mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2018-11-09 10:22 pm
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[sticky entry] Sticky: Meta: About this blog

This is (a first cut at) a sticky-post or landing post for I intend for it to be edited rather than replaced, so the link should stay the same.

The Mandelbear

... is what I call the fractal you see in my default icon. The Mandelbear is infinitely fuzzy, being a two-dimensional cross-section of a four-dimensional object. It occasionally manifests as an elderly hacker-songwriter, and sometimes as a Middle-Sized Bear.

Series Tags

These tags mark ongoing series of posts (and are mostly lifted from the post I made last Thursday introducing NaBloPoMo, with a couple of additions and edits.

curmudgeon - The Computer Curmudgeon
This series is a combination of public service announcements, mostly about security- and privacy-related events, and longer informational pieces. These posts are cross-posted onto I'd like to work up to one or two per week.
done - Done Since...
Posted every Sunday (sometimes delayed or advanced depending on conventions and where the end of the month falls), this contains my summary of the week followed by (under a cut tag) the week's worth of file entries. The format of the entries is described in How it, and has been described as sort of an online bullet journal.
river - The River
These are posts about, ... Hmm. What are they about? Love, friendship, grieving, ... I guess the overall theme is emotions.
thanks - Thankful Thursday
My weekly gratitude posts. I'm not entirely consistent about these -- you will occasionally see a "Thankful Friday". There's (almost) always one on (American) Thanksgiving. Of course.
Posts about my finances.

Other Tags

  • meta -- Posts about the blog itself, and other self-referential stuff.
  • poem
  • review
  • song
  • Conventions and other annual events get a pair of tags: the name of the event, and the year.

There are lots more; those are just the more important ones.


NaBloPoMo stats:
   4728 words in 10 posts this month (average 472/post)
    398 words in 1 post today

mdlbear: (river)
2019-04-25 02:34 pm
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River: Colleen -- Update 4

Apparently I have -- once again -- underestimated Colleen, who is awake, wisecracking, planning meals for RainbowCon, and saying she'll be there come Hell or high water. I don't doubt it. She's probably been taking indestructability lessons from my mother.

When I left for home yesterday she'd been unconscious or nearly so for a solid week, and on a ventilator for two days.

She was looking much more alert when I came in around 10am. They took out her breathing tube at 10:47; she was talking within seconds (asked "are you breathing okay?" "Yeah."), telling the nurse that she was hard of hearing within minutes, and discussing sewing projects and menus half an hour after that. We have our Colleen back!

Quote of the day:

Colleen: (when told not to scratch near her PICC line) "I'll be good."
me: "If you can't be good, be careful."
Colleen: "If you can't be careful, be wicked."

I often warn people that she's an easy person to underestimate. I should listen to myself.

mdlbear: (river)
2019-04-23 10:35 pm
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River: Colleen -- Update 3

Not much to report. She's been in a slow decline. The kids came up to visit her Saturday, and Emmy came back again yesterday. I think familiar voices cheer her up, but it's hard to tell. This afternoon she was able to blink when I asked her to, and again when I asked her to blink if she wanted a song. I sang "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts" and "Eyes Like the Morning". "Desolation Row" a little earlier.

She could blink, but not squeeze my hand like she could yesterday. I think she's slipping away.

They tried to get her off the ventilator, but she wasn't breathing strongly enough to get the carbon dioxide out of her blood. Tomorrow they'll try again.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-04-21 06:02 pm
Entry tags:

Done Since 2019-04-14

BAD week. Colleen is in the hospital again, with damaged kidneys and multiple severe drug-resistant infections. She slipped getting back into bed Monday morning, after getting weaker all the previous week. It's pretty dire this time. V and I have been there every day.

N came up Thursday afternoon, and the kids and their SOs came up yesterday. It's that serious. See updates. I'm redacting almost all of the medical details in the notes; it'll go into the next Colleen update, with a content warning. Look for that tonight or tomorrow.

She's been delirious and mostly non-verbal from the infections and her wacked-out blood chemistry; the last coherent thing she said yesterday was "I want my Bear." All I could do was hold her hand, but that seemed to be enough.

N and I have decided to make this year's Rainbow Con a celebration for Colleen. She will almost certainly still be in rehab at that point, in which case we'll record and/or stream it. Come, if you can.

