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

After last week on call, almost anything was bound to be an improvement. But my oncall ended at 11am Monday; Sunday night and Monday morning managed to cram in nearly as many pages as any two-day period the preceeding week. By Monday at 11 I was a total wreck. (While I was deep in work on one or two other tickets, the two daytime SEV2's timed out and paged me at 10:30. At which point $BOSS came by. I was almost totally nonverbal at that point - it was all I could do to get out a couple of words to indicate that I was working on it.)

Monday afternoon was predictably unproductive. Since I had two medical appointments on Tuesday I had already planned on taking the day as vacation. I needed it. I was still pretty stressed on Wednesday; almost anything could trigger an immediate adrenaline reaction, and I was snappish and probably no fun at all to be around.

Thank the gods for gin, hot baths, and cats.

It took me all day Wednesday and most of Thursday to get my commits from the week before rebased on top of the stuff S had pushed in the mean time. I finally did make some actual forward progress on Friday, and finally got the workflow to go through the final stage that it had been hanging up on before. (Intentionally vague and generic, I know.)

Even with (and to some extent because of) ten workspaces and who knows how many browser tabs, I still wasn't able to keep things organized. I kept forgetting which tickets went where and what I had done on them, and found several of them open in multiple places. No surprise there.


Have I mentioned dishes? We have dishes. Yesterday around dinner time the kids (Kat and Alex, not g and j) brought down roughly a full dishwasher load from their room. I did one load last night, put one in this morning, and there will be at least another by nightfall.

I finally brought up the rack that I'd had the dishes stacked on in the Starport, and rearranged the shelving to put the corelle conveniently on the lower shelf. I'm tempted to put most of the blue dishes away where they won't get used; one of the problems seems to be that nobody (else) notices that dishes have to be done until they can't find a clean one.

I think I cooked three or four meals this week.


Writing and music. Um... (Posted by accident before I could fill in this part. TL;DR no music to speak of -- ripping CDs doesn't count. Broke 1000 words of writing, so technically met the 500-words-twice-a-week goal, but spread over three days. I'll take it anyway.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's been a long month this week.

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

Almost no writing this week, even counting LJ posts; I have, however, been spending time catching up with home software/ops-related tasks, so I'm going to count that as writing time, if not word count. A little more productive at work than two weeks ago, although I wasted a lot of time getting back to where I had been before a rebase.

Apart from that, though, things are going better at work than I expected them to. I'm getting things done at home, too -- notably, working with Glenn to bring Naomi's enormous new chair downstairs. Tight fit, but we did it. (It's either a huge chair or a smallish loveseat. Either way, it's gorgeous but at 32" just barely fit through the doors.)

Went out for sushi with Colleen, Rabbit, and Chaos, in honor of Chaos's 31st birthday. I'm too young to have a daughter in her thirties, right? Oh. Right.

The high point of the week, though, was going to the West Seattle Summerfest yesterday with Colleen and Naomi. Glenn on the way there, though he left early. Rather than try to load everyone into the van, hassle with parking, and load and unload the scooter, I simply made sure both scooters' batteries were charged, and we st/rolled. Fun.

There was a tiny house on display, from Seattle Tiny Homes -- the bathroom was awesome, with a walk-in tub, washer, and wall-mounted dryer. All in about 5x8 feet. We'll definitely be working with those people. Also with the solar power people. And in the more immediate future, Naomi found a builder that we might use for the basement water-damage repair.

We also bought some fun art prints. And Naomi insisted that I buy a hat, which she said fits me the way my leather jacket does; I can't say she's wrong about that. It's the 8-section style in tweed, but every section is a subtly different color and weave. Kind of awesome, actually.

I told N on the way back that it was the most fun I'd had in a long time; she said that was good, but it's unfortunate that I haven't been having more fun lately. Not sure what to do about that. I procrastinate, so I have a strong tendency to prioritize the more important things I'm not doing over the fun things I'm not doing. And figuring out what "fun" means is another problem -- I also have a tendency to dread doing things, especially new things, but to enjoy them after I get pushed into doing them. I think yesterday's expedition might have been an exception.

Westercon was not an exception -- I hadn't really expected to go, and expected it to be stressful. I enjoyed giving my concert, but hadn't expected to be doing that, either -- I only found out about it after I'd committed to going.

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also, xkcd: My Friend Catherine.

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

Kind of a rough week. My main accomplishments, such as they were, were a result of puttering around the house: finishing the third box of shredding from the garage, clearing out a couple of boxes from the cubhouse (and finding quite a lot of stuff that I'd been looking for), things like that. Progress at work, but not as much as I would have liked. Stress is not conducive to anything that requires concentration.

More stress than I would have liked, too, though things have gotten a lot better since Monday. I think I've managed to noodle on the guitar for at least a few minutes every day -- it seems to help.

QOTD: As affirmations go, "I have not yet failed" is probably never gonna compete with "All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well" but some days it's the one that really resonates. -- Ursula Vernon. Maybe quote of the year.

Along the way I've upgraded a couple of laptops, and (I hope!) finished tweaking my xmonad window manager configuration. Most laptops in the house are now running Ubuntu 16.04; a few are still on 15.10. Upgrading laptops and tweaking config files isn't really productive, but it's somehow comforting and gives the illusion of productivity.

