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

Well, the last few days of last year, anyway. I did a sort of review post yesterday, and should probably do something more cheerful and forward-looking today. But for now...

I also posted my borscht recipe, and sent it to Mom (who's been looking for one for decades).

Dealt with brokenness in LinkedIn that, as I should have realized, was easily solved by tossing its cookies. But, you know, it's not hard to build a website -- even one that uses redirect links -- that doesn't break when its cookies go stale. Amazon and Google do it quite well, thank you.

Managed to get checks sent to a couple of charities. Two got left on my desk, but it turned out that those were among the ones I sent money to over two months ago. Apparently my memory is even worse than I remember it being. Or something like that.

Links in the notes.

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

A lot of puttering this week. Got the hallway bookcase moved downstairs; it's now much easier for Colleen to make her way to the Rainbow Room. Looks good, too. Emmy set up the tree, and moved the cat tree into the nook under the stairs. The cats seem to prefer it there. This was Wednesday; last Sunday I put in shelves there, which also helps with the clutter.

I've also been decluttering my website working directories, fixing broken symlinks, re-arranging the tree in a more sensible way, and assorted other housekeeping. Still some messes there that I have to tackle.

Curio has been a darling; he likes sitting on my desk, on a pad of folded-up fabric, and usually sleeps next to me. Cat therapy for the win. We have excellent cats. Cricket exactly matches the description in Cat Faber's song Villains's Cat, and I expect she'll make a very good one when she grows up. Curio is pretty much already there.

I've been experimenting with luggage; most recently I've gone back to Max, the REI Agility sling bag. Not big enough for my work laptop, but that's an advantage. Tomorrow I'll see how well it works alongside a laptop bag.

Mood's been mostly ok, but occasionally still fragile. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings were particularly bad.

Links in the notes.

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

I haz apparently been a Productive Bear, at least some of the time. I finally got around to putting grout into the seam where the arch was cut in between the kitchen and the Rainbow Room, and I now have a fourth working UPS and a functioning git-based web deployment system (for everything but the audio files, of course).

On the other hand, we had a one-hour power outage last night that revealed the fact that the server was plugged into the surge protector outlet on one of those UPSs instead of a battery-backed-up outlet. *headdesk*

I transferred my stuff from the shoulder bag I've been using for the last couple of years, to a rolling backpack. Which is clumsy as heck, but more comfortable to use. The major win, though, was putting my wallet and a couple of other essentials into a little shoulder bag (Eagle Creek Sidekick) so that I can just grab that and go out to lunch, or shopping with Colleen. Major win -- it's practically weightless by comparison with the old one. Of course, it can't carry a laptop, cane, rain hat, phone backup battery, coin purse, ... -- which is all rather the point of the exercise.

I have also been coming home hurting, and emotionally fragile from depression and anxiety. So there's that.

On the whole, though, not too bad of a week. I'll take it. Links in the notes as usual.

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

My doctor said I appear to be in good health. My therapist said I appear to be handling the stress well. And Group Health in Washington appears to be affiliated in some way with Kaiser, so hopefully we'll be able to use them.

And I took a walk (somewhat short because it was starting to rain, but pleasant), and brought a lot of boxes, mostly old receipts, down to be sorted.

And tested Kat's old HP scanner/printer -- it fails with an "ink system failure", and might be fixable with fresh ink cartridges. Not worth the price to find out; if you want it, it'll be at the Starport now through the party on Saturday. I mentioned Our Last Starport Party, didn't I? Yes.

At the end of the day I more-or-less fell into bed.

Link of the day is NASA EDGE @ Mauna Kea, Hawaii: Live Webcast Streams - if you hit it before 9pm Pacific time today (Tuesday), the Transit of Venus will still be in progress. (Or check out Astronomy Picture of the Day for a really spectacular view via the Solar Dynamics Observatory.)

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

Back in the early days of 2012 we decided to skip Baycon this year and go to Clockwork Alchemy. Best-laid plans? That was before we decided to move to Washington. So we day-tripped the 30th anniversary Baycon instead, to have a better opportunity to say goodbye to people.

Baycon doesn't seem to be in the best of shape. It's gotten noticably smaller over the last few years (we can perhaps blame the other cons in the area for some of that, but I don't think for all of it). I dropped Colleen off in the morning, did some shopping on the way home, worked at home for a while, then left for the con myself in late afternoon. Little to no daytime programming I was interested in; the few concerts didn't start until night-time. I stayed for the open filking on Saturday, but was thoroughly wiped out by the time I got back home.

So I only sang three songs over the weekend, and don't remember most of them. Bigger On the Inside was the last one. Tiny circle.

Some good conversations, though.

I mentioned shopping. REI is having a sale; I picked up an Agility Sling Bag and a Hood River hoodie. The Agility bag, whose name appears to be Angelique, is apparently a redesign of the Mini that I've been using since last year; it's a little shorter and more rectangular rather than tapered. This makes it much easier to get my netbook in and out -- it has a padded sleeve that it fits perfectly into. There's also a nice organizer panel. And it's almost exactly the same size as the Belkin computer bag, and fits perfectly inside Chami. And there are several different ways of attaching it on the outside, as well.

I toyed with the idea of getting a rolling duffle (Ross has 'em for cheap) for gigs, but realized that it would be too narrow to hold the music stand desks. I'll probably get a smaller duffle for use as a carry-on or secondary bag, because the Hartmann and Colleen's SwissGear are already allocated. I used the Hartmann on my last trip North, but could only get away with that because Colleen wasn't going.

Did I mention that I'm a luggage addict?

In other news, I set up phone interviews with Zillow and Tableau, and paid the security deposit on the new apartment.

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

It was a busy day, and a good one despite doing something unpleasant to my lower back and being sleepy enough to go to bed early. I had the house pretty much to myself all afternoon, with the YD up in her room (as usual) and Colleen up in San Francisco at the orchid show.

In the morning, I set up communities to discuss [personal profile] pocketnaomi's idea for a new Underground Railroad: you'll find them at underground_rail.dreamwidth.org and undergroundrail.livejournal.com. I also followed a link in a comment to Jane: An Abortion Service. There's a book, too, which I ordered.

I did quite a lot of puttering, including moving some fabric out of the former sewing room (now a combination pantry and guest room) into the "sewing corner" of the living room. That's probably what made my back unhappy.

I went out to REI and Fry's to look for a netbook sleeve, having decided that the Belkin netbook case I'm using now takes up too much room in my carry-on. In particular, there isn't quite enough room left over for my songbooks, which is very unhelpful. I ended up getting this one at Amazon instead.

[livejournal.com profile] moon_fox finished the picture of Rosie that I prompted for at her Character Art Jam. Very cool -- kinda grows on one, which is totally the Right Thing.

I started working on dinner, which consisted of split pea soup, chili (from scratch), and rice with garbanzos. Just as I was finishing up, Colleen came back from the orchid show with an enormous plant -- a green cymbidium that she had already dubbed Arabella (apparently so as not to have it confused with Audrey). She had been there at the very end of the show, so for the $25 she'd been planning to spend on a couple of stems to make corsages out of, she got a $200 plant from a vendor who didn't want to lug it back home.

I put up my S4S post about 8:30, and by 10pm was falling asleep in my chair. Splat.

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

It was a very good weekend. Unexpectedly good -- I will confess to having been nervous about it. Perhaps justified, since I really didn't know what I'd be heading into, in the wake of Naomi and Callie's breakup. What I did know was that I'd be staying with Naomi and working on seeing whether it was worthwhile trying to perform at Conflikt as a new duo called Lookingglass Folk.

Naomi was more doubtful than I was, but in any case all our doubts were gone by Friday night. LgF is on its way.

Let me back up a little. Thursday morning I finished the last-minute packing, then went back to the old office in San Jose to do some catching up with my former coworkers, and go out to lunch with one of them. I found them celebrating -- the first "development and demo" kits ready to ship. So, Yay! A product that I worked on is out in the wild.

