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

On the whole a pretty good week. (I was going to say, "not a bad week", but it may actually qualify for good this time. I'm really bad at evaluating subjective stuff like that.)

I got my taxes done. Probably still some things missing, but since I only owed $117 over what I estimated back in April I'm not going to complain. Much. I'm still in a world of trouble over the lack of withholding on some of the pensions. That's going to bite me. Well, I'll put in an estimated payment for the quarter; that will help.

Naomi came home Sunday with the scooters, and we got one of them out of the van. (G and I got the other out last night with the help of my folding ramp.) And yesterday on the way home from dinner out we stopped at the bike shop in Bayview and ordered Colleen a (purple, of course) helmet.

Meanwhile, I have reconfirmed my dislike for the Mac user interface (Windows would be worse). The main reason is the inconsistent bindings for control, meta, and super (the "logo" key). It's almost tolerable with a Thinkpad keyboard and x2vnc, but the key bindings in Emacs are wonky and cut-and-paste doesn't work between the two systems.

Also, of course, Raven's handling of its external monitor is broken, and the desk isn't wide enough for it plus the monitor anyway. (It is wide enough for Cygnus to the left of the monitor, so I may end up doing that.) I have Raven on a tray table to the right of the monitor, which isn't ideal because, oh, yeah: my newest Thinkpad keyboard has started dropping keystrokes. Basically unusable at this point, and it's only a year old. Lenovo's QC has really tanked -- I miss IBM. And I can't find the box with my other keyboards :P Unlike the drill and the router, I know that one is in the garage because I saw it there. I blame the cats.

The cats are all doing okay. Even Bronx, who remains a bit fragile and isn't eating all that well.

We are making progress toward making the room over the garage into a usable living space. By not making large structural changes, and not making it an official ADU, we can probably save a lot.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

This marks the first week for which, at N's suggestion, Colleen and I prepared a weekly menu in advance. It came out fairly well -- you can see it at the end of the notes. There were a couple of substitutions, but on the whole it was a success. We did the same this week.

I got a fair amount done. Unfortunately, very little of it was my taxes; that's the top project for this week. I did, however, get the Mac set up and the program I still think of as TaxCut (currently called "H&R Block at Home" or something like that) updated. The Mac, Whitewood, is set up on my desk, with (ThinkPad) Raven next to it on a tray table. There's a little story about that...

You see, sometime Friday morning I managed to spill some coffee onto my little ThinkPad, Cygnus. I shut it down and left it to dry out. An hour or so later, it booted, but some of the keys on the lower right-hand corner were flaky, and I couldn't get it to accept my hard drive password. That's when I set up Whitewood and Raven. Fortunately I had pushed recently, so Raven was able to sync right up and be productive.

Then, since I had a Linux laptop and a Mac mini with a nice large monitor, the obvious next step was to install x2vnc and share the Mac's keyboard (a ThinkPad keyboard, of course -- I'd had it at work), trackball, and mouse. I put those all on a KVM switch (which I don't use for monitors, only for USB, because switching a VGA monitor confuses my computers). Win. It took altogether too much time to figure out that the reason x2vnc didn't seem to be connecting was that Apple's implementation puts up a lock screen when you first connect. :P

x2vnc is pretty cool -- it lets you share a keyboard and mouse between two computers, using VNC's screen-sharing in the input direction, but not actually viewing the screen. Instead, you just move the cursor onto the other machine's screen, across whichever edge you specify.

The other tech-related failure Friday was that my attempt to replace the charging port on Colleen's old tablet was unsuccessful. Quite possibly the flat cable isn't seated correctly. It was a bit of a long shot, though I would have liked to be able to at least do a factory reset.

I spent quite a lot of time Friday looking up ways of unlocking a password-protected hard drive when one doesn't have a working computer to enter the password into. Apparently Lenovo changes their password hashing algorithm every so often, so you have to get a ThinkPad that was made close enough to the time your dead one was. Ouch! I didn't really care too much about the data, since it was all backed up, but that was a comparatively new SSD and I wanted to at least make it usable even if that included wiping it.

Around 9:30 Friday evening I turned Cygnus on again and it booted. Not wanting to push my luck I turned it off again almost immediately, but not before I'd removed the password on the hard drive.

It turns out that password-locking a drive is a massively bad idea. Among other things it means that you can't use it in an external enclosure, and might not even be able to use it in another computer. It's better to use your OS's "whole-disk" encryption, because that actually encrypts everything but the boot partition, and it does so in a standardized way so that you can use it anywhere as long as you have the password. You can use a variant on the same encryption technique to encrypt a single home directory, or even a single subdirectory.

Also Sunday, I discovered when I went to post last week's summary that my client, ljupdate.el, doesn't work any more because Dreamwidth has gone to SSL everywhere. I made several attempts to fix it, but so far no joy. I'll probably have to cut-and-paste again. After I get my taxes in, the first thing I want to do is write a new -- and more general -- posting client and integrate it with my build system (see MakeStuff).

This Saturday, though, N went to the Seattle Home Show and found a company that was having a 2-for-1 deal on some pretty awesome scooters. They're not exactly travel scooters -- they fold a little but don't come apart, and they're pretty heavy, but they're designed to be roadworthy. 18mph with a 25-mile range. We'll probably have to replace the seat on one for Colleen to be comfortable, but... She can definitely ride to Freeland and back in one.

In all, a rather frustrating week, but it could have been a lot worse.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Note: posting from the web form because ljupdate can't do ssl :P

Hmm. I don't remember this as being a particularly bad week. Things must be going ok. Or ok-ish. Not to be confused with orcish. I don't think things have been orcish.

The main accomplishment for the week was getting my desk, a 2x4 slab of half-inch oak plywood, off of the two tray tables it had been sitting on and onto proper legs. The legs are 2x2s braced with angle brackets; I later added a 1x8 across the back to keep it from sagging. Unlike most desks, this one is meant to have me sitting on one of the short sides; this lets me put both printers on top and store two file pedestals or similar things underneath (though doing that will require clearing off a great deal of paperwork clutter).

Our sick kitten, Bronx, appears to be recovering. He's still thin, and we're on day four of the five-day period after his last dose of antibiotic during which his bacterial infection might come back, but so far so good. He's back to his usual rambunctious self, though. Finally.

Sunday we announced a music party and invited mostly the people we'd met at (neighbor) Dean's party a couple of weeks before. Nobody showed up -- we were only mildly disappointed and not at all surprised, but N and I had a good time singing. I have continued to spend a few minutes every day noodling, in hopes of getting my left-hand calluses back in shape. Set list in the notes.

Colleen's Samsung tablet is dead -- probably the power connector. Again. Even if that gets fixed, which will be worthwhile if only to do a factory reset, the battery life was down to 2 hours or so. To replace it, I ordered a 10.1" Lenovo Tab 4. Very nice. I'm thinking of ordering the 8" one for myself, to replace the Nexus 7 that disappeared. (It's probably in a box. Good luck finding it, since it wasn't in the bin I labeled for it.)

I've been approved to buy enough term life insurance to cover the mortgage. At the "healthy" rate, even! This is slightly mind-boggling. Now I have to figure out whether it's worth the money. I also have to finish my income tax; the deadline after the extension I filed is October 17th. Basically all that's left is tracking down the charitable deductions. I also need to put in something toward my estimated taxes because I haven't been withholding enough. Meaning I also have to track down and file the W4s.

Alongside that, I have to go through the exercise of preparing a reasonably accurate budget, based on my current cash flows. Which I should be able to get a pretty good handle on now that we've been here a while (and now that I've made the annual car insurance payment).

Colleen and I, at N's suggestion, have started making a weekly dinner menu. This coming week is the the first -- I'll report next week on how we did. The actual menu is at the bottom of the notes.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Another rough week, especially Sunday through Tuesday when we didn't have our Bronx. The house felt very sad and lonely. N brought him home from the vet on Wednesday; while she was coming off the ferry she saw the Bath Fitter truck waiting to get on to come and install our new shower.

Bronx is recovering, but he lost a lot of weight over the weekend; he was in really scary shape when he came home. He's better now, but still not his old self. But it's so good to see him rampaging, or at least romping, even if only for a while. Best the vet can figure is that he has some virus -- possibly herpes -- that is mostly dormant but gets reactivated when he gets anything else. Poor little guy! But we have him back! That's the important thing.