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

Monday I got my new work laptop,and spent altogether too much time (much of 2 days, spread over 3) configuring it thanks mainly to an obscure bug in my .bashrc file.

It seems that, in Ubuntu 14.04, the wrapper script that starts sessions for lightdm -- or maybe just terminal sessions -- is written in bash (rather than the safer and more usual sh), so it naturally sources the user's .bashrc file on startup. This is usually a good thing, since the user's environment ends up being configured the way they like it. When a terminal emulator like xterm or gnome-terminal starts up, it uses whatever is in the $SHELL environment variable to create its shell. This fails when one has the seemingly-innocuous like "SHELL=$0" in one's .bashrc file.

This normally does exactly the right thing, because when you start a program -- and in particular a shell -- $0 is bound to the path that was used to start the program, and all is well. Unfortunately, in 14.04, the wrapper script is started in an odd way, with $0 bound to "bash" instead of to "/bin/bash". So terminals don't start, because they can't find the shell. What hurts is that the line was put in to fix a similar bug in RedHat, where shells were getting started by Gnome with $SHELL set wrong.

Anyway, by mid-week my job-related anxiety level was sky-high, and has remained that way.

Most of what I've been doing around the house counts as puttering.

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

So.... not too bad of a week. Busy, which is good. I gave a presentation at work on Friday; it appears to have come across well despite not being nearly as smooth -- or as well-prepared -- as I would have liked. There is, of course, a strong connection between those two: I did most of the work Sunday and Monday. Still, ...

I spent most of my spare time configuring xmonad and studying Haskell. Haskell is a pure functional programming language, with a somewhat peculiar syntax. Xmonad is a lightweight tiling window manager, written in Haskell. I love it! Its use of screen space is extremely efficient, and you pretty much don't have to worry about how windows are arranged because it's automatic. (You get your choice from a wide range of possible arrangements. Configurable as heck.)

When I had to go back to gnome (while I was trying to figure out how to get a network manager applet) I found myself trying to tile windows with the mouse. Ugh. Now that it's in pretty good shape I'm going to put it on my work laptop. It's glorious on a laptop.

The latest Ubuntu upgrade seems to have done slightly weird things to html-helper-mode. At this point I'm inclined to go with the flow and stop trying to use hanging indent for paragraph tags. Not as pretty, but it actually works ok in HTML5, which gets back to human read/writeability from the strictness of XHTML.

Chaos and Rabbit are moving in. Hopefully by mid-day today. Notes & links, as usual )

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

I seem to have mostly switched to xmonad as my window manager. This is a Good Thing -- I seem to be better able to concentrate with a less-cluttered screen. (On the other hand, I'm less productive while I'm still hacking on the configuration. That may be less of a good thing. There are, unfortunately, still a few things that don't work well in it.

Meanwhile, despite being fairly productive at work, I have gotten behind on a couple of longer-term things -- namely taxes, and a presentation that I'm supposed to be giving next Friday. (It's more fun to read Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!.)

It was quite warm several days this week. That is not expected to last, but it does indicate that Spring may be on its way. Not to be confused with the Spring Framework. Which I am not happy with.

I am also starting to do yard work again, after neglecting it for almost all of last year. (Partly because depression; not clear on the rest.)

Sigh. Too many things have fallen by the wayside. I, perhaps, am one of them.

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

Productive? Got a fair amount done at work, and finally went ahead and bought a solid-state drive for (laptop) Cygnus. And spent almost all day yesterday installing and configuring it. In preparation for the upcoming Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release, I installed 15.10. Naturally, a lot of things broke. Boots faster, but what I was really looking for was the self-encrypting feature.

Interestingly, you can't even get into the BIOS or boot from an external drive without giving the disk password. That's good, if occasionally annoying.

In other news, the Younger Daughter has moved out of the house, and in with her boyfriend. That feels indescribably weird. With N's kids still in the house, it's not exactly an empty nest, but... weird.

We have an extra room upstairs now.

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

Mixed productive and un-, but I got a few things accomplished and I'm still employed, and that's something. A fairly eventful week. I've put off posting so as to get the end of the month in. Last week I delayed posting to get in the last day of Sasquan. I am not a stickler for unvarying periodicity.

Last Tuesday (that is, a week ago) our new washer/dryer was delivered. They didn't install it because I hadn't taken the stairlift carriages off the rails. (So I'm working from home today so that I can do that.) (...and have done that, as of posting time. I'm on my lunch break.)

My server, nova, has been throwing errors on sda; I went and ordered a new drive. Sunday I also did some long-delayed system administration work, and got the intranet web server up. The main advantage of this is that now I can preview web pages that I'm working on without having to deploy them. Started working on the DNS configuration, but haven't gotten back to it.

Saturday there was a serious wind storm. Trees down, power out in many places (not at Rainbow's End, thankfully). Including many places on the way to the Tricky Pixie concert in Kenmore. We'd planned on getting dinner at Third Place Commons, but their power was off. We headed on up the road, and finally landed at the Bothell QFC, where we bought cold cuts. Had ourselves a picnic in the van while waiting for the doors to open.

The concert itself was spectacular.

My back, knees, etc. seem to be back in working order, which is to say that I have occasional twinges, but not enough to keep me from walking or lifting things. Managed Colleen's scooter just fine on Saturday.

Links in the notes. Best one is this wonderful spoof of a drug commercial [video].