Notes & links, as usual )

I should post this.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-04-20 09:26 pm
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Songs for Saturday: Eyes Like the Morning

Today's song is one I wrote as a Valentine's Day present for my wife, Colleen. I don't seem to have audio up on the web; I considered singing it to her earlier today, but one look at the lyrics told me I wouldn't be able to. It's hard to sing when you're crying.

Here's Eyes Like the Morning. Audio at the link, or [ogg] [mp3]

lyrics, if you don't want to click through )

mdlbear: (river)
2019-04-18 06:41 pm
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River: Update 2 on Colleen

Colleen took a turn for the worse yesterday between breakfast, which she nibbled at, and lunch, by which time she was very "out of it" and apparently in pain (although I think some of that may have been pure frustration when she couldn't find words.

Apparently a severe infection can have that effect, and can strike quickly -- this is apparently a lot like toxic shock. She has at least three highly-resistant superbugs -- they identified the third this morning.

The kids are coming to visit Saturday -- the soonest they could get here.

Colleen is a stubborn old cat, though. Wish her luck.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-04-16 05:09 pm
Entry tags:

Update on Colleen

Yesterday (Monday) she fell trying to go from her walker to the bed -- got herself into an awkward position and seemed confused when I tried to tell her how to get out of it. Rather than simply having the EMTs put her back in bed we decided to use the opportunity to get her to the ER and have her looked at. Which turned out to have been the right thing to do.

She's not doing all that well; but doesn't seem to be in immediate danger. Medical info under the cut. )

She'll almost certainly end up back in rehab again after she's discharged. I'm very worried about the mental confusion and the weakness, although getting more oxygen into her seems to have helped.

I'm not getting a damned thing done on $GIG the last few days; that's probably not surprising but is a matter for concern.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-04-14 08:47 pm
Entry tags:

Done Since 2019-04-07

Worried about Colleen. She seems to be getting worse, not better. I'm don't know what I should do. No idea what I can do. She's declining, and I'm scared. No idea what the fuck is going to happen when I go off to my 50th reunion in June.

I had a great time Monday doing a back-yard archaeology dig with N and (her younger kid) j. We actually found a few things, which made it a lot more exciting.

I finally managed to get the little yellow GL-iNet router configured as a wifi-to-ethernet bridge for the printer. That turns out to be tricky if you want both ends to be part of the same network. It's even pretty tricky if you don't. I am, however, finding my way around OpenWrt, the more versatile (and more up-to-date) of the two aftermarket Linux distributions for routers. I'm now working on the somewhat more ambitious project of setting up a bridge to the Box Room, using the Linksys WNDR4300 I ordered from eBay on Monday. That seems to be going a little more smoothly.

I ran the numbers on next year's taxes. Turns out I can reduce my withholding by over $1K/month. That will help a lot.

Pretty much done incorporating the editor's suggestions into $GIG; now I have to get the rest of it -- about the last third -- finished.

I really just want to crawl into a hole and hide until things get better. But I know that if I do that, they never will.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
2019-04-11 06:49 pm
Entry tags:

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

  • having filed my tax return;
  • some simple what-if tax calculations that tell me I can cut my withholding in half this year;
  • Colleen's health improving (at least in terms of her kidney numbers; still very worried about the rest);
  • our cats, especially Desti, who loves being a villain's lap cat;
  • maybe OpenWrt and dd-wrt (the two major embedded Linux distributions for routers -- the former seems more hackable, the latter seems easier to configure for what I'm doing with them -- but neither of them is doing what I want it to).

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-04-07 10:40 am
Entry tags:

Done Since 2019-03-31

Another deeply mixed week -- Colleen's health continues to be a concern, and at this point I can't really tell whether she's improving or declining. She was better Friday than Thursday, but that's not saying much: Thursday left me a total wreck between some very dicey transfers for her doctor's visit, and her fall getting into her chair when we got back. And I wasted quite a lot of time -- more than a day -- playing with my little travel router.

(On the other hand, the router was fun. Its flakiness turned out to have been the power supply; meanwhile I'd re-flashed it with OpenWrt, which I hadn't played with before. On the gripping hand I still haven't able to reconfigure it to bridge my laser printer, which had been the original idea. It's almost certainly possible, but I shouldn't be spending the time right now.)