We also have our revamped shower -- it's a lot bigger than the old one because it makes better use of space in addition to being a bit deeper, and it has a full-width curtain instead of sliding glass doors, which I hate and Colleen has a lot of trouble with. The floor is only about an inch and a half up, with a squishable rubber dam to keep the water in. It's wonderful.

Another cow sighting Thursday morning when I went out to plug the car in; I'd forgotten Wednesday night. (Friday when Colleen and I went out to the Country Store on the way to dinner, the clerk who checked us out told us that someone from out our way had been in early the previous morning to get some hay "to lure a cow". Right. I know where he lives! Hopefully he came back later for some fencing.

We finally found a good caregiver for Colleen. She'll be coming in only one day/week, Thursday. Our housekeeper comes on Tuesday, so we'll be pretty well covered, and save quite a lot of money over our former 3 day/week schedule. Unlike (previous) G" and all of the others we interviewed, M has made a career of caregiving and loves it.

Link of the week is the Ig-Nobel Prize winning paper, "On the Rheology of Cats", in Rheology Bulletin 2014-07, p. 16. (It's a PDF, so you have to scroll down to it.) You also need to pull down NASA's coffeetable book, Through the Eyes of Cassini

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Rough week. Especially yesterday, when N and I took a very sick Bronx to the emergency vet in Seattle. He had a fever of 106; apparently I can't tell at all from his nose and ears. He was also throwing up and not eating, and wasn't anywhere near his usual rambunctious self.

Note: apparently a virus. He's recovering well, and we'll be taking him home tomorrow.

The house seems very quiet and lonely without our Bronx boy. Brooklyn and even Ticia are rambuncting as best they can, but it isn't the same. Meanwhile, apparently cats really are liquids. Or should I say that cat is a liquid?

Thursday, one of our neighbor's cows got loose in our yard. One of those things that's very funny in retrospect. We've also been having a hard time finding a caregiver for Colleen.

As I said, rough week.

Two public service announcements:

  1. Breach at Equifax May Impact 143M Americans; How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Security Freeze
  2. If you happen to be on Whidbey Island next Sunday (the 24th, a week from today), drop by our house for music and food. "The usual potluck bash", as we used to say of the Starport.

I'm trying to establish a schedule, so that I actually get things done, have some time for Colleen, and don't spend all my spare time online. 9-11 on Tuesdays and Thursdays are earmarked for "Unpleasant Chores" - unpacking, cleaning litter boxes, finishing up the taxes, taking out the garbage, and so on. Tag "UC:"

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Somewhat eventful week, and I see that I didn't get it posted yesterday. Grumph. And today is a busy one, so this will be worked on only in the interstices.

This was our first week of school for both of N's kids, and in particular of homeschooling for j. N and I are taking turns, with N on Tuesday and Thursday, and me on Monday and Wednesday (when C has a caregiver in, although it's a little more hectic right now because we're between caregivers). Friday is for catch-up and projects. J also got the first weekly call from his teacher, where we were able to determine that we have a lot more freedom to choose which activities (e.g. science experiments) we actually do. It's still a bit of a scramble.

This weekend (ok, last weekend -- I'm finishing this up on Tuesday at this point) one of our neighbors, Dean, threw a huge party. He apparently does this every year for his birthday. He's 67, and has been building his house and "landscaping" his property since sometime in the '70s. It's awesome. "Landscaping" in quotes because landscaping doesn't normally include secret tunnels, grottos, and water slides. I only found out about it because I was standing behind him in line at the grocery store. Fairly large amount of music. He's a fiddler! We have a lot of songs that could use fiddle. He also repairs pianos.

The hash I made of "Wheelin'" on Saturday afternoon prompted me to finally reprint the LgF songbook -- two-sided, using my new style definitions. Worked great. There are still a few glitches, but on the whole it's a big improvement.

I made fudgies for the party. Recipe in the notes.

We hired a new caregiver for Colleen. As soon as we saw her purple hair we knew she was going to be a good fit. She'll start on the 25th, after giving two weeks' notice at her previous job.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Wednesday Clea, our guinea pig, died. She was a simple soul -- piggies aren't renouned for their intelligence -- but affectionate as guinea pigs go, and very calm and laid-back. She joined N's household in November of 2011, half a year before I did, and was eventually joined by Shona and Marieke, both of whom died earlier this year, before we left Rainbow's End. Clea and her herd moved from N's house to my apartment, from there to Rainbow's End. Clea, the last of them, moved from there to the U-District apartment and finally here on Whidbey Island.

Guinea pigs are herd animals, but Clea seemed to handle the loss of her companions calmly. I think by that time her herd included the household humans and even the cats. She would calmly move to another corner when one of the kittens reached into her cage; I admonished them more for my comfort than Clea's.

We buried her in the back yard where she can grow some of the hay she loved to eat, and later some carrots and celery. It seems appropriate.

School starts next week. N's son, j, wants to try home-schooling; I'm teaching science, math, and programming. It's a little daunting; the last time I taught programming I was in grad school, teaching Algol-W (which later became Pascal). I'm rather unsure about which language to teach; Scratch (based on Smalltalk) is an obvious place to start, but I think I'll give him a taste of Scheme and maybe Python as well, and let him decide. Suggestions welcome.

I've also spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone with OnStar/GM/whatever-they-call-themselves about the problems in their website (can't contact the car), email reports (linked to blank page), and phone app (wildly incorrect mi/kwh value). They may make good cars, but the tech support for their software is on a par with AT&T and Comcast. Maybe worse than Comcast. Caveat emptor.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Even at 95% or so the eclipse was pretty spectacular -- the twilight was deep enough that the owls started hooting, and it was noticably cooler. Actually the best part was watching Naomi -- it was her first solar eclipse, and she was enthralled.

We are not going to miss 2024 if we can help it -- we'll start planning and make reservations in 2023.

We are still having problems with the cats. Cricket simply won't tolerate having Ticia in "her" space -- N's room -- and Ticia attacks when she's hissed at rather than backing off like a sensible creature. It may be a couple of weeks before we can let the two of them share common space again, and it would have to be with both bedroom doors locked so that neither of them feels like their private space is being invaded. Even then it might not work.

Bronx is a troublemaker.

Other than that I've mostly been puttering; taking boxes out of the garage, putting up shelves, etc. G" took out the recycling yesteday, so we no longer have a huge box of flattened cardboard in the middle of the kitchen. I took the two boxes (so far) of donations and a box of G's stuff out to the garage. The hallway, living room and bedroom are still pretty cluttered. I have ordered more shelving components from the Container Store.

Mentally, I don't think I'm doing all that well. Lots of anxiety, mostly about the cats, finances (especially medical expenses, which are a lot higher than I'd expected), and Colleen. My self-confidence is completely shot, and my self-esteem doesn't seem to be much better.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

The last pod has been emptied -- it will be hauled off on Wednesday -- so I guess that means we're officially moved in. So many things we really shouldn't have taken! (And a few we should have, but gave away instead...)

We decided not to go to Oregon to see the eclipse. Just didn't start soon enough; maybe we can get to 2024? Tough decision, but we hadn't planned far enough ahead; with the expected traffic we probably wouldn't have made it, we would have had to scramble to find someone to care for the cats, and the room was expensive.

A lot of overload/stress/depression/anxiety problems, especially Monday and yesterday. Yesterday was particularly bad -- I felt drained pretty much all day after a morning meltdown. I probably need to bunny more.

There are continuing problems with the cats. Bronx is still pretty sick, and Ticia spent much of the week hiding under the bed. We finally set Colleen up in the brown recliner, with her usual bowls of water and treats. That seems to have worked, or at least helped. She's still awfully skittish. May have to do with the kittens. Especially Bronx.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Welcome to Rainbow's End (sign) (rainbows-end)

RainbowCon 2.1 (our second convention, in our third year, thanks to a brief hiatus for moving) will be held on May 4-6, 2018! North American Guest of Honor is Cat Faber; Overseas Guest of Honor is Gwen Knighton Raftery. We are hoping there will be a toastmaster, but we don't have a name to announce for that yet.

