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

I'm still not getting as much real work done as I need to, so I'm still down on myself as usual, but I've gotten a few, mostly less important, things done.

I actually did a little hacking this week: we wanted to put the music collection onto an mp3 player for m, so I had to transcode the existing collection, most of which is in ogg vorbis. I realized that I could shrink them considerably in the process, which got all the folk and filk in under 20GB. The whole thing will almost certainly come in under 64GB, and micro SD cards that size are getting cheap. There was a moderate amount of bash scripting involved. There will be even more next time; the server is about a quarter the speed of my fastest laptop.

I seem to be the official household recipient for dead or dubious electronics. It's not that I'm necessarily capable of fixing it, just that I'm the only one who might consider it worth attempting. Not that I actually do attempt it in all cases; that's why I also maintain the household's collection of dead phones and tablets. However, I've gotten pretty good at simple laptop repair and linux installs.

Top link for the week goes to The Ultimate Rain Sound Generator, which includes a very effective conversation-blocker setting. If you prefer something other than rain its parent site, myNoise.net, has an enormous number of alternatives. Done by Stéphane Pigeon, who also built (the internet has a cat)Purrli.

Also, .wtf is a top-level domain. WTF??!

Notes & links, as usual )

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

There will be a total lunar eclipse tomorrow night. The entire eclipse will be visible from anywhere in the Americas and Europe. Here on Whidbey Island, the eclipse starts at 7:33pm and ends at 10:50pm; totality runs from 8:41 to 9:43pm. This is going to be a glorious eclipse. According to Astronomy Picture of the Day, the next total lunar eclipse visible from anywhere on the planet will be on May 26, 2021, and will last 15 minutes.

Details, and times for your location, can be found at: Total Lunar Eclipse on January 20–21, 2019 – Where and When to See

ETA: of course, this is the Pacific Northwest. It will probably be raining.

mdlbear: (technonerdmonster)

It's getting so that data breaches aren't news anymore unless they're huge. The Gizmodo article calls it The Mother of All Breaches, exposing 773 million email addresses and 21 million passwords. There's a more complete post by Troy Hunt: The 773 Million Record "Collection #1" Data Breach. Hunt is the person behind the Have I Been Pwned website. That should be your next stop -- it lets you check to see which of your email addresses, usernames, and passwords have appeared in any data breach.

If your password shows up in Pwned Passwords, stop using it. Consider enabling two-factor authentication where you can, and getting a password vault. Hunt recommends 1Password. If you want open source, you can try KeePassX.

Another fine post from The Computer Curmudgeon (also at computer-curmudgeon.com).

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Today I am grateful for

  • A callback from a prospective employer. (I still don't really expect this to go much farther, and I suspect that any job at this point in my life is a stretch, but we'll see.)
  • The occasional recruiter on LinkedIn
  • Family members getting the health care they need.
  • Housemates. (Continuing the household tradition of taking in stray puppies and lost sheep.)
  • The Ultimate Rain Sound Generator, which includes a very effective conversation-blocker setting.
  • Ginger and dark chocolate, for throat-soothing.
  • Just possibly, getting off my arse and doing stuff.

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

I'm not sure where this week went. It doesn't feel as though I did very much. (And looking over the notes, that seems fairly accurate.) As usual.

I got a little more done than usual about the yard (which is a disaster) and the garage (likewise). However, since "usual" is nothing at all, that's not saying much. And since "usual" has been going on for over a year...

I'm not finding a lot to say about this week, so I think I'll stop here. There are some good links about privacy under the cut; probably the most generally useful is How to Set Up Your Devices for Privacy Protection from DuckDuckGo.com, which is a search engine that doesn't track you, and which I also recommend.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

How the F*** did it get to be Thursday? I wasn't done with Tuesday yet!

Today I am thankful for:

  • Motivation, when (and if) I can find it
  • Informative websites
  • Cuddly cats
  • A little extra money never hurts
  • Being able to make a little extra space

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

Signal boost: jesse_the_k | Markdown Simplifies Formatting Your DW Posts.

Markdown is a popular plain-text markup language that strongly resembles the conventions of email. In fact, posting by email has used markdown for a long time; you can now use it for posting by using the HTML editor and starting your post with !markdown. It also works if you're using a client that takes raw HTML, such as charm or MakeStuff. See Jesse's post for the cheat-sheet, or go to the official spec, at https://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/syntax. Note that most GitHub extensions, e.g. code fencing with triple backticks, are not supported. At least, not yet. There is one DW-specific extension: @username expands to a standard user link, e.g. [personal profile] mdlbear.

mdlbear: (technonerdmonster)

Some day I ought to put together a comprehensive list of privacy-related links. This is not that list; it's just a few of the links that came my way recently, in no particular order.

I'd suggest starting with the ACLU's What Individuals Should Do Now That Congress Has Obliterated the FCC’s Privacy Protections. It's a good overview.

DuckDuckGo is my current privacy-preserving search engine of choice. The DuckDuckGo Blog has been a good source of additional information. I especially recommend this article on How to Set Up Your Devices for Privacy Protection -- it has advice for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows 10 and 7, and Linux. Also check out a broader range of tips here.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, as you might expect, is another great source of information. I suggest starting with Tools from EFF's Tech Team. While you're there, install Privacy Badger. It's not exactly an ad blocker; what it does is block trackers.

Here's an article on Which Browser Is Better for Privacy? (Spoiler: it's Firefox.) Then go to Firefox Privacy - The Complete How-To Guide.

For the paranoid among us, there are few things better than Tor Browser. If you use it, you'll probably want to turn off Javascript as well.

The Linux Journal's article on Data Privacy: Why It Matters and How to Protect Yourself has a lot of good advice, most of which isn't Linux-specific at all.

However, if you are running Linux, you'll want to look at How To Encrypt Your Home Folder After Ubuntu Installation, Locking down and securing SSH access to your server, and Own Your DNS Data.

Another fine post from The Computer Curmudgeon (also at computer-curmudgeon.com).

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

I'm still not getting much done. The week between Christmas and New Year felt like a vacation, but getting back to work afterwards? Not so much. this article may explain some of that. Though I can't escape the feeling that I'm simply lazy. I've noticed a tendency to get annoyed when Colleen nags me to do something that I've been putting off for too long; I think a large part of that is that these are things that I beat myself up over every damned day.

Most of my current problems are self-inflicted. The few that aren't, I've simply made worse by neglecting them. I don't like myself very much this morning. This week.

