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October 26, 2016


I'm expecting that the postings here will be slow coming. I, for one, figure I'll want to spend some time crafting whatever I write on this. As opposed to my usual shots from the hip....

But shooting from the hip is the stuff I do?!!?

So confused.... :-)

i used to run my own software company, mostly as a side business. it paid for a ton of really fun stuff, over the ~20 years i had it (computers, cameras, mortgage payments, etc). but sales and my energy and my ambition all declined in perfect synchro, and it eventually cost more to pay the accountant than i was bringing in. and so i closed the business this past June. people are still sending me support emails and i'm feeling very guilty about not responding.

i've taken up bread baking. that's fun, but slow; from waking-up the starter, building up enough to use, mixing the dough, all the various rises and eventually baking, a batch of sourdough is a multi-day process - can't just throw it together on a whim. and since my wife avoids bread and i can only eat so much, i can only bake every other week at the most. so, the revise, rebuild, test cycle is pretty long. makes me appreciate what it must be like for people who do flower or animal hybrids where you might have to wait years to see your results.

Does being a dilettante count as "doing something"?

Only if you're good at it, HSH.

Well, I'm getting serious about fused glass work. I have tried to set up an area at my house for the cutting/designing part, but mostly work at a mentor-artist's studio, where I also fire the pieces.

It gets a little weird, carrying multiple boxes of supplies back and forth from my place to hers.

So maybe I should also devote some time and energy to designing a "go-bag" for glass artists who also do a lot of schlepping!

Note - I'd love to set up the whole shebang at my place. I may do at some point - it means clearing a lot of stuff from the former dining room - plus I'd need to make a serious $$ investment in a medium-to-large kiln. Hopefully some time in the next year.

We is moving to a new house. So what I do these days as we start packing is marvel at "how did we accumulate this much sh1t?"

One interesting dilemma is that since we're moving from a house built during WW2 to one that was essentially new in 2001, I have all this crap around that is completely irrelevant to the new house. E.g., when we moved in there was no exterior electrical outlet on the house and the garage didn't have any electricity, so we bought a bunch of electrical stuff (overbought, actually) to install and outlet and then wire the garage with electricity and lights. But what to do with all the leftover wiring, outlets, light fixtures, wire nuts, now that we clearly won't need them?

I've also been introduced to the phenomenon of "Oh, I forgot we had that since I hadn't seen it in 10 years but now that I look at it I can't possibly get rid of it because I might want it in the future although I can't put my finger on it right now...." This could nominally be overcome if we were moving to a smaller place but that is not the case.

Also, too, I'm not looking forward to inspection of our current home by a potential buyer and what might be wrong with it....(including potential lack of permits for aforesaid electrical work).

I guess that's where "as is" comes in.

And the paperwork for the mortgage on the new home, egad.

after three moves in four years, we've ditched most of our junk. i still maintain a few small boxes of stuff that i just haven't given up on yet. but they fit in the closet well enough.

extra wiring, lights (most any home building stuff): Habitat For Humanity will probably take it. we donated ceiling fans and faucets that we had left over in the last house.

thanks cleek - thought asking you about this but you already answered one of my inquiries today (in fact the move was the impetus for that, since our "office" will no longer be in the attic and thus managing the digital content will be more pleasant doable and thus might actually get done!)

Ah, so hoarding is something. I do that, but not voluntarily. I almost wish I had to move for some reason so I'd have an excuse to unload a bunch of stuff that does nothing but take up space and get in my way. It's mostly books, toys, and clothes, plus holiday decorations/general décor. Objects come in far more frequently than they go out. I'm something of a minimalist, myself, so this is a frustration for me. But I'm outnumbered.

Three years ago, I stayed taking classes at a circus school. These days I mostly do aerial rope (corde lisse) and partner acrobatics on the ground, although I've been lucky enough to study hand balancing, aerial silks, arial straps, tumbling, cyr wheel, German wheel, and Chinese pole. Rope involves climbing 25 feet into the air without a net and doing tricks while acro involves throwing people into the air or helping them climb on me or going for walks while they stand on me.

