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

A few days ago I got a comment on my weekly post that went Oohh, you're doing what looks to me like a bullet journal? Only online. So I wrote a quick explanation. And then I realized that I might be doing something unusual, that I ought to write up in more detail. So here you are:

The Legend

Let's start off with the file called Journals/Dog/

= item flag notation for and to.done files:

= notation for and to.done items:
  = note: keep  o to do  * done  x abandoned  ~ modified  . in progress
  & added after completion  (recurring items get * when completed)
  $ financial transaction (flagged as  o before completion)
  ? query/decision...  - choice  + chosen  ->chosen
  @ link/research
  ! emotion noted at the time, or soon after.  NOT added the next morning; 
    I'm trying to pay more attention at the time
  | body sensation worthy of note: pain, noticable change...
    (more recently replaced by %; should maybe go back to |)
  : observation or external event.  Weather, news, etc
    + external observation with positive emotional content
    - external observation with negative emotional content
  % observation/insight about myself
  # meta - flags, flist, filters, ...
  <b>...something I feel good about...</b> (may be added next day)
  <i>...something I feel bad about...</i>
  [ ... ] delete from public posts
  ... ongoing items
  " quotation
  ' interior dialog

= Notation for meetings and conversations:
  <- point to bring up.  After meeting, point to bring up next time
  *- point brought up
  x- point not brought up
  ~- point partially brought up, or brought up in different form
  &- additional point raised  
  -> information/point raised by someone else/consequence/resolution
  => action item for me
  =* action item done
  <= action item for somebody else.


The History

My usage has shifted a little over the years. I first started posting "" items around 2006, though I'd undoubtedly been using at least the o and * flags for years before that. At first, since I was part of a support group working on procrastination and avoidance, I used it as an accountability thing: I would post a list of open items, followed (hopefully) by the items as they got checked in. It was a little discouraging, until somebody suggested just posting about what I'd done. That led to &, and my expanded use of the file as more a log than a to-do list and calendar.

Whenever the list of "done" items got too long, I would move them into a ".done" file -- the first one I have is 2006.done. In 2009 I switched to quarterly archives; by 2009/q4.done the file had most of its present features. By 2011 I was archiving monthly. I don't remember offhand when I stopped making daily posts in LJ and switched to weekly.

Sometime in September of 2011 I decided that the set of unfinished and probably never-to-be-completed items had gotten too long, and moved it to, as in "Wouldn't It Be Nice If..." My present Makefile plugin reports the current number of unfinished items in and; the current numbers are 70 and 126 respectively.

The Files

So there's that. The file is called, and edited with emacs. There are a couple of important marker lines in it:

Ongoing:                                                                             89->|
recurring items and long-term goals go here
this contains entries from the first of the month to the present
scheduled items for later this month
scheduled items after this month
items with no specific due date

Dates, in the form mmddWw (e.g., 0122Su), start in the first column; flag characters are indented two spaces. The marker at column 89 makes it easy to properly size the editor window when I first open it after rebooting; it's where lines wrap.

I'll put approximately-scheduled items in the this-month and later sections after the dated entries, and a few of the more important ones above =now. That doesn't keep me from procrastinating them, but it does help keep them where they'll be noticed.

Note that, except for the breakpoint at =done, entries are in chronological order from top to bottom. That makes this a log, not a blog or feed. My and its associated history (see below) are one of a handful of journal-like collections under my Journals directory; the to.Do lOG is kept in a a directory called Dog.

The Archives

By now, I have a fairly well-established routine:

  • I maintain the file using emacs, of course.
  • Sometime on Sunday, I move the last week's worth of entries from the working location near the top of the file, to the end.
  • At this point I still have the week's entries in the Region (emacs terminology for the current selection). I move point down two lines to scoop up the HTML boilerplate that I'll need for my weekly post, and copy (M-w).
  • Then I run lj-update, currently bound to M-L, and yank into the body. The boilerplate is arranged so that all I have to do is move back up two lines, cut, down one, and yank.
  • From there it's an easy step to go back to the first line (which is invariably the start date) copy it, and yank it into the subject line.
  • Write my summary. Edit out any [...] sections, if necessary.
  • Post.


