dglenn: Lego-ish figure in blue dress, with beard and breasts, holding sword and electric guitar (lego-blue)

Nearly everything I've managed to accomplish since returning from Conterpoint, I've done in the last six hours. But hey, I did at least get something done -- the drums are moved away from the basement door, so I can do laundry once I catch my breath; there's finally a path to the vacuum cleaner that I'm too exhausted to use; and what's done and not done... )

My back, alas, is killing me. And I'm tired, and haven't been able to sleep well all week (the weather finally broke but then my legs started doing their almost-cramping-won't-let-me-sleep thing, state of D'Glenn, more detail if you care for it )

Earlier today, I was depressed because ... )

Fortunately one of the important differences (the most important difference?) between acute situational depression and endogenous chemical depression is that with the former you have at least a fighting chance of being able to pull yourself out of it (or even just wait it out). That doesn't work with the years-long, brain-chemistry-glitched, "no good reason for it" type of depression, which is, ironically, usually the only kind that lasts long enough for anyone else to think of giving you the terribly broken advice to "pull yourself out of it". The kind of depression that advice might (or might not, but it's worth trying) work for, doesn't seem to naturally last long enough for your friends to get impatient enough to say things like that, as far as I can tell. (As usual, I welcome corrections from my friends with actual psych training if I'm way off the mark here. Right now I'm trying to remember whether "just like depression but doesn't last very long" is technically called a brief, mild form of depression, or "technically not depression because it doesn't last long enough". Maybe if I'd had more sleep ...)

I identified the condition, ... )

, wallowed in self-pity a little while, convinced myself to give in to a pizza craving and ordered one delivered (and with the "difficulty making decisions" symptom being rather pronounced, that took a while), and picked a single task/problem -- fitting the drums into the living room -- to get stubborn at. Now I'm no longer depressed; I'm just in a kind of bad mood. If I can get a reasonable-ish amount of sleep tonight, I should be in a vastly better mood tomorrow. All the more so if I actually feel well enough to walk to the drug store and back (is the pharmacy counter open on Sundays?). managing to keep perfectionism in check, and benefits of doing so )

(As some of my friends have noticed to their annoyance, I pretty much suck at accepting help. It's a flaw I've been struggling with for a long time. Progress is slow, but I do recognize the need to improve.)

In other news, the toe I sliced up is healing, and I haven't noticed any frightening smells when changing the bandage yet; it was deeper even than I'd realized, so it's taking a while for the nearly-sliced-off part to fully grow out to the ready-to-fall-off point. It's less tender now, but still a bit sensitive the previous milestone )

. When I changed the bandage last night, I considered cutting back to just a Band-Aid, or at least leaving off the cellophane armour layer. "The what," you ask? ) ... Well, while I was fussing with stuff in the living room, I managed to whack my foot into something heavy, and yup, I hit with the pinkie-toe of my left foot (in the slipper, but still hard enough to feel through that). So I was really glad I'd gone ahead and included the armour again. As it was, the effect was merely, "Oh wow, that really would have hurt..." *whew*

Okay, time to program the VCRs, eat another slice of pizza, and see whether tonight I finally manage to sleep, so I can manage to write a bit more coherently on the morrow.

dglenn: Lego-ish figure in blue dress, with beard and breasts, holding sword and electric guitar (lego-blue)

Nearly everything I've managed to accomplish since returning from Conterpoint, I've done in the last six hours. But hey, I did at least get something done -- the drums are moved away from the basement door, so I can do laundry once I catch my breath; there's finally a path to the vacuum cleaner that I'm too exhausted to use; and what's done and not done... )

My back, alas, is killing me. And I'm tired, and haven't been able to sleep well all week (the weather finally broke but then my legs started doing their almost-cramping-won't-let-me-sleep thing, state of D'Glenn, more detail if you care for it )

Earlier today, I was depressed because ... )

Fortunately one of the important differences (the most important difference?) between acute situational depression and endogenous chemical depression is that with the former you have at least a fighting chance of being able to pull yourself out of it (or even just wait it out). That doesn't work with the years-long, brain-chemistry-glitched, "no good reason for it" type of depression, which is, ironically, usually the only kind that lasts long enough for anyone else to think of giving you the terribly broken advice to "pull yourself out of it". The kind of depression that advice might (or might not, but it's worth trying) work for, doesn't seem to naturally last long enough for your friends to get impatient enough to say things like that, as far as I can tell. (As usual, I welcome corrections from my friends with actual psych training if I'm way off the mark here. Right now I'm trying to remember whether "just like depression but doesn't last very long" is technically called a brief, mild form of depression, or "technically not depression because it doesn't last long enough". Maybe if I'd had more sleep ...)

I identified the condition, ... )

, wallowed in self-pity a little while, convinced myself to give in to a pizza craving and ordered one delivered (and with the "difficulty making decisions" symptom being rather pronounced, that took a while), and picked a single task/problem -- fitting the drums into the living room -- to get stubborn at. Now I'm no longer depressed; I'm just in a kind of bad mood. If I can get a reasonable-ish amount of sleep tonight, I should be in a vastly better mood tomorrow. All the more so if I actually feel well enough to walk to the drug store and back (is the pharmacy counter open on Sundays?). managing to keep perfectionism in check, and benefits of doing so )

(As some of my friends have noticed to their annoyance, I pretty much suck at accepting help. It's a flaw I've been struggling with for a long time. Progress is slow, but I do recognize the need to improve.)

In other news, the toe I sliced up is healing, and I haven't noticed any frightening smells when changing the bandage yet; it was deeper even than I'd realized, so it's taking a while for the nearly-sliced-off part to fully grow out to the ready-to-fall-off point. It's less tender now, but still a bit sensitive the previous milestone )

When I changed the bandage last night, I considered cutting back to just a Band-Aid, or at least leaving off the cellophane armour layer. "The what," you ask? ) ... Well, while I was fussing with stuff in the living room, I managed to whack my foot into something heavy, and yup, I hit with the pinkie-toe of my left foot (in the slipper, but still hard enough to feel through that). So I was really glad I'd gone ahead and included the armour again. As it was, the effect was merely, "Oh wow, that really would have hurt..." *whew*

Okay, time to program the VCRs, eat another slice of pizza, and see whether tonight I finally manage to sleep, so I can manage to write a bit more coherently on the morrow.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (cyhmn)

Argh -- gorgeous weather today, the most comfortable we've had here in Baltimore for a while, and I'm feeling too headachy and run-down to go take advantage of it. :-( Going to see whether I can manage a nap and feel well enough to accomplish anything this evening (dunno whether I'll get to HCB rehearsal or not; need to try to get out to nail salon as well).

Something that has irked me for ages is the human tendency to create false dichotomies, and to try to interpret the world in dichotomies in general. Many things that I consider overlapping, unrelated, or subsets of a larger spectrum, get sorted into two lists presented as "opposites" and then tied to other things that are really unrelated just to have two neat columns. So, for example, myriad traits get classified as "masculine" and "feminine" just for the sake of list-making and interpreting the world as binary, when many of those traits have nothing to do with gender.