Location is 4414 Skyline Drive, Freeland WA (on beautiful Whidbey Island), and there is information about local hotel options for people who want them. The new location has two acres of outdoor space in which we can spread out, hold our traditional maypole dance, and have outdoor song circles around the fire pit. Keep your eyes open for our neighborhood deer, who like to browse on the lawn.

We're still doing free membership but accepting donations to offset the out-of-pocket expenses of bringing our guests here and running this thing, for those who are able and willing to contribute. We welcome members who want to run events -- workshops, games, theme circles, or whatever. RainbowCon is a participatory event... everyone's welcome to take a turn at leading if they want to, but nobody is required to do more than show up and have fun!

Please contact nrivkis@fastmail.com with membership requests, or questions about the convention. Ditto if you want to be part of the programming. It will be really helpful to us if we can get early memberships, because then we'll be able to block out hotel space nearby.

We look forward to seeing you here!

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

Very domestic this week. Mostly, putting up shelves and getting stuff unloaded from the pod and unpacked from boxes. Some things are still in the pod. I do, however, have the shelves up behind the beds, modulo a couple of missing brackets. Nothing much on them yet, but it's a start. I also got Colleen's pole set up, so that she has something to grab onto when she wants to get out of bed.

Cricket and the kittens were sick, so a lot of time and worry went into their care. They have spent a couple of nights in with me and Colleen; we have been a little short on sleep as a result. It's amazing how few kittens it takes to constitute a thundering herd.

Not much going on, other than that. We are gradually finding out how friendly people are here -- that's nice. Several nice little conversations with total strangers.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Welcome to Rainbow's End (sign) (rainbows-end)

So, it was a week.

I actually got in a couple of walks, so that's good. Half an hour takes me to the bus stop at Goss Lake and E. Harbor, so it makes a nice turnaround. It is, unfortunately, uphill coming back. But a nice walk. I've also been making progress with shelving, and the last pod arrived, with our mattresses, so I could put the beds together. And I have Flame and Snuggles, my guitars, back.

That was the good stuff. On the other hand, ...

I also paid the outrageous copay for Colleen's humira, and (after something like six hours on the phone spread across multiple calls) got what I hope is correct information about how much I'll be paying before the "catastrophic" coverage kicks in. The whole system isn't designed for patients -- it's designed to transfer money from the large corporations that pay for their employees' insurance, to "insurance" companies, and from there to drug companies. As soon as one transitions to Medicare the "copay assistance" card goes away, and your copay goes from $5 to $1400.

Meanwhile, two of our four cats had pretty serious upper respiratory infections. They responded to antibiotics, thank goodness! but...

And it being that kind of a week, one of our toilets isn't draining properly, and I can't reach the problem with a snake. So tomorrow we'll have to call a plumber. Oh, joy! And, it being that kind of week, I got confused about the beds and swapped the head and foot ends. This doesn't work so well with adjustable beds, because the ends adjust differently. Fortunately they roll, but I may still have to do some extra work.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (rose)

This would have been Ame's 27th birthday.

I'm mostly over the grieving now, more than a quarter-century after our middle daughter was stillborn. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that our other daughters have both moved out, so that we see them only every month or two. In a sense, Ame's a little closer than that now. It's ok.

I'm okay. It's actually been three years since I last posted, and that was a short one, a couple of days late. We don't have much to talk about these days.

Good night, Ame. I love you.

Good night, Daddy. I love you too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been a stressful week. The worst thing to happen, of course, was Jordin Kare's death on Wednesday. Friday we went down to Seattle both to check on the apartment, and to look for a kitten at Cat City. There were some wonderful ones, but they were all on hold. We went on a wild cat chase up to Lynnwood, only to find that the kitten we'd wanted to meet had been adopted while we were on the road.

The second pod was unloaded yesterday, mostly using hired muscle. It filled an appalling amount of space in the garage (I set up the plastic shelves down the center, and there are piles (mostly of book boxes) next to it. So there's that.) I had a bit of a meltdown this morning upacking mostly kitchen stuff, including the Peter Rabbit plate that I'd had as a kid, and realizing that we didn't have nearly enough room for even the reduced amount of stuff we brought, and concerned about money, and, and, and,... The usual stuff that happens when the brain weasels go out to play with the black dog.

We currently have two boxes of stuff to give away, one for my daughter who has just gotten engaged, and a largeish pile for G.

However, despite the stress, our first full week here has mostly been pretty good. Colleen's new caregiver, G", is working out quite well. (Glenn is G; our previous housekeeper, Giselle, was G'. This one is named Gina, so, ... After her I'm switching to subscripts.) Molly, our Chevy Bolt, is finally getting fully charged every day or two. (I am somewhat amused by the fact that she sends me a text when she's done charging. Molly is not amused by being mistaken for a wallboard anchor.)

Our beds are here, but we're waiting until after the new floor is in (Tuesday) to set them up, since moving them would involve taking them apart and setting them up again -- not worth it.

Our cats are at least not fighting; we're still keeping them separate until we can (hopefully) re-introduce them. We've bought a couple of Feliway pheromone diffusers - one for the main area of the house, and one for the room we plan to use for the re-introduction.

I have also replaced the ionization fire detector nearest the kitchen with a photoelectric one. Ionization detectors are sensitive to open flames, and we have a gas stove. Bad combination.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (rose)

Jordin Kare died yesterday, from complications of aortic valve replacement surgery. I am still somewhat in shock. He was younger than Colleen.

There is not much to be grateful for on this Thursday, but I am profoundly grateful for Jordin's music, which has been part of my life's soundtrack since at least the early 1980s. He was one of the founders of Off Centaur Publications, publishers of the Westerfilk songbooks and many fine filk tapes. (Jordin did the typesetting for Westerfilk I using troff, which led to a number of typos involving single quotes, which troff treats specially if they're the first character in a line.)

Last night Naomi and I sang a few of his songs -- "Fire In the Sky", "The Designer" and "The Engineer", "Waverider", and all I could remember of "Kantrowitz 1972". It wasn't until this morning that I found the lyrics for that and "Sail for Amber", Colleen's favorite.

I just ...

(Jordin Kare: Fire In The Sky (1991) | LyricWikia)

mdlbear: Welcome to Rainbow's End (sign) (rainbows-end)

Somehow I appear to have missed posting last week. We've moved. (Looking at the notes for last Sunday, I'm guessing that the reason I missed posting was sheer exhaustion -- that was a busy day, and I'd done more lifting than is good for me.)

We moved into the new house on Wednesday. The movers, from Two Men And a Truck, were fast and efficient - we were out of the apartment in an hour and a half. Highly recommended.

My new phone, on the other hand, is not highly recommended. It's a great phone, except that because it was factory unlocked it doesn't support HD Voice and, hence, WiFi Calling. That's bad, because the cell signal here is rather spotty. It could be worse, except that I actually have a signal in the house, albeit a weak one at times.

I spent hours on chat with AT&T's tech support, and hours in their store, and a little while in the T-Mobile store, trying to get the damned thing recognized by the network. No dice. Now it won't even work as a WiFi hotspot, which sucks. I'll have to swap it again. I hate phones. I hate phone companies. H8 H8 H8. (Basingstoke.)

We are mostly moved in, except that our beds are in the second pod, which isn't arriving until next week. Oops. So we're still on the sofabed, which is in the living room because we didn't want to try to deal with moving it out of the bedroom. It's not merely heavy, it's huge, and won't fit vertically through a doorway.

The house is going to take some getting used to. The kitchen is lovely and open, but doesn't have as much storage as we expected -- in particular, there's only one rather narrow set of drawers. So that will take some refactoring.

The biggest problem, though, is the cats. Ticia is no longer being aggressive toward Cricket, but she's curious. Cricket, however, is terrified, and just hides. That's going to take some work -- it's not the usual case where one cat is being aggressive, so the usual procedures for reintroducing cats don't really apply.

Other than that, though, I like it here. There are a few other assorted inconveniences, but the place itself is lovely -- calm and quiet.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (crowdfunding)

I left a prompt in YsabetWordsmith's poetry fishbow. You should, too.

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

At this point it's less than two weeks before we move to the new house. Nerve-wracking.

