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

This is going to be pretty random. I spent much of the day agonizing over a job application (which I finally finished, after about three weeks of writer's block) and an hour or so doing some necessary house repair; after which I've been vaguely out of it, and feeling as though I might be coming down with something. But it's NaBloPoMo, and I'm posting.

I'm still suffering from writer's block on the verbiage for a mailing list ad. I have a pretty good opening sentence (I think) but when it comes down to saying what it is I actually do, I come up empty.

Sometimes you just need to hire a curmudgeon to get annoyed at your computer, or your website, so that you don't have to. Get friendly advice, gentle coaching, understandable explanations, and expert help, from someone who's been using computers for over half a century.

Opinions? The reason I'm stuck is that I really don't know what I do that people would be willing to pay me for. I think I mentioned that I went to a day-long seminar on "Growing Your Consulting Business", and I've been reading books on consulting, all of which assume that you know what in heck you're doing. And have been doing it for a couple of years and just want to get better at it. You have to have at least some clients before you can specialize.

One of the posts I have planned for this month is a brainstorming session about just what I can do. I thought briefly about doing it now, but I think having a brain may be a prerequisite.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here being kind of appalled at how little I've done -- I've been looking at old posts, and old unsent drafts; old notes for projects that never got finished and in most cases never got started. It doesn't do much for self-confidence.

Our cats are being adorable, as usual. Desti is lying on my gig bag -- it's soft-sided and empty, so her weight makes a little hollow for her to lie in. It's also black, so she's pretty well camouflaged. Ticia is lying on the floor with her head on the side of the gig bag. The other thing Desti does is sit on my lap, or my computer. I can close the lid on my laptop and use just the external monitor, but it's remarkably difficult to type with a cat in one's lap. Browsing, yeah; I can do that.

A programmer looks At a blank emacs window, Mind equally blank.
NaBloPoMo stats:
   3887 words in 6 posts this month (average 647/post)
    472 words in 1 post today

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

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

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

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

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

I'm blathering, aren't I?

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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)

NOT a good week, modulo a couple of things. It started at bedtime last Sunday: I asked Colleen whether she was ready to go to sleep and she had trouble answering. I tried a couple of times and a few more questions, and after five or ten minutes decided to call 911. Good call.

Apparently mental confusion can be a side effect of a massive infection. She was released Thursday. If you're easily triggered by medical TMI, you might want to skip the notes.

After visiting Colleen in the hospital Monday, I drove up to Oak Harbor (for those of you not familiar with the island, the hospital in Coupeville is about 2/3 of the way there from home, so it made sense to combine trips) and picked up my new facehugger. It has a humidifier, a cellular modem, bluetooth, and a very comfortable mask (Philips Respironics DreamWear). First time I've had a mask that didn't leak. That was the first good thing this week.

The second was a very good singing lesson, and the third was making this post about planned projects -- we'll see how that goes.

Thursday was rough. For some reason, after taking Colleen home from the hospital, I ended up both physically and mentally exhausted, and in pain from what appears to be a torn muscle in my left arm that's been bothering me for a while. I was close to the edge, and over it a couple of times, for the rest of the day. Friday was worse.

The fourth (and last) good thing was taking another run at my taxes and finding out that I'm probably not going to owe anything. That, however, was blown all to hell by finding that the latest invoice from the builder was more than I had in my checking account (I'd known that was coming, but it was still alarming), and then taking another run at the budget spreadsheet and finding myself about $1500/month short. It went up to $1900 after I found a couple of cells that hadn't gotten added with the rest of the column of annual expenses. I don't usually have trouble with Friday the 13th; this year was an exception.

I spent Saturday mostly being desperate and despairing. I'm going to need an income, and sooner than I'd expected. And my self-confidence is completely shot at this point. N finally got me calmed down by telling me to concentrate on self-care for the next couple of days; after that we'll work something out. I remain skeptical about that. After enjoying a year not working and getting very little else done, things don't look good for finding work. The projects list was meant to improve my marketability as a freelancer, but I don't have the year or two it would take to build up a reputation and a steady income.

I'm reasonably calm at the moment, but it still feels like I'm re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Which sank exactly 106 years ago today.

In other news, the copy of The Annotated Thursday that I ordered ten days ago is scheduled to arrive... next Thursday. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

A lot going on, most of it not good, but not really something I can talk about right now because it's mostly other people's stories.

The financial trainwreck is still going on; the crash is getting closer. I have a couple of job leads, but I'm way behind on personal writing and programming projects. Because reasons, but still. Not good.

One bright note is that the tax hit isn't going to be nearly as bad as I was expecting -- so far I'm only down about $3K. If we weren't in the middle of sinking $80K into building the ADU, I'd be in pretty decent shape except for the negative cash flow. As it is, it'll be coming out of my IRA.

Too many decisions that seemed like the right thing to do at the time, spread out over decades and leaving me with no resources. And it's almost impossible for me to just them let go of them, stop the "if only's". It's one thing when I'm giving that advice to other people.

The other bright note (literally?) is that my singing is improving noticably; there are times when I can actually hear a difference from one verse to the next, even though I can't tell exactly what I'm doing differently.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Well, I'm officially looking for work, for Reasons. Economics isn't called "the dismal science" for nothing.

PullRequest -- code review as a service -- is a possibility for part-time; I'll see whether I qualify. Reading other people's crappy code isn't my first choice of things to do, but... I should look into whether there are projects that offer bounties for fixing bugs.

