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

Today's song is one I wrote as a Valentine's Day present for my wife, Colleen. I don't seem to have audio up on the web; I considered singing it to her earlier today, but one look at the lyrics told me I wouldn't be able to. It's hard to sing when you're crying.

Here's Eyes Like the Morning. Audio at the link, or [ogg] [mp3]

lyrics, if you don't want to click through )

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

Today was Colleen's birthday, so I arranged for N to meet me in her room at Prestige and do a little singing. So this was yet another unrecorded LgF concert, albeit a short one.

The set consisted of

  • The Fox. This is our favorite way to start a non-themed concert. It's an actual traditional folksong; the idea being to surprise the audience with something completely off-the-wall for the next song. I have no idea where we learned it; it was long before we were a group.
  • The October Country. This is the perfect follower for The Fox. It's one that the two of us co-wrote: N wrote the words, I wrote an initial melody (of which the first two verses and bridge survive almost intact), and then we woodshedded the heck out of it. It's always been one of Colleen's favorites.
  • Lock-Keeper. This is a gorgeous song by Stan Rogers that was written to be sung by the lock-keeper. N's idea to make it a duet, with her as the sailor, worked brilliantly. (As with the other songs we don't have rights to, you'll have to click through to the official lyrics.)
  • Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts. Colleen's favorite Bob Dylan song. Unlike some of his other long songs (Desolation Row, for example), this one actually has a plot. It's not currently in Lookingglass Folk's repertoire, but Steve has been singing it ever since hearing it on Joan Baez's album From Every Stage.
  • The Mary Ellen Carter This song, by the late Stan Rogers, is a frequent set closer and the household's all-around "defiantly optimistic" spirit-raiser. We just wish we didn't need it quite so often.

The descriptions are here partly as a way of jump-starting the body text of the song-pages; some of those are still broken because of bugs. Those, however, aren't likely to get fixed tonight.

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

Today's FAWM song -- only the third this month, so obviously there's no way I'll "win", but that's okay -- is We'll Go No More A-Roving. This is the Martian rover song I've been trying to write for the past two weeks. It finally started coming together a few day ago when it connected with "the Jolly Beggar" (lyrics and video at the link).

It ended up surprisingly upbeat -- or maybe not surprising considering the tune, which is both upbeat and catchy, and has been my earworm for most of the last week. I'll probably put up the audio tomorrow; you can get a good idea of the tune by hitting the link above for lyrics and video of "The Jolly Beggar".

lyrics, if you don't want to click through or prefer indented choruses )

February Album Writing Month: FAWM.ORG/fawmers/mdlbear/.

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)

I am falling behind in FAWM -- it's the 9th, and as of this afternoon I had only two songs up. Now, thanks to a collaboration with [personal profile] pocketnaomi, I have three (which is still behind, only not as much).

Today's s4s is Weird Load, and it was a heck of a lot of fun. N had the initial idea, and wrote the chorus (including the melody). I filled in the verses, and N posted it after some edits. Then I consed up the verse melody (which is almost the same as the chorus). It continues my short string of truck songs, although it's not connected at all to the other two.

Lyrics )

February Album Writing Month: FAWM.ORG/fawmers/mdlbear/.

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

Today's FAWM song, the second this month, is up: "Besties'.

It's the anticipated follow-on to "Twenty-First Century Breakup Song". I'm very unhappy with the audio of the first two verses; it's still very unstable and was even more so when I made the recording.

As the liner notes say, as soon as I'd written "Twenty-First Century Breakup Song", it was clear that I had to write the other part of the story. The only question was whose point of view to use, and that answered itself with the first line.

lyrics, if you don't want to click through or prefer indented choruses )

(Just as an aside, it's really hard to type with a warm, cuddly cat in one's lap. Should I write a song about you, Desti?)

It's been suggested (see comments on the song page) that this could turn into a theme album. I'm not sure I can sustain it for a full month, but there's certainly enough material in this story for an EP. *rubs hands together gleefully*

February Album Writing Month: FAWM.ORG/fawmers/mdlbear/.

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

Since I'm doing FAWM (February Album-Writing Month) (for the first time), and I've just uploaded my first song, and it's Saturday, I'm going to subject you to it.

The song in question is "Twenty-First Century Breakup Song", and it even has an audio track. lyrics, just for the record )

By the end of yesterday I'd squeezed out a four line verse and what looked like three lines of a chorus. The chorus actually made it all the way into the final song, having acquired two more lines. It took me a most of today to make the verses work, but when I got the last verse to come together I knew it was going to work.

The melody came together in less than an hour. That often happens; I tend to start hearing bits of it in my head while I'm writing. D is an easy key to play, and generally a good one for me to sing in.

mdlbear: (ccs-cover)

FAWM (February Album-Writing Month) starts tomorrow. In a not-entirely-unconnected event, I have (finally!) put Coffee, Computers and Song up on Bandcamp.

I'm going to use the fact that Bandcamp (started in 2008) didn't exist when I released the album (2007) as an excuse for not having done this sooner. I know, pretty lame. But joining a site that asks for a Bandcamp link if you have one makes as good a reason as any.

I should also add that it's still available on CD Baby Music Store, which also has actual, physical CDs to sell you.

mdlbear: (rose)

I'm not sure whether to lead with the back-story, or the song. I think the song. One of the songs. For some of the back-stories.

Today's song is Janis Ian's "Welcome to Acousticville" (Lyrics). It's on her album, Hunger. Go and listen. I'll wait.

Back-story - the song

I first heard "Welcome to Acousticville" the one time I heard Janis perform live, at a little Mexican restaurant called Don Quixote in Felton, CA. (You might want to look at my post, though it doesn't say very much.) "Welcome to Acousticville" was one of my two favorite songs from that concert; the other was "The Last Train" (lyrics. I've sung that one quite a few times, though not recently. Never had the guts to try "Welcome to Acousticville".

Janis Ian is a science fiction fan; I find it interesting but not surprising that my two favorite songs of hers are fantasy; neither would be out of place at a filksing.

Back-story - the title

This post grew out of comments by me and [personal profile] technoshaman on bairnsidhe's poem, "No Simple Highway". I've already posted a Songs for Saturday about "Ripple"; what brought this one on was the later discussion of my purple rose icon (which you can see on this post) in connection with psychopompery. (I know it isn't officially a word, but it's what psychopomps do, and I'm not the first one to use it.)