Travel notes:

I was traveling with Flame, my Ovation, rather than my travel guitar -- the plan was to leave it up in Seattle so that Talis could practice with it before the con. Uneventful -- Southwest is very musician-friendly -- and I discovered that both Minnie and Chami can fit nicely under a seat. Good to know.

This was also my first trip with the Belkin computer bag, which nestles nicely into the top 2/3 of Chami (the carry-on rolling backpack). My CPAP fills the bottom third, and there's room underneath (alongside the handle tube) for the other assorted electronics.

Naomi told me that the Belkin's name was BJ. More on that in Sunday's notes, if you're into that kind of thing.

People notes:

I had breakfast with Callie on Friday morning, getting back while Naomi was still asleep. I think... no, probably better not to go there in a blog post. What I think about it doesn't matter much anyway.

I also met Naomi's new housemate, A, and her new (to her) car, Talis. I'm never quite sure how much about people to put in a post. Low self-confidence?

Tech notes:

This was also my first trip with Cygnus, my new Thinkpad X120e. It was fantastic! The keyboard is a dream to type on, especially compared to the Dell netbook I've been using for the last two years. I got quite a lot done, both re-editing lyrics for the new two-person scripting, and an assortment of other housekeeping tasks inspired by having to configure a new system.

At this point almost everything in my home directory is set up using git, making it easy to keep in sync and to work even when disconnected. At this point about the only things I really need the home system for are email and DW posts, and of course audio editing.

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

Not a very good day, on the whole, despite a couple of good practice sessions. Worry? Empathy? Yeah, probably empathy. I guess I cut myself off from my emotions for a reason, all those years ago.

The YD's phone is broken. Again. This time one of the pins on the charging connector is broken. The insurance we've been paying for has a $50 deductible, and would take a couple of days to replace it -- you can't just walk into an AT&T store and do a swap. (Cell phone companies are second only to cable companies in customer dissatisfaction.)

So what I am going to do is buy a "go phone", which is a dirt-cheap refurbished phone with a prepaid SIM, and just plop her SIM into it.

The other alternative would be upgrading my phone (her contract still has a month and a half to run), but I don't want to do that until I can get one with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) in it, which won't be until next year sometime.

Between the phone hassle, assorted frustrations, and a bad smell something like laundry detergent (apparently coming through the AC vents near my office), I left work a little before 5pm feeling drained, depressed, and discouraged. I still felt down after dinner, so it wasn't just low blood sugar. (Mostly better now.)

I've been enjoying Mimi and Eunice's archives.

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

A moderately productive day at work, I'd say. And fairly productive at home -- I figured out how to squash both comforters, my clothes, and my meds into my Travelpro suitcase. Even with vacuum compression bags and the expansion zipper, it's a very tight fit. But it'll work. I hope.

I also took a walk, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 miles. A little on the cold side.

The YD's Undesirable Boyfriend finally took the plea bargain he was offered months ago -- he got a month in jail and two years probation. Probably the first sensible thing he's done all year.

The Older Daughter got a 92% on her latest math quiz. Very proud of her. Math's always been her weak point, but I've long suspected that it's due more to lack of self-confidence than to lack of ability.

As for links... Is Sitting Too Long a Major Cancer Risk? Probably.

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

Yesterday we had a nice afternoon/evening out, including an extended st/roll around the Stanford Shopping Center. It wasn't particularly crowded, so we could mostly go at a decent walking pace. I looked at luggage but didn't buy any.

I may, however, have to buy another suitcase -- I'm taking a couple of comforters up to Seattle for [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi, and my choices are to either use Colleen's huge suitcase (a 29" paisley monstrosity which was bought for looks rather than durability or usability), or to empty the 25" Samsonite. *sigh* I could actually get them into my Travelpro, but that filled it to the brim. Hmm; could maybe use the expansion and maybe repack my meds to fit. Maybe.

After shopping, we went to Sneha for yummy Indian buffet. We've been missing our nights out since the YD moved her game night to Wednesday.

Other than that, a quiet and mostly unproductive day, though I did squeeze in a little practice.

A few links. Or was that lynx? Apple has run out of bigger cats.

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

Sometime Thursday morning I found myself wondering how in blazes it had gotten to be December. I think I left most of my brain somewhere in August. If you happen to see it wandering around looking lost, could you please return it?


Thursday was windy and cold; I decided to do my walking in Trader Joe's and Fry's. Bought a Belkin "Mini Laptop Carrying Case" which comfortably holds Cygnus plus most of its accessories, and even a clipboard and a fair amount of letter-sized paper. It fits nicely at the top of my carry-on suitcase, Chamie, and provides easier access and more protection than the shoulderbag. In a separate expedition yesterday I got notebook dividers and "book rings" -- the case won't hold a regular binder, but I can fake it.

I also installed Colleen's new scooter batteries, which are a huge improvement. It's annoying that the old ones lasted less than a year, but since they came unboxed from a local store they might conceivably have been used.

Friday I did take a real walk, somewhere over 2 miles, and last night we went out to the office holiday party. That was tasty. Chantilly, in Redwood City. It's on our anniversary list.

Quite a few links in the notes, though nothing stands out immediately.

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

Good grief! I shouldn't be surprised -- this happens every time I travel, since I pretty much only post from home. So... It was a good weekend. Lots of solid rehearsal time, and brunch with Chaos on Sunday. Didn't have time to meet up with either of my cousins, unfortunately, but that will probably work better on the next trip, given some time to plan ahead. If I do plan ahead, which I'm afraid is not a given.

It was a rough trip up; I had to get a cab to the airport, the plane was late, and I left my wireless mouse in the terminal somewhere. Put in a lost-and-found inquiry, but don't expect to see it again. Next time I take my wired travel mouse; I don't like it but I'm less likely to lose it.

This was also my first trip with the tennis bag for the travel guitar. It's more comfortable and somewhat lighter than the official gig bag, but doesn't really have enough room for my shoulder bag. A large songbook is pretty marginal. Still figuring out how best to use the space it does have. And it's still looking impossible for me to travel without a checked bag if I want to take a guitar on board. :(

The rehearsal, as I mentioned, went very well indeed. We decided that I should come up for another weekend -- it'll have to be a short one, Friday night to Sunday evening, because I'm running low on vacation time -- in early January. But we're in surprisingly good shape considering the amount of new material in the set. Reminder: you really want to hear our concert at Conflikt.

Another reminder: there's a household party coming up on Saturday!

I also got my netbook, barnard, more-or-less configured with Debian Squeeze; the biggest remaining problem is WiFi. The transition from dhcp3 to isc-dhcp has caused all kinds of havoc; I just realized last night that my router configuration is probably totally wrong at this point, too. No wonder WiFi's been flaky in the house!

Sadness: John McCarthy died on Monday. He was one of my favorite professors at Stanford, not so much because he was a good teacher -- he wasn't -- but because I loved watching the way his mind worked as he worked out programming problems on the board in his LISP class. chipuni posted the perfect epitaph: a single right parenthesis.

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

I took Plink (the travel guitar) to work yesterday to show off. The new bag is very comfortable, but won't hold both my songbook binder and my shoulder bag at the same time. It might work with a thinner, soft-sided binder, or I could just leave Minnie piggybacked on Chami for travel. More experimentation is clearly needed.

I checked out Ubuntu's new look, with a copy of Oneiric Ocelot installed on a Thinkpad at work. I could get used to a lot of it, but not all -- it has a Mac-like top menu and click-to-focus. Might be just the thing for Colleen, though, and I can see using it on my netbook where screen space is limited.

I also gave a Jingle (XMPP audio) demo and a presentation on Git at work -- both went over well.