  • Every month -- actually, on the first Sunday of the month, after making my weekly post -- I move the month's entries to yyyy/mm.done.
  • Every so often I go through and pull out obsolete entries, marking them with * or x as appropriate, and put them after the preceeding week's entries at the end of the file.
  • Every year, on New Year's Eve, I gather up my list of goals and make my end-of-the-year post.
  • The next day, I cons up my new list of goals and make a New Year's post.


I keep other, project-specific, files. Most of them are much simpler, with undated items above the =done line (which is usually just a line of equal signs), and dated items after it in what I now call a "work log". It's convenient, because I can just go to the end of the file and make an entry, but it wouldn't work nearly as well if I had to schedule things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moderately productive. Two "publishing events".

  1. Sex and the Single Link is up on my "formal" website, This is, despite the clickbait title, an article about the joy of singly-linked lists.
  2. MakeStuff is up on GitHub. This the first of several projects I intend to put up there; it's the collection of makefiles and scripts that powers all my websites. You can see it in action here.

Apart from that, and a bunch of Quora answers, not a whole lot going on. One my Quora answers led to a good discussion on the comment thread. Fairly prodctive at work, though as usual not quite as much as I wanted to be.

One particularly interesting article for the programmers in the audience, Developer Differences: Makers vs Menders, which seems to describe me fairly well.

Also of note, the first episode of the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Podcast: Ordinary Women by Heather Rose Jones ([ profile] hrj on LJ) is up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fairly productive at work this week, though I lost Friday to an all-day training session. (I made up some of that yesterday in between lab work and my doctor's appointment. Went in early because the appointment wasn't until 1:40, and I wanted to be able to have my coffee before noon.) I appear to be in pretty good health; my blood pressure was 129/75; which is decent.

The training Friday was a workshop on Scrum. Tl;dr: we've been doing it wrong. Which is not unusual. My impression has always been that it works best for things that can be built incrementally -- the idea is to break things down into "features" (corresponding to "user stories") that can be built in one sprint -- typically two weeks -- and end up done, in production, and demonstrated to the customer at the end of that. The theory is that the team gets more and more familiar with their product and their process, so they get better at estimating. And there's an expectation that developers are mostly fungible -- anyone can pick up any of the tasks and finish it in a couple of days. (Specialists like QA, tech writer (we should be so lucky!), and maybe a web developer, don't count.)

So let's look at the project I'm currently on: We have four developers. One is building a new service, one is working on the web front end (and just came on board), and two are working in different, pre-existing services that they've never worked on before. The work being done in the latter case is such that a sizeable number of pieces have to be in place in order for anything to work. Meanwhile, other teams are working on other parts of the same services, with somewhat different requirements. Theoretically, each of the three main developers could work on any of the tasks, but in practice there's a lot of context in each of those sub-projects that it would take a long time for anyone else to ramp up on.

It doesn't help that the manager and web developer are in Vancouver, and that most of the design was done almost a year before the work started, under a different manager, by three developers one of whom got pulled off to work on a totally unrelated project. This leaves only two of us with any real context.

On the other hand, I've been having fun with configuration files and makefiles. The latest hack was adding color-coded labels to the workspaces in my xmonad setup. You say "ws 2", for example, and you get a color-coded label at the top of the screen in workspace 2. The labels use standard resistor color codes, and include a clock (because the quick thing was to base them on xclock). Here. (Need to get this onto github soon.)

Writing: met my minimum goal of 500 words two days a week, but just barely. Both were in PJ (short for Private Journal), so not on DW or the website where you can see them. Sorry about that.

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

You may want to start with Part 1


Xmonad is a tiling window manager. That means that, with very few exceptions, it lays out all of the windows in your workspace so that they completely fill the screen. You can have multiple layouts, and flip between them with a single keystroke. You can bring a workspace (there are 9 by default, but you can add more) to your screen with a single keystroke, or send a window to a workspace.

And the whole thing is configured using a text file that is actually a program, written in the functional language Haskell. I'll get to that later.

