Taking it easy.

23 October 2023

It's been a while since the last time I wrote anything. It's been a bit longer than that since I routinely schedule blog posts days to weeks in advance. To put not too find a point on it, I've been taking it easy, or as easy as I can under normal day-to-day circumstances. The anniversary of my mom's death was, as the publication of this post would have it, ten days ago, and it's always a rough time of year for me. The hardware in my head came to terms with it a long time ago, but the organics? Not so much, and they get downright weird rather than being straightforward about it. 1 This year Lyssa and I traveled to the east coast to visit her parents (my in-laws) because we haven't seen them since the Before Times and we wanted to spend some quality time with our niece and nephews as designated Weird Aunt and Uncle(tm). This also meant that I could rent a car for a day or two specifically so I could drive to the cemetary to visit the family gravesites, take care of them, and leave flowers. 2

Lyssa managed to find us non-stop flights to and from Pittsburgh for this trip for a decent price. It seemed like a good sign, though the return flight was somewhat painful because the plane reservation was changed the day before and the plane in question had very little leg room. Somehow I managed to sleep for most of the flight to Pennsylvania, which I think is a lifetime first for me. I also got a lot of reading done so that's one thing I don't think I can complain much about.

Folks who've known me for any length of time know that it's not easy for me to sit still for very long, so I tend to keep my hands busy. When traveling this usually means that I throw a set of picks and a pouch of random locks into my luggage to practice with. Some time over the summer our in-laws asked (through Lyssa) if maybe I'd teach the kids to pick locks the next time we were in town. I love to share the stuff I'm into with curious folks (and I wanted to make up for missing a few birthdays due to stuff with my mom's estate) so I figured that I'd dispose of several avians with one stone and get them each pick sets and a lock to practice with (in addition to all the ones I brought with me). I wound up buying three of the Genesis lock pick sets and the FNG kit because it has a transparent lexan padlock, one for each.

The kids loved it. They picked up the rudiments of lock manipulation in pretty much no time flat and spent quite a few spare moments of their own picking and repicking their practice locks. My older nephew wasn't quite as enthusiastic as the younger one, who blew through every lock I had that weekend. 3 I don't yet know how into locksport my niece is now, I guess only time will tell. I definitely know what I'm making for my younger nephew, though.

As for everything else going on lately, I've been fairly parsimonious about what I worry about. Work is a given, but I don't have to pull all nighters these days (or at least, I haven't had to yet) so I can log out at the end of the day. I put off some non-essential upgrades until I had time and they seem to be working out pretty well. I've been taking time in the evenings to read actual dead trees instead of my tablet (and fun reading at that, not just papers) to relax. Not a lot of code hacking going on lately; no itches need scratched, nothing's broken, and nothing's come to mind. I have, however, been doing a little metalworking. Probably unsurprisingly, it's involved taking apart and messing around with a couple of locks in my collection. I bought a new set of Dremel bits for the express purpose of cutting apart a rather tiny Master padlock and a cheap-ass warded padlock from Ace Hardware (which does an okay job of pretending not to be a warded lock). Long story short, grind the ends of the pins off until they're flush with the lock body, put a pin punch on top, and smack it with a hammer until it comes loose. Rinse, repeat until all of the laminated layers come apart. Protip: Make sure that you make a diagonal mark down the body of the lock first, so that you know how to put the layers back in the right order.

That's about all I've got right now. I'll probably have something actually interesting to write about later this month, but for now I'm taking things slow.

  1. No, I won't go into it. Just take it as granted that grief affects everybody in different ways, sometimes in ways that have nothing to do with it or make any sense at all. 

  2. Protip: If you rent a car from Avis, and if you have to push the dropoff time forward by a couple of hours you will pay through the sinuses for the privilege. An extra four hours turned a $180us bill into a $270us bill. I am not going to be renting vehicles from them in the future if I can help it. 

  3. Before anybody asks, yes, of course I made sure to teach the ethics of locksport. To do otherwise would be irresponsible, and the last thing I want to see is anybody in my extended family in trouble with the law for something I taught them. Also, for reasonably young kids, the admonition "You could get in trouble that your parents can't get you out of!" seems fairly effective.