mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-10-15 10:56 am

Done last week (20171008Su - 14Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-10-08 08:21 pm

Done this month (20171001Su - 07Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-10-01 09:28 am

Done last month (20170924Su - 30Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-09-24 05:42 pm
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Done last week (20170917Su - 23Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-09-17 07:56 pm
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Done last week (20170911Mo - 16Sa)

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

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

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

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

As I said, rough week.

Two public service announcements:

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-09-12 07:13 pm
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Done last week (20170903Su - 10Su)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-09-03 09:36 pm
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Done last month: (20170827Su - 0902Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-08-27 10:33 am
Entry tags:

Done last week (20170820Su - 26Sa)

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

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

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

Bronx is a troublemaker.

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-08-13 02:59 pm
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Done last week (20170806Su - 0812Sa)

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Welcome to Rainbow's End (sign) (rainbows-end)
2017-08-06 10:47 pm
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Done last week/month (20170730Su - 0805Sa)

So, it was a week.

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-07-31 07:15 am

Done last week (20170723Su - 0729Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-07-23 10:12 pm
Entry tags:

Done this week (20170716Su - 22Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Welcome to Rainbow's End (sign) (rainbows-end)
2017-07-16 02:43 pm
Entry tags:

Done this month (20170702Su - 15Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-07-02 11:45 am

Done last month (20170625Su - 0701Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-06-25 06:46 pm
Entry tags:

Done last week (20170618Su - 24Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-06-18 01:47 pm
Entry tags:

Done this week (20170611Su - 18Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-06-11 01:05 pm
Entry tags:

Done last week (20170604Su - 0610Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (e8)
2017-06-04 10:54 am
Entry tags:

Done last week (20170528Su - 0603Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-05-28 10:00 pm
Entry tags:

Done last week (20170521Su - 27Sa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And don't get me started on politics.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
2017-05-21 10:33 am
Entry tags:

Done last week (20170514Su - 20Sa)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )