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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

I should post this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

Apart from that, ... not much.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Top news: Colleen is out of the hospital and into a SNF -- both for rehab (she's been in bed way too long) and because she's still on IV antibiotics. The central line hurts; the fact that I can't help is intensely stressful. It's a nearly-two-hour commute each way; I'm glad I don't have a job in Seattle any more.

I'm not getting much done in the time that's left over. I have writing and taxes to do; I probably ought to prioritize the taxes for now.

Since j's Bar Mitzvah last Saturday, all of my assorted nibling are officially adults (by at least one standard).

A couple of links around scientific papers. First the fun stuff: From Linux Journal, By Jupyter--Is This the Future of Open Science? The cool thing about Jupyter notebooks is that they can combine programs (in multiple languages), data, and text. You can also do that in Emacs with org-mode; there's a packaged version of Emacs for Science.

The other set, much more serious, can be found via Wednesday's links. The paper in question is a puliing-no-punches prediction of environmental collapse and its probable consequences. I do not normally put a content warning on my notes, but I think it's warranted in this case. We're talking here about a scientific paper the author of which has a link to "Resources for Emotional Support" in the sidebar of his blog. I'll make a separate post later this week, also with a cut tag.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Not a good week, on the whole. Some high points, to be sure, but a week that covers an unexpected flashback and my wife going into the hospital (again) (and finding out about new problems) has to be pretty low on the goodness scale.

Well, let's have the good parts first. I published two posts: Writing Without Distractions (a curmudgeon post) and my second Understanding Ursine post; both appear to have collected some comments. (Not very many, but I'll take what I can get.) And I went to j's Bar Mitzvah yesterday, which went very well and included some good conversations with relatives I don't get to see very often.

But, as indicated, C is in the hospital again (Swedish Hospital in Edmonds in case you want to visit). She had a urology appointment on Wednesday; the doctor suggested going down to UW (where she's scheduled for a surgery consultation on March 19th, rescheduled from one of the days we were snowed in) as a way of maybe moving thing along faster. That didn't work, in part because they were out of beds. But it's a good thing we went, and a good thing she hadn't taken her BP meds that morning. She'd seemed weaker than usual over the last month (?), and we were getting worried. Turns out there were Reasons. Cut for medical TMI )

I think I'll cover the flashback in a separate post, if at all. The really interesting part was that I recognized what was going on while it was happening. (Whether an adrenaline spike triggered by a memory counts as a "real" flashback may depend on which definition you look up.)

Notes & links, as usual )

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

I don't think I did very much of interest this week, except for posting a third FAWM song (also posted as an S4S, here that I've been working on for over a week, and finishing a curmudgeon post (Git: The other blockchain) that's been sitting around in draft form since early December.

Colleen's health has been pretty bad all week. She now has a prescription for a wheelchair, so we're going to look at some the next time we're in Everett for an appointment. Which will be Wednesday. What would be awesome is a combination walker (rollator, actually) and wheelchair, but those don't seem to exist. I spent most of Monday and Tuesday researching.) There are several rollator/transport chair combinations, and one of those might well be worthwhile. It doesn't help that several appointments that might have helped got snowed out.

My collection of websites is a shambles (or possibly "is shambling" -- there are definitely some zombies in there). It doesn't help that anything that reminds me of one or the other of the houses we used to own is likely to throw me into a tailspin. May be worth a river post soon.

This week's top link is Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before My Chronic Illness. A certain subset of those may also be interested in Girls With Guts (see Friday for a descriptive quote).

Top video link is this episode of "What in the World?", a TV series that I remember with some fondness from my early days. It will appeal to fans of archaeology and/or Vincent Price. There's a (regrettably short) YouTube playlist here -- the show was on before home videotaping was a thing; most of the episodes have probably been lost.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

There is sadness this week, as NASA's Opportunity Rover Mission on Mars Comes to End. Oppy's last transmission amounted to “My battery is low and it’s getting dark.”. Several songs have already been written; I'll almost certainly try to write one of my own. Probably from Oppy's POV; I seem to enjoy anthropomorphizing AIs and other inanimate objects.

Not a whole lot has been getting done this week. I did manage to run some errands Thursday and Friday, with the car on the street. Pulled back into the driveway Friday after things were done, anticipating that the predicted good weather would make it possible to get up again the next time I need to. Fingers crossed.

I started working on the potential writing (tutorials) gig -- we'll see whether $editor likes my proposal. Not many notes Friday and Saturday as a result. Not sure I'm working fast enough. That remains to be seen; it's going slower than I'd like but that may just be because I'm working on the outline.

If you're into music at all, you'll get a kick out of (Gimme Some of That) Ol' Atonal Music - YouTube and Twelve Tones - YouTube (via ysabetwordsmith).

And I was highly amused to find someone seriously advocating the use of RFC 1149, some 18 years after I wrote a song about it.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

So, it's been a (mostly snowbound) week. It started snowing last Sunday morning; by Monday we had five inches and the streets were impassable. Tuesday I drove down the driveway because C had a Wednesday appointment and I needed to get the car charged; Wednesday we had to cancel because I couldn't get up the driveway. Good thing, because if I had Colleen and I would probably have gotten stuck at the bottom of some hill.

I was able to get out Thursday and shop for staples (and L's drugs). I had very sensibly parked on the street again. Apparently it takes two or three days for the crews to plow and sand the streets to the point where a two-wheel drive car can use them. C cancelled her Friday appointment just a few minutes before they would have called her. We have seven or eight inches total right now, with more on the way tonight, Monday, and Tuesday.

I've been less productive than I'd like for FAWM, but not entirely idle. I got my second song out on time, and then got totally stuck trying to come up with either a follower to that one, or something about my father. Total blank. I guess, in retrospect, that getting derailed was not really surprising, but those songs really want to get written. I was rescued yesterday by a collaboration with [personal profile] pocketnaomi, and it did involve a truck, but I'm still behind.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (audacity)

Good grief! Got so wrapped in songwriting -- or is that FAWMwriting -- that I didn't notice it was Sunday. I will attempt to rectify that error.

I managed to start FAWM (February Album-Writing Month, in case you missed the announcements) pretty well; the silly thing's been well received, I think. You can also see the lyrics on yesterday's Songs for Saturday, but you'll have to click through to FAWM if you want the audio. Which is not too bad for something that was slapped together in under an hour. It's only the one song so far, we'll see whether I can make a second song come together by tomorrow night.

Related to that, I finally got around to uploading Coffee, Computers, and Song to bandcamp

It's still snowing here on Whidbey; we're well on our way to getting the predicted 3-4 inches. I am not crazy about driving in snow, but I can do it when I have to. I parked on the street this evening; I don't know what the driveway is going to be like after the slush freezes, but I don't really want to know.

The most useful links this week are probably the ones on Monday about Data Privacy Day.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

This is coming out on a Monday rather than Sunday because I spent the weekend at Conflikt, our local filk music convention. I'm usually too lazy to do a formal con report, and this lets me collect all the notes in one place that's easy to find .

Meta: rather than create tags like conflikt-2019, I use the two tags conflikt and 2019. This only works if the year tag is only used for events that occur annually. Using the same tag for every post in a year would be pretty useless. DW doesn't appear to give you boolean searches, but I can do it in my archive.

I didn't have a concert slot this year, and didn't feel up to a twofer, so my own music-making was confined to a little noodling in the hallways and a couple of songs on Sunday. One of those was following Frank Hayes's "When I Was a Boy" with my parody of it; that was a major win. Ad-libbed a reference to RFC-1149, and "talk about spaghetti code" after the line about plugboards. But, yeah; not enough singing. Not enough conversation, either.

I think my favorite concert was Lauren Cox's Interfilk Guest concert; her song about her cat made me tear up a little. That, and her joining Cat Faber on "I Will Remember" (about depression) on Sunday.

I got in my request for a concert slot next year; we'll see how far that goes.

The week also included a total lunar eclipse -- I didn't stay outside for the whole thing, but got a good look just at the start of totality.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (technonerdmonster)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

In the second one, I learned that:

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, a week.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

Pretty good week, on the whole, but kind of a bumpy ride. My self-confidence bottomed out a couple of times. However:

N and the kids came up Tuesday evening (after appointments), and stayed until Thursday afternoon. It was wonderful to have the rest of the family here. Wednesday morning I worked on math with j; much of that evening and Thursday were spent singing with N and m (who has a lovely voice and a good ear for harmony). I had a few problems keeping up -- for some reason I kept screwing up D chords, and it's always a little tricky learning new vocals and a guitar part at the same time. But it was all good.

There was some progress on the job front, too. I heard back from 7cups on Monday, scheduled a phone screen, and did that on Friday. I think it went pretty well, though of course there's no telling whether it will go any farther. One can hope. Also, I finally finished the application to DuckDuckGo. It had some questions on it that made it difficult, but I did hear back on Friday and scheduled a phone screen for a week from Monday. So there's that.

I've managed to keep up with my NaBloPoMo plans as well. There's nothing like a well over a thousand word worth of notes once a week to keep the average up -- it's sort of cheating, but I'll take it. I also wrote the little word-count script that computes the current stats, and made some fixes and improvements in the blogging code. It's quite usable at this point, although it still requires being comfortable on the command line.

The "apartment" -- the room over the garage -- finally has working plumbing! It will still be a while before it has hot water, but it's pretty usable at this point.

On the down side, I'm still beating myself up about all the stupid things I've done, ever, and worrying about how in hell I'm going to survive the next few years after the money runs out.

Notes & links, as usual )

NaBloPoMo stats:
   6590 words in 12 posts this month (average 549/post)
   1515 words in 1 post today

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

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

The Mandelbear

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

Series Tags

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

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

Other Tags

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

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

Websites

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

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

Good and bad, more-or-less as usual. On the good side,I started NaBloPoMo and started working through the Ruby on Rails Tutorial. That led to my making accounts on GitLab and Heroku, and reviving an old BitBucket account. (Plus making a new one because I couldn't remember which email address I'd used the first time.)

I somehow managed to pull off a better-than-usual singing lesson, pretty much nailing Ripple and Mary O'Meara (though I still have doubts about the melody on that one). I love Ripple, as you can probably tell from yesterday's S4S post. I think the song's calmness is good for me.

On the other hand, I made little progress toward getting a job; five applications, no responses except for a rejection from GitHub, where I applied sometime in September. I've been reading about consulting -- I am really not in a good position to become a consultant. WTF was I thinking? Total writer's block on a job application to DuckDuckGo, a business card for computer-curmudgeon.com, and the text of a DrewsList ad.

The common problem with all three of those is that I can't think of anything I know well enough for any company to want to pay consultant's rates for it. And there are damned few I could get a salary for, for that matter. Java, and that's about it. Git, but everyone knows git by now. (I'm working on a post about git for non-programmers, but I don't know how far I can take that.) I should probably save the brainstorming (brain-drizzle? more like that than a storm) for another post.

I'm kind of beyond panic by now -- I feel like I'm just re-arranging deck chairs. Anyone need a web site? Git expert?

Notes & links, as usual )

NaBloPoMo stats:
    489 2018/11/01--nablopomo.html
     89 2018/11/01--thankful-thursday.html
    617 2018/11/02--learn-enough-to-be-dangerous.html
    340 2018/11/03--s4s-ripple.html
   1867 2018/11/04--done-since-1028.html (includes ~1500 words in the notes)
--------
   3402 words in 5 posts this month (average 680/post)
   1867 words in 1 post today

mdlbear: a locomotive engine dangling from a hole in a building (trainwreck)

It has not been a good week. Between a synagogue mass murder in Pittsburgh yesterday, filk fan Harold Stein ([personal profile] hms42) dying of cancer Friday, and pipe bombs in the mail, the fact that I'm despairing of finding work in time to keep from going broke seems comparatively small, but it isn't helping either.