On the plus side, Colleen and I celebrated our 43rd anniversary with dinner at Toby's on Friday. And I made a wooden guide to replace the totally inadequate L-hook holding the cat lock in place. And I did a small amount of writing, and an even smaller but still non-zero amount of programming. So there's that.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (rose)

I'm not sure whether to lead with the back-story, or the song. I think the song. One of the songs. For some of the back-stories.

Today's song is Janis Ian's "Welcome to Acousticville" (Lyrics). It's on her album, Hunger. Go and listen. I'll wait.

Back-story - the song

I first heard "Welcome to Acousticville" the one time I heard Janis perform live, at a little Mexican restaurant called Don Quixote in Felton, CA. (You might want to look at my post, though it doesn't say very much.) "Welcome to Acousticville" was one of my two favorite songs from that concert; the other was "The Last Train" (lyrics. I've sung that one quite a few times, though not recently. Never had the guts to try "Welcome to Acousticville".

Janis Ian is a science fiction fan; I find it interesting but not surprising that my two favorite songs of hers are fantasy; neither would be out of place at a filksing.

Back-story - the title

This post grew out of comments by me and [personal profile] technoshaman on bairnsidhe's poem, "No Simple Highway". I've already posted a Songs for Saturday about "Ripple"; what brought this one on was the later discussion of my purple rose icon (which you can see on this post) in connection with psychopompery. (I know it isn't officially a word, but it's what psychopomps do, and I'm not the first one to use it.)

Back-story - the icon

The rose icon started out as a gif that somebody posted on Usenet; I took out the background and adjusted the color balance until it looked right. I created it in 1990, in honor of my daughter Amethyst Rose. I first used it as an icon on LJ in 2003; it appears to have been the second icon I uploaded, after the fractal that I still use as a default.

Since then, I've been using it as my standard icon not only for the Amethyst Rose posts, but for most posts and comments about grieving. Most people use a candle.

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

So this is my first gratitude post of 2019. That ought to be good for something, but I'm not sure what.

  • I'm grateful to the universe that I'm still alive.
  • I'm grateful to 2018, mainly for being over. Not much else.
  • I'm grateful to Colleen, my wife of 43 (as of today) years, for not murdering me. (I'm pretty sure she's thought about it.)
  • I'm grateful that today's windstorm seems to have abated without causing a power outage.
  • I'm grateful to our cats for being patient with my rather meager grasp of their language.

mdlbear: (river)

This morning Colleen turned to me and said something to the effect of "It's our anniversary. Forty-three years and we ain't killed each other yet." She added that "it's been close a couple of times", and I can't argue with that.

Here's to another forty-three, love. a bunch of    flowers with the words 'for you'

mdlbear: (river)

It occurred to me about an hour ago that it's probably not surprising that I feel like I'm under stress. Some of the most stressful events are supposed to be things like losing a job, retiring, and moving. In the last six and a half years I've:

  • Moved five times.
  • Been involved in three remodeling projects.
  • Been laid off twice.
  • Sold a house twice. (In both cases for a great deal less than expected.)
  • Bought a house twice.
  • Lost a (feline) family member.
  • Totaled a car.
  • Retired.
  • Started job-hunting again.

Not to mention other household members with life-threatening health problems. (Mine were just painful as heck -- multiple torn muscles and a broken nose.)

So, yeah. That happened.

mdlbear: (river)

At this point I could punt and simply carry all of last year's goals forward. Most of them -- Worldcon in San Jose is past its use-by date. But several of last year's goals were carried over from 2017. What makes me think I'd do any better this year? My biggest problem is still procrastination. It would be easy to blame it on depression or burnout but let's face it, those are largely effects rather than causes.

And many new challenges came in from the family health crisis that we couldn't possibly have forseen. Not my story to tell, but the drain on the household finances and on everyone's time and energy is huge.

  1. Okay, then. The number one goal is simply getting through the damned year, alive and with one or more roofs over our heads. Yeah, I know -- the problems aren't all my fault. Only most of them. That doesn't keep me from feeling responsible.
  2. There are two bucket-list events coming up; the first is my 50th college reunion. I don't want a repeat of the my high school reunion debacle. I'm going.
  3. The second is Mom's 99th birthday celebration.
  4. There's a lot of yard work that needs to get done in order to make the apartment over the garage attractive as a vacation rental. Weeding, mowing, and fixing the driveway are the high-order bits.
  5. There's also a huge amount of paperwork associated with setting up a vacation rental as well -- business license, tax stuff, all that. Not to mention putting (some fraction of) the associated remodeling on our taxes. Lots of figuring-out to do. Just the sort of thing I hate.
  6. I have to either get a job (which is unlikely and largely out of my control, but I have to at least crank out the applications) or start a business.
  7. I have to put in an amended tax return for 2017; that means finding the rest of the receipts for work done on the house. Mostly that's yard, deck, bathroom, studio, and the stairlifts.
  8. Having just found out that my posting software hasn't been passing the Music: header up to DW, I'm putting writing a good command-line DW client on the list. Most likely written in Perl, Python, or Go. Of course, it needs to be able to upload as well as post, in order to backfill the music.
  9. Speaking of music, we're working toward a concert at Conflikt in 2020. That means not only picking our setlist and rehearsing the heck out of it, but having CDs to sell. This is a huge stretch -- recording new CDs has been on my to-do list for over a decade now (CC&S came out in 2007).
  10. And then there's writing. No particular target, but definitely more curmudgeon and s4s posts.

Okay, ten is enough. Ship it.

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

Hippo Gnu Deer.

mdlbear: (river)

... and as usual, even a lot of things that should have been easy didn't get done. I'd say that I blew it completely, but that's probably letting myself off easy.

Let's look at the goals for this year:

tl;dr: a total disaster )

45 1/3 out of a possible 1100. Average: 4.1%. Not one of my better years. Possibly my worst.

On a perhaps more encouraging note, here are my posting statistics by month:

Posting stats:
all of 2018 by month:
  14297 words in 11 posts	 in 2018/01 (average 1299/post)
   9412 words in  7 posts	 in 2018/02 (average 1344/post)
   8753 words in  5 posts	 in 2018/03 (average 1750/post)
  11671 words in  7 posts	 in 2018/04 (average 1667/post)
  11813 words in 17 posts	 in 2018/05 (average 694/post)
  14436 words in 15 posts	 in 2018/06 (average 962/post)
  19415 words in 17 posts	 in 2018/07 (average 1142/post)
   7579 words in 10 posts	 in 2018/08 (average 757/post)
   9339 words in 12 posts	 in 2018/09 (average 778/post)
  12017 words in 11 posts	 in 2018/10 (average 1092/post)
  15617 words in 30 posts	 in 2018/11 (average 520/post)
  12774 words in 18 posts	 in 2018/12 (average 709/post)
----------------------------------
 147123 words in 160 posts total in 2018 (average 919/post)

It looks as though I've been posting about every other day most months, and nearly every day in November. Not sure what happened in February through April -- those were little more than the done posts. Okay, that wasn't really very encouraging.

