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

Wednesday Clea, our guinea pig, died. She was a simple soul -- piggies aren't renouned for their intelligence -- but affectionate as guinea pigs go, and very calm and laid-back. She joined N's household in November of 2011, half a year before I did, and was eventually joined by Shona and Marieke, both of whom died earlier this year, before we left Rainbow's End. Clea and her herd moved from N's house to my apartment, from there to Rainbow's End. Clea, the last of them, moved from there to the U-District apartment and finally here on Whidbey Island.

Guinea pigs are herd animals, but Clea seemed to handle the loss of her companions calmly. I think by that time her herd included the household humans and even the cats. She would calmly move to another corner when one of the kittens reached into her cage; I admonished them more for my comfort than Clea's.

We buried her in the back yard where she can grow some of the hay she loved to eat, and later some carrots and celery. It seems appropriate.

School starts next week. N's son, j, wants to try home-schooling; I'm teaching science, math, and programming. It's a little daunting; the last time I taught programming I was in grad school, teaching Algol-W (which later became Pascal). I'm rather unsure about which language to teach; Scratch (based on Smalltalk) is an obvious place to start, but I think I'll give him a taste of Scheme and maybe Python as well, and let him decide. Suggestions welcome.

I've also spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone with OnStar/GM/whatever-they-call-themselves about the problems in their website (can't contact the car), email reports (linked to blank page), and phone app (wildly incorrect mi/kwh value). They may make good cars, but the tech support for their software is on a par with AT&T and Comcast. Maybe worse than Comcast. Caveat emptor.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: (rose)

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

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

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

I just ...

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

mdlbear: (flamethrower)

It was a long year last week. 2016 is dead and buried; it wouldn't be hard to do better, but I don't expect 2017 to make the effort.

I was going to put a summary of the year here. I'm not up for it. See my previous post for a wrap-up of what I mostly didn't do. I can't think of any major accomplishments to report, except maybe living through it. That may have to do.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

2016 can go hang itself. In the last week the filk community has lost Lucy Stern, Kira Heston, and JoEllyn Davidoff. Colleen's friend Bev lost her fiance. The folk world lost Oscar Brand. Enough!

The rest of it seems kind of lame. I'll try. Meanwhile, there's this infographic of the stages of grief vs reality.

I successfully replaced the USB port on Colleen's tablet -- I am now feeling fairly confident of my ability to fix modern computing devices. Meanwhile, though, Colleen had expressed an interest in replacing both her tablet and her kindle with a Kindle Fire, so when I spotted a used Fire HD 6 on sale at, well, a fire sale price, I got it for her. So now I have a Kindle paperwhite. I may go back to reading books on the bus instead of news. It would be good for my blood pressure.

My hypertension also provided a convenient excuse for not watching the presidential debate. I already know who I'm voting against, thanks. First election I can remember where Darth Vader and Cthulhu dropped out early.

At work, my sit-stand desk showed up over the weekend. Having a desk that goes down to a proper typing height, which for me turns out to be 25.5 inches, is wonderful. Tried standing a couple of times -- it hurts to do more than a couple of minutes. I'm supposed to work up to 15 minutes out of every hour. Probably not happening, but we'll see.

Also got my Microsoft ergonomic keyboard; it took me most of the week to get used to it, but it may work. If not, I can always go back to the Thinkpad keyboard. I bought one of the newer ones for home, which means that I could swap the older one I'd been using there for the one at work, which had developed a dicey space bar.

Finally got around to paying a few bills. I suck at that kind of thing.

My depression and anxiety numbers were down -- 5 each -- at my session with my therapist on Tuesday. I'm not sure the therapy is doing me much good except as a way of getting something of an objective reading on my mental state, but that's probably a good thing in its own right.

Somebody sent me a link that his daughter found and suggested putting on Interesting Places for Kids. Which I did, but it's so horribly out of date that most of its links are broken, including all of the links to it, now that I've dropped the domain. (Tonga raised the rent, and I didn't think it was worth it.) Oh, and also the build system, which relied on the no-longer-maintained cPIA: XML Macro Processing in C for templating. Need to put that on GitHub. Thought I had, actually.