So... a fairly productive day at work, but no walk and nothing much done at home besides spending almost the entire evening in the living room next to Colleen rather than holed up in the office. Oh. Right. That is "something". Still getting used to the idea that reading LJ in the living room is qualitatively different from reading LJ by myself in the office.

A couple of links in the notes.

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

Mumph. No walk -- both the weather and my left foot were a bit dicey. Grumph. I spent most of work reading documentation, and most of the evening looking for things. Which I eventually found -- more on that below -- but I spent too much time on my knees and bending over, and ended up pretty wrecked. Went to bed early, and wound up spending the hour between 3:30 and 4:30 reading. Thank goodness for Science! It's complex enough that it can grab the hamsters in my head away from their wheels and thwap them until they stop moving. (The next move would be to feed them to the snakes, but I don't think I have snakes in my head right now.)

The one really good thing is that Plink's new bag arrived. It's a Wilson BLX sling bag originally intended for tennis racquets. Plink fits nicely with only her head and an inch of neck showing, along with my songbook (a 1.5" binder). The secondary compartment will hold Minnie, with a little finagling. The obvious name for him is Max Wilson. I think he's Minnie's big brother.

I posted a signal boost for Alan Grayson's Where's Your $50,000?, but it was pointed out in comments that the GAO report shows that he's playing fast and loose with the numbers, counting repeated short-term loans as multiple transactions. There's currently an outstanding balance of about a trillion, and the Federal Reserve is actually making money on the deal.

On the other hand, there's still plenty to be angry about. I believe it's fairly certain that if we still had the tax and regulatory structure that was in place pre-Reagan, the government would have a budget surplus and banks would not be too big to fail.

More links below.

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

Yesterday was ok, though ultimately not really satisfying. There's always too much to be done, and I don't do most of it. But...

I went out for a drive with Colleen; we bought ripe jalapeno peppers at the produce stand, than looked at the new Whole Foods on Blossom Hill on the way back. Dinner consisted of guacamole, rice, cauliflower, and bay scallops. We also had bagels and lox for breakfast.

Saturday I saw a tennis racquet bag at Sports Basement, and came close to buying it for Plink (the travel guitar). It would have room for the songbook and even for Minnie, my shoulder bag. Six inches or so of Plink's neck would stick out, but that could be handled with a padded sleeve. Tempting.

I also made hotel reservations for Orycon. I'm a little reluctant to go, because it's been an expensive year for travel and next year looks likely to be almost as bad. We'll see.

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

Worldcon was... well, yes. Something like that, anyway. Good, but exhausting, somewhat frantic, and marred by a filk hotel that reeked of smoke everywhere but our room (which was large and well-laid-out). Also, the Peppermill's WiFi was sporadic at best. Fortunately, between free valet parking and the fact that convention center parking was free with a handicap placard, and the CC itself was totally smoke-free, we managed. We toughed out the smoke in the filk room Friday and Saturday nights; small, but good energy.

Between meals, laundry, and a couple of good Tempered Glass rehearsals, I missed the panels completely, and only got to maybe a third of the concerts. Maybe less. And had some good conversations, but far fewer than I'd wanted or hoped to. I did get to go hang out in one of the Peppermill's excellent swimming pools with Naomi on Friday, which was good. (The pool was long, shallow, and had a waterfall. Fun!)

The fact that we'd had to check out a day early, Sunday rather than Monday, didn't help at all. Still, family emergencies take precedence (everybody is safe; no need to worry), and there are some advantages to having a day free to recover before going to work.

But there were a lot of people we didn't get to hang out with or say goodbye to. And I go to cons more for the people than anything else these days. It was good to have another con where I wasn't scheduled to perform, though.

Backing up, I had a PT appointment Tuesday about my strained right trapezius muscle -- apparently this is almost entirely the result of bad posture. Leaving my shoulders slumped and my head forward results in the trapezius being continuously stretched; actually using it can easily result in its getting strained. She gave me some exercises; Colleen claims that she notices a difference after only a week.

Some luggage notes in no particular order: I looked up Southwest's under-seat stowage dimensions: Chami fits. She worked well on the trip, too; I was able to piggyback her on the Travelpro, though that combination really needs a strap to stabilize it. The Amazon electronics box works, but isn't big enough for everything; I need something about the same width and depth, but 6" or so longer to fit all the way up one side. I stacked a smaller box with the recorder in that slot, but it kept falling out.

Another problem is that Chami isn't big enough for a full-sized music stand desk. I took the Travelpro to the open filk Saturday night, which worked better but meant largely emptying it and repacking in the morning. I also tried wearing Chami plus Minnie as a backpack -- way too heavy for me. And there isn't a good way to wear Chami and Plink together, either. That may be worth some hacking to accomplish.

In other luggage notes, I managed to leave the blue tote with Colleen's netbook, kindle, and meds sitting on the floor by the front desk when we checked in. Fortunately it was found and turned in; the weekend could have been much worse.

Musical note: I went to Bill Mills' concert, and discovered that he was a fan of mine! Felt good, but weird. I gave him a copy of CC&S. At the filk that evening, I hauled out "Wheelin'" as he was packing up; I think I impressed him.

So... a very mixed bag. Some terrific parts, some miserable parts, a lot of stress, a few good conversations, quite a few missed opportunities. And I doubt I'll ever be back to the Peppermill. Good riddance. Did I mention the tacky mass-produced paintings?

Some good links that came by during the week, up in the notes as usual.

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

So... a pretty good day. There was some good music-making in the morning, most of which I missed because I had a meeting to go to at work. I came home for a (longish) lunch, and Tempered Glass got a good rehearsal in while Colleen was out running errands. I went back to work after Callie and Naomi left for Tahoe, (several hours late).

In the evening I chorded out and scripted all but one of the songs we worked on over the weekend (I'll do the scripting on the last one this morning) and got most of my packing done.

I ought to explain song-scripting. Tempered Glass's signature style is to bounce the lead around among the three of us. (We don't always do that, of course -- we have plenty of songs with Naomi and/or me on vocals and Callie on flute -- but we do it a lot.) Naomi's the one who usually scripts the voice changes; then we tweak it in rehearsals, and I make the scripted and chorded lead sheets using custom LaTeX macros. It works.

Packing involved using Chami for the first time, and also the first time using my new Eagle Creek cube organizer. That does a fine job of holding five days' worth of shirts, socks, and underwear, and packs neatly in the Travelpro suitcase with a pair of hiking boots and the med bag. Underneath, alongside the tubes for the collapsing handle, I put a mic stand base, a folding music stand, and Cyrano (the stuffed rhino who doubles as my CPAP pillow). It's a bit tight.

I finally got to bed around half-past midnight.

Many of the day's links are about Google's purchase of Motorola Mobile. That promises to be interesting; it's pretty clear that the big win will be Moto's patent portfolio.

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

A lot of puttering yesterday. I finally made hotel reservations for RainFurrest -- should have done it much earlier. Also some music: I sang QV over the phone to [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi, and spent some time in the evening listening to Dave Carter songs on YouTube, and downloading and formatting the lyrics and chords to "When I Go".

And a walk around the Rose Garden -- I only went around once, though; it was late in the afternoon and my blood sugar started to crash at that point. I got home about 5:30 and made salad, thin rib-eye steaks, and roasted fingerling potatoes and broccoli. (There wasn't enough broccoli for full portions, and I wanted to do something different after having served it microwaved on Saturday.)

I had what was pretty clearly an anxiety attack -- mostly noticable via increased heart rate -- seemingly out of the blue. I'm pretty sure now that it was a delayed reaction to an earlier conversation, but... I don't remember whether it was half an hour or an hour later. It took me another hour or two to figure out what was causing it, namely thinking about the YD's boyfriend (the UBF).

So, let me get this straight. It was caused by something I was thinking about in the background while concentrating on something totally unrelated. That makes it much harder to debug. Fortunately this was a pretty mild thing, more annoying than alarming. So that's good.