Back-story - the icon

The rose icon started out as a gif that somebody posted on Usenet; I took out the background and adjusted the color balance until it looked right. I created it in 1990, in honor of my daughter Amethyst Rose. I first used it as an icon on LJ in 2003; it appears to have been the second icon I uploaded, after the fractal that I still use as a default.

Since then, I've been using it as my standard icon not only for the Amethyst Rose posts, but for most posts and comments about grieving. Most people use a candle.

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

Back in November I wrote an S4S about Stan Rogers' "The Mary Ellen Carter". It's one of the two songs my family turns to when things are going bad. Here's the other.

Sydney Carter's song "Julian Of Norwich", more commonly known as "The Bells of Norwich", is about hope. It's been in short supply lately.

The lyrics are taken, more or less directly, from the writings of Julian of Norwich, who lived in what historian Barbara Tuchman called "The Calamitous 14th Century". Hope was in even shorter supply back then: the page in Wikipedia about the book lists ...the Hundred Years' War, the Black Plague, the Papal Schism, pillaging mercenaries, anti-Semitism, popular revolts including the Jacquerie in France, the liberation of Switzerland, the Battle of the Golden Spurs, and peasant uprisings. Not to mention the advance of the Islamic Ottoman Empire into Europe, ending in the disastrous Battle of Nicopolis.

The relevant quote from Julian's writing is

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

That comes through in the song's chorus as

Ring out! Bells of Norwich, and let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know.

This would probably be a good time for you to go listen to the song: Here's one, on YouTube, accompanied by hammered dulcimer. Here's another, with a very pretty harp part, recorded by the OHRWURM Folk Orchestra. (Interesting name, what?) There are others.

Nobody knows Julian's real name. She was an anchoress, who lived in a cell attached to St Julian's Church in Norwich. Her book, Revelations of Divine Love, is believed to be the first surviving book written in English by a woman, and is much beloved.

I'll leave you with the last chorus:

All shall be well, I'm telling you, Let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know.

I wish I could believe that. Maybe if I sing it loud enough.

mdlbear: (ccs)

In 1985 I wrote a song called: "The World Inside the Crystal". At the time there didn't seem to be any songs about computers, or programming, that weren't meant to be funny. (I think there might have been a few about AI or robots that were meant to be scary. It's entirely possible that this was the first serious computer song ever written.)

I also wanted to explore the notion that inside of computers is an alternate universe where magic works. I don't remember whether I came up with that, or somebody else mentioned it to me; it was definitely an idea that I was kicking around at that time. Kick it far enough, and it winds up someplace like this:

Beside the world we live in Apart from day and night Is a world ablaze with wonder Of magic and delight Like a magic crystal mirror, My computer lets me know Of the other world within it Where my body cannot go. chorus: You can only see the shadows Of electrons on a screen From the world inside the crystal That no human eye has seen. The computer is a gateway To a world where magic rules Where the only law is logic Webs of words the only tools Where we play with words and symbols And creation is the game For our symbols have the power To become the things they name. chorus Now you who do not know this world Its dangers or its joys You take the things we build there And you use them as your toys. You trust them with your fortunes, Or let them guard your lives. From the chaos of creation Just their final form survives. chorus Call us hackers, call us wizards, With derision or respect, Still our souls are marked by something That your labels can't affect. Though our words are touched by strangeness There is little we can say. You would only hear the echo Of a music far away. chorus

I can always tell the programmers in the audience -- they've been there. It won a Pegasus Award for "Best Science Song" in 1997, possibly because I mentioned it on Usenet.

There are several different recordings. The one to start with is Kathy Mar's cover here, off of her tape Plus &csedilla;a Change, with an awesome synth track by Chrys Thorsen. The one on my CD is okay, although I'm not all that happy with it now. It's way too fast, for one thing, and there isn't an instrumental break before the last verse. It's on YouTube courtesy of my distributor, CD Baby.

There have been some good ones in concerts. The one at Consonance 2009, with Tres Gique, is one of the better ones. Here's another, at Baycon 2009. Consonance 2012 appears to be my best (recorded) solo performance. Audio players don't come off all that well on DW, but I'll close with one anyway.

mdlbear: (smith-lightsails)

"Ship of Stone", by Don Simpson, is my favorite song. Not filk song; song. I don't remember the first time I heard it, but it was written in 1981, which is just about when I was first getting involved with filk; I first heard it sung by Leslie Fish, so it would have sounded a lot like this (from her tape Chickasaw Mountain). Here's a more recent version from Avalon is Risen. This is Kathy Mar's a capella version, from Yankee Doodles, recorded at the 1986 Worldcon.

I sing it too, of course. Probably the best recorded version to date is in Tres Gique's concert at Baycon 2009 [ogg] [mp3]. There's a solo version in my Fan GOH concert at Baycon 2010; you can find others in Tres Gique, Consonance 2007 and my concert at Conflikt 2009.

I really need to make my music easier to search for, don't I?

The thing I love about this song (aside from a melody that lends itself perfectly to my picking style) is the vast sweep of history it implies. Earth has been lost in the depths of time, and become a legend. Humanity has spread throughout the galaxy -- the "wheel of light" -- living in fusion-powered starships (you can tell that from the "blue, glowing wings" that sweep up interstellar hydrogen to burn). All that's left of Earth is the song and the story it tells.

A few years back (I don't remember how many) after reading Norman Spinrad's novel Riding the Torch, Don confirmed my guess that that had been his inspiration.

One's first impression, hearing the song, is that it's set a few thousand years in the future, but that would be way too short a time. It's been long enough for humans to have spread throughout the Milky Way, which is some 200,000 light-years across, and to have evolved (or more likely engineered themselves) into many different sub-species. It's as if the story had been passed down to us from the Late Paleolithic; about the time of the earliest known bone flutes.

As I say on the lyrics page on my website, "If one of the songs we're singing now is still being sung a thousand years from now, it will probably be this one." Next time it comes up for a Pegasus, please vote for it.

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

We took advantage of the fact that N and her kids are up at this end of the household for Thanksgiving to get in some practice. Mostly this consisted of songs we are working on harmonies for; in addition the idea is to go down to Everett tomorrow and sing for Colleen in her hotel hospital room. Fortunately there's a lot of overlap. I'm not entirely sure of the order, but we worked on:

There's a story about "Gentle Arms of Eden". Back in 2009, at Consonance, I was in two different groups, Tres Gique and Tempered Glass, which had consecutive concerts at Consonance. We also had a problem -- we wanted to move a song out of the second set so that Tres Gique's bass player wouldn't have to come back on stage during the second concert for that one song. N thought for a little while and pulled up a set of lyrics and chords from some website or other, and asked if I thought I could play guitar on it. I looked at it -- it's in G -- and said yes. I spent the next 20 minutes running through it with N before going on stage for the Tres Gique concert; we sent Tres Gique's drummer down to the lobby to print it out.