Oh, yeah: the link:

As the father of two 6th grade girls (twins) I've been looking for weather resources to help them with their natural disaster project in their Earth Science class! Your weather guides have been a big help. As a thank you, I wanted to send you this page that one of my daughters found:

And I'm primary oncall next week. Oh, joy! It's probably going to be a busy one, though hopefully not as rough as the last one.

Notes & links, as usual )

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: (rose)

Damn. Pete Seeger died yesterday. It's hard to imagine a world without him. He held Colleen when she was a baby, and each of our kids in turn. One of my fondest memories was of my father and I sneaking in to a sold-out Seeger concert at MIT during intermission -- I was about 12. We sat on the steps in back of the auditorium and sang along with the rest of the audience.

Pete was the best ever at getting the audience singing along. I'll miss him.

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

The weather was cool and overcast when I first went out, and everything was wet after a night and morning of rain. But everything was bright and sunny when I went to work. I ended up taking only a short walk, though, both because it was running late and I didn't really feel like going out. A nice little percolation pond, with birds. Geese, ducks, a pair of swans, a couple of black birds I couldn't identify, a kingfisher and a seagull.

In keeping with the household network's naming scheme, the router will probably be called when we finally move. No idea what the apartment will be called; we'll figure that out after we get there.

The grieving finally hit me late in the afternoon as I was starting to go through my email archives. It wasn't until I was going home that I actually identified it; that's doing pretty well, for me. Alexithymia has its uses, I guess: I don't seem to feel emotions as intensely as most people. It's going to be worse packing up the house and leaving the Bay Area, but I suppose I'll manage.

Earl Scruggs died. Other links in the notes.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (flowers for you)

Mostly not such a good day? Something like that. Not terribly productive, no walk (it was raining), and some bad news. I wasn't particularly depressed, mind you; just somewhat down.

I got a call from the person at the bank who had called me a couple of weeks ago suggesting that I could get a better rate by applying for a new equity line of credit. The appraisal came in -- about $40K under the last one. So... no. Another $42K and the place will be underwater. So much for that.

And Mom called to say that Tom, one of her dearest and closest friends, had died. He'd been in declining health for several years, but still...

So... not a good day, on the whole. I did book my hotel room for Norwescon, and buy a membership. So that's ok.

And it's Valentine's Day. Or Lupercalia, which some people apparently call Horny Werewolf Day, if you prefer. Here's wishing you love and joy for the year ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mixed. I took a nice 3-mile walk, to McClellan Ranch Park and along a little creekside trail that seemed very much in disrepair. Plenty to explore.

On the other hand, dinner was a disaster. I threw it together on short notice when the YD didn't come down to cook; a couple of pieces of frozen hallibut that didn't come out all that well. Not to mention the brief but impressive grease fire. Very, um... flashy. Right.

It seems clear to us that the YD is very depressed, but she won't talk about it and won't seek help. Maybe one of her friends can get through to her. ETA: she seems ok this morning; said she was just exhausted last night. we'll see.

A few good links mixed in with a number of catalog references that are just there so I don't forget them. The TakStar ST-2 Adjustable Height Folding Desktop Microphone Tripod Stand is somewhere in the middle -- it's the desktop stand that came with the u37 mics, and folds up to a very science-fictional looking ray-gun type thing. Fun!

raw notes )
mdlbear: (rose)

A pretty good day, though I have the feeling that I'm being less productive than I should be. Want to be. I'll have to work on that. Um... Is working on being productive actually being productive, or am I being metaproductive as an escape from being productive?

I went out for a walk again, but turned around after only 15min or so because I was getting rained on. I must have just walked under the edge of it, though; it was still sunny and dry at work (though the rain did reach there eventually). The Monta Vista high school's LED sign said "School Cancelled Today" -- I didn't find out why until I got home. Just roll over the link if you don't want to read the story, which might be triggery for some.

In other news, Steve Jobs is dead. He died of pancreatic cancer, which killed my father a dozen years ago. He was 56, eight years younger than me.

Is it ok to feel mortal now?

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

Kind of a mixed couple of days -- a memorial service and a post that gets me all teary-eyed can do that. So can a defunct disk drive. On the other hand, I have a final determination on my current job title: Sr. Software Architect.

