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Below are the 50 most recent journal entries recorded in D.'s LiveJournal:

[ << Previous 50 ]
Friday, March 3rd, 2017
11:36 pm
appreciations: kitchen and cleanliness
I appreciate that, at least for the moment, I have use of a kitchen and a shower and a reasonably clean environment in which to enjoy both.
crockpot dinner and the robotic vacuum
(chicken/mushroom/onion/beef/blackeyedpea/greenbean/spinach/magic crockpot with egg and a basic romaine salad dressed with bleu cheese and powdered parmesan over a robotically vacuumed hardwood floor)
Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
2:57 am
overpriced test gear and excessive respect for the fears of others
In a world where only the legacy network link signals its bits at 100Mbps and where high end laptops lose their wifi link in the presence of a USB3 video capture device, companies are still selling sub-100MHz oscilloscopes for about $850.

Keysight DSOX102G 70MHz (upgradable to 100MHz): $847
(video) review of 2017 MacBook Pro Retina showing WiFi failure with USB3 vidcap

I bought a car for less than $850 in 2016. After an oil change and some sealing tape on the windshield it was driven from California to Louisiana and is still working fine. That's a lot of money.

The same company allows you to drop $471,140 on a 63GHz o'scope with an eight bit ADC. Oooh, and their 63GHz 'scope comes with a free 350MHz 'scope. Who, with a 63GHz 'scope on the bench, needs a 350MHz 'scope?* Also who, using a purely analog 'scope, hasn't tuned down noise that would have been lost in the quantization of an 8-bit converter? Noise at 1/256th of the current full scale is still noise of consequence.
Keysight DSAZ634A Infiniium 63 GHz Oscilloscope $471,140

Call me old fashioned but for $471k I expect 3-4 bedrooms, 2-4 showers, a 2-3 car garage, sufficient workspace for electronics repair and musical recording and a neighborhood without parking restrictions where I could store the key in the ignition and expect the car to be still there when I need it.

I may have already passed up or been denied the opportunities that would have connected me with that house.

(*)Dave, of EEVblog, explained in a recent clip showing the eye diagram of a USB3 signal that priced-like-a-house oscilloscopes come with a lot of cooling noise and time-robbing complexity making them the wrong choice for basic bench work.

Going back to Louis Rossmann, seen above demonstrating a new MacBook Pro Retina, I tried to convey the message he uploaded in October of 2015 during my time in Lafayette.

Louis Rossmann: Tech is the worst field to just "get into"

Obviously (to those who remember my posts) I needed to set up a workbench in 2001 and keep my then-current soldering skills current and keep a grouping of currently useful repair-related tools ready to use. Instead of appreciation I was confronted with a demand for current funds that shut out any such unpaid skill-broadening and diverted my attention toward traditional low-pay time-for-money employment (unsuccessfully; it was a time when my paperwork on hand wouldn't get me through the application process for the such jobs.)

My host, at the time my mother, was ruled by fear. She feared I would become successful in business, a business at that time would have had to be run out of her home, and that she might be liable for any trouble it might run into. Rather than face or understand limits to that liability she discouraged any such industry.

(God forbid I would have been able to use that foothold to become financially viable with the sort of momentum that might have provided her the help she'll need later in life. Better to kill optimism now than possibly lean on it later.)

Today, in a very poorly recorded interview of a 26 year old daughter of a hippie couple currently making bank with youtube videos of, for example, kitchen sink replacement interleaved with carefully cropped morning primping, I caught a life lesson I wish I'd taken to heart 20-30 years ago:

"Exoman" and "Banshee Moon"'s daughter, on getting hands-on experience at her father's spa: "I wasn't allowed to but I did it anyway."
Cute father-daughter Interview with Exoman & Farm Girl's daughter hair stylist Destyn

People are fearful. The more you respect them and by extension respect their fears the more you'll be restrained by that fear.

I've been too respectful over my past two decades. A higher level of lack of respect would improve my ability to help those who both need and resent the help.

I also see it's unethical to respect or reward resentment. It's also hard not to when you have nowhere else to fucking go. More on that to follow soon.
Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
5:33 pm
what you can promise is dependant on what you believe you have
Some days...

I didn't sleep well last night. I felt tired early and went to bed pretty early (23:34, per Jawbone Up) but snapped awake at 4 (3:58) with a heartrate spike (of 78bpm per Garmin's Vivosmart and over 100 per Jawbone's Up3) and I could neither pay attention to youtube clips nor get back to sleep for a few hours afterwards.

I woke up feeling headachy, as if hung over, but haven't had liquor for several days. Usually that means I'm thirsty but the stomach doesn't want water.

In the morning, email from my host says she's gone back to resenting the company despite all the honey-do's she's been requesting and receiving. Back to pressure and instability, which make the promises required for improving earnings empty or unethical to give.

It looks like I'm not going to the local wellness clinic to get my hand looked at today. The place closes at 4pm and I wasn't ready to go there at two. I also won't make it there tomorrow as I'm working. The next opportunity is Monday, another four days from now.

I damaged the hand pretty badly in early December trying to recover keys locked in the bedroom and some pretty basic actions and motions still cause pain. Two and a half months later I can finally type on a light action laptop keyboard but not press on a wall or do a push-up, grip hand tools, carry a tray, etc.

I won't get my bedsheets laundered today either. The house doesn't have a working dryer, things dried inside smell of cigarette smoke and there's rain in the forecast until Tuesday so today would have been the day but my host has wet clothes in the washer and has expressed upset at my washing or drying things she's left there in the past.

The bright spot of my week is the New Dimension Chorus rehearsal, coming up tonight. When I went last week the guys had apparently already gone home.

Instead of getting my fix of musical therapy last week I spent some time at a McDonalds hotspot learning about low budget ways to address to the fairly major engine trouble known as rod knock and got a better understanding of what would have happened to cause that noise.

Brainstorming last weekend gave me a short list of things to do every day. Walk, because physical and mental healing seem to require motion. Feed myself. Take vitamins. Sleep and wake up regularly. Be expressive. Explore.

Today I've dined on just instant coffee and vitamins. I'm not fed. I've taken just 326 and 453 steps per counters on my left and right wrists. I'm not in motion. I slept poorly. I haven't explored any new ideas or techniques. As for expression... you're reading it.

There's still time for breakfast before chorus.

Hugs needed.

(posting this without filters, for now. If you want your reply kept private, probably best to use email.)
Friday, May 13th, 2016
4:05 pm
tech: how I lost 8GB of apps, maps, photos, video and audio to a funky cardreader
tl;dr: My attempt at copying content from an 8GB µSD card to a 32GB µSD card for my phone was totally flummoxed by a generic card reader which doesn't work with OSX 10.6 and doesn't work with Windows 8.1. Just plugging it in scrambled the filesystem.

The first app I chose to pick through the wreckage did not work.

app photorec fails to pick photos off an image of a corrupted and repaired FAT32 volume
Top, sorted by time, shows protorec has had about 25 straight DAYS of processor time. It's nailed this dual core laptop to 100% (of 200%) for most of a month.

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which tells me this card reader just doesn't work under MacOS10.6. It also didn't work under Win8.1. Piece of incompatible junk! How does this shit ever get to market?

off-brand several-in-one card reader
Vendor ID: 0x14cd   Product ID: 0x125d

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Samsung µSD card reader
Vendor ID: 0x0bda   Product ID: 0x0153

This text is from a local window named "Untitled 115". There are 114 more text files open in this editor without given names and many of them contain partial journal entries. Finishing things has been difficult for me recently.
Tuesday, March 8th, 2016
11:00 pm
posted without title
Some time ago I bought a big chunk of ham. I like ham. I cut it into some chunks that went in the freezer and a few more that went in the fridge, putting those in a glass bowl with a rubbery lid.

One of the roommates got upset that the glass bowl with the rubbery lid was in use.

Some time later, tired of trying to get the last little bits off the bone, I looked up "falling off the bone" and found a crock pot recipe. The crock pot is buried in a cupboard somewhere but there's an electric stove with a decently low low setting. I set it in a small lidded saucepan with plenty of water and, after a few hours, turned in for the night.

In the morning the ham was gently simmering and the house smelled of something cooking. As predicted, it fell off the bone very easily. I spent some time pulling out the bones and the fat and wound up with a tidy little pile of lean fall-apart ham and half a sealed tupperware container of broth, for flavoring omlette or potato.

I then cleaned up the bowl, the pan and the stovetop and left the ham and broth to cool in two sealed containers. You let hot stuff cool before putting it in the fridge, right?

I sent a note to the GF from work asking if she'd already noticed the containers and refrigerated them.

She didn't get that opportunity. The same roommate who took issue with storing ham on the bone in a particular lidded glass container apparently also took issue with storing the same ham, after many hours of preparation, in a much smaller lidded glass container. Both portions were apparently discarded while I was at work.


It's not the first time. Nor the second. Many times I've come in to find the fruit bowl in the dishwasher, the tangerines or whipped cream or homemade jam or half a pound of butter or half a sourdough round discarded with neither question nor apology.

She does the same with durable goods and tonight decided to do the same with the canned dessert fruit.

Her brand of crazy is not compatible with mine. When questioned she gets uncivil very quickly and there is no love in either direction to damp the responses.

I need to stop living with that roommate. I don't have the means to effect that change.
Tuesday, March 1st, 2016
3:41 pm
LJ follows OK-C in becoming uninteresting
I noted some time ago that OK-Cupid had become less entertaining. They had at the time stripped out the journal tab and removed links to the forum: people could no longer express themselves freely, showing their personality in more depth or in the context of an ongoing discussion. The activity feed had become just a list of people who had uploaded new photos and people who had posted public answers to the neverending quiz which powers their matching algorithm.

It remains uninteresting. The mobile version seems to have regained clickable links in profiles but it loses details like username on local matches, the identified sex of matches, the corners of user icon images and the ability to post a bit of text on the "locals" section. The web version inherited some of the new flaws and a rich border of browser taxing advertisement.

LiveJournal seems to be doing its best to also lose readers' interest. I checked today and found my friends page shows only seven posts (of 50 per page configured), only goes back to Feb 7th (three weeks ago) and there is no next page of posts offered.

What good is photo hosting if the post referencing the photo is never shown? What's the point in having fast servers and caching algorithms if the users are being driven elsewhere? I should either follow Kirsten's lead and defect to DeadJournal or see if the paid version of LiveJournal would work.

I joined MySpace late. Not long after I'd finally become comfortable with it and uploaded some real content they changed tack. My connections and uploaded content vanished.

I never really joined Facebook. I have at least one account there but don't use it. Services that require a facebook login are services I am effectively barred from. One I tried to use, Getaround, failed spectacularly, blocking my ability to rent a car to attend the first GregFest, placing a hold on the funds I would have used with them or to rent alternate transport and in the process giving me one-click access to the friends feed of a duck faced high school truant going by PrettyAss Haylee of Martinez or Antioch in the process. Her friends were, to a one, illiterate. Apparently she had my phone number before I bought my first device running Android.

I don't do social media. #not-playing.
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
2:45 pm
closing tabs and taking notes: OSX, AppleRAID, TB SSDs, scanning, VoIP, Kondo
OSX source is open
Cool: the source code for OSX is available online at opensource.apple.com:
10.6.2 10.6.8 more.
(found while searching for AppleRAID)

OSX used to handle mirroring and striping nicely
"RAID 10 is a supported RAID level available in Disk Utility up to OS X Yosemite. With the release of OS X El Capitan, Apple removed direct support for all RAID levels from within Disk Utility, but you can still create and manage RAID arrays in El Capitan and later using Terminal and the appleRAID command." (ref) That AppleRAID command appears not to exist in earlier versions of OSX:

MacBook-Air-10.6:~ user$ man appleraid
No manual entry for appleraid
MacBook-Air-10.6:~ user$ man -k appleraid
appleraid: nothing appropriate
MacBook-Air-10.6:~ user$ man -k raid
raid: nothing appropriate
MacBook-Air-10.6:~ user$
man diskutil(8)

Looking into near-TB SSDs
The selection of SSDs in the 250-500GB range is quite broad. The options available closer to a TB are quite slim with a wide price range, currently sub-$300 (for an off-brand SATA-3 module replacing a 2.5 inch HDD) to about $1000 (for a Toshiba PCIe card).

I'm initially wary of the Patriot Ignite just for its choice of name, which reminds me of the IBM DeskStar ("DeathStar") line of HDDs and their unusual failure rate and severity. In a system with frequent automatic backups where full time availability is not mandatory the 960GB Patriot Ignite at $294 from Fry's starts to feel attractive. The same is available for $270 or $846 on Amazon depending on which link you click.

It does unusually well with a high queue depth: reading or writing (but not both) from several requests at once. It contains 1TB of flash memory with a Phison PS3110 controller. Its performance doesn't plummet when, for compatibility or power management, the SATA link is made at something below the intended 6Gbps rate.

The latency of the 480GB Ignite model is around three times that of the SanDisk Extreme Pro 240 and about half that of the Samsung 850 EVO 500GB, putting its performance roughly midrange among its competitors. Tom's Hardware says it's slow. StorageReview hates it too.

At time of writing Patriot offers no firmware updates, though reviewers say some features of the Phison controller remain disabled.