One of my main gripes about Gnome, etc., and one of the things I miss the most about CTWM, is that when you first start a program its window shows up at some random location on the screen, with whatever size the program thinks is appropriate. If you don't like those choices you have to move and resize the window yourself, and then do it all over the next time you log in. (There are some exceptions -- many newer programs remember where you put them last, and older programs, from the CTWM era, can be given a starting geometry.)

Xmonad's layouts are all deterministic, which is to say, predictable. When you start a program, you know exactly where it's going to be on the screen. When you change the layout, you know where everything is going to go. If you want to move a window into the main position (most layouts have one; e.g. the left-hand column) it's (as usual) just one keystroke to put it there.

But the best thing, and the reason I switched to xmonad in the first place, is the way it treats multiple monitors: it simply assigns one workspace to each monitor.

Undock your laptop, and its screen stays exactly the same. The workspaces that were shown on the other screens simply go back into hiding with all the others, and are still only a keystroke away. When you have multiple screens, you can move a window to another screen, or bring a workspace to a screen, or warp the pointer to another screen, all with single keystrokes.

When you go to a conference room and plug in a projector, a workspace immediately shows up there and its layout automatically adjusts to the projector's resolution and aspect ratio. When you get a new computer -- all the developers at work got new laptops just a month or two ago -- just copy your configuration files to it and everything will be exactly the same as it was on the old one. (Sometime later I'll write about my portable configuration, which makes it possible for me to set up my entire working environment in mere minutes.)


So let's go a little deeper into those magic keystrokes. First of all, you have to know that all of the commands (you can't really call them shortcuts) include a key that xmonad calls "Mod" (short for "modifier", of course). Mod is initially defined as Alt, but the first thing any Emacs user is going to do is redefine it as something else, usually the "logo" key. (That's the one on the left between Ctrl and Alt that usually has a Windows logo on it. If your keyboard has replaceable keys you may be able to get a penguin for it.) On old laptops that don't have a logo key I use Ctrl-Alt, but that's a matter of taste.

You also probably want to know that Mod-? gets you a list of all the commands. And that there's a fantastic collection of tutorials, documentation, and sample configuration files at

When xmonad starts up, you see a totally empty, black screen. Most people, myself included, add a status/navigation bar at the top, but you don't have to. I'll get to that later. You can start a program by typing Mod-P, or open a terminal window with Mod-Shift-Enter. You will immediately notice that the first window you open fills the screen. If you open another, xmonad will tile the screen with them, showing them side by side.

If you start a third program, it will get added to the right-hand column. You can probably see where this is going. When you move the mouse pointer into a window, it gets a thin red border to show you that it has "focus".

If you decide that you started things in the wrong order, move the pointer into the window you want to put in the left-hand column (the "master" column) and hit Mod-Enter. You close a window you're done with using Mod-Shift-C.

Here's where it gets interesting: Mod-Space will switch you to a new layout, with the master column turning into a master row, and all the other windows across the bottom. Hit Mod-Space again, and the currently-focused window goes full-screen. (I reconfigure my full-screen layout to put a row of tabs across the top. Wondering how to see the hidden windows? Mod-Tab moves focus to the next window in the stack. It also works in other layouts, so you don't need the mouse to move focus around. If you spend most of your time in a terminal and an editor like vim or emacs, you can throw your mouse away and still be productive. Mod-Shift-Tab moves focus to the previous window.

Mod-2 puts you into a second workspace. There are nine of them. (I add two more -- 0 and -.) If you want to move a window, say from workspace 2 to workspace 1, use Mod-Shift-1. That's kind of a recurring theme in xmonad -- Mod-something does one thing, and Mod-Shift-something does something related.

You can see that in action if you add an(other) monitor. Now, workspace 1 is in the left-hand screen, and 2 is in the right-hand screen. Think of the two of them as West and East.

Now, Mod-w will move the focus (and the mouse pointer) into the West screen, and Mod-e will move the focus into the East screen. Mod-1 through Mod-9 will bring that workspace into whatever screen has the focus. If the other workspace was already visible, they trade places. (Some people don't like that, so you can change it so that it just moves focus into the other screen if you select a workspace that's already visible.)

