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mdlbear: (river)

So... A week ago I had something that might have been a flashback. I think it depends on which definition you use. It was definitely an adrenaline spike triggered by remembering a stressful incident; N said at the time that the exact definition doesn't matter. One of the definitions given by thefreedictionary.com's medical dictionary is "2. In posttraumatic stress disorder (q.v.), the sensations resulting from strong emotional sequences acting as triggers."

I don't think the association with PTSD is particularly accurate -- I wouldn't describe the incident in question as traumatic, just very stressfull and potentially dangerous. And I don't think I process such things the way other people do. Like previous spikes, it was basically just a collection of symptoms that I've come to recognize. If there was an actual emotion going on there, I didn't notice it. I rarely do.

Also, like previous spikes, the symptoms showed up well after the trigger was over and done with. No idea whether that's "normal", but in most past incidents it made it difficult for me to identify the trigger, and in some cases I never did. Last week's was a bit unusual in that I'm pretty confident that I identified the trigger, while the spike was happening. I may be getting better at that.

I don't know whether any of this is interesting to anyone else; I think it was probably useful to me, so I'll keep on writing this kind of thing from time to time.

mdlbear: a rather old-looking spectacled bear (spectacled-bear)

nevermind

Today's word, "nevermind", is unusual in that it's part of the bear's self-talk (out loud -- the bear frequently talks to themself, and greatly appreciates the fact that bluetooth headsets make talking out loud to oneself socially acceptable). "Nevermind" is not expected to be heard by someone else, although it is spoken in the presence of someone else.

The approximate meaning is "I just asked or told you something. You obviously didn't hear it, but it wasn't important enough to be worth getting your attention and repeating. Never mind." It is generally spoken somewhat more quietly than whatever it was that induced the bear to say it. If heard by the other party, it is intended to assure them that they didn't miss anything important.

Understanding Ursine, the language of bears. Or at least of mandelbears. Or maybe just this mandelbear.

mdlbear: (river)

It occurred to me about an hour ago that it's probably not surprising that I feel like I'm under stress. Some of the most stressful events are supposed to be things like losing a job, retiring, and moving. In the last six and a half years I've:

  • Moved five times.
  • Been involved in three remodeling projects.
  • Been laid off twice.
  • Sold a house twice. (In both cases for a great deal less than expected.)
  • Bought a house twice.
  • Lost a (feline) family member.
  • Totaled a car.
  • Retired.
  • Started job-hunting again.

Not to mention other household members with life-threatening health problems. (Mine were just painful as heck -- multiple torn muscles and a broken nose.)

So, yeah. That happened.

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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)

Ursine, as you might expect, is the language of bears. Or at least of mandelbears; I can't speak for the rest of the genus. Or maybe it's just this bear. In the (unlikely) event that "Understanding Ursine" turns into a series, this will serve as an introduction. The title has been somewhere on the bear's to-do list for several years -- this post from May, 2014 lists it among many proposed projects. It's well known that procrastination is a common ursine characteristic.

Reducing expectations: Much of the ursine vocabulary is involved with reducing the listener's expectations -- lack of self-confidence is another ursine characteristic. Notable in this category is "I'll try to remember", which is a common response to a non-urgent request made while the bear is doing something else. The meaning is, approximately, "I'm doing something else right now, and I might get engrossed in it again. When I reach a stopping point I hope I'll remember your request, but I might not."

Along the same lines, another common response to a request is "I'll try." It really doesn't matter what the request is or how trivial it is -- this is a default instant response that comes out before the bear has had time to think about what actions they actually have to take. It might be better to wait for a second or two, but the bear is afraid (with some justification) that the request will be forgotten by that time, or (with much less justification) fail to be accomplished.

Delaying interactions: Another large category serves to put off an interaction until the bear can actually pay attention to it. For a long time the bear has been using "Can't hear!", which is actually a worn-down form of the more accurate but longer "I'm not where I can hear you right now; I'll be out in a minute." Unfortunately, humans usually take "can't hear" as a request to speak louder. Would "later" or "busy" work better? "Busy!" has been used in the past.

"Working!" and "Working on it!" are other responses in this category. In both there is the implication that further conversation at this time would distract the bear from something it's doing. "Working on it" further implies that it's doing something you requested -- or thinks you're about to request.

Indications of overload: On rare occasions, the bear will say "Please..." in a pleading tone; this indicates that the bear is under extreme stress and is about to go completely non-verbal. A warding-off gesture, palm outward, usually means that either this has already happened, or that the bear is on the phone.

A four-letter interjection repeated at intervals of roughly a second is usually an indication that the bear is involved in a task, such as cleaning the floor or groping under the sink for a cut-off valve, that is causing them physical pain (more rarely, mental distress) but nevertheless has to be done.

Sorry: Some concepts don't translate well, and we're still unsure exactly what "Sorry" means. It may have originated with any of a number of phrases that start out "I'm sorry, ..." but now appears to be mostly an indication that something is going wrong and the bear is too overloaded to say anything else. There is also the implication that the bear is taking the blame for whatever is going wrong; that usually means that the bear's self-esteem is even lower than usual.

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

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

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

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

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

It's still a slow-motion trainwreck.

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Public Service Announcement: RainbowCon 2.1 is happening here the first weekend in May.

Word of the week: Trumpery. noun, plural trumperies.
1. something without use or value; rubbish; trash; worthless stuff.
2. nonsense; twaddle. (h/t to ysabetwordsmith)

Another bad week. My finances are dangerously close to the edge; if I don't get a job within the next couple of months I'll be in serious trouble. N. points out that I only have to work for a year or so to both replace the hit to my savings and keep the household above water for the rest of the five years we're planning to stay here. But that assumes that I find work, and my track record is not encouraging.

Case in point: I've done a little more Project Planning, and quite a bit of research into languages and frameworks, but no actual programming. Talk's cheap. (If I were getting paid for it, that would be another matter. But I don't think I can offer much of value for patrons at this point. Working on it.)

The careful reader may have noticed that neither self confidence nor self care are among my strong points.

Highlights among the week's links are Purrli, the Online Cat Purr Generator, and Seedship.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Yeah; I missed yesterday. Yesterday was a rough week. Today was, arguably, worse, but I handled it better. Or have so far; I think I'm just about out of energy now (9:30pm, roughly). Go figure. Yesterday N had to come out and order me to bed; I was becoming incoherent.