I'm not really up to writing a narrative summary of the year. I prefer stories with happy endings and, preferably, not too much bad stuff getting there. I also hate cliffhangers, and this year certainly counts in that category.

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

It looks like the basic idea works, but I was using slashes as the delimiter for the sed command that puts the post url into the archived post. Since the url contains slashes, that failed.

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

This is a test: (The results will be posted in a comment)

### this prints out the URL of the last post you made today:
    wget -q -O - https://mdlbear.dreamwidth.org/$(date +%Y/%m/%d/)  \
       | grep 'class="entry-title"' | tail -1                    \
       | sed -E 's/^<[^>]*><[^>]*href="([^"]*)".*$/\1/'

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

It's been a week. Again. It was lovely having the entire household together for Christmas; We had roast beast and Yorkshire pudding. Instead of cooking the pudding under the roast I poured out the fat into muffin tins, then roasted a batch of Brussels sprouts and potatoes in the pan with the remaining drippings. Worked well -- I'm going to remember that.

For the last several months I've been scared about my budget shortfall. Yesterday I found a mistake in my spreadsheet that brought it down from nearly $2K to just under $600. Still problematic, and there's enough uncertainty that it could easily go higher. But...

siderea's post: The Vimes Boots Theory: Further Reflections applies here. I may be able to break even on a day-to-day basis, but I'm all out of savings, and some things are going to require money up front, including everything I need to make the apartment into something that we can use as a vacation rental. And if anything happens... there's no slack at all.

Speaking of slack, I spend too much time on social media. And yet, here I am. At least I've mostly dumped FB except for the occasional email notification that looks interesting enough to follow up. I stopped reading Twitter last year. Or the year before. I don't miss it.

I have a bad habit of letting things go until it's too late to do anything about them. Usually I end up regretting the missed opportunity, and too often for comfort it ends up being a disaster. See trainwreck.

Here: have a listen to Beethoven's Ode to Joy Played With 167 Theremins Placed Inside Matryoshka Dolls in Japan. Apparently a matryomin is a thing. A thing you can make, if you don't want to shell out $400 for one. You're welcome.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Back in November I wrote an S4S about Stan Rogers' "The Mary Ellen Carter". It's one of the two songs my family turns to when things are going bad. Here's the other.

Sydney Carter's song "Julian Of Norwich", more commonly known as "The Bells of Norwich", is about hope. It's been in short supply lately.

The lyrics are taken, more or less directly, from the writings of Julian of Norwich, who lived in what historian Barbara Tuchman called "The Calamitous 14th Century". Hope was in even shorter supply back then: the page in Wikipedia about the book lists ...the Hundred Years' War, the Black Plague, the Papal Schism, pillaging mercenaries, anti-Semitism, popular revolts including the Jacquerie in France, the liberation of Switzerland, the Battle of the Golden Spurs, and peasant uprisings. Not to mention the advance of the Islamic Ottoman Empire into Europe, ending in the disastrous Battle of Nicopolis.

The relevant quote from Julian's writing is

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

That comes through in the song's chorus as

Ring out! Bells of Norwich, and let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know.

This would probably be a good time for you to go listen to the song: Here's one, on YouTube, accompanied by hammered dulcimer. Here's another, with a very pretty harp part, recorded by the OHRWURM Folk Orchestra. (Interesting name, what?) There are others.

Nobody knows Julian's real name. She was an anchoress, who lived in a cell attached to St Julian's Church in Norwich. Her book, Revelations of Divine Love, is believed to be the first surviving book written in English by a woman, and is much beloved.

I'll leave you with the last chorus:

All shall be well, I'm telling you, Let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know.

I wish I could believe that. Maybe if I sing it loud enough.

mdlbear: (technonerdmonster)

From king5.com :

In case of an emergency and you can't get through by dialing 911, you can dial the following numbers for dispatch centers:

Chelan/Douglas County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (509) 663-9911 Clallam County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire 360-417-2259/2459 or 360-417-4970 Grays Harbor 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (800) 281-6944 Island County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (360) 678-6116 Jefferson County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire 360-385-3831 or 360-344-9779 EXT. 0 or text 911 King County 911 Bothell Police (425) 486-1254 Enumclaw Police (360) 417-2259 Lake Forrest Park Police (425) 486-1254 Issaquah Police (425) 837- 3200 Redmond Police (425) 556-2500 Snoqualmie Police (425) 888-3333 Seattle Police (206) 625-5011 Seattle Fire (206) 583-2111 Norcom (425) 577-5656 Fire Departments – Bellevue FD, Bothell FD, Duvall FD, Eastside Fire and Rescue, Fall City FD, Kirkland FD, Mercer Island FD, Northshore FD, Redmond FD, Shoreline FD, Skykomish FD, Snoqualmie FD, Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue and Woodinville Fire and Rescue Police Departments – Bellevue PD, Clyde Hill PD, Medina PD, Kirkland PD, Mercer Island PD and Normandy Park Police. Valley Com (253) 852-2121 Fire Departments - Valley Regional Fire Authority (Algona, Pacific and Auburn), South King Fire and Rescue (Federal Way and Des Moines), Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority (Kent, Seatac, Covington and Maple Valley), Tukwila FD, Renton FD, Burien /Normandy Park FD, Skyway Fire, Mountain View Fire and Rescue, Palmer Selleck Fire Districts, Vashon Island Fire and Rescue, Enumclaw FD, King County Airport (Boeing Field) and King County Medic One Police Departments - Algona PD, Pacific PD, Auburn PD, Des Moines PD, Federal Way PD, Kent PD, Renton PD and Tukwila PD. King County Sheriff’s Office (206) 296-3311 Town of Beaux Arts, City of Burien, City of Carnation, City of Covington, City of Kenmore, King County Airport Police (Boeing Field), City of Maple Valley, King County Metro Transit, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, City of Newcastle, City of Sammamish, City of Seatac, City of Shoreline, Town of Skykomish, Sound Transit and City of Woodinville. Kitsap County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (360)-308-5400 Kittitas County 911 Lower County: 509 925 8534 Upper County: 509 674 2584, select 1, then select 1 for KITTCOM Lewis County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (360) 740-1105 Mason County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (360) 426-4441 Pacific County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (360) 875-9397 Pierce County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (253) 798-4722 *Except Tacoma, Fircrest, Fife and Ruston - call Tacoma Fire Dispatch (253)627-0151 San Juan County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (360) 378-4151 Skagit County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (360) 428-3211 Snohomish County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (425) 407-3999 Thurston County 911 Countywide 911 Center for Police and Fire (360) 704-2740 Whatcom County 911 Whatcom County Fire (360) 676-6814 Whatcom County Sheriff (360) 676-6911

