mdlbear: (flamethrower)

It was a long year last week. 2016 is dead and buried; it wouldn't be hard to do better, but I don't expect 2017 to make the effort.

I was going to put a summary of the year here. I'm not up for it. See my previous post for a wrap-up of what I mostly didn't do. I can't think of any major accomplishments to report, except maybe living through it. That may have to do.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

2016 SUCKED. Right up until the end, and it's planning to stick around for an extra (leap) second just to rub it in. I want to be up at 23:60 to watch it die. Not that I expect 2017 to be any better.

Last year at this time I wrote It's been a harrowing year. [...] What got us through it was the love and mutual support we have for one another, scary amounts of money, and a great deal of help. But we got through it. We got through as a family. There were times when I honestly didn't expect to. But here we are, at the end of another year.

Um... Yeah. That. Less money and outside help, but certainly Trump's election provided a lot in the way of outside motivation. Any plans we had at the beginning of the year were basically blown to hell in November.

So... let's look at last year's goals. Guidelines -- that's what I called them. Anyway.

  1. Music: I tried something indefinite last year, and didn't get very far with it. So this year, let's aim for an album: Amethyst Rose. The stretch goal would be to add Lookingglass Folk.
    Pretty much a total bust. And I gave two solid concerts and didn't manage to record either of them. 10% if you count concerts, 0% otherwise.
  2. Writing: Write more poetry, and aim for at least one non-fiction (software-related, most likely) article per month.
    No poetry to speak of. Between DW and Quora I managed quite a lot of writing, but very little of it was organized. Maybe 35%.
  3. Exercise: Walk on weekends. Stretch: get my bike repaired. (That's been on the list since before I moved to Seattle, so I don't have much hope.) Nope.
  4. Food: Eat better: more salads, fewer take-out lunches. Take off more weight -- I've been stalled for months. At least under 190, and preferably under 180.
    I ate a lot more leftovers this year, My weight went up ten pounds, thanks to my doctor taking me off my diuretic. I dunno - 10%?
  5. Psych: Last year's "health" goal was all about depression, but I also made a list of plausible stress-reduction techniques, a few of which I actually tried, and I'll keep working on that. But the main thing has to be procrastination. I'll get started on that... sometime? Tonight, preferably.
    Or later. I did get a fair amount done, though, and my dysthymia and anxiety were mostly under control -- at least up until November. 40%.
  6. Web: Convert the main websites to HTML-5 and CSS. Finally get around to writing the correct lyrics-to-HTML converter (using tables instead of monospaced fonts), and a good browser-based songbook/setlist viewer to go with it. Get some experience with popular CMSs: WordPress, and if possible Joomla and Drupal.
    Well, I got the lyrics converter written, if not actually deployed to the web. And my favorite emacs mode for web, html-helper-mode, has been upgraded to HTML-5. In addition, I put three projects up on GitHub. 75%?
  7. Work: Get a new job, or get unstuck at my present one. The former is more likely. If possible, something that's mostly or entirely work-from-home. If not, get started on building a consulting business (web-related, or something else in the software range) that can fill that role.
    Hmm. I did get unstuck. My present project looks dicey, but we may be able to pull it off. I may still have to jump ship, but if I can make it until next June I should be due for more stock, which the gods know will help. I'm going to give myself a 90% on this one.
  8. Household: Get the household workshop set up and, um, working. That means organizing the garage and the downstairs kitchen. Do some serious planning (as opposed to just reading blogs) toward the eventual move-out into tiny houses.
    Well, ... I'm not sure how to rate this one. A lot of organizing in the garage, to be sure. And the planning. Not the plan we expected to have, to be sure. But we have a plan.

To quote the song that has become another household anthem, "All the dreams that I had when we started, Have crumbled to dust in my hand."

Well, here's to an age that's departed,
And to pictures we drew in the sand.
All the dreams that I had when we started,
Have crumbled to dust in my hand.

Guess I'll pull a new map from my pocket
Never mind where the old ones have gone
And I'll look for a new road to follow
By the light of the Millennium's dawn







And we -- all of us together -- did. We found our new road. It looks kind of steep. OK, very steep. More next year, but the way forward involves selling the house, retiring, and moving. Hopefully in that order, because otherwise we can't afford it.

Wish us luck!

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

I'm taking a "vacation" -- actually a staycation with enough housework and other difficult tasks to make it more likely something I'll need to go back to work to relax from -- between now and next year. This last week was pretty relaxed at work; there was a group party on Monday, and I gave a short concert. Mostly funny computer songs, as one might expect.