"Architect" makes me happy and comfortable, both because I consider programming to be one of the Useful Arts, like architecture, rather than an engineering discipline like civil engineering or a scientific ones like physics or materials science. Also, because I'm not really all that good a programmer anymore. I don't think I ever was. Sure, I can get programs written, but lots of other people are faster and more accurate at it. What I'm really good at, IMNSHO, is designing software systems in the first place, stringing existing programs together Unix-fashion with scripts and makefiles, and debugging (especially debugging other people's code).

The memorial service? Paul Metz ([personal profile] kshandra says it better than I could). The article that made me tear up? DEAR SUGAR, The Rumpus Advice Column #44: How You Get Unstuck.

As an experiment, I'm putting the notes at the bottom so that if you follow a link directly to the post, you won't have them at the top of the page. Let me know what you think of that.

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

An office with walls does little to prevent sound leakage from the adjacent offices when the building has a dropped ceiling. Other than that, though, it's very nice. I'll cope.

I got quite a lot of work done, but no walkies.

Quite a few links. I was saddened and shocked to learn of the death of Project Gutenberg's founder, Michael Hart -- shocked, because he was less than a week older than me. I'm feeling old now. And mortal.

I spent quite a while in the evening listening to songs by Trinh Cong Son on YouTube; Joan Baez called him "the Vietnamese Bob Dylan". He was recommended to me by our Vietnamese lab tech, Gloria, when I said goodbye to her last Friday. Go give Impermanent Flower a listen. It's worth it.

mdlbear: (spoiler)

Michael S. Hart invented the eBook in 1971, and founded Project Gutenberg. He died on Tuesday, of a heart attack. He was only five days older than me.

Official obit: Michael S. Hart - Gutenberg

Obits at Boing Boing and Ars Technica.

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

Mixed. Very mixed. Tasty food at the Baycon staff barbecue, but we also had word that a family friend had died on Saturday (now confirmed as a suicide). As far as I'm concerned this whole damned year can go back where it came from and start over.

Much of the rest of my mindspace was taken up with upgrading the router/firewall to Squeeze; this is in combination with ditching the old 3.5" hard drive and moving everything to a 500GB laptop drive. It's not all done, because of course it has to be worked on when everyone else is asleep, and I've been oversleeping myself lately.

No walk, either.

Ok, so mostly not a good day.

Links, as usual. I probably need to re-read Be Gentle With Yourself, don't I?

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

I guess the high point was discovering that I have a fan out there who I hadn't known about. The low point, well... I ended the day feeling totally depleted. I ran through the day in an IM: Probably a combination of multiple drives (two shopping trips and taking Emmy to her meeting), cooking dinner, two or three loads of laundry, a load of dishes, a couple of LJ posts, cleaning up Colleen twice, ... I've probably forgotten something... bed made, laundry started, commode cleaned, bedroom garbage bag taken out, nose watered... And ran through the intros to Millennium's Dawn and QV, in part because I've been getting sloppy, and in part to keep my callouses from deteriorating.

Not to mention posting our Baycon schedules, and buying new phones for both Colleen and the YD (the two shopping trips alluded to above). Oh, and Martin Gardner dying.

Something is deteriorating, anyway. Balance? No idea.

The usual collection of links under the cut.

mdlbear: (rose)

Abraham Savitzky (May 25, 1919 - Feb 5, 1999)

... which may explain why I've been reacting a bit weirdly to things recently. Or not.

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

A good day, even though it started out with the news that Liam Clancy had died. But I had a rare, good conversation with the YD on the way to her modeling class, and a great afternoon out shopping with Colleen. I got my exercise trying to walk fast enough to keep up with her scooter -- it's wonderfully different from the years when I had to slow down to stay with her.

A couple of good insights: Graham Leathers' song "Don't Swear at Machinery" is completely wrong for me. Swearing at machinery is safe -- it lets off steam, and lets me redirect the anger into an intense need to find the problem and fix it. (N pointed out that this isn't universally true; venting anger uses up spoons for her.) I usually find it counterproductive to vent anger at people; it could even be dangerous. (Although carefully-controlled anger can be useful at times.)