We got the printed lead sheet about half a minute before going on stage for the Tempered Glass set, and pretty much nailed it.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  13854 words in 26 posts this month (average 532/post)
    548 words in 2 posts today

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

It isn't the song I originally intended to write about, but it's been a rough week, and the first song I turn to when things are going down the tubes is "The Mary Ellen Carter".

You probably know it, especially if you've been hanging around me, or filkers in general, for a while. Just in case you don't, though, or you need to hear it again, here's Stan Rogers singing it. It's the second version I heard; I don't remember who I first heard singing it at a con, but I tracked down the CD -- it's on Home In JHalifax -- and learned it, because because I had to. The lyrics are in the first comment, but just in case you want a version with chords, here you go.

It's not about making me feel better. That doesn't work. It's about making me feel defiant enough to damned well get up and keep going anyway.

Afterward, depending on what's going on, I'll sing "Desolation Row", "Bells of Norwich", or maybe even QV. But it's "The Mary Ellen Carter" I turn to first.

And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow, With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go, Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again. Rise again, rise again; though your heart it be broken And life about to end, No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

See you next week.

NaBloPoMo stats:
  11005 words in 19 posts this month (average 579/post)
    438 words in 2 posts today

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

I was reading an interesting blog post a few days ago with the catchy title "How do we make remote meetings not suck?" by Chelsea Troy. The main point was that meetings need some form of moderation, otherwise people tend to talk over one another. This is especially bad in remote meetings because a lot of the visual cues are missing (even with video), and also because network delays make pauses in the conversation hard to distinguish from a series of dropped packets.

Naturally, because I'm a filker, I immediately thought of the many ways our musical community has for organizing song circles. For those who haven't taken part in such a thing, a song circle is a group of people sitting around in a rough circle to sing. Song circles present many of the same problems as meetings, and in the sixty-odd years that people have been singing at conventions they've come up with some interesting solutions. (I might add that similar solutions can be found in operating system schedulers and computer networks; I'll leave most of the details as an exercise for the reader.)

The simplest method is the Bardic Circle, which is more familiar in the OS literature as round-robin scheduling -- the turn simply gets passed around the circle, e.g. to the right (or left) of the person singing. (Without loss of generality I'll say "person singing" for the person whose turn it is at the moment, but they have other options, e.g. picking someone else to perform, asking the group for a song on a given topic, or simply passing. This is generally expressed with the phrase "pick, pass, or play".)

The more people you have in the circle, the longer it takes for somebody to get a second turn. In a large group it can take an hour or two, but it's probably the most effective way of managing such a large group. There's a kind of computer network, now largely obsolete, called "Token Ring" that works pretty much the same way.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Chaos Circle, which is pretty much what it sounds like. This works best when there are comparatively few people who want to perform, and when they're all from roughly the same (geographic) area. Different regions have different expectations about what constitutes a pause -- we ran into this recently in a conversation that included several people from New York and others from the West Coast. Ethernet, back when every computer was connected to the same piece of coax, was chaos with the convention of exponential backoff to resolve collisions.

Moderated Chaos usually works well in slightly larger groups -- a moderator can resolve collisions by saying "okay, you get the next turn" A good moderator will also keep track of who hasn't had a turn recently, and encourage them to sing. My guess is that this is probably closest to what a moderated meeting is like. The moderator can either be assigned ahead of time by the event organizers, or may simply volunteer if things are getting too chaotic.

In between, we have Token-Passing Chaos, and Poker Chip Bardic. In a token-passing circle each performer gets to pick the next by passing them the token. The token is often an inflatable beach ball -- this has the advantage of requiring the performer to pass it along before they take their turn, to get the thing out of the way. Another good token is a ball of yarn. The resulting web makes it easy to spot people who haven't had a turn yet; if everyone gets a turn it's topologically equivalent to a Bardic Circle, but more flexible and fun.

The Poker Chip Bardic is probably the most interesting, and I think it has some potential for meetings as well. In this format, everyone gets three poker chips when they enter the room, in three different colors, and there are three corresponding rounds, one for each color. It's almost exactly the inverse of a Token-Passing circle -- people toss in their poker chip when they want a turn. Requiring each round to be completed before the next one is, again, topologically equivalent to a simple Bardic.

It gets a little more interesting -- and fun -- when you end a round when no-one wants to throw in the next chip. That gives people who pass in the first round a higher priority in the next. Reasons for doing this vary, of course. It's very effective for changing the subject or bringing in a new song at exactly the right moment.

I don't think this counts as a curmudgeon post, even with the slight technical content. But it's a post.

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

One of the songs Lookingglass Folk have been working on recently is "Mary O'Meara" (words by Poul Anderson, music by Anne Passovoy) -- according to my archives we started working on it in mid-July, and possibly earlier. (Bears have notoriously bad memories; find and grep are my good friends.)

I remember reading the song in Poul's novel, World Without Stars back in 1966, when it was serialized in Analog under the title "The Ancient Gods". A good story, but what really made it memorable was the song, verses of which were threaded through the story. When I heard it at a filksing, at least a decade later, it brought the whole thing back.

OK, before we go any farther, if you haven't heard the song (it's passed out of the filk repertoire in recent years, possibly due to over-exposure) go listen to it! Here's "Mary O' Meara" sung by Windbourne on YouTube. The only copy of the lyrics I could find online is here, on Mudcat -- skip the comments. Darned if I can figure out where I found the chords [pdf]; possibly in a songbook somewhere.


Now, go over to kjn | The origins of Mary O'Meara, where you'll find the song that inspired it: "Anna Lovinda", by Norwegian songwriter Erik Bye, published in 1960. The post contains translations of the original lyrics, and a Danish translation that was probably what Poul was thinking of.

Reading those, you can tell that the basic story and most of the imagery of "Mary O'Meara" came directly from "Anna Lovinda". What's more, the meter is fairly close as well. kjn's post has a good analysis, which I'm not going to try to duplicate.

At this point, I'm going to leave you with this stunning performance of "Anna Lovinda" by Sissel Kyrkjebø, Bjørn Eidsvåg, and Åge Aleksandersen from 2006.

 NaBloPoMo stats:
   5068 words in 11 posts this month (average 460/post)
    339 words in 1 post today

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

I had a totally different post planned, but it doesn't seem to be going in the direction I wanted it to. It's probably going to take some serious editing, if I don't give it up entirely. Instead you get this.

I miss singing with my family. Since N and her kids moved down to Seattle it's been a lot harder to get together and sing; they were up here for the day (yesterday evening through tomorrow mid-day), and we've spent much of this evening working on songs. I have no idea when Lookingglass Folk's next concert is going to be, but it has the potential to be amazing. Just sayin'

We started with "Ripple", which is new for the group, sang "Bells of Norwich" because I needed it, and worked mostly on "Lord of the Buffalo" and "Ship of Stone", which we've been working up new vocal arrangements for. They're coming along.

For some reason I've been having problems with D chords on the guitar. Weird. My middle finger keeps being off by a string; it took me a while to track down exactly what I was doing wrong, and paying attention to it threw me off on the surrounding chords. Grump. Obviously I need to practice more.

NaBloPoMo stats:
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    239 words in 1 post today

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

Today I'm going to talk a little about my all-time favorite Grateful Dead song (and occasionally my favorite song, period): "Ripple". OtherBear ran across a drop-dead gorgeous cover of it: Ripple - Playing for Change [YoutUbe]. Go listen and watch; I'll wait. Let there be songs to fill the air!

What I like about that video is the absolutely seamless cutting between the various musicians. Just magic. Makes you want to go off with a guitar and sing it -- so I did. The chords you usually find on the web are in G, so it's dead simple to play, and right in the middle of my vocal range. (The original was in F, so it would be perfect on a 12-string tuned down the traditional two frets. Just sayin'.)

It's a very strange song. For the most part, I have no idea what it actually means, but it hangs together nevertheless, invoking an overall feeling of slightly mystical tranquility that's been missing recently in my life. It just sort of ripples along quietly. The fact that the chorus is a haiku (though not in the usual 5-7-5 layout; it's 6-7-4) probably contributes to the tranquility:

Ripple in still water When there is no pebble tossed Nor wind to blow

If you left YouTube up, you might want to check out some other versions. this, for example, is the studio version, which is where I first encountered it. Also, check out The Annotated "Ripple" for the lyrics and more. Dodd may be going a bit off the deep end with the analysis; literary criticism really isn't my field so I can't be sure. But there really are some amazing depths in that song.

If I knew the way, I would take you home. See you next week.

NaBloPoMo stats:

   1528 words in 4 posts this month (average 382/post)
    333 words in 1 post today

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

As far as I can tell, Careage of Whidbey is the only skilled nursing and rehab facility on the island; Colleen has been there since last Monday getting her legs back after a week in a hospital bed. (She's doing extremely well, but that's another story.) I've been bringing a guitar along when I visit.

So yesterday I was playing for her after lunch when somebody came to tell us that the ice cream social was starting at 3:30. Colleen and her caregiver, V, immediately volunteered (voluntold?) me for entertainment.

It wasn't a very big audience, and I'm rather out of practice, but it seemed to come off pretty well. (I was surprised at just how well - the usual sketchy chords, but no trainwrecks.) I neglected to keep track, but the songs I remember doing were: "Get up and Go" (I started with that one because it was perfect for the venue), "Wheelin'", "Where the Heart Is", The Bears (together),"Windward", "Ship of Stone", "Gentle Arms of Eden", "The Rambling Silver Rose", "The Mary Ellen Carter", "The World Inside the Crystal", "Keep the Dream Alive" (went out on that one, IIRC), "Bells of Norwich", "Bigger on the Inside", "The Owl and the Pussycat", and "The Times They Are A-Changin'". I think I'm forgetting some, and they're in no particular order.

I did The Bears ("A Talk With the Middle-Sized Bear" and "A Tribute to the Middle-Aged Bear") together, with N's brilliant parody serving as an intro to "Windward". I think they work perfectly in that order.

It was the most singing I'd done in a long time, so it gets an S4S post even though yesterday was Friday.

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)

This week's S4S isn't actually a song, but it is music. "The Opposite of Forecasting" is Austin, TX's Weather, Sonified. It's a project by Douglas Lausten <Lownote.net>.

You can read the Music Notes, explaining how the weather is mapped into muic, or the Tech Notes, about how the hardware works. Or you could just go to this link to hear it in your browser.

Let's see whether I can add a player: -- yup! Can't seem to apply any styles to it, though, and I have no idea whether DW will allow it.

Credit for finding today's s4s goes to siderea.

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

Two rather amazing things this week on Songs for Saturday. The first is this spectacular music video for "Master of Tides" by Lindsey Stirling on YouTube. It's kind of a flash mob production, only, well, just watch it. Potential triggers? Mild ones, probably; I just can't resist a little alliteration: pirates, pyrotechnics, Poseidon; also waving tentacles.

You can always count on Lindsey for a good show. The Behind The Scenes video is also a lot of fun.


The other thing that astonished me this week was finding out that I and one of my songs are mentioned on Wikipedia (at the end of Section 1). Does that mean I'm notable, or does that require an article? Maybe just notorious. I'm mentioned at the end of the "Real-Life Implementation" section.

I found this out because I was writing a cover letter for a job with a description that mentioned possibly working with the IETF, and I wanted to prove that I knew my way around the RFCs. So I looked up RFC 1149, and there it was: Paper Pings (A Note on the Implementation of RFC1149).

(Right now citation [6] is just a raw link -- I probably ought to go in there and give it a proper citation.)

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

I was up early this morning (never did get all the way back to sleep after the 4am power outage) casting about for something to write about for this week's S4S. Maybe I need to open my songbook at random? Throw darts at my CD collection? Then I saw "Playing Together" by dialecticdreamer in my reading list. Music! And part of a series tagged with tammy lin. Iiiiiiinteresting. I love a good rabbit hole.

So I clicked on the tag and found that where I'd started was only the second story in the series. Which was good, because I'm a rather slow reader. The first one was, not too surprisingly,

"Tammy Lin"...

Anyone who's ever heard any version (there are hundreds) of Child Ballad #39 can see approximately where this is going (and how much fun Dialecticdreamer is having flipping things around).

And at the end of the post are the notes, starting with "Musical soundtrack that helped shape the story". Links. Lots of them. Even better, scattered throughout the 39 (at time of writing) comments are more links. So, yeah.

I'm not going to copy all those links into this post. Just go read it and click for yourself. I'll be somewhere down the rabbit hole.