Let's see. N came back sick from OVFF, and apparently suffered a relapse yesterday. Colleen and I went out for brunch both Sundays. Our plan to make a weekly menu seems to be working pretty well, though we invariably have to go out during the week and pick up things that hadn't made it onto the shopping list. I think that's largely a matter of training people to put things on the list when we start running low.

Kittens can make me laugh. Hardly anything else does. Ticia has been exceptionally cuddly.

Colleen got fitted for hearing aids Friday. They're ferociously expensive and of course not covered by insurance. Part of the stress yesterday was due to having one of the damned things fall off. We searched frantically around the house; then (since I had to go back to finish the shopping anyway) I looked where we had parked -- sure enough, there it was on the ground next to our parking spot. A lot of my crash yesterday was probably the adrenalin aftermath.

This is, apparently, Asexual Awareness Week. So, yeah; somewhere on that spectrum. Demiromantic gray asexual alexithymic somethingorother.

In other news, tRump is basically Illiterate. That explains a lot, but knowing it doesn't really make anything better.

Bear go splat now.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been another rough week. This week it's been mostly health care -- I found out Tuesday that Amazon hadn't continued my health care as they said they were going to, so I was unable to order Colleen's humira. (Which, at $1800 for two doses, isn't something one wants to pay for out of pocket.) My HR contact is looking into it, but it took several days to get through; meanwhile I went online and signed up for Medicare Part D and identified a Medigap provider (ExpressScripts and Premera Blue Cross; both for continuity and because they seem to get top reviews. Who knows how long that will last under Trump(Doesn't)Care.)

I know there's something called compassion fatigue. Is despair fatigue a thing? Or is that just another phase of despair? I find myself incapable of being surprised at whatever outrageous thing Trump and the "Republicans" have done each day. (I put "Republicans" in quotes because they are rapidly turning this country into a right-wing dictatorship. I feel powerless to stop them.)

Onward. Had a really good trip with Colleen up to Whidbey Island; we went up the whole length of it and came back by way of Deception Pass. It's been a very long time since Colleen and I went out for a drive that long that was just a drive -- our occasional loop drives along the California coast were probably the last ones. It was a little too long, but it went ok.

I've been spending much of my spare time catching up on my reading. For some reason I'd stopped reading LWN (Linux Weekly News) sometime around the first of the year; in the last two weeks I've completely caught up. You can see the results in the links, most of which came from LWN, or indirectly by way of Sacha Chua's awesome Emacs News. I've also been finding Whidbey-related links. At some point I need to go back through my to.do archives, extract all the links, and aggregate them. They're kind of useless scattered across blog entries the way they are.

I've even done a little walking (not quite every day, and not much because I seem to be walking at about half my old 3mph pace), a little music, and a little hacking (almost entirely cleanup tasks). On the whole, I appear to have been keeping myself busy in a relaxed kind of way, though I haven't yet fallen into any kind of routine. Later, hopefully.

But.

My last few trips down to the house we used to call Rainbow's End (should we call it "Rainbow's Ended" now?) have been increasingly sad and discouraging. We put a lot of ourselves into that house; it was a large part of what we were as a family. Now we're scattered. We'll come back together, mostly, on Whidbey Island in a little over two months; it may very well be wonderful -- I hope it will -- but it won't be the same. I can't keep from thinking of what I might have done differently, over the last few decades(!), that might have made it possible to stay there. Hell, we all made decisions that seemed like the right thing at the time. Can't be fixed.

"I can't fix it!" is probably what I say most often when things are going badly. It always feels like my fault. I don't think I can fix that, either. I should shut up and go for a walk with Colleen.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

It's been a long month this last week.

  • We are very close to buying the house on Whidbey Island. Just a couple of things we have to check.
  • As of Friday, I am officially a Retired Person. (I've been a member of the AARP for 20 years. It's still weird.
  • I had a couple of panic attacks. The fact that I know what they are, how they work, and how to deal with them is helpful, but they're still something of an ordeal.

I had a very nice send-off party from the team at work; another team member was moving to another team, so it was a combined affair, and of course combined with the weekly Friday "Beer 30". I will miss those people. Naomi was able to come up for the party, so we were able to do a little singing (set list in the notes). Damned good thing, too -- I had greatly underestimated the amount of stuff I would be bringing home. I would have had to call a cab.

For some reason I'm not seeing all that many events this week outside the house-related stuff. Oh, well. Maybe that's enough.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Nasty, uncomfortable things!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, here we are.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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: 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)

    As usual, a fairly unproductive week at work, made even less productive by the fact that we had to be out by noon Thursday so they could move everyone on the floor to a slightly larger floor next door. And we're only supposed to be in that location for another 6-9 months. Not that I really expect to be there that long.

    I actually got some work done after the afternoon meeting (I never turn down free food) that was scheduled after our move deadline - it was just a matter of finding a quiet place and firing up my laptop.

    I need to talk to my financial advisor. I've been putting it off -- I'm really good at that -- but it's gotten more serious now that I'm about to turn 70 and will have to start withdrawing money from my retirement accounts. Plural. And now that $A stock is up over 800. (That suggestion courtesy of my therapist.)

    Friday I tagged along with Colleen and G' while they went to C's urology and doctor's appointments. And, of course, Mazatlan, the Mexican restaurant across the parking lot from Urology Northwest. In between, C and G' went to Costco while I hung out in the UW Clinic (across another parking lot from Costco) and tried to get some work done. This was hampered by my having forgotten to bring my VPN token :P Need to pick up a spare to keep in my backpack.

    Actually, should keep one in my backpack and one at home, and stop keeping it on my badge lanyard. In fact, ... *puts token in backpack* Less likely to get wet in the rain.

    Went grocery shopping with Colleen yesterday. Exhausting.

    The big insight for the week (see Sunday) is that not only do I not multitask worth a damn, but it takes me a long time to context-switch. I'm at my most productive when I can work on one thing pretty much all day. Which is one reason why being on call sucks so much.

    Notes & links, as usual )

    Edit after discovering that I'd missed Saturday.

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

    At work, we finally ran the numbers again and figured out that, no, $PROJECT is not going to be finished in October. Current target is mid-December, but even that may be a stretch. The good thing is that it isn't all my fault, though I still blame myself for most of the bad planning.

    At home, I finished pulling up the bindweed. There are some stragglers, but at least it's no longer covering 50' of walkway.

    I finally put in my passport renewal - I found the one place in the area that's open on Saturday, after trying on Wednesday at the courthouse and balking at the metal detector because I knew I was carrying a knife. The process of applying in person has gotten a lot quicker since the last time I did it, but I'm still down on myself for procrastinating past the point where I could have renewed by mail.

    It looks like we'll have a second tenant, so we'll be getting a little more rent. Because of initial clustering, she'll be referred to as C''. Our current tenant is C'. (I've picked up that notation from Haskell, in which "'" (pronounced "prime") is considered a letter. Haskell gets it from math, of course, but it's gone out of fashion in CS because programming languages are always hungry for quotation methods.)

    I finally ordered one of the newest Thinkpad (KU-1255) keyboards -- it's still good. In some ways, slightly better than my older and much-beloved XK-8855s -- the one I'm using at work has developed a flaky space bar. (Too many aliens hanging out in it, presumably.) I like the fact that it has the page-up and page-down keys in the empty spaces above the left and right keys. Not only does that make the best use of available space, but it means that if I shove the keyboard under the monitor stand to protect it from cats, I can still navigate effectively in the browser. I don't like that the function keys are smaller and require a "FnLk" keystroke, and that it has a stupid micro-usb cable instead of one built-in with a compartment on the bottom you can curl it up in.

    Otherwise, not too much to report. Some links on depression, though as I note on Monday, five of the ten symptoms of major depression start with the word "change", which is kind of useless when you can't remember a time when you've been that way for as long as you can remember. (You have to have 5 to be diagnosed as having it.)

    awesome-awesome: A curated list of awesome curated lists of many topics is indeed awesome. So is Make a Lisp, which is a collection of Lisp implementations in dozens of different programming languages. The idea of implementing Lisp in make makes (recursion intended) my head hurt. In a good way -- I love GNU make.

    Notes & links, as usual )

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

    This post covers most of my week-long vacation, so while it's not quite time for a wrap-up of my goals, I can say that I met about half of them. Which was about what I expected.

    The big accomplishment for the week, without a doubt, was posting my one-line Linux setup/configuration package up on GitHub. (I then spent much of the rest of the week debugging and tweaking, but that's also to be expected.) It's called Honu, after the Hawaiian name for the green sea turtle, because a turtle carries its home around with it. The README starts off with this quote from my song, Windward, because I just couldn't resist:

    Where the wind takes us next year no turtle can tell
    But we'll still be at home, come high water or hell,
    Because home is wherever you carry your shell.

    The implied puns on $HOME and sh(1) are, of course, entirely intentional.

    Honu is meant to be fairly general; it's expected that any user -- including me! -- is going to want to customize the heck out of it. To that end, there's a sample customization package, also on GitHub, called Myrtle. Of course. (My own customization package, which you will not find on GitHub, is called Mathilda, after LookingGlass Folk's name for the narrator of "Windward".)

    It hasn't been all roses and rainbows, however. I've spent an inordinate amount of time coping with the bindweed (morning glory's evil twin) that has overgrown the walkway along the south side of the house, sorting a year or two's worth of mail, and recovering from last week's disk crash on the server. I've been doing quite a lot of writing, though a lot of that has been on Quora, so I'm not sure whether that counts toward my daily writing goal, or away from it.

    I'll say one thing for Quora, though -- it makes me appreciate my own knowledge and social skills. Being able to answer questions is a real boost to my self-confidence in both those areas. Who knew?

    Psychologically, well, ... mixed. I've definitely been less stressed out the last two days of the week than the first two -- I was able to handle a trip downtown that turned out to be a total write-off, due to things being closed/not where I expected, quite calmly and even with a little wry humor. The check from last week's stock sale arrived on Tuesday, which helped. On the other hand, it still apparently doesn't take much frustration to put me back over the edge.

    I was a total wreck on Sunday. I seem to handle stress a lot better when I'm by myself. With Colleen around, especially, I get into a horrible feedback loop. By the time I got home I could probably have used an Ativan, but my prescription on those has long since expired. I settled for reading and gin. Low blood sugar may have contributed; I'm not sure I can tell the difference between anxiety and hunger. Alexithymia in action.

    I am not ready to go back to work tomorrow. I may never be ready. I'll do it, but it won't be pretty. Notes & links, as usual )

    mdlbear: (tsunami)

    If yesterday is going to be typical of this vacation (I'm taking all of the coming week off), I'm going to need a month or two of work to recover from it. Not fun.

    Friday Nova, my main server, developed a corrupted root partition. I've been keeping an eye on that drive for a while, and had a replacement on hand, so I set up a transfer of the home and data partitions and went to bed. So far, so good.

    Yesterday was another matter entirely. Installing a new copy of Debian should only have taken an hour or so. Hah! Instead, I was plagued by a long series of problems, which took me pretty much the entire day to finally analyze. These included:

    1. A corrupted download of the Debian installer. It appeared to work ok, but the keys on the right-hand side of the keyboard kept generating the wrong characters! WTF?
    2. Apparently the idiot Intel motherboard I used for my server won't let you change the boot order of your hard disks (despite having a BIOS option that claims to do exactly that), and it considers a USB key to be a hard disk. So if you have a hard drive that doesn't already have a bootable OS on it, it will keep the damned thing from booting.
    3. Snowflake, the box I've been using for a desktop apparently has a similar problem.

    I eventually ended up using the only other working spare system, Trantor, to install Ubuntu. I then swapped the disk into the former Snowflake, which is significantly faster and quieter than either Trantor or the Atom board I'd been using for Nova, so that's a win. I also decided, since I now had Ubuntu on Nova, and it was the fastest machine I had, that I would use it as my desktop as well as my fileserver. There are some potential problems with that, but I have to admit that it's convenient.

    It will probably take me a while to get everything on (Novo) Nova configured -- I still need to start doing backups, for example, and don't have a web server up yet -- but at least I have DNS and my main file store up and running. But there was a lot of frustration involved.

    The frustration made me more susceptible to other sources of stress, so sure enough, that happened too. Kat and Rabbit are in the process of moving out into their own apartment (finally!), so they brought movers in to handle the bed, the futon, and some other large furniture. Which meant taking the seats off the stairlifts.

    And, of course, Colleen woke up and walked down the first flight of stairs before calling for help. I hastily put the seat back on the lower lift, and told Colleen (not exactly calmly -- I was pretty stressed at that point) that she should have gone back to the room, sat down, and called for help.

    Then the lower lift wouldn't go back up to its charging position. It was already pretty badly damaged from previous moving attempts; it turned out that the limit switch that detects whether the seat is turned properly had finally broken to the point of unusability. Its little cam follower had been crumpled up from previous clumsy seat replacements. There ensued a frantic search for my multimeter (and a hasty battery replacement) so that I could identify the normally-closed contacts on the switch and move the connectors to them.

    At that point I went back to my struggles with the computers. Just as I was getting things pretty stable there, Colleen went up to bed. Or tried to: the bottom lift didn't want to go up. Again. More swearing. More switches to reconnect. A quick trip to Google to look up error code E6, which turned out to be the bottom limit switch. Which hadn't given us any trouble up to that point.

    ... by that time I was a complete wreck. My stress level was not helped by being worried sick -- literally, by that point -- about the fact that the check from my stock sale still hasn't showed up. And berating myself about not being persistent enough to figure out from Morgan Stanley's miserable website how to do a direct transfer.

    The one good thing about all this is that I tend to wake up around 4:30 when I'm stressed. When I feel as though I don't have enough time to get everything done, it helps.

    It's been a long month. September is fired. Notes & links, as usual )

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

    The only writing I did last week was last Sunday's weekly post. I'll try to do better; hopefully I won't be feeling as harried this week. I did get in some music time -- last Sunday, and yesterday. And some walking with Colleen and Kat, also on Sunday.

    Quite a bit of back pain. It's been mostly ok in the morning, but tends to get worse on the way home. Probably something to do with being tired, but also possibly stress. Have I mentioned having trouble identifying my mental state? It's called alexithymia.

    The alexithymia also bleeds into problems identifying physical state, because of course they're related. I have trouble distinguishing the physical symptoms of anxiety and hunger, for example. Not to mention distinguishing between wanting food, and needing food. The latter barely registers, and certainly not as hunger, until I suddenly start feeling the symptoms of low blood sugar. Which I have learned to recognize. Or until Colleen notices that I'm starting to snap at people.

    Stress is, apparently, another of those states that I don't start noticing until it's been going on too long. And then it bleeds into burnout and depression. (And, no, depression doesn't register as sadness. At all. It's best described as a combination of apathy and despair.) I think I'm noticing a trend here.

    I'm getting better at noticing. Look in the notes for an exclamation mark in column 3 -- that means I've actually noticed an emotion while it was happening. They're rare -- the only instance this last week was Sunday.

    Speaking of stress, I'm oncall this week. With pages including 6am Tuesday morning -- Prime Day -- and midnight last night. This morning. Whatever. One thing I've noticed is that I don't have enough mental bandwidth. I can't multitask. At all. Period. Things get lost track of.

    If a page comes in, I completely lose track of whatever I was doing, including dealing with another page, and it takes me a while to get my context back. Which leads to things like having something like 10 different browser windows open in 8 workspaces, with multiple tabs in each, many of which refer to the same tickets. Because context. And, of course, re-investigating the same thing multiple times because I've forgotten what I was doing an hour ago.

    I'm getting a little better at going up to people I don't know and asking for help. But, of course, I'm even worse at remembering names than I am at multitasking, which leads to things like waking the wrong person up at six in the morning. (And forgetting that I had an email in my inbox telling me who the right person would have been. See multitasking.)

    (Brief pause -- my desk is being catted on. The absolute best thing I've done for my mental health in years was putting a cardboard box on my desk, attaching it with a couple of screws, and lining it with a towel.)

    Back to reaching out and talking to people. I don't think my reluctance to do that has anything to do with what I afraid people will think of me. So, this doesn't seem to have the characteristcs of social anxiety. No, it has more to do with what I think of me, and in particular feeling stupid and at a loss for what to do. Plus total lack of self-confidence, which leads to (or somehow relates to) an unwillingness to "disturb" people.

    It's not just at work. Even at home, I take a closed door as a "do not disturb" sign even when I'm pretty certain that the person on the other side (usually N) would be happy to see me. It's hard enough when I know they're expecting me, though I'm getting a little better about that.

    In a slightly different direction, some links from [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith about emotional self-care (see Monday, below) proved unexpectedly triggery and anxiety-provoking. So we're talking low self-esteem here, maybe. (Maybe?! Let's get real here.)

    It's been a long month this week.

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

    Not all that good a week. Continued lack of productivity at work, mainly because of meetings this time, but still... I want to take a vacation after Westercon, but I have goals that I can't meet if I do. Bletch.

    I haven't done much writing, either. A reasonable amount on Monday, but only a little after that. Grump. Did do more cooking than usual: chicken tikka masala on Monday, and beef Stroganoff yesterday. That was a real win. Lots of shrooms. I note in passing that while Cash and Carry has great prices, it doesn't have a very big selection, and few if any small packages.

    On the plus side, I did a pretty good job of noticing and identifying my mood Friday. On the minus side, the mood in question was despair. Cat therapy helps, but not completely.

    A fair amount of computer-related work -- got my raspberry pi up and running, with both Raspbian and OSMC (on different cards). OSMC (Open Source Media Center) looks like it would work well as a music and video player. Being one of the original cards, it doesn't have much in the way of RAM, so it wouldn't work as a desktop with my current workload. I also swapped my desktop machine for one of the two that have been sitting behind my desk ever since we moved in.

    Moderate amount of house-project work.

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

    Moderately productive week. Lots of computer configuration and upgrading work, which is always an easy way for me to feel like I've done something, even if it isn't all that useful. I have a new desktop computer, in a nice little Shuttle box, but haven't fully switched over to it yet. Because browser tabs, mostly. (I also got the raspberry pi booting, finally. Which mostly required looking at the installed card and noticing that, not only did it not have an OS installed, but it wasn't flagged as bootable. The Pi is one of the original 512Mb ones -- it's dog slow. Still, it has a lot of potential as either a media center or a special-purpose controller. I'm guessing that used, older pi's are dirt cheap on eBay.

    My new monitors arrived at work; I took advantage of the opportunity to re-arrange my workspace (see notes for 0615We) -- and to get back into writing, with xmonad as my first topic. Xmonad really wins for this, because the physical arrangement of the monitors becomes almost irrelevant. By moving the laptop in front of me (because it has a usable keyboard for once) with the dock under the monitor, I not only freed up a sizeable amount of desk space but freed up my second thinkpad keyboard to come home with me. Win.

    Last weekend also included a lot of cleanup work in the garage and the back yard -- the huge piles of junk and lumber have been hauled away. I really hated to lose the lumber, but it had been out in the rain for too long. I was, however, able to save most of the hardwood.

    As indicated, I have been writing (see notes for 0614Tu). My goal is to write 500 words most days. (I missed yesterday because I was hacking on my journaling makefiles, which sort of counts in terms of time if not bytes.) This post is intended to hit today's word count, and, no, I'm not going to count the notes.

    So that raises a question for you, my loyal readers. The article I'm writing on xmonad isn't done yet, but I do have two days worth of work on it. Should I post "episodes" as I go along? Maybe I should phrase that differently -- would anyone object if I did post what amount to partial rough drafts? Feedback would be useful. Because otherwise, that's what I'm going to do.

    Some other ongoing projects will also be included in the word count, notably "Songs for Saturday" (or occasionally Sunday, if I'm being lazy) and the "River" posts. I will find or create a tag for the Linux-related stuff, like the aforementioned xmonad article, and probably "adventures in home computing" as well. Fiction is somewhat unlikely; I'm pretty bad at it, especially plotting. Metafiction and prose poems are a distinct possibility, though.

    There. 500 words. Approximately, since wc doesn't distinguish between actual content and markup. At some point I need to do something about that, but I'm not going to worry about it right now.

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

    Not a great week psychologically, on the whole. Frazzled. Burned out? Probably. Lots of random, depressed-sounding self-talk, and practically everything I see or think about reminds me of something I've done wrong. In most cases the mistakes are unfixable, with drastic consequences. Doomed? That's how it feels. Doomed. (Cue Imperial March from Star Wars: doom doom doom doomty doom doomty doom...)

    On the other hand, I've gotten almost all of the household computers -- at least, the ones that aren't G's -- upgraded with Ubuntu 16.04. It's a fast, easy install even on modern machines with secure boot, and my bootstrap script for setting up Gnome flashback, xmonad, and the other stuff I rely on is working pretty well now. I've also resurrected Kat's Acer Aspire (which I dubbed "aspie" because, while it's brilliant, it has trouble communicating -- took me forever to find the key combination that brings up the boot menu). And Emmy's Dell, which I'd thought had a broken charging port, turned out to just need a real Dell charger. :P

    G is a professional system administrator -- he can do his own upgrades.

    I also bought a new washer for downstairs. It arrives Tuesday, which means that this weekend's project is clearing a path to the downstairs laundry room. Also, most likely, putting up shelves in the garage and the downstairs closet, and curtain rods on N's door.

    Yesterday's amusement -- high point of the week, actually -- was Ticia waking me up and teaching me how to play fetch. Really -- she batted her crinkle ball off the bed, picked it up and brought it back, batted it off again, brought it back, ... By that time I was awake and had gotten the hint, so I tossed it for her to fetch. Did that a couple of times. She doesn't usually bring the ball back to me, so I suspect that she thinks she invented the game all by herself. And so she did.

    See also, xkcd: My Friend Catherine.

    Notes & links, as usual )
    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...)

    Anyway.

    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)

    Well, it's another year. There always seems to be a lot of potential around transitions like this, but it rarely seems to get very far. A lot of my goals for this year are carry-overs from last year. I've been spending too much time beating myself up over things I regret not doing last year (last decade, last quarter-century, ...), many of which simply can't be fixed. I keep screwing myself over, and I don't really understand it. (More on that in a later post, hopefully.)

    This does nothing to help with my depression. It may, conceivably, help me fight procrastination. Maybe. I'll start working on that tomorrow.

    I have gotten a few more things done in the last 10 days than in most comparable periods in the recent past. A few. Largely reading and research around tiny houses and shipping container houses, and a couple of fun dives into math.

    Last weekend Colleen and I celebrated our 40th anniversary by going out twice: for dinner at the Melting Pot Saturday, and brunch at Salty's on Sunday (the actual day). That, at least, was good. It was a good set of mutual gifts to ourselves -- the last thing we need right now is more stuff.

    Speaking of which, my book on tidying seems to have gotten lost somewhere in the clutter. Fortunately, I found a different one yesterday at Half Price Books.

    Lots of links in the notes, for those of you following along at home.

    raw notes, with links )
    mdlbear: A brown tabby cat looking dubiously at a wireless mouse (curio)

    Long month this last week. Last Sunday, when I st/rolled to the West Seattle street fair with Colleen and G, and swapped songs in the Great Room with N, G, and G's friend Ed, seems like it happened to somebody else, long ago.

    It's now four days since I helped my dear friend Curio cross the Rainbow Bridge, and learned that I could cry again. Three days since I pulled my left QL muscle again, walked an agonizing third of a mile home from the bus stop, and re-learned how to use a cane. Less than two days since our friend Jim Pearce died.

    My sister Naomi was there for me with Curio, and again after my injury. Colleen and I have cried on one another's shoulders more than once. Desti, our household incarnation of Bast, has sat with me and comforted me. Friends have written condolences. My back feels better this morning, but there are too many empty places in my heart, and they ache.

    Please, Universe: I understand that life and health are fragile things. You don't have to keep reminding me.

    Links and more in the notes, as usual.

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

    Rough week. My depression seems to have gotten worse (I have a doctor's appointment scheduled for Thursday and will discuss medication changes), stress from work has been high, my weight is back up after decreasing for a couple of weeks, and, and, and...

    It doesn't help that last Sunday was Colleen's mother's birthday, and that today is Father's Day.

    On the other hand, Colleen and I had a nice st/roll last week, to the local Farmer's Market about a mile away, which we plan on repeating today with the kids. Because Father's Day.

    Pope Francis's much-anticipated encyclical, Laudato si' (24 May 2015), was an interesting read. Beautiful, though I found the theological parts baffling and a little disturbing. Clearly, I'm not part of the target audience; I hope it has a good effect on the people who are, though I don't have much hope. The Catholic Church has gone way the hell to the right since the '60s, when it was a prominent presence on the left.

    Links and details in the notes.

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

    Another rather unproductive week; this has (finally?) started to worry me enough to put two and two together. Yup -- depression is a disability. Need to get my meds adjusted, I think.

    Meanwhile, I lost my phone; it apparently fell out of my bag as I was getting off the bus on Wednesday. Bought a new one on Friday, since it was eligible for an upgrade. So I got the Samsung S5 Mini, which is the next version after the S3 Mini I lost. It's noticably faster, and has better battery life and some interesting features, but it's highly annoying to have to waste hours and hours changing passwords and configuring the new phone. Bletch. Oh, and I couldn't get into my AT&T online account, nor reset the password. After two long (the second was just short of an hour) phone calls, what finally worked was basically deleting the online account and re-registering. Good grief!

    They're the phone company; they don't have to have good customer service. Neither, apparently, does Olejo, the company I ordered Emmy's new futon frame from.

    On the gripping hand, we had a couple of good band sessions.

    Links and more in the notes.

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

    On Thursday my massage therapist gave me the assignment of researching methods of reducing stress, and to pick a few to use. Along the way I found this page, which included a test to assess one's level of stress. 19 or over is considered "high". I scored 30.

    Anyway, here's the list:

    Keep doing these:
    Cat therapy -- especially Curio, who is an excellent villain's cat.
    cuddling -- I seem to be touch-dominant, and often forget that fact because it doesn't really fit my self-image.
    Do more:
    music -- I often forget how good music is for me.
    massage -- great when I can get it.
    play with stress toys (balls, putty, worry stones,...) -- this seemed like an easy one to add.
    Writing (journaling, poetry) -- My weekly "done" posts sort of count, I guess; the point is not to be writing about anything in particular but simply the act of writing.
    Hot baths -- a bath takes time, but it's very relaxing and helps me get to sleep, so I should take them more often.
    Add:
    breathing exercises -- this is an easy one to add whenever I think of it. Even doing just three or four deep breaths is remarkably relaxing.
    progressive relaxation -> bedtime?
    drink a cup of tea. (comes under the heading of calming rituals)
    positive self-talk affirmations? coping statements Stress card wallpaper! -- Some of my sources talked about making a card with positive self-talk on it. Screen wallpaper sounds like a better bet for me.
    Harder: -- most of these are hard because they require a solid block of time.
    DELEGATE (stress reduction) ... but this one is hard because it requires asking people to do stuff for me.
    meditation/mindfulness -- I've been trying the "mindfullness of doors" exercise on and off; mostly off because it's really hard to think of in the moment. Which is, of course, the point. Maybe I should count "the mindfulness of dishwashers".
    guided imagery -- ISTR I have a collection of mp3s from Kaiser that I could use for this.
    spending time in nature. Trails or parks. Bike riding.
    Tai chi / yoga -- this would require actually going out and joining a group. Not to mention finding the time. EEP! Very hard.

    The common thread, I think, is that many of these are things I know are good for me / enjoyable / relaxing -- but I still don't take time to do them, or even think about doing them. That probably says something important, but I don't know what.

    Advice? Discussion? The notes below were roughly in the order I found them -- the first few came off the top of my head, followed by various websites.

    the original notes, with links )

    And now I'm going to stop, post this, pet my cat, and make some ginger tea.

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

    It's been a week of not liking myself much. In part this is due to working on a self-assessment and peer feedback at work; this is not conducive to a good mood.

    Friday was pretty good -- I had my first 1-on-1 since my boss got back from a month's vacation, and he was at least not discouraging. And when I stopped by my desk (I'm on loan to another group for a few months; this was my first week there) to pick up the power brick for my new laptop, I discovered that there was a party going on. Gin, hard cider, and an interesting new person went a long way toward improving my mood.

    (Saturday was, of course, back to depressingly normal, and today's been discouraging. Especially since it included waking up at 3am. Does that count for Saturday? I'm going to say "Yes": the day doesn't start until I've had coffee.)

    As I mentioned, I'm on loan to another group for a while. Same building I was in before our last move; closer to the bus stop. I tried working remotely, but a Windows laptop sucks for that. The HP EliteBook they gave me in trade is less capable on an objective basis, but it's running Ubuntu, which is a major win. Plus, it's about half the weight of my old Dell, and fits in my sling bag. So... also win.

    Realized Wednesday night when I found myself doing dishes that I do dishes in order to feel useful. Being useful is one of the few ways I can reliably make myself feel less bad about myself, so I'll take it. And I can usually control it, which I suppose is why I take it so hard when I try to be useful, but fail. Like this afternoon.

    Oh, and the new tech from Spinlife will be out tomorrow to work on Colleen's lift chairs, scooter, and power chair. It will probably take another visit, because the tech who came out over a month ago was an idiot. Spinlife will eat the difference in cost for extra visits and mis-ordered parts, hopefully without my having to hire a lawyer to shove it down their throats.

    Links in the notes.

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

    Well, escrow closed Friday on the Starport. My mood has been extremely volatile, and mostly in the bad direction, all week; took me until Friday to recognize that I was grieving. Knowing me, that probably means I'm in for a long run of it. Maybe I'll write something this evening.

    Our hotel experience at Orycon was pretty poor, to the extent that we may very well not be back for the Westercon in 2016. (Ory is moving -- Yay!) But they gave us half a night off the bill, so there's that.

    I spent yesterday puttering. The money from the Starport still hasn't shown up; if it doesn't hit my account Monday I'll hit the panic button.

    Lasting Relationships Rely On 2 Traits tl;dr: kindness and generosity. Well, yeah. More links in the notes.

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

    Lots of puttering this week -- sorting unpaid bills, re-arranging shelves, a little cooking, a little cleaning, lots of mostly-uninteresting work.

    Cat cuddles. I really think the cats are better antidepressants than my SSRI, which I've been cutting back on without noticable effects. So far.

    And I wrote a poem! Go read: Shifts (also on DW and LJ; follow the linkies). It's already gotten some interesting reactions. I obviously need to update my Lit pages -- there are only three poems there, and I know I've written more than that!

    Links, as usual, in the notes.

    raw notes, with links )
    mdlbear: a locomotive engine dangling from a hole in a building (trainwreck)

    Not such a good week. Productive, but not fun.

    I did have some good times with Colleen, going for a drive last Sunday, and to the Northwest Tea Festival yesterday. Colleen's favorite vendor, Silk Road, was a no-show, so she used the money she didn't spend there to buy us lunch. A really great outing.

    I spent last Sunday updating old laptops -- they're all old and the ones capable of running Windows 7 really suck at it, but they all make good Linux boxes. I spent the rest of the day working my way through the piles of accumulated bills. Yesterday I spent the evening switching online accounts off of credit cards and onto debit cards.

    Today I'll tackle the medical bills, which I've been ignoring for way too long.

    Naomi pointed out, rather sharply, that my biggest problem isn't being stupid (though I've done a lot of that), but my habit of ignoring the hard stuff and hoping it will go away. Which, of course, is massively stupid, since ignoring things like that only makes them progressively worse. Which makes them harder to face. And so on.

    This is what's called a vicious circle. With BIG SHARP TEETH. I think I need an icon for that.

    Oddly, the fact that I've cut back on my antidepressant doesn't seem to have made much of a difference. This leads me to suspect that I should drop the SSRI altogether and switch to something with a different mechanism. Possibly tryptophan.

    Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

    Not really a terrifically good week, though Colleen's friend Bun-Bun has moved up from central CA, which brightened things considerably. And Colleen spontaneously told me how much she loves the house -- it helped a lot.

    The main stressor is the fact that I'm basically broke. The San Jose house (I'm starting to not think of it as the Starport anymore -- that's a good thing) is a drain on our resources, my credit cards are mostly maxed out, and my checking account is in the red. (The bank kindly pays up to about $1500 in overdrafts, but still charge me a $33 fee for each item. It helps, but not quite enough.)

    It's depressing to think about, especially knowing that it's all because of a long series of stupid financial decisions on my part. Plus a lot of letting things ride instead of making a decision. As I remarked on Facebook, this probably wasn't the best week to start trying to cut back on my SSRI in hopes of reversing the weight gain.

    I got a lot of good, and encouraging, feedback from that post. Thanks, folks! It helps.

    I've basically spent all weekend puttering, which at least accomplishes something. Still a lot to do, mostly paperwork-like things that I hate. Grumph.

    Links, as usual, in the notes. Including Radio3, which I might be able to use to simplify logging links.

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

    Not all that bad a week, I guess. Lots of cat cuddles, and a day off for Labor Day. Not all that good, either. Joe Bethancourt died (only a year older than me!), I had to work from home two days to take Colleen to appointments, and as usual I'm broke until the social security payment arrives a week and a half from now. I do not like it, Sam-I-Am.

    This coming week looks just as bad, if not worse. And it all goes back to stupid financial decisions I made twenty years ago (and continued making), so now it's basically not fixable. Which doesn't improve my self-image or my mood, either. Nor does my current antidepressant, which I don't think is helping much. Or rather has side-effects that tend to make things worse. GAAH!

    Well, there are always the links.

    raw notes, with links )

    Empathy

    2014-08-22 10:31 pm
    mdlbear: (river)

    Hmm. Haven't done a river post in a long time. *sigh*

    Anyway, a lot of recent posts on my friends' pages have been about empathy. Weird subject for me. Several of my friends, and one shrink, have told me that I'm very empathic. It doesn't really feel that way from the inside. I can't "read" people, and sometimes I'm not even sure what they're talking about. I can barely recognize my own emotions; I often guess wrong about other peoples'.

    Conversely, they often guess wrong about me. Apparently my sending is as screwed up as my reception.

    There's definitely something there -- I recently came across the term "embarrassment squick", which is a pretty accurate description of why I don't go to a lot of movies. I don't seem to like seeing other people do things that I think would make me feel stupid or uncomfortable if I did them.

    In fact, in some cases I seem to have a lower tolerance for other people's embarrassment than my own, on those rare occasions when I actually try going outside my comfort zone.

    Does any of this make sense? There isn't really a point to all this; I'm just rambling. Anyway, thanks for listening.

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

    We got a little rain this last week -- nice. I also Got Stuff Done, for certain values of stuff -- put up some 1x2 battens to hold up the bamboo screen around the deck, and paid some long-overdue bills. And made dinner on Monday. But as usual not nearly enough.

    We have an(other) offer on the Starport; we'll see whether this one sticks.

    On the down side, Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall died. The former set off the predictable post-celebrity-suicide followup; both good and bad. Mostly good, as in advice for both the survivors (no, it's not selfish) and the depressed (see particularly Boggle-the-owl's post, I don't like the phrase "a cry for help"...). Here, have a stick.

    The Shooting of Michael Brown by a cop last Saturday also had the predictable fallout, and triggered an acute case of deja vu. I've seen it before, in the '60s (civil rights protests) and '70s (Vietnam War protests). Back then we called them "Police riots". I am not feeling very optimistic right now.

    Links in the notes.

    raw notes, with links )
    mdlbear: (hp-c)

    I'm available. I don't promise to be coherent after 11pm, but you can call any time. 408 - 896 - 6133.

    (Inspired by ysabetwordsmith | Moment of Silence: Robin Williams. His death has, understandably, shaken up a lot of people.) (The userpic? Citalopram.)

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

    I guess there's something about knowing how bad it's going to be. Also knowing that I can pay off my tax bill in installments, because it's going to be bad. Really bad. There's a reason why my financial posts are tagged "trainwreck".

    I finally got off my arse and sorted my piles of receipts and the like, and this morning (so it's not in the notes yet -- you'll have to wait until next month) installed the software (which I still think of as TaxCut) and did the preliminary data entry. There are still some sizeable pieces missing, but I've been making progress.

    I also got a couple of phone calls made -- I hate making phone calls.

    I was depressed and anxious most of the week. At least I noticed -- for someone with alexithymia, that's an improvement.

    On the up side, we watched Frozen last weekend -- excellent. Passes the Bechdel test.

    Links in the notes.

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

    It snowed last night. Emmy finally got to be outside while it was snowing -- she grew up in San Jose. Me, I'm just glad I don't have to try driving in it -- I'm long out of practice. I may walk to Trader Joe's later.

    I've spent altogether too much energy trying to get Colleen's prescriptions transferred to Express Scripts. Depressing. My prescriptions transferred with no problems; I suspect that the problem with hers is that Walgreens' records have her birth date wrong. But the website(s) are miserable, and their tech support and customer support people don't know much about how they work - I got information that was manifestly incorrect from them. Bletch.

    A couple of times I've just wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. Is there such a thing as a depression attack?

    Meanwhile, I'm worried about this year's taxes. Very worried. I almost certainly don't have enough withholding this year, so I'm likely to be screwed. My sign-on bonus from Amazon is completely gone.

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

    Lots of puttering around the house -- the holiday season is always good for encouraging that kind of thing. Especially since we're *still* missing a couple of boxes of Christmas lights and ornaments. Gaak!

    Some good links; this time I'm going to talk about a couple of them.

    I bought a poem from The Wordsmith's Forge - 2013 Holiday Poetry Sale. Today is the last day, so act fast if you want to buy a poem at half price. The poem in question is "The Last Rose of Winter", a rather unconventional love poem. Somehow I knew it would be something I wanted to read.

    The other interesting link was to an article with the somewhat less than informative title The boy whose brain could unlock autism It's actually about the "intense world" theory: that autism is a defense mechanism against sensory and social overload, caused by too much empathy rather too little. Oh. Right, then.