Making something to sell is, of course, another possibility. I've gotten interested in developing an Alexa skill; the only way to monetize that is to drive sales to something else, but that might be possible. We'll see. One can monetize a phone app, and that's also a possibility. Wonder whether there's a way to link the two...

The big developent in development -- at least my software development, was that I put in a couple of days fixing my online songbook management software. You can see the results at Filksongs by Steve Savitzky and LookingGlass Folk's Songs. There's still some work to be done, but it's tagging and writing, not software. Some of the features are:

  • There's a page for (almost) every song in our repertoire, but lyrics are only on those pages if we have the rights to post them.
  • Lyrics -- even in HTML -- have chords, and use decent proportional-spaced fonts. (Different styles for chords and lyrics are coming soon.)
  • It's all driven by tags, and you can tag songs as "WIP" or "REJ" to keep them off the website.
  • The song pages are generated using a mustache template. The index pages aren't quite there yet, but they will be. Mustache is popular, and the templates are dead simple to make and use.
  • Every song page has an optional section for notes and links.
  • The code's on GitHub.

Wednesday I sang Bigger On the Inside and QV for our singing teacher. The last couple of days I've been working out how to play QV in D -- that's a whole step up from where I originally sang it, so the original arrangement, which is in G capoed up five frets, is no longer practical. It does, however, sound pretty good in D, and even better in drop-D.

Apart from all that, not much got done.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Things got done. Sorting the mail, enough to find the tax forms. Putting CDs on shelves. A sleep study (rescheduled from the 23rd). Making a budget spreadsheet. Finding out where the money has gone. Getting stomped by the elephant in the living room. Slacking. A lot of good reading research (c.f. [Lehrer53]). That kind of thing.

See userpic.

For some reason I don't seem to be nearly as panicked as my financial situation warrants - I have been retired for nearly 8 months, and I've been in deep denial over just how much money I've burned through during that time.

N starts a new job on Monday. That will help, but not enough. I could easily cover the shortfall by getting a job -- there are remote options out there and a lot of them look attractive. The problem is that they're all full-time, and given what else needs doing in the household I really don't want to work full time. (And that's assuming I could get one, which at my age isn't a given anymore.)

Not a happy bear at this point. And I'm going to owe a lot on my taxes, too, because I didn't set up enough withholding on my retirement income. Because denial and depression.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

I think I did quite a lot this week: some good debugging, a significant amount of writing (Meltdown and the Spectre of Speculation), some system administration (updates: see above; also getting my mirror drive back in operation), updated the project list, ordered a file cabinet and a shed, ...

My new schedule (see last week's Meta post in search of a keyword) seems to be working pretty well -- I've managed to practice guitar every day, and twice on most days. I also had a good singing lesson on Wednesday -- N was down in Seattle, so I invited g to come along in her place. Had a blast.

On the down side, though, I realized Friday that we sold the Starport in 2014, not 2013. That means that I won't be able to write off the proceeds from selling Rainbow's End, because it will have been less than four years since the last time I did it. That, in turn, mean that my tax bill this year will be even worse than I anticipated (and it wa already going to be bad, from having severely under-withheld). We put a lot of money into improvements on Rainbow's End, so the actual profit will be a lot less than it could have been. If I'm really lucky, it might even be a loss.

On the gripping hand, though, I've resigned myself to pulling money out of my IRA to pay for it, so I don't feel as bad about also pulling out what I'll need for the improvements to this house. But decades of stupid financial decisions have really taken their toll -- I'm something of a wreck, and will be until at least the middle of February. There's a reason why the tag for my finances is "trainwreck".

Notes & links, as usual )

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

Not a bad week, I guess. Right now I'm feeling pretty down and hopeless, partly because of this article about Trump plus the fact that my family's economic future depends largely on Social Security and Medicare, which Trump's government seems hell-bent on destroying; and partly... I don't know what. I don't think depression and anxiety need a reason.

I did manage to figure out approximately what I should have been withholding for taxes; I also found out that the deadline for the second quarter's estimated tax payment was last month, so I'm slightly more screwed than I thought I was. Only slightly. That adds to the anxiety, of course.

N. and the kids have been away since Wednesday morning, with N and g at OVFF. It's been a bit lonely. I have, however, been getting things done, including putting up shelves and a little artwork, and setting up my desk with what amounts to a dual-monitor setup with the external monitor above Cygnus. I'm using the traditional makeshift monitor stand: a ream of printer paper. I actually did find my other Thinkpad keyboards, but with Cygnus on the desk I don't need them.

Our second week of prepared menus has worked out pretty well, though I did end up going out shopping Tuesday for some things that I'd missed on Sunday, and a little bit on Friday. It does seem as though we're spending less. I've also determined that I have to go grocery shopping alone -- it's impossible for me to stick to a list if there's someone else along. I really have difficulty saying "no" to anybody, and it's stressful.

Yesterday Colleen and I went to the Bayview farmer's market after picking up the bike helmet we'd ordered. Bought lunch (samosas) and some jam. See above about saying "no".

I did manage to say "no" to the life insurance agent. Yes, it's great that I was able to qualify for the lowest possible rate, which means I'm a lot healthier than most septuagenarians. But my financial advisor, who I consulted last Friday, pointed out that since my social security, IRA, and pension between them are enough to keep us going; unlike the situation in Seattle, we're not relying on my salary to pay the mortgage. (Colleen's SS payment is half of mine and will go away after I die; it does make a difference but the family would still get by without it.)

The thing that still scares the hell out of me is what would happen if I don't die, but simply get incapacitated, or if either Colleen or I end up needing more expensive care. Then we're hosed.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

On the whole a pretty good week. (I was going to say, "not a bad week", but it may actually qualify for good this time. I'm really bad at evaluating subjective stuff like that.)