As the least athletic person in the world, this has been really hard but also really rewarding and life changing. Circus folk are the kindest most loving group of humans I've ever met. I'd encourage anyone interested to do this.

I make playlists. Almost exclusively my spare time activity. It combines my love of listening to music with my desire to be able to communicate without talking. I also miss the days when albums told a story, some told the story of their creation without intent, some just told the story of the creator(s) at that time of their life, some were wonderfully crafted stories.

I could be more focused in this endeavor, but I find myself chasing associations that aren't productive to the creation of the playlist vision I started with.

I bought four or five large loads of seasoned wood from a sawmill, for not all that much money on a per-cord basis. Trouble is, there's a lot of odd-sized pieces and stuff that's perfect for kindling mixed in, and so getting it sorted and stacked has been very time- and labor-consuming. But I think I have a couple of years' worth.

Which should give me time to take down a few maples and cherries around the place (mostly to make room for hickory and oak) and have something for the year after next, and so on, and so on. And then I found out I can buy wood from the sawmill just down the road for $20 a ton, which would be GREAT if I can pick out the logs (these are logs or pieces of logs) I want. Not so great if it's all poplar. They have a multi-ton hickory trunk that they can't use because it cracked coming down that would be nice.

Dad had his place partially timbered off, so I may be able to use some of what he can't. He probably has a half-decade's worth of firewood just in the treetops and major branches the lumber company left behind. I'll be busy helping him clean that up, too.

Lastly, I have 14 piglets left of the original 17, and I am probably going to bring a couple to the meat processing place and have them deboned for porchetta. The rest I may slaughter and butcher myself, which would be a first. But given that I eat meat, it'd be cool to learn how that works. I've done it with chicken. So, I need a meat saw (acquired), a bell scraper to scrape off the bristles, and eventually some better knives. A hog splitter would be nice; it's like a meat cleaver on steroids. But they're fairly dear for an amateur to splurge on, so I will probably do all my splitting with the meat saw.

I've also been doing a lot of clearing. It's wearying work even with a chainsaw; you have to cut and then section and then drag into piles and burn. Over and over and over. Most of what I am clearing is Russian Olive, which is invasive and which has in fact invaded in force. It does have some food value, but it's a major pain. Probably we're going to plant some fruit and nut trees in a place where the pigs won't be kept.

What else? Oh, because our piglets are half mulefoot, they have some distinctly un-Guinea-hog-like characteristics. Among which: they lift up fences and squeeze under, and destroy anything they can. So I'll be well rid of them. Guinea hogs don't behave that way. So I have had to install electric fencing, and a plug-in fence charger, and a whole bunch of rebar-looking small posts with insulators to hold the wires, plus clear a whole lot of fenceline before I was ready to so that I could wire along the fence, and then I had to dig a trench across the rock driveway to run conduit to the charger, using a mattock and a trench shovel.

Plus, everything I've been doing at work, which has been considerable.

Other than that: our plumber (who just put in hydrants for us in a couple of places so that we can run water in the winter time, saving us a LOT of work when hauling water) told me he has a couple of speakers I can have (I think they're a fairly recent make of Klipsch floorstanding speakers) for my office, which is where I am setting up my turntable. A while back I picked up a Luxman receiver that works plus a single Bose 601 speaker. The Bose I could do without, but the Luxman is in great shape; the pots don't really even need to be de-oxidized that badly but I am going to do it anyway. And then I have to unpack the LP collection and make sure the turntable and cartridge are working (HK platter/tonearm suspension table; can't recall what cartridge) and then play some of my old vinyl for the first time in a couple of decades.

And in my free time, I'm reading "Collapse" by Jared Diamond. Not very far into it just yet.

Moving has also made me realize that my wife and I have varying packing styles (not so evident when we moved into the house because we had far less stuff - or maybe I wasn't paying attention then).