So this quote from a comment by [info] velvetpage on [info] xtian_trackback (2006-10-27) caught my attention:

The mysogyny can be traced in part to medieval theologians such as Thomas Aquinas. They brought into the church the works of certain Greek philosophers like Aristotle, who philosophized extensively about dualisms and opposites - man/woman, light/dark, good/evil, etc, etc. It was a parlour game in learned circles to come up with as many of these opposites as possible.

I can't help wondering how some of our socially-ingrained ways of thinking about classifications would be different, if that medieval parlour game had been organized in threes instead of twos, as a few similar modern (and snarky) ones are. Or in fives.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (cyhmn)

Argh -- gorgeous weather today, the most comfortable we've had here in Baltimore for a while, and I'm feeling too headachy and run-down to go take advantage of it. :-( Going to see whether I can manage a nap and feel well enough to accomplish anything this evening (dunno whether I'll get to HCB rehearsal or not; need to try to get out to nail salon as well).

Something that has irked me for ages is the human tendency to create false dichotomies, and to try to interpret the world in dichotomies in general. Many things that I consider overlapping, unrelated, or subsets of a larger spectrum, get sorted into two lists presented as "opposites" and then tied to other things that are really unrelated just to have two neat columns. So, for example, myriad traits get classified as "masculine" and "feminine" just for the sake of list-making and interpreting the world as binary, when many of those traits have nothing to do with gender.

So this quote from a comment by [info] velvetpage on [info] xtian_trackback (2006-10-27) caught my attention:

The mysogyny can be traced in part to medieval theologians such as Thomas Aquinas. They brought into the church the works of certain Greek philosophers like Aristotle, who philosophized extensively about dualisms and opposites - man/woman, light/dark, good/evil, etc, etc. It was a parlour game in learned circles to come up with as many of these opposites as possible.

I can't help wondering how some of our socially-ingrained ways of thinking about classifications would be different, if that medieval parlour game had been organized in threes instead of twos, as a few similar modern (and snarky) ones are. Or in fives.

dglenn: Photo of clouds shaped like an eye and arched eyebrow (sky-eye)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 12:24am on 2007-03-26 under , , ,

Talking on the phone to the Sheepie, she veered into one of her recurring criticisms of my diet (Sheepies are emphatically not vegetarian). She said, "We were meant to be omnivores! These claws! These teeth!"

My first thought in reaction was, "I don't know about that; most people's claws aren't all that strong ..." But then the double-irony hit me: my nails are claw-strong. But I'm still not going to switch to hunting my food (or eating the sort of food to which the verb "hunt" applies in that sense, with the possible exception of wild mushrooms[1]) just because I'm actually equipped to do so.

(She's also informing me about differences between digestive systems of people of Mediterranean descent and folks of other ancestry. I wondered whether I'd inherited more of my mother's genes or my father's in that regard. Er ... until tonight I'd had no idea that there were any negatives to (large quantities of) olive oil other than the calories. I guess that means my digestive system is mostly inherited from my mother.)


[1] The top of the food chain[2], when they're nourished by the corpses of carnivores, as I explained to the friend who said, "I didn't sleep my way to the top of the food chain to eat vegetarians."

[2] Yes, I know this sort of thing is why they call it a "web" instead of a "chain" nowadays. Shhh. You're spoiling us fogeys' jokes.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (cyhmn)

I need to find a way to grow two more arms. And maybe another lobe of brain, I'm not sure.[1]

So far, the only objection I've heard to my playing the double bass in the Homespun Ceilidh Band is that I'm needed too much on guitar. So if I had four arms, suitably arranged for playing both instruments at once ...

And on those occasions when I'm playing only the double bass, having two more arms would solve the stabilization problem I have when trying to play it behind my head the way I do with the guitar.

Now I just have to figure out how to arrange for extra limbs. I don't have the financial resources to follow in Otto Octavius' footsteps -- who else has non-congenital extra limbs, and how did they get them?

I bet Sgt. Schlock could play guitar and double bass at the same time.


In more immediate and less fanciful planning, there's a recorder workshop today that I'm actually awake in time for, and doing well enough pain-wise to seriously consider attending[3] ... but it's all the way up in Towson, and though I think I can figure out how to get there without going faster than 30 MPH (I think I can just wend my way up to around North & Charles, and continue out Charles to Towson, though I'm not sure how long it'll take), it's far enough to make me nervous about driving my wounded car even at not-highway speeds.

I'd like to go to this workshop. I'm still trying to decide whether it's a good idea. Maybe I should start de-icing my car while making up my mind.

The one next month is a bigger deal, but this one does sound useful (and fun).


[1] On the one hand[2], trying to play the sorts of bass lines I come up with at the same time as the aggressive rhythm guitar parts I play would require more mental coordination than the fairly simple drum parts I played with my feet while playing bass guitar in Wild Oats. On the other hand, it's a similar degree of "split the brain" as playing different patterns with the left and right hands on a piano, which, although it has eluded me so far, is a skill common to normal-brained pianists. So I don't know whether I'd need extra brain to control the extra arms or not. Is there a neurologist in the house?

[2] Sorry. I didn't notice the inherent pun until I started typing "on the other hand", honest. Well, okay, I'm not actually sorry, but it really was inadvertent.

[3] I'm not actually doing well pain-wise, so the decision is kinda borderline on that score as well, but I figure I can sit in the back and try to be unobtrusive if the pain and fatigue get to the point where I can no longer concentrate or have difficulty playing. Something that involved a lot of walking would be out of the question today. "Walking down stairs or lifting the teakettle hurts enough that I feel like I'm going to cry" is lower on the pain scale than "bad enough to make cancelling plans an easy decision". And I've only taken tramadol (Ultram) so far today, so I've still got another degree of medication to use if I decide to go.

dglenn: Me in poufy shirt, kilt, and Darth Vader mask, playing a bouzouki (vader)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 06:20pm on 2007-03-14 under ,

Huh. According to Wikipedia, a human skydiver can actually go as fast as a Peregrine falcon. I'd thought our terminal velocity in our most streamlined position was slower than that. Interesting. Not likely to ever be useful information for me, but still interesting.

Has something I'm allergic to already started blooming really aggressively, or am I coming down with a nasty bug? (And the fibro pain is being especially bad. Breakfast today was determined not by what I felt like eating nor what I thought I ought to eat for good nutritional balance, but entirely based on what was high enough in the fridge for me to reach without bending over.)

This morning's poll generated some results I found surprising, but the whole point was to find out whether there would be such surprises, so that makes it a successful experiment. It would be interesting to try again with a more random sample set. It would also be interesting to see how much slight changes in phrasing change the results (my guess is that in at least some sample populations the effect would be large).