The fundamental problem is that I can't think of any area of expertise I have that would be worth charging consulting rates for, and as time goes on it becomes less and less likely that any of my skills will get me hired for doing it as an employee. Yes, I'm acquiring new ones. But I'm not going to acquire four years of experience in Ruby or JavaScript overnight. I'm a genuine expert at git, but I think that's pretty common. Maybe I could predict the next big thing, but my track record as a seer isn't all that good either.

I certainly didn't predict that IBM would buy Red Hat. Big Blue Hat? Nah. Does "If AOL Buys RedHat" count for a prediction? I wrote it in 2002, and it has nothing whatever to do with the current situation. I guess if Microsoft can buy GitHub...

I did manage to get some website work done, including importing quite a few older software-related posts into the blog on computer-curmudgeon.com/. I'm not sure it matters. And last Sunday I swatted the second simplex bug in hyperviewer, but I don't think tetrahedra and tesseracts have a lot of market value.

I'm blathering, aren't I?

Notes & links, as usual )

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

On the whole not a bad week. Pretty good week? Anyway. The main achievement was finding what to me was a very obscure bug in my hyperviewer graphics demo. In retrospect it shouldn't have been that obscure; the fact that it took me a week to find was probably because I'm too used to using strongly-typed languages. Hint: when is x+1 not equal to 1+x? (Answer under the cut, in Monday's notes.)

The other thing I did this week (I only did two things? Sad.) was attend a workshop at the Seattle office of SCORE: "Growing a Consulting Business", presented by John Martinka. I spent a lot of the time feeling very much like a fish out of water, but I had a couple of encouraging conversations during the breaks that made me think that maybe I do have expertise that companies would pay for. Probably not big companies, but small businesses. Maybe. The biggest problem is my almost total lack of self-confidence.

It may be too late to help with my current financial crunch.

It was also given at 8:15am in downtown Seattle, which made for a l o n g day. Fortunately, I haven't been sleeping all that well lately (c.f. previous paragraph), so I was able to leave a little before 6am and get there on time. It does say something about the possibility of commuting. I could do it once a week if I had to, though.

One of the highlights of this week's linkspam is "How Lisp Became God's Own Programming Language", which includes a reference to Kanef's song about it, The Eternal Flame. More Lisp links in Wednesday's notes.

This week's security links include some updates on the Facebook hack, plus this page in FB's help: scroll down to see if your account was affected. Mine wasn't, but...

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Not too bad of a week, and productive after a fashion. A job rejection (npm; I didn't have much hope for that one), and a couple of applications including one Friday that got a same-day response asking more questions. I posted on Monday about one of my latest software, under the title Adventures in Hyperspace (and Javascript) -- then spent at least half of this week chasing a very mysterious bug. That post originally appeared on Computer-Curmudgeon.com, and was pretty successful as an experiment in cross-posting. It did produce much uglier HTML than I prefer; the post was originally written in markdown. (I also used pandoc to do the conversion; it looks as though the converter Jekyll uses does a better job of it, so I'll have to see if I can take advantage of that.)

I also started the process of separating the Computer Curmudgeon site, which exists mainly for my (currently non-existent) consulting business, from my GitHub Pages site, which I've decided ought to be about the software I'm sharing. They have a very similar look at the moment, but that's changing. Tell me what you think!

There's obviously going to be a lot of cross-posting going on (and I still need to automate that) -- I think I'll put that in my next curmudgeon post. TL;DR: everything except specifically site-related news will get cross-posted to DW (and from there to LJ), and the news posts will at least be linked. For completeness, I probably ought to post links on twitter and FB, too -- I don't read them unless I get a link, but I know some people do. Maybe.

Let's see... the usual collection of data breaches. This time, Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public, but now that the cat's out of the bag, they're (belatedly) "Protecting your data, improving our third-party APIs, and sunsetting consumer Google+". That last bit is the main one affecting those of us who were using G+ as our main alternative to Twitter and The Book of Faces Lies. As for me, I guess I'll be reading more eBooks on the ferry.

My mood's been all over the place. Tuesday, I wrote, "I seem to be feeling more competent/confident now that I've spent the last couple of weeks getting back into a work groove. Who knew?" It does indicate that I actually can work full days, if the work fascinates me. But Thursday, I wrote, "losing hope. Cash low; no jobs I'm qualified for", and had a "bit of a breakdown". More like a meltdown, I suppose. Still enough for me to snap at Colleen for trying to help. Mostly a case of "what not to say to a depressed person", but I can't fault her for suggesting that I get out of the house or make some music, because those really do help. It's just that when I'm that depressed, it feels as though nothing will help. And of course the underlying cause is mostly my financial trainwreck, which only makes me feel worse about myself.

I'd really like to get onto Drip, but it's invite-only at the moment. Meanwhile, anyone have any advice for choosing between Patreon, Buy Me A Coffee, Ko-fi, PayPal, or anything else? (I should get on Bandcamp, too, I suppose.) update: PayPal donation button added to DW profile. Feed the bear?

Notes & links, as usual )

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

The program I've been working on, which displays a rotating hypercube or other shape, is working nearly as well as the version I wrote in C about 30 years ago. This version, however, is in Javascript and runs in your browser. It still needs quite a bit of work on the user interface, and there are a couple of really weird things going on with simplexes (simplices? The regular 3-simplex is the tetrahedron; the 2-simplex is the equlateral triangle. Anyway...) follow the link to the current working version.

I've learned a few things:

  • quite a bit more Javascript,
  • that Javascript, in many ways, sucks even more than I expected,
  • that that I can still concentrate on a program all day, every day for a week,
  • that I'm still lousy at estimating,
  • and that I really shouldn't try to do geometry in my head (though I did pretty well on the perspective transform, I think).

In other news, my trigger thumb is no longer triggering, meaning that the inflamation in the tendon has gone down. There are still quite a few residual aches and pains, probably caused mainly by under-use over the last month or two.