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

I'm starting this post with, really, no idea of what I'm going to write about. I figure that after two weeks you're probably tired of "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" even if I'm not. And I was considering doing a Father's Day post with two of my songs, but apparently I used those two years ago, and anyway Fathers' Day was last week.

Then I got to thinking that I'm feeling kind of old right now. So that suggests a certain song by Pete Seeger: Weavers Re-union Concert - "Get up and go". The intro, from 1980, is painfully appropriate.

Folks more familiar with the version on Pete's album may notice that they've changed the ending of the first verse, which was originally

My ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup My eyes on the table until I wake up.

The Lookingglass Folk version takes those lines in a slightly different direction, so here you go:

Get Up and Go Anon, music Copyright 1964 Pete Seeger How do I know my youth is all spent? My get up and go has got up and went But in spite of it all, I'm able to grin And think of the places my get up has been Old age is golden, so I've heard said But sometimes I wonder as I crawl into bed With my eyes on the table, my teeth in a cup My brain in a hard drive until I wake up As sleep dims my vision, I say to myself Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf? But though nations are warring and business is vexed I'll still stick around to see what happens next How do I know my youth is all spent? My get up and go has got up and went But in spite of it all, I'm able to grin And think of the places my get up has been When I was young, my slippers were red I could kick up my heels right over my head When I was older my slippers were blue But still I could dance the whole night thru Now I am old, my slippers are black I huff to the store and I puff my way back But never you laugh, I don't mind at all I'd rather be huffing than not puff at all How do I know my youth is all spent? My get up and go has got up and went But in spite of it all, I'm able to grin And think of the places my get up has been I get up each morning and dust off my wits Open the paper and read the obits If I'm not there, I know I'm not dead So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed How do I know my youth is all spent? My get up and go has got up and went But in spite of it all, I'm able to grin And think of the places my get up has been

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

Thanks to a comment by [personal profile] filkferengi on last week's S4S, I'd like to draw your attention to Myth & Moor by Teri Windling; available locally as terriwindling_feed. Terri posts marvelous long posts on a variety of subjects; in particular links to music videos, mostly on Mondays. I am probably not going to subscribe, at least not unless my time-management skills improve by an improbable amount. Your mileage may vary.

Also in a comment, my old friend [personal profile] andyheninger has a few more Richard Thompson links. For some reason I never got into Fairport Convention, which is a pity.

I'm still a bit hung up on "1952 Vincent Black Lightning". I found a series of lessons on YouTube:

  @ 1. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning Guitar Lesson - Simplest Version
    - The Travis Picking Guitar Series - YouTube
    2. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning Guitar Lesson - Verses + Main Theme
    3. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning Guitar Lesson - Verse Variations
    4. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning Guitar Lesson - Interludes + Ending

(I may be missing one.) I'm still waffling over whether I'm crazy enough to try to learn it.

And finally, by way of Emacs news for 2018-05-21, we have Joseph Wilk explaining how to use Emacs as a musical instrument. For example, this video, titled "You fall into your screen". Not exactly my favorite type of music, but it's definitely my favorite text editor.

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

By way of my college alumni eNews email, I found This Is Me, a music video by the Carleton Phoenix Project. As it said in the newsletter, 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.

So they put out a flyer, and got 15 random staff, faculty, and students brave enough to go into a professional recording studio and make a video. Every once in a while you have to step out of your comfort zone. They interviewed the singers afterwards. Inspiring.

That's where the "1969" in the title comes from: that was my graduating class. Which means we're having our 50th reunion about a year from now.

But YouTube videos are kind of like potato chips -- you can't take just one. So I followed a link to one I know I'd seen before, but apparently never linked to: Richard Thompson singing 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. And was blown away all over again.

I'm not all that familiar with Richard Thompson, but I probably should be. The only thing that might stop me is his guitar playing, which is somewhere between Travis picking and black magic and makes me want to hang my 1952 Martin on the wall and take up accordion. Even with the tab in front of me -- which it is, right now -- I wouldn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of coming anywhere close. Doesn't mean I'm not going to try to learn it, because it's a hell of a song even without Thompson's guitar behind it. Maybe I can get somebody to play fiddle for me.

Here's a cover by a band appropriately called Red Molly. If you don't know why that's appropriate, you haven't listened to the song. What are you waiting for? Here -- have another cover, this one by Miranda Russell. Russell reminds me somewhat of Leigh Ann Hussey, who would have loved that song.

As Thompson says in his introduction, It’s a simple boy-meets-girl story, complicated somewhat by the presence of a motorcycle. It starts out

Said Red Molly to James that's a fine motorbike, A girl could feel special on any such like Said James to Red Molly, well my hat's off to you It's a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.

... and off they ride. James turns out to be an outlaw --

Said James to Red Molly, here's a ring for your right hand But I'll tell you in earnest I'm a dangerous man I've fought with the law since I was seventeen I robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine...

... and promises to give her the Vincent if fate catches up with him, which of course it does. He's shot in the course of an armed robbery gone bad, and in proper Barbara Allen style Molly rushes to his bedside,

Said young James. in my opinion, there's nothing in this world Beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girl Now Nortons and Indians and Greeveses won't do They don't have a soul like a Vincent 52 He reached for her hand and he gave her the keys He said I don't have any further use for these I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome Swooping down from heaven to carry me home He gave her one last kiss and died And he gave her his Vincent to ride.

As a bit of a footnote, the "angels on Ariels" line inspired this bit of fan fiction among others. Also see "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" on Wikipedia.

And now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go take another look at that tab.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

RainbowCon 2.1 (our second convention, in our third year, thanks to a brief hiatus for moving) will be held on May 4-6, 2018! North American Guest of Honor is Cat Faber; Overseas Guest of Honor is Gwen Knighton Raftery. We are hoping there will be a toastmaster, but we don't have a name to announce for that yet.

Location is 4414 Skyline Drive, Freeland WA (on beautiful Whidbey Island), and there is information about local hotel options for people who want them. The new location has two acres of outdoor space in which we can spread out, hold our traditional maypole dance, and have outdoor song circles around the fire pit. Keep your eyes open for our neighborhood deer, who like to browse on the lawn.

We're still doing free membership but accepting donations to offset the out-of-pocket expenses of bringing our guests here and running this thing, for those who are able and willing to contribute. We welcome members who want to run events -- workshops, games, theme circles, or whatever. RainbowCon is a participatory event... everyone's welcome to take a turn at leading if they want to, but nobody is required to do more than show up and have fun!