I got my taxes done. Probably still some things missing, but since I only owed $117 over what I estimated back in April I'm not going to complain. Much. I'm still in a world of trouble over the lack of withholding on some of the pensions. That's going to bite me. Well, I'll put in an estimated payment for the quarter; that will help.

Naomi came home Sunday with the scooters, and we got one of them out of the van. (G and I got the other out last night with the help of my folding ramp.) And yesterday on the way home from dinner out we stopped at the bike shop in Bayview and ordered Colleen a (purple, of course) helmet.

Meanwhile, I have reconfirmed my dislike for the Mac user interface (Windows would be worse). The main reason is the inconsistent bindings for control, meta, and super (the "logo" key). It's almost tolerable with a Thinkpad keyboard and x2vnc, but the key bindings in Emacs are wonky and cut-and-paste doesn't work between the two systems.

Also, of course, Raven's handling of its external monitor is broken, and the desk isn't wide enough for it plus the monitor anyway. (It is wide enough for Cygnus to the left of the monitor, so I may end up doing that.) I have Raven on a tray table to the right of the monitor, which isn't ideal because, oh, yeah: my newest Thinkpad keyboard has started dropping keystrokes. Basically unusable at this point, and it's only a year old. Lenovo's QC has really tanked -- I miss IBM. And I can't find the box with my other keyboards :P Unlike the drill and the router, I know that one is in the garage because I saw it there. I blame the cats.

The cats are all doing okay. Even Bronx, who remains a bit fragile and isn't eating all that well.

We are making progress toward making the room over the garage into a usable living space. By not making large structural changes, and not making it an official ADU, we can probably save a lot.

Notes & links, as usual )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: 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)

Um... yeah. Been a while. I'd originally planned to post Monday after last weekend's house con, Rainbow Con 1. But I didn't. I'll post an actual con report later; for now I'll just say that it was amazingly wonderful. We had around 30 people, and everybody had a great time.

Work has been rough. Things are falling through cracks at an increasing rate. I should leave. I can't afford to, but it'll probably kill me if I don't. If someone dropped half a million dollars in my lap, I could pay off most of the house and get by on social security and pensions. As it is, ... It's a constant reminder of how much the situation is of my own making.

Notes & links, as usual )
mdlbear: (river)

Here are last year's goals (I'm too irresolute for resolutions). Let's see how I did.

  1. Music. I'm going to lump recording, songwriting, and making music together, not so much because they're all aspects of the same thing as to give me a goal that I'm more likely to meet parts of. Mostly fail -- I didn't write or sing nearly as much as I wanted to, and didn't record anything at all. But I did write two songs: Windward (in January) and Ninety-Five Years (in December). And I gave a couple of good performances, but stupidly didn't record them.
  2. Writing. I'd settle for one post a week that isn't one of the two scheduled ones, though I'd like to do more. Almost complete failure on this one.
  3. Exercise. Keeping up the walking on weekdays is kind of a minimum; I'd like to walk a little on weekends, and maybe even get my bike back in working order. Between injuries and laziness, even my weekday walking declined. Mostly fail.
  4. Food. As a minimum, get back to serving salad with dinner on most of the days that I cook. Fail.
  5. Software. Get the household intranet back into shape. Finish revising my music-publishing toolchain. Set up a blogging toolchain. Bring my websites into the 21st Century, maybe. Write that HTML5-based lyrics app that I've been thinking about. OK, that's at least five sub-goals; six if you figure that the app and maybe the websites will require getting profficient in Javascript. I'll give myself 45% on this one: the household's network is back, including internal DNS. The music-publishing toolchain works pretty well, and it's part of a complete make-based toolchain that's been revamped from top to bottom. I did a fair amount of research into HTML5 and CSS, but didn't actually get anything deployed.
  6. Organization. Do more of my 15min items, get my taxes filed on time, and hack my way through the piles of envelopes on my desk and the piles of boxes in the garage. Stick to my damned budget, now that I have one. Hmm. I think I met this one. The garage clean-up was a side-effect of turning 3/4 of it into a second master suite. Taxes got done, my budget was stuck to, and I ended the year no more in debt than I started it. The piles of mail are pretty-much gone -- as of yesterday. Did I mention that I procrastinate? Might have to make that a goal for next year.
  7. Health. This is a stretch goal, but I need to do something about my depression. Or whatever it is. Find help. This was another win. After a harrowing six months or so, I finally got help in the form of regular sessions with a therapist, got my depression more or less under control (thanks to the above plus Good Drugs), and I lost on the order of 15 pounds. (On the other hand, the initial weight loss was a side effect of the severe anxiety over the effect my depression and procrastination were having on my work.)

It's been a harrowing year. Between injuries, some of which could have been fatal (I'm including the rest of the household here, but my nose-dive into a sidewalk definitely counts); months of depression that, in retrospect, could also have been fatal; the death of a beloved pet; and five figures worth of repairs to Rainbow's End -- well, let's just say that I won't be sorry it's over.

What got us through it was the love and mutual support we have for one another, scary amounts of money, and a great deal of help. But we got through it. We got through as a family. There were times when I honestly didn't expect to. But here we are, at the end of another year.

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

Reasonably productive at work. Somewhat productive at home. Booked air travel for Mom's birthday (which I was able to pay for with points! Go me.) and OVFF. (Membership and hotel for OVFF were already booked.)

Practiced. Some days not all that much, but every day.