Last time I was fairly serious about replacing the drive in the MBP with an SSD I ran into some research into their longevity and failure modes and was scared off. Some failed hard and without warning. Some had data retention issues, reading slowly or with errors if sitting on the shelf for a few months first. I've read of drives that don't handle unexpected power failure gracefully. I see a sharp sided U-curve on throughput as the load ratio varies from all reads to all writes. I'll wait.

Network a scanner?
I haven't found a way to share a scanner on OSX 10.6 and use it on Win8.1. maybe this or TWAIN SANE or RemoteScan would help. Apparently to go the other way around and share the scanner connected to the Windows device you have to downgrade past XP to Win2k or upgrade to a "server" edition. (per a post dated April 2005 -- eleven years ago and counting.)

Sports Illustrated 2016
Athletic butts and sideboob, cleft or outlined with shoelaces or very thin chains (and also some absurd hybrid outfits that look like Depends beachwear).

NetTalk, not to be confused with NetZero, is a competitor to Vonage and MagicJack. (MJ reviews on Amazon) It offers VoIP telephone service through a standalone ATA called the Duo. It's . . . somewhat okay. Quite frequently -- several times a month -- the Duo fails so that incoming calls are dropped and outgoing calls appear to work but give a normal busy signal on every number called. As delivered the service doesn't respond to CPC: the phones will continue to ring for some time after the caller has ended the call and the answering machine doesn't stop when the caller hangs up. Sometimes outgoing calls go through very slowly, with nearly a minute of ringback sound before the line being called starts to ring. When something goes wrong the error messages don't match the actual situation. The Duo device works only with dynamic IP assignment, which can cause trouble if the router crashes, forgets its lease assignments and doesn't check for squatters on the LAN.

It came to my attention as a $30/yr flat rate service. At that price such flakiness is somewhat tolerable.

It came back to my attention earlier this year, after I tracked down the true cause of one of those misleading error recordings: the annual bill wasn't paid. Apparently they've raised their fee from $30 to $40 (at the end of 2014), added a bunch of new taxes to round that up to $50 and also charge another $10 if the renewal is more than a year after the previous one. Now we're looking at $60/yr, maybe $50 if a calendar reminder is set and seen.

From $30 to 60: a 100 percent price increase. Not feeling loyalty in this relationship. Reviewers hate it. The BBB grades it with an F.

Over Organized
Marie Kondo, a Japanese celebrity in the art of organizing a house, writes in her book published in October of 2014 that "she habitually sneaked into her siblings’ rooms to throw away their unused toys and clothes and ducked out of recess to organize her classroom’s bookshelves and mop closet."

I live with one of those: someone with very little respect for the mine-vs-thine boundary. Seriously. She once decided to check the level in my mouthwash bottle daily for a week, decided I wasn't using enough so threw it out. I frequently have to search the cupboards because she's decided that the space heater, kettle, coffeemaker, floor mat, disposal cover, apple corer or microwave splatter guard isn't immediately needed. One of those she hides several times a day.

Let me explain. Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not "spark joy," after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.

Ms. Kondo’s instruction on sorting papers is perhaps the most liberating of all her maxims: Just throw them all away. (She is equally ruthless about buttons.)

“There is nothing more annoying than papers,” she says firmly. “After all, they will never spark joy, no matter how carefully you keep them.”

[A version of this article appears in print on October 23, 2014, on page D1 of the New York edition [of the Times] with the headline: Kissing Your Socks Goodbye.]
Is there really no joy in avoiding extra charges through being able to prove someone was already paid? No satisfaction in seeing a charge account fully paid off? No reason to know the model number of the fridge's water filter or the length of the warranty on the car's wheel alignment?

I judge Marie Kondo to be incompatible with the curious (empty bookshelves!?), the engineer, the account, the lawyer and those who might ever need either of the last two.
Sunday, November 1st, 2015
6:14 pm
tech: android's linux oom process killer is out of control
Updates suck.

WTF is it with recent software updates that always seem to leave the device less capable or less intuitive to use.

I was introduced to Android with version 2.3.4. I installed LOTS of stuff and much of it ran all at the same time. Music played while music was being recorded and email was being downloaded and text messages were being composed. A podcast playing on YouTube continued to play over bluetooth audio when the screen was turned off. It worked pretty well.

Now I have Android version 4.4.2 on one device and 4.4.4 on another.

YouTube stops playing as soon as the screen is turned off. That, per the comments, was a consequence of an update to the youtube app.

4.4.4 doesn't seem to keep pages in memory or even in cache when not in the foreground. When you flip back to a tab it downloads the content again and if the network has dropped it replaces the rendered page with an error message.

4.4.2, on a smaller device, doesn't do much of anything in the background. If you start an audio recording and check your mail the recording app is killed. If you're using navigation and answer a phone call for more than a few seconds the maps/nav app is killed. The standard music app can't find the recordings made by the recorder thanks to a change in how Android handles the SD card. When the recorder app plays its own files it rarely plays one all the way through.

The default process killing behavior has grown out of control. It's far too aggressive. It leaves the device incapable of doing what I ask.

Others agree:
AndroidCentral: Android is Silently Killing my Apps - How do I stop it?
XDA developers: Android killing apps too soon
AndroidCentral: Memory Issues... killing background apps too easily
Jolla: apps get killed / freezed too soon. [duplicate] (similar)
reddit/r/Nexus5: Overly aggressive app killing on Lollipop?

Aggressive app killing blamed on memory leak in *more recent* version of Android
Google Code: Android Developer: issue 1701
Google Code: Android: issue 79729

So on 4.4.4 it's bad and it gets even worse in major version 5. Going the wrong way, Google. Would it kill you to test this shit on an emulation of the sort of device the typical user will pick up at WalMart in exchange for the wages of 2-3 hours of undervalued labor?
Monday, October 26th, 2015
4:17 pm
tech: followup on MacBook Air tuning
I took steps recently to give this borrowed MacBook Air more storage headroom so Chrome and Mail wouldn't fill the disk by allocating virtual memory. That, it turns out, was helpful but Chrome can still overtax this hardware.

This post started as a footnote to that one but grew.

With more space free on the volume the size of new swapfiles changes. The machine is now creating them at 64M, 64M, 128M, 256M, 512M, 1G, 1G. The repetition is now at 1GB where before it was at 512MB.

With 5GB in swapfiles and 9GB still available the system is still fairly sluggish for much of an hour after launching Google Chrome. The system load hangs in the range of 4-7.

A day later it's still slow, with several of the Chrome processes chewing up cycles (20% here, 40% there, 12% here, 15% there) while just sitting there in the background as I use other applications. The average load is just over 4.

Apple Mail, it turns out, isn't as agile as Microsoft's Outlook Express. It can't save (and index) message bodies from one folder without saving them for all. It can't treat the All Mail folder as different from another.

Google can hide All Mail from Apple Mail but it does so by hiding it from the IMAP interface: removing All Mail from the sharing list today will, after a few minutes, result in removal of All Mail from the other IMAP clients as well.

The Dell in Leslie's basement may still be following my IMAP activity on gmail. If so I may want to archive its copy of All Mail before making a change on gmail, if just to keep from having to download it all again.

The more data protective of my friends have already advised returning to POP3 to regain ownership of incoming mail. As things sit, that collection of messages is only mine until Google, on purpose or by mistake, declares it not.

Apparently I've solved the issue of running out of virtual memory. Performance is still abysmal, with TextEdit barely keeping up with my typing and cmd-TAB taking several seconds to bring a new application to the front.

One eight-tab Chrome process is averaging 35% CPU and holding around 650MB.

Running those tabs one at a time reveals:
Craigslist makes Chrome allocate about 104MB and requires no CPU.
Sparefoot boat storage: around 122MB and almost no CPU.
A Lifehacker page on code hosting options allocates 156MB and chews about 10%.
A property tax calculator wants 114MB and 3%.
A simple looking LiveJournal list of entries wants 85MB and another 3%.
A vendor page for a soldering station wants 133MB and 8%.
Another Craigslist page, 83MB and no CPU.
A Livejournal post, another 96MB and 2.5%.
A Yelp page on a shady towing company takes 161MB and 0.3%.

While here, let's kill Flash and its 16%.

A page on a new SMS defect in AirDroid wants 189MB and 5%.
The AirDroid info page wants 235MB and 75% just giving its demonstration.
(I really like AirDroid but it's absolutely not lightweight.)
Dave's Picket Line topic index wants 215MB and no CPU.

As observed several years ago, the computer is set up to fail by huge memory allocations in a bloated browser (more than 100MB now for a typical page!) then brought crawl by sloppy web scripting trying to run while only a quarter of the allocated virtual memory is actually RAM.

2014-Oct: Modern browsers still suck
2014-Jan: Firefox being dumb again
2014-Jan: Modern web browsers suck
2007-June: Xorg likes memory too (firefox and X snarf a GB)
(That post shows an example of formatting the current LiveJournal interface doesn't allow to be submitted in a post. The wysiwyg editor strips out inline CSS spans.)
2007-May: geek: konqueror likes memory (eight years ago, on a P-II)
2004-Apr: software review: Mozilla Firefox 0.8. Hyped on its speed but not measuring up.

It's been sixteen years. It's still bumpy riding the tail end of the tech wave.

Thank you, Marc, for introducing me to lightweight Linux distributions, one solution to keeping older hardware functional.
Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
4:22 pm
ongoing FAIL with a few bright spots.
More FAIL: time management, today.

I have work tomorrow which requires me to be on the way to a bus stop by about 6:15 tomorrow morning.

I have a rehearsal tonight which, presuming I take public transit there and back, requires I leave here before 5 this afternoon and stay out until about midnight.

I generally need more than five hours of sleep to make a good impression at work.

I have work every other day this week starting Wednesday so the cheapest path forward would have been to return the UHaul van on Tuesday and consider renting it again next week, avoiding $120. I couldn't do that: on Tuesday night the van still had my stuff in it. I lost Wednesday to a mini move a long way away: lots of effort, little reward. Thursday is mostly past. Friday is another workday.

An efficient wrapup today might have included moving stuff from the van to a storage unit, then from the boat and/or car to the van, then leaving the van at BART to take a bus ride out of the rehearsal transit path.

Even better might have been to make use of the time after rehearsal on Tuesday and after rehearsal on Thursday to do some of that . . . but with work before sunrise the following morning it's hard to be productive.

I expect I'll manage just a shower and late, possibly costly appearance at the rehearsal tonight.

That said, there have been some successful days in the still-overwhelming process recently.

Sunday Oct 18th was successful in that I got that pickup truckload of stuff, previously stored at the marina and moved from there on Sept 18th, out of temporary storage before the end of the free first month there.

Tuesday Oct 20th was successful in that I got the load packed up on Monday Oct 12th moved to long term storage and put a lock on another short term storage unit.

I also confirmed that I've been maligned at the marina even to people who like me.

Wednesday was moderately successful in a way I won't document here.

We'll see about Friday.
2:42 pm
tech: OSX needs LOTS of scratch storage
The MacBook Air is a beautiful machine, this coming from someone who has always had either nothing or a low end generic laptop. It's light. It doesn't use much power. Its battery lasts long enough to be useful away from a power plug.

It fails, though, when its SSD gets close to full, especially if running a modern browser. The virtual memory grows to the point where write operations for everything else start to fail: cookies, cache, new mail, attempts to update indices for those and for Spotlight. It also grows to the point where an app can't allocate a temporary buffer in what it sees as memory. It's not an operating environment most apps handle gracefully.

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It looks like if I want this thing to be able to browse the web and check email the iPhone developer packages, wherever they came from, have to go.

After that I should look into losing the message body data for the gmail "All Messages" folders.

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So after more than an hour at the keyboard a 25 second rm -rf takes my capacity usage not long after reboot from 89% to 75%. With almost 14GB available I should finally be able to run the mail client and a browser or two without hitting virtual memory and disk space resource limits.

Not the best use of my early afternoon but could save me many hours over the following months.

My mental picture of the amount of disk space that should be left available for VM under OSX changed today. Headroom matters.
Monday, October 19th, 2015
3:11 pm
seeking wheels (and remembering appreciations)
I'm in the market for a new-to-me car: something that can carry two dry people down the freeway in the rain along with some tools and misc. cargo. The most important feature for me is having a low cost per mile. Also important is that I have enough cash on hand to purchase, validate, register and insure it.

I've used two sites that match cars with MPG, one government, one crowdsourced. The third below is not one I've used, though it does seem to present its data in a nice compact form.

http://www.fuelly.com/car/isuzu/trooper [feels best: real usage]


http://fueleconomydb.com/specs/isuzu/trooper [data from where?]

I've looked on Craigslist and most of what I can afford there is either pure junk, needing a headgasket or transmission or driver's seat, as examples, or encumbered by years of past-due registration or part of some scam or only for sale through legalized theft, as by a tow yard or lien agent.

I've tried to post about it on a local mailing list but it's a yahoo group and Yahoo is being funky about reactivating my real-name account there: Yahoo sends a confirmation code to a still-valid non-Yahoo address but the code doesn't work.

eBay motors feels like somewhere I'll have to use sniping software (like jBidWatcher on GitHub) or a sniping service (like Gixen) to get a reasonable price.

I do have a second driver in the apartment and occasional use of a second car, so it is physically possible to go somewhere and complete the transaction.

I appreciate that without the support of Fred I wouldn't be able to sit at a kitchen table and type on an old MacBook Air, getting my thoughts organized and recorded.

I appreciate that without the support of Kate I would have to limit my search to sellers accessible by public transit or willing to deliver.

