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

I guess the last week was... I don't know. Not awful? I got some things done. My new website, computer-curmudgeon.com, saw enough work to make it at least presentable; I'll want to do some more work on the content before I go public. Comments welcome.

Some other things accomplished included sorting through, and mostly shelving, a box of songbooks. There's at least one more, and the convention songbooks and other stuff without covers isn't shelved and probably shouldn't be. Damned if I know what I should do with them, though.

Friday I had a phone screen for a front-end job; we'll see how well I survive the coding test that's the next step. I don't have a whole lot of hope for that one, but it would be fun if I got it. For certain values of fun -- I still have no idea whether I'll have the discipline to pull off a full-time job again. I put in four other job apps.

I also realized that maybe my biggest problem is fear of making decisions. It's not surprising, considering how many of my decisions over the last couple of decades have been wrong, in some cases disastrously so.

In other news, things have been happening. Our new household member, L, arrived yesterday and all of her stuff is at least in the house, if not in its eventual target locations. The office, also known as "the cats' room", was the staging area and still has a lot of stuff in it. I'll suggest having (housekeeper) T', do most of the lifting when she comes on Tuesday. T' also came Sunday to move stuff in the apartment to prepare a space for the second bed box, which arrived Monday. And my Oval-8 thumb brace finally arrived, Tuesday, dropped off by the neighbor it had been misdelivered to. Cecil, the neighbor's cat we briefly took in a couple of weeks ago, is back in circulation. He's sporting a collar now, so he won't be mistaken for a stray again.

Okay, I think I have to upgrade this to a good week. How long has it been? (*goes to look*) Well, the last three have been sort of acceptable. Several don't have assessments, and there have been a few "moderately productive" weeks. The last weekly post in which I actually used the word "good" (preceeded by "pretty") was 20171008Su - 14Sa. So there's that.

In the links, a couple of programming language intros -- JavaScript for Cats and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Python -- and one scary and extremely effective weather report.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

Today, and specifically this evening, I am grateful for:

  • Batteries. We're having a power outage. Hardly notice. I wonder how long the UPS will keep my CPAP up.
  • A backup drive that doesn't require a separate power supply. That may be what killed the last one.
  • An electric car with lots of range. (It does significantly better in warm weather.) But what in blazes were we thinking?
  • Colleen's scooter -- likewise.
  • Electric toothbrushes. Teethbrush? The dental tech said that my teeth were a lot cleaner than last time. I have no idea what I'm doing differently.
  • Always having something new to learn.
  • My family's health and safety. That's not something we can take for granted anymore. If we ever could.
  • Being far enough north that twilight lasts a long time.

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

Public Service Announcement: RainbowCon 2.1 is next weekend! It's our second annual house-con (last year would have been just before we closed on selling Rainbow's End). Details at the link. Come visit our island paradise. It'll be awesome.

I seem to be finally, gradually, getting off my arse with projects -- I've installed Elm and cleared out some space in my working tree -- though not actually started coding. Probably later today.

No progress on finding a job. I've noticed that I have a strong tendency to ignore problems and paperwork, apparetly thinking they'll go away if I don't look at them. I think I have to try -- again -- to get myself on a tight work schedule, with set times for job search, coding, and music. I suspect that the Pomodoro Technique -- 25-minute sprints -- may be about right. It's probably time to start using a "25min" tag.

Tuesday I cashed out my Amazon 401K. Net after taxes and transferring the Amazon shares to my brokerage account was enough to cover the rest of the remodeling, and maybe a month or two beyond that if nothing goes seriously wrong. I'm also getting a pretty substantial tax refund, mostly from the electric vehicle credit. I'll get another once I find the rest of the receipts for the work we did on Rainbow's End the year or so after we moved in. That will make the sale a pretty substantial net loss. :P

It's still a slow-motion trainwreck.

Cashing out the 401k required five phone calls -- I was a total wreck most of the afternoon.

In other news, our cat-lock -- a sliding gate across the entryway that keeps our cats from dashing out the front door the moment it's opened -- has become useless. Bronx (of course) learned that he could jump over it. Even turning the gate (a re-purposed whiteboard) 90 degrees to make it four feet high instead of three didn't work. N called Bronx "an agent of Chaos and Cuteness."

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Got a few things done; a little guitar (in 5-minute noodles, but still -- I need to get my fingers back in shape) and a little hacking (kludged together a script for posting to DW from Emacs, using a bash front end to charm, which seems to be the only available command-line client. I can do better, but this was good enough for last week's post, and this week's). I also figured out why ljupdate.el is still broken: it's using an HTTP GET macro that doesn't handle https. :P

I've brought up over half of our CDs, and gotten most of them onto shelves. The new organzation, subject to minor revisions, is:

  • Filk/folk/rock/pop/etc. alphabetical by performer. Last name for people.
  • Filk/folk/rock/pop/etc. collections, alphabetical by title.
  • Classical alphabetical by composer. Special exception for Gilbert & Sullivan, filed under G.
  • Classical collections, alphabetical by performer or title, whichever makes more sense.
  • Jazz, alphabetical by performer.
  • Show tunes and operas, alphabetical by title.
  • Natural sounds, relaxation, ambient, etc. alphabetical by title.
  • Christmas music, alphabetical by performer.

The household coined two new words: "rambronxious" (portmanteau, me) and "rambrooxious" (portmanteau, N). These join "rambunct" (back-formation) as a verb. We (finally) have our fridge's icemaker working. The thing was apparently wrecked by having been left to freeze, sometime before 2015 when the house was installed. (What's the right verb for a manufactured home? Not "built", certainly. "Manufactured", maybe.)