I went to bed early, having realized that I hadn't spent nearly as much time with Colleen as I usually do on a weekend.

Quite a few links up in the notes. I think the most thought-provoking is this article on Why We Need the New News Environment to be Chaotic, by Clay Shirky. And here's a beautiful cover of "When I Go" performed by Pete & Maura Kennedy.

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

Wow! Lots of links here. That's partly because I spent my lunch hour reading LJ and nomming on hardboiled eggs and spring rolls. The eggs came from home -- I discovered that wrapping them in a microfiber hand-towel keeps them satisfactorily cold until lunchtime. The spring rolls came from the Big Beige Building, one driveway down from our complex. They only have them on Monday and Wednesday. They have shrimp and chicken, and come with a very spicy sauce. Nom.

Also during lunchtime my Amazon order arrived: two Otterboxes of different sizes, and an AmazonBasics Electronics Travel Case. As it turns out, the latter is a little too wide to fit at the bottom of my Antler rolling backpack (Chami, for short) because of the handle tube. And it's only able to hold my USB optical drive by stretching a little. But it fits nicely beside the handle tube, with a music stand and some extra space on the other side. It also holds an external USB hard drive; the Zoom H2 recorder and its gorillapod fit in the vacated CaseLogic HD case.

It's not clear whether Chami will get her pet otter; a lot depends on which one and what goes into it. The 3250 can hold my collection of chargers as well as being the perfect height for a footrest when playing guitar, so it's going to go someplace when I travel.

And it turns out that a recently-hired coworker is the brother of someone I worked with at Zilog a quarter-century ago. Small world.

So it was a pretty decent day, in spite of not having a walk in it. On to the links!

Many of the links are from Greenhaven: A Pagan Tradition, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] ysabetwordsmith. One of her articles there, Cyberspace as an Out of Body Experience, refers to The World Inside the Crystal! How cool is that?

More in the notes.

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

Yesterday went pretty well. I got to the con around 9:30 for my 10am panel on the future of privacy, when went back for Colleen and the YD. We finally got back home somewhere around 3:30. I cleverly packed my netbook charger, but cleverly forgot the netbook itself (after carefully syncing it, of course). <irony>Clever bear.</irony>

My evening glass of gin seems to have helped considerably with the spasmed muscle in my right shoulder, so that's good. The YD made dinner - lemon turkey with biscuits. I ate too many biscuits. That's not so good for my weight.

Westercon is definitely in trouble -- the final body count, according to Colleen, was 540. Now, admittedly, falling somewhere between Baycon and Worldcon, in an expensive but wretched hotel and a bad economy, one can expect fewer people than usual. But still... Hopefully the next two can, with top-notch committees and plenty of publicity, reverse that trend.

Some links in the notes.

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

Not a good day. No. Some hugs from people I only see at Westercons -- that was very good. But...

I hate the Fairmont. Not having a room there helps, but creates problems of its own, especially for Colleen, who needs an accessible toilet and, these days, an assistant.

Let me back up a bit.

The day technically started around 2am, when I finally got to bed after our trip to the ER Thursday night.

Colleen had an appointment in the Fracture Clinic at 11:15, so I called in sick and took her in. More x-rays; the bone pieces seem to be in the right place this time. Sleeping with the sling on apparently helps a lot. She has an appointment for next week.

If you're keeping score, that's 2 ER visits, 3 clinic visits, and 4 x-rays so far since Sunday. And she's on her second bottle of percocet now, but probably won't be needing much more of it at this point.

In retrospect, I should have ended my experiment with a reduced dose of SSRI last Wednesday. The stuff seems to work mainly by increasing my supply of cope, and I could have used a lot of it this past week.

We had lunch at home, and took advantage of my sick day to go to Westercon, in the Fairmont hotel in downtown San Jose, somewhat earlier than I had originally planned. I hate the Fairmont; we stayed there during Worldcon a few years ago. Old, underwhelming, and overpriced.

We got to the con around 2:45; I got Colleen unpacked and drove off in search of a usable handicap parking spot; I eventually found several open ones about a block from the hotel.

After getting registered and spending some time greeting people, I sat in on the "What Is Filk?" panel around 4:30 just to have someplace to sit down. Unlike most convention hotels, the ballroom floor of the Fairmont has essentially no seating outside the function space. Did I mention that I hate the Fairmont?

Around 5pm we went to the bar, which is a sunken area in the middle of the lobby. We eventually found the wheelchair lift -- not a ramp -- in what appeared to be a converted closet. It took two tries to find a chair I could sit in comfortably. I had a glass of Hendrick's, which was predictably overpriced.

So was the in-hotel Chinese restaurant, where we went for dinner with the YD. The food was distinctly underspiced. In between, Colleen attempted to find an accessible lady's room, which eventually required getting someone from the hotel to go in and open the handicap stall in the one first-floor lady's room, which had been locked from the inside. Possibly because it wasn't flushing properly.

Did I mention that I hate the Fairmont?

At this point my back was hurting and I was bored silly; I left, and got home a little after 8pm. Went back for Colleen 9ish, and the YD around 10:30. By which point I was both sleepy and depressed. Oh, and getting Colleen's scooter was complicated by coughing while bent over (which reactivated my back spasm), and scraping the back of my hand on the seatpost of the scooter picking up the battery. I dealt with the latter by tying my handkerchief around it. Useful things, handkerchiefs.

No, not a particularly good day.

On the plus side, the combination of Chami (rolling backpack) and Minnie (sling shoulder bag) worked surprisingly well. Though it's pretty clear that Chami is not sufficient luggage for a weekend trip, she does a good job as a convention rolly. I ought to rig something that works as a top handle when Minnie is on board, though. (Although this, and the slight top-heaviness I noticed, is less of a problem when Minnie is slung over Chami's "shoulder" rather than attached around the handle. I'll try that today.

Only one link in the notes; I was busy with other things.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Not A Good Day. It got off to a mediocre start when I lost track of time ordering some otterboxes off Amazon, and came in late to work. (No harm done, since the Thursday am diagnostics scrum was basically a no-op, but I don't like doing it.)

I went out for Thai food with 9 other coworkers. The food was good. But the service was slow, and the noise level was simply intolerable -- I couldn't even carry on a conversation with somebody sitting right next to me. And of course no walk (though I got some exercise later). Next time I'll eat at my desk, as usual, and take my walk and stick to my diet (such as it is).

When I came home from work I woke up Colleen (who had been spending the day sensibly in bed) to find that her splint had shifted by about 3 inches, and hurt like heck. Naturally this was after the orthopedics clinic had closed for the day, so we had a quick dinner and took off for the ER. Again. (The splint, her second one, was supposed to go around her elbow to keep it at a right angle. Apparently she straightened her arm in her sleep. The doctor advised her to sleep in the sling.)

I don't think they charged us a co-pay this time. But we went in around 7pm, she fell into a shift change around 10:30, finally got pain meds at 11:30, x-rays a little after that, the new splint at around midnight, and home around 1:30. Meanwhile I had picked up a back spasm lifting her transport chair into the car trunk, and totally lost it a couple of times. I don't have much, if any, control over my speech when I'm sleepy, exhausted, and in pain.

June is officially fired.

On the plus side, we now know for certain that hydromorphone (dilaudid) is ok for her to take. She reacts very badly (i.e., was in a coma for three days) to cocaine or hydrocodone. I looked them all up online while waiting for the pharmacy to come to the same conclusion. We came home with a new prescription for percocet (ocycodone, also ok).

Colleen and I are both feeling much better this morning. See some of you at Westercon!

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Hmm. Not all that good, actually. Colleen didn't get her cast; instead the bone was reset and she got a new (heavy, uncomfortable) splint that immobilizes both her elbow and her wrist. Which, I suppose, is necessary -- she was seen by the sports medicine orthopedist who specializes in this kind of break, after all -- but makes her life really difficult.