I treat packing and unpacking as two separate and distinct events. Thus, grabbing a box and filling it full of stuff constitutes progress and we can now move onto the next box and more stuff. When we get to the new house we can then reverse the process. Boxes will be labeled "upstairs" "main floor" and "basement."

My wife, OTOH and not unreasonably, understands that packing in an orderly and organized manner will reduce the time needed in the unpacking and putting of said stuff away. As such, boxes will be properly labeled with intended room, particular contents, and generally only contain stuff that will find a place in the new home in a single room (or that room's closet).

Issues arise as these approaches are small in the Venn diagram overlap department.

Similarly in the getting rid of things.

Me: We're not keeping this? *throws in trash*

Mrs. Ugh (not her real name): We're not keeping this? I will put it up for sale on list serve or give to local charity and only if both approaches fail (sometimes after more than one try in the former category) shall it be put in the trash.

i'm a box labeller; it helps the eventual unpacking - even if you don't open the box, knowing which room it is supposed to go in is a win because you can put off entire rooms for weeks (months!) and not have to wonder "hey, is the stapler in any of those boxes?" would the stapler be in a box labelled "guest bathroom" ? no.

but i'm also a *throws in trash* disposer.

my wife wants to sell, donate, ask around, etc. for stuff we don't want any more. i'm like "Nope! I Am Mentally Done With That Thing. Remove It From My Sight!"

I keep hearing from my wife about how "we need to get rid of some of this stuff; someday we are going to move to a smaller house." But my perception is that what we've got is rooms full of her stuff. Makes the argument feel rather different than if it was my stuff that was filling up the house....

my wife wants to sell, donate, ask around, etc. for stuff we don't want any more. i'm like "Nope! I Am Mentally Done With That Thing. Remove It From My Sight!"

Aren't there trash people (1-800-G**-J**** - not advertising for them) who do that kind of thing? They're kind of expensive, but I won a trip at a silent auction, and it was magnificent. They came, they took, they donated, they made money on whatever - all good, and I felt better because they don't just put it in the landfill; they make money on repurposing whatever.


I worked with my buddy last fall building a pen for sharing between donkeys, sheep, goats and mini horses. It was a little over a half acre with a post(telephone poles) every 15 feet, all to say that we decided to leave one 15 foot section without the standard 3 ft trench to bury the wire in because wee wanted a section to roll back in case we wanted to get a truck or tractor into the pen.

The last was a bad idea, both the mini horse and the goat immediately found that spot to concertedly push on with their heads until they bent the wire enough to get through. Fixed it,put them back,and put three wooden wire reels in front so they would not feel like they could get out again. Still, they never quit trying the rest of the fence.

I have also been doing some cranberry harvesting again this year, although last year I took 4 weeks out to help and I only did two weekends this year. I can't really do the heavy lifting parts for very long anymore.

I try to do the cranberry harvest because I think its the best way for me to experience fall.

I love getting onto the bogs at first light with the cranberries already floating, a lake of dark red, waiting to be loaded off, the mist on the water and the trees all around turning the best colors in that early morning light. It is beautiful and serene.

Since Turbulence has already won the thread with his circus experience, I'm going to have to think up something spectacular in the What I Do department.

In answer to hairshirt, I am a "dilettante Count".

At the moment, I am helping my siblings clean out my childhood home. My Mom passed away last December. I've always tried to travel light, and since downsizing from my divorce seven years ago, I have. My mother accumulated 65 years of pretty nice furniture, antique bric a brac, brass work, and cut glass, but most of all pressed glass goblets by the hundreds.

Some will be sold. But I can't help taking my share. All I can think of is that my son is going to be sorting through this stuff in 30 years when I' m kaputnik, so what exactly is the point?

There was something to be said for the Viking funeral.

It's something to go through your mother's stuff and come across my lucky rock I gave her when I was a little boy, secured in a sealed Baggie and labeled.

Trunks full of photographs going back generations. So many more us gone than still alive now.