Not nearly as productive on the psych front -- the LCSW I contacted last week isn't taking new clients. And there are only a handful of therapists on the island who take Medicare. (No surprise, especially to those following siderea.) So I got stuck, as I usually do.

I did, however have an Insight(TM), which is that I'm still nowhere near recovered from two years of burnout at Amazon. (Below you will find a few links for burnout recovery. Helpful, but not excessively so.) I also started using my happy light. (Yeah; it's a SAD light -- "happy light" is the brand.) And Ticia has been exceptionally cuddly, which is nice.

And one more insight: I figured out why I don't like writing in Markdown or other text formats, and prefer LaTeX or HTML: they're basically physical markup, not semantic markup. In HTML I can, for example, distinguish between a citation and emphasis, even though they both get shown as italics. Given my current set of emacs bindings, HTML is easier for most things; songs and poems are easier in LaTeX with my FlkTeX macros.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

We had a power outage Monday, from about 2:30am to noon. N and I promptly went and bought flashlights, rechargable batteries, bottled water, and other emergency supplies. Given that the island is subject to high winds on a regular basis (which is why the county doesn't allow living in RVs), we have to assume that some future outage might last days.

The other news is that I have a new phone -- another LG G5, this time from AT&T. Unlike the last one (which I eventually sent back), everything works on this one. There have been a few glitches, but on the whole it's been a pretty smooth transition. Oddly, the MyChevrolet app works! Weird. (The website is still badly broken, of course.)

I've been having some trouble sleeping, or more specifically getting back to sleep after waking around 2:30am. That happened twice this week, including a full-on anxiety attack Friday. Ticia came to my rescue, lying next to my face and cuddling. We have a wonderful cat.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

I actually got in both walking and music this week, largely thanks to N and I prodding one another. On our Monday walk we worked out the new name for the household: the Rainbow Caravan. Which ties together Rainbow's End and N's new business name (Caravan Massage), and is explicitly designed to continue to fit after our next move.

Ticia has been very cuddly lately; she often lies by my head while I'm getting ready for sleep, and is usually back there when I wake up. She used to do that back at Rainbow's End; I think maybe she's finally comfortable enough in the new house. Or something. She's a cat -- humans aren't expected to understand.

I probably need to re-read "The Game of Rat and Dragon".

I'm still in need of a new phone; I keep coming back to the LG G5. It's still the best in its price range, with 4GB of RAM, upgradable to Android 7, and I like the always-on time display (which means I don't have to launch the clock app at night). The V-20 has a variant on that, but also significantly worse battery life. The thing I don't like about the G5 is the stupid accessory slot, which I'm unlikely ever to use and which completely destroys water resistance. The Samsung S5 (S6 to a lesser extent) remains possible due mainly to features and price. (The S6 removes some features; both are water resistant.) LG and Samsung are pretty much the only brands I'm considering because they're the only Android phones for which AT&T supports WiFi Calling (although I may want to reconsider that, since I'm getting a signal most of the time here). Really wish I'd gotten the S5 instead of the vastly inferior S5 Mini.

Colleen's caregiver called in sick, and she was out last week as well. Grumph.

Meanwhile, I'm continuing to work on shelving and unpacking, though not as much of the latter as I think I should be. (N says not, but if we want to get any work done on the garage we'll have to empty most of it; we may be able to move stuff to a shed, but it still means moving a lot of stuff.)

I'm also concerned about finances, as usual. Plus the usual depression. When I talk to a doctor (and of course I've been putting that off too) I should discuss my meds.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

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

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

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

Nasty, uncomfortable things!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, here we are.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (distress)

Rough week. Feeling doomed at work; things aren't coming together as quickly as they need to, and I'm not seeing things that should be obvious. Getting old, and I don't like it.

I thought leaving the Starport was hard. This is going to be worse. I guess it's like getting old -- I have to do it, but I don't have to like it.

If I haven't grown up by now I don't have to, right?

We've been doing a lot of sorting. Colleen and I have been through our closet (though there's still a lot left) and bookshelves (about half done), and I sorted books in the Great Room with Naomi. We'll probably have to do another pass.

There were a few small triumphs. I managed to track down the lyrics to Naomi's song "Staying Home Tonight", which had gone missing -- we'd performed it back in 2007. Took grep-find on my home directory (including both mail and LJ archives) to find it.

The emacs grep-find function is wonderful. Basically it searches for a pattern in the contents of every file in your current directory tree, and flags every hit the same way it flags compile errors, so that you can visit each one and do whatever investigation or fixing you need to at that point. You can run the same thing on the command line, but then you don't have the convenient integration with the editor.

Back to small triumphs -- Monday we had (new Honda Odyssey) Rosie towed down to the dealership in Tacoma where we'd bought her, to have her blocked fuel line fixed. Got her back yesterday. And I surprised and delighted Naomi last night wth The Pharos Gate, which I'd just finished reading and which she hadn't known existed. Hmm. Should do a review of the series, shouldn't I?

A comment on last week's post has inspired me to write up my journaling system. It looks like what's now called a "bullet journal", but predates the eponymous fad by at least half a decade. Hmm. Should put together an emacs mode, or see if I can tweak org-mode for it.

A Wikipedia dive starting at Irregular Webcomic! #3594 led me to the article on Slouch hat, which in turn led inevitably to the Tricorne and Bicorne hats. Does that make the slouch hat a unicorne?

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Moderately productive, though not as much as I needed to be. Story of my life, I guess.

Plans have firmed up: I am retiring next year; we are putting the house on the market in Spring, and moving to New England. We will probably buy a house there, unless things look so bad that we think we'll have to leave the country within the next year. I hate this. At least I can't blame myself for Trump and his gang. I can and do blame myself for the financial trainwreck. I was in denial for a loooooong time. We all were. I still am, to some extent.