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

Rough week, though not as bad as the week before. It scares me how close I am to the edge -- in several ways.

On the good side, the potential trainwreck at work has been averted (or possibly just postponed; too early to tell for sure). N has given me a firm talking-to (because she noticed that I respond best to a firm talking-to when I think I deserve it), assuring me that we're family even if I screw up completely, and that we'll find a way to make things work. On good days, I can believe it. Mom was also very encouraging when she called me on Sunday. My back is just about back to normal (which of course is dangerous, since I might be tempted to do too much and re-injure it).

On the bad side, the downstairs is still a disaster. We're going to have to take out a loan for the repairs, which are going to be extensive (and expensive) due to the long-standing water damage. Jeff, the guy from (water mitigation company)Servpro, was very helpful and informative. He arrived just as the plumber was leaving -- the plumber was not helpful.

On the gripping hand, the loan will mean that we won't have to worry too much about the construction budget. We decided to try to make the kitchen into a spare room. Can't be officially a bedroom because it doesn't have an alternative fire exit, but we don't use it as a kitchen.

I completely failed to notice that Tuesday was also Ame's birthday; I only remembered on Thursday when the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing reminded me. She would have beem 25 years old. (She assured me that it was ok, and besides, she has Curio now. Yes, some of my ghosts talk to me. It's comforting even though I know, intellectually, that it's all in my head. The grief is also in my head, so it works out.)

Links in the notes.

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

Bad week. Everything is falling apart at once.

The house has water damage in several places -- insurance will hopefully cover the immediate damage from the washer with the broken door seal, but the ancient drain pipes have also out, and the pre-existing damage *isn't* covered. And the upstairs washer is so full of wadded-up lint that it's not worth fixing; not clear whether a stuffy or something came apart in there, or it's just the same lint we've been gettig. Flawed design. The appliance guy didn't help, by not showing up TWICE, and not telling us about the problem on either of his two previous visits.

We brought Curio's ashes home yesterday. He's now sitting on the top shelf of the (appropriately enough) curio cabinet -- he can finally stay there as long as he wants. They also gave us a little clay tablet with his pawprints, and his name stamped into it. That's in the cabinet with his collar and the little packet of his fur, under the watchful eyes of the ceramic flying pig.

I'm secondary oncall at work this week (my first time; I somehow managed to avoid it so far), and feel like I've been falling farther behind every day despite working flat-out. I feel like I'm failing.

Not to mention the fact that I stupidly locked up my work laptop by typing my home machine's password at it, too many times, before I'd finished my coffee this morning. Because I stupidly set my screen background to the same picture of Curio as my home computer. I'm going to have to go in and get my account unlocked. (Added: the desktop worked -- apparently only the laptop was locked, because it wasn't on the VPN at the time -- so I was able to do the deployment I had scheduled, which went encouragingly smoothly; I'll get the lappy dealt with when I go in tomorrow morning.)

The fact that my psych meds were ineffective until we changed them a month ago didn't help, either. I was walking around in a fog of depression and apathy.

I'm burned out. I long to retire -- it would also help a lot to have somebody at home -- but don't see how I can afford to at this point. It will be next to impossible to get a new job at my age, no matter how much I need one, but I'm working on it, because $A is killing me.

The only good news is that my back seems to be pretty much back to normal, though I still have to be careful. And that, after I spoke with my TPM, I'm going to get some help with my late project. Things might not be as bleak as I feel. Might. Dinner and a talk with my Mom helped, too.

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

L o n g  week. Nevertheless, it feels as though a whole lot of things didn't get done. A lot of things did, though.

Monday after work we went up to Mukilteo for Kat's 30th birthday dinner at the local Mongolian Grill. Um... does that mean my daughter is 30 years old? Eeeep! Also the drain pump on the upstairs washer died. Again.

Tuesday I had an appointment with the therapist at UW Shoreline Clinic. Possibly helpful. Now reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Also took Colleen to a dentist appointment in the afternoon.

I didn't get around to calling the repair place about the washer until Wednesday.

Thursday G came home from the hospital. I worked from home. We'd been planning a celebratory dinner, but everybody was just too wiped out, so we ordered pizza.

Friday the repair guy came out and made the obvious diagnosis, but didn't have a new pump on the truck. :P I went out to Trader Joe's and bought a pile of steaks for the delayed celebratory dinner.

Yesterday I was mostly a vegetable. Except for two loads of laundry (and four drier loads) -- thank goodness for the downstairs laundry room -- making dinner, a load of dishes, a not-entirely-successful PT session with G, ...

OK, I guess I've been doing things. I haven't been all that productive at work, though, which is a potential problem. I think I'm suffering from the fact that $WORK, like most workplaces these days, is explicitly set up only for extroverts. Not only is it open seating, without even cubicles, but you can't get anything done at all without interacting with other teams, and asking for help frequently. No wonder I seem to be burned out. I just hope I can make it to the end of the year, when my next batch of stock vests.

Oh, did I mention the back pain? Back pain. Left QL muscle.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

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

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

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

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

Links and more in the notes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links in the notes.

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

A couple of dizzy spells, which felt a lot like a return of the orthostatic hypotension I used to get rather frequently before I changed my blood pressure meds, only more severe. Turns out that they could be exactly that, as a side effect of cutting down on my SSRI antidepressant.

