawing! How cool is that?

I had a comparatively brief session with (therapist) Dr. Rogers in the morning, where I realized that I don't seem to have any concerns that need therapy right now. I do need people to talk with who can help me explore myself (the mind of a Middle-Sized Bear is a strange and often confusing place) and how I interact with other people (rather clumsily), but that's what friends and Friends Lists are for. Expect more River posts again.

The links for the day are why pseudonymity matters (which links to the My Name Is Me project), and a wonderful obituary for Paul Metz.

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

Some folks at work threw us a going-away lunch yesterday. Felt pretty weird. (I'm not leaving Ricoh, just moving from one subsidiary back to another.) I'll miss the people at EWS, and I've started writing up an exit report (called "When I Go").

I still have one more coding project left, which I have been neglecting.

The YD is off with her UBF until tomorrow evening. I'm cooking. The house feels a bit weird without the kid, but I could get used to it. Easily.

At home, I think my one accomplishment was figuring out how to attach an otherwise-useless and badly-designed plastic shelf to one side of my desk. It's fragile and awkward, but if it breaks I won't be upset at all, just replace it with something more permanent.

I got sleepy around 10pm, and crashed early.

Quite a few good links in the notes.

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

An interesting day. I took the van back to the Ford dealer to have the dead headlight (which they'd missed last week at the 60K-mile service) replaced, and showed how the assembly (they called it a "headlight bucket") appeared to be loose, as Callie noticed over the weekend.

It came right out. Not attached at all. The bulb wasn't burned out -- the leads were broken off at the connector.

When they called back, they said a new bucket would be a little under $500 with the 15% discount for my trouble. And that there had been some body damage in that area. WTF? We never had any body damage on the right front... Of course, the dealer we bought the van from (used) is no longer in business, and that was over 5 years ago in any case.

So... grump.

I spent much of my lunch hour (and some time in the morning) continuing to work on the values and goal-setting section of The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook; I definitely want to do more writing of that sort.

While waiting for my "Avoid Avoiding" group to start, a woman I didn't know sat down across from me in the waiting room and asked if she could tell me her problem. "I don't like myself much," she said. "Can you tell me how to like myself more?" WTF? Does my Middle-Sized Bear aspect really show that much? Weird.

After the usual disclaimer, I told her she should be a friend to herself. Treat herself like a friend, talk to herself the way a friend would. Encourage herself and praise herself for her accomplishments. Told her about How to Be Your Own Best Friend, which I read years ago. I hope it helped. I think it did.

So... interesting. Not all in the Chinese sense, but...

Only one link, to NYTimes.com on decision fatigue. So will-power is proportional to your brain's glucose level, and making decisions uses energy and lowers it. Helps explain why dieting is so hard, doesn't it?

Ame: 21.

Aug. 4th, 2011 09:57 pm
mdlbear: (rose)

A man walks into a bar; a bearded, bespectacled geek in his mid-60s; and puts a pair of dollar coins on the bar. This being Callahan's, he is shadowed by a blueish aura, a fractal that looks vaguely like an alien bear with a heart-shaped head and branching antennae. It suits him.

"The usual Genever for me, Mike, and..." he glances at the young woman beside him, her arm around his waist. "Cranberry martini for you, I think?" She nods shyly. "A little light on the gin".

She is an inch or so taller, but clearly his daughter, with dark, slightly wavy hair like his must have been forty years ago, the same nose and face... She has her mother's eyes, though: grey like the sky just before sunrise, with golden highlights. Her skin, also, is like her mother's, pale with a sprinkle of freckles. Very pale.

"I don't have to ask, do I?" the bartender says gently. "And I'm pretty sure they don't have ID where you come from. But I know you turned 21 today -- your drinks are on the house." The man smiles and leaves the coin on the bar -- he knows he'll be wanting another drink tonight.

She is slightly transparent, and vanishes like the Bear's aura when they pass briefly under the light that shows only reality. He deftly takes her glass and hands it back on the other side. They sit for a while, sip their drinks, and chat; more like old friends with years of catching up to do than a father and daughter.

Finally she nods, and they walk over to the chalk line in front of the fireplace, where they stand with her left hand on his shoulder, his arm around her waist.

"Friends," the Bear says, "Allow me to introduce my daughter, Amethyst Rose. She was stillborn twenty-one years ago today, and we've only recently started to get re-acquainted. She prefers to be called Ame now."

He looks at her with what he hopes is an encouraging smile. She laughs lightly. "Silly Daddy. I don't know how often I'll get here; it's a long trip. But I'm glad I'm here."

They raise their mostly-empty glasses. "To coming out!" she says, and looks sternly at him. "Don't say it!"

"To Ame!" They throw their glasses into the fireplace, where they crash and mingle their shards in a cascade of blue flame.

They hug tightly, until she finally lets go and says, "I guess I'd better be going."

"Keep in touch?"

"Of course, silly! You know how to reach me." She turns and walks toward an X-window on the wall.

It shows a twilit clearing among tall trees made of stone; a single rosebush with jade leaves, obsidian thorns, and a single purple blossom stands near the far left edge. She walks through it and the surface ripples like water. The blossom opens as she walks past it into the darkness.

The man stares after her for a moment, blinks, and goes back to the bar. "I think I could use that second drink now," he says.

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

Didn't do much yesterday, beyond a few conversations and some late-afternoon coding. Oh, and helping someone in marketing with their email migration, which as you'll remember is three clicks in your browser to generate the .tgz file, and another three plus a file select to import it into the other server.

Apparently $CLUELESS_IT_PERSON doesn't read her email -- she was over in our building this afternoon and greeted me in a friendly manner as if nothing had happened. As if she'd never forwarded my password to half a dozen people, and I'd never written a politely insulting reply to it. New dimensions of cluelessness?

I also avoid conflict -- I didn't mention the incident. I'll keep it to email; it's easier to and edit. Or maybe it's just that she reminds me of my older daughter.

...And some additional thoughts about social anxiety, and specifically wondering whether a group would be useful. I'm still waffling about whether I actually have social anxiety -- I don't really feel all that anxious in most social situations these days, but that may be mainly because I'm so good at avoiding or deflecting actual interaction. Something else to worry think about.

Good news! All of Tempered Glass will be at Worldcon! Starting sometime mid-afternoon on Wednesday, hopefully.

Some links, including an awesome (virtual) party at [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar's place, which may actually still be going on. That's the nice thing about virtual parties.

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