Add a third screen to the right of East, and call it Right. Now, Mod-r and Mod-Shift-R do exactly what you would expect. (There are no bindings for T, so I suppose that if you have space for a fourth screen you could use it for that.)

There are more key bindings, to move focus (Mod-j and Mod-k focus the next and previous window, respectively; shifted, they swap the focused window with the next or previous window), to shrink and enlarge the master area (Mod-h and Mod-l respectively), or increase or decrease the number of windows in the master area (Mod-Comma and Mod-Period respectively).

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

As I mentioned about a week ago, I've been trying to write more. And since my current obsession is a program called xmonad, well, ...

This is incomplete: it's about the first day's worth (I've been trying to write about 500 words per day). Comments and suggestions are, of course, welcome.


My new 27" monitors arrived at work; I took advantage of the change to rearrange my work space. Before, it was the set-up I've had for most of the last three years -- monitor in front on a stand, second monitor on the right, and my laptop on the left. The new laptop, however, has a decent keyboard (with trackpoint and three buttons), and the monitors between them occupy about 2/3 of the desk.

The new arrangement has the laptop dock under the "middle" monitor; the laptop, being a business-class Dell, has both a pointing stick and a middle "mouse" button. The laptop's keyboard is decent enough that it can replace the thinkpad keyboard I've been using for the last couple of years -- it's a high-end Dell, and has both a pointing stick and a middle button. (The middle button has part of the Unix desktop environment since the mid 1980s; it means "paste", and I use it all the time.) The monitors are about 50% bigger, pixel-wise, than the laptop, and are arranged "traditionally" with the laptop on the left.

You can probably see the problem with this arrangement. The total workspace is about 7000 pixels wide, and it's not even arranged in a straight line -- to get from the laptop to the "middle" monitor you have to move the cursor to the right, but the natural direction would be straight up. What's more, when you undock the laptop the whole thing collapses down to a "mere" 1920x1080. It's no wonder that most of the programmers in my team have opted for a single 30" monitor, and keep their laptop (almost invariably a mac) closed while they're using it.

Fortunately, I anticipated this problem months ago, and started using a window manager called xmonad.


One of the things I love most about Linux is the fact that the program that manages the layout of the screen and the behavior and appearance of the windows on it is not part of the operating system. It's a separate program, sensibly called a "window manager", and it runs in user space as a perfectly ordinary application that just happens to have a couple of extra hooks into X, which is the (also ordinary) program that actually controls the display, the keyboard, and the mouse.

Being an ordinary program -- and not even a terribly complicated one -- anybody can write one, and many people have. For a long time I was using one called TWM (Tabbed Window Manager, but the T originally stood for Tom's). Later I started using CTWM (Claude's Tabbed Window Manager), because it introduced the then unfamiliar notion of multiple workspaces. (Before CTWM, these could only be found in an experimental system at Xerox where they were called "rooms". Apple introduced them decades later, as part of MacOS X.)

You've probably heard of Gnome, KDE, and Ubuntu's horrible Unity desktop environments. Down at the bottom, they're just window managers plus a couple of utilities for doing things like putting up the familiar bar (Gnome calls it a "panel") full of menus, launcher buttons, clocks and other widgets. You can, in fact, run gnome-panel under any window manager, and I did for a while. They also include a "session manager", which handles things like starting the panel and making sure that applications get notified when you log out, so that they can save their state and exit cleanly. I've been using Gnome for years, and loved it for its configurability.

But Gnome's configurability comes with a cost -- every time you move to a new computer, you have to spend an hour clicking around in control panels and property windows to get everything set up the way you like it. And every time there's a major upgrade, something is a little different. It's a cost I no longer have to pay.

Part 2

mdlbear: (lemming)

So... I've seen this several places. Snippets from three works in progress.

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

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

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

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

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

Another rough week. But I put out three posts with actual content -- one informative (The Justin Case file), one River post (Empathy) and one demifiction (Introducing the Melody/Rose 'verse). So I should be feeling accomplished. I'm not, particularly.

Mostly what I'm feeling is broke, and worried about money. The house in San Jose still hasn't sold, so I'm carrying two mortgages as well as a horrendous amount of other debt. Not good.