Another fine post from The Computer Curmudgeon (also at computer-curmudgeon.com).

mdlbear: (technonerdmonster)

Last night around 11pm I was awakened by an alert on my phone telling me that 911 service was down, and giving me an alternat number to call. By morning, it was clear that it wasn't a local problem. A quick search showed that the problem was caused by CenturyLink, which tweeted, blaming it on a a network element that was impacting customer services and saying that they estimated it would be fixed in about four hours.

It was more like twelve here on Whidbey Island, and some parts of the country are still (as of 2pm) offline, according to Outage.Report. The FCC is investigating.

If you live in Washington, king5.com has a handy list of numbers to call, by county. (The news article also has auto-playing video - you may want to mute your speakers.)

Notes & links, as usual )

Another fine post from The Computer Curmudgeon (also at computer-curmudgeon.com).

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Feeling scared and not particularly grateful this week; we'll have to see what I come up with.

  • I got some nice presents on Christmas. You know who you are. Many thanks.
  • Colleen, who somehow manages to put up with me.
  • I'm really grateful to my Mom, who has been providing some financial assistance (out of my inheritance). I'm not the first one in the family she's helped -- both my kids and my nephew have benefited from her generosity.
  • I'm no-end grateful to my sister N, who came up from Seattle to visit for nearly two weeks. (Does it count as a visit if this is her real home and she's only living in Seattle temporarily because Reasons? Whatever; I'll take it.)
  • Cat cuddles. We have excellent cats.
  • Grandmother in the Kitchen -- I don't know how long Colleen has had that cookbook, but we've gotten a lot of good use out of it, Especially the Yorkshire pudding recipe.
  • ... and I guess, since this is the last Thankful Thursday of 2018, I ought to be grateful to have survived it.

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

Whidbey Island has wind storms. Last week was punctuated by a pair of power outages: one from 12:40am to 3:30pm Monday, and one from 11am Thursday to 10:55 Friday. I was actually surprised that they got the power up as fast as they did Friday; I was expecting another day's worth. I never did get a good look at the eventual outage map.

In the first outage, I learned that my bedroom UPS will keep my CPAP running for about three hours. It would be significantly more without the huidifier, but there doesn't seem to be a way of turning it off remotely; next time I'll try to remember to take it off if the UPS alarm wakes me up (as it did this time). The IT UPS (in the entryway/laundry room) kept the routers up for about ten, even without shutting down the server, which is probably the biggest power draw.

In the second one, I learned that:

  • Phone service is spotty to nonexistant during a sufficiently long outage. (My phone's hotspot went away just as I was trying to post Thankful Thursday.)
  • I can sleep without a CPAP if I have to. (Actually I knew that already, but recent confirmation is nice.)
  • We don't have water during an outage because the well has an electric pump with no backup generator. Water stayed up long enough for me to fill a couple of gallon bottles, though.
  • We didn't have nearly enough water available for flushing the toilets.
  • Molly, our electric car, can be used to charge phones and other electronics. (On the other hand, we don't have a way to keep her charged; that would have been problematic in a longer outage.) Her WiFi hotspot can be used to network a couple of laptops together even if it can't get to the internet. I like Molly.
  • Although I'm positive we have a hardwired phone someplace in the house or the garage, I have no idea where it went.
  • We did have enough flashlights and LED lanterns to go around, but we probably don't have enough batteries for a longer outage.

N has been up from Seattle for the entire week -- that's been wonderful. (The kids are with their father because their cousins are in town.) She's been staying in the Box Barn (as we've started calling the apartment over the garage). It has hot water, finally; the only thing left to do is some electrical work; that's scheduled for the first week in January.

I'm continuing to have problems configuring a WiFi repeater to cover the Box Barn. You would think that it would be easy to configure a dual-band router as a bridge -- you'd be wrong. Apparently there are some problems with the WiFi protocol and DHCP that make this difficult. It would be easier if it wasn't so easy to break the configuration to the point where it becomes inaccessible and I have to do a hard reset.

I've also learned that my recording and cd-burning toolchain has serious problems, which is not at all surprising. It hasn't been used for years, so the whole transition to MakeStuff has sort of passed it by. I finally have most of it working; it's enough to put together and burn a CD. The parts for publishing concerts on the web mostly aren't working; I've fallen far behind in that department.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (ccs)

In 1985 I wrote a song called: "The World Inside the Crystal". At the time there didn't seem to be any songs about computers, or programming, that weren't meant to be funny. (I think there might have been a few about AI or robots that were meant to be scary. It's entirely possible that this was the first serious computer song ever written.)

I also wanted to explore the notion that inside of computers is an alternate universe where magic works. I don't remember whether I came up with that, or somebody else mentioned it to me; it was definitely an idea that I was kicking around at that time. Kick it far enough, and it winds up someplace like this:

Beside the world we live in Apart from day and night Is a world ablaze with wonder Of magic and delight Like a magic crystal mirror, My computer lets me know Of the other world within it Where my body cannot go. chorus: You can only see the shadows Of electrons on a screen From the world inside the crystal That no human eye has seen. The computer is a gateway To a world where magic rules Where the only law is logic Webs of words the only tools Where we play with words and symbols And creation is the game For our symbols have the power To become the things they name. chorus Now you who do not know this world Its dangers or its joys You take the things we build there And you use them as your toys. You trust them with your fortunes, Or let them guard your lives. From the chaos of creation Just their final form survives. chorus Call us hackers, call us wizards, With derision or respect, Still our souls are marked by something That your labels can't affect. Though our words are touched by strangeness There is little we can say. You would only hear the echo Of a music far away. chorus

I can always tell the programmers in the audience -- they've been there. It won a Pegasus Award for "Best Science Song" in 1997, possibly because I mentioned it on Usenet.

There are several different recordings. The one to start with is Kathy Mar's cover here, off of her tape Plus &csedilla;a Change, with an awesome synth track by Chrys Thorsen. The one on my CD is okay, although I'm not all that happy with it now. It's way too fast, for one thing, and there isn't an instrumental break before the last verse. It's on YouTube courtesy of my distributor, CD Baby.