I appreciate that without the support of Alex I wouldn't have that interested second driver nor a warm, cuddly place to sleep nor either of those others in my life.
Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
4:49 pm
on housing, income and the arts
Yesterday I asked
What kind of work would average nearly $100/hr, full time, all year? Surely nothing ethical and not much that's legal.
The answers that come to mind are doctor, lawyer and banker. Runners up include some actors, some pro athletes, some prostitutes and heads of successful companies.

Doctoring is highly valued and highly subsidized. The exorbitant bills incurred by those in need are spread in the private sector by insurance companies, the process made lossy by their profit, and further spread by government, that process lossy because, well, it's government.

I'm no longer convinced government waste is a wholly bad thing: that money goes somewhere, pays someone or thousands of someones to do something or nothing and he or they then spend it, invest it or bank it. More of money "lost" to the working class stays in the country than money "lost" to insurers and the investment class. I'm in the frame of mind to learn more about macroeconomics.

Lawyering is partly subsidized, presuming an effective defense can be prepared and delivered in roughly six minutes. Neglecting that, it's either unavailable (out of reach) or pays for itself by warding off even bigger threats.

Bankers take the adage of letting money work for you and brilliantly let other people's money do that work. Surely that counts as subsidy.

The rest on the list are pretty obvious in the diversity of their levels of success.

Failing those, it's the old game of finding a stream of money and something of value to do that lets you dip a finger in it. Passing money around seems to become cheaper the more of it you do. eBay makes a significant percentage off enabling garage sale like transactions between strangers, or used to. UHaul takes a percentage of any price charged for labor on its moving help service. VISA takes a fairly small percentage of a vastly larger stream just to pass transaction data around. Some card operators give a portion of VISA's cost to merchants directly back to their purchasing customer as incentive to choose their card because purchase volume spells profit.

I'm neglecting retailers of goods and foods and artists of all sorts. There's no wealth to be made as a cashier: the $11/hr position at Jack in the Box couldn't house an unsubsidized worker. In the arts, only the best earn enough to get by and you don't become the best while either worrying about getting by or dealing with having failed to get by.

The sad part is that actions that really benefit society and culture are rewarded very poorly.

When the cost of housing approaches or briefly exceeds compensation for daily work there's nothing left with which to make life beautiful for yourself or others. Making live music and making a living are usually uncorrelated and often at odds. Producing art on canvas requires the sort of stability that producing art on canvas does not buy. If getting to theatrical rehearsals costs enough in fuel or bus fare to impact housing then the culture loses some of its theatre. If the thing can't be repaired for less than the cost of replacement and there's insufficient leisure to support repair as an art form then repair itself and the local retention of knowledge involved in repair won't happen; fewer in society will know how to design a better one or have the equipment to develop a prototype.

I sing. There are people who believe I do that quite well, though there is certainly room for improvement. It pays nothing. It costs something to do with others. Without support it would cost more.

I write. That pays nothing, at least in this forum.

I believe in open source software and have in the past put much effort into documenting flaws that they might be more easily reproduced and fixed. Chasing bugs pays nothing until you've built a significant resume of patches.

I repair small electronics, or used to. Sustained marketing of the skills that effort builds proved beyond my ability.

I have some old fashioned beliefs about doing "the right thing" but that never pays off either.

I live with three people. None communicates well. One always sees the bright side and believes in motivating and comforting others but unless he's being engaged in writing he's just guessing at the spoken word. The other two are more concerned with themselves than others and are much more focused on tone and reflected emotion than on content. I can't communicate freely with any of them. The barriers to comprehension load every phrase with a frustrating level of friction.

I recognize that this forum is also nonideal. Page styles may impede legibility, enforcing hairy fonts or no-contrast coloring or tiny columns. Site-supporting advertising may appear over the words or crash the browser or just distract the reader. Reading takes a little effort and concentration and direct verbal input common in a household makes the written phrase difficult or impossible to parse.

Adding pictures actually decreases comprehension. As a reader, given images I find myself scrolling from picture to picture barely reading enough to put each in context. They feel like placeholders to draw my attention back to content in the future . . . but unless I have the published book in hand the image will never draw my attention back to a page.

Ideas flow better online as brief video speeches with minimal text and illustration for emphasis. It takes a LOT more work to express an idea in that format, even given the infrastructure to host and serve the clips. Brevity matters.

Maybe I'll search YouTube for brief clips on macroeconomics ... but not right now.

And now instead of writing I return to my unpaid, costly, daunting and somewhat impossible tasklist.
Monday, October 12th, 2015
12:19 pm
Shallow thoughts on real estate.
Shallow thoughts on real estate.
Owning a home around here is far from affordable.

The home of most of my childhood sold in 2004 for $941k. It's a 4br 2.5bath fully detached residence with a sunken LR on roughly half an acre of hillside with around 20 degrees of slope. It has a two car garage and a separate space underneath the master bedroom perfect for projects.

A childhood friend, later high school acquaintance, later needy mooching tweak head, introduced me to the Zillow real estate web site. That site estimates the current value of that same home at 1.6M - 1.78M with that estimate having risen $7345 in the past month.

The place is nowhere near affordable. Every month it, and everything else on the market, appreciates by more than I can earn. Every month homeownership moves yet farther from reach.

A mortgage on the current value might run $6171/mo.

In accounting, one can be considered a good credit risk if housing amounts to no more than 25% of one's income. Neglecting non-mortgage housing costs one would have to earn 24.7k/mo or roughly $300k/yr to meet that rule of thumb.

You could possibly keep (but not get) that mortgage at $150k. Much lower and the mortgage holder and the tax man would be splitting the entire sum.

What kind of work would average nearly $100/hr, full time, all year? Surely nothing ethical and not much that's legal.

Then again someone with that kind of income could live in a motorhome for a few years then just buy the house outright.

Or could he? If your waking hours (2/3rds of 24) are valued that highly then adding a brief commute to a daily shower or taking an afternoon off to launder your underwear becomes expensive.

Maybe you have to already have it to keep it. Maybe there is no path in, just out, for the undersubsidized individual.

[ Exceptions? Remember your connections and how they helped. ]

Pondering the "american dream" in California is depressing.

Those in the mobile class might reply "move." Okay. How? To where? With whom?

Depression is a disabling illness. The government subsidizes the disabled, but not until they're thoroughly broken and only if already subsidized well enough to keep asking. It prefers people in need to ask, fail, and die.
Saturday, October 10th, 2015
9:34 pm
Another day, another non-start.
Another day, another non-start.

I'm $116 into this van rental already -- more than halfway through my budget -- and have yet to move a damned thing of the stuff I rented it for. I don't even know if it's still there.

Tomorrow I'm blowing another day of availability by working. To meet the arrival time there requires being out at the bus stop at about 8:45 . . . so there's no time tomorrow morning to do anything and it would be foolish to burn the hours on it before bed.

What next? Sunday evening, after the moving job? Monday morning, before the cleaning job?

What is really wrong with me regarding this Next Step?

Disgust at the feeling of loss, of having had my HOME taken from me and of being asked to take a hands-on role in taking apart what was supposed to have been my long term ticket to affordable living, to sustainable survival in the Bay Area.

Some level of sustained dysfunction triggered by injustice.

There was an edge somewhere up there. Falling... Pushed...
Friday, October 9th, 2015
6:35 pm
Doing it Wrong, on so many levels
Doing it Wrong, on so many levels
That sense of Doing it Wrong keeps hitting me at every step of this process.

As it turned out I do have a friend who was willing to help move some stuff. I abused that offer a bit, trying to fit a little more in my morning than fit in his. I failed at accepting the favor gracefully (did it wrong) though at the end of the day I had a pickup truckload of stuff moved from storage at the marina to storage down the road and no longer had possession of that closet, as required by the landlord.

In doing so I changed my monthly cost for owning those few things from $35 to $135 (doing it wrong!) unless I can move it again within a month (of Sept 21st).

I also gave up the closet the things were in, meaning there's nowhere close to truck parking in which to stage the next load of things coming off the boat. Did that wrong too.

To meet the marina owner's request that my boat leave, in her current state, requires that I store her on land. No marina save the one she's at would take a nonfunctional boat. Doing that, unless active repair is underway, requires a trailer. I don't have a large boat trailer so looked around Craigslist. One can get a three axle trailer that looks adequate (but could use a wheel) for about $3k.

With a bit more driving, writes someone without a working and legal car, one can find a large trailer for closer to $200... but that one looks like it's been sitting exactly where it sits for several decades. The posted photo looks like a trailer-shaped indentation in hip-height yellow grass. That trailer is someone else's project and not immediately useful in helping with mine.

A two axle trailer under-rated by about 2000 lbs can be had for $2600 and a trip to Sacramento.

There is no good trailer option.

If active repair is underway I can store her briefly in Berkeley on their boat stands. Getting her there is expensive. Storing her there is expensive, for the first month, and yet more expensive for each month after that. Then there are the expenses of taking the time away from paying work, of either living away from the apartment or commuting without a car, not to mention the significant costs of tools and supplies: sander rental, bottom paint, some through-hull fittings, at least one standing rigging segment, perhaps of fabricating a rudder, perhaps of having the nonworking engine swapped out for a smaller but known-working diesel engine I have in storage.

BOAT: acronym for Bust Out Another Thousand.

After all that I'd still have to find dry or wet storage and I'm unlikely to find two-finger land-accesible wet storage elsewhere at anywhere near the price I've been paying. The long term solution involves bringing the boat back to the same marina, perhaps under different ownership. I don't know their current terms of slip rental though Cindy (of Terry and Cindy) mentioned everyone's rent had been raised since William Silveira took over from his brother Brian.

Failing to fund active repair at this time I could look up legal places to anchor her... but I never checked the ground tackle, never repaired the mast light and never restored the 12v system after a rat got in the breaker panel during my visit to the State of Washington. She's never had a solar charger and the original equipment lights were never retrofitted to LED. I was living at a marina: I didn't need an anchor or a working DC/battery system, let alone one that could run without shore power. Indeed keeping a DC system alive at all can accelerate corrosion.

Even if she had a tested anchor and a place to float and working safety lighting I don't have a tested dinghy nor a pickup truck to move one in. The local crackheads living under the nearby bridge, though, certainly have rowboats . . . and dogs.

So today (Sunday, Sept. 27) I write this (well, up until a few paragraphs ago) during a bus ride to work. I need the time to do . . . well, something, though I don't know where to start . . . and the amount of money to be earned today doesn't enable any next step in this process . . . yet looking forward I need to keep my work contacts so off I go.

Wrong? Maybe. I need money, sure, but I have more on hand than usual and this little bit more doesn't really make any difference. Is the time worth more than the money? Maybe.

The transit information I got from Google and 511.org neglected to mention the unusual Clipper card protocol of Golden Gate Transit which, unlike any of the other bus systems I ride, wants to see the card on boarding and again on leaving the vehicle. This little detail isn't mentioned online and wasn't made clear on the bus so I wound up paying the maximum fare on three legs of the day's journey.

The stored balance on the card was supposed to get me to work and back to SF, with easily found ticket machines to enable the next leg of transit, but instead it left me in Santa Rosa with a negative balance and an add value machine that wouldn't take my credit card.

Riding the bus; doing it wrong.

No good in-water solution, at a marina nor at anchor. No good dry-land solution. No feasible way to get my personal items offboard. No safe and easily accessible place to put them.

Then a day of FAIL on Monday followed by another day of mostly FAIL on Tuesday, that bumping up against a day of work on Wednesday that also conflicts with making a physical appearance at the marina.

It's been two full weeks since I wrote of not knowing which step to take next.

After that, I visited the boat on a Thursday evening, after rehearsal. I was relieved to see the inside water level unchanged from my last visit but thoroughly depressed by the sheer scope of what needed to be done, whether to improve the appearance or reduce my presence or enable transit or repair.

My bright, colorful and somewhat welcoming hovel is no longer bright, colorful or welcoming.

After that I visited the marina with Burt on whatever day that was, moved some stuff, taxed a relationship and made moving the next load more difficult. One right, two wrongs.

After that I've completed a day of unrelated work, some household chores, spent some time on relationship maintenance care and fuss but have really accomplished nothing toward my goal of maintaining care of my boat, its ownership or the fate of the things aboard.

Doing. It. WRONG.

It's now 6:15pm on a Tuesday. The choir rehearsal starts at 6 ... 45 minutes away by bus. Not going to happen today, and work will prevent it from working tomorrow.


Rewinding quite a lot I developed an interest in electronic circuit design and repair, learning by example by taking things apart and ideally eventually making them work again or work better. I acquired projects to learn from and test equipment to work with and when my housing fell apart I wound up with a LOT of stuff to store: stuff without which I felt ill-equipped to survive in the workforce, stuff which defined my identity.

When I was supposed to be setting up the test gear and running through the project list, honing and refreshing my skills, I was encouraged instead to get a minimum wage job, enabled in that only by the temporary offer of housing, but was also expected to turn over for the same housing more than that job would have earned while at the same time saving to enable another near-immediate move.

That which was required of me was not possible.

I should instead have kept my physical skills current and been more assertive that those skills have value which is only really held while they're recently practiced.

Rebounding from falling to a position of needing parental support... I did wrong.

Some time not long after that chapter I found myself riding in a cartoon-yellow car with my father, following part of what used to be my daily commute home from high school. We were talking about health insurance and postal mail and what was and was not real or usable. Seconds after learning that I'd had rather good health coverage for the past decade or so and that he had been willing to cover the significant deductible, though I'd known of neither, I heard him revoke both offers.