Colleen, Giselle, and Naomi have done a lot of decluttering in the sewing corner, cubhouse, downstairs, and some of the books. It's a start. I've started, too, clearing off the clutter from the Great Room hearth, starting to sort through my boxes. I'm still attached to a lot of things; I need to be more ruthless. There are boxes and boxes of little things I never used, kept because there might be a use for them someday. Or that turned out to require more effort than I wanted to spend, and hung around until they were totally obsolete. (A lot of little Linux boxen in that category.) We still haven't started on the garage. For the second time, or is it the third?

Did I mention that I hate this? I hate this.

I've been having a little fun with the guitar I brought in to work last week. That, at least, has been ok. And my family is awesome. And we have cats.

Notes & links, as usual )

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: A tortoiseshell cat facing the camera (ticia)

Note the mood. I try to use the first term that comes into my head, since that's less likely to be overthought and edited. So the combination of Good Drugs and a good cat seems to be working. That, and things going fairly well.

  • I am pretty much over my injuries from my run-in with a sidewalk last Tuesday; I have a referral to ENT to get the nose checked out, since it seems somewhat more congested than it used to.
  • I am a lot less worried about how little Ticia is eating: As you can see in the notes for last Sunday and yesterday, she has gained back some of the weight she lost in the first few weeks, and since she was overweight to begin with, that's good.
  • We have started brainstorming for what we're going to do after I retire (and the household starts bleeding money). Present thinking mostly involves tiny houses, and moving to someplace cheaper after N's kids are out of school.

Lots of links this time. Especially noteworthy are:

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

So. A reasonably productive week, at least at home, where I've been cleaning up my server so that I can use git for most deployments and backup, instead of my clunky old rsync system (which worked pretty damned well, but a large USB hard drive represents a pretty big single point of failure, and it did). That doesn't keep me from doing a nightly mirror, but I'll be relying on git for history.

In the process, I wrote the website deployment git hook and make targets, so I can say "make deploy" on my laptop and have the changes checked in, pushed to the server, and pulled onto the web host with no further interaction.

There are still some remaining tasks around asset management, since my audio files are way too big to be flinging around with git.

At work... not so much. I feel as though I'm not being as productive as I should be.

Also on the down side, I managed to tweak my left QL muscle getting into a car on Wednesday. Naomi managed to get it mostly relaxed, but says that I have to start acting my age and learn to move like an old man instead of assuming that my body will just do what I tell it to. Grump.

And we nearly lost our ninja cat, Desti, who snuck out an insufficiently-closed door. She was, of course, wet and miserable and scared, but that probably won't keep her from trying to sneak out. Because ninja cat.

Oh, and two of Colleen's three lift chairs are broken. She's going to have a repair person come out this week. Fortunately the chairs, her power wheelchairs, and her scooter (which also need attention) are all made by Pride, so she can get them all looked at at once.

To end on a high note, and a link, we saw a preview of the first two episodes of the HBO/American Museum of Natural History mini-series Saving My Tomorrow, about young environmental activists. N's kids were interviewed for it, although they didn't appear in the episodes we saw.

More links in the notes, of course.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I actually did some yardwork this week. I hate yardwork. Especially since a lot of it involves bending over, which is bad for my back. But I do it when I have to. Or when it involves gadgetry, like hose quick-connects.

I'd ordered some quick-connects from Amazon to supplement the ones I got at Home Despot on Sunday; quite predictably they disappeared when our housekeeper tidied up the Rainbow Room. I searched for quite a while. They finally turned up in the first place I'd thought to look: in their own box, hiding under the invoice. *facepalm*

Speaking of quick-connects, I recommend brass. The plastic ones I bought last year didn't make it through the winter. Admittedly, this was because I let water freeze in the hoses -- not something I had to deal with in San Jose. But still.

Naomi and I finally got ourselves into the hot tub, for a good soak and good conversation.

A couple of bad moments, mostly thinking about finances -- I use the "trainwreck" tag for a reason. I'm usually able to get past them quickly, and that probably isn't entirely a good thing. It would be better if they were an incentive to get things done rather than causing paralysis. Grumph.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I have this feeling I should post something for the end of the year, which is fast approaching (and probably well past for most of my readers by now).

It's been a year. Or maybe a decade. I had three jobs, which is as many as I had in the previous two decades. I/we bought a house and moved into it -- last time I did that was 38 years ago. We have cats -- last time I had a cat was, I don't know, about 60 years ago? Something like that. Colleen spent months in hospitals and nursing homes.

I'm looking forward to a couple of years of being settled. I'm not likely to get them, of course. Next year I have to sell the Starport, add on to Rainbow's End, catch up on a hellacious number of medical bills, get the cars repaired, go to my 45th college reunion, ... Well, we'll see. Tomorrow is another year.

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

Or anyway, the last ten days of last month. I finally got around to doing some much-needed maintenance on the computers and their configuration... and figured out why the UPS kept turning itself off -- it must have been doing its periodic battery test... on a totally dead battery. :P

I also got the backup scripts back in operation. I now have a complete, almost-ready-to-boot mirror drive as well as my traditional incremental backup. What, me paranoid?

The Shuttle box I've been using as a desktop system is dead; it runs for a few minutes, then kernel panics. Possibly memory. Not going to worry about it; it's had a good run. I seem to be doing ok with just the netbook for most purposes.

Colleen's caregiver turned in her resignation on Monday, after leaving early Saturday for a family emergency, and not showing up at all on Monday. That's ok; today was going to have been her last day anyway. We've doubled Emmy's allowance.

The YD is just as good a caregiver as May was, and more concerned with cooking things the whole household would like to eat. I'll miss the occasional spicy dish, but that's what sriracha's for.