Down in the notes for Tuesday you'll find the practice questions I used with (nephew) j, and under Thursday you'll find a lot of rather inconclusive talk about the alleged Supermicro Hack. It's quite strange. Somebody's credibility is going to go through the floor, but whether it's Bloomberg or Apple+Amazon is not at all clear at the moment.

I really didn't want to be living in a dystopian SF underground comic book, but that's the way things are trending.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Not a bad week? Hard for me to tell. Nothing disastrous happened, anyway, and my trigger thumb appears to be mostly better. I sent out two job applications, and got back a rejection from the one I had a phone screen for last week. There is one from a couple of weeks ago that I'm also waiting to hear from.

I spent almost all of Friday and a lot of Saturday programming -- it's very encouraging to know that I can still do that. It suggests that I probably can handle a full-time job. The program in question is an update of the rotating hypercube (and other polytopes) demo I wrote somewhere around 1990. The original was, of course, in C; the current version is in JavaScript. I'll be packaging the pieces, thereby adding to the confoundingly cluttered chaos that is the npm package ecosystem. Last night's work was unit tests for the polytope classes. So those are working, and I'm learning more about JavaScript.

The security kerfuffle of the week was Facebook's announcement that 90 million accounts had been compromised. Think about that number for a moment. You can find out whether your account was compromised in this or any other breach by entering your email address at Have I Been Pwned. Think about the fact that Facebook is not on their list of the ten largest breaches.

The privacy kerfuffle of the week was the latest version of Google's Chrome browser, which automatically logs in the browser whenever you log in to any of Google's other properties, e.g. gmail, calendar, and maps. You can turn the "feature" off, but you'll have to google for the instructions. Irony intended.

It's worth noting that if you only have one Google account and keep Chrome logged in so that you can sync, , this doesn't affect you, and you might even consider it the convenience that Google says it is. And if you're on Android or ChromeOS, where Google is your login, or (like me) have already switched to Firefox for other reasons, this doesn't affect you either.

I went through the list of symptoms at Burning Out: 12 Real Signs That You’re Overdoing It, referring to my last couple of years at $A. Twelve out of twelve. The author says that "Burnout is [...] a sustained—yet unsustainable—pressure on yourself that causes a physical, mental, or emotional collapse. That collapse can cause you to make really drastic, and sometimes disastrous, decisions." Yeah. That.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Where the heck did this week go? Moderately productive, I guess, though I'm still worried about my ability to keep a full work schedule. The main things were a trip down to Rest Stop (the South end of the rainbow, in Seattle) on Monday, a take-home test for the job I had a phone screen for last week, and a physical therapy appointment Friday. My trigger thumb is, finally, doing noticably better. L is moved in, and most of her stuff is out of the cats' room. That's still going to become the guest room and office.

I made one curmudgeon post, a PSA about the latest Magecart breach, at Newegg. Used that to test cross-posting to computer-curmudgeon.com. Spent most of yesterday working on MakeStuff/page-to-template-data to make the process smoother. The ultimate goal, of course, is a script for cross-posting.

There was quite a lot of link-chasing, researching Javascript, Magecart, and Python; meanwhile I've been trying (with minimal success so far) to catch up on some of the fiction on my (DW) reading list. I try to stay current on the poetry.

The most interesting link other than those was this Linux status report by Linus Torvalds, in which he apologizes for his abusive behavior on the kernel mailing list, and says that he's taking a break from Linux to work on it. The last time he took a similar break, it was to write git.

I'd consider taking a similar break to work on my issues, but the main ones that need work are time-management and procrastination...

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Another largely unproductive week, though I did put in three job applications (it seems to take me a huge amount of mental energy to write a cover letter, not to mention a lot of time) and got a rejection for another one. One of the job applications, for GitHub, had a really fun set of additional questions. I should probably post those, with my answers, at some point.

I also wrote two (rather small) curmudgeon posts, a PSA and a DW tip, and wrote and tested an alternative method for uploading a Jekyll website using git with a production branch. (The previous methods were simply pushing it to GitHub, which is trivial but only works if it's using GitHub's somewhat restricted version of Jekyll, and uploading it with rsync.) This method, which puts the build artifacts on a separate branch, could easily be generalized to anything else that has to be built locally. I had to do something, because I don't have a good way of running Jekyll (the static site builder used on GitHub) on my web host.

I did get off my arse and make two phone calls following up on healthcare referrals (one of which has been sitting on my desk since last December). One, the PT appointment for my trigger thumb, actually had an opening for Friday. So progress is being made there -- I've been doing exercises, and my Oval-8 thumb splint should be arriving in the mail later today.

I also did some mail sorting, which turned up a fairly sizeable check that I hadn't cashed (and didn't remember receiving!). So there's that.

I was less successful setting up a home office in our unused bedroom. The problem is that the cats have been using that room, and Desti in particular quite reasonably regards it as hers. If I shut her out, she scratches at the door, and if I let her in she promptly jumps up on my keyboard, which kind of defeats the purpose. Not sure what I'm going to do about that; hopefully I can persuade her that a cat tree next to the desk is more comfortable. That may require getting a new cat tree.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

I guess it's been a pretty decent week in many respects. I started learning a new programming language (Go, AKA Golang), met [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, did some singing, put in three job applications (one of which I don't expect to go anywhere; the form didn't have a place for a cover letter), and acquired a new domain (computer-curmudgeon.com -- the site is still under construction). Also, Colleen came home from rehab on Wednesday, and progress has been made on re-organizing various parts of the house.

So why do I feel like an utter failure who can't get anything done?

To answer my own question... it's clearly because there's so much I haven't done. The yard is a mess, there are boxes sitting around from when we moved in a year and a half ago (and some of those haven't been opened since we moved from the Starport in 2012), there's mail stacked up on five different surfaces, I have three different medical referrals I need to follow up on, and so on. So, ... yeah. That.