The two good things about the whole trainwreck are that it prompted me to make her scooter more stable, and forced her to switch from a walker to a cane.

It was a productive but slightly frantic day at work, too. Lots of things getting done at the last minute, or slightly beyond it, with nobody in the loop whose job is making sure stuff doesn't fall through the cracks. I try, but don't always succeed. Still, I think we have a usable build in the factory; that's the important thing.

Looked unsuccessfully for Otterbox waterproof boxes at Fry's; that was also my walking for the day, because it was rather cold when I went out at noon. Of course, it had warmed up considerably by the time I got back to work, but since I had a meeting to go to I couldn't take advantage of it.

I shouldn't have started looking at otter boxes -- now my new suitcase wants a pet. I'm doomed. Came home to find that the box I have is actually larger than the one I was looking at. (This morning I ordered a second one, because it's the perfect size to serve as a footrest when playing guiter, and that way I'd have one for home and one for travel.)

I did get in some singing -- the Bears, QV and Wheelin' -- and some guitar geeking with Moira's brother Mark. He has written a book on guitar tunings, which looks quite useful (though I'm not sure how much I'll use it).

A couple of links under the cut.

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Not a very eventful or notable day, which is on the whole an improvement on Sunday. I came home for lunch, after buying Colleen a 4-footed cane and looking at some scooters. The cane was an obvious next step for her, since she's been using her walker one-handed since breaking her arm; she gets around very well with it.

I looked at two scooters at Bischoff's. One was a Pride Celebrity X, they advertise it as disassembling into 7 pieces, but that includes the two batteries, for which one has to remove the cover and disconnect cables. One could do that for a long trip, maybe, but it's impractical for a quick jaunt to the store. Not that it would fit in the trunk of my Honda anyway -- we'd need a lift.

The other was clearly a travel scooter, used, no bigger than Colleen's current one, but the seat was lower and it looked a lot more stable. When I came home, I found that the seat-post on Rosebud could be lowered about an inch and a half. We determined that Colleen could still get in and out with the lower seat, so that's a big win. I'll have to see whether we can get the seat any lower, though I suspect not without power tools.

I think we will get a larger scooter eventually, since it would give her a lot more confidence and stability on streets and sidewalks. But we'll probably keep the GoGo for travel and indoor use. How we'd store the two of them is, of course, an open question. We might have to enclose the porch or clean out space in the garage.

It wasn't a very productive day at work, but once back home I managed to get in some practicing, and made progress emptying out the old Rolly.

No links, oddly enough.

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It was almost a really good day. We had bagels and lox for brunch, and had a great st/roll around the Rose Garden. We sat and read for a while, having remembered to bring reading material this time.

Then Colleen took the corner from the sidewalk to our walkway a little too fast, fell, and injured her wrist. We called 911 for assistance getting her up and got an ice pack on it, then I had a quick dinner of scrambled eggs while Colleen called Kaiser; I knew it was going to be a long night.

This happened at about 4:15; we finally made it home about 8:30 with a temporary splint on what turned out to be a distal ulnar fracture. For those who can't instantly decode anatomical notation, that's one of the two long bones of the forearm, an inch or so short of the wrist.

It could have been a lot worse. She didn't hit her head, or damage a leg, hip, or something else, and I managed to prevent them from giving her a splint that would have imobilized her elbow. As it is, she'll be in a cast for 4-6 weeks, and have a lot of trouble doing day-to-day stuff.

It's become obvious that she needs a wider scooter -- this one is great for portability, but it's dangerously unstable. The base is only 19.5" wide, but the chair arms are set at 23.75, so it looks like we can go to a 24" wide scooter without too much trouble. It should give her a little more leg-room, too.

I managed to stay calm and even cheerful through the whole thing, which was good if a little surprising. There were a couple of times when I overloaded, all when Colleen was trying to tell me something while I was concentrating. Minor, and I got past them easily. Colleen did ok modulo a couple of spots where the pain got to her; we came home with a prescription for percoset.

I found that Minnie makes a decent laptop tray, and that if I tighten up the strap she's actually pretty comfortable even with the addition of a water bottle, netbook, and paperback book. I've started unpacking my old luggage and redistributing their contents; I discovered in the process that my "electronics bag" is mostly empty except for a handful of cables and the travel router that I haven't used for a long time. So that can probably get consolidated with the Zoom H2.

I've discovered that Plink (the travel guitar) hangs nicely from a full-sized music stand; that suggests that it's probably worthwhile getting the folding one I've been eyeing for years at Guitar Showcase.

Some links up in the notes.

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I'd been planning to make apple pancakes for breakfast, but in this house I'm usually the only one who's awake before noon, and Father's Day was no exception. I made them for dinner. Dad often made breakfast on Sunday, apple pancakes were always one of my favorites, along with blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, and "fried matzoh".

Google did me no favors with their Call your dad from Gmail promotion. Wherever he is now, there are no phones or internet connections. I miss our hour-long phone conversations.

Another nice st/roll with Colleen, twice around the Rose Garden (somewhere in the 2.5-3 mile range). We need to go there with a picnic brunch sometime.

We appear to have a mouse living in the bedroom closet. I set out glue-traps. Grumble. The reason for searching the bedroom closet was to look for the CPAP case, which turned out to be under the bed. A great deal of puttering ensued, and I started the amazing exploration of Rolly's contents. There are some Weird Things in there.

Quite a few links up in the notes. Torn World; Family Ties and Torn Skies is finally out in hardcopy; I ordered a copy.

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Colleen and I went shopping; the nominal reason being to get some packing cubes for my new suitcase. The Container Store, in nearby Santana Row, was still having its "organized traveler" sale, so that was our first destination. We also added absorbant drink coasters to the shopping list when I found Colleen's phone sitting atop a thin film of water condensed off her iced tea glass.

I got an Eagle Creek "complete organizer"; basically a cube and two half-cubes that zip together and are able to hang up when unzipped. That plus my toiletry/med kit fill Chami pretty completely, suggesting that she's not quite big enough for a weekend trip unless I take the CPAP in its own case.

We also stopped, as we always do, at Sur La Table, where we were both instantly attracted to the Miyabi Birchwood series knives - you'll find them at the end of this post. Curly birch handles and Damascene blades. OMG gorgeous. We succumbed and bought the 3.5" paring knife. But they didn't have coasters.

We got the Thirstystone coasters -- which we've been admiring for years -- at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. It ended up being a long, tiring, but delightful afternoon. I think I got my walking in, though it was mostly too slow to be aerobic.

I used the new knife to make dinner -- it is indeed a joy to use. The handle is slightly asymmetrical, but not enough for using it left-handed to be problem. The blade is double-edged, and sharper than our ceramic knives (though of course it will require occasional sharpening to stay that way).

I also installed the new power strip. It's a Prime "Energy Saver" -- three of the outlets are controlled by the state of a "master outlet", which I put my desktop computer on. The slave outlets have the monitor and the speakers. Works perfectly. I also discovered that the WAP was not on the UPS, which explains why it went out immediately when the power went out a couple of weeks ago. Oops.

On the whole a very nice day.

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Mixed. A good, solid, three-mile walk by the Guadalupe River, which felt good. Minnie was warm, but perfectly comfortable. I switched her to my right shoulder. After the walk I determined that a rolled-up hat fits nicely in one of her bottle pockets. So that's good, too.

I made some measurements on Chami; I think she's a little small for a weekend trip. The reason Rolly and a small duffel worked was that Rolly is (too) wide, and they stacked. Can't get away with that with Chami unless I leave Plink at home. Maybe if I piggyback some stuff on Plink.