Colleen is mostly doing better, gradually getting her strength back. The YD is more willing to be firm with her about exercise than May was, so that's a plus, too. Of course she did spend the week with a fever of 102, not eating, and ended up spending most of the weekend in the hospital. (With a UTI, low blood pressure, dehydration, and messed-up blood chemistry.) She's better now, as I said.

The LG washer/dryer combo arrived last Saturday; they couldn't actually install it because there wasn't a 110V outlet within reach. Got that taken care of, and finished the install myself. Not as tight against the wall as it should be, but it'll do. It's nice to have the extra laundry capacity.

Somebody, probably May, didn't close the door to the deck firmly enough, and it blew open. Naturally, out little cat burgler found it and went outside. She hadn't gone far, though; after I tracked her down Naomi coaxed her back inside, looking wet and bedraggled. I doubt she's learned anything from her little adventure, though.

Oh, and the idiot Republicans let the government go into shutdown. Again. The problem with coming up with a string of lies aimed at getting stupid people to vote the way you want, is that eventually they end up voting in stupid people who believe the lies. Oops. Did I mention idiots?

Links in the notes.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (poly-heart)

Almost a week. Starting out rather rough: the YD was injured in a near-accident on the bus on Monday, Colleen had an endoscopy appointment on Wednesday (mine is this week), and in between I was very stressed and close to overload. This makes bears grumbly. Grumble.

On the other paw, the house gets closer and closer to reality. It's going to be a strange household -- strange even by Seattle polyamorous fandom standards, I suspect -- but it'll work. It'll work precisely because of its strangeness. Hmm. That really wants a separate post, doesn't it?

It's not something I ever expected. Living with kids younger than my younger brother's grandkids? Taking on over half a megabuck in debt when I'm old enough to retire? Am I crazy? Of course. And I have the prescriptions to prove it.

Quite a few excellent links, spanning much of the Space Marine kerfuffle.

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

Another week gone by. Do people prefer the weekly dumps, or daily dribbles? Inquiring minds and all that.

Worrying news on the job front -- $COMPANY, which last I heard was about to hire me as soon as they got through some back-office stuff, has re-organized. There's a new hiring manager, and apparently he has some concerns. AARGH! I have a new set of interviews on Tuesday. If this falls through I'm unlikely to get anything before my severance pay runs out.

In retrospect it's a good thing I couldn't get a Friday slot -- I apparently came down with a 24-hour virus of some sort. With luck I'm over it now, but I was pretty miserable yesterday afternoon and evening. Went to bed 10:30ish and slept for 11 hours.

In other news, I've done a little music with Naomi, and fixed a mysterious problem I'd been having with my mail reader.

I have been realizing more and more how much we'd been relying on Colleen's support network back in San Jose: Liz (and Marty and Alison before her), Safeway.com, ... Housekeeping, shopping, and driving Colleen places are nearly a full-time job. I'll be happy when the YD gets her license.

Speaking of the YD, she's an official AVON Representative now.

I want a Nexus 7 and a pair of Want. Also want Equator D5 Studio Monitors. Grump. When I get a job, damnit...

Since the Hugos were announced, I've been reading Digger by Ursula Vernon, the winner for best graphic story. Go read it -- it's amazing.

Lots of links, as one would expect for a week's worth.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (cthulhu-santa)

Between now and next weekend the Starport is pretty much open every day: we take in strays for the holidays. Today's menu is borscht, honey-glazed ham, and the smoked duck my brother sent us. The annual "sometime around New Year" potluck is January 2nd, a week from tomorrow. (The only exception is that we'll probably be off on a family outing this Sunday.)

The [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf and [livejournal.com profile] selkit will be hosting on New Year's Eve.

If you feel like stopping by any time in between, you'll be welcome if anybody's home; it's usually a good idea to call ahead except for today, Wednesday, and next Saturday.

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

A fairly busy day; a lot of stuff got mailed. Getting the taxes off, in particular, was a great relief. I walked down to the pond, but the water was too murky to see the koi.

The usual aches and pains; they didn't get bad until evening; I took some cyclobenzaprine before going to bed. I'm not sure which helped more: that, or the shoulder rub I got from T a little before she left. It would be nice if my body would just plain work. That, and my flying car...


The day's link sausage consists of JsonML, a cool markup and templating system that can operate on the browser side of the web, and this heartwarming story about a high school football team going pink to fight breast cancer (link from [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi).

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

Once again, the folks at Grand Central Starport (San Francisco Bay Area) are having their annual Halloween(ish) party; this year it actually falls on Halloween itself. As usual it's a potluck; costumes are optional but should be street-legal. No pets, but there may be filking. If you have special dietary requirements, bring something you're sure you can eat.

Directions and maps are linked from the household web page. Or you could just try clicking the "location" link.

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

Colleen's going to be hanging around the house all day, so if you're near the Starport and want to borrow a cup of air conditioning and internet, come on over.

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

Again, a pretty good day. I'm not sure what's making the difference, but I'm not complaining. Colleen and I are starting to think about ways of taking some of the caregiving and errand-running load off of me (see comments on this post in particular). I expect to be posting more about this later.

The short version, though, is that she's going to be shifting a lot of the grocery shopping to Safeway's online store, and holding a Ladies' Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society meeting on Tuesday nights to give me some time off.

Colleen went off to San Francisco in the afternoon with Marty and Ali to a 50%-off sale on Britex's remnant floor. I'm delighted -- she had fun, and came back happy and unharmed, and planning additional fabric-oriented mayhem. (See previous paragraph.)