There have been some good ones in concerts. The one at Consonance 2009, with Tres Gique, is one of the better ones. Here's another, at Baycon 2009. Consonance 2012 appears to be my best (recorded) solo performance. Audio players don't come off all that well on DW, but I'll close with one anyway.

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Thursday I was thankful for:

  • our gas stovetop
  • the UPS that kept my internet connection up for a couple of hours
  • my phone's mobile hotspot
  • laptops with decent batteries
  • a remote server I can sync with
  • N staying with us through Boxing Day
  • sunshine, at least -- bright and sunny even with the current windstorm

Today, I am thankful for:

  • the return of power, water, phone service, and internet (The cell tower lost power just as I was preparing to post this.)
  • an electric car that can be used as an emergency UPS

Extra points to anyone who recognizes today's music.

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

An interesting week. Parts of it were good. The high point was definitely my Younger Daughter's wedding on Thursday. Another good part was N coming up to visit Friday, to stay through Christmas. I gave her one of my (in)famous cutting boards -- she'd asked for it. She'd also requested a copy of my music collection. It fits on a (128GB) thumb drive, but we both then forgot about it. I'll have to mail it.

Also on the good side was Desti's vet appointment to get her sutures out; the vet said she's healing well.

A somewhat mixed part was figuring out how to copy a long-out-of-print LP onto disk. For some reason "line out" on the player wasn't working; fortunately the headphone jack was. Mixed, because I then discovered that my CD-burning scripts were long out of date and suffering from severe bit-rot. I will probably make CDs via the GUI and fix the scripts later.

Also in between was a little singing (good) and not enough blog posts (not so good). Blarg.

The low point was probably having my last singing lesson on Tuesday night -- I just can't justify the cost at this point. It had some competition from a wide range of configuration struggles with the local network and its devices. Struggles are still continuing -- I ended up having to hard-reset the router I've been using as a range extender. It turns out that range-extending WiFi is an insufficiently-solved Problem.

Other lows included a couple of depressed episodes. I think. It' hard for me to sort that stuff out.

Anyway, a week.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Following up on mdlbear | Welcome, tumblr refugees: this might otherwise have just been a longish section of next Sunday's "done" post, but the Tumblr apocalypse (tumbling-down?) is happening now and I wanted to get tumblr_backup.py out there. (It's a tumblr backup script, via this tumblr post by greywash, who notes that the original post by Greymask has disappeared). I think some of my readers will find it useful.

It's also worth noting greywash | State of the Migration: On fannish archival catastrophes, and what happens next (by way of ysabetwordsmith; I saw this someplace else last week, but apparently didn't log it.)

More meta stuff:

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

I guess not a bad week. Not a good one, I don't think. Just a week. But we have our internet connection back, I spent some time down at the south end of the household, and I have the YD's wedding present (one of my famous cutting boards) mostly made. Not as good a finish as I like, because I couldn't find most of my planes (they turned up today, so I may be able to do some fixing) and had to make do with the sander. The beauty of the wood may make up for the slight irregularity of the surface.

One bit of good news: I heard from the vet about the histology report on the cysts removed from Desti last week -- they were benign, and were completely excised. So she's going to be okay. She's getting her sutures removed tomorrow.

Elsenet, Tumblr gave me a great excuse for a meta post. There's nothing wrong with event-driven scheduling, is there?

Not much programming -- just filling in some gaps in word-count -- and no writing beyond what's here in the blog. I think I'm supposed to feel accomplished because of what I did get done, but I know that I'm losing ground.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (smith-lightsails)

"Ship of Stone", by Don Simpson, is my favorite song. Not filk song; song. I don't remember the first time I heard it, but it was written in 1981, which is just about when I was first getting involved with filk; I first heard it sung by Leslie Fish, so it would have sounded a lot like this (from her tape Chickasaw Mountain). Here's a more recent version from Avalon is Risen. This is Kathy Mar's a capella version, from Yankee Doodles, recorded at the 1986 Worldcon.

I sing it too, of course. Probably the best recorded version to date is in Tres Gique's concert at Baycon 2009 [ogg] [mp3]. There's a solo version in my Fan GOH concert at Baycon 2010; you can find others in Tres Gique, Consonance 2007 and my concert at Conflikt 2009.

I really need to make my music easier to search for, don't I?

The thing I love about this song (aside from a melody that lends itself perfectly to my picking style) is the vast sweep of history it implies. Earth has been lost in the depths of time, and become a legend. Humanity has spread throughout the galaxy -- the "wheel of light" -- living in fusion-powered starships (you can tell that from the "blue, glowing wings" that sweep up interstellar hydrogen to burn). All that's left of Earth is the song and the story it tells.

A few years back (I don't remember how many) after reading Norman Spinrad's novel Riding the Torch, Don confirmed my guess that that had been his inspiration.

One's first impression, hearing the song, is that it's set a few thousand years in the future, but that would be way too short a time. It's been long enough for humans to have spread throughout the Milky Way, which is some 200,000 light-years across, and to have evolved (or more likely engineered themselves) into many different sub-species. It's as if the story had been passed down to us from the Late Paleolithic; about the time of the earliest known bone flutes.

As I say on the lyrics page on my website, "If one of the songs we're singing now is still being sung a thousand years from now, it will probably be this one." Next time it comes up for a Pegasus, please vote for it.

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

I don't really expect that many Tumblr refugees will see this post, even with the tag, but I know there's at least one person already on my reading list who cross-posts from there, so there may be a few. There may be some G+ refugees, too. In reality, all I'm doing is taking advantage of the occasion to post a few links. Hopefully more than just a handful of my readers will find them interesting.

Let's start with the useful stuff. (People who have been on DW long enough to remember the Livejournal exodus will probably want to skip ahead to the fascinating stuff.)

We can start with the DW community [community profile] post_tumblr_fandom and ilyena_sylph's About tumblr and DW, mostly news post answers. Good overviews. Another great summary is staranise | Basic Dreamwidth for Tumblr users. (Which comes by way of umadoshi | More using/getting-to-know-Dreamwidth, fandom-migration, and WTF-Tumblr links.)

That's probably enough to get most people started. On my personal reading list, the posts I've seen lately are:

 

Okay, now the fascinating stuff. Watch out for rabbit holes.

Let's start with jesse_the_k's post, Remember when Fandom Spec'ed Pinboard?. Well, no, I don't -- I wasn't using Delicious at the time. But apparently a lot of fans were, so when the site's owners (Yahoo) made some "improvements" like disallowing several punctuation characters in tags (in particular, "/" -- just try tagging fanfic without slash), there was a mass exodus to Pinboard.