Some of the comments got me thinking about the problem of certifying/licensing scales for commercial use in locations well away from the Earth's surface. And whether there are any scales certified for commercial use in mobile applications. (Measuring accurately with a moving vehicle would be problematic, of course, but I'm thinking of "set up shop here on Tuesdays, there on Thursdays, and at a different event each weekend" situations.) Do they require use of a balance scale, or just certify a spring scale as "close enough as long as you don't go more than ______ miles from where we certified it"? The answer to the mobile applications question is probably on the web, once the curiosity itch gets strong enough to motivate me to search for it. The off-planet problem probably won't be addressed, except by science fiction authors, until/unless space travel becomes commonplace enough that retail commerce starts being conducted up/out there. (Again, a balance scale seems to make the most sense to me, but I can see some bureaucrat mandating different package labelling for products intedended to be sold on the moon, and American space travellers having to memorize a list of different lb<->kg conversion factors (or recipe adjustments) for the various places they go, instead of just making it simple and using mass, just so stuff can still be sold 'by weight'.)

Physics for pessimists:

"There is no gravity, the Earth just sucks."

"Man, everything sucks, not just Earth. F=(Gm1m2)/r2, y'know."

"Feh. It might as well be gravity."

[ETA: It occurs to me that that might be a good starting place for explaining the difference between weight and mass (to pessimists): mass is how much something sucks; weight is how much the thing is being sucked on ...]

dglenn: Cartoon of me playing electric guitar (debtoon)

They say that it is good to learn at least one new thing each day. Yesterday I learned that rush hour traffic exists (on I95 and the Capitol Beltway) on Saturdays. (Non, je ne comprends pas ... [how do you say 'either'?])

Today I learned that if you screw up badly enough, you can get Cheddar cheese to burn with a visible flame (yellow, by the way), instead of just quietly turning black and smoking. Surprisingly, breakfast was still rather tasty ... but unsurprisingly, the house now smells funny. (Sorry, B.)


The thing about falling snow is that even at its absofuckinglutely most annoying, it's still pretty. (The same cannot be said for already-fallen snow, as one of its more annoying modes occurs when it's all dingy and ooky-looking. *shrug*)


Cursed be those who use rare or nonstandard screw threads on things for which users will need to obtain large numbers of screws later. Fie on them! *ptui*


Apparently my bass is only too quiet when [livejournal.com profile] maugorn is present. Other times I'm told it's too loud. (The word I got last night was that the bass parts sounded really cool, but I drowned out the bouzouki and the drum. Whoops. In other news, the fingertips of my left hand are really sore now, after spending a big chunk of Friday night on bass guitar and the second half of last night's gig on double bass. (The marathon strip-the-willow set felt like it was going to kill my arm and/or a few of the dancers, who were having too much fun to stop dancing even as one of them later said he was trying to remember the location of the nearest hospital in case he danced himself into a heart attack.)


Related to the preceeding item, I've realized that completely filled mixers make me nervous, even when the mixer is filled simply because it's exactly the size we need. (And brand new, so having a channel suddenly die on us was unlikely.) I just get unreasonably twitchy knowing that there's no room left to plug in anything else. It worked out just fine (except for not turning up the drum and bouzouki when I started tugging at the bass); the 'problem' is a personal mental one.


I need more comfortable dressy flat shoes. The ones I wear to visit Mom and for coat-and-tie gigs (last night was coat-and-tie-and-kilt) are nowhere near as comfortable as my pumps, my medieval/Celtic shoes, or even my winter boots. I probably shouldn't wear shoes that make my feet hurt; I've got a surplus of physical pain in my life already.

Not that I'm likely to get around to doing anything about that until/unless I start needing to wear those shoes significantly more often than I do now.


And more 'news' than 'observation': I think Perrine has forgiven me for Friday. She was mad at me all of Saturday. But since what she was annoyed about was my having left her alone for so long and feeding her really, really, really late, she couldn't express her anger by snubbing me -- she needed her togetherness fix. So she sat on my hip in bed, and later curled up by my ankles, but glowered at me whenever we were both awake, and refused to take treats from me. Today she seems her normal self, even wanting to play a while before breakfast (despite having given me the "I'm hungry" signal as I woke up). Playing "pounce on the disappearing string" with her as I was falling asleep last night may have helped. (I poked a scrap piece of rawhide lace out from under the blanket and slowly reeled it back in, giving her a chance to pounce and grab it as it disappeared, thrusting her paws under the blanket to catch it. Perrine likes that game.)

So my cat was mad at me, but she couldn't punish me by ignoring me without making herself more unhappy. (Fortunately she did not reach the peeing-on-things level of feline annoyance.)

Let's see -- I left the house last Sunday and returned home on Wednesday. Then I dared to leave the house again on Thursday -- only for a couple of hours to get my guitar picks (er ... fingernails) repaired and shop (unsuccessfully) for screws (fie, I say!), but she didn't know that as I was leaving. Friday evening I went to [livejournal.com profile] silmaril's birthday party and stayed late, including the aforementioned missed feeding, and yesterday I bustled about clearly preparing to leave the house yet again. And Perrine hates it when I leave. (Yes, my cat is a bit clingy. When I first got her, she followed me around from room to room for several days straight, waking up to follow me if I stood up while she was sleeping. Abandonment issues? She was wearing a collar but starving to death when I found her on my back porch.)

What she'd do if I had a regular job, I do not know. Every time I take a shower, she tries to pin me to the bed with her cat-gravity before I can put clothes on, and gets all "I need to be Petted and Scritched a WHOLE LOT, Right NOW", because she knows that showering and getting dressed usually means Leaving The House, which she doesn't want me to do. This doesn't usually stop me, of course. It just makes me wish she coped better with my going away every so often, as most humans have to do.


And since I've mentioned cat gravity, I've been pondering a slightly different explanation than the one put forth by Robin Wood. I'm thinking that super-heroes are, in gravitic terms, anti-cats. That is, we often see super-heroes (and super-villains) performing feats that require not only the great strength so many super-heroes are known for, but also incredible inertial mass. No matter how strong you are, if you mass ten slugs (~300# on Earth) and get smacked by an automobile massing a dozen times as much (a couple of tons) going thirty or forty miles per hour, well regardless of how strong (and indestructible) you are, you're going to be accelerated ("flung" might be a better word) far more than the car will be slowed by hitting you. To stop the car, you'll need womdigious amounts of friction between you're colourful boots and the pavement (and crouch to line up the force vectors just right so that you don't just get knocked over or lifted into the air), or an inertial mass close to or exceeding that of the vehicle.

(Superman, and other super-heroes who can fly via unexplained propulsion or by gadgetry (so this would include Iron Man, but not Storm[*] or Angel) could be argued not to be constrained by this analysis, as they could counter the force of impact with whatever propulsive force enables them to fly. So we'll have to look for other evidence to determine whether Mr. Kent (and possibly Mr. Stark's powered armour) are similarly anti-feline[**].)

But these same super-heroes are often seen walking or standing on surfaces that would not be able to withstand the pressure of that much weight over the area of the soles of their shoes, and when they climb into an automobile we do not see the suspension bottom out (with the exception of a few individuals already known to be unusually heavy, such as The Blob). Therefore their gravitational mass must be much less than their inertial mass, precisely the opposite of the effect observed in cats!

(Again, those with the power of mysteriously-propelled flight are not covered in this argument, as they could counter their weight by "flying" at zero altitude. But here, Mr. Stark's boot-jets would not exempt him.)