Worked from home Friday and half of Thursday due to our office move. Spent Monday (and will probably spend most of today) setting up my desktop box, whose hard drive didn't survive the move. :P Grumble. Only things I'll actually be losing are a couple of little scripts in ~/bin, my .zshrc customizations, and my browser config. Everything else is in git.

Stupidly tried to upgrade the OS on my laptop. Stupid, because it left it practically unusable. A clean reinstall of 14.04 fared better, but there are still some oddities here and there.

Working from home today, too, because I'll be waiting for the washer to get repaired. :P It broke on Saturday. The backup drive on Nova has apparently been broken for a *long* time -- read is ok, but write fails. This may be a timing thing, but switching it from USB to eSATA renumbers the drive letters, so that's kind of a non-starter.

On the positive side, the CenturyLink internet connection is on, and the new modem arrived yesterday. Hopefully today I'll be able to get our network configured -- it may be a simple matter of swapping two routers.

The new building is significantly farther away from the bus stop -- there are closer ones, but it's actually faster to walk than to wait for a transfer. So if it's not raining, I'll do that.

Kind of a rough week. Oddly, the fact that I've cut back on my antidepressant doesn't seem to have made much difference that I can perceive, which says that either it wasn't doing much good, or I'm still bad at detecting my mood. Or both.

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

Well, ... not much done. Colleen thinks my recent depression is due to proximity to Dad's death-day -- but that was most of a month ago (Feb. 5 -- I always have to look it up). SAD may be a factor, too, but the days have been getting longer. So... damned if I know. I suspect my current antidepressant may be losing its effectiveness. Faster than the last one.

I've been busy at work, but nothing to write about.

So... yeah. Links, as usual, mostly from last Sunday.

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

Hey, it's Thursday! Today I'm thankful for...

  • A well-timed first paycheck, with welcome sign-on bonus. I'll have to save most of it; I'll probably need it for taxes.
  • Paid vacation.
  • Cats, and especially Curio-snuggles.
  • Kitties and bears and goats, oh my!
  • My younger daughter's new boyfriend. I love seeing her happy.
  • 38 wonderful years, as of tomorrow.
  • A party here on Saturday. See the Rainbow's End site for directions.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Last week we celebrated our first Christmas in Rainbow's End -- Colleen, me, and both of our kids; Naomi, Glenn, and her kids. The pile of presents under the tree was impressive. We never did find the ornaments, lights, and stockings from the apartment -- they must be there someplace. In a box.

Afterwards a succession of friends and relatives came by. Fun, and cozy. I set up the old TV in the Great Room (where the fireplace used to be), and put on a fireplace video (from YouTube, of course). Eventually we'll move the screen up to the master bedroom. The new one is a 38" Westinghouse that Office Max had on sale for an improbably low price the week before last.

It was also my first paid Christmas in Seattle -- I started work as a full-time employee at Amazon on Monday. This meant a week's worth of breaking in a new laptop (easy, since I don't use Windows for much of anything) and desktop (hard, because persuading Ubuntu to play nice with a guest VM turns out to be non-trivial, especially if, like me, you prefer focus-follows-mouse and raise-on-focus.

I also made reservations at The Herbfarm. And, last night, reservations at the Willows Lodge next door, since I finally figured out that I'd be in no shape to drive home after a 9-course dinner with wine. Pricey, but it looks wonderful. It's still cheaper than a weekend at a con, with hotel and meals. Which is kind of scary. Hmm.

We finished off the week with last night's concert at Wayward Coffeehouse -- Sunnie Larsen, Betsy Tinney, and Kaide Tinney. Fun! We went to the Indian restaurant next door for dinner.

... and some lovely cat cuddles with Curio when I was awake at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep. I am so pwned.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

My tax refund finally showed up in my account on Thursday. So I get to spend the holiday weekend paying the medical bills I've been ignoring for the last year or so. The refund is so large because I forgot to arrange for my 401K plan from Ricoh to be rolled over, so they sent me a check with about $40K taken out for tax withholding. I promptly rolled it over, so I get the withholding back.

Unfortunately, it's a one-time thing.

We had a going-away lunch on Friday for our group's summer intern. Nice kid, but unfortunately I was never able to get through to her about the importance of clean commits (amend and rebase are your friends) and running all the unit tests outside of Eclipse. I spent the afternoon cleaning up. Fortunately, it's the kind of mostly-mindless fiddly stuff that I enjoy every once in a while, and it wasn't nearly as bad a mess as it could have been.

I need to write an article about that, don't I?

Less than a week until Colleen comes home! The house isn't as ready as it should be, but it's getting there. I spent much of yesterday shopping, at Home Depot and Bed, Bath, & Beyond. And Staples -- we were almost out of printer paper.

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

Last weekend was Pride, and Naomi took me to the Capitol Hill block party on Saturday -- fun! I took Colleen's rolling walker, which has a seat. That meant that while N was talking to someone, I could sit down -- that made it all possible.

My leg is healing -- right now all the pain is coming from the muscles that are compensating for the damaged one. I'll probably continue using the cane for the rest of the week.

I spent most of Sunday on move-related stuff, clearing out the last of what was in the laundry room and fridge. Fortunately I had Chaos and N's ex to do the sorting and carrying. So, not as much fun as Pride would have been, but it needed doing.

