Quarantine life.

Mar 22 2020

We're rapidly nearing the end of our first month of quarantine due to the covid-19 pandemic.  I've been working from home since the last week of February, which isn't anything particularly new to me because we have mandatory work-from-home days at least once a week at my day job.  Coincidentally, a few days in was when our landlord's scheuled demolition and renovation of the kitchen began.  This meant that we were down three rooms in the house - no kitchen, no dining room, and no living room - due to having to relocate everything.  Lyssa and I also had some amount of stuff in our respective offices, which made life less than fun for a while.  However the kitchen is back online, so we've been cleaning up the aftermath of the construction work and shaking down the new appliances.  Not only do we have more room in the kitchen, but we now have a dishwasher and a sink that's not painfully tiny.  The first pot of coffee and the first dinner were made in our new kitchen on Saturday.

Shopping for supplies in the Bay Area has been both easier and harder than expected.  Easier because people have on the whole been pretty cool toward each other.  No pushing, no shoving, only one instance of almost-violence and that was some weeks ago.  On the other manipulator, it's been harder because just about every shelf has been completely denuded of everything from toilet paper (the butt of many jokes which write themselves) to cleaning agents to vitamin supplements.  It's one thing to hear people talk about this happening, but it's quite another to actually see it in every store you visit.  It's a vicious cycle.  While I don't know for sure I think I can reconstruct the overall pattern of thought here: People are afraid that there will be runs on everything essential, from food to distilled water to stuff they might be running low on (such as salt or dishwashing detergent).  They don't want to get caught out.  So they flock to the stores to stock up on everything before there is nothing left.  Unfortunately, this is the very cause of those shortages.

So it goes.

The Doctor's joint care regimen.

Feb 16 2020

Obligatory disclaimer: This is not medical advice.  Consult your regular physician.  Use at your own risk.

Empty one envelope of vitamin C supplement powder (I like Emergen-C) and one envelope of Knox unflavored, unsweetened gelatin into a mug.  The Emergen-C is to make it taste better..

Fill with cold water, stirring briskly with a spoon.

Chug.

Do this two (ideally) or three (maximum) times a week.

Sculpting castles in the sands of Time.

Feb 15 2020

I'm sitting in yet another coffee shop as I write this.  Once again it's my birthday and I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing with my life and where I'm going.  I've just turned 42 which, as Douglas Adams would have it means I now have the answer to life, the universe, and everything.  Or I am the answer.  Or something like that.  I don't even know what I'm having for dinner tonight, let alone know what life is or is for so I'm probably not the best person to ask.

No, I'm not going to post a link to the video for Birthday this time, though it would be appropriate.  I figured I'd give something else a try for once.

Looking back I don't feel noticeably different since last time.  I've got less hair on my head these days because most of it's migrated to my ear canals.  The hair that I still have is steadily turning silver and it's the first thing I see every time I look in the mirror.  I don't particularly think that I need to take better care of my joints but it never hurts, right?  Mostly it's my perception of Time that's changing.  Days seem to go by a little faster regardless of whether I'm actively doing something or just screwing around.  Weeks certainly seem to fly by these days.  I still don't know what happened to the holiday season of 2019.ev, and the last HOPE seems just as close as the one coming up this summer.  Things happen, and then they don't, and then something else happens.  I still don't know how I feel about that.

I've been reading in the car less and looking around more.  I'm not sure why.

Folks I've known for multiple decades aren't just married anymore, their kids are growing up and doing cute things (as children are wont to do).  Somewhere in between the two events, in the blink of an eye, children were born.

Fixtures of my life - favorite coffee shops, conventions, book stores - are steadily going away.  Most of them aren't being replaced with anything new, they're staying closed, silent, slowly decaying.  I've been looking elsewhere for things.

2020.ev

Jan 01 2020

Well, Happy New Year, everyone.  It's now 2020.ev, we're into the third decade of the twenty-first century.

I'm not sure what we're supposed to do now.  Hell, I'm not even sure of what to do with myself this afternoon.  I guess grab whatever downtime we can get before going back to work/school/whatever.

There have been quite a few people joking about bringing back the roaring 20's, with all sorts of memetic payloads (some silly, some not).  Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the the Invisibles' take on the 1920's make something of a comeback, but what do I know.  Me being me, of course the first thing I thought of was embracing a little more of the cyberpunk in our world because, hey, why not, anything to stay afloat in a world where getting sick for a week can make the difference between having a roof over your head and destitution.

I know, I'm on a bit of a downer right now.  One part being at loose ends, one part feeling age in my hearts, one part... how in the hell did we make it to 2020?