Jesse links to Fan Is A Tool-Using Animal, which tells the whole story very entertainingly. It's a transcript of a talk given at dConstruct 2013 by Maciej Cegłowski. The talk included a reading from this hilarious bit of fanfic and, more relevant to our current topic, this amazing collaborative Google doc which is a list of features (with votes and use cases) that fans wanted for Pinboard.

So, finally getting back to Tumblr, (remember Tumblr? this is a post about Tumblr) here's the Tumblr-inspired version of the Pinboard spec: Fandom platform of the future - specs and features, on Google Docs.

How much of that gets into Pinboard, Dreamwidth, AO3, or anything else is anybody's guess. But fen are amazing, and anything can happen when you dive down a rabbit hole.

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Oh, right. Thursday. Today's gratitudes include...

  • Colleen finishing her two-week course of IV antibiotics. She has her central line out (her veins have been so overused that they can't even use a PICC anymore) and is much more comfortable.
  • Desti has had no complications or even apparent discomfort from having her teeth cleaned and the big fluid-filled cyst on her shoulder removed. She get her sutures out Monday.
  • Additional gratitude to our cats. We have wonderful cats.
  • My singing teacher, Nancy Nolan, who among other things has convinced me to capo up two or three frets on most songs.
  • My friends here on Dreamwidth, with a special call-out to [personal profile] jesse_the_k for this post pointing me at Fan Is A Tool-Using Animal and some of the things it points to -- great read. Watch out for the rabbit-hole.
  • Back-handed thanks to Tumblr for driving more users to Dreamwidth, inciting some fascinating posts (vide supra), and giving me something interesting to post about tomorrow.
  • Slack, which plays a significant role in holding our bilocated family together.
  • Damnation with faint praise to Medicare.

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

The big news is that Colleen is out of the hospital (as of Thursday), and at home doing reasonably well. She still needs daily trips to Coupeville for IV antibiotics.

We (me, N, and m) gave her a concert Sunday in her hospital room, which came off pretty well considering that I was playing guitar with gloves on. I really should have recorded it. For that matter, I ought to get back to recording our practice sessions and making setlists.

Monday Desti had minor surgery to remove the fluid-filled cyst on her left shoulder. She also got her teeth cleaned. She's been doing fine so far.

Wednesday I went down to Rest Stop after seeing Colleen in the hospital.

I had a couple of phone/video interviews; both seem to be moving to the next stage, whatever that is. I am almost feeling cautiously optimistic about these. Almost. But not quite.

I've been plagued by networking problems -- first one of the access points mysteriously losing its routing setup, then (yesterday) total loss of the DSL connection. I called tech support and they're going to give me a new router, but I suspect that it's more likely due to our flaky inside wiring -- apparently some random wires were left dangling after the original house was replaced by the present manufactured home.

A lot of my programming in the last week consisted of finishing up the NaBloPoMo word count script. You can see the results in the previous post. I'm not getting as much done as I'd hoped I would.

Did I mention that we had a really bad year last month?

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Last month was National Blog Posting Month, for those of us with smaller goals than writing a novel.

I did not succeed in writing a post every day, however I did have enough days with two posts to bring the count back up to 30. It's been a rough month -- I'm not complaining.

NaBloPoMo stats:
    489 2018/11/01--nablopomo.html
     89 2018/11/01--thankful-thursday.html
    617 2018/11/02--learn-enough-to-be-dangerous.html
    340 2018/11/03--s4s-ripple.html
   1880 2018/11/04--done-since-1028.html
    479 2018/11/05--random-words.html
     73 2018/11/06--signal-boost-poetry-fishbowl.html
    246 2018/11/07--music-with-my-family.html
    117 2018/11/08--thankful-thursday.html
    399 2018/11/09--meta-sticky-post.html
    346 2018/11/10--s4s-mary-omeara.html
   1522 2018/11/11--done-since-1104.html
   2042 2018/11/12--multitasking.html
    814 2018/11/13--taking-turns.html
    179 2018/11/14--more-randomness.html
     91 2018/11/15--thankful-thursday.html
    844 2018/11/16--weighty-matters.html
    143 2018/11/17--power-balance.html
    302 2018/11/17--s4s--mary-ellen-carter.html
   1445 2018/11/18--done-since-1111.html
    125 2018/11/19--cat-desk.html
    194 2018/11/20--moms-cranberry-relish.html
    177 2018/11/21--update-on-colleen.html
    353 2018/11/22--thankful-thursday.html
    207 2018/11/24--a-random-haiku.html
    348 2018/11/24--s4s-band-practice.html
   1486 2018/11/25--done-since-1118.html
    134 2018/11/26--family-health-update.html
     85 2018/11/28--winterfaire-2018.html
     51 2018/11/29--thankful-thursday.html
-------
  15617 words in 30 posts this month (average 520/post)
      3 days with no posts

So there's that. There's also a useful word-counting script, as you can see above. It's in MakeStuff/blogging/word-count, but hasn't been made into a make target yet. Maybe next year?

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Today I'm grateful for

  • Colleen being home from the hospital.
  • Industrial-strength antibiotics.
  • Her caregiver, V.
  • Disposables.
  • Moore's law. Apparently my music collection fits on a thumb drive that I can afford. Finally.
  • Zoom.

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

Winterfaire 2018 is open at The Wordsmith's Forge. Browse! Shop! Buy!

I may set up a booth later; I have to look around the pavilion and see whether I have any stock left.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  15537 words in 29 posts this month (average 535/post)
     56 words in 1 post today
      2 days with no posts

mdlbear: (river)

Not a whole lot today. I had been expecting Colleen to get out of the hospital today; apparently that will happen tomorrow. Desti had the cyst on her shoulder removed; she was gone most of the day. I got very little else done -- I could blame worry, but really it was just being unable to focus.

My health doesn't seem to have changed much; that's a very good thing. It could be better -- Colleen seems to be planning a healthier diet, which will help -- but it could also be a lot worse.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  15457 words in 28 posts this month (average 552/post)
    110 words in 1 post today

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

Not too bad a week, modulo the fact that Colleen has been in the hospital since Monday; she went straight from her nephrology appointment to the ER. Her kidney function is recovering, thank goodness, and she has fired her old urologist in hope of finding someone in the Everett/Providence system who can do a better job of it. (Notes may include medical TMI, so be aware of that. On the other hand, we had the whole family together for Thanksgiving, both in Colleen's hospital room and the house. We'll end it with music in Colleen's room. this afternoon.