At work, I moved back into the building I started out in. Meanwhile, I've gotten pretty good at using the cane to push the wheelchair access buttons.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

It's been a l o o o n g month. But we're moved in! Naomi's move was today; there's still a garage full of boxes, but the main part of it's done. And we have a *tub* upstairs. A *big* tub. We won't be needing a hot tub.

We also have bookshelves. The Elfa set that I installed in the "office corner" of the Great Room, the Elfa in the MBR and the YD's bedroom, and now (at last) Naomi's bookcases. They look rather empty at the moment, but that will change. We also have boxes of books. Two households worth.

There's even a low bookcase/credenza in front of my desk, so I now have someplace to put the printers. OK, my "desk" consists of a piece of plywood on sawhorses at the moment, but it's the principle of the thing.

In other news, Colleen has been off her feet for three weeks now. It looks like she's in for another four. :( At least Park West is a hell of a lot better than White Blossom, where she stayed in San Jose.

I'm finding it a little hard to believe that Rainbow's End is home now.

I should post more often, shouldn't I?

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

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

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

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

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

Other good links amongst the notes, as usual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links in the raw notes, as usual.

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

Colleen came home this evening, after 12 hours shy of a week in the hospital. It took until nearly 5pm to get her discharge paperwork, and then we had to stop off at Walgreen's to get her new prescriptions filled. Some high-powered anti-hypertension stuff in there: ACE inhibitor, beta blocker, calcium channel blocker, and a diuretic. Gleep.

But she's home, with normal blood pressure and with the PRES resolving, the UTI cleared up, and the pneumonia taken care of. Gleep gleep.

I can haz Colleen. That's the important thing.

... so I can start work at Amazon tomorrow. Tired bear is tired! Gleep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good grief! I need to do these more often. Geekfest! New laptop at work! Fire alarms from burnt toast.

Gotta say more about that last one. Somebody in our apartment building burned their toast, then opened the door to the hallway, setting off the building's fire alarm. I was already on the bus to work; the YD and Colleen dressed hastily and headed downstairs. Elevators don't work in fires. So Colleen parked her scooter and, with a neighbor's encouragement, walked down three flights of stairs to the door, and plunked herself down in a conveniently-placed half-barrel flowerpot.

Well, she is the Flowercat, after all. I'm extremely proud of her.

Probably ought to mention the new lappy, too. It's a top-of-the-line 15" macbook pro, huge, fast, and impressively quiet. What it doesn't have is a place to attach a lock cable, so I have to take it home every night. Which, in turn, means that I've had to work out a way of using it that doesn't involve having to re-establish all my multiple desktops worth of context every morning. The best thing I've hit on so far is to set up a virtual Linux box, and run it full-screen on my large monitor. Outlook and a small number of other things run on the mac screen.

We've also had guests in the apartment. We like having guests -- ping if you want to come over; it's usually possible, given a little notice.

And among other good news, my handicap parking violation was dismissed, since I was able to prove that I do have the placard. Stupid thing had fallen off the mirror.

And the Mayan calendar rolled over, with even less fuss than when the Gregorian one rolled over a dozen years ago.

A few annoyances, mostly health related.

I've been sleeping a lot more than I want to. Annoying. I've also been gaining weight; that may be due to my going off my diuretic. Also annoying. The ongoing dental work is also annoying. And expensive.

Some -- many? -- of the annoyances are self-inflicted. I've been applying so much of my attention to work that pretty much everything else has suffered. At least the need to clear space for guests and a tree has forced me to clear out some boxes.

Links and details in the notes, as usual. Some pretties, some very moving stuff... The usual. This is your mind on the web.

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

We had eight people for Thanksgiving -- the three residents, Naomi and her kids, and Chaos and her BF. I made the turkey; the kids and Chaos peeled the potatoes, the YD cut them up, I mashed them, and Colleen made the dressing. The YD had made pumpkin pie the night before. Yum. We have a fridge full of leftovers; a 20-lb bird, a huge bowl of dressing, and a 10-lb bag of potatoes will do that. That's ok.

We do have to remember that the turkey takes more like 10 minutes/lb when it's not stuffed. I used the meat thermometer and cooked it to 165; there were a cuple of spots that were just barely not umdercooked, but it was all tender and juicy.

Gratitude in the next post.

Having to squeeze 8 people into the living room made for a good excuse for cleaning. I put several boxes of books onto shelves, and stacked the remaining boxes (mostly not books) along the walls, with only a smallish tower left standing at the end near the desk. We set up our folding chairs, and it worked.

I worked 3 hours from home yesterday, which was enough to compensate for the time I took off Monday for a dentist appointment, but not for the two days' worth of unpaid vacation. :(

Working from home will get easier, now that I have the RSA software token working for VPN access. It uses Wine, but the app works, so I'm not complaining. VPN isn't working yet, because I neglected to bring home the how-to documents. but I'm hopeful.

I've been sleeping altogether more than I'd like, and not all that well. Thursday night especially -- I crashed a little before 10pm, woke up at 1:30 with my left knee painfully locked up and covered with sweat; went back to sleep and didn't get up until 9. Apparently I needed the sleep.

My Nexus 7 arrived Wednesday, and was waiting for me when I got home. Cool. A little heavy, and I'm not certain it's going to be readable enough to serve as a phone book, but definitely a slick piece of gear. I'm loving the soft keyboard, which combines click and swipe action; I'm going to install the backport on my phone.