Lots of puttering around the house, but there's still a lot -- mostly paperwork and coordination -- that isn't getting done. Still employed, but worried. When I stop working, whether it's now or in a couple of years, things are going to go to hell very quickly. N and I are starting to brainstorm other things I could do, but it's still not going to be enough to keep things together.

I hate this.

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

On my way home from work on Monday I started noticing flu symptoms; by evening they were in full force, and I spent the rest of the week working from home. Yesterday I was feeling almost normal modulo a cough, but still too easily tired. Will probably be up for work on Monday. I hope so.

The washer/dryer that Home Depot couldn't install has been hauled away, and the refund is in my account. They shouldn't have left it here in the first place -- we should have refused the shipment and had it taken back. I'm still looking for the repair receipts for the old one; that's probably hopeless.

I didn't go to my 50th high school reunion. Sad about that, but it meant that I'll be able to afford OVFF. And with my case of the flu, I would almost certainly have had to cancel anyway -- I was in no shape to travel. So it goes.

Mostly I've been worried about money. As usual. There's a reason why one of the tags on this post is "Trainwreck". 30 years of lousy financial decisions will do that.

I've been studying CSS and SVG. My website-building skills are basically 20th Century, and need to be brought up to date. Some of the things people are doing with CSS are impressive.

Details and links in the notes.

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

Kind of a rough week? I'm not really sure.

On the plus side, we got the washer repaired (a little over $320 for a new drain pump), and I switched the network over from Comcast to CenturyLink. Which was exactly as easy as I expected it to be: swap the router and the extension WAP, and it's done. Sometime I should swap SSIDs back, but it doesn't matter all that much much.

Our group moved over the weekend; the move puts us in the center of $A's main campus (with a nice small caffeteria next door, and the main one only a block away). My hard drive didn't survive it. All my code was backed up, but that still left a huge amount of configuration that should have been but wasn't. Fixed now.

Tapered off my antidepressant. Not much of an effect on my mood; not clear whether it has affected my supply of cope or my weight.

Kind of late, but I've started practicing for Orycon. Not entirely clear what's going into my set -- Millennium's Dawn, Keep the Dream Alive, and QV for sure. That may actually be almost enough, since it's only a half-hour set.

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)

Rough week.

Low point: asking for help on the financial trainwreck. Maxing out another credit card Monday kind of drove it home. Naomi is of the opinion that I need a keeper. She's right. She's also of the opinion that I'm worth it; this is less obvious but I've learned that she's usually right, so I guess I'll take her word for it.

High point: going out with Naomi to see A Chorus Line last night.

Adventures along the way: the Shellshock bug (quickly patched on the systems I use regularly), and updating the household's random laptops. We (ok, mostly I) have a *lot* of old laptops. I remember when a gigabyte was a lot of disk.

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

Yesterday being a holiday, today felt like Sunday, so I'm doing my weekly update a little early. Pretty good week, on the whole.

Naomi, who is using me as a practice dummy for her massage therapy homework, checked out my lower leg pain and pronouced it "classic plantar fasciitis", largely on the basis of it being worst in the morning. ??! Apparently the fascia in question connect to the Achilles tendon, and from there on up around the calf muscles along the back of the leg to the knee. What she did, however, worked wonderfully all week.

I also summoned up the energy to finally do my taxes (I'd filed for an extension on the 15th). They still have a lot of estimation in them, so I should probably file an amended version. And, of course, set up installment payments. Ugh.

Monday I found a bunch of unpaid bills. Bletch.

Wednesday I took a treadmill echocardiogram test. I walked there from Cortiva; about a mile and a half. (The bus would have taken about the same time, and I need to exercise more.) For the test I had to get my heart rate up to 131bpm; I got it up to 181 and called a halt not because I couldn't go on but because I was getting tired enough to worry about doing something clumsy and injuring myself. I think my heart is OK.

Wednesday evening I started having some stabbing pain in my calf muscle (soleus, according to N). On investigation it turned out to be a little, deep knot (aka trigger point); I pushed hard on it with a finger, and it loosened up. I felt very pleased with myself.

Yesterday was, of course, Independence Day. We'll actually be doing our barbecue today; yesterday was just a nice, relaxing day at home. Colleen lay on the bed and watched fireworks. There were somewhere between three and five shows visible; the sound was more or less continuous. We could only see the bursts over the trees and hills, but it worked. Next year we'll have to set out chairs on the deck.

The increased dose of SSRI seems to be helping.

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

*sigh* Another week of not enough money, not enough rain, not enough sleep, not enough time, not enough done, not enough interest in buying the Starport... I mostly just want to crawl into a hole and pull it in after me.

Here. Have some links. Real unicorns have curves.

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

It's been a rough week. Really rough.

Sunday was my 16th Father's Day without my father. Monday I went in to the ER with chest pain. The fact that it was entirely due to muscle aches and anxiety only made me feel stupid, especially since it's the second or third time I've done it and I should know by now.

Busy week at work. Can't say much about that, except that interacting with people from other groups, who I don't know, is stressful. As is interfacing with poorly-documented services. And work is a service-oriented architecture.

The Starport hasn't sold yet. I'm basically broke.

On the good side, N. may have finally identified the source of my lower back and hip problems: the right QL (quadratus lumborum) muscle. That's the one that put me flat on my back for a week 38 years ago, and apparently it's been dicey ever since. We'll see -- essentially no pain walking around with Colleen yesterday, and very little doing dishes this morning.

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

I actually did some yardwork this week. I hate yardwork. Especially since a lot of it involves bending over, which is bad for my back. But I do it when I have to. Or when it involves gadgetry, like hose quick-connects.

I'd ordered some quick-connects from Amazon to supplement the ones I got at Home Despot on Sunday; quite predictably they disappeared when our housekeeper tidied up the Rainbow Room. I searched for quite a while. They finally turned up in the first place I'd thought to look: in their own box, hiding under the invoice. *facepalm*

Speaking of quick-connects, I recommend brass. The plastic ones I bought last year didn't make it through the winter. Admittedly, this was because I let water freeze in the hoses -- not something I had to deal with in San Jose. But still.

Naomi and I finally got ourselves into the hot tub, for a good soak and good conversation.

A couple of bad moments, mostly thinking about finances -- I use the "trainwreck" tag for a reason. I'm usually able to get past them quickly, and that probably isn't entirely a good thing. It would be better if they were an incentive to get things done rather than causing paralysis. Grumph.

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

Hmm. I see it's been two weeks since I last posted a "done" post. I've been mostly stressed and depressed, though today has been pretty good for some reason.

I've been doing quite a lot of puttering and other housework. It probably helps my mood -- at least in the short term: it's clearly a distraction from the really nasty problems. Most of which involve money, and are going to get worse until we can sell the Starport. Offer me 800K and it's yours.

Two weeks is too much to summarize. Looking back over it, I've actually done a fair amount. Just... not so much in comparison to what still needs doing. And not enough to make me feel good about myself.

{Stop it, Bear. You're not helping.}

Don't know which of my inner voices that was, but it's right.

Last night's Vixy and Tony concert was good, and Colleen has been walking more.

Links and a little commentary in the notes.

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

Short one this time, to close out the month. Sunday I fired up the Mac Mini, loaded up the software that I still think of as TaxCut even though H+R Block renamed it several years ago, and did a rough cut. Ouch. I haven't touched my taxes since Sunday, but it really improved my mood to find out that I could pay in installments. Improved it temporarily, anyway. Dysthymia never really goes away. I still need to track down the rest of my deductions, but I have the biggest ones in, so the bottom line won't change more than a couple of grand.

Quite a few good links. Go for it.

raw notes, with links )
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)

Like it says on the label. I'm having a hard time feeling much of anything right now, I think.

Anyway, I'm thankful for...

  • The ability to pay bills online.
  • Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.
  • Credit. Are we sensing a theme here?
  • People who get after me to get stuff done.
  • People who know me well enough to be able to tell me what I'm feeling. See Alexithymia
  • Cats. Both two- and four-legged.
  • Gin.
  • Cuddles.
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)

Hey, it's Thursday! Today I'm thankful for...

  • A well-timed first paycheck, with welcome sign-on bonus. I'll have to save most of it; I'll probably need it for taxes.
  • Paid vacation.
  • Cats, and especially Curio-snuggles.
  • Kitties and bears and goats, oh my!
  • My younger daughter's new boyfriend. I love seeing her happy.
  • 38 wonderful years, as of tomorrow.
  • A party here on Saturday. See the Rainbow's End site for directions.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Oh, good grief! This is going to be hard to summarize, isn't it? Maybe I should just throw up my hands and refer you to the notes? Maybe not.

Lots of stuff going on: I had a prostate biopsy and got back a clean bill of health. My nose is back on steroids. Colleen is getting more mobile -- she can walk about 20 steps (with walker, of course), and transfer in and out of her power chair.

We took delivery of Naomi's new commute car (a Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid). Naomi's massage therapy license finally went through, so the household's massage studio is now fully armed licensed and operational.

Lots of good links: see especially ysabetwordsmith's poem: "The Crystal Inside the World", a nice riff on my song The World Inside the Crystal.

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

So the govenrnment is shut down because the Republicans don't want to accept the fact that the ACA is the law of the land, and that on the whole people are benefiting from it. Idiots. Meanwhile their popularity is sinking like a proverbial rock, and one can only hope that the voters have long memories. They don't, of course.

There's good news in the household, though. The YD has broken up with her unsuitable boyfriend, on the advice of her best friend. Yay! It's going to be hard on her for a little while, but it's a very good thing. He's a creep.

And Colleen finally saw her doctor, who cleared her to put full weight on her formerly-broken ankle. This should clear the way for the PT to work on getting her walking again.

We spoke to somebody from a financial management firm about my rollover IRAs; we almost certainly need management, but it's likely not to be Fisher Investments.

So, on the whole, things are looking up.

Details and a few links in the notes.

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

My tax refund finally showed up in my account on Thursday. So I get to spend the holiday weekend paying the medical bills I've been ignoring for the last year or so. The refund is so large because I forgot to arrange for my 401K plan from Ricoh to be rolled over, so they sent me a check with about $40K taken out for tax withholding. I promptly rolled it over, so I get the withholding back.

Unfortunately, it's a one-time thing.

We had a going-away lunch on Friday for our group's summer intern. Nice kid, but unfortunately I was never able to get through to her about the importance of clean commits (amend and rebase are your friends) and running all the unit tests outside of Eclipse. I spent the afternoon cleaning up. Fortunately, it's the kind of mostly-mindless fiddly stuff that I enjoy every once in a while, and it wasn't nearly as bad a mess as it could have been.

I need to write an article about that, don't I?

Less than a week until Colleen comes home! The house isn't as ready as it should be, but it's getting there. I spent much of yesterday shopping, at Home Depot and Bed, Bath, & Beyond. And Staples -- we were almost out of printer paper.

Links, as usual, in the notes.

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

The big news this week: Colleen has been ok'ed for full weightbearing on her formerly-broken ankle, and my tax refund finally showed up. (I found out about that today, but they post deposits at 11:30pm so technically it counts. Or something.)

The downside, of course, is that I get to spend the entire weekend writing checks for the many (mostly medical) bills that I've been ignoring for the last several months. And making the house ready for Colleen to come home to.

Apart from that...

We have a huge new cat tower in the Great Room. The cats mostly ignore it, of course, in favor of hanging out on the floor. Though Desti does like curling up on top of the old tower, which is now in the master bedroom.

The guinea pigs' cage fell off its table; I suspect the cats. I managed to recapture the two that fled the scene. Whew! We moved the cage downstairs to the basement, which is a cat-free zone because G. is allergic.

("G." is of course ambiguous; as well as being Naomi's daughter, she shares her initial with our housekeeper, and her name with the housekeeper's daughter. Fortunately, the youngest G. (g.?) has a nickname.

I "fixed" the YD's old laptop, by first dual-booting it with Ubuntu, then booting up the restore partition and doing a nuke-and-pave on Windows. Surprisingly, the operation didn't affect Ubuntu's Grub bootloader, so I won that round.

It took six hours to install all the updates. Vs. about half an hour for Ubuntu.

I bought a double-edge safety razor. Fairly expensive, but I'll save it on blades over the course of a few months. It also gives a very nice shave.

I spent a lot of time last weekend puttering, and managed to get several boxes emptied, and brought several more down to the garage for storage.

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

I really ought to update more often, oughtn't I?

Well, the news from this month is that my health insurance stopped paying for Colleen's nursing home after 10 weeks; we moved her to a much less expensive (~$4K/month, vs. 400/day) place nearby. I also bought her a power wheelchair off Craigslist.

She moved the weekend my Mom came out from N. Carolina (by way of my brother's place in Logan, Utah), and the weekend that Naomi's massage school graduation took place. I rented a wheelchair van for the weekend. It proved to be something of an adventure -- nasty, uncomfortable things. Though not in the full hobbit sense of also making one late for dinner; things worked out pretty well in that respect.

... so Colleen actually got to come home last weekend! Not to stay, of course :P -- she still can't put full weight on the broken ankle. But it was a good visit. And she made it to N's graduation. And it was good.

... and this last week I finally got after the IRS about my tax refund that they've been sitting on, and set the wheels in motion to get $10K out of my IRA in the mean time. Next week I may finally get almost sort of caught up on bill-paying. Sort of. For a little while.

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

I hadn't realized just how comforting petting a cat can be. Our cats are wonderful. Especially Curio, who spends most of every night in my room.

Lots of puttering around the house over the last couple of weeks -- that's largely because other things are something of a trainwreck. In particular, Colleen's situation. Our insurance stops paying for her nursing home stay at the end of next week. We'd been told weeks ago, but at the time 10 weeks seemed like plenty of time. At her appointment last week, though, she was told that she could only put 10% of her weight on it. Gleep!

Most of the obvious options are out -- it's unlikely she could get the level of care she apparently needs at a group home or assisted living place. Which would be close to $6K for a month's stay, in any case.

We may be able to have her at home. If she can handle a commode, and transfers in and out of a wheelchair, it'll work. We will almost certainly need to have someone come in in the daytime to care for her, but between me, Emmy, and Naomi we can probably handle night-time. Hopefully.

I haven't been doing all that well. I don't really register stress, but it's there. Between that and depression (even with drugs), and a general low energy level, I'm probably pretty close to the edge. Can't be helped. The feeling of helplessness doesn't help, either. Help?

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

I finally made the call to my benefits people that I should have made two months ago, to find out what the options and prices were going to be to keep my medical and dental COBRA coverage going. I was not expecting the total to be more than the mortgage on the old house! $2100. I am *so* *screwed*

And I actually have a gap in coverage, between the end of this month (when Ricoh stops paying for it) and the time I pay my first bill. At which point they cover me retroactively. I went ahead and got my crown started before I knew the details, but that'll be ok.

I still have a month, I *think*, to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. Anyone have recommendations re: GroupHealth vs. Blue Cross/Blue Shield? If I can get into that now, I can drop my COBRA coverage and just go with Colleen and the YD.

On the job front, $A3 looked at my resume and said "other candidates are more qualified". So much for that. $A also rejected me -- that was actually a relief. On the other hand, my interview at $D was the easiest so far -- I think I have a good chance at that.

And on the gripping hand, the CTO at $T wants to talk to me on Wednesday. Looking at the company and what they do, I *really* *really* want it. And I think I'm a good fit. And it's a cool product -- I signed up for a month's free trial, and at $40/year may very well keep it. Unlimited file sharing from your own computers, with nothing stored in the cloud.

Only problem is the overlap with $D, which I expect to hear about next week. They'll probably want me to start on the 15th. Tight.

I went to my interviews by bus again. I *love* being this close to the bus line and downtown.

Links in the notes, as usual.

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

My mindspace continues to be largely occupied with day-to-day stuff: unpacking, installing shelves, shopping, cooking... Life is starting to settle into a routine, though, and I'm enjoying it.

We finally got over to a DOL (Department of Licensing -- WA's partial equivalent of the DMV), where the YD and I got new IDs and driver's licenses respectively. Colleen has to come in for a driving test (!), which is a major incentive for her to exercise. She has about 2 more weeks; I suspect she still won't be ready, but would be delighted to be proved wrong.