We've done quite a bit of singing, so that's good too.

In NaBloPoMo status, I missed posting Friday (and posted what I'd intended to post then on Saturday). So I'm still on track with number of posts, but not posts per day. Blarg. (For writing every day, I could count the work I did in the Rails tutorial.)

Anyway, not much to say this time. Probably the top link is One Atom of Justice, One Molecule of Mercy, and the Empire of Unsheathed Knives, by Alexandra Rowland, by way of this comment from kyleri on last week's s4s about "The Mary Ellen Carter". It's about "hopepunk", which seems particularly appropriate for this week.

Notes & links, as usual )

NaBloPoMo stats:
  15374 words in 27 posts this month (average 569/post)
   1513 words in 1 post today

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

We took advantage of the fact that N and her kids are up at this end of the household for Thanksgiving to get in some practice. Mostly this consisted of songs we are working on harmonies for; in addition the idea is to go down to Everett tomorrow and sing for Colleen in her hotel hospital room. Fortunately there's a lot of overlap. I'm not entirely sure of the order, but we worked on:

There's a story about "Gentle Arms of Eden". Back in 2009, at Consonance, I was in two different groups, Tres Gique and Tempered Glass, which had consecutive concerts at Consonance. We also had a problem -- we wanted to move a song out of the second set so that Tres Gique's bass player wouldn't have to come back on stage during the second concert for that one song. N thought for a little while and pulled up a set of lyrics and chords from some website or other, and asked if I thought I could play guitar on it. I looked at it -- it's in G -- and said yes. I spent the next 20 minutes running through it with N before going on stage for the Tres Gique concert; we sent Tres Gique's drummer down to the lobby to print it out.

We got the printed lead sheet about half a minute before going on stage for the Tempered Glass set, and pretty much nailed it.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  13854 words in 26 posts this month (average 532/post)
    548 words in 2 posts today

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

So, I didn't manage to make yesterday's post -- I got distracted, so instead I had to finish up what I'd been working on this morning.

Since it's moderately incomprehensible unless you've been reading this blog very closely, so there will be (perhaps totally unnecessary) notes. No [references] because they would interrupt the flow, as well as being too obvious.

Molly Electric blue. The Only possible color. Skip the drywall jokes.
notes )

I will resist the temptation to back-date this.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  13506 words in 25 posts this month (average 540/post)
    200 words in 1 post today
      1 missed day

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

It's (American) Thanksgiving, so this is the day when I try to include an extra helping of gratitude and maybe add a few explanations. So here we go: Today I'm grateful for...

  • my family, the Rainbow Caravan: my wife Colleen, my sister N, her husband G, my niblings j and m, and our housemate L. The extended family: our kids Chaos and Emmy, the Niblings' other parents, assorted cousins, and most especially my Mom and N's parents.
  • our feline family members: Desti, Ticia, Cricket, Bronx, and Brooklyn.
  • all of my friends on and off the net. Present company explicitly included.
  • our health -- or at least the good parts. Despite serious crises for many of us, we are all still alive and more-or-less functional. No thanks to our assorted conditions -- we are alive in spite of them. Or should that be "to spite them"?
  • modern drugs and medical technology, without which many of our respective health conditions would have been fatal rather than merely harrowing.
  • our medical insurance, what there is of it. Because we live in the US, the above-mentioned modern medicine is overpriced and incompletely covered, but at least it's mostly covered. No thanks to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and their paid lackeys in Congress.
  • music: the filk community, my bandmates N and m, and the songs -- notably "The Mary Ellen Carter" and "Bells of Norwich" -- that get us through rough times.
  • modern computing technology, particularly the communication protocols and software that tie our household together: TCP/IP, HTTP, ssh, slack, signal, firefox, and dreamwidth, among others. Also noteworthy are git and rsync, each of which has saved my arse more than once.
  • the GNU project for emacs, make, and bash; Don Knuth for TeX, Leslie Lamport for LaTeX, Linus Torvalds for linux and git, and IBM for the Thinkpad keyboard.
  • Whidbey Island.
NaBloPoMo stats:
  13281 words in 24 posts this month (average 553/post)
    328 words in 1 post today

mdlbear: (river)

So, once again I find myself approaching the end of a day without a post, so I'll give you an update on Colleen. When she got to her appointment with the nephrologist Monday, they took one look at her lab results and told her to go the hospital, stat. Apparently her kidney function was way down. (It has improved somewhat since then, but it's still rather scary.)

It feels like a lot longer that two days. I'm worn out. Some changes in her medication this evening should help with her level of comfort. (I'm going to skip the details, since I'm too frazzled to put in a cut tag just now. She's fired her urologist, which is expected to be an improvement.

I called the kids and my Mom a little while ago. Should call Mom before I leave for home. I've been keeping N in the loop via Slack.

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

Because I'm thinking about it, and am too tired about what to post, I thought I'd post my Mom's recipe for cranberry relish.

Ingredients:

  • A bag or two of raw, whole cranberries.
  • Apples. One or two per bag of berries, depending on size.
  • Oranges. Maybe one per two bags.

Chop everything up coarsely in a food processor. Even better, if you can find it, is an old-fashioned hand-cranked meat grinder, because that mashes the ingredients rather than simply cutting them.

Put it in the fridge overnight. The next day, add sugar if it seems to be necessary -- don't do it before then because the flavors won't have blended.

I have no idea where Mom found the recipe, and I don't think I've ever seen an "official" printed version -- it's all seat-of-the-pants. Colleen and I have been making it for the last forty-odd years.

Enjoy.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  12751 words in 22 posts this month (average 579/post)
    169 words in 1 post today
>

Cat desk

2018-11-19 06:09 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Once again I find myself at the end of the day with no post, and a very uncertain schedule for the evening because Colleen is in the hospital again. But I ran across this intriguing piece of furniture elsenet:

Ascend Desk on Behance

image under cut )

I may have found my next woodworking project.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  12558 words in 21 posts this month (average 598/post)
    101 words in 1 post today

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

I have, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, kept up my daily posting schedule. Some of the posts have been random babbling, of course. You'll find the stats at the end of the notes.

Wednesday L noticed that the fluid-filled cyst on Desti's shoulder had apparently drained itself -- I made a vet appointment for that afternoon to have it checked. She has another appointment a week from Monday to get it removed. Wish us luck.