Parental communication. Done wrong.

A year or two before that, stuck at the family house without funds to refresh the car's insurance (for finding and getting to work and maintaining social connections), I wrote to several from my old family contact list for help. The only answer I got back was from my father, appalled (ashamed?) that I'd asked.

Wrong. (Which of us did that wrong?)

I did insist that some level of social contact was vital -- seriously, without it I would have quietly checked out -- and that social contact eventually connected me with occasional income and later with several years of housing.

When that housing finally fell through I purchased and moved aboard a sailboat. Without notable savings, without a stable job, without even an offer of a stable shower (other than one about 40 miles south), I survived there, gradually becoming more connected in the digital networking sense, making friends and establishing a new (but low) level of economic functionality.

I wasn't able to do much related to component level electronic hardware modification but I did have networking projects, musical performances, photo editing and video recording to keep from going crazy.

I've rewound too far.

Go back instead to earlier this week.

I covered Saturday, spending the day away earning money that doesn't really help, while making every transit error in the book.

I glossed over Sunday, which was spent entirely on household tasks at the apartment: cleaning, laundry, etc.

I covered Monday, with its followup to overwork on Saturday and to having washed a big pile of clothes on Sunday.

I covered Tuesday, as a day of mostly-fail starting with a late night errands run the night before and ending with a missed rehearsal.

Wednesday was another string of failure. The morning started far too early with a job I agreed to do before hearing the details. The job started roughly, with a wrong address and a missing crewmember, but eventually wound up okay.

I began the day hoping I'd be able to box things at the marina afterwards, in preparation for another day of moving. I had already brought boxes to the boat and started the day with drinking water, keys and packing tape among my supplies. Interrupting that, though, was rain. The forecast had been for clouds and instead we got rain. Cardboard boxes and rain just don't mix. The tape to hold the bottom closed doesn't stick and the really soaked box opens like a paper towel when carried. are no fun to in the rain.

I went to school, having a nice clam chowder lunch for $1.95 and attending a choral rehearsal, then found it too cold and wet to follow through on the marina packing part of the day's plans. Apparently packing things to get them off the boat requires dry storage and I'd already given up the on-shore storage closet so decided what I need was a box truck . . . for most of a week.

Instead of packing in the rain (with nowhere but outside to store the boxes and no vehicle available) I went back to the apartment by bus, but not without first visiting my local truck rental outlet to check pricing and availability.

The per-mile price is higher than it use to be. Their 17' truck is almost unavailable, this being the end-of-month weekend, and their 14' truck was stolen and remains in OPD impound. They have a van . . . but that's much less useful to me. [ Maybe. A van has the advantage of not requiring a separate lock. It costs less per day, which could offset the cost of making more trips at more than a dollar per mile.

Wednesday through Saturday are blurry but you see the pattern.

On Saturday I gave the truck rental place a call but missed them by an hour. On Sunday I reached my usual contact there and made arrangements to come by sometime later to pick up a van. That didn't go smoothly. Something went wrong on their end delaying a 15 minute process for about five hours: the confirmation call never came. My evening errand run with Alex wound up not including a stop at the uhaul dealer and it wasn't until around 1am that I saw an email message saying the process had eventually gone through and the van was available for pickup.

That turned out not to be the case on Monday after rehearsal. A downturn on my part made it not work on Tuesday. Pickup was successful on Wednesday but I didn't get much done. By then a full mostly dry week had elapsed since that discouraging rainy workday without my making a visit to the boat.

I opened a storage unit door, felt the overwhelm there, took out some shelves and moved a few small things to the kitchen, to alternate storage and to the neighborhood free pile.

Hmm. I'm doing the doing-it-wrong format wrong. It took me a *week* to rent an enclosed moving vehicle, even from a personally known dealer.

Apparently, I did that wrong too.

Thursday I helped the housemate with about 80 minutes of errands, spent some borrowed mobility on a rehearsal and failed to get anywhere near the marina. Resource allocation, done wrong.

Friday I . . . wrote. Cooked a healthy meal, cleaned things, watered plants, stared at the wall and wrote. Time management, done wrong.
5:19 pm
last night was not the day: choosing not to ... again
Last night, tired after a long day ending with a rather slow, repetitive rehearsal, I chose not to go to the marina, though I had the option. I was driving a rented U-Haul van. It was a warm, still, dry night. The harbormaster is a morning person, so would have been out of my hair for as long as I had the energy to keep going.

I chose not to because I was tired, because I want to return to / reestablish a wake-in-the-morning circadian rhythm both in general and in preparation for work on Sunday and I chose not to because I didn't want to be that creepy guy who sneaks past at night with boxes on a hand truck.

After making that choice at about 11pm and turning in with the GF at around 12 I found myself awake at 4:30. Go? No-go? I didn't go.

I found myself awake again at around 6:30. Go? Snuggle? Read?

I read the google plus entries posted by a guy who wrote an app to catch incoming text messages on the Android platform for those cases where a message is dropped after receipt by the Messaging application. I had a case just last night where three messages were sent to me, two were received and my response appeared to answer something I'd not seen.

I also found myself staring at stacks of plastic shoeboxes and picturing all the groups of things aboard the now wet and filthy sailboat. Where would I possibly start? The total storage space available to me is about kitchen-table-to-ceiling and the horizontal staging / prep space available on board is absolutely nil. There's no good place to start.

unrelated: [My roommate was born on November 17th, 1935. NINETEEN THIRTY FIVE. Eighty years ago next month, presuming he didn't shave off a few years in a youthful midlife. He's economically and intellectually functional with a deep rooted sense of optimism and the storytelling ability to match.]

A few days ago we had a lunar eclipse corresponding with a "supermoon" -- the moon near its closest distance to Earth and also in Earth's shadow. I couldn't find it in the sky that evening (clouds?) but if I had, it would have been nice to have had a telescope on hand. I own one, but of course it's on the boat.

The next such supermoon/eclipse is expected in 2033. eclipse ref: [NASA | timeanddate | space ]

I've been interested in wireless networking for a long time and acquired much of the hardware one would associate with that interest: antennae, amplifiers, bridges, access points, cable, adapting pigtails, mesh repeaters, outdoor enclosures for much of that, redundant power paths, etc. All of that is on the boat... but most of it is obsolete, 802.11g or even b simply not keeping up with the current demands of a multi user network in an RF-crowded environment. The stuff could be deployed constructively elsewhere . . . but was never reliable enough to operate without a babysitter.

Without that I can't pass it to the average layperson, who might want it to relay an Internet link from somewhere with a good cellular signal to somewhere with a house.

Mesh networking under Marek Lindner always felt like it was going in the wrong direction. Its standard sized frames and encapsulation ensured MTU issues on the final path. Its focus on hop count assured that the weakest (slowest, most lossy) link would be the one in play wherever possible. Tuning the protocol to allow a larger number of stronger links left it unable to route past those intermediate nodes when they failed. It didn't handle roaming clients gracefully and provided intermittent service to clients with several nodes in range.

BATMAN ref: [ BATMAN draft | butterscotch coated Rollo illustration | layer 2 version ]

Fixing stuff requires a clear head, workbench space, test gear and time. I don't seem to have those things.

Selling stuff other than as scrap requires things on the fixing stuff list as well as a stash of packing supplies, familiarity with several common carriers and their current pricing, a shipping scale, more time, and, to be practical, transportation. I don't have those things either.

Storing stuff without fixing it or selling it just requires money and without reliable transportation money is also not among my assets.

And what of the personal stuff? Photos and journal entries on hard drives formatted with ext2 and a P-II linux box to serve them on a network? Video recordings of performances, irreplaceable to me but invisible and of no value to (most) others.

Maybe I'd edit, publish, compile and market. Maybe I'd enjoy just doing so. Maybe I'd never get to it. Maybe the reminder of doors closed during the experience would ... close more doors.

And what of the dead stuff? Things destroyed by the flooding attributed to the clumsy pre-sale inspection serve only to remind me of the damage caused by that botched boarding apparently conducted on the morning of August 14th.

And the clothing? And the books? 12v chargers but not batteries? 1.2v batteries but not chargers?

I don't have the means to move the boat itself, as demanded by the landlord. I don't have the means to recover and store all the personal stuff which has value to me but which, for the most part, reduces the value of the craft.

Without the bizarre notices that arrived late July to late August and the overwhelm they triggered I would have had a very different relationship with my boat than the way things sit now, in early October of 2015.

She needed some physical attention, which could have been met by clearing the bow, refreshing the storm covering and applying some paint. Instead of doing that I've been answering certified letters, making calls about dry storage, worrying about *stuff* and generally spinning in mid air.

The paint, which was in the storage locker onshore, is no longer on hand. The penetrating epoxy, for aborting the spread of dry rot and sealing the remaining wood, has also been separated from the boat. I've found some of the tools -- files, blades, screwdrivers, etc. -- fully submerged in salt water.

If the landlord's goal was to walk past a prettier craft on an occasional tour of the facilities, his actions prevented that from being an achievable outcome.

My landlord did that wrong. More on that to come.

Now it's 4pm. It's been a bright, hot, sunny day. In three hours it'll be dark again. I still need to run laundry and, after that hot day, another shower.

I think I need a deadline. I choose to measure it in dollars. I should work out what yesterday's trip to San Lorenzo cost me and how, given that and anticipated future trips, I can both make the van rental useful while keeping its cost near the initial estimate.

I also need a stack of cards with simple things I can do and less simple things I can start.
  • sift the cat boxes
  • launder some pants, shorts, towels and bedding
  • shop craigslist and contacts for a functional car
  • apply for government aid
  • clean stuff
  • post stuff already written
  • read stuff already posted
  • . . .
ps: edited the above. Now it's six PM.
Thursday, October 8th, 2015
1:52 pm
fluff: pennies and the tinfoil hat crowd
I should be doing much more productive things than curating YouTube.

With grout, polyurathane, liquid nails, a week and about $400 of pennies one can make a custom kitchen floor:
(time lapse)

Presuming you can find someone to buy 95% pure copper and have the equipment needed to melt coins into ingots and maybe a sorting machine and of course the space and inclination to store literal buckets of coins this guy advocates securing your future by hoarding pennies:
YouTube: My Copper Penny Retirement

Using a mockup of a football field covered in cartoon bricks of currency this guy tries to put government spending in perspective:
YouTube: How Big is a Trillion Dollars?

What would you do with a hundred million dollars? Here's one guy's answer, followed by some political and historical finger pointing:
YouTube: One Hundred Million Dollar Penny
(pie charts to piles)
Friday, October 2nd, 2015
5:31 pm
defining overwhelm
Overwhelmed: If less were asked of me I could have accomplished more.
Monday, September 28th, 2015
5:15 pm
Monday FAIL (paths not taken)
I knew I would fail today.

I could have taken the free shuttle to Oakland, attended a choir rehearsal, walked over to the marina, boxed personal things for a few hours then taken the train to a quartet rehearsal.

But I wasn't up for that. I had laundry to fold from yesterday evening.

I could have hitched a ride with Fred to his workplace, walked from there to his storage space and spent several hours there trying to make room for my things when they're ready to come, then hitched a ride to the quartet rehearsal with someone near there who goes to another rehearsal nearby.

But I wasn't up for that. I needed a shower after yesterday's work.

I could have worked on the text of yesterday's composition, "Doing it Wrong", and posted that.

What I did instead was wade through layers of emotional friction while trying to relay the content of a short cluster of text messages to the sister of their author, fuss with sourcing of parasite medication for the cats, trip on a defect of Google Play that silently drops submissions made through the website, trip on several defects of Sygic (an offline map and navigation program), commit myself to an early and underpaid day of work on Wednesday and post this.

Looking at the clock now it seems I have a choice between reaching the rehearsal in a timely fashion or having freshly washed hair. Being musically prepared for that rehearsal isn't among the options available.

Timely, after changing and waiting for the bathroom (we have one roommate who doesn't believe in sharing that room during a shower), would have been about half an hour late. I set off, phoned the guy who hosts the rehearsals, and found he'd called it off a few hours earlier. I returned to the apartment.

Then do I call it quits early and start fresh on Tuesday with renewed energy to take some steps toward my marina crisis and attend a different performing group's rehearsal that evening? Well, no.

Honey, could you borrow X's car and get my meds from the pharmacy? Oh, surprise, let's go grocery shopping while the pharmacy line is long. Long shopping list, then gasoline and motor oil and the drugs, all at different places: the pumps were open but they sent me back across the lot for the oil. For next time, Safeway keeps car oil not with hardware or kitty litter or other nonfoods but with the ice cream. Yes, really.

Monday: FAIL.

At least the moon was beautiful and bright as a wispy layer of clouds drifted by during our wait at the pharmacy and the borrowed car had a sunroof through which we could see it.

[once again I'm posting without using friend-group locks]
Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
4:31 pm
Too much to do, all urgent, all expensive.
Too much to do, all urgent, all expensive.

I'm overwhelmed.

I have several major tasks to do. Diving into any would impede my progress on the others. They're all important and most are blocked by lack of money, though I may be able to overcome that by asking the right people.

Even without the resource limits this feels like a case of paradox of choice, where when presented with too many flavors of ice cream one would walk out with none or when presented with too many television options one would just spend the whole hour scrolling through the guide.

I feel myself shivering in indecision.