I spent much of this week fighting with phones. My present phone, a Samsung Galaxy S5 mini, has been giving me problems for some time. Wednesday I ordered a new phone, an unlocked Motorola G4 Plus. Lovely thing, with 4G of RAM, 64G of internal storage, micro SIM, and micro SD card. I spent pretty much all day Friday getting it set up...

... only to find out that there is a design flaw that causes "ghost touches" when the phone is charging. That means that it's completely unusable for the time it's on the charger. This is apparently a simple fix that can be performed by a repair center, and, hey, there's one in downtown Seattle. Except that its phone is disconnected. I spent a couple of hours on chat with Motorola's tech support, and learned that the only actual repair center is in Texas. This is apparently a consequence of their having been sold to Lenovo. The phone also had a loud and obnoxious boot sound, which I became very familiar with.

Yesterday I also found out, in the course of investigating microcells, that AT&T now has "WiFi Calling" (which T-Mobile has had for years, but let's not go into that). So after putting my SIM card back in my old phone, I went online trying to find out how to turn it on. (This is important because cell service on Whidbey Island is spotty at best, and our new house is outside of all the spots.) Not finding anything obvious, I chatted with a support person, who told me that the instructions were on the "device support" pages...

...only they weren't. So back to chat, for the rest of the goddamned afternoon, during which it turned out that my phone needed either a new SIM, a factory reset, or both. Since at that point I knew from experience (see Friday) that setting up all my icons and logging back in to all the apps that need it is a multi-hour process, I decided to forgo the reset until I had the new phone (which I hadn't selected at that point) in hand.

So after printing out the shipping labels for returning the Motorola phone to Amazon, I spent the rest of yesterday researching phones. I eventually found the LG G5, which is actually a much better phone in all ways that I can determine without actually having one in my hands, and cost about the same $250. It should be arriving sometime today, because Amazon is awesome, especially in its home town of Seattle. It has "only" 32G of internal storage compared with the Moto's 64, but the same 4G of RAM, and supports SIM cards up to 256G (which is the size SSD I have in my laptop, for FSM's sake).

So it's been a pretty grueling weekend, and that's not even counting the heat. Last weekend was worse, but I did go to the Seattle Pride festival with Naomi and the kids. That was fun, especially the fabulous people-watching.

I also did a little walking during the week. Still not as much as I ought to, but it's a start. The other accomplishment for last weekend was putting the finishing touches on two-sided song printing. I still need to edit the lyrics files to accommodate the new structure; that's minor.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

I spent pretty much the whole week, during "working hours" anyway, working on a project that's been on my queue for years: getting my lyrics to print two-sided and ensuring that if songs occupy two pages that they span an even-odd two page spread. It's working, as of this afternoon.

There are a couple of subtleties. Notably, if you're just printing a whole bound songbook, you don't care which side of the page a one-page song goes on. If you're printing individual songs to go into a looseleaf binder, on the other hand, you need a cover sheet on the first (right-hand) page to force both pages of a two-page song onto the correct page. And of course if you're printing lyrics to go on a song's web page, you don't want the cover page. But I have it working.

I also got Father's Day calls from both of my kids, got the keys to the new house (in a little party Monday afternoon), scheduled our move out of the apartment (for Wednesday July 12th, which will give us a little time to pack), got in contact with the various utility companies, and, ... I'm not sure there was much else. That's probably enough.

I still have the persistent feeling of not getting much done, and I'm constantly appalled at how much has to be done before we can move into the new place, and how little time we have. I'm still scared about how little money we have, and worried about the amount of stuff we still have to do to the new house to make it work for our family.

Not to mention whether we'll have anything at all left after Trump and his goons get through destroying our social safety net, not to mention the planet.

And speaking of global warming, it's in the 90s this week. For Seattle, that's scorching.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

The only major news is that we have a firm date for when the previous owner of our house gets all his stuff moved out: June 30th. That's about three weeks sooner than the original worst-case plan, so Colleen and I will have the entire month to get moved in, rather than a week. Yay!

I don't seem to have done much this week. I did get the car charged, and deposited a bunch of checks (including some old enough that I'm not sure they're still good -- I need to get a lot better at that). Mostly I sat around the apartment exploring an assortment of math topics on Wikipedia and YouTube.

It turns out that, thanks to a paper I wrote back at Carleton with one of my math professors, it can easily be determined that my Erdős number is officially 7. Unofficially, if one includes patents as well as actual math papers, it's 4. That still probably exceeds the number of people reading this who knew what an Erdős number is before reading this. The official value almost certainly does.

I did some actual programming yesterday (which I made more progress on today), aimed at bringing my song formatting and typesetting into the 21st Century. Mostly that means switching from postscript files to PDFs everywhere, upgrading to LaTeX2e, and simplifying the build process. There are still a few formatting issues that need to be dealt with; I will be having some fun this week refactoring my horrible old style files into classes.

There was some discussion in comments elsewidth about finding a therapist; I did a little link chasing. Not going to do anything about it until after we move.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

I'm not sure what to say about this week. It's been very stressful; things appear to have worked out ok, most if not all of the stress-causing things are gone, but my self-confidence (what little there was of it) is more-or-less completely gone. I just don't know. Something like that.

Well, let's go for the really good stuff first: Colleen and I are now covered by Medicare part D (drugs) and a supplemental (medigap) policy. They're with ExpressScripts and Premera Blue Cross, which is what we had with Amazon, so the transition appears to have been smooth. Whew!

Now the -- damned if I know. Last Sunday Naomi and I went car-shopping, and bought a red Chevy Bolt. Beautiful car; lots of great safety features. Electric. Expensive. The cargo area holds Colleen's scooter, though just barely.

Wednesday I went down to REI, which is the closest place with a DC Fast Charge station that I can use, and discovered that the car we'd bought didn't have that feature. It turned out to be an option. Driving up to the dealership I spent the entire trip berating myself over not checking. It took most of the rest of the afternoon, but they were able to find a (blue) Bolt with equivalent features, plus DCFC, and do a swap. It was very stressful; they'd originally found me a white one, but white isn't visible in fog, and here we are in Seattle. So, ...

It's hard for me to say enough good things about Bill Pierre Chevrolet, on Lake City Way. Saying they went well out of their way to accommodate our requirements would be a massive understatement. They, and their Ford dealership next door, are highly recommended.

So now we have a blue Bolt, which we have named Molly. (Puns involving drywall anchors are not appreciated -- Molly ius a little sensitive on that point.) She's a wonderful car.

There are a couple of hopefully minor problems. The main one is that there aren't nearly as many fast charging stations as we thought there would be. I don't think that it would be possible to drive cross-country, for example. Maybe to San Jose, but it would take very careful planning. Another is the cargo space - we couldn't drive to an airport or a convention in it (which is ok; we still have a van). Another is the cost -- I've never spent that much on a car before. (In absolute terms. I still vividly remember when we bought our first minivan, a Mercury Villager, and paid more for it than we'd paid for our house a decade before.)

But the biggest problem isn't with the car, it's with me. It's mostly after I make a big, expensive decision like that that I start second-guessing myself, and wondering whether I'd made a huge mistake. It was really Wednesday (see above) that started that process. It combines with the problems I'd had last week and all through May with our health care, which I made worse by not realizing that when Amazon told me they'd continue my health care, what they meant was that they'd subsidize my COBRA benefits. Ricoh hadn't done it that way; I'd made some wrong assumptions, and my HR person at Amazon simply hadn't gotten back to me at all about it.

Hmm - both of those problems have been due to things people didn't tell me. Unfortunately, that doesn't help me feel that they're any less my fault. I think I'm supposed to think of everything. One reason I'm comfortable around computers is that if I don't think of everything, the computer will tell me (by doing what I told it to do, not what I expected it to do) and I can fix it. Real-world stuff terrifies me because I can't go back and fix most of it. But if I try to think of everything before hand, I never actually go out and do it. Can't win. (Can't break even. Can't leave the game. Laws of Thermodynamics in words of mostly one syllable.)

"I can't fix it!" is something I end up saying all too often.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (e8)

I'm really glad we got Colleen's medicare coverage straightened out (or mostly -- her Part D (drug) coverage is not fully functional yet, nor is her supplemental policy). Because she went in to Shoreline Clinic for lab work on Tuesday after her visit to the SSA office, and Wednesday we got a call telling her to go to the ER and get IV fluids, because her creatinine level was high. That's related to kidney function, and in this case indicated a problem with her catheter.