Therefore, assuming that the different kinds of mass must add up to the same quantity over a large area, we should be able to predict approximately how many super-heroes -- at least of the non-flying variety -- there are, by counting up the feline population and measuring the average difference between feline inertial mass and feline gravitational mass and estimating the difference between inertial and gravitational masses of typical super-heroes. Once we determine how many cats are needed to cancel out one super-hero, we can estimate how many still un-heard-of super-powered individuals are waiting to come out of the closet er ... phone booth.

Hmm. This suggests that spay-and-neuter campaigns have the side effect of reducing the number of super-heroes and super-villains being born[***]. But that may not be a bad thing -- have you noticed how much of a mess super-battles tend to make? Cats can do a hell of a lot of damage to furniture and carpets and anything that can be knocked off a table, but how many cats would it take to smash as many cars as a typical encounter between Mr. Parker and Dr. Octavius?


In the future, we should also calculate the energy expenditures of super-heroes and figure out how much time they would need to spend eating in order to have that many calories of metabolic energy available to them. Anybody feel like tackling that one?


[*] Of course, Storm could summon a perfectly-timed tornado-force gust of wind -- more of a microburst -- to stop the speeding car, but that's a different sort of maneuver.

[**] What's the best word to use for this concept, "anti-feline", "contra-feline", "counter-feline", or something else? "Felinverse"?

[***] Or created through exposure to meteorites, freak chemical accidents, irradiation, or arachnid bites.

dglenn: Lego-ish figure in blue dress, with beard and breasts, holding sword and electric guitar (lego-blue)

Many 'phrases' in cat-to-human (and cat-to-cat) communication do not translate cleanly to concise English sentences. Some are ambiguous or incomplete (Perrine, for example, unfortunately seems to think that saying "I want," will enable me to read her mind to determine what she wants, if she just says it emphatically enough; some other cats can be much more specific), or convey a mood rather than a statement (or perhaps feline concepts a human can only approximate?).

But "this is crap" not only translates succinctly, it even appears to use the same idiom.

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (cyhmn)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 02:23pm on 2006-09-03 under ,

Driving home from Bowie last night, I was listening to jazz from the early 1920s on the radio. Most of it was melodically and harmonically interesting, but it sounded mechanical much of the time, as though the musicians were stapled to a metronome. The few, brief moments when it was rhythmically interesting weren't all that special, and just made me even more aware of how rigid most of it was.

I found myself wanting to cover the musicians' brains in soap, or oil, or something to make them not just "loosen up" but be a little "slippery". It wasn't just the drummers playing "four on the floor"; the whole band was in the same straight four lockstep, with the result that many of the tunes sounded plodding even when the tempo was brisk. If anybody swung it was only whoever had the solo at the time, and while some of what they did fit the definition it didn't feel swingy to me.

Part of my problem was that I didn't find the music expressive enough. Come to think of it, I didn't hear a lot of dynamics either (though I wonder whether that was a side effect of the recording technology ... if they couldn't close-mic because they had too few channels, and their mics fell off sharply with distance, folks might've had to play at nearly full volume the whole time to be picked up, leaving no room for dynamics. But I have no idea what microphones were like in 1923, so I don't know whether this hypothesis makes any sense. I do know the frequency response wasn't anywhere near flat, but I don't know whether that was the mic or the recording medium.)

It's not that I think music should be sloppy, though I know that some sequencers and drum machines introduce eensy-weensy random timing variations to attempt to sound more 'human'. What I felt the music was missing were the intentional, stylistic adjustments to phrasing. The pause to make you want the next note, too short to call a breath, more like a nod or half-a-wink. The "I'm not rushing but you can tell I'm eager" leading. The clever little rhythmic patterns that drive me nuts if I try to notate them, and the tiny phrasing elements nobody would attempt to notate unless you're scoring for MIDI. The music felt bare and lonely without those touches, didn't feel like jazz (well, my idea of what jazz is supposed to soud like), didn't feel whole.

It sounded like documentation, not a performance. Yeah, they were tight, dead-on, but so are Steely Dan, and Steely Dan's music is more alive. Again, perhaps these guys sounded a lot better live than in the studio ... given not only the popularity and cultural importance of jazz, but also the ways people described it then and what it meant to them, I can't imagine that mechanical sound having been what it was all about.

But as I was composing this message in my head (a lot of it got changed from what I was thinking then, after sleeping on it), some examples of what I wanted to hear in the music finally came on, in pieces recorded toward the other end of that decade (I think the announcer mentioned one of the tracks being from 1928). There were the expressiveness, the cleverness, and the looseness I'd been wanting. It started 'sounding like jazz' instead of sounding like a musicological lecture on the elements of jazz. The word 'swing' started to make sense again. (I know 'swing' seems to be a term more associated with the 1930s than the 1920s, but the announcer of the program was referring to it, and the technical appearance of swung notes showed up in the selections in phrases here and there, even if the music in question wasn't part of the swing movement that came later.)

In the later pieces, it wasn't as though everything was sliding around all over the place -- getting off the metronome was still mostly something only the soloist-of-the-moment did while the rest of the band kept it grounded -- but the soloists took more liberties than they had five to seven years earlier, the rhythm section did start swinging more (together), and there wasn't that four-square feel -- the beat was allowed to be suggested by the rhythm pattern as a whole, not locked down and counted out by the drum and the piano and the banjo one two three four.

And when they wanted to throw in some 'clever', some make-sure-the-audience-is-paying-attention, it was more interesting both as math and as spirit than what I'd heard earlier.

I suppose, based on this tiny sample, that jazz from the late 1920s is music I want to listen to, whereas jazz from the early 1920s is music that makes me want to re-do it -- that makes me think, "now there's a fun melody; it'd sound really cool if I played it this way instead ..."

I'm certainly not a jazz expert -- I know a lot more about classic rock -- but I hear enough jazz for "1928 is earlier than most of the jazz I listen to" to be a meaningful statement. (I think I mostly hear jazz from about 1935 to 1965 with some recent works and a little 1970s/1980s mixed in.) It's interesting to hear and analyze some of what the 1930s jazz I'm used to grew from. Though I'd love to have a better idea what it sounded like live -- as I said, I've got my suspicions about the recordings. For what it's worth, I've heard some jazz from the teens before, but didn't give it my full attention at the time, only noticing that I had trouble identifying the jazz-nature in it (it sounded less jazzy than ragtime to me -- I don't know whether the examples I heard were typical of the period or not). At some point I should listen seriously to really early jazz, to flesh out my musical education if nothing else. But I think the "comfort food" selections when I'm in a jazz mood are going to continue coming mostly from the big band era for a while.

dglenn: Lego-ish figure in blue dress, with beard and breasts, holding sword and electric guitar (lego-blue)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 07:49am on 2006-02-12 under ,

Nah, this ain't workin'
It's no way to do it
Just puttin' numbers on a CRT
This ain't workin'
There's a better way to do it
Show me my data in full three-dee

I'm using a spreadsheet to sort out options, and to compare the costs of different combinations of services from different providers. This is all well and good -- it's a more suitable use of the tool than what I usually do with it (like most people: use spreadsheets as quick & dirty databases, one table per sheet, using vlookup() and hlookup() to create relations[1] if the database is more than just a flat file).