I have no idea where to start. Every time I do start I quickly get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the related tasks and the difficulty in achieving any progress toward resolution.

The owner of the marina where I've been living for most of the past decade has been raising a bit of a stink through nothing but official channels.

He filed a lien in early February against my boat over late rent but I didn't hear about the action until late July, when the account was already paid up. I disputed the lien but the DMV granted him permission to execute a sale anyway. The DMV cited a code requiring my reply to have been postmarked within two weeks of their notice. The certified mail tracking page proves I didn't have access to that notice until three weeks after its date -- it was already stale when received.

Not long after that I got a notice on August 14th that a sale had been scheduled for the end of August at 10am at (the address where she's docked.)

Sometime after the DMV granted him permission to continue with the sale and before the evening I received the sale date notice I have to presume the landlord went aboard or sent somebody aboard to get a description of the property. That person appears to have triggered a massive influx of saltwater. He could have kicked at the plumbing above the engine through an open hatch. He could have moved the galley sink by breaking some woodwork on entry. Either way it's certain the drainpipe came off the sink and fell below the outside waterline allowing water to flow in quickly.

Evidence suggests this happened early in the day on August 14th: one of the backup power supplies, whose input power would have been cut off by the ground fault circuit interrupter on the dock when the water level rose above other equipment on board, was still beeping when I visited on the evening of the 14th.

He also generated a 30 day notice requesting that I vacate both the slip and an on shore storage closet. The notice was dated August 7th, posted to the boat on August 15th, mailed on the 19th and effective a week before I was due to return to California. The notice was dated twelve days before it was mailed.

All of this piled on me just before a month-long trip at the end of summer to visit the girlfriend's ailing grandmother about 2000 miles away.

The landlord seems to be pretty serious about ending my tenancy: while I was away I received word he'd sent my payments for September "back" -- sent them by postal mail to an address from my recent correspondence but not to the one printed on the checks as mine nor to that of the service issuing my payments.

If he'd returned the checks to the issuer the money would have returned to my account while I was away. As executed, I have what amount to cashier's checks that I have to walk back to my bank to make use of.

According to a Spokeo ad, William R. Silviera is 45 years old.

The marina itself is more than 45 years old. It appears in port of Oakland notes from January 1971:
J. W. SILVIERA - to continue occupancy and add additional area for its marina operation at the foot of Fifth Avenue under a new one-year license agreement which would encompass all of the available area, 129,447 sf, at the existing rental of $.009 psf for a new total monthly rental of $1,129.02 as a minimum rental. The Port would have the privilege of cancelling this license agreement on six months' notice should the Board by resolution determine that the area is needed for marine terminal development. The agreement would also provide for 15% payment to the Port of berthing fees should that sum exceed the minimum rental.
Yesterday I did some research on how to comply with the request to vacate. I looked into towing, hoisting, repair, local dry storage, etc. It's EX-PEN-SIVE. Thousands, and that's presuming I can throw another month of my own labor at the project. Even then, I'm not assured to have a place to put it afterwards.

So the question becomes what to do NOW. Right now. Wednesday afternoon, September 16th, 2015 and over the next few days.

I could visit with the local housing advocates to try to slow their eviction process. I tried to do that by phone two weeks ago and didn't get far. Once they heard this was a vessel in a slip the volunteer lawyers decided it was not their area of expertise. A for-pay referral service also failed to find someone willing to give a (paid) initial consultation.

I could phone various boat yards verifying rates and options for storage and transport including possibly buying or renting a trailer.

I could compose an ad trying to facilitate sale of the craft to someone who would have the resources to restore her to presentable, ideally voyage-worthy condition.

I could file a police report against the landlord and/or his agent for causing the damage that turned my cluttered but organized and in some respects clean crash space into an oil covered swamp.

I could file a restraining order enjoining the marina from following through with their lien sale permission on the grounds that replying a week before receipt was not possible, though he's already said in writing that he does not intend to execute that sale. His story may change.

I could edit the video clips documenting my discovery of the boat's state on August 15th. That's probably best saved for a sleepless rainy night.

I could borrow a car (Uber, Zip accounts already set up, roommate may be willing, other outfits known and likely to be needed this year too) and bring cardboard boxes to the boat. The personal contents have to come off deck before towing (so they don't become litter) and to come out of the cabin before repair or sale. They block access to the through-hull fittings one would replace during time out of water. Most are in plastic shoeboxes which stack well in a standard three cubic foot medium moving box.

Cardboard is absolutely the wrong tool for storing things on deck, even overnight, but Home Depot's cardboard is a whole lot cheaper than Target's plastic, even on sale, the forecast is mostly dry and the purpose is to enable immediate transport to storage on shore with fewer walks to the truck. Rain is expected this afternoon so that one should probably not be today.

Moving things offboard after the boat moves to shore is much more difficult, with each piece coming down a ladder instead of being carried or passed to a dock. Preparation for sale or repair should happen before she's lifted from the water.

I could pay for an annual towing plan, on the presumption that I'll be able to drag this out for another month until the towing service would actually be available and hoping I can get a prorated rebate should a successful sale go through. Like AAA, BoatUS doesn't allow the most important benefit to be used shortly after signup.

I could sign on for a storage unit free for the first month as long as I give the website entirely fresh contact information

I could go to the marina and talk with William face to face. I've been advised toward this by the GF's mother and away from this by the harbormaster. He is reportedly the meaner of business founder JW's sons and their office setting is hardly conducive to communication, set up with a thick glass window dividing a counter between the public and the employed, the channel underneath intended more for pens, checks, money and folded paper than as a conduit for the spoken word.

Apparently William recently took over from his brother Brian, whose name appears many times in recent Yelp reviews as the voice of reason. I don't think I've spoken with either of them. My usual interaction with the office was just to send money by postal mail.

I could see which of my friends and family would be willing to participate in the physical moving process -- taking boxes from the boat to a moving truck. I don't have that kind of friend, my social life having been pretty isolating over the past decade, and buying the help of one or two coworkers, availability permitting, would cost $100-$350/day.

I live in the sort of neighborhood where a completely solo one man moving operation would see things stolen from the box truck as fast as they arrived.

I'm aware that there are plenty of serious time sinks lurking. One of the things to be moved is a hand truck. Do I take the time to try to inflate its tires, hoping to save some time on the trips to shore? I don't remember if it just went flat, requiring a pump, or full on popped in the car, requiring an innertube. Do I try to sort papers into those worth saving if dried? Do I leave behind tools I bought specifically for use on board? Do I take the old Trojan 205AH 6V deep cycle golf cart batteries? The long range wifi gear? The exposure-damaged bicycle which could be helpful to a bike co-op?

When, if ever, will I take the time to re-sort or reuse the things I've taken?

Maybe I try to move her mostly loaded and bite the difficulty bullet of bringing all that down a ladder later. If I'm parked in Berkeley with a charge card and a bicycle I can move things around at leisure and still get to work: most of my call for work recently has been in berkeley. If I'm parked on Alameda I can at least get there and back by bicycle.

Do I rent a truck twice, the first time for the on-shore storage locker so I can either show good faith by vacating that or so I can use it as staging space for the next batch of stuff coming offboard?

Do I get distracted by trying to push through the disability paperwork elsewhere in the household which is likely to make shelter and storage much more secure over the winter?

Do I take a "break" doing household chores, cleaning up after the fleabags and roommates?

Do I just get drunk today and stop the anxious shivering that way?

Do I finish a letter I started on the plane to my father, who wouldn't be interested in helping with these troubles even if money were the only obstacle, but who should probably get a few paragraphs of explanation on why I missed his birthday (75!).

I hope the time spent writing this post proves useful: the next obvious step is to print those paragraphs and give them sequence numbers. Some are obvious do-now-while-thinking-of-it items. Others ... well ...

Arranging on-shore storage for the personal effects and confirming storage/transport options for the craft feel right as first steps.

I'm keeping notes on this project in a spiral bound notepad. Organization matters, especially when everything else is falling apart.

If you got this far without just scrolling, thank you for reading.

Note that, for the mean time, this post is not locked or screened. If you need your reply to be private please use email (on or off-site) or the phone.

[minor edits 2015-09-18, 2015-09-24 (wording, readability)]
Saturday, September 5th, 2015
12:56 pm
closing tabs: more scattered tidbits
It doesn't seem to matter the size of the computer. My browsing style makes them slow. Cleaning up again (and yes, bookmarking too.)

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Saturday, August 8th, 2015
4:06 pm
tech: ReadyBoost is a waste of time
Some time ago I did some research on ReadyBoost, Microsoft's attempt to pep up responsiveness by using random access flash storage as disk cache for frequently accessed files or parts of files.
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Overall I'd advise not bothering with ReadyBoost on Vista.

Installing more RAM is the better solution. I paid $6.25/GB for laptop RAM recently at Fry's: it's not expensive. After maxing out the RAM, installing an SSD will allow Windows or any other operating system to perform those no-seek-time reads without the throughput bottleneck of USB or the encryption overhead of ReadyBoost.
Monday, June 29th, 2015
5:49 pm
installing Google Voice for iOS breaks Google Voice web interface
WTF, Google?

I wanted Alex to be able to receive her Google Voicemail on her new iPhone so I installed Google Voice after noting that most of the reviews for the current version were one-star and complained about recent hangouts-related changes.

On refreshing the Google Voice web page she's now shown a message reading:
Opted in receiving SMS and Voicemail in Hangouts!
You are now receiving SMS and Voicemail in Hangouts. You can still access your old messages in this app. Learn more

WTF? Not every platform we/she use/s can run hangouts and the messaging plugin on gmail doesn't support invisible mode. Where's the damned UNDO button?

Go to Google Voice.
On the left side of your inbox, click the drop-down menu next to "Voice in Hangouts."
Click Opt-out.
You'll see a box letting you know that you need to refresh your browser. Click OK.


That looks like it worked, but still: not fucking cool, Google. Not a problem I expected to have to solve after trying to make something else easier.
Friday, June 26th, 2015
11:46 am
ljgripe: new captcha sucks
Okay this new image sort captcha thing has to go. It doesn't always work and it's hard to see. Should a blurry closeup of what looks like vomit in tupperware be grouped with houses and pizzas? Do I click again to release or just mouse-up? Is that dark sploge part of a dog or part of a fish?

I expect this will break some automatic mirroring between journal sites and know it will discourage participation through commenting.

[ As you may have guessed, this was related to a setting on the journal in which I was trying to comment. When I dug for what to change it turned out mine was already set not to use this challenge. femakita's uses it, or did in late June.

The change to my behavior becomes to avoid the comment-in-place javascript, which doesn't show the captcha until you've composed and submitted your comment. Instead I'll use the traditional comment reply page which lets you know a few seconds after showing the text entry box that it may be difficult to post that text. ]
Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
11:25 pm
alcohol vs. aspartame, broken validation, headphone amps, e911, catching up
Input text (source not vetted) posted here [ https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/aspartame/conversations/messages/25107 ]
Methanol (wood alcohol), blood half-life 3 hours, is made in humans only into uncontrolled formaldehyde right inside cells by ADH1 enzyme in 20 specific tissues, the WC Monte paradigm.

Methanol (wood alcohol) is 11% of aspartame -- every can of drink gives 22 mg free methanol into the GI tract.

With a blood half-life 3 hours, it reaches and easily enters every cell in the body and fetus every minute.

Ethanol is a potent antidote, blood half-life only 1/3 hour, as it strongly preoccupies ADH1 enzyme, preventing the conversion of methanol into formaldehyde inside cells of 20 human tissues -- so this protection is specific evidence of methanol toxicity.

If that's the case, coke zero alone is LESS healthy than coke zero with vodka and periodic vodka-only chasers would provide additional protection.

There is a linked source in the post I cite but its content doesn't include the quoted paragraphs. There's a linked bibliography with nearly a thousand entries -- enough to justify pretty much any assertion -- on WhileScienceSleeps.

There's a change of address form on the California DMV website. It's written to encourage one to fill in the blanks, one capital letter per field, one field at a time, before being printed for physical submission to the government paper mill.

Several of the fields accept only numbers: the first part of a street address, the zip code and the birthday fields. Each of those has a defect where the digit typed is stored as entered but shown (and printed) as zero. You can go back to the field in question and with the cursor in the appropriate box the entered value is shown but when you tab to the next field it looks like zero again.

DMV change of address form

Similarly, validation rules prevent me from submitting a change of address form to the post office online. The system doesn't like that the package and postal address of an apartment differ, doesn't like forwarding to what it sees as a business address, then completely fails when the billing address of a credit card doesn't match the starting address as the validation rules required I mangle it before entry.

I've caught a few good sales on headphones recently with okay sounding full size phones coming to me for ten and sometimes five dollars.

I have a housemate with unusually poor hearing. We frequently watch programming streamed to the BluRay player by Netflix and that device's Netflix client lacks options for showing captions.

The modern television lacks a headphone jack but it has an optical audio output which is already being converted to analog to drive an amplified speaker system. It seemed simple enough to tee off that to a headphone amplifier and let his sound level differ from that heard by the rest of us.

It seems a simple enough product. It doesn't take much power to drive a few pairs of headphones. It doesn't take much physical space to lay out a few jacks and maybe some level controls. It seems a niche market, though, dominated by things that aren't quite what I want.

There's the single output model designed to clip between a phone or mp3 player and headphones. It provides easy access to the level control but runs only on an internal nonreplaceable rechargeable battery. I didn't see much chance that such a device would be always charged and ready to use when needed. Pyle Home Bass Boosting Portable Headphone Amplifier.

Also, while looking up how to use the tone controls on one I found a video linked as a product demo that was just someone with a very thick accent "diskroybin 'is oonboxin' expayrynse." If their engineering is going more into design of packaging than product and the marketing folk underscore that choice it's not the company for me. Seriously: Fiio E6 and then demo and youtube.

Several models were offered that provided four stereo outputs with independently variable gains ... but some provided it on 1/4" jacks instead of 1/8", requiring adapters on each port, and most gave the output on the back, meaning all the numerals and text would be upside down if the cords came straight across toward the wearer of the 'phones.

Of course if you really want a headphone amplifier with all the noise of a high voltage DC-to-DC converter bleeding into a high impedance but nearly electrically indestructible input stage there's always the Fostex HP-V1 - Portable Vacuum Tube Headphone Amplifier" for just five hundred dollars.

I tried the 911 service offered by NetTalk today. I was asked by the GF to report a kitten in the tunnel connecting our little white suburban island to the city just across the water. The local policy is to have most calls, including non-emergency, go through 911 so that's what I dialed.

The operator answering wanted the address of the road hazard . . . and didn't know which State of the union I was calling from when I gave that as an intersection with a city name. When she finally connected me through to the Oakland police department her announcement message (..Bandwidth wireless VoIP..) just served to confuse the police dispatcher.

So apparently e911 sort of works. It's a kludge. We'd do better by putting a sticker on the phone with the local fire, police and highway patrol numbers as was common in the mid 1980s and dialing them directly.

Last time I posted to LiveJournal the spanning style directives I used were dropped, apparently stripped before being saved and certainly before being served. I haven't looked into that but suspect the trick is going to be, same as last time major changes were pushed, to use an unsupported browser and disable scripting.

The issue with the flakiness of the 2TB internal drive connected as external USB storage remains. It seems to be triggered by activity of the laser printer, incompatibility with a 32' active extension cable (twice the spec-permitted cable length for a hub) as well as by proximity between components of the USB chain and a mobile phone.

I'm not sure it's a good thing in that I've abruptly stopped getting hired but in the immediate short term I've had a few days off to start catching up on paying bills and organizing paper. Hopefully soon I'll have a workspace that promotes workflow instead of just overwhelm. For now I have clean laundry and bedding, a calm cat, some choice in how I allocate last month's resources and enough isolation from TheRealWorld to produce some art.

I have time to be amused that when the prescription pickup reminder recording says
"Thank you. Goodbye" Google's voice-to-text software reports
"Yank you, yeah. By."

I have time to notice that the storage drivers for OSX report things like "diskarbitrationd[13]: FIXME: IOUnserialize has detected a string that is not valid UTF-8, "EZt?]H?^R??^W?o2^GF".

I have time to ponder appreciations. Yay.
Monday, June 1st, 2015
1:45 pm
VoIP: Google Voice drops call widgets for web pages
There's a company somewhere north of here that offers all sorts of phone and VoIP magic. Google Voice uses them. Ring.to uses them. I want to learn how to use them. Not today but within a year.


Google Voice used to be absolute awesome sauce. As time goes by, though, they keep breaking things and sometimes outright throwing them away. Support for standalone SIP phones and analog telephone adapters was the first major feature to fall. Support for voice over XMPP, which allowed support for some such devices and greatly increased industry support of XMPP, was another.

As of today, here's one: call widgets.

The operation was similar to the "Call" button on the Google Voice page, but set up as a piece of web code to be pasted in a page's template. When used, it would prompt the potential caller for his number, call him at that number, call you at your pre-configured contact points and connect the calls.

Here's one which connects everyone to a voicemail message that says don't leave voicemail here:

code: <object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="https://clients4.google.com/voice/embed/webCallButton" width="230" height="85"><param name="movie" value="https://clients4.google.com/voice/embed/webCallButton" /><param name="wmode" value="transparent" /><param name="FlashVars" value="id=7194ee3537236ee44212d2771b23de760a989841&style=0" /></object>

The details of the widget are all hidden. The interface seems to be drawn by a Flash app which handles the communication with Google. It looks like a single hex mess looking like 7194ee3537236ee44212d2771b23de760a989841 and passed as a "FlashVars" "value" parameter beginning "id=" is all that ties the web code to my account and the options I've chosen.

And here's Google saying they're done with that feature:

Call Widget feature is being decommissioned. All Call Widgets will stop working on the 1st of June, 2015.

Call Widgets can be put on any web page, and allow people to call from that web page. When somebody clicks on the widget, we call them and connect them to you. Your number is always kept private. You can create multiple call widgets and have different settings for each of them.

Sure enough it doesn't work. The Flash app is served and it goes through the motions, taking the caller's number and changing the Connect button to End Call, but the phone at the given number doesn't start ringing.

A nearly drop-in replacement service can be set up through Twilio but after browsing their very script-heavy site for a few minutes I hadn't found it yet. I remember from attending some of their presentations that this sort of thing is right up their alley.

Twilio (sorry; they make it difficult to link with their hosted logo.)
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
1:24 am
on looking for obsolete tools
looking for obsolete tools

This evening showed me that I'm already becoming one of those anacronism-familiar fogies who just presumes the past has survived.

Tonight I set off for the second weekly quartet rehearsal of the year having forgotten to bring my phone. A last minute argument with the GF frazzled me into leaving it behind. No big deal, right? I've been to this place before; I can find it again.

That turned out not to be the case. I remembered vaguely where the house was and what roadway feature sat across the main road from it but in driving about for half an hour I couldn't find it.

Next I went searching for a map. Without my phone I had no access to Google Maps or MapQuest so I checked under the seat, found just a page-per-state atlas, and started looking for retailers offering street maps and public phones.

I learned this evening that the ubiquitous smart phone has eliminated the need for retailers in this area to carry maps and maintain payphones. At two gas stations, a liquor store, a grocery store and a drug store there were no local maps for sale. None of those nor a nearby restaurant had a pay phone. The cashier of one of the gas stations looked almost willing to try to look for a map on her iPhone . . . but from her workplace at Foothill and Grove she couldn't find Grove Street.

The next I thought of was to phone home and ask the GF to look up the address on the phone I'd left behind. I knew one of her numbers but without payphones or proffered cellphones I couldn't make that call. She's also very bad at actually answering. Google Voice is far from ideal when ringing multiple lines.

What's the good of "call screening" when all the physical phone extensions say aloud is "Okay, I sent the caller voicemail"?

I remembered the guy hosting the rehearsal has a girlfriend nearby who used to host the same rehearsals and thought to ask her in person how to get from her house to his . . . but she didn't answer a ring and a knock at her door.

Eventually I found the staff of a particularly friendly grocery chain's local store was willing to offer their phone, including directory assistance. Directory assistance gave me the wrong address (pronouncing "D" as "B" and clicking me through to the automated number recitation when I asked "was that B as in boy?") and eventually connected me with the guy I sought, who told me the rehearsal I'd come for had been cancelled some time earlier.

So street maps are no longer available at gas stations, drug stores, liquor stores or supermarkets and payphones aren't available at those nor at the typical restaurant.

In short, if you haven't purchased or printed maps ahead of time, you're out of luck should your phone or other GPS/map device be mislaid, stolen, out of service or out of battery power when you need direction. Our current society lacks the fallback information sources and communication devices we used to use before every pocket housed a palmtop computer with automatic access to maps and directions.

If you should find yourself without a working smartphone the traditional tools are simply no longer available.

Though I haven't had work in more than a week and have nothing on the calendar I rewarded Trader Joe's for allowing use of their phone by stocking up on some lovely bread, a bottle of rum and a dozen eggs while there.

Thank you, Trader Joe's, for allowing use of a company phone. Thank you also for offering a dozen jumbo eggs for $3.29 which, while nearly three times the price of the same not ten years earlier, is still roughly half what Safeway and Lucky's are charging.

Yes, it would have been more effective to thank the actual guy who'd offered the phone but he had changed stations.

It's time to put a minimal cost emergency phone and a printout of my Google Contacts in the glove box. And, yes, Kiri, a good map.

[More] It occurred to me later that once I caught that break at Trader Joe's I was still relying on something no longer in use: the open telephone directory. I know I didn't give my phone provider my name or address when I signed up. If I'd been trying to reach someone younger than about 50 he wouldn't have had an entry in 411.

Once home I pulled up a map of the area on the phone. Given the map, I still couldn't find his place across from that court. Sigh.
Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
6:20 pm
playing online: scammy connection site
While browsing porn videos recently I followed a link mentioned there and wound up with a new account on AdultHookup.com. It's been mildly entertaining.

Most of the activity seems to come from fictitious profiles, whose job is to drive traffic to the site's payment page, and from sex workers, mostly webcam hosts, whose goal is also to get paid.Collapse )

[youtube] Barely Political: 12 days of Miley: Key of Awesome #80 feat. Leah Rudick, SkinnyBJ... SkinnyBitch...
Monday, January 12th, 2015
3:38 pm
waiting for the computer
Frog in a frying pan.

I spend too much of my life waiting for computing devices. The MacBookAir I'm borrowing shows a spinning beachball during most browser tasks. The Android phone I hold shows sometimes several spinners at once when asked to display email it has already downloaded. The NetFlix screen the GF uses for movies and TV shows a throbber several times during a typical program . . . and that's on a 60Mbps business class comcast link.

Software feature creep, including those CPU hogging spinners themselves, has overtaken the hardware. I felt better served by my computer and its UI fifteen years ago.
Sunday, January 4th, 2015
11:58 pm
A look inside DuckDuckGo
A few Firefox updates ago I finally learned of DuckDuckGo. It's the sort of thing I would have heard of years ago if I'd had more free browsing time to follow up on links mentioned by Noahangelbob, who introduced me to the Chaos Communications Congress talks.


Then I found this article, describing some of how DDG was built and I like it even more. Note that it's making heavy use of Amazon Web Services, which I've used briefly on a TaskRabbit assignment, and memcached, which was developed right here, by the LiveJournal staff, before LJ moved to Russia.

Interview with Gabriel Weinberg by Todd Hoff as High Scalability (Jan 2013)

I can't use it all the time, though. It has some documented keyboard shortcuts which I believe interfere with the search box as a text field and that appears to keep Swype from letting me enter words on my phone. Instead I have to pick the search terms out letter by letter, which is just tedious. One of these days I'll document that as a bug and see if DDG has an issues tracker.
Friday, January 2nd, 2015
11:39 pm
troubleshooting the Mac-in-a-box
I suspect my hard drive trouble may be caused by the USB-to-SATA converter.
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1) Sometimes the drive hums and throughput plummets. Even without that the system seems to have a marginally harder time with each successive read of the same files (?). The drive is very likely failing.
2) Having a cellphone anywhere near the USB chain masks subtle issues by causing a failure that look as if the drive has been unplugged.
Saturday, November 29th, 2014
3:07 pm
Chromecast and 50Hz: end of life, don't care
I miss having the headspace available to come up with applications for some of the beautifully flexible hardware the market has provided recently.

Taking a brief dive back into it last night I followed a link from people complaining on the Register site (a UK based online tech publication) that 24, 25 and 50 fps video streams were being shown much less smoothly through a Chromecast than they're used to seeing with other players: AppleTV, standalone BluRay players, etc.

The flaw seems to be that the Chromecast's HDMI fieldrate is fixed at 60Hz where those viewers are used to seeing video passed through at 50Hz. The local content winds up having every fifth image drawn twice giving motion a noticeable jerk ten times a second. The term used for this type of jitter is "judder."

Google says firmware updates are too difficult, that determining the framerate of an incoming video stream is difficult and that they won't fix this. The article's author proposes this means the Chromecast is in the die-off phase of the product lifecycle, which probably explains why they're showing up on Amazon and Groupon for $25. He made reference to Google's new Apple-TV-like offering and commenters drew attention to VLC, whose player has no trouble identifying stream framerates, and to the Raspberry Pi, a similarly priced single board computer which has no trouble supporting various resolutions and frequencies on its HDMI output.

It feels to me like the Chromecast, at least in the EU, will be like the La Fonera router here: an inexpensive platform for hackers to repurpose.

theregister: chromecast judder wontfix -> wontbuy (wontbuy on comment page two)
google code: 50 Hz causes judder (closed 2014-Nov-25 by project owner lnicho)
theregister: androidTV
elinux: Raspberry Pi config, video
raspberrypi.org: CVT support
wikipedia: Extended Display Identification Data (EDID)
Monday, October 20th, 2014
5:18 pm
modern browsers still suck
Continuing from [my entry in January], more notes on Chrome and browser performance:

Google pays for some bug reports but only on security flaws. They don't care so much about things that crash the browser or make the computer unusable.

issue 409377: Chrome becomes completely unresponsive (on osx 10.6)

issue 98869: Throbbing stuff in the tab bar makes Mac laptops run hot

Issue 409954: Browser crashes constantly throughout the day when using multiple profiles

Issue 258987: Browser hang on network flake

product forums: Google Chrome Helper using far too much CPU power

Issue 373923: Google Chrome Helper Process Taking up >100% CPU on Macs
html5 canvas performance issues on mac

GDB usage:
list of loaded modules (gdb: `info sharedlibrary`, lldb: `image list`)
extend trace to all threads: `thread apply all backtrace`

how to get a backtrace, optionally starting before the program's entry point or extending into the system calls.