Part of that, I suspect, is due to the fact that I've never been able to deal well with uncertainty, and so many of my decisions in the past have gone disastrously wrong. Never mind that some of those seemed like the right thing to do at the time; that doesn't help get me out of the trainwreck I'm in now. In many cases, as N puts it, I was making decisions based on who I wanted to be rather than who I am. That's probably worth a post or ten by itself.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Not too bad, especially compared to last week. Monday Colleen moved from the hospital in Everett (over an hour away, more if the ferry line is backed up) to rehab at Careage of Whidbey (about 20 minutes away, in Coupeville). She is doing very well, and we expect her to come home sometime this week.

I've been taking my guitar, and gave an impromptu concert Friday (see this week's S4S for details). I also took advantage of the proximity of Home Depot in Oak Harbor (a little past Coupeville) and Shoreline (on the way back from Seattle after visiting N and the kids on Thursday) to pick up more of the 5-shelf plastic shelving units that I'm using in the garage. I can fit two in Molly's back seat, which is why it required two trips.

Of course, I haven't been getting very much else done.

The air quality has been terrible most of the week due to the wildfires to the East; not as bad as Spokane a few years ago when we were there for Worldcon, but bad enough for many people to be wearing masks. I suppose I should have, but I haven't been outdoors all that much.

Worldcon was in San Jose last weekend. Obviously, we didn't go -- apologies to all the people we wanted to re-connect with. With Colleen in the hospital, we would have had to cancel anyway; it was her dicey health that made us decide to skip it. But it's still one more thing on my bucket list that I've missed. At least I had an actual excuse this time.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Really not a good week. Colleen is still in Providence Hospital, in Everett (room A505, if you want to call or visit). I still see Cecil, the cat from across the street, occasionally.

I had my left thumb looked at by an orthopedist, including X-rays; no sign of arthritis, which is good. He gave me a new brace, which works better, and a prescription for an NSAID cream, which hasn't had much effect yet. Go back in 8 weeks if it's not better by then.

It's been a pretty unproductive week, apart from my daily trips to Everett (which I guess count) and a little (less than I'd like) work on the new website. I'd been hoping to get that online (in the sense of replacing stephen.savitzky.net; it's already up as a GitHub Pages site) by the weekend. I may still get it up today, but we'll see. I did write a Makefile for it, with targets "draft" and "post" that work like the ones I use for DW. So that's a small bit of progress.

Too many things have been put off for too long. That's also a strong indication that I don't have the kind of self-discipline required for remote work, which is a problem. Perhaps I can also do some writing this afternoon. There's something about sitting in a hospital room wearing nitrile gloves that make it hard to focus on typing.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Rough week mentally, though it did have a number of high points. Mostly very down on myself, and essentially no self-confidence left. I probably need to try looking for a therapist again. My left hand has been getting steadily worse, despite a thumb brace that keeps hitting the left mouse button. Ugh.

Meanwhile, progress continues on the revamped version of S.S.net; the new site is being constructed as a Github Pages site, at ssavitzky.github.io. Still undecided whether to move the site or try to get some version of Jekyll running on my web host. The Ruby there is old, and gojekyll is missing some features. Anyway, go take a look and tell me what you think.

And the household appears to have acquired a new cat. Or been acquired by -- he came up to N and m yesterday on the deck, and wanted to be picked up. He's obviously been somebody's pet, but the island is no place for a cat to be wandering around outside; he has no tag and no chip. We'll continue to look around for lost cat signs and ads for the next couple of weeks before deciding whether to adopt him formally.

For the moment we have him settled in the spare bedroom -- I'd been thinking of setting it up as a home office, so this will be a good test run for that concept. Getting him settled with the rest of the household cats will be another challenge.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been a week. There were some good parts. Music Under the Trees, yesterday at Betsy Tinney's, was one of them, even if we did have to leave early because Colleen was flagging. (I didn't object, because to be honest I'd been dreading driving home in the dark after three nights of not enough sleep. But still.)

Another was getting the rest of the bed box installation done, which happened last Sunday. It's awesome. N got to try it out Saturday night; it was complete enough for sleeping in at that point.

A third good thing wa a very nice visit to the southern end of the Rainbow Caravan, to spend a day with N and the kids. We will get our household back together. It may take a while.

And I got a very preliminary version of my "Consulting business" website done, as a GitHub Pages site. Last week N and I had picked a theme: Read Only, by HTML5 Up. It's cool - big banner across the top of the text, and a neat circular image (which it turned out was masked out by setting the enclosing box's boundary radius to 100%). Only one problem.

GitHub Pages are a snap to set up; you can do it in five minutes if you accept all the defaults. And it uses a nice static site builder called Jekyll which has themes that are pretty easy to set up. The devil's in the details, as usual. Because although we found "Read Only" through a gallery of Jekyll themes, it turned out that it wasn't a theme at all, just a mock-up. And although I eventually found a Jekyll version, it wasn't particularly usable.

I now know how to roll my own Jekyll theme, and I can consider myself an advanced beginner at the – Liquid template language and CSS stylesheets. By the way, the MDN Web Docs (MDN stands for Mozilla Developer Network, BTW) are awesome. They have tutorials on all the important web technologies: HTML, Javascript, and CSS, plus some more obscure ones. And when you get to the edge cases, they have reference docs.

It took me, basically, all week, with a huge amount of frustration along the way.

We appear to be getting into the bad parts of the week, don't we? Right.

I believe I mentioned that I'd been dreading going home from Betsy's late at night (I'm nowhere near as good a driver as I was at 50, and I know it). My guess is that that was at the root of the anxiety attacks I had Saturday and Sunday. (Panic attacks are intense, and supposedly last for only a few minutes to an hour or so. Anxiety attacks can -- and in my case, do -- last all day.

And I have "Trigger finger" in my left thumb. It's been getting worse, not better, in spite of the brace I'm wearing, which incidentally makes it almost impossible to type because my thumb keeps hitting my laptop's trackpad and left button. Anyway.