The problem is, this is the second problem in two weeks for which I want a three-dimensional spreadsheet. I want to see a transparent cube, with values in cells addressed by row+column+plane. I'll settle for slicing my data up and linking chunks with references and lookups, since that's what I've got, but I want that three-dimensional representation. Intuitive. Convenient. (Actually, for one problem I really want to see a tesseract[2].) Instead, I'm sitting here trying to figure out the most reasonable way to slice things up to be laid out on one or more two-dimensional grids.

Y'know, I've said before that a lot of representations of VR in fiction strike me as silly -- nifty, dramatically effective, but silly -- because they'd use resource-intensive renderings for things for which we already have very efficient interfaces. So I mostly see VR as something for games (and other entertainment), and for specialized applications. It makes sense for a biochemist to play with modelling software that lets her "walk around" and "grab" virtual molecules. Depending on what they're making, it could be useful for mechanical engineers as well. The "everything you see is a metaphor for a chunk of code or a real-world interface" approach from some cyberpunk fiction strikes me as ... well, difficult to get right (in the sense of being more useful than a more straightforward but less interesting -- in a novel/movie context -- interface, unless you're tweaking complex information streams to take advantage of human pattern-recognition abilities[3], but even then it seems as though it'd be more useful for alerts and general status reporting than for detailed information and hands-on interaction[4]. So I've had trouble believing in worlds where full-sensory VR is the way all tech-savvy characters interact with computers. But as of this morning, I'm ready for consumer-priced VR just for the sake of a three- or four-dimensional user interface for Gnumeric or Excel.

I'm ready for my VR multi-dimensional spreadsheet now. As soon as I can get ahold of the goggles and the data-glove, and find out where to download the demo software... But I wanna try it out for a while before I decide whether to get a jack implanted in my neck for a neural hookup.


[1] Yeah, I'd prefer having a real query language and greater efficiency (enough vlookups and Excel gets pretty slow), but when I'm creating a database for myself I'm usually impatient to start using it, and misusing a spreadsheet means being able to take advantage of certain data-entry shortcuts without having to design custom input forms. Obtaining better front-end tools should probably go on my to-do list, I suppose. I use real database tools when I'm solving someone else's problems (because then I'm much more concerned with doing it right than just getting the first bunch of answers).

[2] It's just more intuitive to me, to represent data in the number of dimensions the data have, as much as can be conveniently rendered. I hated Karnaugh maps in my Computer Architecture class until I realized that the three-variable map was a 2x2x2 cube "unfolded" by putting a hinge in the middle of one face, and the four-variable Karnaugh map was a similarly unfolded tesseract. When I drew a cube on the board to solve a problem in class, the professor asked, "Okay, wise guy, what do you do with four variables," so I showed him: I drew a tesseract (okay, a two-dimensional representation of one common three-dimensional projection of a tesseract, if'n y'wanna get all technical at me), I'd been using my own notation to map six-variable symbol tables onto a tesseract for homework problems, because I never worked out drawing pictures of more than four dimensions in any useable way[5]. The instructor found me annoying.

[3] I must remember to dig up the InfoWorld column in which someone suggested an "environmental sounds" approach to data-center status monitoring. I know from experience that subtle changes in one's acoustic environment can be a very effective way of receiving status information about one's equipment: I remember being able to hear a paper jam in the Xerox 1075 copier and usually know which section it was in before the machine had detected it, while my attention was focussed on something else entirely. I remember being able to tell when someone had logged in on the Xenix box I administered, from the sound of the hard disk. Now imagine engineering that sort of thing intentionally, so that data center staff know "the web server is experiencing unusually heavy load" because of the rough equivalent of the sound of twigs snapping, or "the WAN has started having latency problems" because "the birds stopped chirping". This is where I can see VR interfaces being especially powerful, but this doesn't require VR to implement. I've been meaning to write a separate entry about it for a while, and may get around to it yet.

[4] And yes, geek (and SF fan) that I am, whenever I make this point my brain spawns a background process trying to come up with more ways in which it would be useful. Let's just say that I've simplified my argument for the sake of brevity, and we can discuss when and how I see a metaphorical VR UI being more useful than decorative another time. And that my thoughts on the matter are far from finished.

[5] In middle school I was told that humans could not visualize four-dimensional objects (obviously, by someone who hadn't seen enough three-dimensional projections of tesseracts to find one that "folded up in his brain" the right way to make the idea click). In high school I was told, "of course we can visualize four dimensions with training, but not five." Several friends took this as a personal challenge. One claimed to be able to picture six-dimensional geometric solids. I managed to visualize a few simple shapes in five but nothing complex -- just enough to convince myself that there had to be other people who could do geometry in more dimensions than that "visually" in their heads, if "mere ordinary me" could reach the edge of five with a struggle and hold four dimensions in my head long enough to sort out diagramattically whether I was doing polar<-&gr;rectangular coordinate conversions correctly. Not that I find four-dimensional visualization easy -- I do have to slow down, and keep reinforcing bits of it that try to slip away -- but it's "there" enough to be useful to me, and four a four-dimensional representation of four-dimensional data to be a good way for me to spot the patterns and relationships in those data. (Note that drawing four-dimensional diagrams to show somene else what I'm thinking remains quite a problem.) How to build four-dimensional representations into a VR interface is something I haven't thought about yet.


Oh bother. The footnotes took over again, didn't they? And I just sprayed for those last week.

dglenn: Me in poufy shirt, kilt, and Darth Vader mask, playing a bouzouki (vader)

I managed to get rid of the shaky/cold feeling, the sound hypersensitivity, and most of the knee pain, using a combination of theobromine, ibuprofen, lavender, basil, and tramadol, but the dizziness, peripheral vision, and attention span problems didn't diminish enough. Right now I feel like I'd be perfectly happy standing up and playing the double bass, and mostly-ok playing bass recorder, but quite not-okay piloting a ton of steel down I-95 at thirty or forty meters per second to get there. I need to recruit another Baltimore driver into Three Left Feet to carpool with, so that on the nights when I'm well enough to play but not steady enough to drive, I'll have a ride. (Plus, at just over a gallon of petrol each direction, and today's gas prices, splitting the travel cost would be a good thing.) But for now, here I sit, feeling frustrated again. So I'll spend [noticing the time as I'm finaly done typing this] a hundred and sixty minutes writing babble for my journal with a couple of CBS shows on in the backgound ...