We also got in to the bank and updated our information there. And I rolled over my 401K -- I had misread the mail they sent me, so ended up with an actual check. Unfortunately I won't get the withholding back until I do my taxes next year. :P Too bad -- could've used it NOW.

A couple of phone screens, but no in-person interviews yet. Growf! Several online resume submissions, but I have low expectations from those.

On the home computing front, I pulled my laser printer out of storage (for resumes), and finally fixed Starport's DNS (which turned out to be a bad forwarder). It works fine now. Much better than CenturyLink's WiFi, which keeps crapping out on me.

The bedroom shelves are nearly done -- all the tracks and standards are in place, and most of the shelves (except for a few near the bed, and in the laundry closet). The dining room is next.

The usual collection of links and details in the raw notes, below.

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

Finally posted my itinerary/tentative schedule for the next couple of months. And, as usual, didn't do all that much else. Well, there were some things accomplished. Including the phone interview with EDD, which I'd been worried about. It looks as though my pension won't affect my unimployment insurance, because Ricoh stopped paying into it in 2010.

I'm continuing to putter, and got a fair amount of book triage done in the office. Most were immediately snapped up by folks in the Wednesday crowd, which of course was the whole idea. The old turntable, too -- now that we've gotten rid of all our vinyl, we really don't need it. End of an era.

I called PODS and got a quote: about $3200 for a 16' pod. The move will be complicated by the fact that we want some of the stuff to go into N's garage; I'm thinking of PODS or some other container company for that. We'll see. Unfortunately moving.com doesn't seem to have any way to compare prices; I'll have to call them all separately. The salesdroid at PODS was rather pushy.

Link of the day, after a nod toward Richard Lugar's statement, is Rachel Held Evans | How to win a culture war and lose a generation. The money quote:

When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)

Now, I'm part of that 91%; as an atheist and a Democrat I don't see a major shift away from religion as a bad thing. But if you do -- if you're one of the many progressive Christians I know are reading this -- you might want to do something about it.

When I was in college, the churches were hotbeds of radicalism, solidly on the left. They fed the poor, opposed the war in Vietnam, ... Where in Hell are they now?

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

Hmm. I hadn't thought it was a particularly productive couple of days, but looking back on them I've done a fair amount. Even a walk.

I've finally started to get some traction on the job search, including talking to a couple of recruiters and my coach at LHH, and filling in some of the background. Actually, the most encouraging thing was looking at salary ranges and cost of living for Seattle. The latter is about 24% lower than San Jose, and my pension (which starts in June) accounts for another 12% or so. Social security, next March, will be another 12%. So not even counting downsizing and tighter budgeting, I'll be able to maintain my current profligate lifestyle on a comparatively modest income.

The really scary thing is still health care. Especially if we can't get Colleen on Medicare early. My cousin Caroline, who has a degree in social work, has offered to help with that, but it's still scary.

Spent quite a while fielding calls from moving companies, after requesting quotes via moving.com. Told them all to call back in June after we've done more triage.

I keep waffling about whether this is a good move, but right now I'm feeling pretty optimistic. Monday was a bit down. Uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner.

Lots of links in the notes.

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

Some work on self-assessment, more tweaking of the resume and various profiles, conversations about hard topics, and some tasty cooking. Wonderful hang-out time with Naomi and Colleen. One walk, and a lot of puttering. Lots of links. Which means I spent too much time on the web.

Saturday night I went out on the porch with Naomi to look at the "super moon". It was gorgeous and serene.

In other words, not a very productive weekend. Goal for today is to finish the self-assessment around career change.

Dice.com insists on a full street address. This means that they're always going to be showing me jobs in the San Jose area. Foo.

We sat down and realized that we really can't afford to maintain the YD down here for a year while we're up in Seattle. So we're back to looking at 3-bedroom apartments. If we'd had a chance to think it through, we might not have decided to move -- but that would have required finding a job quickly. The money will stretch farther in Seattle.

I still don't know my bottom line.

Amazingly enough, I keep running into people on my flist who haven't read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. Go read. It's about hidden disabilities, and I guarantee you know somebody who's dealing with that stuff; for whom counting spoons is a daily challenge. And along those lines, here's How To Illustrate Wheelchairs In Comic Books

WANT: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. First Android tablet I've seen that really does what I want at a price I can afford.

Anybody using Huntsy: A Dashboard for Your Job Search? Looks interesting, though I haven't decided yet whether it's worth the trouble.

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

Yay! [personal profile] pocketnaomi is here visiting!

I have a new tag: "quest". It's intended to cover the job search, housing search, and moving. It's also intended to recognize that this is more than any of those separately, reframing it as a major life change. "Adventure" might have done, too, but I don't like adventures. Nasty, uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner. Oh, wait.

Took a webinar about changing careers on on LHH's website, added "mentoring" and "technology transfer" to my lists of skills, and started to research green and ethical companies by chasing links from ricoh.com, which has received awards in both areas.

I've been waking up horribly early, mostly worrying about finances, and especially about the effect of the move on the YD. Monday I managed to get back to sleep, and slept through my alarm as a result. Yesterday I woke up somewhere around 4:30, and gave up and got out of bed around 5:15. Slept well last night, so maybe I'm more-or-less reset now. Hope so. Though I could do with a couple of hours less sleep.

Some good conversations last night about the move. Sort of encouraging.

A couple of links in the notes; nothing extremely noteworthy.

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

Feels like it's been a long week. Um... ok, it's been a long, tiring week. Not enough self-care -- I need to walk more, and practice. Like most things that I know I'll enjoy and I know will be good for me, I don't do enough of them.