I have a feeling that Minnie and Chami may have things to tell me about relationships, later on. {Let them sort their own out first, silly Bear!}

Meanwhile, though, we got the word that our ship date has been pushed back. Now, that's a very good thing, because the software clearly isn't going to be ready by the end of July. On the other hand, it raises the question of how much longer I'm going to be away from research. I think Tuesday I'll go up to the lab in Menlo Park and talk to some people.

The something between that and my experimental 30% tapering-down of my mood-altering drug has left me a little down. You can see it in the string of "okay"s, down from "good", in my mood strings over the last week or two. I think it's a major accomplishment that I'm actually able to notice, though.

I sang for Colleen and Naomi for almost an hour. That was good. And I slept well. So I'm going to call it a mostly-good day. A couple of links up there in the notes.

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High-order bit -- I note with considerable pleasure that Vampire Mega-Byte is on the Pegasus brainstorming list under Best Classic Filksong. Along with "Ship of Stone", which would make it a difficult choice if they both came up on the ballot. I'd also like to congratulate [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi for her well-deserved mention under Best Songwriter. And mention that Quiet Victories is my Composer's Choice.

I never did get a walk in. But lots of puttering. And I finally found the missing wedding invitation -- on the floor near the door of the (home) office. The fact that the color is close to that of the flooring is no real excuse -- I must have stepped over it a hundred times. Bah!

After several days of floundering around at work, a Jira ticket was dropped into my lap (by my boss, who was just promoted into that position last week and needs to get rid of some of his), so I spent the afternoon happily hacking. (There's a song* parody in there somewhere, I fancy.)

The new Antler rolling backpack has a name: Chamois (pronounced "Shammy" in case it wasn't obvious). My sister the mountain goat was very insistent. (It's true that a goat has horns rather than antlers, but don't tell Chamois that -- she's still a little uncomfortable about being out as "A Doe in Velvet".)

Lots of links; the most noteworthy one being Motion to Vacate Prop 8 Ruling Over Judge Walker's Sexuality is Denied. The rest are mainly of interest to various kinds of geeks, with the puredyne "instant USB-bootable creative desktop" being kind of a crossover between the music/video geeks and the computer geeks.

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I seem to have gotten surprisingly little done. A pretty good day, though.

I went out and bought myself an early Father's Day present, an Antler 19" rolling backpack. It's one of the best I've seen, certainly the best in its price class ($99). Not enough external pockets, just one large flap pocket, but that will do fine for the netbook. The main compartment opens completely, with the hinge on the bottom (rather than on one side like a suitcase). It's thin enough to fit under a seat (though it might be an inch or so too long), extremely light, comfortable as a backpack, and looks difficult to overfill.

It's made by a British company; I also learned that the Europeans measure their suitcases from floor up, while the Americans leave off the wheels. This, of course, causes trouble when people are traveling abroad.

When I got it home I discovered that I'd misremembered a couple of features (imagining a different outside pocket). And that Father's Day is next Sunday. That, I suppose, explains why nobody wished me a happy one day before yesterday.

I always seem to get in trouble when I make assumptions and don't double-check things. That was twice over the weekend. Not going to worry about it. Much.

A couple of links up in the notes.

mdlbear: (audacity)
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Yesterday was a good day. Colleen had bought a slab of lox at Costco ($20 for 1.5lb), so I went out in the morning and bought bagels for her and the YD. The Glutino gluten-free bagels, which we keep in the freezer, are the best I've tried so far; I've had some grocery-store bagels that were worse.

Colleen and I had the little bit of left-over fish for dinner, rolled up around cream cheese, onion, and capers. (There was also a salad consisting of heirloom tomatoes, half an onion, an avocado, and fresh mozzerella, with basil and oregano from our front yard.)

We went for a st/roll in the early afternoon; our usual route down around and through the Rose Garden, and back via Goodwill and Cash & Carry.

I then spent over an hour in REI looking at shoulder bags and rolling carry-ons. Found several that I liked; I may go back for the 19" rolling backpack. The sling bag... I don't know.

And I did some puttering -- mostly a matter of: see something out of place, put it where it belongs, repeat.

And finally, I'm pleased to announce that I finished splitting and uploading my concert at Baycon 2011, only two weeks after the event.

Oh, and I called Mom and, finally, my brother. Who is moving to Logan, Utah with his fiancée, which puts him close enough for the occasional visit and gives me a good excuse to go to Conduit next year.

So, yeah. Good day.

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A rather tense day at work, since our software had to be shipped to the factory by close of business, so they can start pre-loading it onto flash next week. Found one (stupid) bug, which luckily can be worked around by entering a command line directly instead of through the simplified wrapper script. I outsmarted myself, basically. It was (diagnostics lead) Bill who came up with the command line workaround.

At home, on the other hand, I out-stupided myself by misplacing a wedding invitation, after having neglected to copy the information into my to.do file. Fortunately I remembered the date and the venue, so I was able to call this morning and get the time. At least the paper stacks in the office and parts of the living room got a thorough going-over, so all's well that ends better, as the Gaffer used to say.

Knowing that I had the fallback of calling in the morning is probably what made it possible for me to get to sleep -- it took out a lot of the pressure and negative self-talk.

I seem to be particularly bad at keeping track of invitations, and certain other forms of paperwork. I'm really not sure why that is -- I seem to manage quite well with bills and tax forms, for example. Weird.

While I was out trying to buy butcher-block oil (which I finally found at OSH) I spotted a one-day sale on scallops at Whole Foods. Colleen bought them on her shopping trip, and I cooked them up with butter, olive oil, pepper, lime juice, and tequila. Yum! The YD tried one and didn't like it. More for us.

Only two links, to The Rotund, a blog around fat acceptance and related issues, and to a recipe for Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Spring Rolls. Cool!

A good day, on the whole, though it really didn't seem that way at the time.

... but why did I leave this sitting in my editor for two hours before posting it? I must have gotten distracted after thinking there was something else I wanted to say. *shrugs and posts*

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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A lazy morning (you can tell by the number of links), but a good afternoon and a reasonably productive evening. Went to the Stanford Shopping Center with Colleen, in part because I knew she'd enjoy it, and in part because I wanted to get a look at some luggage - a carry-on bag one can sit on. The seat's way too small and too low for more than a few minutes' sitting, and the bag is one huge deep compartment that would be impossible to get anything out of without massive re-arrangement. So, no. Amounted to a decent, if rather too slow, walk.

Colleen found body butter on sale at the Body Shop. They still don't have replacement bodies, though. Come on, people!

On the way home we stopped at Cosentino's and got fish for dinner. Red snapper, three fillets coming to about 1.7 pounds total. Maybe overdoing it -- 1lb would probably have been enough. But tasty. Also string beans done Szechuan style in the wok with red pepper, garlic, and ham. A very nice Beringer moscato to go with it.

After dinner I fixed the internal DNS for thestarport.org (broken after the move to a new server at Dreamhost), did a little work on its index.html page, and got printing going on the YD's desktop machine. (But didn't have the right drivers, nor does Windows 7 appear to have generic postscript drivers. WTF?) Got the laser printer working with a built-in driver that was close enough. And Windows 7 doesn't appear to let you connect to an arbitrary SMB workgroup! What's with that? Or browse for IPP printers. IDIOTS!

Lots of links this time, including a rare post by Colleen and an article on Selfishness and Narcissism in Family Relationships that I think describes several of my friends' family backgrounds. The parent site is mainly about anger management, which I'll probably find helpful.

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A pretty good day; very busy at work, but I got an early enough start to take a walk after lunch, and make a call to a friend I ought to call more often (waves to [livejournal.com profile] carmiel and [livejournal.com profile] raishaan).

A couple of interesting links under the cut.

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I've been having pretty productive days recently, but no walks. I'd better do something about this tomorrow.

I've started looking for a rolling carry-on suitcase that includes seating. Grumble.

A couple of links under the cut.

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A pretty good day. Tried putting my netbook in the Swissgear bag; it's a little bulky in the car, and I wouldn't want to put an ebook reader in it without a hardshell sleeve. But not uncomfortable for a one-hour walk.