So she spent the rest of the week in Northwest Hospital; she was discharged Friday. And Medicare covers it. I spent much of the week doing medicare-related paperwork; being retired may be relaxing once you get to actually do it -- retiring sure isn't. I'm still not done with Colleen's.

Meanwhile, I've been reading. I finished Counterexamples in Analysis, which is a really fun read. It had been used as the textbook for Advanced Calculus up until the year I went to Carleton, so there were enough copies lying around for me to get intrigued by such perverse creatures as "a space-filling curve that's almost everywhere almost nowhere". In the process, supplementing it with Wikipedia dives, I've finally gotten a little more comfortable with ring theory.

Last night, between John Baez on the number 24 on YouTube and a bit of digging on Wikipedia, I also started getting the hang of the Monster Group and E8. They turn out to be related to the Binary Golay code, a 24-bit error-correcting code invented by Marcel Golay, who I knew of because he'd collaborated with my father on the Savitzky–Golay filter!

I've also been reading Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces - it's mostly review for me, but it's a good presentation and there are a few good nuggets in there. The Codeless Code, a collection of software-development koans, is also worth of note, and of everything I've mentioned here is probably of the most interest to people casually interested in the sociology of software development. Or possibly Zen Buddhism.

I've also been looking around Don Knuth's home page -- Don was my favorite professor at Stanford -- which eventually led me back to Surreal Numbers. I see that I don't have a good set of links for those.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's the first of June.

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

Big week. The sale of Rainbow's End (now "Rainbow's Ended"?) closed on Tuesday, after a marathon clean-up session. (The buyers had done a walk-through Monday evening, and called with a list of things that had to be cleaned up. If they weren't done by EOD Tuesday, they were going to hold up closing. Since the closing for our purchase was scheduled for Wednesday, that was a non-starter. Cleanup had to be done.)

First (realtor) Chris and I cleaned up the messes left by the movers who ghosted on us last week, the housekeeper, and me when I came by both Thursday and Sunday and simply ran out of spoons. I think some valuable things may have been hauled off by the guys from 1-800-GOT-JUNK, but I was pretty low on spoons at that point.

After that, (this is still Tuesday!) I met G at UHaul to rent a truck so that we could get his motorcycles out of the garage. Fortunately, our housekeeper (G', if you've been following the details of my notation) offered to store them at her house. We probably came within inches of dropping a bike, more than once.

After that, I came back to the house (no longer ours, since they did close on time) to pick up the hazardous materials we'd taken out of the garage, since GOT-JUNK doesn't do hazmat. I came around to the front after that, and took a blossom and a bud from the Royal Amethist rose. Then I sang "The Mary Ellen Carter" on the way home to keep from losing it.

Wednesday, the purchase of our new house on Whidbey Island closed. I also learned that 1. the household hazmat site on Aurora Avenue is closed on Wednesdays, and 2. latex paint is not considered hazardous, so they won't take it. I was, and still am, too short on emotional cope to react significantly to either event.

Thursday I bought cat litter for solidifying the paint. I was kind of out of it, and didn't do much except reading (see links).

Friday I found out that C had not gotten signed up for Medicare. Damnit, she was positive that she had; if I'd known we could have done it when we visited the office to deliver our marriage license. Weeks ago. Shit. I also took care of the nine cans of paint that actually had room for cat litter to be added.

Saturday I tried to get C signed up for Medicare, and failed. (I failed again today.) There's still a lot of other stuff I've been neglecting.

Meanwhile, I've been doing paperwork mostly connected with health care, utilities, you name it. If I'd been under any illusions that retiring was going to be less stressful than working, well, ... Maybe it gets better? Damned if I know. I've also been reading a lot, mostly math and computer science, probably because it gets me into a flow state where I'm not really aware of anything else. Not being aware of anything mostly sounds pretty good right now.

Oh, yeah; I ought to schedule an appointment with my therapist. Not that that's been doing any noticable good lately. I have difficulty imagining how it could do any good, which may be part of the problem. (That's not a new thing; except for learning about CBT and getting me on the first of a series of drugs that may or may not still be working it didn't do a whole lot for me back in California, either.)

And don't get me started on politics.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

It's been an eventful week. I'm thankful that it's over. That's probably enough.

  • We sold our house in West Seattle. Done. It required a marathon cleanup session the day of the closing (Tuesday!) after the buyers' walkthrough Monday night. Why the *bleep* couldn't they have done it Friday evening? But they didn't, and our agent and I spent all day Tuesday cleaning out the stuff that I'd been too tired to deal with last Thursday, and the stuff that the movers dumped on the side path after they ghosted on us Friday. And G and I rented a UHaul and hauled his two motorcycles -- that the aforesaid mover had said he wanted to buy on Monday but never showed up -- over to our housekeeper's house in Auburn. But we did it.
  • In the end, after dropping off the truck, I went back to the old place to collect the paint cans the buyers had complained about, drove around to the front, and picked a bud and a flower off the Royal Amethyst rose. Thank you, Ame.
  • ... and sang "The Mary Ellen Carter" as loud as I could on the way back over the West Seattle Bridge. Thanks, Stan -- I needed that.
  • Our purchase of our new house on Whidbey Island went through without a hitch. That was a long search, and a lot of anxiety and research, but that too is done. Special thanks to our agents, Rob and (especially) Leif.
  • Also somewhere in there my final payment from Amazon came through. Less than I'd been expecting because I hadn't allowed for Social Security and Medicare taking their cuts, but welcome just the same. I note in passing that they have not come through with my promised health care, so no thanks are due in that direction.
  • Thanks to my family, too, the whole crazy lot of us. Special thanks to the Younger Daughter, whose new phone plan and health coverage through her employer have taken several additional worries off of my mind.
  • Thanks, too, to you, my readers. Your occasional comments and encouraging words have meant a great deal during this, um..., adventure? Something like that.

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

I spent most of the week sick, miserable, and barely able to breathe at times, but got quite a lot done regardless. Everything is now out of the West Seattle house, which I suppose could be called "Rainbow's Ended" now; the third and final pod has been taken away, and all of the paperwork for both the sale of the old house and the purchase of the new one has been signed, in sessions with the respective traveling notaries. The respective closings are Tuesday and Wednesday.

In other news, my final payment from Amazon arrived -- less than I expected because I hadn't allowed for social security and medicare -- but my promised health care still hasn't. Should have just started COBRA and asked them to pay for it, which is probably what's going to happen.

Oh, yes -- our sink fell down. It had apparently been glued to the underside of the counter with a thin bead of silicone; the maintenance guy came by and propped it up with 2x4s. I feel like I'm living on Desolation Row.

Yes I received your letter yesterday, about the time the doorknob broke,...
When you asked me how I was doing -- was that some kind of joke?
Right now I can't read so good; don't send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them from Desolation Row


OK, so it was the sink and not the doorknob. My poetic license hasn't expired yet.

I do seem to be experiencing less anxiety this week, and I'm starting to look forward to living on Whidbey Island. I still don't feel as though I'm getting as much done as I should, but I do note in passing that I've updated my resume and three of the five websites that most needed it. I've gotten out of the apartment at least five of the last seven days, though not necessarily on foot. The other two did include something that might count as exercise, however.

BTW I'm feeling quite a bit better (physically) today, though still not up to par. Psychologically I'm still having problems. It's like a break-up, or losing a pet -- I keep wondering whether there was anything I could have done differently. It's going to be a rough couple of months, until we can actually move in -- we gave the present owner a 60-day leaseback, though it's not entirely certain that he'll use all of it.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been another rough week. This week it's been mostly health care -- I found out Tuesday that Amazon hadn't continued my health care as they said they were going to, so I was unable to order Colleen's humira. (Which, at $1800 for two doses, isn't something one wants to pay for out of pocket.) My HR contact is looking into it, but it took several days to get through; meanwhile I went online and signed up for Medicare Part D and identified a Medigap provider (ExpressScripts and Premera Blue Cross; both for continuity and because they seem to get top reviews. Who knows how long that will last under Trump(Doesn't)Care.)