We're doing the holidays a little differently this year, because N and her kids are out of town until Monday. So we had my kids yesterday, doing nothing in particular today, and doing the household celebration and gift exchange tomorrow. Boxing Day is traditional for that in some cultures, and besides it's Hanukkah, so that works anyway.

As part of the downsizing process I'm moving the household fileserver into a smaller case. I'll be going back to the Intel atom mini-ITX board, and I found the case I'd been looking for. It's just tall enough for two 3.5" hard drives, and two stacked card slots which I probably won't have much use for unless I decide to put the mirror drive in an eSATA box.

Emotionally (and it still seems odd to be writing that word, because alexithymia) it's been something of a roller coaster. A woman smiled at me and said hello on Tuesday; I noticed that I was unreasonably happy about that. Not sure why that seemed notable at the time, but it was. On the other hand I had a couple of severe anxiety attacks (or something -- all I'm really sure about are the physical effects). Actually, come to think of it, they often occur after I've been frightened, when whatever scared me has gone away. So there's that.

I'm constantly on edge, often irritated at nothing at all, and feel kind of -- is "fragile" the right word? Sometimes I scare people. I hate this.

I've gotten a little more used to the idea of retiring and moving, but I hate that too. These things are probably all connected, and connected to Trump as well. I guess it's good to have somebody to blame who's really evil enough to deserve it.

Have a happy Christmas, merry Hanukkah, or whatever else you're celebrating.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

So I took the week off from work. I'd originally planned to return from Orycon Sunday afternoon, and go in to work Monday and possibly Wednesday. The best-laid plans... Monday was occupied by the drive back from Portland, Tuesday by medical stuff (including a urology appointment on short notice for Colleen), and Wednesday by waiting for the tech from Acorn to show up and do the proper inspection that the tech who had arrived early on Monday had failed to do. So.

Spent much of the week on personal software projects. Wednesday and Thursday I was mostly hacking in my .emacs file, fixing some long-standing annoyances with html-helper-mode (and incidentally lj-update-mode, which is partially derived from it). Friday and Saturday I worked on the build software for my website Songs pages -- you can see the results (so far -- there's still quite a bit of prettying-up to do) on LookingGlass Folk's Songs. The LgF page was the main motivation -- it's been a broken link on the site for years. The secondary motivation was putting my songbook on GitHub.

In the course of doing this, I finally got around to writing tests for the makefiles -- predictably, they turned up lots of bugs. By no means complete, but I now also have an easily-extensible test framework that I can use for the rest of MakeStuff and my other make-based projects like Honu.

Thursday we had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat. Glenn spatchcocked the bird -- this was my introduction to the technique, which lets a 16-pound turkey cook in two hours with a beautifully crisp skin. Recommended. There were just Colleen and I, Glenn and Naomi, and N's kids. The YD had dinner with her boyfriend's family, and Chaos spent the day working on term papers. The tenants ate at C"'s parents'. (I may have to go to subscripts.)

Fair amount of political stuff in the links; not going to re-hash most of it because apparently Post-Trump Stress Disorder is a thing, and I haz it. I can, however, recommend moem's Cybersecurity for the Trumped series, and Tor Browser.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

It's time for another year's worth of gratitude. On the whole, 2016 has not been a great year -- about the best I can say is that I -- and my family -- lived through it. OK, here we go: This year I'm grateful for...

  • My family. All of it -- family of blood, family of choice, Colleen, Chaos and Neko, Naomi, Glenn, the Roo and The Duchess, Mom, the relatives we hardly ever see, ... the whole crazy bunch of us. They're what's keeping me alive.
  • Our wonderful house, Rainbow's End. For all its plumbing problems, it's still a great place to live. I will miss it when, sooner or later, we can no longer afford to keep it.
  • Music. The songs that keep us going: "The Mary Ellen Carter" in particular; "Gentle Arms of Eden", "Quiet Victories", and "Kitchen Heroes" as well; and we've recently added "The Bells of Norwich" and "Millennium's Dawn" to that list. Songs of hope, determination, and defiance -- we need them now more than ever.
  • Friends. Thanks for the late-night conversations, the hugs, the blog comments, the words of encouragement and comfort, and just knowing you're there. You know who you are, and I love you.
  • Work. I'm getting weary of it, but I'm glad my employer still wants me, for the moment.
  • Hope. Pandora, 2016, you're a bitch, but at least you left us that one.
    Here's hope to heal your sorrow,
    Now that the old dreams are gone,
    And the past has turned into tomorrow,
    In the light of the Millennium's dawn.