The "Being Mindful" group finally started up at Kaiser. (For those not into the latest psychobabble, it's about the theraputic version of Buddhist meditation techniques aimed at achieving mindfulness: a "mental state, characterized by calm awareness of one's body functions, feelings, content of consciousness, or consciousness itself.") Mindfulness looks like a useful addition to my mental toolkit, and I'm starting to try to apply it. (Tag: zen.)

Finding a support group for caregivers may take a little more work; there's one at Kaiser, but the description is specific to caregivers of Alzheimer's patients.

And the YD made dinner -- the chicken was OK and a trifle underdone; the roasted zucchini slices drizzled with olive oil and maple syrup were surprising and wonderful!

I don't think I mentioned it at the time, but [livejournal.com profile] artbeco's gorgeous Amethyst Rose card that I ordered from her Etsy shop arrived a couple of days ago. Wow.

Good conversations, a little silliness, a happy Cat, and snuggle. Yeah, a pretty good day.

mdlbear: (iLuminati)

We've been looking all over the house for Colleen's MP3 player, which has been missing ever since she came back from her last Remicade appointment. She wanted me to figure out how to put it into shuffle mode, which I thought I had done.

As it turned out it wasn't in the purple tote bag under the table, which she was positive was the one she'd taken to her appointment. It was in a green Whole Foods tote mostly full of empty Coke cans, which someone had hung up next to the washing machine on one of the hooks we use for bags of cans and bottles to be recycled. There was also a bag of peppermints in there.

I am simultaneously overjoyed that it's been found, mildly annoyed that someone (undoubtedly trying hard to be helpful) would have put it where it didn't belong without looking or asking, and considerably amused.

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

The party last night was a fairly low-key affair, but several people showed up who probably wouldn't have if they hadn't felt the need to drop by Colleen's hotel hospital room and give their regards.

Got some awesome hugs.

Since I spent most of the evening sitting out in the living room trying to look sociable, if not actually being sociable, I didn't get much of the one-on-one conversations I really prefer. Sorry about that -- you'll have to catch me either online or on the phone if you want to talk. Around lunchtime is usually good, though Monday and Tuesday of this week look kinda shot.

It's been a weekend unconducive to getting things done around the house, but I finally have the bottles cleaned out of the front bathtub to the point where somebody could actually, like, bathe in it.

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

It was incredibly nice to have Colleen home for a Wednesday, even if all there was time for was the shopping, and a little less than three hours at home. The house misses her when she's gone.

I had originally decided to work from home on Wednesdays, but had meetings in both the morning and afternoon. I did skip my lunchtime walk and spend an hour or so with her instead.

She's in pretty good spirits, considering, and feeling a lot better.

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

Colleen is now at a point where it's safe for her to leave the nursing home for up to four hours at a stretch when she's not hooked up to the IV, basically any time between 1:30pm and 8pm. Today I picked her up at 4pm (after collecting the Y.D. at school, since she's suffering from a muscle cramp of unknown etiology and would have found it next to impossible to walk home). She'd been waiting in the lobby with Joyce.

It was good. The house felt right with Colleen sitting in her usual chair; there were laughter and hugs and snuggles. For about half an hour we just lay on the bed with her head on my shoulder -- that's what both of us miss the most. Oddly, it wasn't too hard to take her back, though we left in something of a rush. I sat with her for about 40 minutes and held her hand, and helped her set up her little artificial Christmas tree.

She'll be coming home Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; she also has an appointment with her gastrointestinal specialist on Thursday. I'll be working from home on Wednesdays; it's the perfect day both because of the amount of errand-running needed and because it's the same day that one of my coworkers works from home.

The only problem with her coming home some afternoons is that people coming to visit her get very confused; happened to her friend Marty today. I may have to print up something for her to put on the bed.


2008-11-27 08:40 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I don't always do one of these, but today there's a lot to be thankful for:

  • I have my family, pulling together in a time of crisis. Most especially I have Colleen, with me for over a third of a century, and two children who are growing up into beautiful young women.
  • I have, oddly, a son-in-law who loves my older daughter, and who gets along with the rest of the family.
  • My Mom is still alive, happily running the library at her retirement home a month shy of her 88th birthday.
  • I'm gainfully and happily employed, for a company that gives a damn about society and the environment.
  • I have music, and Tres Gique looks as though it's going to work as an almost-real band.
  • I have my heart back. Whether from a hormonal shift, a higher dose of Vitamin D, or good deep conversation when I needed it, I do.
  • I've had a year on the River; a year of extraordinary personal discovery, deep conversation, friendship, love, profound writing, long walks, and a series of experiences that, while sometimes painful, I have taught me more than words can easily express.
  • I have my friends, online and offline. Filkdom, fandom, and random, I love you all. Thank you.
  • I have love: people I love and people who love me.
  • ... and I am profoundly, inexpressibly thankful that Colleen's health troubles started before we drove down to LOSCON, so that she could be cared for close to her home, family, and friends.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

(Background: Colleen is in the hospital for what's looking like a 6-week stay. See this post for the previous update, and the Starport web page for up-to-date contact info, including room#.)

The bottom line is that it will take about six weeks for Colleen's intestine to heal. They can't remove the bad part surgically because repaired segments tend to turn into problems down the line. Can't win, in other words.

As of this morning she was rather grumpy. It's well known that grumpy old people survive better, so I'm rather encouraged by this in a backhanded sort of way.

This morning she had just gotten the news that they were going to move her to a different room, but as far as I know it hasn't happened yet -- I'll post when/if it does. Hopefully the new room will have Wi-Fi as well as cell phone service (which she does have, fortunately); I'm also bringing in a travel router in case Kaiser's IT staff need something trustworthy they can plug into their LAN.