I know there's something called compassion fatigue. Is despair fatigue a thing? Or is that just another phase of despair? I find myself incapable of being surprised at whatever outrageous thing Trump and the "Republicans" have done each day. (I put "Republicans" in quotes because they are rapidly turning this country into a right-wing dictatorship. I feel powerless to stop them.)

Onward. Had a really good trip with Colleen up to Whidbey Island; we went up the whole length of it and came back by way of Deception Pass. It's been a very long time since Colleen and I went out for a drive that long that was just a drive -- our occasional loop drives along the California coast were probably the last ones. It was a little too long, but it went ok.

I've been spending much of my spare time catching up on my reading. For some reason I'd stopped reading LWN (Linux Weekly News) sometime around the first of the year; in the last two weeks I've completely caught up. You can see the results in the links, most of which came from LWN, or indirectly by way of Sacha Chua's awesome Emacs News. I've also been finding Whidbey-related links. At some point I need to go back through my to.do archives, extract all the links, and aggregate them. They're kind of useless scattered across blog entries the way they are.

I've even done a little walking (not quite every day, and not much because I seem to be walking at about half my old 3mph pace), a little music, and a little hacking (almost entirely cleanup tasks). On the whole, I appear to have been keeping myself busy in a relaxed kind of way, though I haven't yet fallen into any kind of routine. Later, hopefully.

But.

My last few trips down to the house we used to call Rainbow's End (should we call it "Rainbow's Ended" now?) have been increasingly sad and discouraging. We put a lot of ourselves into that house; it was a large part of what we were as a family. Now we're scattered. We'll come back together, mostly, on Whidbey Island in a little over two months; it may very well be wonderful -- I hope it will -- but it won't be the same. I can't keep from thinking of what I might have done differently, over the last few decades(!), that might have made it possible to stay there. Hell, we all made decisions that seemed like the right thing at the time. Can't be fixed.

"I can't fix it!" is probably what I say most often when things are going badly. It always feels like my fault. I don't think I can fix that, either. I should shut up and go for a walk with Colleen.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

So. My first full week of retirement. I want to say I haven't gotten much done, but in fact I seem to have been fairly busy. I've done some work required for selling the old house, and quite a lot of research and discussion around whether we can live the way we want to in the new one. I've taken several walks, including a few st/rolls with Colleen. I've ordered and installed a new keyboard for Cygnus, my main computer. I've started catching up on my reading -- back issues of Science and Linux Weekly News. Pulled out my guitar a couple of times for noodling. I haven't had any panic attacks.

It still doesn't feel like all that much. Apparently I was well on my way to burnout, judging by the amount of pleasure reading I haven't been doing -- I hadn't read LWN since the beginning of the year -- plus the amount of other stuff I haven't been doing. Although one could easily argue that most of that is due to my hatred (fear?) of paperwork.

There is an enormous amount of paperwork (including bill-paying) that still needs doing, and I'm having a lot of trouble getting started on the projects I want to do. But there is, presumably, time.

This coming week will be busy -- Naomi and the kids are moving out of the Seattle house, and I'm still needed to help pack up the garage. Sometime this week we should hear back from the seller about our inspection response; if they accept that it will take a big load off all of us.

I still worry.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

ysabetwordsmith's Poetry Fishbowl is now open! The theme this month is "History written by the losers." Go fishing!

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit. Happy May Day.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It's been a long month this last week.

  • We are very close to buying the house on Whidbey Island. Just a couple of things we have to check.
  • As of Friday, I am officially a Retired Person. (I've been a member of the AARP for 20 years. It's still weird.
  • I had a couple of panic attacks. The fact that I know what they are, how they work, and how to deal with them is helpful, but they're still something of an ordeal.

I had a very nice send-off party from the team at work; another team member was moving to another team, so it was a combined affair, and of course combined with the weekly Friday "Beer 30". I will miss those people. Naomi was able to come up for the party, so we were able to do a little singing (set list in the notes). Damned good thing, too -- I had greatly underestimated the amount of stuff I would be bringing home. I would have had to call a cab.

For some reason I'm not seeing all that many events this week outside the house-related stuff. Oh, well. Maybe that's enough.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Without much ado about nothing,

  • Selling our old house. The deal hasn't closed yet, but it seems unlikely that there will be any problems now that the inspection period has ended.
  • Getting closer to buying our new house on Whidbey Island. We could still turn up something fatal during our due diligence period, but we have decided to stay with Whidbey in any case.
  • A mortgage close to getting approved.
  • Enough income, even in retirement, to get a mortgage.
  • Good friends close by our new house.
  • Retirement. To be honest, I am not entirely thankful for this; I will greatly miss being surrounded by brilliant people. Ask me next week.
  • My family of choice. In which I include not only my sister of choice but my darling wife. Both of these amazing women have chosen to live with me. I'm not entirely sure why, but I'm going to shut up and enjoy the ride.

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

Another long month this week. Guess we're going to keep having those for a while. Didn't finish doing my taxes, but figured out an upper bound and filed for an extension. OK, that was the easy part.

Wednesday, on short notice, Naomi and I went to Whidbey Island to look at houses. The first was quirky and magical, especially the land, but it would have taken quite a lot of work to make it habitable. The second was move-in ready and a safe bet, but it's never going to be much better than what it is now. The safe one was going to be looking at offers Thursday, so we put in a bid for asking price. We got it.

Thursday, in addition to finding out that our bid for the Whidbey Island house had been accepted, we got the counter-offer from the buyers for our Seattle house. We now have the choice between getting the work done ourselves, which would get us more money but has some risk, and giving the buyers a price reduction. It may come down to cash flow.

Saturday, Colleen and I decided to go out for dinner... and found the elevator broken. You can read about that little comedy of errors (none of them ours) downwhen in my previous post. A few things stand out:

  1. An SOP that includes "call the fire department" for after-hours elevator maintenance is clearly wrong.
  2. If you're going to have maintenance people "on call" but don't have an SLA for them, you have a problem.
  3. If the only contact information on your website is a phone number, a twitter handle, and a facebook name, something that would otherwise result in an annoyed email is instead going to make you look stupid in public.

Still worried.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (penguin-rant)

Email to our apartment manager. Or the leasing office -- it's not clear who the "info@" account is connected to.

<rant> )

</rant>

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

It's been a week. I accepted my retirement package. It's the same amount of money as if I kept going until my original target date; if the notice is too short, they should have thought of that earlier. They are going to have to do a lot of scrambling -- there's a lot left to do. My teammates are probably going to be shocked -- I think my boss was, too; he apparently found out about the deal only days before I did -- and I'm rather sorry about that. Not sorry enough to keep working for two more months without any financial incentive for it, though.

In other news, we got two offers on the house, and accepted the higher one (25K over asking price) with the second as backup. We will have to make some concessions; it looks as though there's some $30K worth of sewer damage. Hopefully it will still come out in the neighborhood of our asking price.

Notable among things that went missing during the move to the apartment were my Android tablets. I'd meant to pack the 7" Nexus, at least. And I packed at least two bluetooth tablet keyboards. Oh, well. With two extra netbooks (blackbird and purple), the mac mini (whitewood), the server (nova), and a spare laptop (raven), it's not as though I'll lack for compute power. Networking in the apartment is incredibly slow; not sure how much of that is interference, but both ethernet and the A band work a lot better. Unfortunately neither Cygnus nor Raven seem willing to talk 802-11a.

On the other hand, I found my missing ORCA card (in my wallet in the one compartment I had overlooked) and the missing tax forms (in a separate folder, so thin that I thought it was empty). Still missing at least one form, with the interest from my HELOC.

I finally (on Tuesday) started working on my taxes. For that I use my old Mac mini, in part because unlike the Windows 7 partition on my laptop it's still receiving updates. Next year is going to be something of a nightmare; I may finally have to send them to an accountant. For now, TaxCut works fine.

Yesterday we went out to look at houses again. Another dome -- I like them, but it was at the top end of our price range and would have needed another $50K to make it work for us. The other place, in Auburn, was perfectly respectable and undoubtedly the best we can find that close to Seattle. But do we really need to be that close?

I also spoke to a (different) lender - this one is a long-time friend of our realtor - about the change in plans around retirement. Looks ok -- my credit is excellent (for the first time in years, I think), and I'll be making somewhere between 70 and 80K/year. More if one counts N's contribution to the household as rent.