No thanks to most of what 2016 has brought us, aptly and obscenely summarized in The 2016 Song. Not safe for work, because 2016.

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

Rough week. Even a con, with a concert that came off well, didn't help all that much. My anxiety--or whatever it is, because alexithymia--levels are through the roof, even after cutting back on coffee and Facebook time.

Getting through the concert did reduce my stress quite a bit; that effect lasted through the rest of the weekend. A couple of great conversations; the one we had Sunday evening/night reminded me a lot of the conversation I had with Naomi all those years ago at OVFF, which arguably led to a lot of what's happened since. So, yeah. Friendship is good. Making new friends is wonderful.

I'd originally planned to leave Sunday afternoon. I'm incredibly grateful to Naomi for giving me an excuse to stay on the extra day. I wouldn't have missed that conversation for anything. (That's assuming, of course, that I'd known about it ahead of time. One can't exactly schedule such things. One can, however, be open to them when they happen. I seem to be moderately good at that; it's just getting started that's so rare.)

The concert. Well. Of course, being totally frazzled leading into it, I neglected to record it. I'm hoping that the woman who recorded it on her cell phone gets back to me -- of course I neglected to get her contact info, too. The set list was drastically revised after the election; what we ended up with was:

  • Kitchen Heroes
  • Quiet Victories
  • Windward
  • Nemesis
  • Mary Ellen Carter
  • Bells of Norwich
  • The Times, They Are A Changin'
  • Gentle Arms of Eden
  • The Dreamer
  • Ship of Stone
  • Millennium's Dawn
  • Most of them had new arrangements--N has started composing harmony lines. Millennium's Dawn, with her harmony and the new last verse, worked particularly well. Bells of Norwich was new to me, as was the guitar part for Nemesis. You know things are going to be different when QV is the second song in the set.

    Oh, yeah: the bad stuff. Colleen's stairlift finally broke past my ability to jury-rig it. Much cursing, while I set up the sofabed in the Rainbow Room. (Although that was another good reason to stay the extra day at the con -- the sofabed is horribly uncomfortable.)

    ...Aaaaand the ... ugly? Maybe. N handed me a card that said "YOU MATTER". Which is something Colleen says to me quite frequently, also. That started a train of thought, because it reminded me of an article that had come by earlier in the week and that I felt... odd... about. Some initial reactions below in the notes. I know it's meant to be encouraging; to make me feel good about myself or something like that. It doesn't, though, and I can't figure out why.

    I really hate important stuff I can't figure out. If it was a server I'd be busy analyzing logs and cursing the lack of comments in the code. Come to think of it,...

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    So here we are at Orycon. For some reason I'd forgotten to register Colleen, so we had to do that at the desk.

    Here's my schedule:

    1118Sa
        o Is Open Source Really Open? Salon C (LL1) Sat Nov 19 10:00am - 11:00am
          Blake Hutchins, Frank Hayes, Mark Niemann-Ross, *me (moderator)
        o Concert: Steve Savitsky Mt Hood (2) Sat Nov 19 1:00pm - 2:00pm
    
    1119Su
        o The Changing Face of the Computer Interface Sunstone (3) Sun Nov 20 12:00pm - 1:00pm
          *Frank Hayes, Jeff Soesbe, Matt Huntley, Matt Huntley, Rhiannon Rhys-Jones, me
    

    The concert is going to be good. Promise. The setlist was completely revised last week (for reasons that should be obvious).

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

    So, last weekend was Westercon. It was the first we'd been to for a while -- Portland is close enough to drive to in less than 3 hours, so we were able to do it without my having to take any time off.

    My concert Saturday evening went ok: Bigger on the Inside, The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of, Millennium's Dawn, Riverheart, The Toolmakers, The Bears (A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear, A Tribute to the Middle-Aged Bear), The Travelers (Where the Heart Is, Windward), Rambling Silver Rose, QV, Ship of Stone.

    There were a couple of flubs, but nothing serious -- not bad for next to no prep, but I'll have to get more serious about practicing. I had taken Plink, the little Vagabond travel guitar; that was almost certainly the right choice. Though I think the battery was dead; we ended up micing it for the concert, which got me off to a bit of a late start. Putting my phone, in clock mode, on the music stand turned out to work very well.