That reminds me; I still have to upgrade the phone to Android 4.0 (ICS).

I really should spend the rest of the day sorting stacks of paper, some of which is important. Donwanna.

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

OK, a weekend short of two weeks. Too much to summarize. Elections happened. (You'll find a bit of analysis in the links.) Work happened. Looked in several of the local stores for a Nexus 7, and didn't find one. Guess I'll have to order online. Upgraded my netbook to Ubuntu 12.04, and Colleen's to 12.10 because .04 was a disaster. .10 isn't perfect, but at least it supports the Dell's stupid Poulsbo video. Sorta. Still doesn't suspend properly, which sucks.

There also seems to be something majorly wrong -- it can take up to 20 minutes to boot! I suspect disk, but it could be something even more serious. We discussed options; she may be better off with an Android tablet or chromebook. I forwarded her email to her gmail account, which pretty much takes care of the only reason for connecting to the in-house network. That's still flaky, probably because of interference.

Last weekend also included a massage from N, who is studying massage therapy at Cortiva. She's *good*, and I especially enjoyed having her talk through what she's doing and observing. It also started me off on a week's worth of link-chasing around anatomy, and especially muscles.

I ran out of my morning BP pills (lisinopril/HCTZ) on Sunday, so have been watching my blood pressure. Unfortunately I didn't get a couple of baseline readings last week. It's marginally pre-hypertensive now, but not worrisome; I'll see what happens in the next week. By which time the supply I mail-ordered from Kaiser should be here, assuming they ship to ex-members. One reason I'm not particularly worried is that I'm still on doxazosin for my BPH, and was noticing occasional dizziness on standing up. Which suggests that it may have been too much before.

Noteworthy quotes:

"Hmm... my panic attacks feed on fear, they lie all the time, they try to control me, they threaten me with dying and going to hell, and they don't care in the slightest for logic. They can be defeated by ridicule, because for all their bluster they aren't very bright, but they don't admit defeat; they just regroup with another dirty tactic and try again. Maybe they're Republicans?" --Nora Rivkis in Facebook

Colleen: I hate it when my Kindle freezes.

Me: Speak sharply to your little toy / And boot it when it freezes. / It only does it to annoy / Because it knows it teases.

All the horrible details, plus bonus links, in the notes below. Feel free to give them the tl;dr treatment. I need to start doing this more often.

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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.

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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)

A strange day. Expected, of course. I spent the morning, and a couple of hours in the afternoon, wrapping things up: final backups, setting up email and voice mail forwarding, writing my farewell letter, taking the boxes and my desktop computer out to the car... Then the two rounds of goodbyes, in Cupertino and Menlo Park. I got a nice card, and an expense check for some USB microphones I bought last year. (16-bit. Don't want them. I kept the cables and stands.) Abandoned a fair amount of nice hardware that I don't have room or an immediate use for.

Goodbyes bittersweet, of course. Got hugs from several long-time coworkers; one (our IP person) seemed on the verge of tears, though I could have been reading that wrong. Alexithymia and citalopram have their uses; I stayed upbeat if not always cheerful.

I realized, somewhere in the course of the day, that although I've never had to move a whole house before, I've moved my office four times over the last two years, and our two remodels counted for almost a move each. Still, it'll be rough -- there's a lot of attachment here.

I found out, going over one of the brochures I picked up at the Social Security office, that if I start collecting before my full retirement age (66, next year) my payments will get reduced to almost nothing because of the money I've already made this year. So I'll go back to plan A and fire up the Ricoh pension, which doesn't have that problem.

Added "master toolmaker" to my LinkedIn profile; I'm going to spend some time today tweaking my resume to reflect the fact that I consider myself a writer, craftsman and toolmaker rather than an engineer or scientist.

Of the items added to my file over the last three weeks, I appear to have flagged 55 as completed, and 40 unfinished. It's actually a little better than that, since some of those 40 are categories, and about a dozen are WIBNIfs. I'm reasonably satisfied with my progress.

A couple of links in the notes. I was looking for images of me on Google, and ran across this cartoon that mentions "Vampire Megabyte".

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

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

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

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

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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)

The weather was cool and overcast when I first went out, and everything was wet after a night and morning of rain. But everything was bright and sunny when I went to work. I ended up taking only a short walk, though, both because it was running late and I didn't really feel like going out. A nice little percolation pond, with birds. Geese, ducks, a pair of swans, a couple of black birds I couldn't identify, a kingfisher and a seagull.

In keeping with the household network's naming scheme, the router will probably be called when we finally move. No idea what the apartment will be called; we'll figure that out after we get there.

The grieving finally hit me late in the afternoon as I was starting to go through my email archives. It wasn't until I was going home that I actually identified it; that's doing pretty well, for me. Alexithymia has its uses, I guess: I don't seem to feel emotions as intensely as most people. It's going to be worse packing up the house and leaving the Bay Area, but I suppose I'll manage.

Earl Scruggs died. Other links in the notes.

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

Hmm. Doesn't look like much, does it? It was actually a very productive day at work, hustling to triage my files, document my directories, and set up a couple of servers before I go. No walk; the weather was cold and threatening, and it was in fact raining by the time I left.

I also played travel agent (I'm not a travel agent, but I play one on the web), extending my Norwescon trip to return on Wednesday 4/11 instead of Monday, so that I can look at apartments. And moving Naomi's visit to the first weekend in May to accommodate a suddenly-full April.