Aaaaaaand, I've been spending almost all my time grappling with Jekyll and CSS, and not getting any job applications done. Bletch.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Not entirely sure why I put down "odd" as my mood, but it's what popped into my head, so it's more likely to be accurate than anything I could come up with by thinking about it.

So, ... Okay, it's been a week. I've been continuing to have pain issues: a little on the lower back, and more with the left hand, which if anything is getting worse. Grumph. Meanwhile, I've written a couple of curmudgeon posts and started (at N's urging) working on a total revision of my business website. If I'm going to be trying to get hired as a consultant, and it looks like I'll have to, it needs to be more like a brochure than a resume. It's not clear that GitHub Pages is the place to host it, but I'm going to go with Jekyll in any case. For other sites, Ruby and plain Liquid templates look plausible, and they'd be a better match for the way my sites are currently structured.

Part of the thinking behind my move toward consulting was an hour-long conversation Monday with someone who I was referred to (by a recruiter at Google) as a possible employer. I decided over the course of a couple of emails that I wouldn't be a good match for the position he was hiring for, but offered my services as a guru. Whether or not that works out, we had a great conversation ranging over a few high points of my career. Just a few. (You can see the list in Monday's notes.)

I also realized that it was a good start on a memoir. So that is a possible thing, too.

A lot of what I did this week was web work; I also worked on the old Starport site, which has gotten very decrepit. It's still decrepit, but at least it doesn't have two copies of the Interesting Places site, one from before I moved it to places.to, and the other untouched since I moved it back. Sheesh! Most of the work was prompted by wanting to add a couple of new links people have sent me over the last, um..., nevermind.

A little more music than usual, in part because N came up Saturday to watch the first of our two bed boxes getting installed. They are absolutely flat-out amazing. They -- a second is in the works -- are each basically a bedroom turned part-way inside out and stuffed into a roughly cubical box, providing a cozy sleeping and living space inside an otherwise mostly empty room. Like, wow. Baltic birch plywood, which is gorgeous stuff.

Anyway, until next time, enjoy the links.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Not a particularly productive week, especially on the job front: one application, some email, a phone conversation, and setting up another phone conversation for this week. I have made some progress on software; the React web app I started last week is basically working, and just needs some CSS cleanup and refactoring before I won't be embarrassed to link to it. (At which point I'll have to figure out just how to deploy it, but that's another matter.)

The React app is partly aimed at adding a marketable skill to my repertoire, and partly at giving me something (a related phone app, using React Native) that I can potentially sell. Because I don't want to count on being able to land an actual job. It's no longer a given, at my age.

React is an extremely popular Javascript framework for building "single-page (web) applications", usually abbreviated SPAs. It's pretty good as such things go, and lets you use functional programming for almost everything. It gets confusing when you actually need to manage state; I eventually figured out that you have to put all your state in one place, in a top-level object that only gets created once.

It's also been pointed out (thanks, [personal profile] texxgadget!) that I should pull my entries tagged with curmudgeon together into a book. That's always been the plan, actually; the only question is how long it would take me to do it. See above about "not particularly productive". I have wasted a lot of time over the last year. (Some people are no doubt going to point out that I've also been recovering from a bad case of burnout; that's true but doesn't keep me from being annoyed at myself about it.)

An intermediate step in that program is mirroring my computer-related blogging to someplace other than DW; Stephen.Savitzky.net is the obvious choice. I've made a little progress with setup there, but I got stuck a week or two ago trying to find a templating engine I can stand. The other possibility is a GitHub blog.

I had a lot of fun yesterday going to the Whidbey Island Area Fair with C and N. N came up Friday night and stayed in what used to be her bedroom, where we've set up an airbed.

Other activity for the week included a trip to Coupeville so C could have labs done and her PICC line taken out, and two trips to the mainland: one for C's urology appointment, and the other for dentist appointments for both of us. The urology appointment is always a good excuse to visit the Mexican restaurant across the parking lot. They have salsa mole. C's labs showed that her kidneys are continuing to recover, but her potassium is low. We went home and ate bananas, potato chips, and baked potatoes.

Neither of us has anything scheduled for this week, so I may take an opportunity to go down and visit the other end of the caravan. Tuesday might work.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

A notable bit of self-talk from last Monday, in the parking lot after buying kibble and litter at the Country Store: "Hey! I'm actually feeling okay this morning! What's wrong?" As could easily be predicted, the feeling didn't last, although my mood does seem to be averaging a little better. Maybe? It's hard for me to tell.

With Colleen still getting IV antibiotics -- her last dose was Friday -- it's been a busy week, with almost nothing in the way of job search. So that sucks. (In fairness I did get another phone interview scheduled. I also got a rejection from SUSE.)

The phone interview was scheduled after an email exchange with a recruiter at Google. The email I received was:

Subject: System.out.println("You+Google, a poem"); We're going to keep this short and sweet You're definitely someone we'd like to meet We love your Java and your C++ We want your perspective, come build with us!

So of course I replied in kind:

Return {``` My cell number is 408 896-6133 Any time 'twixt 8 and half-past-10 is good for calling me. You've clearly read my profile, which is more than many do. I'm sure I'll have a very good time talking to you. ```}

He wrote back to say that I'd made his day. And scheduled a call...

I spent most of the last three days writing a web app as a way of learning Javascript and React. Both of which are quirky and confusing for anyone used to other programming languages and toolkits. But, after working on it pretty continuously since Thursday, it's at least tolerably functional. (Before Thursday all I had was the raw data and rather a lot of reading.) It comes to about 350 lines of code (including blank lines and comments, which one could argue is cheating), which I guess isn't too bad for three and a half days' work. No tests yet except the one that came for free from create-react-app, which just checks to see whether it can render without crashing.

What it does is display and score the PHQ-9 and GAD-11 questionaires, which measure depression and anxiety respectively. I wonder why I picked those...

My left thumb is still hurting -- the problem appears to be trigger finger (for sufficiently thumb-like values of "finger"; it's also called "trigger thumb" but that just sounds wrong). A week of coddling it (including three days with my nephew j up here as an assistant, for which many thanks) has helped some. It's a little hard to tell, but I haven't been taking pain pills recently and it's not bad. I like having a little pain as a warning when I'm starting to do something stupid with it. At least my right wrist seems to have healed completely.