I miss all of them.

Gotta say, slart's hog-splitting rivals turb's aerial stunt work for something to do.

We've filled three 16 cubic yard trucks with Junk from my Mom's place this week. Probably one more to go.

Then an estate sale for what's left.

We've needed a thread off the beaten path.

My parents moved from the house I grew up in to a 2 bedroom condo about ten years ago and had to downsize their stuff accordingly. My father described the exercise as "passing everything you own through your alimentary canal."

He cheated though and moved a bunch of stuff to his log cabin in rural Iowa.

Circus folk are the kindest most loving group of humans I've ever met. I'd encourage anyone interested to do this.

Once, I started a new job, and went to a dentist, who was a young person (as I was, sort of, then) who was recommended to me by an also-young colleague (who had been on dates with her). She told amazing stories while my mouth was full of cotton and goo, and I thought she would be my dentist for life. She herself had been in a serious car accident, and her own teeth were gorgeous, but only because of the dental arts.

A couple of years later, I tried to my semi-annual appointment, but she was gone. She had joined a circus. Sounds like a dream, but it's not my dream. It was hers.

Well I knew it! I knew you guys were doing some weird stuff. I envy the morning misty cranberry experiences. I am amazed by the circus act. I would love to have a mini horse.

I am doing something I do not particularly like, but I'm good at it, to my surprise. I got elected to the BOard of Directors of a homeowners association. I was PResident through a bitter spite-driven lawsuit which seems to be nearing closure.

I discovered that I have leadership skills, am fear more analytical than most of neighbors, and I ma capable of totally losing my temper at people in a very loud manner. I did not know any of that before. I always thought of y myself as mild and reclusive.

I did not realize that dealing with FIPs (formerly important people) would be worse than teaching middle school special ed. Talk about spoiled brats.

I only yelled once, though. I learned , after beig appalled at myself for the yelling, that I do not have to care what other people say or do. So I mostly really don't. They do their Big Swinging Dick routines and I just wait until they are done, then politely go on to discussing things in a reasonable manner until a reasonable decision is reached. That drives the FIPs nuts which I enjoy.

I'm in my fifth year on the BOD and people don;t try to bully me any more.

So...growth ezperience, I guess.

So I'm back at work for the first time after our daughter was born - lucky enough to take nearly a year off - and I'm managing to find the time to squeeze in running a roleplaying game set in futuristic Osaka, and also to develop a boardgame set in the wild west (click my username to see more). The lovely thing about the latter is that there are so many photographs taken at the time that are now out of copyright that every single card for the game has its own unique picture from the period.

I (pico) brew beer and mead and play guitar far worse than anyone who has been doing it for 30 years has a right to.

Oh, and I watch my wife write sf&f novels. Between that and teaching I think she has a lock on thankless jobs.

I'm amazed and impressed by the rural activities here; you guys (Slarti and Marty) I guess have so much more (proportionately) of that kind of wild-ish land than we do (I couldn't think what to call it. Semi-wilderness? Country seemed too tame.) And I agree, Marty's cranberry harvesting sounds to me poetic and almost numinous. As for Turbulence's circus activities, awe is not the word.

I don't know what to say I do: I drive up and down the Motorway every few weeks between London and the North Country, between my ancient and demented mother and my extremely tolerant husband, who enables the R and R without which life would be very difficult.

play guitar far worse than anyone who has been doing it for 30 years has a right to.

wanna bet? :)

i love playing. nobody else loves me playing.

one of our cats literally makes me stop playing. every time i start, she comes over and gets in my face. i don't know if she hates it or if she thinks i'm calling her. either way, i have to close the door if i want to play without her interrupting.