The major omission of the week was following up on C's humira -- they were supposed to have called me back Monday. I was also very late getting in a call to my financial advisor -- that will have to wait for Monday, since "Good" Friday was a holiday.

The idea of retiring is beginning to be a little less surreal, though I don't think I could actually call it real yet.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been a week. Not only are we moving house, a large number of people are moving from LJ to Dreamwidth. I'd already mostly moved, and since I have a permanent account I'm not likely to leave completely, but I've been reducing my exposure -- the entire journal is marked "adults only" and I've taken off all of my interests and most of my personal details. I also gathered together and posted a few notes on the process, under the tag ljexit. Feel free to crosslink, and to use the tag yourself.

Monday was a bit rough, both emotionally and physically exhausting, from spending all day at Rainbow's End organizing and sorting. I did some finishing-up Tuesday night, taking advantage of a dentist appointment and the resulting personal day, when our mover failed to show up. (We found out later that he'd been in an auto accident on the way up.)

Tuesday night was miserable and mostly sleepless, and I woke up on Wednesday with a queasy stomach and muscle aches. It was a close enough match for flu that I called in sick. As it turned out, though, it's more likely to have been physical overwork, lack of sleep, dehydration, and low blood sugar from having been thinking about things other than self-care for much the previous two days.

Thursday at 1pm our listing went live: 4126 37th Ave SW, Seattle, Washington 98126 | The Warmack Group. If you're reading this and interested, the open house is this weekend, and you only have a couple more days to get an offer in.

Friday I got in to work late, having gone with N. to look at another house. I very much wanted to get in to work for the last meeting of the day, with $BOSS and $HR_PERSON. Um... yeah. I've been offered an "early" retirement package. (Scare quotes because it would be only a couple of months before my target date.) I may very well take it. The emotional roller-coaster ride one might expect from having to look reality in the face from up close, but at this point I think I'm ready.

Saturday -- yesterday -- Naomi and I went to look at The Dome House in Monroe. It was magical. Almost perfect for us -- EXCEPT: it's isolated as heck, at the end of a mile of twisty, narrow, gravel road. Haul the garbage to the dump yourself. Lots of unpermitted, unfinished construction in the barn. It would have been perfect for who we were 20 years ago. *sigh* I wouldn't have missed seeing it, but it makes me sad to have to pass it up. N called it the other end of the rainbow. Had a great talk with the owner, who is moving to someplace dryer for health reasons.

So that's the week. I'm glad it's over.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Before you abandon LJ altogether, or even if you don't intend to leave at all, go over to your Dreamwidth account and claim your LiveJournal OpenID (see instructions here)

Doing that ensures that all the comments you made over on LiveJournal will link to your Dreamwidth account when people import them. And if you haven't imported your LJ yet, do it soon before LJ notices that it's going on and blocks it.

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

If you use Livejournal, you will already have seen the pop-up demanding that you agree to their new terms of service. med_cat has an excellent partial translation and analysis. A full copy of the agreement can be found in archangelbeth | And the translation of the New User Agreement for Livejournal

I will add more as they come in. The salient points are:

  • [The user must] Mark Content estimated by Russian legislation as inappropriate for children (0 −18) as “adult material” by using Service functions.
    Who the heck knows what this includes? Play it safe.
  • The user may not:
    • without the Administration’s special permit, use automatic scripts (bots, crawlers etc.) to collect information from the Service and/or to interact with the Service;
      Which arguably covers backing up to DW or your local hard drive.
    • post advertising and/or political solicitation materials unless otherwise directly specified in a separate agreement between User and the Administration;
      This presumably covers promoting one's CDs or other ventures.


Many of my friends are leaving altogether. I don't blame them.

What I have done:

  • I post no original content on LJ -- it's all cross-posted from here on Dreamwidth.
  • Copied all LJ content -- posts and comments -- over to Dreamwidth.
  • Comments on cross-posts are disabled; the footer has a link to the corresponding DW post.
  • I use LJ only to read comments and posts that are not on Dreamwidth. I read DW first so that I can skip cross-posts that don't have comments.
  • I have started to take people who no longer allow comments on LJ off my friends list.
  • Effective immediately, I am marking my journal as "adult content", and disabled my participation in "user rankings".
  • I have reduced the amount of information shown in my profile. In particular, I have removed my list of interests.
  • I have taken my website link off the journal headers and out of my profile. If you want more information, look at my DW profile.

Future action:

  • Sometime in mid-April, I will disable comments altogether on LJ, at which point all existing comments will be hidden. They've already been copied over to Dreamwidth, so nothing will be lost. This is for your protection, in case you've posted a comment that could be construed as violating Russian law.
  • At some point, I will stop cross-posting, both because of the legal risk and as a protest.
  • At some further point, I may delete all or most of my posts, or possibly replace them with links to the corresponding posts on DW.

Sorry, LJ. We had a great time together, but I think it's best for both of us if we go back to being just friends. OK?

And I'm not saying you treated me unkind / You could have done better, but I don't mind / You just kinda wasted my precious time. / Don't think twice, it's all right.

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

This was a week of settling in to life at Split End -- our apartment in the U District. Unfortunately, we took pretty much everything that was in the kitchen -- even after taking two boxes back there's much more than we have room for. Yeah, the boxes fit in the apartment, but...

Much sadness about leaving Rainbow's End. Yes, it's an adventure, and Naomi says that she likes the way that I almost always say "yes" to adventures. I grumble about them while they're in progress, but then find that they were worth while. And she's basically right. I worry, and I get down on myself for the decisions that seemed like good ideas at the time, and freak out occasionally, but apparently I keep doing it. So here we are.

I have, however, been having a pretty rough time of it emotionally. Near as I can tell, because alexithymia. (Which is to say that emotions are happening, but I can't usually tell what they are. Only that they hurt.)

We are preapproved for a $300K mortgage on a second home. We will probably make any offer we make contingent on selling RE just so we don't get stuck with two mortgages if it doesn't sell right off or the buyers back out after the inspection. But still.

We can haz internet. Went with Comcast, because they do service with no contract. Had the devil's own time getting connected, in spite of the fact that Comcast could see and provision my modem just fine. Turns out that the only way to get a DHCP lease is to *reset* the modem! Remind me to stay away from TP-Link equipment in the future. (It also took me a long time to set my router up -- apparently you have to reboot it after a hard reset. Otherwise it just hangs in the boot loader, possibly waiting for a TFTP load.

Saturday we went to look at houses in Snohomish. The first was amusing; we were basically run off the property after the owner drove by our van to let us in, and saw our Obama bumper sticker. Ooooookay then. Thanks for telling us what we needed to know about the neighborhood.

The second place was superficially attractive; it even had a ramp--in the pictures. They had apparently removed it. It was, however, in pretty poor shape, with water damage to the floors and foundation issues. So we'll keep looking.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (technonerdmonster)
If you've been following my adventures at all (and if you're not, what are you doing reading this?!), you know I'm living in Seattle and working at Amazon these days. Well, our team is hiring, in both Seattle and Vancouver.

I'm in the Consumer Payments team; our biggest project recently was the Amazon Prime Rewards Card ( https://www.amazon.com/visa ), but we also handle things like the store card, installment payments, and so on. We use technologies like AWS, web development, machine learning, and microservices, at scales up to tens of thousands of transactions per second. We also have our own functional programming framework for batch processing (yeah; sometimes you still have to do that) up to millions of records.

We're looking for SDEs, SDETs, PMs, and TPMs. Let me know if you're interested, and I'll connect you with our team's recruiter.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Nasty, uncomfortable things!

As my dedicated readers (all three or four of them) are probably aware, Rainbow's End is being sold. It goes on the market, in fact, in a couple of weeks. (BTW, if you want a superb 6-bedroom house in West Seattle, complete with concert hall, ...) In order to present the place in the best light, we have vacated the top two floors, replaced the carpets, and removed the stair lifts. Colleen and I have been sleeping on our sofabed in the Rainbow Room.