I decided to take out some of my frustration on virtual rocks. In college, we referred to this as "rock hunting." The convenience store referred to it as "making the Asteroids machine profitable". Asteroids and Asteroids DeLuxe were among my favourite arcade games (the others being Tempest, Robotron, Defender, Defender Stargate, Qix, and Missile Command). I never cared for it on the 2600 (or the 5200 for that matter), and it didn't feel right on the PC/AT either, but the version that's on my Debian machine finally got me to accept a raster version of Asteroids. (If I have to explain to anyone what "raster" means and/or what the alternative is, I will. If you've got access to an old Asteroids stand-up arcade unit, it'll make more sense if you go look at it. And if you already know what I mean, you probably understand why I care, whether you agree with me on this one or not.) So sometimes when I'm feeling tense and too scattered to feel like reading, I fire little dots at pictures of rocks. After all, what's more relaxing than doing lots of vector addition at no-time-to-think speeds? (Okay, noodling on guitar is more relaxing, but Newtonian mechanics plus blowing things up makes for a nice change of pace.)

Of course, I couldn't just play the game. I had to start analyzing the types of errors I made. And while I make at least my share of "thinkos", a lot of my piloting errors were fat-finger problems -- mostly holding down a key a tiny bit longer than I meant to (not surprising, if I'm mostly playing when feeling physically out-of-sorts) resulting in over-rotation or too long a burn, putting the ship on a vector other than what I was aiming for.

Okay, this won't help my left-hand response-time problem, but thinking about control mechanics got me thinking about improvements to the user interface to make the ship more responsive, to allow more delicate control. I like responsive machines -- and responsive computer interfaces. When a well-designed and well-tuned control system (or user interface) drives responsive and properly working equipment ... well sometimes it's almost as though the machine is reading my mind; ideally the machine feels like an extension of my body. This is how a really nice pen feels -- not as though I'm holding a writing implement, but that my hand extends to the page and has become able to produce ink. This is what a bicycle feels like to me when I get in the zone -- that I have become (as I've described in the past) a half-mechanical centaur, not conscious of controlling a machine, but extending myself into the machine, so I "feel the road" with "my" tires, not (as is obectively happening) interpreting vibrations transmitted to my feet, ass, and hands through the frame of the bike. And this is how driving a car should feel -- I think about traffic but (unless there's a mechanical problem) I don't think about how to control the car; the car "simply" Goes Where I Will It to go, and if there's ice or snow or gravel, I "feel" how "my" tires are holding. This is what's frustrating when a device doesn't work correctly, too -- and what's tiring about beginning to learn a new tool: I have to become aware of it as a machine, of how I'm controlling it, instead of thinking only about the desired results and having the tool "magically" do what I'm thinking. If the chuck of the Dremmel keeps loosening so the bit slips, I'm paying twice as much (conscious) attention to what I'm doing as when things are working smoothly.

I like responsive tools. I like control. I like controls that work a lot like my body works[1], controls that let me affect more than one aspect of what I'm doing with the same touch. This is part of what I like about guitar (and expect to like about the bass once I acquire enough skill with the bow) -- my making subtle adjustments, tiny changes, to how I hold and move my hands, give me huge differences in how a note sounds. The gross movements determine the pitch and the volume, the fine movements determine the flavour. The guitar is expressive because it is responsive. Similarly, subtle changes in breathing and embouchure make enourmous differences to the sound of a saxophone ... but I don't play sax well yet. (I'd like to.) To some extent this is true of most musical instruments, but some instruments are more expressive than others ...

But I digress (hmm ... I tend to do that more under the influence of theobromine, I think.)

Thinking about how I'd like to fly my little picture-of-a-spaceship, I started wanting pressure-sensitive keys -- what a synth player would describe as "velocity sensitive with aftertouch". In Asteroids, you have no control over the amount of thrust -- the thruster is firing or it's off, and the only control over the impulse is the duration of the burn. With force-sensitive keys, a player could control the thrust as well as the duration. For that matter, one could even control speed of rotation. Finer control. Yum.

But what would I do with an "aftertouch' keyboard when not playing a video game on it?

Imagine if hitting the keys harder caused what you were typing to be automatically rendered in italics, and harder still translated to boldface, or even caps-lock. (Or if your editor were in HTML-aware mode, it could automatically insert <em> and <strong> tags. For some applications there would be obvious default interpretations to apply, but users could override them with their own settings, or invent idiosyncratic controls for tools/modes without an "obvious" behaviour.) Pressing backspace normaly but then increasing the presure after the key was down could trigger delete-word or delete-line. This could be frustrating to get used to at first, but once an operator with a delicate enough touch did get used to it, it could be amazingly responsive and cut out one more level of conscious thinking-about-how-you-do-what-you-do. Once the hands were trained, you'd just think "stressed" and it would come out emphasized; you'd just "think louder" and it would come out bolded. With enough care, perhaps the interface could be designed to distinguish between emphasis (which in HTML should be done with <em> and is often rendered as italics) and italics for book/movie titles (which I do with <i>, but someone else might configure to do with <span class="title"> or something). All it would take (well, not that this would be trivial, of course) is to come up with a set of fine nuances the system could detect, that a human could reasonably train his or her fingers to encode reliably, and intuitive enough[2] that the mechanics of it could eventually become unconscious.

I don't think this would catch on -- at least not enough so to make production of such keyboards cost effective -- especially since so much software would have to be modified to make it at all useful (I'd make the keyboard drivers do the detection and interpretation and report some sort of class code that the OS would then pass along to applications, but applications would still need to be modified to know to look for that information in the input stream), and only people as into control-control-nuanced-control-more-control as I am -- as interested in making the user interface experience as close to telepathy as possible -- would even find any value in it. But as a thought exercise, I'm having fun with the idea.

Combine this with an eyeball-tracking pointing device (the cursor goes where you look; wink for a mouse-click) and we could get very very close to "thinking into the computer". On a good day, typing is fairly close to that for me (with an editor I like well enough, such as 'vi'), but this could add another dimension. As it is, I think "<em>think</em>" and those characters just appear on the screen[3] with some vague awareness that my fingers wiggled along the way. This would mean not even thinking about the characters less-than ee em greater-than: I'd think "think" in italics and the tags to make it show up that way would magically appear in my editor.

This could possibly be one notch better than when I was touch-typing WordPerfect and if I "thought a phrase in bold" my left pinkie would flick out to the F6 key before I thought about "how to bold this". In that one application, on a keyboard with the function keys Where They Belong (my hands stayed in "home position" when I hit the function keys, which doesn't work as well when they're across the top instead of down the left side), I could "think in bold", "think in underline", "think a paragraph indented", and have the text just come out that way without consciously thinking about how. Adding more dimensions of control to the mechanical sensors of the interface could give me that again and a whole lot more. Imagine selecting text in a browser with the mouse and having the machine detect whether you wanted just the characters, or the HTML code behind that chunk of text (the formatting, the <a href> tag if any) in a one-step process based on exactly how you held the mouse button, instead of a two-step process of picking an option from a right-click menu, or first right-clicking to get the URL then coming back for a second complete select/copy operation for the text