Nice walk, maybe a little too warm.

Lots of good links mostly on politics and politically-sensitive issues. And I should probably mention the health care bill getting passed. It's a start, but needs plenty of fixing.

mdlbear: (love-decides)
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I was feeling lazy and unproductive by late evening, but that just suggests that an underslept Bear is an unreliable reporter -- it was actually a pretty productive day. I did quite a lot of work in both the Starport's intranet and Tempered Glass's lyrics directory, and went out and explored Lowes with Colleen. And cooked dinner, of course. And ripped half a dozen or so CDs.

And the YD's report card shows remarkable improvement!! Only one C, one A -- it's about time. (And an F which is apparently due to the school's (Winblows-based) computer system dropping data from half the class.) Go YD! Of course, she also turns 18 on Thursday. I feel old.

I also tried out the SwissTech shoulder bag that I got on the cheap at Target a couple of weeks ago. It's frustratingly close to excellent. If it were an inch taller, had a detachable strap, and had double zippers it would be wonderful. Well, at least I know what I want.

Today's link, and it's a good one, is [livejournal.com profile] cadhla's new song, Jenny and Karen. Go read it. That's where today's userpic comes from.

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

The Hartmann bag is a rather ugly tan cloth bag with leather trim, measuring 10x11x22 inches. The top has a zipper on three sides, for easy access, and has snaps in the two loose corners. There's an outside flap pocket with a snap on one long side, and a rectangle of fabric where a slash has been repaired on the other. It's the same fabric as the bag, so it must have been done a long time ago.

My parents bought it to take their excess purchases home from a trip to Japan, sometime in the early 1960s.

It's rugged enough to be checked through, (just barely) small enough to use as a carry-on, and folds down flat if it isn't needed on one leg of a trip.

It's been well-used and well-loved, by two generations of my family over nearly half a century.

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Saturday morning started with a great call from Callie, out for a walk, while I was working on my "done yesterday" post. I reset my mood from "good" to "cheerful". It's worth noting that I picked up the phone before it woke Colleen -- a year or so ago I probably wouldn't have done that. Progress.

There was gentle rain and a rainbow -- almost a full arch -- on the way to the YD's modeling class. Pretty. I like rainbows, and not just because my Dad was a spectroscopist, though there's always a touch of bittersweet nostalgia attached to rainbows these days.

When I got back I actually did a little computer work, cleaning things up in my Private directory and adding a Makefile to commit and upload snapshots. I <3 git.

The afternoon was meant to have been a shopping expedition with Colleen, but it was drizzling, and Marty came over to sew and socialize just as we were getting ready to leave. Just as well; the drizzle turned into a downpour as I was heading back to the car. The trip was mostly a washout, too, but I stayed cheerful and had a good walk.

The New Balance store, where I'd been hoping to get some badly-needed new shoes, is gone now. Nobody has anything like the Keen hiking boots I've loved two pairs of to death. Doesn't anybody believe in ankle support anymore? Sur le Table didn't have the little cast-iron pots I was looking for (though they did have a good selection of French presses -- I'll probably go back and snag one). And I left my 30% off one item coupon for Borders at home. Grumble. It expires tomorrow.

I made chili for dinner. The YD was very put out because I'd fogotten that she wanted latkes. We'll have those tonight, I guess.

I spent the evening in the living room watching Fantasia with Colleen. I don't generally watch videos I have to pay total attention to; something with little or no dialog is easier to tune out. Has anyone seen our Animusic DVDs? They've been missing for quite a while.

I also re-filled some of Colleen's prescriptions, and spent some time going through Kaiser's health pages. The site is poorly designed for systematic reading, and has a stupidly short timeout. Fine for public terminals like the ones they have scattered around their buildings, but no good for a single-user system at home. Most of the pages I was interested in came from The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook by David Sobel and Robert Ornstein, so I did the obvious thing and ordered a copy from Powells.

Good day anyway.

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Productive day? Probably not so much, but my mood was basically positive except for a little while in the morning.

A good walk, about 45 minutes around the pond. Got about halfway before I had to start slowing down.

I took a closer look at bags, notably the Eagle Creak Vagabond and the Tom Bihn Ristretto for Netbooks. The former is a little too big, but about half the price and big enough to hold a magazine or a clipboard. It opens from the top, and the organizer compartment is easier to get at. The latter has a removable strap on swivel clips, and is closer to the size I want, but it also has a flap instead of zippers. Is a puzzlement. The Eagle Creek Guide Pro is closer to the right size, but appears to have a less convenient organizer.

Lots of links, but I'm lazy -- scroll up to the notes. Do people like having the raw notes, or should I just link to a separate file somewhere?

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A pretty good day, I guess. Just above neutral. Some good fast walking around the Stanford Shopping Center, though I didn't find the kind of shoulder bag I've been looking for. Toccano has a nice one, but it has no organizer compartment. Eagle Creek has two: one's about an inch too small, and the other's a couple of inches too big. I know where that leads. And both EC bags are rather expensive. Who knows? I might end up learning how to sew.

I also went in to Macy's and bought a Cuisinart burr coffeegrinder for about $60 with tax. Colleen will keep the old blade grinder for spices. No large French presses in evidence, though.

And we had [livejournal.com profile] gorgeousgary for the evening, out from DC on a business trip. I sang the two Bears and Inherit the Earth.

Oh, yeah: links -- Droid trumps iPhone for Time Gadget of the Year | Electronista -- how about that?

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raw notes )

A pretty good day. I actually noticed that I was cheerful during my walk around the pond, which was also noticably faster than usual. No problems once I realized that I needed to stretch a little before going any further.

In the evening I found myself close to tears in sympathy for a friend who was hurting. I hate it when I can't do anything to help. Tears are rare for me.

I mentioned to Colleen that N's birthday is coming up in January, and her immediate reaction was that of course I'd be going up to visit. I assured her that I had no intention of staying up in the Seattle area between then and Conflikt.

I also got a call from a homesick Chaos, wanting to come home for the holidays. I booked her a flight for a week from today. I found, somewhat to my surprise, that all the bills due this week had already been paid.

Hot links include two reviews of the Barnes & Noble Nook, on Engadget and Gizmodo. Giz also had guitar picks made from recycled circuit boards, and a carry-on suitcase with a built-in scooter that I desperately want.

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

My weight has crept up to 200 lbs; DO NOT LIKE. I probably need to be stricter about the low-carb thing. And take my walks, even though I still have trouble finding the time. [livejournal.com profile] tetralizard sent me a link to Timpany Center, a nearby theraputic pool that does drop-ins. *Waves at [livejournal.com profile] cflute* If I don't have time for walks, I certainly don't have time for that, however.

I had to cut my walk short yesterday because my right knee was complaining. I'm in better shape than a lot of people my age, but not by much. Some looking around at Office Max and REI yielded the decision that the REI "boarding bag" looks like the best bet for my new shoulder bag; it's light, and has enough pockets and dividers inside that I might even be able to abandon the wallet. Though the Timbuk2 travel wallet looks like a good replacement for my current one: the card slots are wide enough for photos and business cards.

(The idea behind getting a larger shoulder bag is that it would have room for the netbook if necessary, but could go mostly empty most of the time. It's a nice theory...)

After getting back home I had a bit of an anxiety attack, probably from thinking about the mess I've made by not signing up for long-term care insurance 20 years ago. We'll be talking with an agent next week, but given my age and Colleen's health it's probably too late. As usual, it apparently took a couple of hours for the anxiety to build up to where I could notice it, and several more hours before I was able to trace it back to the cause. But relaxation, deep breathing, and herb tea with valerian got it under control.

I was in no shape to go out again, though, which caused some friction with Colleen, who was rapidly going stir-crazy and had been hoping to go to Yamagami's nursery and look at plants. In the end she took the scooter out to the front yard and deadheaded roses.