Spent quite a lot of time expanding my connections on LinkedIn and Facebook. I can see how that kind of thing can easily become an addiction. Neither, unfortunately, will import connections from LJ; I find myself duplicating a lot of effort. On the other hand, I'm finding people from my past. Can't complain, except about the number of hours in a day. At least this isn't Jupiter.

Also in the job search direction, took a lot of online courses on the LHH web, and one onsite.

Friday and Saturday we talked with people at our bank about our rollover IRAs. We can certainly get better yield on one of them; they're looking into the other. The side conversation proved that it's not just me -- salaries in general have not kept up with inflation since around 1970, and of course taxes have gone up at least twice as fast as inflation. So my buying power is probably only 75-80% of what it was when I entered the job market. :P

See all the pretty links.

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

I spent most of yesterday on job-search-related stuff, and although that includes a lot of time looking for people on linkedin and creating an account on facebook, it also included a webinar on effective networking. No, those are not unrelated. Several job sites tap your facebook network to find contacts.

Yes, I'm way out of my comfort zone. I'm still waiting for my Wile E. Coyote moment.

Also went to a presentation on 401K plans; only mildly useful, but I can still probably make some helpful changes. And set up three medical appointments for early June.

Hmm. I see no links in the notes today. Must have been busy.

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

It's been a week. More specifically, a week in Seatac (Norwescon) and Shoreline (apartment hunting and hanging out with Chaos and Naomi). I really have to set things up so that I can easily post from my netbook, don't I?

I had a good con. Nothing on my schedule except a handful of concerts and hanging out. Met Naomi's friend C, who is a delightful person. Bought little posable polymer dragons for me, Colleen, the YD, and Naomi. Our rooms were across the street in the Coast Gateway; I think there are parts of the Doubletree that are actually farther from the convention's function space.

We kept N's room until Monday so she could get some rest, but actually checked out Sunday night. Worth it. Monday we looked at apartments, and talked about job-hunting over dinner with [livejournal.com profile] egoldberg. Tuesday I looked at more apartments, and had lunch with Chaos at a Chinese restaurant that's walking distance from her new apartment in Linwood. A couple of good prospects on that front.

All in all a good visit. I'm still getting used to the idea of moving up there. To the idea of moving at all, after 36 years in the same house, and 43 years in the Bay Area. It's a lot of change to be taking on all at once, but... It was going to happen in the next five or six years anyway, and I was both dreading it and planning for it.

I've spent all morning going through a week's worth of mail and two days' worth of email; I'll spend the rest of today on my resume and my taxes.

There are plenty of links in the notes; go for it. Have a great Yuri's Night!

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mdlbear: (distress)

This isn't a Songs for Saturday. It's important, it's political, it's inspiring, and you ought to go watch A Message to All Police Officers From Occupy Wall Street, delivered in an extremely powerful speech by an LAPD officer.

Hat tip to [personal profile] pocketnaomi

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

A strange day. Expected, of course. I spent the morning, and a couple of hours in the afternoon, wrapping things up: final backups, setting up email and voice mail forwarding, writing my farewell letter, taking the boxes and my desktop computer out to the car... Then the two rounds of goodbyes, in Cupertino and Menlo Park. I got a nice card, and an expense check for some USB microphones I bought last year. (16-bit. Don't want them. I kept the cables and stands.) Abandoned a fair amount of nice hardware that I don't have room or an immediate use for.

Goodbyes bittersweet, of course. Got hugs from several long-time coworkers; one (our IP person) seemed on the verge of tears, though I could have been reading that wrong. Alexithymia and citalopram have their uses; I stayed upbeat if not always cheerful.

I realized, somewhere in the course of the day, that although I've never had to move a whole house before, I've moved my office four times over the last two years, and our two remodels counted for almost a move each. Still, it'll be rough -- there's a lot of attachment here.

I found out, going over one of the brochures I picked up at the Social Security office, that if I start collecting before my full retirement age (66, next year) my payments will get reduced to almost nothing because of the money I've already made this year. So I'll go back to plan A and fire up the Ricoh pension, which doesn't have that problem.

Added "master toolmaker" to my LinkedIn profile; I'm going to spend some time today tweaking my resume to reflect the fact that I consider myself a writer, craftsman and toolmaker rather than an engineer or scientist.

Of the items added to my to.do file over the last three weeks, I appear to have flagged 55 as completed, and 40 unfinished. It's actually a little better than that, since some of those 40 are categories, and about a dozen are WIBNIfs. I'm reasonably satisfied with my progress.

A couple of links in the notes. I was looking for images of me on Google, and ran across this cartoon that mentions "Vampire Megabyte".

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

... so, today I'm thankful for:

  1. Colleen and her sense of adventure
  2. Friends
  3. Pensions
  4. Medicare
  5. The compensations of getting old
  6. "Every silver lining has a cloud around it"
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

So... back to "work". Quotes, because (as it has been for the last couple of weeks) it was more about leaving than getting anything new done. I have 19 years worth of files to triage, after all. Meanwhile, Colleen is triaging her cookbooks, which is an equally gargantuan job.

The next -- and quite possibly the last -- party at the Starport will be Saturday, June 9th. There's a move to Seattle in our near future. It's rather hard to wrap my head around.

I installed the new-to-the-house 1900x1200 monitor. Very nice, though it uses more power than its 1900x1080 predecessor, and has less contrast. On the plus side, along with the extra inch or so of vertical pixels, it stands taller so more of it is visible without having to look down.

Several links in the notes. Most of them are political :( If you prefer horror with entertainment value, try this gorgeous retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, using silhouettes.

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