And my new social security card arrived, though it turned out I didn't need it immediately.

So... not a bad day. Busier than it looks from the notes. One link, on Feminist Characters in SF/F.

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

Hewitt, which manages my benefits, has a wretched website, but I finally got connected and, more importantly, found out why my claim for Colleen's lift chair hadn't gone through -- apparently the sales receipt, one of the three pages I faxed to them, didn't arrive. OK, I now know how to troubleshoot that one.

I also got in touch with the pension side, and made the decision to take my accrued vacation in a lump payment with my next (last) paycheck. That lets the pension start up a month earlier, in addition to helping me pay off some of the currently most obnoxious debt.

And, also on the work side of things, I finally got it together and joined LinkedIn. I can see how it could be time-consuming to get going there, but I've already found quite a few people from the DW/LJ and filk communities there.

In other links, here's a video of "Little Boxes" performed on... little boxes. Cute.

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

Yesterday was a going-away lunch for me and fellow laid-off coworker [ profile] rowanf, at Rowan's favorite Indian buffet. Yum. Apart from that, not much done at work.

I was able to request a password on the pension website, so that's progress. They were supposed to get in touch with me if they got my SS# straightened out, but I'm not counting on them not to screw that up too. On the whole, though, I'm not being as productive as I need to be.

My last day at work is a week from tomorrow. Ya think that has something to do with it?

Checkin at my Avoid Avoiding group was, of course, considerably longer than usual -- the last two weeks had been cancelled, for different reasons. But that took me from the Consonance concert, through the layoff, to my birthday. Um... yeah. Interesting times.

Colleen has been triaging cookbooks. She found dust rhinos lurking on the shelves behind them. Quite a few found new homes last night, but we still have huge piles. Colleen reads cookbooks like novels and, as with novels, not all of them are worth re-reading. We still have to do the fiction. And the books in the office. And the art books. And the boxes of my late mother-in-law's books in the attic. And the CDs, videos, and vinyl. And...

Eeep! Here's a review of Robots Around the House, but I don't see any that would help with moving. We need a packing bot.

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

So... back to "work". Quotes, because (as it has been for the last couple of weeks) it was more about leaving than getting anything new done. I have 19 years worth of files to triage, after all. Meanwhile, Colleen is triaging her cookbooks, which is an equally gargantuan job.

The next -- and quite possibly the last -- party at the Starport will be Saturday, June 9th. There's a move to Seattle in our near future. It's rather hard to wrap my head around.

I installed the new-to-the-house 1900x1200 monitor. Very nice, though it uses more power than its 1900x1080 predecessor, and has less contrast. On the plus side, along with the extra inch or so of vertical pixels, it stands taller so more of it is visible without having to look down.

Several links in the notes. Most of them are political :( If you prefer horror with entertainment value, try this gorgeous retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, using silhouettes.

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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.

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

Hmm. OK, I guess. My time at work was mostly spent on a combination of triage and archiving for my files. Including figuring out which parts are open source, and so can be put up as part of my portfolio.

I also brought home the Mac Mini and an enormous (160x1200 20" Dell) monitor that I may decide to take back on Monday because it's just too huge and power-hungry. It has a 20" usable area, but at least a 2-inch-wide bezel around it, making it about 25" overall. I also have a 1920x1200 monitor that's about half the weight, and not much bigger overall. That one's a keeper.

We went out to Red Lobster for Colleen's birthday dinner. Yum. The RL is in the same shopping center as a Ross; I picked up three assorted shirts, two with colors that should go well with my new silk sport coats.

I had a couple of painful twinges in my left side. Possibly a gallstone or kidney stone. Seems to be gone for the moment, but I don't trust my body any farther than I can throw it. Or something like that.

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

Not bad; I actually got in a very short walk, just before going home. It was still drizzling, but not very much at all; it was cool and moist and pleasant.

I spent the morning working on my resume and website; when I finally looked up it was 11:15, so I stayed home and had lunch with Colleen.

My "Avoid Avoiding" group was cancelled for this week; disappointing, since I had a lot to say. Next week...

I spent the afternoon doing file cleanup, and installing software on the old MacBook (which I had cleverly cleaned up after getting a new one). I also cleaned up and gave back the new MacBook, with the excuse that I didn't want to get too attached to it. It's more complex than that, of course; I never did much with it and probably wouldn't have even if I'd stayed on. I think mostly I just want to start disengaging. These things take time.

Disengaging from the house will be even harder, of course, though I've already started thinking about it. I'd been worried for a couple of years, actually, because many of the doors and passageways are too narrow for Colleen's scooter -- she can't get into the laundry room or the front bathroom, for example -- and of course the entire upstairs is inaccessible to her. If not now, soon.

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

The Yd came downstairs early in the morning to give me a birthday hug and tease me about having trimmed my beard. Which I'd done on Monday, only she hadn't noticed. Colleen claimed that she'd noticed, but hadn't said anything.

I spent most of my workday -- from about 2-5pm -- up in the Menlo Park office. This consisted of about 5 minutes worth of paperwork, and 3 hours of talking to people, reading the newspapers, and waiting for my aging MacBook to get upgraded to Snow Leopard. That's one of the things I get to take home with me.