I'm amazed and impressed by the rural activities here;

i'm out in the woods, too (we have 5 acres - all on a hill). but my activities are so far centered around trying to stop all our topsoil from washing off the hill - planting grass and trees and wildflowers (soon), making little dams, etc.. not very fun or exciting.

play guitar far worse than anyone who has been doing it for 30 years has a right to.

wanna bet? :)

Um, yeah. It hasn't quite been 30 years for me, but I'm getting there. Practice amp in the bedroom is as far as it goes. I'm not even sure if there's a single song I've ever bothered to learn from beginning to end. I'm mostly into poorly executed blues and metal improvisation and some occasional avant garde pseudo-jazz/noise.

No one wants to sit around the fire and listen to me play the guitar. That, I can assure you.

Nous, BTW, last night I googled the Opeth link you put in one of your comments months ago. I couldn't remember the name of the song, so I googled "obsidian wings opeth." Boom - there it was. If you don't remember it was Eternal Rains Will Come. The video is just the perfect complement to the music, too.

thanks to that Nous comment, i now have three Opeth records.

Turbulence's circus experience sounds like one of those things you'd tell your grandkids. Or your friends' grandkids, if you don't have any. It's something that you can't reproduce with money and a couple of vacation days.

Also:appreciation for Marty's cranberry bog experience. My personal outside experience involves noisy internal-combustion-powered saws and tractors, but if I just sit outside and listen, the birds are just fantastic. Where I live in Indiana is hardwood forest for miles and miles, and the quantity and variety of avian life is stunning. So: here's to the quiet times. They are rare, but appreciated nonetheless.

It's been great hearing what you all have been up to. I could tell stories, but then I wouldn't have time to read yours.

Like the Epic Building Of The Hog Shelters In Time For Birthing, back in April. I may have already told that one. Like all my stories, though, it's a long one.

And now, back to omega-dot-cross-r and suchlike, and deriving navigation error equations in ECEF.

thanks to that Nous comment, i now have three Opeth records.

Which ones? Do they have any death metal-style vocals on them?

I (pico) brew beer...

I (macro) drink beer. ;^$

Go ahead and tell the stories, Slarti! Or one at least.

Opeth are one of my desert island bands along with Amorphis and Enslaved. That's Sweden, Finland, and Norway covered right there. I'll even throw in Hamferð from the Faroe Islands and Sólstafir from Iceland to round out this tour of the Nordic countries. Denmark has some decent metal bands, but they don't seem to be able to keep up with the others.

Amorphis is mythic and epic with a healthy dose of prog in their influences, try the song "Skyforger" to get a sense of their more epic qualities.

Enslaved is aggressive black metal (musically...they completely ignore the teenage satanist schtick in favor of esoteric philosophy) that feels the pull of space rock (as evidenced in "Thurisaz Dreaming)."

Hamferð - "Deyðir Varðar" (live during the solar eclipse in The Faroe Islands, March 20th 2015)

Sólstafir - "Fjara"

I feel I ought to write something, but am somewhat bashful after reading the colorful exploits of others here.

I have no mechanical skills to speak of, a fact of which I'm acutely aware after moving into our own house following more than twenty years of living in university housing, where one could just call up the "Estates Office" if anything went wrong and they'd send someone over to fix it. Fortunately we are well enough off so that we can hire People to come in and tend the garden, etc., without whom we'd be overrun by ivy, wisteria, and other sub-tropical growth. We also had a great Handyman who could fix almost any problem around the house, but he just disappeared, apparently having found a real job.

We also have a swimming pool, and I'm OK with routine maintenance (skimming, basic chemicals, etc.), but when things go really wrong - as they have the last couple of years - we have to find People again AND (this is crucial) they need to be the right people. Some of them weren't. Unlike our personal health, which is also dodgy nowadays, it turns out a swimming pool is not covered by Medicare. Ouch.

On a more positive note, I still sing in Duke Chapel Choir (annual Messiah performances coming up shortly - these will be my 34th, 35th, and 36th with DCC) and get the occasional post-retirement call to review a book or a manuscript on Southeast Asian history, thus keeping my mental hand in, to mix metaphorically. And I'm doing more of the shopping, cooking, and laundry than I used to, but y'all didn't want to know that, did you?