Now that we've sort-of gotten over the shock, the household is starting to adapt. I'm proud and delighted at the way our [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf has stepped into the role of interim alpha female in the household, taking things like phone calls, Wednesday pizza, grocery shopping, and transportation arrangements in stride. Kudos for our Wolfling daughter.

I've been adjusting as well, working hospital visits into my schedule again, and changing my online priorities. I'll still keep up with my friends list, but will probably make fewer comments and spend less time active on IM.

I'll be heading out to see her in a couple of minutes. More later tonight.

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

This weekend, we will be having our annual sometime-around-Halloween party at Grand Central Starport, Saturday, November 1st; you'll find maps, directions, and contact information at the link.

As usual, it's a potluck -- kids, friends, and musical instruments are always welcome. Costumes are encouraged, but not required.

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

Yesterday's wedding was wonderful -- outdoors on the top of a hill, with a stunning view and perfect weather. The site, the couple's new home, will be opening as a winery in 2010. For now the "winery" is a huge metal barn, which is where they held the dinner. They rolled up the door on the west side for a perfect view of the sunset.

The bride's parents are old friends. Dave Uggla, who graduated from Carleton College the year before me, is probably the only person in California whe remembers me without a beard. I met Joyce folkdancing at Stanford, and we shared an apartment for a couple of years before Dave moved in (and I moved in with Colleen). Joyce and their son Jordan are members of Tres Gique. Their daughter, Linea, is less than a year younger than our daughter [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf.


We got lost getting there. Twice. Turns out that the big sign welcoming you to Fairplay, California is not on Fairplay Road but on Grizzly Flat. There's a house at the same address as the winery. Oops. I remarked at one point, after tempers had cooled a little, that the whole thing would probably have been highly enjoyable as someone else's LJ post.

In the morning after breakfast we decided to explore in that direction; I got thrown off by the fact that the directions we had from Google Maps, while accurate and suitable for coming from the motel (West on US50), were highly misleading when coming East from Placerville. We tried to go back from Fairplay by unwinding the directions, when I discovered that both Kat and Colleen had totally misunderstood my unwinding request, but in totally different ways. We ended up far off course and in bad temper; I'll get into that under the cut in case you want to skip it.


We were coming from Placerville because we went there for breakfast (or brunch). We were looking for someplace to have Hangtown Fry, and wound up at the Buttercup Pantry, which advertizes itself as the "Home of the Hangtown Fry". Never mind that they also advertize themselves as having opened about a century after that dish was invented, for a miner who ordered the most expensive items on the menu after striking it rich. He got oysters, eggs, and bacon. Yum. I don't think that smoked oysters are strictly authentic, but the total effect was definitely made of yum.

We'll be back at Buttercup this morning, though I'll probably try something else.


River: reading maps and reading people )

I'm probably never going to get this "being human" thing right, am I?

Well, it was a good wedding, and we ended the day contented and safe. I'll take that any time.

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

Let's see...

I woke up at about 7:30 after a full 8 hours of sleep, thanks to cyclobenzaprine and aspirin. The neck and shoulder pain from yesterday were mostly gone, and my left eye wasn't glued shut. Good start.

My latest patent disclosure was accepted; now I just have to figure out how to describe it to a lawyer well enough to get it written up. One of my coinventers -- the one with the degree in EE -- will have to implement it, though I might be able to cobble together a simulation.

Had a good walk; took in the hill in both directions, but rather slower than I could have if I were in better shape. Took 1:15 or so.

Joined in a fascinating conversation in the lunchroom. It takes about a petabyte to record all the information you encounter over your entire life: audio, video, and text. How long before that fits on a cell phone?

Got a happy phone call from the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat and a brief, delightful email from [livejournal.com profile] cflute that brightened the afternoon even further.

Tracked down the code I'm going to use as a base for one of the projects I'm starting to work on.

Came home a little early to spend some time with the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf; took her to the train station at 7:00. She'll be getting on her train to Seattle (and points North) in a little while.

It'll feel odd without the Wolfling around the house.

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

This was originally going to be a post about "friendly families". Friendly families do things together as families -- they visit, go places together, do things together, sometimes celebrate together; they keep in touch when they're apart. The kids play together, if they're of similar ages; otherwise the older ones may babysit the younger ones. They go to one anothers' parties. They usually have a network of mutual friends.

You find them a lot in fandom and the SCA. The House of the Anonymous Bosh was a huge, sprawling household with a couple of families at the core and a several more orbiting closely; many of us haven't been in the SCA in years, but we're still fairly close. Still friendly. Still going to one anothers' parties and inviting one another to our kids' weddings. Still meeting at conventions. Comment on one anothers' LJs...

But family outings are rare, now that the kids are old enough to have their own social lives, and they're not really all that interesting. It turns out that the interesting phenomenon is the curmudgeons. There are usually one or two in every family gathering; I've often been one of them. At SCA events I'd spend most of my time reading. On Wednesday nights at the Starport I could usually be found in the office, especially when the conversation in the living room got dull or excessively loud. Sometimes some of the other geeks will join me there -- there's always plenty of Linux and Perl to talk about. Sometimes it's the musicians who end up geeking in a corner. Or the cooks in the kitchen, or the costumers in the sewing room.

M is one of Colleen's best friends, and one of her daughters is my Younger Daughter's best friend; the Y.D. used to babysit her younger sister, and still loves playing with her. Her husband, D? I rarely see him except when he comes to collect one of the kids from our house. He feels out of place at our parties. That's OK.

There are people who do come over on Wednesday nights, and attend every single one of our parties, but aren't social at all. They'll sit in a corner and read a book from our fanishly-extensive library, or hide behind their laptop, or use one of our computers. That's OK, too.