(Our computers already make use of some aspects of "nuanced control", of course, though only based on timing. First, the keyswitch is "debounced" (depending on the physical design of the switch, IIRC) so that electrical or mechanical jitter is filtered out and the computer figures out that the fourteen electrical spikes from the 'a' key only represented one "the user meant to press this key" event, then the system has to decide whether you've held it down long enough that it thinks you wanted a series of the same letter repeated. Once upon a time this was a novel innovation -- mechanical typewriters don't do that. Now we consider it so natural that we never even think about it: it "just happens". On some systems you can fine-tune the amount of time before the computer decides you really meant repeated characters, and how rapidly additional copies of the character should be generated after that, so that a picky user aware enough to know what to be picky about can tweak the machine's reponse to match what feels "most natural" to him or her, thus making the interface even more effective/efficient. Similarly, on some systems the ratio of how far the mouse moved to how far the mouse-cursor moves is constant (but configurable) and on others the ratio changes depending on the speed at which you move the mouse. That is, moving the mouse a short distance very quickly may send the mouse pointer clear across the screen while moving the mouse the same distace more slowly only moves the pointer a short distance. If these behaviours are properly configured, most users will never consciously notice them until they switch to a computer that works differently -- mostly, it will "just work" and they'll find the computer "feels nicely responsive" without being aware why. The speed at which two mouse clicks are interpreted as "a double click" instead of two separate events is another example of overlaying additional control information onto one physical control by encoding information in the timing.[4])

Of course, there'd also be a greater risk of "fat-fingering" a mouse command or some text and getting a result you didn't intend. And the devil's in the details -- there'd be a lot of "noise" to filter out so that a user could get the same results when bleary-eyed and clumsy as when fresh and perky. Without actually building the devices, writing the code, and playing with it for a while, it's hard to say whether the power-and-convenience or the magnification-of-clumsiness would dominate. But I'd love a chance to find out.

Or maybe it's just the theobromine talking. An extremely large dose of chocolate was involved when I wrote that bit of erotic fiction people find disturbing, too, so my reality may be slightly out of alignment at the moment.


As long as I'm thinking about unconventional user interface ideas, how come the "pie menus" I heard Don Hopkins talking excitedly about so many years ago have never made it into any tools I use? Those sounded really cool, and I wanted to play with them and find out whether the reality was as nifty as the description, but we're still using linear list menus everywhere.


[1] When my body works to my satisfaction, that is. I'd like rather more reliability from my tools than my body has given me lately.

[2] The more intuitive the better, but it doesn't have to be perfect on that score, as long as it's not so dissonant that it becomes awkward to train. I'm a 'vi' user, and as powerful as it is, and as well as I've learned to "think in 'vi'", I wouldn't say that hjkl cursor movement is perfectly intuitive, or that 'L' to move to the bottom of the screen is at all intuitive. The thing is, they're reasonable enough to be easy to train your fingers to do -- to the point that a skilled 'vi' user who's been at it long enough to forget what it felt like to be just starting to learn it will find that these things feel "natural" despite not having been intuitive back when they started.

[3] Unless I'm using a laptop with a keyboard just barely smaller than I'm used to, or my fingers are really cold.

[4] Years ago I considered programming a computer to notice idiosyncratic details of the timing of a user's keystrokes, so that it could automagically detect which user was typing on it (or if not that advanced, perhaps merely to include a rhythm in a password to make it harder to break by trial-and-error than a conventional text-only password). What I didn't think of until just now is that even with conventional keyboards, we could make "staccato" and "legato" typing mean different things.

dglenn: Lego-ish figure in blue dress, with beard and breasts, holding sword and electric guitar (lego-blue)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 11:45am on 2006-01-22 under ,
I really want to be able to tell a computer, "Suspend this running process, pick it up, send it over the network to that other computer over there, and resume it as though it had been running over there all along." Uh, and if the process in question is an X client, I want to be able to optionally tell it, "and attach to such-and-such X server while you're at it." I mean, I can tell my computers this now but they just stare at me like I'm an idiot. I want to be able to tell them to do that and have them actually do it. I'm willing to accept "both computers have to be running similar operating systems on the same CPU architecture" as a reasonable limitation.

Is this one of those "high performance computing" features that you get with a modern rack containing a cluster of virtualized multi-core blades, or is it a pipe dream? If it exists, can I kludge the technology onto my ... well, not a cluster but maybe a "clump" ... of mostly obsolete boxes tacked together with 10baseT?

I'm not sure the 800MHz box counts as obsolete -- I don't think it does anyhow -- but I know the various 100MHz, 120MHz, and 200MHz Pentium systems are, ah, "well behind the curve". I'll say the 350 is in the grey area. But hey, I'm getting closer and closer to replacing/retiring the 486/66 machines ... maybe even before Pennsic depending on what else falls in my lap.
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 03:11am on 2006-01-18 under

It's approximately the mumbleth anniversary of the Great [livejournal.com profile] merde's-Birthday Ice Storm and the memorable automotive adventure that followed it.

Tonight, it's a windstorm.

And yeah, I told the 'at' daemon to wait until it was [livejournal.com profile] merde's birthday on the Left Coast to post this. :-P

dglenn: My face, wearing black beret, with guitar neck in corner of frame (pw34)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 05:02am on 2006-01-14 under

[With apologies to The Who for that subject line.]

Thinking back on my education ... babbling to [livejournal.com profile] anniemal and comparing notes on our high school experiences ... reflecting on middle school, high school, and university, and my good fortune[*] in having had several excellent teachers ...

... And I was reminded yet again what a huge debt I owe to Anne Riley. And to Maria Montessori, of course, but I feel more personally grateful to the woman who was my teacher from age three and a half until I left her school to enter the seventh grade when I was eleven[**], than to the inventor of the instructional method she used.

Mrs. Riley deemed me ready to move on, despite feeling uncertain about my math skills. She'd prepared me better than she realized. (And math turned out to be my strongest subject.)


[*] Much of that "luck" was manufactured by my parents, by choosing to send me to Key and jumping through whatever hoops it took to get financial aid, and paying for what the aid didn't cover, as well as their having kept me in Montessori before then. Still, I'm lucky these schools and these teachers existed and were nearby, and I'm lucky to have had parents who made those decisions.

[**] I see from the web site that the school now includes a junior-high program. When I was there, it didn't.

dglenn: My face, wearing black beret, with guitar neck in corner of frame (pw34)

Politically, I am a nobody. Neither am I a celebrity. But it turns out that I am at most five contacts away from Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Each of them has, according to the first hit I found on Google, a Bacon number of three. I have a Bacon number of two[1]. So connecting only through appearances in IMDB-listed films, I am no more than five relationships away from ObL.

Who knows how few personal relationships[2] link any of us to some lesser-known (but still known) terrorist?

Casting a really wide net in the search for terrorists based on associate-of-an-associate-of links[3] is going to gather so many false positives that it will be entirely useless.[4]

And of course, lest anyone think to question my patriotic bona-fides or smear what they perceive as my liberal politics[5] based on my being five contacts from Hussein and ObL, I must point out that this means the least connected and most conservative person who has ever exchanged flamage with me on a mailing list or LiveJournal is at most six contacts away from Osama bin Laden himself! And that's exactly my point: that this number tells us nothing about the people.