I made shrimp scampi and rice for dinner, and did some practicing late in the evening. Yet another thing I need to force myself to make the time for.

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

This the first time in over a decade that I've traveled with nothing but carryon baggage -- basically since I've been traveling with Plink. Since my brother has a guitar, though, I was able to leave Plink at home. She gave me her tuner to keep me company, and Colleen insisted that I take the little stuffed Cthulhu.

The rolly usually has a little more trouble than the backpack fitting under a seat, but it's a lot more convenient standing in lines. If I did have Plink with me, it would mean that I could sling her across my back, which is a lot easier than having her in one hand while wrangling a rolling suitcase with the other.

The rolly is stacked with a little black gym bag; together they have about the capacity of a small suitcase. I really like the small shoulder bag that I'm using these days, in part because it's too small to overload the way I do with the old Eagle Creek sidekick bag, and in part because it fits nicely in the rolly.

The thing that makes it work is not putting the laptop in a padded sleeve; it's just in the narrower of the two compartments of the rolly. The main compartment contains my CPAP, the ziplock bag of drugs, a book, Cthulhu, snacks, and my shoulder bag.

The gym bag has the toiletries kit (mostly the neti pot and salt), a spare shirt, three changes of underwear and socks, a book for the trip home, phone charger, and some assorted other stuff. A copy of the TG* songbook, unbound, down at the bottom.

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

Another good day - a three mile walk by myself by Los Gatos Creek, and a st/roll up and down the length of Santana Row (the local high-rent residential/shopping "street") with the RollyCat. It was especially fun seeing some of the surprised reactions she got, though I'm not sure why. Aren't there lots of grinning middle-aged ladies with striking silver-and-black hair out riding around on bright red scooters?

OK, when you put it like that...

And I found the small shoulder bag and laptop bag I was looking for all last week. That leaves only the briefcase that goes with my guitar gig bag still missing.

Fun music link: Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] thnidu posted about Monsters of Shamisen with youtube links.

The group `Monsters of Shamisen` was formed in the spring of 2006 when two California based Shamisen players Mike Penny and Kevin Kmetz met with Sapporo based virtuoso Masahiro Nitta. The promise of this group is to offer audiences the most exciting and innovative examples of modern Tsugaru Shamisen in the world. Using their collective musical backgrounds Monsters draws inspiration from a wide variety of music including classical peices, American bluegrass, Irish folk music, and even modern pop/rock. To see this group live is to experience one of the most unforgettable fusions of not only East and West but also of past and future.


2008-08-15 07:27 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Just a couple of updates on this post about last weekend's shopping.

The Merrell slip-ons continue to be pretty comfortable; I expect they'll be even better if I replace the insoles with Superfeet. I seem to get the best support by re-tightening the ankle brace after putting the shoes on, which I suppose shouldn't surprise me. I'm beginning to wonder whether Ecco has hiking boots; their walking shoes have fit me pretty well in the past.

The more I use the new-style Eagle Creek sidekick bag, the more I like it. Finally moved almost all of the assorted stuff into it from the old bag; most of it sits comfortably on the bottom of the back compartment now that the phone and camera are safely and securely out of the way. There's a lot of room at the top of the larger front compartment; just right for a small water bottle (as I determined during my walk today).

The smaller, vertical Eagle Creek bag looks as though it'll fit in my backpack alongside an Asus Eee, so it might be good for accessories. OTOH there are probably better bags for that purpose.

In view of the amount of work that needs to be done around the house, not to mention Getting Ready for ConChord, I'm thinking I'll take off the Tuesday and Wednesday before the con. Probably not the Monday before, since I'll be taking the Monday after to drive home.

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

Last weekend I went looking for shoes. I'm trying to replace my Keen hiking boots, which are comfortable, give me good ankle support, look good enough for everyday wear at the office, and are wearing out. I'm on my second pair, and I'm starting to fear that they've been discontinued.

I did, however, find a pair of Merrell slip-ons on sale at REI that were sufficiently cheap ($65 or so) and fit well enough that I decided to give them a try. Glad I did. I've worn them on a couple of walks now with no problems. And they look like dress shoes, so they'll be perfect for travel. All I have to add is an ankle brace or two.

Along the way I picked up two different shoulder bags: an Eagle Creek sidekick at REI, and a smaller, vertically-oriented Eagle Creek bag at Any Mountain. I've been using a sidekick for a good many years now, but it's undergone major revisions; this is essentially a whole new bag now. At first I thought it wasn't going to hold all my stuff; the front compartment (where I keep my wallet, checkbook, changepurse, and business cards) has gotten wider but lost its internal pockets. But things still fit, and fit better, if I put the cards and changepurse next to the wallet and checkbook.

The back compartment has acquired pockets for camera (looks like it's actually designed for glasses, but I don't need to pack those), cellphone, and pens. The pile of stuff that I used to keep in the front zipper pocket -- things like the backpacker's chopsticks, titanium spork, tape measure, and dental floss -- pile nicely in the bottom because the camera and phone are out of the way. The outside flap pocket is gone, but I can now use the front zipper pocket for other peoples' cards.

It's a little smaller, and sleeker. Good bag for everyday, though possibly a little too small. There still isn't room for everything I used to carry in the old one, but I wanted to cut down on the weight anyway.

The vertical bag was an experiment; I still want something I can slip into my backpack next to the CPAP for air travel, and that opens from the top so that I can get at things without taking it all the way out. It's a little small, but holds the essentials.

(ETA: have verified that the sidekick fits nicely across the top of the backpack, with enough headroom for the CPAP if I'm careful not to leave too much stuff lying at the bottom. Would need to be checked before travel, since I do leave a lot of stuff down there. Have also verified that the sidekick will hold an Asus Eee, but only with major and inconvenient re-arranging of wallet and change purse.)

I looked at a couple of larger vertical bags: the Eagle Creek guide bag and something similar from REI. Both were too wide to fit in the backpack, and neither had a detachable strap with D-rings. Maybe in another year or so Eagle Creek will redesign the guide bag? At this point I can wait.

Still looking for decent-looking, all-leather, mid-height hiking boots with wide toes. The Keen were perfect, damnit.

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

Yesterday was travel day -- pretty much a total write-off given a noon flight and a 3-hour time difference. We did manage to get dinner and hang out in the con suite for a while.

Colleen had a lot of trouble with the lack of legroom in the plane; thank goodness it was only a 5-hour flight, with no plane changes.

Forgot batteries for the H2 (and they're *expensive* in the hotel!); that seems to be the only major lack so far. The XO may not have been the best choice of computer; its "terminal" app seems to be failing to pass all of the control characters through. That makes using emacs problematic -- I'll have to see whether I can even post this. I'm *very* glad I thought to bring my Linksys travel router, though, since the XO also doesn't have ethernet.

mdlbear: (hacker traveling)
... or maybe that would be "Rolly II", since it's a different rolly than the one I used to travel with. See, I have this Microsoft backpack now that works better than the old rolly (holds more, stands up by itself, well-organized -- very atypical for M$). But I now have a CPAP machine, and although I *could* cram it into the backpack, it's not very convenient there. Its bag really *doesn't* fit.

Meanwhile, I have this travel guitar, and a raincoat. At the Container Store a while ago I found a great little rolly that's basically just a 2-foot deep bag on a rolling platform. The wheels fold flat, and the whole thing crams down into something that turns into a little outside pocket. The facehugger, Plink, a fleece jacket, and the raincoat all fit. Plink sticks out a little, but...

Going through security was pretty easy, though they now check your ID on the far side of the metal detector after having scrutinized it with a flashlight at the start of the line. Stupid.
mdlbear: (borg)

I finally found a Microsoft product I liked well enough to buy at Fry's today. One of the best in its class, actually.

It turns out they make really good backpacks )

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