Thursday Colleen had labs done in preparation for her urology appointment tomorrow; Friday her doctor called and told her to get to her nephrologist ASAP. It looks like she may need dialysis. So Monday's appointment will be with the nephrologist instead. Bletch. Friday we were both kind of in shock. N came up Friday evening to help us deal with it -- my little sister is wonderful.

That's also why I posted The Mary Ellen Carter under s4s yesterday.

Following up on Friday's post about the Kilogram, I posted a couple of haiku yesterday as my contribution to the Crowdfunding Creative Jam. And if you want to dig deeper, NIST has put up a detailed write-up on the SI redefinition. It's a lot more readable than either my post or the Wikipedia articles I linked to.

Notes & links, as usual )

NaBloPoMo stats:
  12445 words in 20 posts this month (average 622/post)
   1433 words in 1 post today

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

It isn't the song I originally intended to write about, but it's been a rough week, and the first song I turn to when things are going down the tubes is "The Mary Ellen Carter".

You probably know it, especially if you've been hanging around me, or filkers in general, for a while. Just in case you don't, though, or you need to hear it again, here's Stan Rogers singing it. It's the second version I heard; I don't remember who I first heard singing it at a con, but I tracked down the CD -- it's on Home In JHalifax -- and learned it, because because I had to. The lyrics are in the first comment, but just in case you want a version with chords, here you go.

It's not about making me feel better. That doesn't work. It's about making me feel defiant enough to damned well get up and keep going anyway.

Afterward, depending on what's going on, I'll sing "Desolation Row", "Bells of Norwich", or maybe even QV. But it's "The Mary Ellen Carter" I turn to first.

And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow, With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go, Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again. Rise again, rise again; though your heart it be broken And life about to end, No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

See you next week.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  11005 words in 19 posts this month (average 579/post)
    438 words in 2 posts today

mdlbear: (crowdfunding)

The theme of today's crowdfunding Creative Jam is Empowerment. Following up on yesterday's post, and the role of the Watt Balance (now called the Kibble balance, in honor of its inventor) in replacing the standard kilogram by defining the Planck constant as precisely 6.62607015×10−34 joule-seconds, I came up with:

A watt balance weighs The old standard kilogram. Planck's Constant defined. A lump of metal Is finally replaced by Something eternal.

There's something epic -- or at least haiku-worthy -- in the story of replacing an imperfect artifact with a precise definition, a century and a quarter after it was made.

Everyone is of course encouraged to join in the Creative Jam.

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

I was all set to start another curmudgeon post today, except that I read about "A massive change" and fell down a rabbit hole. Tl;dr: everything you think you know about the metric system has just changed completely. You won't notice the difference.

You probably know at least a little about the history of the metric system. Developed during the French Revolution, it was based on the unit of length, the mètre ("meter", in the American English familiar to most of my readers), which was defined as one ten-millionth of the distance between the north pole and the equator on the meridian passing through Paris. The gramme was defined as the weight of a cube of pure water with sides of one-hundredth of a metre and at the temperature of melting ice. Or in more familiar terms, the weight of a cubic centimetre of water. The French philosopher Marquis de Condorcet called it a system "for all people for all time".

The intent was for the system to be based on unchanging physical phenomena. That didn't last. It's really hard to use the Earth as a reference, so in 1795 a brass metre bar was constructed, and in 1799 two platinum reference objects were manufactured, the mètre des Archives and kilogramme des Archives. (The standard metre was found to be about 0.02% short, meaning that the standard was now based only on a couple of chunks of metal.) New reference objects were created in the 1870s.

I'm going to skip ahead to 1960, when the metre was redefined by the eleventh GCPM (Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures) as exactly 1,650,763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red emission line in the electromagnetic spectrum of the krypton-86 atom in a vacuum. That conference also defined the rest of the International System of Units (SI, from Système international (d'unités). In 1967 the 13th CGPM redefined the second, which had been defined in 1958 as 1/86400 of the year 1900, as 9192631770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom.

The nice thing about that definition of the second is that it can't change. That made it possible to redefine the metre, as the distance light travels in 1/299,792,458 of a second. The speed of light in a vacuum isn't going to change, either. That leaves the kilogram.

All the units of the SI are derived from a small number of base units: the metre for length, the second for time, and the kilogram for mass, as well as the ampere for electric current, the kelvin for temperature, the candela for luminous intensity, and the mole for amount of substance.

I've always been kind of intrigued by the mole, which is defined as the number of atoms in 12 grams of pure Carbon-12 (Avogadro's number). Or rather it was defined...

Anyway, of the other base units, the ampere and the mole have definitions that depend on the kilogram. The kelvin, defined as 1/273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water, doesn't, but it's also rather hard to measure precisely. The candela has a precise definition, but since it's in lumens per watt it depends indirectly on the kilogram.

All that changed yesterday with the new definitions voted in by the 26th CGPM (which take effect May 20, 2019).

The new definitions all result from defining exact values for various physical constants, rather than things that have to be measured. Specifically, the newly-defined constants will be:

  • The Planck constant h is exactly 6.62607015×10^−34 joule-second (J⋅s).
  • The elementary charge e is exactly 1.602176634×10^−19 coulomb (C).
  • The Boltzmann constant k is exactly 1.380649×10^−23 joule per kelvin (J/K).
  • The Avogadro constant NA is exactly 6.02214076×1023 reciprocal mole (1/mol).

There are also three that don't change:

  • The speed of light c is exactly 299792458 metres per second (m/s).
  • The ground state hyperfine splitting frequency of the caesium-133 atom Δν(133Cs)hfs is exactly 9192631770 hertz (Hz).
  • The luminous efficacy Kcd of monochromatic radiation of frequency 540×10^12 Hz is exactly 683 lumens per watt (lm/W).

Naturally, the new defined values for the various constants have been chosen to be equal to the best current measurements of them, so there will be exactly no effect on anything you can measure outside of a lab. The whole process had to wait until the various measurements of the kilogram agreed to one part in 10^-8 (1/100,000,000).

So, finally, after just short of two and a quarter centuries, the metric system achieves the original dream of a system of measurement based on unchanging physical phenomena. It's not going to make a whole lot of difference in practice, but it's nice to know that it's not going to change any more.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  10560 words in 17 posts this month (average 621/post)
    837 words in 1 post today

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Today I'm grateful for:

  • My family; especially Mom
  • Our cats, and our cats' vet
  • Companies that have given me a phone screen and haven't rejected me yet
  • My health (because what there is of it is still better than my housemates', which says something, but I'm not sure what)
  • Still having things to learn.
NaBloPoMo stats:
   9716 words in 16 posts this month (average 607/post)
     84 words in 1 post today

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