On the plus side, I seem to be making pretty good progress on $GIG ($CLIENT seemed impressed with the introduction; we'll see how that goes), and I'm getting an unexpected, and unexpectedly large, tax refund thanks mainly to the greatly increased standard deduction. I think this may be my first time ever taking the standard deduction.

Between being able to reduce my withholding and our housemates' financial contributions, it looks like I won't be needing a full-time job after all, and can take on part-time work only if it's fun. ($GIG falls into that category.) And we won't need to try to turn our expansion space into a vacation rental, at least not this year.

Speaking of categories, have a look at the HTTP Status Cats and GIT PURR! Git Commands Explained with Cats!.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
2019-04-04 07:00 pm
Entry tags:

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for

  1. my family, and especially my sister N,
  2. the fact that everyone in my family is still alive, though some are still at risk;
  3. an unexpected, and unexpectedly large, tax refund (with a nod to VNC, because it's faster to screen-share than to keep switching the monitor inputs);
  4. ethanol.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-04-01 06:36 pm

The Last Hour of the Cretaceous

It's impossible not to use surperlatives describing the paper published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It's nothing less than the smoking gun that links the Chicxulub asteroid impact with the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous.

The article describes a set of deposits that were laid down in the Hell Creek formation in North Dakota, apparently during the first hour after the impact.

The fallout from the impact deposited a thin layer of sediments called the Cretaceous–Paleogene (formerly Tertiary) boundary, rich in micro-tektites (blobs of melted rock) and iridium (scarce on Earth, abundant in meteorites). The tektites would have started coming down in North Dakota, about 5,000 miles from the Yucatán Peninsula, ten to fifteen minutes after the impact. The metallic dust from the vaporized asteroid would have settled out somewhat later. The seismic shock waves would have reached North Dakota at about the same time.

When an earthquake hits a body of water, such as a lake or river, it makes the water slosh back and forth, a phenomenon called a seiche. (Seiches emptied swimming pools all over Southern California during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.) When it hit North Dakota, water and mud sloshed out of a river bed (along with whatever fish were in it, mostly sturgeon and paddlefish), knocked down whatever trees and dinosaurs were in its way, and left a wave-by-wave record of the event.

According to the article in The New Yorker that came out Friday, the debris included sturgeons that died with their mouths gaping and full of tektites, a dinosaur feather, the hip-bone of a ceratopsid, and much, much, more. Some time shortly thereafter, a small mammal burrowed into the mud, dug right through the boundary, and died there.

There's a reason why Robert dePalma, who discovered the site, named it Tanis. He told the New Yorker that "It’s like finding the Holy Grail clutched in the bony fingers of Jimmy Hoffa, sitting on top of the Lost Ark." It's really too improbable for fiction.


  @ A seismically induced onshore surge deposit at the KPg boundary, North Dakota and 
    BOUNDARY, NORTH DAKOTA  - the actual paper at PNAS, via National Geographic:
  @ Fossils may capture the day the dinosaurs died. Here's what you should know.
  @ Hell Creek Formation - Wikipedia footnotes point to the New Yorker article, plus
  @ Fossil Site Reveals Day That Meteor Hit Earth and, Maybe, Wiped Out Dinosaurs|NYT
  @ 66 million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor | Berkeley
  @ The Day the Dinosaurs Died | The New Yorker

... and a tip of the fedora to Minoanmiss for pointing me at the New Yorker article.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-04-01 06:39 am
Entry tags:

Ribbit ribbit ribbit

This month's "rabbit rabbit rabbit" brought to you by April foolishness and our back yard's seasonal wetland.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-03-31 07:34 pm
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Stats for March

On the whole not too bad -- 9 days with no posts means around 2.5/week? So... not great either, when you consider that that includes "Done Since" and "Thankful Thursday" posts. But I've made a "Thankful Thursday" post every week, so that's something. Three "informative" posts, which is short of my preferred one/week, but more than half.