Links below, many of them depressing.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: (river)

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

Part the First: Once and Future Posts

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

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

The River

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

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


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

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

Things with Tales

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

Songs for Saturday

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

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

Songs and Poems

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

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

Understanding Ursine

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

Part the Second: Fiction

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

Rambling Rose

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

A Place to Run Free

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

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

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

But it would be fun. I think.

Part the Third: Longer Non-Fiction

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

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

The BIG Number Book

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

The Magic Mirror

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

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

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

So there you have it.

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

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

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

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

A reasonably productive day: a lot of puttering, some singing (just before going to bed), tasty dinner, and a lot of writing (for once!). The writing, in particular, was Colleen's and my biographies for our FGOH gig at Baycon; I decided that my standard one was too short. The results, along with my previous effort, can be found here.

Dinner was shrimp and scallops in a garlic, butter, and wine sauce, with brown basmati rice and asparagus. I figured, rather than go to an expensive restaurant... Colleen liked it, so I Win.

Still seems as though I didn't get much done, but I suppose I'm just going to have to get used to that feeling.

mdlbear: (vixy-rose)

Now that she's made the public announcement, I can point you at my dear friend [ profile] pocketnaomi's shiny new website, As webmaster perpetrator, any gaffes in the layout or HTML coding are mine, as is any delay in getting it from a hastily-thrown-up single page to an intricate and beautiful site more worthy of her poetic talents.

Go and buy yourself or someone you love a poem. You'll be glad you did.

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

I said in this post that I would be trying to carve out an hour a day for music and/or writing. I haven't been keeping careful track, but given that Tres Gique put in 7 or 8 hours' worth of practice time over the weekend, I've been doing ok on average.

Most of this week has been spent splitting up the recordings of the practice sessions -- not too creative, I'm afraid -- and writing up summaries and a technical report. I've gotten a little writing done on drafts in the River; I'll try to get at least one of those posted tomorrow.

I'm still finding it deeply weird that I seem to have slipped into the role of relationship consultant ("counselor" is too strong, I think) for geeks and people in love with geeks.

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

Somehow the River has transmogrified itself from a series of introspective LJ posts into a Project. I have a directory with a handful of draft posts in progress in it, a file with half-a-dozen more ideas, and an archive with some 20K words worth of posts in it (since the end of May, and not particularly complete at that; a quick check with wget and wc gets more like 40K, but that's an overestimate because many posts with the tag are only partially on-topic).

It occupies at least as much of my time and attention as filk music does these days. I'm starting to think of a wiki, and possibly even a book. (A Year on the River?) ETA: Before you ask: Yes, I would protect your privacy if I did anything like that )

I apologize in advance.

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

From this post by [ profile] cadhla comes a link to 50 thoughts on writing in her writing journal. Good stuff; well worth a read if you're doing anything creative, either as work or as a hobby.

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

Non-Errors -- (Those usages people keep telling you are wrong but which are actually standard in English.

Split infinitives

For the hyper-critical, “to boldly go where no man has gone before” should be “to go boldly. . . .” It is good to be aware that inserting one or more words between “to” and a verb is not strictly speaking an error, and is often more expressive and graceful than moving the intervening words elsewhere; but so many people are offended by split infinitives that it is better to avoid them except when the alternatives sound strained and awkward.


This word has meant “it is to be hoped” for a very long time, and those who insist it can only mean “in a hopeful fashion” display more hopefulness than realism.

People should say a book is titled such-and-such rather than entitled.

No less a writer than Chaucer is cited by the Oxford English Dictionary as having used “entitled” in this sense, the very first meaning of the word listed by the OED. It may be a touch pretentious, but it’s not wrong.

It's part of an excellent website entitled "Common Errors in English" (from BoingBoing)

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Yesterday's post about backups was close enough to a 1000-word article that I decided to put it on my website in the Linux section , under the title "Keeping Backups".

It's #5 in the "How I Work" series; I note with considerable dismay that the last article was written in November of 2003.

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

If you write at home, or if you live with a writer, you need to take a look at today's For Better or For Worse strip.

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