Similar issues with Firefox:

Bug 460774 - High CPU load while firefox waiting for (http) server answer on windows (maybe all)
Same complaint as I've had for years: sit-and-spin during network waits.

Bug 1022775 - Huge CPU use when waiting for network reply. Pathologically slow.
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
10:09 pm
TaskRabbit commits hari kari
This is where I was going to write a series of posts along the theme of every change being a change for the worse on the TaskRabbit site but there isn't much point in that now. They've made a major change that makes the site unusable for most people on both sides of the transaction.

This girl explains it more clearly than I have the patience to do:

Please click through and read her work.

The current crop of Yelp reviews tell the same story:

[append] Four months later it still sucks.
search: "taskrabbit sucks now"
[twitter:TaskerRabbit] Wife: I'll get a @TaskRabbit to help install the TV. Me: remember, TaskRabbit sucks now, takes all day to find one. Wife: oh yeah, nevermind. (direct link) (snippetted tweet no longer shown in a timely manner)
[twitter:TasqueRabbit] as soon as they rolled out the new version it became useless to me. (conversation)

[more 2015-09-29] More than a year later I finally have an android device which could handle the new TaskRabbit app. Unfortunately the service is still pretty much dead. The friends I knew who used it get their work elsewhere. The clients continue to lament the loss of what it was. It's also apparently far from easy to refresh one's relationship with the company, requiring several visits to San Francisco.

"@TaskRabbit you had a great thing going, why did you change your user experience? Much more difficult." (Sept 21, 2015, retweeted on TaskerRabbit)
"Hey guys! Check out my TaskRabbit profile at http://tr.co/r0sem4ry . Also, use this referral code:" (Sept 12, 2015, retweeted on TaskRabbit) Just two weeks later the linked profile page is gone: quoted redirect goes here and 404s
[GlassDoor] "no control over when and what your next job is. 30% fee." (Sept 5, 2015)
"Super sad that @TaskRabbit seems to have come and gone. It's not really a useful service without taskers." (August 27th, 2015, retweeted on TaskerRabbit)
"How did @TaskRabbit allow themselves to become so bad. They are truly the worst now. #cantgtd" (Sept 15, 2014, retweeted on TasqueRabbit)
"Still very interested in knowing the revenue ramifications of TaskRabbit's redesign. My theory is that it's not so good." (Sept 12, 2014, retweeted on TasqueRabbit)
"It was fun while it lasted…" (Aug 26, 2014, personal blog)
"Now it's totally different. You've put all the manual effort of finding someone on me. And it doesn't even work. [...] now, I find myself not using it. It is a chore to use it." (July 15, 2014, blog)
A MoveOn petition (silly)
Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
4:16 pm
bonding with the Siamese
The cat is sleeping on my jacket.

I'm living on land in an apartment with three housemates and three cats. One of the cats shares a room with her owner and her owner's boyfriend, a title I've held for more than a handful of months.

The cat has her own blanket, three of her own beds and her owner's lap. She chooses my jacket instead. That says something. That it needs to be said adds to my sadness.
Friday, January 31st, 2014
6:01 pm
more browser failure, governmental failure, ewe ess aye
Here's another fluff piece, probably linked from Yahoo or Google, so poorly coded it sucks the life out of the browsing computer.
7 Food Additives You Should Avoid Like the Plague

The content:
Stay away from Aspartame, Sodium nitrate (meat preservative), MSG, HFCS, Olestra, Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) (preservative in cereal, chips, gum, oils), trans fats. Yes, the list of seven is eight items long. We've seen that before on these stupid list sites.

The effect:
over 45% CPU usage per Chrome tab rendering this page. This computer hit 100% with two of them open. Very high memory usage.

Reuters reports that The US government is poised to unload around 30kBTC with another kilogrossBTC to follow.

WTF, US? The stuff you took is MONEY. What you do with money is buy shit and pay people. It's even designed to be an appreciating asset that's easy to store and easy to safeguard. If, instead, you dump it on the market in one or two bulk transactions you get much less value for the trade. Part of easing your burdon on the People is to make good use of what you already have.

Today's fiscal policy minute inspired by the theme song [youtube] lyrics to The Wombles [google] ([and wikipedia]), an early example of environmental propaganda masquerading as children's entertainment. "Making good use of the things that we find."

A very pro-government piece in the UK Telegraph entitled "Time for GCHQ to come out of the shadows" starts off with a sepia toned photograph of Britain's Government Communication Headquarters building and surrounding countryside.

The style is remarkably similar to the Pentagon: large, low, and featuring a prominent central courtyard.

The bias in the text is amusingly consistent. "facing an unprecedented problem - thanks to Edward Snowden" "and the information he stole" "captive information" "Snowden took."

in a linked article "If Mr. Snowden wanted to come back to the United States, enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers. We'd do that with any defendant who wanted to enter a plea of guilty," Holder said. In other words, we'd be happy to give you a fair trial as long as you want to plea guilty. At least in that article the photo caption is accurate: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

US to let firms release data on NSA requests [bostonglobe citing NYT]. The story includes "Permitting disclosure of this aggregate data addresses an important area of concern to communications providers.." Teh fuk? This was prohibited and still remains mostly so?

The more I read the more I wish I'd spent the time doing something else. :(
Monday, January 27th, 2014
3:25 pm
Saw this, thought of Dave.

15 celebs who went bankrupt [shebudgets.com].
1: Many on the list were driven to bankruptcy by the US-IRS. I thought debts, real or accused, due the government (taxes, student loans, etc.) were excluded from dismissal in bankruptcy.
2: Why would a list of 15 celebs be served at a URL beginning "20-celebrities"?

Molly: glad to see you're getting back into making art with the camera.
Sunday, January 12th, 2014
11:21 pm
closing tabs: hacking videos, placebo medicine, chemistry of body fat, moderation of exercise
Closing tabs: hacking videos, placebo medicine, chemistry of body fat, moderation of exercise

More fun hacker stuff.
The generally included binary libraries for ARM are nearly impossible to make bug free because each block of code can, once one vulnerability has been found, be run in one of FOUR processor modes. Changing the context in which the existing code is run can expose a new slew of exploitable fragments. Finding the input that triggers a bug and deliberately executes arbitrary code is difficult but can be automated and it's much easier for the program if the human has broken the program under attack into smaller pieces.
Triggering Deep Vulnerabilities Using Symbolic Execution [46 min] (mostly finding proof of concept inputs that trip bugs)
Hardware Attacks, Advanced ARM Exploitation, and Android Hacking (scripted exploit code generation, direct connections, market engineering)

The Seagate hybrid SSHD (HDD with some sectors backed by flash for seek-free reading) sounds like a good idea for pepping up a decent laptop. It winds up costing an extra 50-100% or so but could be worth it. Nowhere on the Seagate material is the *amount* of flash mentioned though on Slashdot threads the figure 8GB (on a 1TB drive) was tossed around. Have you tried these? What did you think? [ Fry's product | Fry's search ]

RFID Treehouse of Horror (finding skeleton keys in the mail)

X Security - It's worse than it looks (mostly a success story of the bug find-report-fix cycle)

Lissa Rankin, MD, believes strongly in the placebo effect and in fixing the story behind the symptoms.
The shocking truth about your health. TEDxFiDiWomen (2 ys ago)
Is there scientific proof we can heal ourselves? TEDxAmericanRiviera (1 year ago)
Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself, Talks at Google (5 months ago)

The mathematics of weight loss: Ruben Meerman at TEDxQUT (edited version)
This was fun. Ruben Meerman is a charismatic Australian who talks about the chemistry of weight loss: what body fat is and what molecules are formed when it leaves the body.

Run for your life! At a comfortable pace, and not too far. TEDxUMKC
James O'Keefe compares moderate and extreme exercise in their correlation with measurable indicators of health.

Basics of RF Mixers in Radio Receivers / Mixer Tutorial / Frequency conversion
Using exemplary penmanship and an electronics tech's wet dream of bench equipment, W2AEW shows the input and output of a multiplicative RF mixer -- the step that enables a single well tuned chain of filters to tune over a band in a superheterodyne radio receiver.

My Journey into FM-RDS
Oona Räisänen dropped her FM radio, breaking part of its filter network. Exploring the resulting noise with a sound card and digging into the radio for a hardware UART she found data about the station and the music and dug a bit deeper to find lightly encrypted road traffic data. A wider bandwidth data signal on another multiple of the stereo pilot tone turned out to be data shown at bus stops: which busses pass which stops, sent daily, and how far away the next bus is, sent three times a minute. Her tool of choice for realtime interpretation is Python running on the Raspberry Pi. Her site: windytan.com QPSK (as MSK - minimal shift keying) can be decoded as FSK? The radio hardware was a Sangean ATS-909. C.Crane sells them.

Security of the IC Backside
Using "just" the equipment available at a typical university or very well established semiconductor company's inspection division one can open up an IC, map out the parts of interest, observe it functioning, scan data out of its volitile memory, make new connections to the die, read and change its initial state. A typical chip will contnue to function with most of its substrate ground away.

Hillbilly Tracking of Low Earth Orbit
When you have time to think and acreage on which to leave your toys you can play. Travis Goodspeed [his blog] enabled some of the motion ability of a ship's satellite dish, mounted the radome on the ground and is using it to follow satellites and record and later interpret their signals. He chose a very modular system design with the pieces talking to each other through a Postgres database.

Hak5 : Boot multiple ISOs from one USB with these free tools
A glossy webzine presentation of some tools simplifying preparation of a thumbdrive which will boot a computer and ask on boot which of several boot images to load. Probably better presented as a simple table of links but here you go.

Hak5 : Capture and Analyze Bluetooth Packets with Kismet, Wireshark and Ubertooth
The same crew introduce Ubertooth [sourceforge] (for sale), an opensource bluetooth protocol sniffer with modules for Kismet and Wireshark. There's a logic flaw in his demonstration of the -i flag to sed but still good to hear of it. Outside the content, it's nice to watch someone at the keyboard whose typing ability doesn't get in his way of communicating with the computer. Also, making plaid look good: find the flaw in the illusion.

Hardening hardware and choosing a #goodBIOS
With all the talk of vulnerabilities that can turn anything on the PCI bus into a data leak Peter Stuge shows how he modified a laptop's motherboard to make a whole lot of "evil maid" attacks ineffective.
Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
6:44 pm
closing tabs: viatask, limewire, Applebaum, bitcoin, SD hacking
Closing tabs again, making scratch notes.

Alternatives to TaskRabbit:

the idea: if you're going to do a crap job, be good at it.
first impression: the site is not welcoming. wants signup before attracting.

Two high school students without the funding or programming skill to build it decided to hype a TaskRabbit clone anyway. The site is now just a SnapNames parking page, though screenshots exist elsewhere. They had an idea, though, and news stories were published. These two may not have hit the jackpot with that idea but being known for failing on this one will help them later. Shahed Khan [thenextweb, Sept 2011] introduces the idea. YouTub link to the same interview. Charles Peralo [huffpost, May 2012] reflects on what could be learned from the experience. Crunchbase.

first impression: the site is just a splash page asking for an email address. and links elsewhere suggest it's an errand service for Chicago only.

Limewire died and I didn't notice.
Alternatives [pcmag]: FrostWire, Vuze (Azureus), uTorrent, Shareaza, Ares, RapidShare.

It is possible, though really tedious, to combine video from one source with audio from another using ffmpeg and friends. (commandlinefu [scribd]). Easier to use Audacity to prep the audio and iMovie to play it with video.

Apple startup keys
most useful: [option] alone (choose boot media) and command-S (single user mode)

Noah brought Jacob Applebaum and Der Spiegel to my attention: 30c3: To Protect and Infect, Part 2. See also 30c3: Through a PRISM, Darkly - Everything we know and related links. Each clip roughly an hour in length. 30c3

Molly, who spends a whole lot of time reading and learning and sharing what she's found, shared Notes on Bitcoin [ysoheil] which links to Michael Nielsen: How the Bitcoin protocol actually works, bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf and several other enlightening sources.

The same soheil guy posted an html excerpt which ends up rendering an enlarged and cropped iframe of the Amazon homepage to make it appear the hosting site knows the viewer's first name. Creepy, as is the photo looking like Will Riker hosting This Old House doing the Buddy Christ pose. Namejack, on GitHub

Following along from the NSA stuff above I just saw a talk by two guys who put some serious effort into reverse engineering the lowest calibre SD cards available on the market. 30c3: Exploration and Exploitation of an SD Memory Card.
Summarizing: flash memory layout and specs change often enough that trying to code the low level handling into the OS or the card reader would make it impossible to bring acceptably performing products to market. Instead a microcontroller between the SD interface and the flash memory handles the lower level timing and sequencing with a nod toward wear leveling and the like. Reading strings out of the memory chip from one card they found search terms that led to a downloadable dev kit for one of the embedded microcontrollers. Combining that with some hardware skill, microcode insight and a whole lot of patience they learned to identify over the SD interface what sort of controller is inside and were able to get it to run some code. They noted that the code run by the embedded controller is stored on the bulk flash device and can be overwritten to repurpose the device. A project example using just the embedded microcontroller in an SD card was a nearly standalone data recorder with a parts cost of roughly one Euro. A few blackhat repurposings were mentioned, as well as the ability to perform that firmware change remotely, over the air to the soldered-on SD in at least one model of mobile phone. The fact that the phone would later boot from flash handled by the modified controller was omitted but obvious. Eeew.