Please contact nrivkis  at  fastmail with membership requests, or questions about the convention. Ditto if you want to be part of the programming. It will be really helpful to us if we can get early memberships, because then we'll be able to block out hotel space nearby.

We look forward to seeing you here!

mdlbear: (rose)

Jordin Kare died yesterday, from complications of aortic valve replacement surgery. I am still somewhat in shock. He was younger than Colleen.

There is not much to be grateful for on this Thursday, but I am profoundly grateful for Jordin's music, which has been part of my life's soundtrack since at least the early 1980s. He was one of the founders of Off Centaur Publications, publishers of the Westerfilk songbooks and many fine filk tapes. (Jordin did the typesetting for Westerfilk I using troff, which led to a number of typos involving single quotes, which troff treats specially if they're the first character in a line.)

Last night Naomi and I sang a few of his songs -- "Fire In the Sky", "The Designer" and "The Engineer", "Waverider", and all I could remember of "Kantrowitz 1972". It wasn't until this morning that I found the lyrics for that and "Sail for Amber", Colleen's favorite.

I just ...

(Jordin Kare: Fire In The Sky (1991) | LyricWikia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been an exhausting week; moderately productive at work. But a bit more physical work than I've done in a while, plus anxiety and depression, which are tiring on their own. Naomi occasionally tells me to "act my age", usually when I've pushed my body to do something that was easy when I was about thirty years younger. Or fifty. So, yeah. That.

There's a great line in James Keelaghan's song "Small Rebellion" -- "... the job that was your life becomes the job that slowly beats you." That, too.

It doesn't help that my confidence in my ability as a programmer was completely shattered about a year and a half ago, with a series of projects that I completely failed at. OK, maybe just partially failed at -- the first was, fortunately, cancelled, and the second (which would have been trivial if I'd known what I know now) was eventually finished by someone else. The one I'm on now is following a similar pattern. I never learned to estimate, and part of that is the fact that I keep finding pieces that got left out of the design. It's possible that not all of that is my fault -- other people had plenty of input. But it feels like my fault, and because I've been the most senior engineer on all of these projects, one can easily argue that the disasters are at least my responsibility.

In all those cases a contributing problem was procrastination -- that, at least, is undenyably my fault. I've gotten really good at not doing stuff. More generally, not even thinking about stuff that I'd rather not be doing. And here I am, nearly seventy years old, planning to retire in less than a year, with a household that needs to be downsized drastically so that we can move out of the house we love but won't be able to keep. I hate it. I hate myself for the decades of bad decisions that made it necessary.

The next year is going to be rough. The next decade is going to be rough. I'll probably make it through, but I'm not going to like it.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    My right peroneus muscle is still painful. No idea what I did to it or am doing wrong, though one article suggested that it could be plantarflection due to sleeping under heavy blankets. So maybe I should go back to sleeping on my side instead of on my back. Sleeping on my back is fairly recent, so that may be fairly simple.

    I've been doing a lot of puttering, and arguably a lot less practicing than I should, given that I have a concert in less than two weeks at Orycon. I've been practicing most days this week (see notes), and I think my calluses are back, so that's something. Need to print out my set and start doing more complete runthroughs.

    Halloween was fun, going out with N and her kids. Gave the adults someone to talk to.

    I've been taking care of the critters, since N, G, and g are away at OVFF. Cricket's been in the Great Room, mostly hiding in the Cubhouse -- at least, that's where I usually find her when I come in. Ticia's been pretty good about not trying to come in, though I still have to warn her away from the door.

    Puttering. Yeah. G' did some major re-organizing and cleanup involving the downstairs closet and playroom, and the upstairs closets. Unfortunately, this was accomplished mainly by moving things into the garage and craft room. I've been gradually moving stuff to more sensible places. Some of the decisions have been good ones, though; I'm not complaining about the kitchen cabinet re-org.

    Oh, yeah: the Cubs won the World Series. I'm not a sports fan at all, but that's pretty extraordinary. If it's a sign of the apocalypse, I'm hoping that it continues with the person the wingnuts are calling the Antichrist getting into the White House. And that's the last thing I'm going to say about politics until November 9th at the earliest.

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    Almost productive this week. The weekly design meeting brought some much-needed clarity to my current project, and provided the justification I needed for the simplest design, which I had already partly implemented. Win. Also Q4 scaling. The service I'm working with is one of the easy ones -- it's old, deprecated, and most of the use cases have been moved to its replacement. So it's already massively overscaled.

    I've started practicing for my concert at Orycon - late as usual, but I'll get there. Also as usual, it will take a day or three for my finger-calluses to come back.

    Reading: finished Mindline and Family, completing the Dreamhealers series by M.C.A. Hogarth. I should keep better track.

    Not getting much housework done. That could be a problem. Something about motivation?

    Notes & links, as usual )

    mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

    Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature. I am still kind of blown away. I mean... He's one of my personal heroes, and I've always known that there's a difference between a songwriter and a poet who sets their poems to music. The latter are quite rare. Most -- all? -- songwriters know which side of the divide they fall on. But... But... Nobel Prize!

    Meanwhile, here I am on Desolation Row. Our predicted storm of the century wasn't even the storm of the decade; but it still did quite a lot of damage. The zipper on my pants broke -- again. We have a crack in the floor of our basement, which of course water is coming up through. I cut a corner too close and badly scraped the side of the van. What's left of my self-confidence is somewhat in tatters.

    They're spoon-feeding Cassanova
    To get him to feel more assured
    Then they'll kill him with self-confidence
    After poisoning him with words.

    Ok, so at least I don't have to worry about that. Also on the plus side in no particular order, we never lost power, we can see the crack because I have been procrastinating getting the floor re-done since our flood last year, our second tenant has moved in, and all the damage to the van was cosmetic. So there's that.

    Rather an unproductive week at work.

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    Pain levels, in particular standing for any amount of time unsupported in the evening, have been pretty high lately. Mostly hips, though there's still some pain in the right leg. Do not like, and it makes me snappish as well as lazy. Also, I was extremely congested last weekend and well into the week. In combination with the muscle aches and weakness Sunday I almost suspect flu. Almost. Some kind of virus, certainly.

    I worked a little on my setlist; most of what little practicing I did was guitar. Which is ok; my fingers were kind of in bad shape and my playing obviously needed the work as well. It's mostly going to be off my (still-planned) second album, so I thought a little about Amethyst Rose and felt sorry for myself for not marking her birthday this year.