I'm trying to be less curmudgeonly these days; at least now I'm usually one of the ones who hides behind a laptop, with a guitar within reach for the occasional request. But at the same time I'm less concerned about it. I'm not all that sociable, and sometimes it's a strain. And even when I am feeling sociable there are times when I'll pull someone aside for a private conversation, if only to avoid subjecting the rest of the party to one more run-through of "Quiet Victories" or "The River".

I think that recognizing this phenomenon makes me more comfortable with it, in others as well as in myself. There's no reason to feel like a bad host if someone is only there on Wednesday for the beer, the books, and the bandwidth. Grand Central Starport is a very comfortable place, even for curmudgeons.

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

The party here at Grand Central Starport (in San Jose, CA) will be starting sometime around noon (or whenever guests start to arrive), and ending a dozen hours later or thereabouts. It's a potluck. There will be filking. Maps, directions, contact information, and so on are on the household web page.

9:30 -- Quote of the Day

[livejournal.com profile] flower_cat: Let the kids sleep as late as possible on a party day."
me: Right. That way we'll have somebody to let the last guests out at 2am after we've gone to bed.
Cat: There's method in my madness...

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

There will be one of our four annual parties here at Grand Central Starport (San Jose, CA in case you're just tuning in) this coming Saturday. Maps, directions, contact information, and so on are on the household web page.

As usual, it's a potluck. There will almost certainly be filking, if only to show off my latest song.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

Yesterday evening was our usual household open house. I've been trying to spend more time out in the living room being (at least a little bit) sociable, rather than retreating to the office and waiting for the geeks to congregate there. It mostly worked, now that I've made a little music-geek's corner with an armless chair, music stand, guitar stand, and tray table for a laptop. Now that Colleen has her EeePC, we had at least as many laptops in the room as people for much of the evening.

Joyce and family came over, and we ran through the songs on the Baycon setlist. It's coming together nicely. We'll have another rehearsal Monday at Joyce's, and again next Thursday after [livejournal.com profile] cflute arrives. Those will include more detail work; with a live audience, even a small one, you can't do much more than just run through the songs with a little critiquing in between, and there are more distractions.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

This past weekend was a heck of a lot of fun, but not much actual work got done around the house. Worth it.

I did, however, get to a minor bit of system administration that's been in my queue for a while: I took down my office workstation (Harmony), put it on the newer of the two BackUPS Pro 600's (the old one, which I rescued from work, doesn't provide as much information over the serial line), and moved the mirror drive from an external case to an internal tray.

There are still some oddities on that machine -- it really needs a new motherboard and CPU. It's pretty far down on the queue, though.

I also uploaded [livejournal.com profile] artbeco's wedding pictures; it's up to the Wolfling to wrap something useful around those. Took several hours; our upload speed sucks. Fortunately there were plenty of other things to do.

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

We spent a delightful, relaxing weekend with the [livejournal.com profile] jenkitty. She got up at some ridiculous hour to fly down from Seattle Saturday morning, and left Sunday evening. We (me, the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat, and the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf -- the Y.D. wasn't interested in the kinds of things we had partially planned) piled into the van with Colleen's wheelchair and spent all day Saturday driving back from the Oakland airport (which has been extensively renovated since I was last there, and had surprisingly little traffic) by way of San Francisco.

The entire weekend was an exercise in real-time scheduling. We drove along the waterfront, passing up the food paradise of the Ferry Building because of large crowds and a lack of parking, past the tourist traps of Fisherman's Wharf, South on Van Ness, West on Geary past Japantown, and had a late breakfast at the Cliff House. Crab is a house specialty. Yum.

South on the Great Highway to Golden Gate Park, and parked under the de Young Museum. We need more museum time. The textile gallery was showing Turkmen weaving -- wow! The pace and interaction are vastly different when I'm wheeling Colleen around, but it wasn't unpleasant by any means.

After the museum we went next door to the Japanese Tea Garden. This was mostly a matter of Jen and Kat exploring widely while I tried to figure out how to get around with Colleen and the chair. On occasion I failed miserably; fortunately the Cat is still fairly mobile under her own power. No disasters.

Finally, we drove down to San Jose via Skyline Boulevard (as far as Woodside), took a turn past $WORK on Sand Hill Road, and tried to figure out where to have dinner. We'd originally identified a couple of places in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, but it was still too early and the Wolfling really didn't want her sister to be entirely left out, so we went home, let the Kitty take a nap, and headed out to Kobe, our favorite sushi boat place.

The evening was a combination of filking, conversation, and looking at the proofs of the wedding pictures, which [livejournal.com profile] artbeco brought over for us to sort through.

Sunday the Kitty slept in while I went out for bagels and Scottish lox, then a walk to the Rose Garden. There was time for Jen to have a bagel before going out "silly food shopping" to Cosentino's with Colleen. Colleen's been shopping there for nearly three decades; most of the staff are old friends. Dinner was huge pieces of lamb (which Colleen pan-broiled with Greek seasoning) with saffron rice and caprese (which I made). Quick, simple, and delicious.

All too soon it was time for Jen to leave. I combined the trip to the airport with dropping the kids off at their gaming session a couple of blocks down Coleman Avenue. All-in-all a delightful weekend; I just wish there was some way to do it more often.

Capped the weekend with a pleasant drive with the Cat.

mdlbear: (hill-of-three-oaks)

Note to my friends: this is a much happier post than the one I'm glad I didn't finish this morning. Things are well with me. Thank you for your patience. (/me waves cheerfully at those who have had the most to put up with from me over the last couple of weeks.)

Yesterday and today had a distinct feeling of transition; many things have become clearer in my mind, and I've started putting them into practice. Events have converged, and emotional uphevals have been processed. Things are different. The ghosts are gone, as they should be, and a few hours after the April finally left the planet by way of the International Date Line I felt as though a weight had lifted from my heart. The fires of Beltane have done their work, burning away the last of the old year's dead leaves and fallen branches.