I don't know.  I don't have one of those "best of 2019" or "best of the 201x's" playlists that folks have been passing around.  I don't have any sort of brilliant evocation to give, or inspirational words to say.  No major announcements to make.  I don't even have any public wishes of "please don't let this year suck" because those do about as much good as thoughts and prayers.  I'm just some schmuck trying to figure out what to do with my life, and maybe make the world a little better in the process.

Happy New Year, everyone.  Let's try to do things a bit better.

Neologism: Evolving situation

Dec 29 2019

evolving situation - noun phrase - A situation where, if all hell hasn't broken loose yet it's well on its way.

Summer vacation is rapidly coming to an end.

Aug 31 2019

It seems as if another summer is rapidly coming to an end.  The neighbors' kids are now back in school, school buses are now picking their way down the streets, and due to Burning Man coming up it's now possible to eat in a real restaurant in the Bay Area for the next couple of days.  I've been pretty quiet lately, not because I've been spending any amount of time offline but because I've been spending more time doing stuff and just not writing it up.  I've been tinkering with Systembot lately, adding functionality that I really have a need for at home, namely, remotely monitoring a wireless access point running OpenWRT in the same way that I watch the rest of my stuff.  Due to the extreme system constraints on your average high-end wireless access point (2 CPUs, 128 megs of storage, 512 megs of RAM) it's not feasible to install Python and a Halo checkout, so I had to figure out how to get the system stats I need remotely.  What I wound up doing was standing up another copy of the standard OpenWRT web server daemon and writing a bunch of tiny CGI scripts which run local commands and return the information to Systembot for processing and analysis.  It wound up being a fun exercise in working with tight constraints, though I think there are still some bugs to be shaken out.

It's been a while. Summer vacation, if you like.

Jul 06 2019

I haven't actually been on vacation lately, not really.  I decided that I needed to go off and do some different stuff for a while.  I've been in a rut lately and decided that I needed to shuffle some stuff around.  I swapped out the "writing rambling computer nerd blog posts" module for teaching myself a couple of new things and spending some of my downtime offline, curled up with cinnamon tea and a stack of books.  Getting away from a screen for a while seems to have done me some good, and I'm almost back up to my old reading pace of five or six books a week.  I'd all but forgotten how much dead tree books weigh after the fixed mass of a tablet for so long.  The wireless router at home that I set up to replace the astoundingly shitty DSL modem-cum-wireless access point that Annoying, Trying, and Twisted insists we use is starting to act flaky, which suggests that it's reached the end of its functional life, not unexpectedly since this model tends to have overheating problems.  A few weeks back I picked up a new router, a Linksys WRT 1200 AC and promptly made a few hardware modifications to it, which is to say I cracked open the case, unbolted the heat sinks, scraped the crappy thermal tape off of the chips and applied decent heatsink grease, and put the router back together.  I'm considering wiring a small cooling fan onto the motherboard, maybe on one of the development ports.  Lately I've flashed OpenWRT onto the unit and set up quality of service and monitoring so I can keep an eye on things.  I'm still working out how to patch it into my exocortex for realtime status monitoring.  From a practical standpoint I can install Python on the new router, but doing so leaves next to no room for anything else.  I have to think about it some more.  I do NOT want to use SNMP if I can help it.

If you thought you were going to escape computer nerd-related rambling, you were sorely mistaken.

Life and times.

Oct 14 2018

Long time readers are probably wondering where I've been lately.  The answer is kind of long and is worth a post all on its own.  The short version of the story is, work's been eating me alive lately.  This is our busiest time of year and it's been all hands on deck for a couple of weeks now.  In point of fact, last week was our quarterly all-hands meeting, where everybody on my team was flown into town for a solid week of meetings.  All day, every day.  Most of my visible activity lately took the form of parts of my exocortex running on automatic with some hit-and-run posting while waiting for the coffee maker at work to top me up in between meetings.

This also means that I haven't had a whole lot of patience for interacting with people.  Not in the sense that people can feel frustrated with other people or their actions, but in the sense that interacting with people in a meaningful way - having a real conversation - takes more compute cycles than I have available right now.  After fourteen hours in a conference room with 40 other people, not only am I out of social, but I'm mentally exhausted.

Simple things can be hard.

Sep 18 2018

As the title of this post implies, I've been working on some stuff lately that's been taking up enough compute cycles that I haven't been around to post much.  Some of this is due to work, because we're getting into the really busy time of year and when I haven't been at work I've been relaxing.  Some of this is due to yet another run of dental work that, while it hasn't really been worth writing about has resulted in my going to bed and sleeping straight through until the next day.  And some of it's due to my hacking on a new project that wound up being... not as hard as I'd imagined it would be, but there certainly has been a steep learning curve.