    Quote of the week, from a T-shirt by way of G:

    Most programmers struggle with 2 things:
    0. Cache invalidation.
    1: Naming things.
    2: Off-by-one errors.

    It doesn't mention being on call or facing hard deadlines, but those are right up there. It's been an uneventful oncall this time -- the only times I was awakened at 4:30am were by Ticia. I also spent altogether too much time in meetings, when I should have been working the ticket queue.

    I continue to be wasting too much time on Quora, and quite a bit reading poetry and fiction on DW. Well, at least Q keeps my word count up, and I've been getting a little positiveifeedback via Twitter. I mostly don't try to track everything, but you'll find one of the better answers below at the end of yesterday's notes.

    Also in the notes, The What-He-Did: The Poetic Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith, and this stunningly beautiful pic for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    I am actually breaking at Friday evening, one day over the month boundary, so as to group all the practicing together here, and the con and concert in the next entry.

    So, yeah; this week's big surprise was finding out Thursday morning that I had a concert coming up Saturday evening. I hadn't asked for one, but apparently Colleen did. Um... thanks, I think. (Spoiler -- it actually went surprisingly well, though not quite as well as the run-throughs. Nervous.)

    I hadn't asked for a concert or answered my participant questionaire because up until two weeks before the con I was still waffling about whether or not to go. I knew it would be stressful, and I knew it would be fairly expensive (though driving, skipping Friday, and coming back Monday instead of Tuesday helped a great deal). I also knew I'd regret it if I didn't go. On the whole I'm glad I went (especially since I got to meet [personal profile] alatefeline). But I'm exhausted. I must be more introverted than I was even a few years ago.

    Made Boeuf Bourguignon on Sunday -- came out quite well, though I think not quite as well as the Stroganoff the night before. I made a stupid mistake with the pepper, but managed to skim off most of it and didn't get anyt complaints. I have not, unfortunately, been keeping up very well with the dishes.

    While on the subject of food; Monday around 12:30 I noticed that my blood sugar was getting low. It didn't feel like what I usually label as hunger, i.e. wanting food. Something is definitely miswired there. If there's food around and I'm not deeply engrossed in something, I'll want to eat it. If I'm in a flow state, which I was a couple of times this week (Yay!), I won't notice food, and will eventually run out of energy. The situation is probably not helped by the amount of coffee I drink.

    Friday some idiot came within inches of getting herself killed when she started ambling across the street against the light, with her nose in her phone, and in front of the bus I was riding to work in. (It's not exactly a street -- it's a bypass lane on the left-hand side of 4th Avenue. To get to the island where one can board the bus, one has to cross that lane. But, still...) That's one of the reasons I don't try to read -- or text -- while I'm walking.

    Only a little writing -- just one day with over 500 words. But two solid practice sessions, so that's good. Put up shelves in N's closet -- that was good, too. I have to keep reminding myself to feel accomplished after that sort of thing. (Like last week, the only emotion I actually noticed while I was feeling it was despair. I'm altogether too good at that one.)

    Close enough to 500 words -- I'm going to stick a fork in it.

    Notes & links, as usual )


    2016-07-01 07:33 am
    mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

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

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

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

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

    Hmm. Interesting week. Mostly in the Chinese sense.

    My boss seems to be somewhat more confident in my abilities than I am. It is not clear that this is entirely a good thing, especially if it tempts me to become complacent. But, yeah. Low self-esteem. I haz it.

    I think I've managed to spend a few minutes noodling on the guitar every day this week. Mostly minor and suspended chords, but still. Music. It does tend to confirm that my mood is mostly minor and suspended.

    My home hacking continues to be centered around xnomad. I've pretty much abandoned gnome at this point. Xmonad is blazingly fast, lightweight, works beautifully with a varying number of monitors, and seems to help me concentrate on the task at hand.

    I've also upgraded a couple of netbooks to Ubuntu 16.04; not entirely successfully, but the one with hardware problems is the smaller of the of the Dell minis. The keyboard was crap when I started, and has not been helped by the fact that the hard drive is underneath it. Swapped the 16G SSD for a 100G hard drive pulled out of something a long time ago. That, and getting through a couple of boxes of shredding, has at least given me some sense of accomplishment.

    The most "interesting" day was Friday, though, when I got home and it finally occurred to me to research burnout. Um... yeah. Nearly a perfect match for the problems I've been having at work over the last year, not to mention the depression, dysthymia, occasional sleep problems, and the fact that I lost ten pounds over the course of a month or so last year. (Not that I'm going to complain about that! But...)


    I actually teared up reading, in Ten Questions for Meaningful Career Development, "2. Am I willing to believe that my efforts matter, at least to me?"

    I think what I need to do, over the next year or so, is semi-retire. I can't afford to fully retire, and probably wouldn't want to for years. But something less stressful, maybe part time, ... yeah. The hard part will be finding it. There aren't really a whole lot of low-stress jobs for an ageing computer curmudgeon. If you spot one, let me know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Not a great week -- they rarely are -- but not too bad. Reasonably productive. As I wrote on Wednesday, hopefully that's the new normal for work. Quite a lot of laptop updating and some upgrading, cascading from N's disk failing to boot. Not clear whether the data is recoverable, but meanwhile she has a couple of options for laptops that work.

    Our team's reading group has started taking Coursera: Functional Programming Principles in Scala. Which inevitably kicked off a couple of days' worth of Wikipedia dives into functional programming. And category theory, because monads. I'm going to have to learn Haskell next.

    I want to get back into recording; so far the only thing I have to show for that is picking up my guitar twice to get back into practice. We'll see how far that goes.

    Sometime on Friday I apparently noticed that my self-talk has gotten increasingly negative and self-critical, especially while walking. Which may have something to do with not walking as much as I used to. (The fact that the factual content is, as far as I can tell, accurate is NOT HELPFUL.) I did manage to reschedule the appointment with my therapist that I had to put off a couple of weeks ago. So that's something.

    Your attention is drawn to the following music-related links:

    Notes & links, as usual )
    mdlbear: A tortoiseshell cat facing the camera (ticia)

    So... pretty good week, I guess. Not quite as productive as I would have wanted. Or needed. I did spend some time yesterday upgrading various computers, including some that hadn't been touched in quite a long time. Blackroot, the Thinkpad I took with me from Ricoh, had a Debian partition that was still on Squeeze, so it needed two upgrades. Went ok, though. The plan is to use it upstairs in the bedroom, for those times when I can't or don't want to go downstairs. E.g., cat cuddles.