Let's start with work. )

Colleen's wheelchair arrived yesterday. )

Wednesday night was a little different, too. )

Other things, too, are sorting themselves out. )

Spring is here, and by some ways of reckoning it's the New Year. Wherever you place that mark on the calendar, I hope that the fires of this Beltane have burned away your sorrows, and that the year to come brings you joy and contentment.


2008-03-20 08:38 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Here's wishing a happy -- or at least a calm -- Equinox to those who mark it. It seems like a good day to talk about balance.

My life, like my finances, has been significantly out of balance for years. Things are starting to find a new equilibrium, though sometimes I feel like I've finally gotten it all together just in time to be forgetting where I put it.

Things like blog reading and IM usage are still a bit of a problem -- I always tend to do the fun stuff first -- but I'm trying to limit them and have been mostly successful. This week, anyway.

Financially, it's too early to say for sure, but I may have finally gotten both the Cat and I interested in setting up a household budget. Suggestions for Linux programs or locally-installable web applications will be gratefully accepted. (The ones I know about from "apt-cache search budget" on Ubuntu are grisbi, homebank, and equonimize; haven't had a chance to look at any of them.)

I may have been the only one to notice that last night's selection of cheeses was smaller than usual.

Balance plays a part in conversation, too. Last night's geekish conversation in the office was marked by comparatively little of it; people were more intent on making their own points -- repeatedly -- than in noting their areas of agreement and disagreement and moving on to something more interesting. Yes, scanning, printing, and vector drawing programs in Linux are broken. You really only have to say that once. Yes, human interface studies and guidelines are important. But if you dumb things down to match what your study has determined to be the "average" user's expectations, you leave off what may be a surprisingly long tail of users who aren't average and weren't included in your pitifully small study. (It's my blog -- I get to have the last word there.)

I'm blathering. Balance. Right.

(Note: The trainwreck and river tags are for discussion of financial and psychological issues respectively; there will be corresponding filters for non-public aspects of these, but I haven't started using them yet.)

mdlbear: (xo)
I'm posting this on my XO in the living room of the Starport: there are five laptops (all but one runnng Linux) and two smartphones visible. I have my XO in tablet mode sitting on the music stand, with my thinkpad keyboard in my lap.

I love our parties!
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Just a reminder: there's a party here at Grand Central Starport today. The tub is full of drinks (mostly left over from the con suite at Consonance); ice will be added at about 10am. We're ready; are you?

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

It's not exactly a party, but the Starport will be open all day tomorrow (New Year's Day) in case anyone wants to drop in. No guarantees on the food, so bring something if you want to be sure there's something to eat. We have plenty of soft drinks and a reasonable amount of beer.

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

If you're reading this post on Saturday, December 29, you're missing the party. If you're in the neighborhood of San Jose, come on over. The usual potluck bash.

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

Yeah, well... Grand Central Starport is open today and tomorrow for anyone in the area who wants to borrow some coolth and a fast net connection.

After a nice 5-mile walk (yay! finally!) and a light lunch, I set out to the dangerously seductive Southern Lumber for shelving and a couple of tools. We'd gotten Elfa shelf standards and brackets yesterday, but not the necessary 4-ft 1x8's. And I know there's a level in the house, but I couldn't find it, and the level in my ancient and cheap combination square was rattling loose in its housing and effectively worthless. Picked up a couple of paintbrushes, too, after determining that I did have Varathane Diamond Finish.

... And some sandpaper for the ancient Black&Decker electric sander, which died after about three shelves. Out of ten. Turned up a hand sander, and carried on: I knocked off the corners with a block plane, and [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf finished off with the sander. Power tools are useful, but hand tools are more satisfying.

I set up five plastic lawn chairs in lieu of sawhorses. Varathane Diamond is a fast-drying, water-based finish; in 95-degree weather it was dry to the touch on the first board by the time I finished with the fifth. Two coats on both sides of five shelves by the time the Wolfling was finishing up the sanding on the last one. We'll do the rest tomorrow; I was wiped.

Had some of the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat's yummy sangria and finished installing the Wolfling's shelf standards.

Went over to [livejournal.com profile] lisa_marli's party for a couple of hours, and to deliver pre-order disks to her and [livejournal.com profile] capplor, who I knew would be there because she'd (they'd?) stopped by to ask for directions while I was outside finishing. I still owe Robin a disk -- I didn't pack enough to cover her freebies. Sold one numbered set (can't rightly call them per-order sets anymore).

Now I'm back home, munching salami-and-cheese and finishing up another glass of sangria. Happy Bear.

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

Yesterday was our annual June party. It was lightly attended, but there was plenty of good conversation. As usual, the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat held court in the living room, where the conversation is wide-ranging and occasionally raucous, while I stayed mostly in the office where it's quieter and the talk is geekier -- mostly about computers and music.

Sold two more preorders.

I spent Saturday morning and much of the afternoon reconfiguring Dantooine, the 800MHz nini-ITX box that I had been using as a workstation before I built Trantor, as the new print server and Linux client machine, the latter so that guests would have something to browse with. I really need to ditch the old 17" Hitachi CRT -- anybody want a nice boat anchor monitor? Showing its age a bit, but still very functional.

Configuring the printer went well, though it took me a while to figure out that the PPD files in the hpij package were newer than the ones in hplip, which was installed by default. I worked on system admin rather than the audio editing because I wanted something that was easier to interrupt as people arrived at the party.

Managed to squeeze in a short (2-mile) walk at about 4:30; the logistics just didn't work out for a longer walk in the morning.

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