So it goes.

We voted today. Turn North Carolina Blue!!

WRT all the woodworking, I wish some of y'all were neighbors. Ours is an urban house, but surrounded by trees, some of which have to come down or be trimmed from time to time. Our Tree People (we have these, too) do not bother to take any of the trunks or limbs away; they just heave them directly into the chipper (shades of Fargo) mounted on the back of their truck. Otherwise we'd have to pay to have the stuff hauled away. Seems a shame to me - but what do I know from wood?

I try to figure out this obscene beast of a software system that I work on at my new (as of last spring) gig.

I aspire to dilletante status on jazz vibraphone.

Sadly, not a lot of drumming nowadays. My calendar is clear for, like, ever.

Need a drummer?

I do house chores.

And my mind wanders around. I go down ratholes.

That's pretty much my life. I should probably get out more.

If you look up the word dilettante, you will find my picture. I envy all you folks who can devote a huge chunk of time and energy to one thing. My wife acts as a break for the bigger flights of fancy (really wanted to start another instrument when I turned 50, but that got nipped in the bud)

I'm still doing aikido, but only about twice a month at most, work and being out of town on weekends has left my schedule a mess. My iaido teacher had a stroke about 2 months ago and is still recovering so I've not been practicing. I'm trying tai chi to try to increase my flexibility, but I'm not getting very far. So I've really got to get back to doing it more regularly.

I've been horn playing in the university orchestra for the past 20 years, but being a student orchestra, I take my horn out around Christmas, play the concert in Feb or Mar, play the graduation ceremony and entrance ceremony and put my horn up, so to try and get myself to practice more, I joined a local orchestra that has the yearly concert in the fall. The concert went well (Mozart, Hummel and Mendelssohn) and it is the 30th annual concert next year, so they have decided to play Brahms 3rd and Brahms Double Concerto, and I'm supposed to play 1st horn, so I have to seriously up my game for next year.

Trying to study Vietnamese, I'm toying with doing a sabbatical there, but I'm not sure that's going to go with all our budgets reduced because of the earthquake here.

Japanese continues to be a monkey on my back, but my studying is never 'gee I'd like to read this', it's always 'gawd, I have to figure out what this says and how I respond'. I tell students, with greater volume and frequency that they better enjoy school, when they leave, studying and free time are going to be a distant memory.

Slowly working through the long put-off changes in backyard landscaping.

Odds and ends of embedded processor projects. A Raspberry Pi packs an incredible amount of capability in a small package.

Sitting on the executive committee for the Colorado Division of the US Fencing Association. Actually fencing from time to time.

Assembling all the open-source pieces necessary to generate my own cartograms and prism maps from the command line. Writing the glue to tie all of those pieces together. It started when I wanted to generate this cartogram, and just sort of got out of hand.


And of course, there's the whole east-west partition of the US conspiracy thing...

Which ones? Do they have any death metal-style vocals on them?

their latest three.

no death-metal style vocals. OK, i think there's some of it on the new one, but IIRC, it's in one of the older, live, tracks that came with the iTunes download.

i'm looking at a raspberry pi appliance for a music server. there's a lot going on in that world.

OK, i think there's some of it on the new one, but IIRC, it's in one of the older, live, tracks that came with the iTunes download.

That makes sense. I know they started off as a death metal band of sorts and have slowly abandoned that in favor of their progressive side. I don't know if you've checked out any of their early stuff on youtube, but you should - not necessarily because you'd like it, but just to see how different it is from their newer stuff.

i'm looking at a raspberry pi appliance for a music server. there's a lot going on in that world.

Yeah, one of my projects this winter is a music player for the old school bus my daughter's family is turning into a camper. I suspect that the reason I got asked to build one instead of their going with a commercial product is so that in the future she can say, "Dad, can you add thus-and-such feature to the software?"

The hard part of the project isn't the main player, it's putting together a cheap powered speaker with reasonable fidelity.

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