    Did quite a lot of singing Monday morning, for those few people still left in Mom's apartment. Travel was uneventful; I had a full hour to change planes in Midway.

    Lots of good snuggle with Colleen and Ticia when I got home. Ticia is an awesome therapy cat.

    raw notes, with links )
    mdlbear: A tortoiseshell cat facing the camera (ticia)

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

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

    Lots of links this time. Especially noteworthy are:

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

    Rough week physically, so-so mentally. As for the physical, I can do no better than to quote from Tuesday's notes:

    Clumsy bear got into a fight with a wet manhole cover and a sidewalk. The manhole cover tripped me and the sidewalk hit me in the face. Lost the fight, but got away quickly enough to escape serious injury. (Slipped, and would probably have recovered except that I tripped over the curb and did a faceplant.)

    Hand apparently broke the fall pretty well, but I have some abrasions on knee and forehead, and a fair amount of bruising and a cut on the bridge of my nose. Grump. Ouch. Glasses had their nosepiece bent a little but nothing scratched or broken. Could have been *much* worse.

    As it turned out, I had two small breaks in my nose; they showed up on the CAT scan. At this point everything but the nose and the abrasion on my knee have stopped hurting even a little. I got off easy.

    Mentally, my current meds appear to be doing their job. I'm worried about Ticia, though. She hasn't been eating much, and has lost weight since we got her. (She was overweight, but still; I don't like it.) She is also still getting into fights with the other cats. On the other hand, she's also endearingly cuddly, especially with me.

    The other biggish news is that we got the HELOC to cover the overrun on the remodel. Colleen and I went and signed for it yesterday. Of course, it makes me worry more about finances.

    I've done a little practicing; need to do more, especially on the stuff I'm likely to be playing at and around Mom's birthday party.

    Lots of links, as usual.

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

    Well, "Ship of Stone" didn't win Best Classic Filk Song (again), but it wasn't because of my performance in the Pegasus concert -- I turned in what was probably my best single performance so far. Hopefully I'll be able to post a recording soon. I'm still mildly boggled by the amount of positive feedback I got.

    I need to practice more -- the fact that I was able to perform off-book helped a lot. And record. It's time I started working on Amethyst Rose again. Past time.

    Not as many conmversations as I'd like, but a few, and a couple of new people. (Whose names I don't remember.)

    Uneventful trip. I ended up getting a limo because there wasn't enough room in the van for five people, their luggage, and a scooter. We did manage going to the hotel, thanks to a full-sized SUV rental.

    Packing was disorganized; I managed to misplace my laptop charger (in the side pocket behind my folding cane), so I bought an overpriced one in the airport. I don't mind too much; it's one of the new, tiny iGo's that I've had my eye on for a while. It has long enough cords that I can just leave it in the rolly. Next time I need to pack either a lightweight backpack, zippered tote, or sling bag to go under the seat with my laptop, magazines, and snacks; next to the CPAP. (Which gives me a good excuse to put both Rolly and Plink up in the rack.)

    On the other hand, having Rolly partly packed ahead of time helped quite a bit; I'll be making that an ongoing practice.

    Links in the notes.

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

    Slow week? Well, at least I practiced every day -- there's that. I'm rusty, but not as rusty as I was a week ago. So far I've just been working on guitar; my voice hasn't been up to singing after last week's flu. It's about time to start.

    A search for rainbow bridge images set me off on a reading binge around SVG, HTML5 and CSS3. Also CSS2, because I had never used much of it. Fun! Plus a talk by, and conversation with, one of our web designers. I obviously have a lot to learn. (Can you tell I'm still worried about my job? I was secondary oncall this week.)

    N keeps giving me turtles. And, last night, a gorgeous little print on canvas of a cat that looks just like Curio. (She got one that looks just like Desti, too.)

    I bought my OVFF membership and made my hotel reservation. I'll book the flights and request the vacation time today.

    Links in the notes.

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

    Mixed productive and un-, but I got a few things accomplished and I'm still employed, and that's something. A fairly eventful week. I've put off posting so as to get the end of the month in. Last week I delayed posting to get in the last day of Sasquan. I am not a stickler for unvarying periodicity.

    Last Tuesday (that is, a week ago) our new washer/dryer was delivered. They didn't install it because I hadn't taken the stairlift carriages off the rails. (So I'm working from home today so that I can do that.) (...and have done that, as of posting time. I'm on my lunch break.)

    My server, nova, has been throwing errors on sda; I went and ordered a new drive. Sunday I also did some long-delayed system administration work, and got the intranet web server up. The main advantage of this is that now I can preview web pages that I'm working on without having to deploy them. Started working on the DNS configuration, but haven't gotten back to it.

    Saturday there was a serious wind storm. Trees down, power out in many places (not at Rainbow's End, thankfully). Including many places on the way to the Tricky Pixie concert in Kenmore. We'd planned on getting dinner at Third Place Commons, but their power was off. We headed on up the road, and finally landed at the Bothell QFC, where we bought cold cuts. Had ourselves a picnic in the van while waiting for the doors to open.

    The concert itself was spectacular.

    My back, knees, etc. seem to be back in working order, which is to say that I have occasional twinges, but not enough to keep me from walking or lifting things. Managed Colleen's scooter just fine on Saturday.

    Links in the notes. Best one is this wonderful spoof of a drug commercial [video].

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

    So the big things this week were getting the drains fixed (for somewhere north of $10K), and getting word from Safeco that they'll cover a good part of the water mitigation. Though not all of it, and none of the reconstruction afterward. But that's still something in five figures that we won't have to deal with.

    We will still need a loan.

    Last Sunday I finally started practicing for my half-hour set at Sasquan (Friday afternoon). First time I've had to stop singing because I was crying -- For Amy followed by The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of just hit all my buttons, but I even choked up some on Where the Heart Is and Windward. Losing a home is also a trigger right now - that's still a danger, if anything happens that makes me unable to work.

    Oh, yeah; about work. It seems that the part of the late project that I thought was simplest, isn't (for non-technical reasons -- basically office politics). I was, apparently, relying on old information when I made the estimate. :P

    I was able to get through my entire set last night without even choking up. There are still some rough spots in the chords, but that's something I can work on.

    My back is pretty much back to normal (meaning it aches a little when I over-use it, but I can mostly take it for granted). Now, of course, my right knee is giving me trouble. Cane GOOD.

    My mood is now merely down, rather than severely depressed and anxious. I'll take it.

    Some interesting reading -- links in the notes.

    raw notes, with links )

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