The other was noticing that, if social interaction is anything like a language (either programming or human), the only way to learn it is to get a lot of practice. Which, because I'm introverted and shy, I don't. It's another feedback loop: I feel awkward around people, so I avoid them, so I don't get the practice I need that would make me less awkward. :P

As for links, [ profile] ysabetwordsmith posted about Role Models for Introverts. I'm finding her posts about loneliness and introversion very helpful.

(added 10:52) After noticing that Colleen was going through Amazon and Mobipocket looking for ebooks, I introduced her to Project Gutenberg". Happy Cat. *grins*

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

I got a very solid night's sleep, thanks to Bayer PM (aspirin and benedryl). Should probably not use that stuff too often.

I walked down to Safeway and back the long way; a decent walk, but I'm noticably out of shape after a weekend on my arse.

I narrowly averted a scheduling disaster between work and life, by moving a teleconference from 5pm to 6. (Couldn't move it earlier -- the other end's in Japan.) That will let me pick up [ profile] pocketnaomi at the airport this afternoon and still finish the testing I need to do.

The downstairs guest room is ready, after several evenings of schlepping. The upstairs guest room has guests in it -- they'll be going home tomorrow morning.

Mary Travers is dead.

mdlbear: (rose)
raw notes )

A very emotionally-mixed day. I spent the day at OSCon, taking notes in emacs and hanging out on IM for a low-bandwidth chat with N. OSCon is, as usual, a lot of fun and very informative, though I was a bit disappointed at the lack of the usual free continental breakfast. Of course, with home so close I don't need it. (Lunch was excellent, though, and more than made up for the lack of breakfast.) I spent most of my time on sessions related to release management and server administration, since I may well end up doing some of that at work.

On the other hand, my brother called around 3:30 to tell me that my sister-in-law had died. She was at home, on hospice care, and it was expected, but still... I'm flying out next weekend.

I've been doing less socializing at OSCon this year than I usually do, in large part because I'm distracted. The booth conversations in the expo have been good, though -- most of the people manning the booths actually know something: most of them are the developers of the software they're demonstrating. And being local, I'm more likely to run into people I know.

I'm mostly done with In the Land of Invented Languages. More fun. I've copied my backups from the old 500GB drive to a new 1.5TB one. I now have 3 500GB SATA drives that I could use to expand the fileserver; I'm still debating exactly how to format them.


Feb. 5th, 2009 10:13 pm
mdlbear: (rose)

My father died 10 years ago today. I still miss him a lot.

I don't think I have much more to say.

mdlbear: (rose)

Got word via this post by [ profile] kshandra that my long-time friend [ profile] meglimir lost her fight against cancer this evening at about 8:30EST, three years to the day after she was given two months to live. Damn, but she fought a good fight.

Robin Hilp; known online as [ profile] meglimir, RubyMeg, Ruby Tuesday, rolybear... we met on alt.callahans years ago, probably the first friend I made online and later met in Real Life. Our older kids are the same age.

She is survived by her husband [ profile] sammyd, sons [ profile] grendies and [ profile] ratlan, godson [ profile] dajonjon, and an unguessable number of friends both online and off line.

[ profile] sammyd's last set of posts are heartrendingly sweet and sad; you should go read them.

[ profile] sammyd's announcement of her passing is here.

(Updated 2008-12-24 07:15)

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

Odetta (December 31 1930 - December 2 2008).

mdlbear: (rose)

It's been a very mixed day. On the the one hand, I scored one of the last three Linux EeePC 900's at Central Computing, to give to Colleen as a slightly belated Mother's Day present. The stream player is buggy, which caused me quite a bit of frustration setting the thing up, but presumably that will get fixed soon.

On the other hand, just as Kat and I were leaving for Joyce's house my Mom called with the news that my uncle Jack, the older of her two brothers, died suddenly of a heart attack.

On the gripping hand, we had a good rehearsal for our concert slot at Baycon.

Colleen and I are sharing a drink in Jack's memory right now.

I never had a favorite among my three uncles: I always liked them about equally. Jack worked his entire career at NIH, doing research on fallout-induced thyroid cancer. He died at work. He'd been feeling ill for a while, and had a cardiology appointment scheduled for tomorrow.

Sorry, folks; I'm at something of a loss for words right now.

In a bar he rarely visits, an aging hacker sips the last of a glass of Glenlivet, raises it, and toasts "To Uncle Jack!" before flinging the glass into the fireplace.

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