    Indeed, research on typical children and adults finds that too much distress can dampen ordinary empathy as well. When someone else’s pain becomes too unbearable to witness, even typical people withdraw and try to soothe themselves first rather than helping—exactly like autistic people. It’s just that autistic people become distressed more easily, and so their reactions appear atypical.

    Many of the other symptoms are due to withdrawal during the time when children are usually learning things like reading body language and other social cues. So, yeah -- my self-diagnosis of mild Asperger's may have been correct after all.

    More links, as usual, in the notes.

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

    We're moved. I moved the last two van-loads of stuff out of the apartment Friday (twice as much as I'd anticipated), and turned in the keys. Exhausted. I ended up working only about a half week last week.

    Saturday, Colleen moved (or was moved) from the hospital to a nursing home: Park West, on California Avenue in W. Seattle. It's about 5 minutes' drive from the house.

    The cost of 6 weeks in a nursing home, even with insurance, is terrifying. I am all out of spoons, and right on the edge of overload. If I sound snappish, please forgive me.

    In other news, Rainbow's End is full of boxes. A pot of gold would come in handy, but I don't think we packed it.

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

    It's been a long, rough month this last week. It started last Monday with Colleen's endoscopic procedure to clean out her bile duct. That was apparently successful, but left her very bloated (they pump air in to give them space to work). She couldn't burp it up, because she was hurting too much to sit up or move around. And did I mention the mobility issues?

    As a result, she couldn't keep much of anything down. Friday she fell in the bathroom, having missed the scooter by inches. The EMTs arrived only 15 minutes after the movers.

    Did I mention that we moved Friday? Yeah. Stressed much?

    The EMTs helped her up, but her pulse was racing, and they were unable to get a good blood pressure reading. They called an ambulance and took her to Northwest, where they immediately started pumping a very dehydrated Colleen full of fluid. Oh, and did I mention the diarrhea?

    In the afternoon, I got a call at work from Naomi - the movers couldn't get either of the recliners up the stairs. I called Acorn's tech support to find out how to get the seats off the stairlift, and then had to explain how to take the back off the smaller of the two recliners to get it in through the bedroom door. :P

    Sometime that afternoon, Colleen was transferred from Northwest to the UW main hospital. Not clear why.

    Saturday, Colleen's pain levels finally subsided to the point where she was able to notice the extra pain in her right ankle. She'd broken it in the fall.

    The "holiday" weekend was spent alternately moving (we'd cleverly had the movers take only the furniture, figuring that we'd take the boxes and electronics in the van) and visiting Colleen in the hospital. There was more stuff left in the apartment that I'd realized. Growf. I was only able to manage two loads/day.

    Yesterday we found out that Colleen's ankle is broken in such a way that she can't have a walking cast. So she's going to need 24-hour care until it heals enough to walk on. Great.

    <whinge>

    Devon went home this morning. The dishwasher appears to be broken. There are still a couple of van-loads up at the apartment; fortunately we don't have to be out until Friday. One of our sets of apartment keys is missing. My depression is back, enough that I'm walking slowly enough to notice. Did I mention that my left ankle hurts? My tax refund hasn't arrived yet, and I need it.

    I miss Colleen. The compensation, such as it is, is that the house still isn't in good enough shape for her to come home anyway.

    </whinge>

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

    The last week was dominated by the prep for my colonoscopy on Monday. This involved a week's worth of a low-fiber diet, which was highly annoying. The procedure itself went as well as could be expected, and I was able to have Naomi pick me up about the time they let me go. I understand perfectly why they don't allow people who have been drugged into unconsciousness to drive; after I got home I put the dirty laundry into the drier and came within a second or so of adding the soap.

    Mom says that after 85 they don't bother, so assuming I don't need one more often than once every decade or so I only have two more to look "forward" to. The results will come back in a week or so.

    Friday the stairlift arrived, and on Saturday I took Colleen down to check it out. She loved the master suite, especially the shower. I expected her to like it, but it was nice to have that confirmed.

    The yard work was pretty much done by then except for the last of the planting -- it looks fantastic. Work inside the house is progressing; there's a lot of dust. It's going to be a bit dicey with credit until my tax refund comes in.

    Lots of good links, many of them from the footnotes in ysabetwordsmith's latest serial fanfic, "Coming Around", and her (related) "three weeks for dreamwidth" posts.

    More, as usual, in the notes.

    Side note -- I'm considering putting my "done" posts somewhere else, in favor of somewhat irregular postings with more substance. Anyone not bored by the detailed notes? Inquiring minds need to know.

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

    Somehow it doesn't seem as though much happened. A quick look at the house shows that this is not entirely true -- huge progress has been made on the improvements, tens of thousands of dollars have been flung around with abandon (including a 50% down payment on the landscaping, and starting a household checking and savings account), the front yard, massage studio, and lower front bedroom have been torn apart, several new holes have appeared, and so on.

    None of this was my doing, of course, except for the financing. I have merely been plugging along at my job, filing the inevitable extension on my taxes, and generally muddling along considerably more slowly than I would like.

    This week's quote/self-observation comes from Friday: "Middle-sized bears are extremely timid creatures, but are occasionally so oblivious that it doesn't matter."

    Meanwhile, Seattle has been declared #2 among the 12 best places to live in the U.S.. San Francisco is #1. I think the Twin Cities cheated, with Minneapolis nabbing 12th place and St. Paul coming in 10th. (The differential doesn't surprise me -- St. Paul is a university town.)

    Other good links amongst the notes, as usual.

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

    So... this update includes the entire month so far, and my first full week at Amazon. Don't expect me to say much about that; they're sticky about that kind of thing, with good reason. I can say that it's a very steep learning curve.

    I've been carpooling with Naomi a couple of times a week; her school is an easy walk from work. It also forces me to get out of the apartment earlier, which is a Good Thing even if it does mean that I have to leave some of my blog-reading for evening.

    Nothing like feeling overwhelmed at work, plus having unpaid bills come home to roost, to make me feel stupid. I know, that's the depression talking. But it'stalking really loudly! Which makes it kind of hard to ignore.

    Hmm. OK, so here's the problem. Thinking about an expense like a parking ticket, some bills, etc. reminds me of how stupid I was to have incurred that expense in the first place. So I don't want to think about it. Which means that it goes unpaid for a little longer, which makes me feel even more stupid... See how that works? Feedback. :P

    I've also been chronically sleep-deprived for most of the last couple of weeks. The fact that I *hate* going to bed early isn't helping.

    Links in the raw notes, as usual.

    raw notes )

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