I have notified the Worldcon committee that I won't be coming. It hurts -- Colleen and I really wanted to see our old friends from the San Jose area -- but it just wasn't going to work. Not just the money, though that was part of it, but the fact that even with her caregiver coming along Colleen isn't up to travel by air, nor to spending all of several days sitting on her scooter and elsewhere with no way to put her feet up. It sucks.

I also blew off a local party last night -- I hadn't checked to see whether the house was accessible, but had a pretty good idea that it probably wasn't. And even if it was, I didn't want to have to wrangle Colleen's scooter with my bad hand. So that sucks too.

A lot of suckage this week. Not unusual these days.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Hmm. Moderately productive week? Not so much on the job search: one phone screen, and one application submitted. They're interesting ones, however: the phone screen was for SUSE, a Linux distribution; the application was for a half-time junior engineer position at ISC (the Internet Software Consortium, makers of bind9, bind10, and isc-dhcp). I would really like to land that last one because of the half-time aspect, but either would be cool.

The ISC job description mentioned working with the IETF, which led by a comparatively short chain of links to this week's Songs for Saturday post. SUSE led to me installing the latest version of openSUSE (Leap 15; they have several) on one of my spare laptops. Interesting. It's RPM-based and favors KDE as a desktop; I'm not crazy about either one, and a lot of the defaults and other choices are,... odd. But, it's something else to put in my toolkit.

A fair amount of project time was also taken up by system administration -- my mirror drive apparently died in last week's power failure. Ugh. Fortunately I had a 700Gb laptop drive ready to go in a USB enclosure; not as big as the original mirror, but that wasn't anywhere near full. The mirror is 87% full, which isn't bad. A little project time also went into starting a React Native app based on the PHQ-9 and GAD-7 psych screeners; all of that was basically reading, setup, and tracking down the content.

Aside from S4S, I also got to sing with N last Sunday, and I had a good singing lesson. So there was music.

There was also posting -- S4S, a fishbowl signal boost, Thankful Thursday, and the latest Computer Curmudgeon post. I'm pretty happy with the positive response to that one; my inclination is to do scripting languages next.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

So... Colleen spent most of the week -- Monday through Friday -- in the hospital again. Dehydration and a kidney infection. She's out now, but she'll be on IV antibiotics for the next two weeks. She's still pretty weak. I'm still worried.

(Part of the weakness might be explained by her not having eaten much over the last few days. It's complicated by the fact that a kidney-friendly diet and a Crohn's-friendly diet have comparatively little overlap, and she hasn't been eating enough.)

My left hand is, if anything, worse. That may be because even with a thumb brace it's impossible to completely avoid using the thumb on my dominant hand. I'd take N's advice and put the arm in a sling, but then I'd be unable to do much of anything. and Colleen can't do it for herself.

Sunday I went down to Seattle (the South End of the caravan) to go to the pride festival with N and m. Very loud, but the people-watching made up for it. That, and just going out with N and m and seeing them enjoying themselves. I miss them.

Had a good music lesson on Wednesday -- it's getting so that I can hear a difference. I brought Snuggles (the Martin) and sang "Silk and Steel". Hadn't sung it for at least a couple of years; pretty much nailed it on the third try.

So that was my week. Maybe the next week will be better. One can hope.

Lots of good links -- look through Friday for links about blockchain, many of which came off a thread on the SVLUG mailing list. Pay particular attention to Why You Can’t Put The Music Industry On A Blockchain by David Gerard. The book it's excerpted from, Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain, is also well worth a read. There's a lot of handwaving out there; remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Last Sunday was Father's Day, which has always been kind of a downer for me since Dad died, but I did get calls from both my kids (and my Mom), so there's that.

I went for two walks. Not enough. I used to walk three miles every lunch-time.

Everyone's looking for Python, Ruby, and Javascript programmers these days, so when I found myself wanting a program to help me split up web pages into body content and metadata (as input to a template engine) I wrote it in Python. No harder than I expected; after the first dozen or so programming languages they all start to look alike. I'll use Ruby for tne next one, I guess. The first thing is to revamp my "formal" (i.e. job-hunting) website -- I want to move the blurb on the home page over to an "about" page, and replace it with something that looks like a blog. Yes, I could use one of the existing static site generators, but it's more fun and more practice to do it myself and try to learn something doing it. Maybe? It's going more slowly than I'd like.

I did some other website and project cleanup. Not enough. My time management is getting worse, not better. Two phone screens, one of which was followed an hour later by a rejection by email. I'm getting a few more leads by signing up with FlexJobs.com, and put in one application through them and one through jobspresso.com. Not enough.

Four blog posts. I'd like to work up to at least one per day. Is it time to start asking for tips? Probably. Would I get anything out of that? Probably not.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Hmm. I don't actually feel accomplished -- slightly down is pretty much the best I can do these days -- I do appear to have gotten a few things done (though not nearly enough).

I guess the main thing was getting the little greenhouse (which we'd been using for storage while the garage was being worked on) emptied out, mainly by our housekeeper. Then I had movers come in Thursday to empty the storage pod. There is actually still space in the garage! Of course, that's partly because some of the stuff was taken upstairs, and the cabinets and one of the 2x4 and plywood shelving units were left in the shed. But still... things are a lot more accessible now.

That's also partly because I went up to Oak Harbor (where the nearest Home Depot is located) and got a couple of shelving units. While there, I stopped in at Island Drug and tracked down the CPAP supplies that I'd expected them to mail to me two weeks ago. They will now be mailed automagically.

I've done some work on the websites, mainly because I wanted to point to some of them in job applications and they weren't in any shape to be pointed at. Next steps are to make them fully responsive, and replace the static content on the front pages with blog entries. Both of those will require replacing the plain HTML pages with templates.