    I didn't go to any panels -- just hung out in the filk room or the lobby with my laptop. (I'd also brought my work laptop, but never used it.) As usual, I enjoyed it more than I expected to beforehand: I've learned the hard way that it's better -- and I'm less likely -- to regret having done something than to regret not having done it. (Does that construction make sense? Probably, though it's less clear than I'd like.)

    Great conversations over dinner with [personal profile] alatefeline on Saturday (or was that Sunday lunch?), and Roy and Joan Sunday. On the whole a good, fairly relaxed con.

    Notes & links, as usual )

    Westercon

    Jul. 1st, 2016 07:33 am
    mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

    I didn't ask for a concert at Westercon this year, because up until about two weeks ago I wasn't sure I'd be able to affort to go. (It's marginal, but it's important enough in terms of keeping in touch that we decided to go anyway.) I also don't read my email very closely if I'm not expecting anything in particular.

    So you can imagine my surprise when I took another look at the schedule and saw that I have a one-hour concert slot tomorrow (Saturday) at 6pm.

    There may be a lot of old favorites in this one.

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

    RainbowCon 1 happened last weekend, and it was wonderful. The guests were Decadent Dave Clement from Canada, and Tim and Annie Walker from the Uk. Programming also included gaming -- I'll get to that -- organized by Naomi's friend Steven Schwartz. Con suite by Mama Colleen. Con chair and head of programming was Naomi Rivkis, and I was Con Bear (my badge read "Ursa Major").

    I don't think people knew whether to expect a large house filk, or a small convention. We wanted a small convention, and I think we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. Attendence was in the low to mid 30s; we were aiming for 30-40. Enough with the stats.

    Naomi and I worked out most of the schedule the weekend before. We left it up to the guests which order they wanted to go in, and although we had suggestions for other programming we left the final decisions up to them too. They decided to put Dave's concert on Friday, a Stan Rogers sing-along Saturday with Dave and Tim, and Tim and Annie's concert Saturday night. We had three workshop slots scheduled. I'll get to that.

    Dave (with his wife Liz, who had done the driving), Tim, and Annie arrived Monday. Tuesday they all went with Naomi to Dusty Strings, to rent Annie a harp. (The only instruments they came with were Tim's button accordion and some whistles.)

    Naomi was jumped by a large djembe, which followed her home. Its name is Rebel.

    Tim and Annie needed guitars; one each, plus one they could leave tuned to DADGAD. Fortunately this household has more guitars than cats. They seemed a little awestruck by Snuggles (the Martin O-15); the Applause that I brought out for DADGAD had apparently last been used by Talis.

    OK, so that brings us to Friday. In addition to pulling guitars out of my hat I also got the maypole up, with Chaos's help. I'll get to that.

    Friday got off to a somewhat late start, so the opening ceremonies sort of tailed off early into the introductory circle. We started, naturally, with "Bigger on the Inside" as an introduction to the house.

    During the introductory circle, dinner break, and some of Dave's concert, people were voting for their favorite workshops. They did this by dropping poker chips (they're not just for bardics anymore) into paper bags, with a blue chip representing their pick for the 90-minute slot.

    After the concert we finished tallying up the poker chips, and did a little last-minute negotiation with the attendees, which resulted in the 90-minute slot getting sea shanties and kitting out your home studio in parallel, and the vocal and harmony workshops getting combined into one.

    The poker chips then re-emerged in the poker chip bardic. Our variant on it has people using their chips in blue-red-white order, but with no need to complete a round before moving on to the next color. Instead, an earlier color jumps to the head of the queue if mixed colors are on the floor. It worked very well -- people had time to think about what they wanted to do or hear in their own time, rather than holding up the next round while they struggled to come up with something.

    Saturday we actually had two full tracks of programming during the afternoon. Three at one point, since the Cat game (Did I mention gaming? There was gaming.) overlapped the sea shanty and home studio workshops. The build-a-dragon game overlapped the "sensitive percussion" workshop earlier in the day. The afternoon ended with the Stan Rogers sing-along concert. (We skipped the scheduled critiqued one-shots due to lack of interest, and went for a longer dinner break.)

    The evening had Tim and Annie's concert, which was wonderful, followed what was intended as a ball-of-yarn chaos, but after we noticed that there was never more than one person queued up we just passed the ball around.

    Sunday started with the Ecumenifilk circle, moderated by Annie, followed by the drum circle, led by Dave. And featuring several of the household's assorted drums and my box of random small percussion instruments that had been left around from Saturday's workshop.