I also did some work on -- it's nowhere near done, but at least it's presentable. That's your highlighted link for today; more in the notes as usual.

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mdlbear: a locomotive engine dangling from a hole in a building (trainwreck)

It was a weird but basically good weekend. Basically, I hit the ground running after receiving my layoff notice on Thursday. Somebody at our party on Saturday (you probably missed it) asked me whether I was planning to take a couple of months off before I started job-hunting. My answer was a very cheerful "Hell no! Would you like a copy of my updated resume?" I can't afford to gather any moss.

Because of the combination of a rather large refinance and a serious drop in the housing market, I am no longer planning to stay in Grand Central Starport after I retire, whether that's six months or six years from now. That realization has been extremely liberating (can you say "albatross"?); I am now looking for work both in the South Bay and in the Seattle area. The ideal, of course, would be finding someplace near Seattle that's willing to pay for relocation expenses. Many thanks to my dear sister-of-choice, [personal profile] pocketnaomi, for the conversations that helped me realize what I had to do.

The selfsame moment I [let go]
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.

Link of the day: House of Cards - James Keelaghan - YouTube (via philkmills' comment on my S4S post).

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

It doesn't look as though I got much done yesterday. That would, however, be somewhat misleading. I applied for Medicare (which should kick in next month), spent a lot of time talking with Naomi and Colleen (and a while on the phone with my Mom, who is very supportive and encouraging), and made some tough decisions largely as a result of those conversations. Not time wasted by any means.

On the other hand, my left wrist hurts. Don't know what I did there. And no walk. Self-care is going to be important over the next few months, so I'll have to work on that.

Oh, and I made up a new tag: 8.3% (which, in case you're wondering, is the current official unemployment rate). And several to-do sub-lists. And sent email asking which of several items in my office that I want have depreciated enough for me to just take home. And started going through my home directories on various systems, doing triage.

As Samuel Johnson said, "The knowledge that one is to be hanged in the morning concentrates the mind wonderfully."

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

Wednesday was a pretty good day, though I didn't take a walk. I drove home toward a gorgeous full moon rising, with wild geese flying overhead. You know, I should have been suspicious at that point.

In the evening, [ profile] jilara brought over the yukata that she had taken home to hem, and I found its belt tucked away at the bottom of one sleeve. It's lovely.

Thursday morning I got in to work and was greeted by $BOSS and $CFO, and the news that I'd been laid off. Along with two other researchers in my building, and at least two three people in Menlo Park. Plus two from Japan who decided to leave the company rather than go back.

Public service announcements:

  • New tag: 8.3%
  • Party tomorrow at Grand Central Starport. I will have copies of my resume.
  • I am currently looking for work in the San Jose and Seattle areas. Please address job-related correspondance to or
  • I will be available to start work any time after April 1st

Felt very restless yesterday evening. Should have taken a walk.

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

A very special Thankful Thursday today. Today I am thankful for:

  • Three weeks' notice and 6 months of severance pay
  • Friends
  • A great set of soon-to-be-ex coworkers
  • My skill as a programmer and software architect
  • My 65th birthday, in less than a week
  • The Starport's annual "It's Green" party on Saturday.

Yup. Laid off, after 19.5 years at Ricoh. It's been a good run. I can't afford to retire; I took about half the equity out of my house, and the housing market has taken almost all of the other half. I'll consider work either locally (Silicon Valley) or in the Seattle area, broadening to include Oregon and Utah if it becomes necessary in a couple of months.

I'll have copies of my resume at the party on Saturday. See you there?

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

It's a bit of a grab-bag today. I found myself needing to finally learn the melody to a couple of songs that I'd so far only played guitar on, because I want to do them in my upcoming concert at Consonance. You know that thing about dominos? That.

So the only recordings I could find were back in 2009. And, for some unaccountable reason, I hadn't put up the audio for that concert. It soon became clear that one reason I hadn't was that the performer tags in the audio files were wrong...

... and once I'd fixed that, I decided to put my concert index into a sensible, most-recent-first format. (It had been most recent year first, but most recent last within each year.) So that's done now. And Baycon 2008 didn't have an index.html file. It does now.

So here you go:

... and if you're still with me, there's a somewhat off-the-wall bonus. You see, this week the R&D lab I work for publicly announced a subsidiary in India called Ricoh Innovations Private Limited (RIPL)

So what was the first song that popped into my head when first I heard about it? Right. The Grateful Dead - Ripple. I've been waiting five months to post that one...

mdlbear: (poly-heart)

A pretty good day, though a little short; I got up half an hour after the clock radio went on, and crashed an hour before my usual bedtime of midnight. (The skeptic in me wonders whether there's a correlation there; the pessimist fears that there is, and that even more of my time is about to disappear into the black hole of sleep.)

I left a prompt at ysabetwordsmith's Poetry Fishbowl; you can buy the resulting poem for only $10.

The big news, of course, is the 9th Circuit's ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. You can see relevant quotes here. I was initially very concerned, since I don't trust the current Supreme Court at all. But this appears to be narrow enough, applying only to states in the 9th circuit where the right to marry was taken away, that the Supremes might simply let it stand. Maybe.

By using their initiative power to target a minority group and withdraw a right that it possessed, without a legitimate reason for doing so, the People of California violated the Equal Protection Clause. We hold Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional on this ground.

They'll have to deal with it eventually, of course. We'll see.

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