Chrome, previously mentioned as a resource hog, is closely related to Chromium. Chromium has a command line option --purge-memory-button which adds a [Purge memory] button to the task manager window beside [End process]. This was mentioned on ghacks.net in December 2009 (ref). Most of the links there are broken in some way but this might remind me to try the option.
Saturday, January 4th, 2014
3:38 pm
Firefox being dumb again.
Here's Firefox being dumb again.
firefox 26.0 tab bar spinners

These are attempts to refresh an email list and to open one of the messages on the previously displayed list. Firefox's network status shows two ssl sessions open to the webmail host. The upstream router shows none. The connections go nowhere; nothing will ever be received.

Collapse )

Work right out of the box in a very common network environment? Eh, no. Not that important.
Wednesday, January 1st, 2014
7:16 pm
Modern web browsers suck.
Modern web browsers suck.

Modern web browsers as a group seem to have grown, quickly and needlessly, beyond the ability of the typical several-year-old computer to run them.

Chrome runs dozens of processes and lets you identify and kill those associated with runaway script loops but until you do so it runs very very slowly. It may take a few minutes before keystrokes typed after ctrl-T (new tab) start to appear in the address bar and even then sometimes it'll drop all but the first character. Flipping among tabs is tedious as the window body takes ever longer to catch up with the selection on the tab bar.

The web pages associated with the biggest memory hogs in chrome's process list tend to be GMail and Google Contacts. Fortunately neither of those reacts badly to being killed and reloaded. I had expected that Google's web browser would have been tested extensively with Google's webmail client and wouldn't just grow and grow when the page is left open.

Some tabs are credited with consuming lots of CPU time, even when sitting in the background with no pixel of window space visible. This one, an article on increasing productivity and doing more, faster made everything on the computer noticeably slower when left open for a few days.

The most actively contacted webhost, per chrome://net-internals, seems to be graph.facebook.com. I don't use facebook. I have no facebook pages open.

Firefox has become pure bloatware. With a dozen or two tabs sprinkled across three or four windows it regularly grows to claim over a GB. It's also apparently working hard to alienate the developers of addons. Those addons were Firefox's main draw.

Opera, which used to be the speed demon of the pack on sites it would render, was recently revised to use the same rendering engine as Chrome. That should fix its funky kerning behavior, a long standing misfeature, with letters touching or overlapping on one side and a big space on the other, and improve interoperability. Unfortunately they also broke the speed enhancing aspects of the UI, stripping the mouse and keyboard shortcuts and making tabs harder to select and not close. Frustrated by the Crayola settings box I turned away from the Opera 18 too.

Is it time to risk IE again? Safari?

Is there another contender?

What do you use? What do you like?

I have Windows Vista on a 3GB 2.2GHz dual core desktop, OSX 10.8 on a 2GB 2.4GHz dual core Mini, Windows 8 on a 4GB fairly recent laptop and OSX 10.7 on a MacBook Pro with 8GB. They all get bogged down. The MacBook does the best, though its fans run at full speed and its battery life is barely over half an hour with Chrome and Firefox hosting dozens of tabs.
Friday, December 20th, 2013
3:50 pm
Ads poorly disguised as news
Ads poorly disguised as news

Advertisements poorly disguised as news stories are thrown at us every day. Yahoo caught my eye with one recently that turned out to be a promotional tease for a software-cookbook-phoneapp package available from Reader's Digest for $50. That said, the practice isn't all bad. Maybe there's some benefit to having heard of some of this stuff.

The yahoo tease was "the five worst foods for your stomach" and talked of things that upset the digestive flora. The connected Reader's Digest tease is "the seven worst foods for your belly."

As you might guess, these are either things you already knew were unhealthy, like bread and rice, or things that we like too much to give up, like ice cream and bacon.

From the research of Liz Vaccariello [yahoo health blog bio] comes the avoidance of FODMAPs, or rapidly fermentable carbohydrates that can aggravate your gut. Yes, it's a really clunky acronym: "Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols" says wikipedia in a page citing an exceptionally poorly typeset three page handout from Stanford University dated August 2012.

The Stanford version of the diet lists a bunch of things to avoid for six weeks then try, one category at a time, to determine individual sensitivities.

Reader's Digest seems to have noticed that even three weeks into a program that strips most food off the menu people are lighter and smaller.

Anyway, the lists, as newsvertised:
5: lactose, garlic/onions, fructose, carb-dense foods, beans and nuts.
7: carb-dense, fats (tran-, saturated-, omega-6), lactose, fructose, fructan (garlic, onion, artichoke, barley, wheat, soybeans), something in (most beans, cashews, pistachios), sugar alcohols in (apples, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, cauliflower, mushroom, snow peas, isomalt, mannitol, polydextrose).

Too bad so many of those are yummy, healthy or both. Also, interesting counting in both lists.

I'm going to have a big glass of water and close a lot of browser tabs now.
Monday, September 9th, 2013
5:56 pm
"Nice booty, Sir."
"Nice booty, Sir."

I'm not the most socially smooth of individuals and sometimes have trouble with simple tasks like navigating traffic on a walkway.

After keeping Alex waiting for far too long as I retraced my steps in search of a misplaced binder of music I found myself on a path that took me between a slow moving guy with earbuds and what turned out to be a much faster moving line of girls. As the gap narrowed I took a fairly flouncy leap through, then stepped across out of their way and continued on.

The group fit the stereotype of young black women in that the often comical interior monolog wasn't kept inside, so walking ahead on the pavement I heard something about buns. Reminded that I had chosen chose what the retailer called "booty pants" as my lowerwear I casually gave my left cheek a grope and continued on.

Amused and flattered, I reached the car and started relaying the story, which is always a bit of a challenge to someone whose hearing isn't great and who tends to give active-listener feedback starting during the first word of each next sentence, requiring that each phrase be spoken two or three times. By this time, the group had caught up and passed and had possibly noticed being pointed out as a visual prop to the story.

Then, I kid you not, these words came back through the open window of the car as we sat: "Nice booty, Sir."

I replied with a simple "thank you" and a smile, though probably should have looked for eye contact and given a flirty compliment in return. They may have been making fun but either way, they'd made my day.

And yes, the pants are quite unsubtle about showing body shape above the calf. The booty pants will come out again.

Thank you, fair students, for noticing and making comment.
Wednesday, July 17th, 2013
1:48 am
party 7/21 on Alameda: I am the answer to life, the universe and everything
Holy short notice party planning…

So I got a text message last weekend asking me to keep Saturday clear for a birthday party being thrown for me in the park. Of course by the time I got the message I was already booked for work that day and by the time I could reply to it I was already double-booked. Yeah, fun times.

So one of those gigs rescheduled for the following week, the other added a second person and the birthday party rescheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Potluck BBQ cookout
Birthday celebration
Sunday, July 21, 1-6pm
BYOB (in discrete packaging, please)
Shoreline Park at Westline across from shoreline apts.
RSVP to [me].
We will provide soda, ice, burgers, hot dogs and chips but please bring more. Sides and desserts welcome. Musical instruments, frisbies, song and dance encouraged.

See you soon!

Alex/penny and Duncan

This *coming* Sunday afternoon. July 21st. 1-6pm (ish) at a park on the west edge of Alameda, near a parking lot at the intersection of Otis and Westline. So I ask myself who I'd like to be there I translate the question to who, of those I know, would come … and that list is pretty damned short.

Adam would say "If you can read this you're invited." Adam won't come. He lives too far away. Who else reads this?

Friends from SLO? People I sing with? People I dance with? Friends from here? Neighbors?

If you can make it it would be nice to see you. If another time would be better, make that call sometime.
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
3:13 am
Vivaldi's Gloria, May 13th and 12th
Continuing the pattern of offering occasional stalker tips, here's one:

I'll be on stage at the Laney College Theatre this coming Sunday, May 13th, at 2:30pm singing two short pieces and nine movements of Vivaldi's Gloria.

It's really pretty. I've listened to a recording of the preview concert stone sober and I like it.

There's a swap meet on Sundays across the road, so parking may be a bit tight. There are usually spaces open on the North edge of campus and there's always BART: Lake Merritt station, come above ground and walk West toward the green cursive neon lettering on the only tall building nearby.

Weekend trains run every 20 minutes.

UPDATE midnight Friday:

The word has changed about Sunday's concert. It's gone from free to five dollars but more importantly they say the youth orchestra has invited enough friends and family to actually fill the theatre. I'm not sure I believe it, but word is the show is sold out.

So they've asked us to redirect our guests from the performance on Sunday at 2:30pm to the open dress rehearsal on Saturday at 10:15am in the same place.

Like, um, ten hours from now.

Conflicting word is that, should you really find Sunday is the only day that works, you can find the choir director before the show and get a voucher good for free admission. Maybe.

I won't have a good recording of either. Come see us sing live. It's free on Saturday and cheap on Sunday.
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
5:51 am
in the present
I saw a text message a few days ago that read "Happy now year."

I believe that was exactly what the sender intended to say.
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
7:00 pm
rope ended a few floors up
If every family were as supportive as mine the race would have gone extinct long ago.

The value of the individual is greatly influenced by the resources available. Change the rules, deny or destroy those resources and eventually there's nothing left to amplify into productivity.

I am amplifier noise.

I crossed six-week-out bottom in October. I crossed bottom again in December, saw no path forward, called for help and got it.

But I'm working in a crippled state, saddled by family with monthly obligations that make the periodic windfall a necessity, denied some of the absolute basics that people need to perform in this economy.

I listed them here in 2006. The responses were not conducive to maintaining employability.

Now, July first, 2011 I have personal treasures destined for the dumpster of whoever plays the storage auction game. There's a note on the gate where I sleep announcing an extra $50 monthly levy.

I don't have what I need to start earning what I need. I don't have what I need to keep on doing what has to be done. Those who caught more breaks or fewer setbacks are changing the rules.

I've come to the point where I can't make it work with the tools and skills on hand. I need a subsidy.

Dear world: please send money.
Tuesday, April 5th, 2011
9:30 pm
unconditional love can be cured
unconditional love can be cured

Unconditional love, the love expressed by a child or a puppy, is a very special thing, a place on a personal pedestal that comes with no obligation other than that it not be abused. It is a condition better left unchecked, an illness best not cured, a pillar of kinship with mutual benefits to and sometimes beyond the mortal parting.

It does have a cure.

If one stops feeding the puppy and kicks it on every greeting the puppy will eventually stop expressing trust. Something in the dog's head will snap and it will become wary, distrustful, perhaps violent, perhaps just emotionally broken.

I don't know the minimum conditional for shutting off unconditional love in a human but intense betrayal, persistent invalidation, cruelty, direct lies and actions evoking disgust are, together, sufficient.

I have been cured of that puppy-like condition toward my mother. After years of working with her head and her words trying to talk me out of existence and months of working with her hands to remove all physical evidence of my past productivity, to invalidate every forward looking action of mine for at least the past two decades, she has earned instead my disgust.

Other people in other places face natural disasters and react by working together, by making the best of a horrible situation. I face artificial disasters, needless and deliberate examples of working apart, of making the worst out of an improving situation which needed not adversary but empathy, not isolation but access. Attempts at connection through written and sometimes verbal expression needed not correction but understanding.

Toward my father I still have love though I'm not sure the absolute lack of conditions still applies. I've seen hints of the same need to undermine, the same balking at being seen as part of the first line of support, at being expected to have an interest in that which could bring stability and joy to my life. As such I'm nervous as hell about turning again to him in this time of need. I already have one parent guiding me toward the padded cell, either above or below the ground. I'm not sure I could survive that from both of them.

These two grew up steeped in a culture which is not this one. They have never faced a week without access to basic hygiene and then been expected to form a new and sufficient employment relationship. There was always physical stability, where things beautiful and fragile could be expected to stay in the family for generations. Those within view always had coin, even if from the dole and four walls and a roof to keep the body from the weather.

They also lived through a period of nearly constant economic growth and owned real property through the long period where houses were appreciating in value every year by more than the earning potential of the typical homeowner. Each made some good decisions several decades ago and seems to carry the "well I got mine" attitude despite the change in market conditions not entirely undone by the recent slump and despite the very different personal starting points, theirs bolstered by strong and stable family and government, mine and that of my siblings squashed by the opposite.

The mental filter formed by growing from parental support through the formation of a traditional family where and when they did so does not lead to an intuitive understanding of the plight of their offspring.

There is more to be written on disgust, on betrayal, on invalidation, on sparse but loaded communication, on years of bad advice, on making changes that lead directly away from the intended result and on deliberate failure to comprehend. Some of those need pictures. Some need to be told on video. Some are pretty likely never to hit the page.

These words are public. Comments are screened.
Friday, August 6th, 2010
5:29 pm
Invalidation. Say what? Mean what?
An OkCupid user going by CuddlyBoo (45/F/Nova Scotia, Canada) recorded this, including a segment on translations of "I love you" into her regular interactions: youtube: P6RtmsPWHuI. Someone says something bizarre or coded and the intent is heard as "I love you."

I listen to that and think of my own relationships with neighbors and family and how often in a year I hear the opposite. "I hate you. I hope you never achieve your life's ambitions. I will do everything in my power to stump your past and present efforts at being a happy, healthy productive member of society."

The first and third closest to me have gone out of their way this year to convey just that.

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