Posting stats:
   2399 2019/03/01--markup-markdown-tex-and-text.html
   1424 2019/03/03--done-since-0224.html
    273 2019/03/04--flashback.html
     81 2019/03/07--thankful-thursday.html
    156 2019/03/09--colleen-update.html
   1497 2019/03/10--done-since-0303.html
   2158 2019/03/11--git-for-poets.html
    154 2019/03/13--72.html
     83 2019/03/14--thankful-thursday.html
   1445 2019/03/15--climate-tragedy.html
    343 2019/03/16--s4s-colleens-birthday.html
   1270 2019/03/17--done-since-0310.html
    115 2019/03/19--word-of-the-day.html
     53 2019/03/21--thankful-thursday.html
   1282 2019/03/24--done-since-0317.html
     68 2019/03/28--thankful-thursday.html
   1346 2019/03/31--done-since-0324.html
     67 2019/03/31--no-foolin.html
    183 2019/03/31--stats-for-march.html
  14397 words in 19 posts this month (average 757/post)
   1596 words in 3 posts today
      9 days with no posts

mdlbear: (river)
2019-03-31 07:32 pm
Entry tags:

River: No foolin'

Just wanted to mention that I'm not planning to make a prank post tomorrow. I rarely do. I might attempt something funny, but that's different -- I'm not the kind of person who normally considers deceiving people to be funny.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-03-31 12:37 pm
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Done Since 2019-03-24

A fairly eventful week: Colleen came home from rehab on Monday, which was also the YD's birthday. Tuesday was the Skype conference call that officially kicked off $GIG (which fortunately I had already made quite a bit of progress on). Additional progress on $GIG (now about half done) and taxes (forms tracked down and sorted out).

Picking up Colleen involved a trip down to Rest Stop on Sunday so as to be at Prestige by 11am, the estimated discharge time. As it turned out, she finally got out somewhere around 1:40. We'd been planning to go to Saffron for lunch, but I'd forgotten to put the scooter in the car; after we got home and retrieved it we found that Charmer's was closed on Mondays, so we ended up at China City. Decent Chinese.

Determined that the battery in S's old laptop is completely dead. The one in L's scooter isn't totally dead, but it's not usable.

Another massive data breach was reported; upwards of 800 million records, including "verified emails, phone numbers, addresses, dates of birth, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram account details, credit scoring and even mortgage data such as amount owing and interest rates being charged." Not enough for identity fraud, but everything one could want for a spearfishing expedition. Yeah; I'm in it too. Obligatory link to

Apart from that, ... not much.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
2019-03-28 03:46 pm
Entry tags:

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for...

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-03-24 12:28 pm
Entry tags:

Done Since 2019-03-17

Colleen is greatly improved -- we expect her to be discharged tomorrow. I've done very little this week besides visiting her and writing for $GIG.

I stayed down at Rest Stop Thursday night, and intend to do so tonight as well. Left a suitcase with the extra facehugger and enough underwear and meds for three days.

Sleep somewhat irregular. Entirely due to wake-up time -- I have little difficulty going to bed within my target window. Should maybe stay up until I'm sleepy and use an alarm to wake up.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
2019-03-21 06:33 pm
Entry tags:

Thankful Thursday

So, ... today I'm grateful for

  • good timing
  • Colleen's continuing improvement -- she's a lot stronger now
  • a urologist who understands the problem and was able to convince Colleen to try a possible solution
  • a Useful Word
  • family.

mdlbear: (river)
2019-03-19 09:43 pm
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River: Word of the day

This is a word (from an SF/fantasy serial novel in progress) that is obviously needed:

You are missing an incredibly important word for an emotion I know you have,...
That feeling you have when you leave something undone that you know you shouldn’t, and the longer you put it off, the harder it becomes to face, and the worse the feeling of guilt and shame becomes, until it feeds on itself? We call that Hauneth.
-- M.C.A. Hogarth in Kherishdar's Exception | Episode 38

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2019-03-17 09:04 am
Entry tags:

Done Since 2019-03-10

So. Productive week? I made two major posts (on Git for Poets and climate change), plus two birthday posts (for me and Colleen, the latter doubling as a s4s post). And some progress on $GIG (about 2k words, out of a projected maybe 10K).

I've been down to visit Colleen roughly every other day, alternating with (caregiver) V. Rather glad I haven't been trying for a job that would require commuting, though I guess I've proved that it would be possible. I'm also not sure I could handle full-time work of any kind at this point. Housework and family work have been uncomfortably close to full time the last couple of weeks.

The cats have been very supportive. We have excellent cats.

Notes & links, as usual )