For those keeping score, 4 job applications, 2 rejections (one from an app submitted last week), one phone interview scheduled. Three posts counting last Sunday's weekly. None of that is enough. One Father's Day present (delivered earlier in the week in the form of a gift card -- thank you, YD). Left arm pretty good, left thumb worse. Not clear that the brace is helping much.

The top link for the week is Depression Is Like Snow, by [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith. An excellent set of links both for depressed people and for people who want to help. Some don't apply to me, but may save someone else's life. Bonus tiny kitten and meeping otters.

A close second is Emacs is sexy. I ran across that a little over a year ago, but had forgotten. I also didn't know that .sexy was a top-level domain. It includes a link to xkcd: Lisp, which is required reading for anyone familiar with Kanef's song, The Eternal Flame. Both of those are required reading for anyone who loves Lisp.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

A second week without N and the kids. I've kept busy, but it isn't the same. Only two job applications -- that has to increase. Still not using my time all that well, but a little better. Another Computer Curmudgeon post, plus a Thankful Thursday and a Songs for Saturday. Some work clearing out the plastic greenhouse -- found out Friday morning that it has to be gone by Wednesday. Urk.

I got a moderate amount of software-related stuff done -- the Elm timer app is coming along (too slowly), and some of my websites now have nicely-styled nav bars, in particular steve.savitzky.net, Lookingglass Folk, and Rainbow's End. I pushed the software I wrote with my father in the late 1980s up to GitHub. (Only, what, 3 years late? and it still needs a README.) Somebody wrote an Emacs mode for my songbook software. (We'll have to do some merging -- I have one too, and there are great ideas in both.)

It isn't enough. How do I expect to work full-time again if that's all I can manage? (In fairness to myself, I did put in a couple of full days. But am I productive enough?)

Reading The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work -- which I highly recommend if you have any interest in working remotely or managing a remote team -- tends to confirm that assessment. So does The Software Engineer's Guide to Freelance Consulting, which does have a few ideas I can put into practice, including how to write a blog that gets noticed. I'll address that in a later post.

As you can tell, I still have roughly zero self-confidence, and no idea how we're going to survive the next five years. The fact that this is depression talking and that it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if I don't get things turned around soon is not helping. Oh, right -- has become. For at least a decade.

There have been a few good things. I have gotten some things done. It's been a relatively productive week, though that's not saying much. The cats have been wonderful -- Desti is a real lap-cat, when she isn't lounging in front of the (gas) fireplace or chewing on a cardboard box. (This occasionally makes typing difficult.) My left elbow seems to be almost healed, the left thumb is doing better now that I've found a brace that works, and I managed to move some boxes yesterday without making anything worse. I'll take what I can get.

For link highlights, I'd like to draw your attention to jeshyr's Just Invisible - Medical Access Issues For Homebound/Bedridden Persons (more in the notes), and this uplifting rendition of "This Is Me" by the Carleton Phoenix Project.

The members of the Carleton Phoenix Project have an unusual goal: to practice letting go of perfectionism. This spring they posted an open invitation for singers to take part in a music video—no experience necessary, only the courage to step up and participate.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

My first full week without N and the kids. The house seems very empty without them. They came up Sunday to swap cats, and I drove down to Rest Stop Monday to put j's bed (bunk over desk) back together. Offered to leave my drill and some driver bits, but G didn't want them.

I had three phone interviews with SunBasket on Tuesday. Friday I got their rejection email, which hurt probably more than it should have. That's really because I obviously haven't sent out enough job applications -- I put in three on Saturday.

It's tough finding jobs to apply for. (Non-geeks can skip ahead.)

Front-end is pretty much out, because that requires Javascript and typically one of the popular frameworks (usually React, but sometimes Angular). I should probably stop chasing Elm for a while and do something with React, but it would still take me a month or two to get even minimally good at it, and most places want a couple of years with code in production.

Back-end jobs still have a lot of Java, which is really the only thing I'm good at anymore, but a lot of them (the more interesting ones) want either Ruby (mostly Rails) or Python. And some want PHP, which for some reason hasn't died yet. And most also want relational database experience and/or container experience.

The real problem is that, except for the last five years as a Java code monkey, almost all my prior experience was in R&D rather than production. I picked up a lot of interesting skills, usually before they went mainstream, and ignored the stuff that wasn't interesting. A lot of it was at least somewhat in demand -- five years ago. But for the last five years the world has gone on without me.

And for the last year, when I could have been learning new programming languages, building stuff like phone apps, writing, and recording, I've been stagnating. Gun, meet feet. I'm doing that stuff now, but it's probably too late.

Add depression, impostor syndrome, low self-esteem and self-confidence, and decades worth of bad financial decisions. Things look pretty bleak. Sorry about that.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been a week. Or rather, it's been a long month this week.

Monday and Tuesday I worked on an Elm project, and got it (minimally) working -- it lacks a style sheet so far. Also Monday, I got a rejection (expected) from NoRedInk. On the gripping hand, I had several phone conversations with possible job leads. So am I ahead? Who knows.

Thursday -- all week, really, but mostly Thursday -- I helped N and j pack; they left that night with Cricket. Friday the movers came for their stuff. They will be back this afternoon to visit and swap cats. (If you're just tuning in, they had to move down to Seattle to be closer to the intensive health care one of the kids needs. We're still a family, and we will get back together some day.)

And, of course, Wednesday was the day the GDPR went into effect in Europe -- just in case you were wondering why everybody is updating their privacy policy this week.

Meanwhile, I made three (other) posts this week. I'm trying to get into a posting schedule that includes foth long articles (like this one on compilers and interpreters) and shorter stuff (like the fudgie recipe), as well as my usual weekly posts. Anybody up for a tip jar or a Patreon?

The most interesting link this week is (hard to choose, but...) the IndieWeb movement (if that's the right word). Basically encouraging people to publish on their own websites, and syndicate (i.e. crosspost) elsewhere. I'm really close to being able to do that. There's more detail in the notes.

Notes & links, as usual )

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