Saturday, we moved. Or, rather, went out to a terrific Japanese restaurant in Port Townsend to celebrate the Younger Daughter's birthday, while our moving crew hauled what turned out to be three truckloads of stuff to the apartment. The plan was for us to drive home; pick up (cat) Ticia, (guinea pig) Clea, and (guitar) Plink; come back to an apartment full of boxes; and get settled in. Um..., not quite. In retrospect, leaving Clea at home was the best decision I made all day.

Because the keys, with the all-important fob that gets one into the building and then the elevator, slipped off a box and went through the crack between the elevator and the floor.

Meanwhile, I was driving home. Attempting to follow slightly confusing directions, on a phone that suddenly did not have a visible display! It was particularly confusing because I had missed a turn, and the phone was trying to direct me to turn around. But I didn't know that, either. I pulled off at an intersection in Kitsap that had a convenience store where I could use a bathroom, and switched to Colleen's phone. Fighting, again, with Google Maps, that wanted to direct me to a route it thought was faster, using a ferry. The last thing I needed was to wait an hour or two if I missed the ferry. Of course, I spent nearly that long in a traffic jam in Tacoma.

The traffic jam in Tacoma was where N called me to give me the bad news about the keys. The backup plan was to get buzzed in using the building manager's door code. Which worked fine until I used it too many times figuring out how to keep the garage door open, and said building manager started sending it to voice mail. (I'd thought that it was automated. Nope.) Leaving me outside in the cold, Colleen and Ticia inside waiting for an elevator, and both our phones, plus the litter box that actually had litter in it (we'd sent an empty one ahead), in the van.

After some kind person finally let me in, we proceeded to the apartment. Which is where we determined that we had no phones, no cat litter, and no way of getting back into the elevator after getting them. After meltdown, panic attack, or whatever it was, I proceeded to knock on doors until I found someone who actually opened the door and said they would buzz me in. I arrived downstairs just about the same time as the police, who were investigating an apparent intruder who was knocking on peoples' doors. This is apparently a standard MO for homeless people in the area.

Fortunately, at this point I was well beyond the panic and able to see the humor in the situation, so I had a pleasant conversation with one cop while another went upstairs to knock on my door to confirm with Colleen that we actually lived there.

It wasn't until I got back to the apartment that I took a good look at the phone and realized that the screen wasn't dying, it had just had its brightness turned all the way down. I also figured out that setting up my phone to let people in couldn't be done without having an account set up on dwelo.com. And we had a nice visit from the young lady who had called 911 to report me.

I've lost track of how many anxiety meltdowns I had; at some point I got over the panic and had a nice bout of acute depression.

We have spent the rest of the weekend in the apartment, finding out what's missing and what we have to send back to Rainbow's End to go into the storage pod after all.

Today has been cozy and domestic, sorting through boxes and figuring out which things we actually have room to keep in our apartment's tiny cabinets. And eating veggie, because while I was able to find two cans of crabmeat, the only can-opener we had was a battery-powered one that Colleen had just purchased. Batteries not included.

Oh, and did I mention the scratches I got as I attempted to corner a terrified Ticia and get her into her carrier? Those too.

Meanwhile, here we are.

Notes & links, as usual )

posted late because my emacs client is flaking out. Probably due to the HTTPS redirection.

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

As things become increasingly sureal for me, it's appropriate that the week opened with Salvador Dalí's Long Lost Collaboration With Walt Disney.

It has not been a good week. Naomi found a nice apartment for Colleen and me, in the U District. We will move in next weekend. The prospect of splitting the household, even temporarily, is tearing me apart, especially since we don't know where we're going to end up, or when.

We've continued to look for a new home. The Maple Valley place was magical and lovely, but between wetlands, well, and septic system it's almost impossible -- perhaps completely impossible -- to build anything new on it to replace the mobile home that's too old to be financed. When we eventually move, it would be just as hard to sell as the the present owner is finding it, so we'd be trying to buy a new place with over $250K tied up in the old one. Not good. But it was the only place we've seen that looks as if we could simply move in with only minimal work -- and we'll need to move soon.

The combination of grief, depression, anxiety, burnout, hopelessness, and guilt -- the latter over the incredible number of screw-ups over the last thirty years that got me to this place -- is getting worse and worse. I just want to crawl into a hole, and things that need doing continue to pile up.

In other news, the country I live in is rapidly becoming unrecognizable. Amazon's TV adaptation of The Man in the High Castle is horrifyingly apropos, and Trump Supporters Reaction to Amazon's Resistance Radio is both Sad and Hilarious. Have a billboard.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been a busy week here at Rainbow's End -- last weekend was g's Bat Mitzava and the associated parties; this weekend my Mom is visiting, and we had a few of the local cousins visiting yesterday. In preparation for last week's parties, we had the Great Room almost completely cleared out.

That, of course, made things interesting for this week's party, especially since many of our folding chairs are also in the pod. But between the purple sofabed, my desk chair, what was once Colleen's sewing chair, N's old recliner, and a couple of clunky metal folding chairs that had been languishing on the porch, we managed. We used three of our folding tray tables as a makeshift buffet for cheese and crackers, the blue coffee cups as wineglasses, and had a great afternoon and evening of food and conversation. Never found an opening for music, but...

We are trying, so far without success, to find an apartment for Colleen and I to move into for the next couple of months. Furnished apartments rented month-to-month are mainly for corporate clients, which can afford to pay hotel-room prices: 3-4K/month is typical. There's one place for about 1600, but the rooms are small, the "kitchen" is a tiny microwave, and they don't allow pets. We could manage unfurnished, though it would mean hauling our beds and Colleen's chair.

I was on call this week at work; I found someone to swap with for the weekend, so I'm off the hook until some weekend in May. $PROJECT officially launches (dialed up to 1%) on Monday, which is my actual birthday. So there's that.

I'm not in the best shape physically -- anything that requires me to bend over, like cleaning the floor or changing the bed, is likely to be very bad for my back. Bringing in the desk chair from the Great Room, however, is definitely helping. At least half my problems were caused by trying to use a computer from a folding chair. It also helps that the desk chair lets me use my heating pad.

I'm almost certainly not in terribly good shape emotionally (modulo alexithymia, of course). Leaving the house is hard. Well, grief counseling is one of the Middle-Sized Bear's job functions. I should probably re-read "Mark Elf" to remind myself of that.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Go check out YsabetWordsmith's Poetry Fishbowl!

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

I was on vacation this last week. Which means that it was extremely busy, but in a different way from work. That's not a bad thing. There were two major events, so we'll take them chronologically.

Monday Naomi and I went out looking at houses with (realtor) Chris. There was one place that we found that looked intriguing, and two that we thought were worth trying for. The intriguing place, the third one we looked at, was a five bedroom place for about 280K, the high end of our range. It had two usable sections, plus a huge unfinished basement. It would have cost us about another 100K to remodel to the point of usability. (Another place, less interesting, was an absolute dump, but had a large back yard that we could have easily put a tiny on.)

The first place we looked at was a great-looking mobile, fairly new, for an astounding price. I figured, correctly, that it would be selling for considerably over the asking price. When we saw the place in Maple Valley, we pretty much didn't care. We took G, Colleen, and the kids out Thursday evening. They loved it as much as N and I did.

I'm not going to say much about it until after we have an offer in, and there could still be dealbreakers in the inspection and feasibility study, but it's basically everything we were looking for: a piece of land with an existing cottage for me and Colleen, and space for a tiny house for N and G. (One kid in each.) The price is right on the edge of what we can buy for cash (and we'll have to) after our present house sells.

OK, that's the first thing.

The second was g's Bat Mitzva. It was wonderful, and g basically blew people away. It was followed by a small party for the visiting family members on both sides -- we provided the space, and g's dad and step-mom provided the rented equipment and food. Those are getting used today as well, for the kids' party.

I'd forgotten (or never knew) how wonderful the music was -- it's been over 50 years since the last one of those I'd been to, and for that matter they may not have been that musical. The entire Hebrew portion was chanted. I never learned the language, despite my heritage, but it didn't matter. I just let myself be carried away on the music.

Wish us luck on the house transactions!

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Hey, it's Thursday! Today I am grateful for...

  • My family.
  • Colleen's fast recovery from a serious infection.
  • Health insurance (though I'd much prefer a single payer system)
  • Our realtor.
  • A much-needed week's vacation.
  • Our builder, movers, and organizers.
  • Therapy cats. Cat therapy. Cats.

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