    After that was the Maypole dance. Unlike last year (RainbowCon 0 was Naomi and Glenn's wedding) there were enough experienced dancers to keep things running smoothly.

    After that was the vocal/harmony workshop, where I had surprisingly (to me) little trouble keeping to my assigned part. Then there was the jam, and closing ceremonies.

    Then most of those who were left went out for dinner. The restaurant, 13 Coins, is right across the street from the airport, so even the people who had to catch planes could come along.

     

    Rainbow Con II will be held next year, with guests Alexa Klettner from Germany, and Trickster and King (Ada Palmer and Lauren Schiller, the touring subset of Sassafras. We expect it to be as amazingly wonderful as RC1.

    We'd originally thought that we'd move the con to a hotel after it got too big for the house. But we really liked the small size -- it gives people a chance to hang out, talk, and make music with the guests and each other. We may end up capping the membership if it threatens to get out of hand, but it will stay at Rainbow's End as long as we're there to run it.

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

    Um... yeah. Been a while. I'd originally planned to post Monday after last weekend's house con, Rainbow Con 1. But I didn't. I'll post an actual con report later; for now I'll just say that it was amazingly wonderful. We had around 30 people, and everybody had a great time.

    Work has been rough. Things are falling through cracks at an increasing rate. I should leave. I can't afford to, but it'll probably kill me if I don't. If someone dropped half a million dollars in my lap, I could pay off most of the house and get by on social security and pensions. As it is, ... It's a constant reminder of how much the situation is of my own making.

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

    Conflikt was this last weekend; I'm posting on Monday so as to get in the whole con, as well as the end of the month. It was a pretty good con, though I ended up doing very little singing. Missed the smoked salmon (dead dog) filk -- Colleen was fading and neither of us was willing to spend much more money on hotel food. Dinners were bar snacks, because they were cheaper.

    I had conversations with two new (to me) people, and did a little catching up though not as much as I often do. I actually spent much of my time listening to concerts and working on my lyrics-to-html conversion. Which looks really good now, since it no longer relies on monospaced fonts. Not on the site yet, though.

    Also not on the site yet is my Sasquan concert, which I finally got the audio for.

    In other news, there are lots of good links, mostly related to tiny houses. If it wasn't for the possibility of eventually moving into someplace we can actually afford I would have no hope at all. Even with that, it will probably come too late, and our house will take too long to sell. I've been making some progress at work, but it's like slogging through mud.

    Financial ruin is only a paycheck away, and despair is never far from the front of my mind. I have noone to blame but myself, of course.

    raw notes, with links )
    mdlbear: (river)

    Now that we've said goodbye and good riddance to 2015, it's time to take a look ahead. As I've said before, I don't do resolutions. These are more, um, guidelines. Yeah; that's it. Guidelines.

    1. Music: I tried something indefinite last year, and didn't get very far with it. So this year, let's aim for an album: Amethyst Rose. The stretch goal would be to add Lookingglass Folk.
    2. Writing: Write more poetry, and aim for at least one non-fiction (software-related, most likely) article per month.
    3. Exercise: Walk on weekends. Stretch: get my bike repaired. (That's been on the list since before I moved to Seattle, so I don't have much hope.)
    4. Food: Eat better: more salads, fewer take-out lunches. Take off more weight -- I've been stalled for months. At least under 190, and preferably under 180.
    5. Psych: Last year's "health" goal was all about depression, but I also made a list of plausible stress-reduction techniques, a few of which I actually tried, and I'll keep working on that. But the main thing has to be procrastination. I'll get started on that... sometime? Tonight, preferably.
    6. Web: Convert the main websites to HTML-5 and CSS. Finally get around to writing the correct lyrics-to-HTML converter (using tables instead of monospaced fonts), and a good browser-based songbook/setlist viewer to go with it. Get some experience with popular CMSs: WordPress, and if possible Joomla and Drupal.
    7. Work: Get a new job, or get unstuck at my present one. The former is more likely. If possible, something that's mostly or entirely work-from-home. If not, get started on building a consulting business (web-related, or something else in the software range) that can fill that role.
    8. Household: Get the household workshop set up and, um, working. That means organizing the garage and the downstairs kitchen. Do some serious planning (as opposed to just reading blogs) toward the eventual move-out into tiny houses.

    Most Popular Tags

    Syndicate

    RSS Atom

    Style Credit

    Page generated Oct. 19th, 2017 05:30 am
    Powered by Dreamwidth Studios