[0] I was looking up Osama bin Laden; finding out that I am the same distance from Saddam Hussein was a side effect. The title of this post does not mean that I'm one of the folks the Bush administration tricked into believing that Hussein was connected to al Queda. Though obviously ObL and Hussein are only five degrees apart based on this same measurement...

[1] I was an extra in Forrest Gump.

[2] As in actually having conversed with, exchanged correspondence with, or conducted commerce with -- my being an extra does not mean I have a personal relationship with Tom Hanks, and I'm assumimg that the FBI and the NSA aren't actually interested in the Bacon numbers of extras.

[3] I'm not sure just how wide a net they are casting, but I've heard of folks being listed as persons of interest by virtue of having rented a room from a terrorist's unsuspecting in-laws, so there's some suspicion-by-contagion. Still, unless it turns out[6] they really are sweeping everyone with any detectable relationship a few contacts away into the web of surveillance -- plausible given what has been said so far about the extent of the illegal wiretaps and the data mining -- consider this entry a musing about hypotheticals.

[4] Unless, of course, the use to which you really hope to put such data is the smearing of your political opponents or finding excuses to arrest gadflies, instead of foiling and capturing terrorists.

[5] I do look liberal. Measured against most yardsticks, I'm probably somewhere that side of center. But I look a lot more liberal in contrast to the current crop of neo-conartists than I do standing next to traditional (American) conservatives with whom I have a fair amount in common. I'm a little unclear over exactly where to label myself, other than knowing I'm not a perfect match for the conventional ideologies and a certainly not a 'winger' (left or right). The two different two-axis political-identification quizzes provide useful information, but I still don't feel I quite represent the spots on the graph where either of those places me. So I'll only go so far (for now) as to say, "It's probably not too misleading to call me a liberal." Then again, these days it seems the only other people willing to use the word "liberal" at all are the ones who use it as synonymous with "liberal extremist", which makes labelling a bit bizarre ...

[6] I'm a bit behind on my LJ and other reading.

[Edit @ 2009-06-11 04:40: A more intelligent search (and possibly the effects of movie/television appearences occurring in the last 41 months) reduces the easily-discoverable degrees of separation to ... three steps between myself and bin Laden, two steps between myself and George W. Bush. That's using The Oracle of Bacon with all genres checked and all media other than video games, and referencing everyone to Tom Hanks (because of the Forrest Gump connection) instead of forcing all linkages to go through Kevin Bacon.]

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)

Argh. Bad and good. I'll do the bad first so I can end on an upbeat note -- the bad isn't interesting enough to make a really entertaining whine, so I'd better leave a positive taste behind ...

My body has been uncooperative. Uh, that's mostly it: the various other frustrations I've got to complain about mostly follow from that. I haven't been in severe pain, just the usual fibromyalgia background (okay, so that means part of the past few days it's felt like I have a sprained shoulder off and on with no actual injury to go with it, and my hands and knees ache; but that's how it is on all but my very best weeks, so it's not Special Dramatic Pain Levels or a migraine -- sucks, but I haven't had to reach for the codeine so it doesn't count) ... but fatigue and sleep problems are kicking my ass. I sleep for two to four hours at a time, and either wake feeling like I've only slept two hours and drag myself through to the next time I can fall asleep, or I wake feeling refreshed and perky and full of possibilities and it wears off 90-120 minutes later while I'm in the middle of something terribly urgent, and I become an inefficient zombie or (if I'm lucky) I fall asleep. So I haven't visited my mother or the in-laws, I haven't helped [livejournal.com profile] lonebear with the sysadmin stuff I said I'd help with, I haven't done paperwork, I didn't get to rehearsals, I only wrote one of the four major LJ entries I'd planned to write in the past week (little updates like this aren't what I'm talking about), and I haven't started transcribing the tunes I started composing.

I'm out of important groceries. Why? Well mostly because I expected to have been organized enough, and to have felt well enough for driving, to have gotten down to [livejournal.com profile] anniemal's house days ago, and figured it made sense to plan on buying food on the way back here rather than burn an afternoon's energy shopping just before heading out for a few days. Whoops. If I'd taken heed of a couple of telltales, maybe I would've realized I wasn't getting down there as soon as planned. (It kind of sneaks up on me. I need to get better at noticing little things early, instead of going, "Oh yeah, that's been this way for a few days now," late.) And now the weather's a mess, so I don't really want to make a food run now. Besides, I'm at the tail end of this afternoon's 'perky', and will need to go lie down soon. I'd hoped to beat the weather by hitting the road right after rush hour and going to Virginia. But then I couldn't sleep despite how tired I felt, until about the start of rush hour, and when I woke it was already slippery-looking out. I'll drive in pretty nasty conditions -- far nastier than this -- if I'm feeling alert, but when I'm already feeling a little off my game ...? (Which reminds me: for months now I've been meaning to write about my attitudes toward driving and safety, and observations on how I decide whether I'm feeling well enough.) Ah, but it's supposed to stop and then warm up, so maybe tonight or tomorrow morning I'll get out.

This is also why I missed a party I'd very badly wanted to go to this past weekend. *pout*

So, of course, I'm starting to feel a bit stressed about not being ready for Christmas. But at least that ties into one of the good things...


Yesterday I got my first Christmas card of the season. A few days ago I remembered to plug in the coloured Christmas lights hanging in the windows of the blue bedroom. And as long as I can pretend I didn't hear about the traffic accidents on the news, the weather is rather pretty. The cold came early this year, but other than temperature-related discomfort I really like winter -- and it's starting to look like winter and feel like Christmas. Stress or no stress, I've got a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings all wrapped up in the Christmas meme-complex. Feel-good memories, susceptibility to cultural "you're supposed to feel good" fictions that mimic memories, sensory triggers I enjoy, the background feeling of excitement and anticipation I pick up from my society (whether it's commercial, religious, gift-oriented, whatever -- I'm picking up the vibe, and the undercurrent of anticipation (and despite the screeching of the ohmyGodthere'sawaronChristmasandwe'rebeingoppressed crowd, cheer) is there), and the second most important holiday of my religion is approaching. (Yes, I'm very much aware of the reasons it's scheduled at this point in the calendar. Doesn't stop me from feeling it any more than understanding refraction prevents me from going "oooooooh!" at a rainbow.)

There's a huge potato baking in the oven (sliced in half, with an inside-out red chili pepper rolled into a little hollow I dug there, then reassembled and wrapped tightly in foil), and it's just starting to make those potato-means-FOOD smells. It should be ready just before I completely fall over.

I'm going to resist the impulse to go into "it would be even better if" territory, because right now that would sound (and, more importantly, feel, like whining, and this is the good-things half of this entry. (I could cheat and go add to the first paragraphs before I post this, but I'm not gonna. Y'all get this one stream-of-consciousness. Or at least as close to stream-of-consciousness as anything I write or say aloud ever is.) I have Christmas, I have a yummy-smelling potato, I have friends. And I have LJ to keep me entertained. My feeling "more 'alive' because it's winter" (actually that usually starts in autumn) is a little ironic considering my sleep issues, but any of it that I can feel is a positive thing and gets counted here.

And I've got tunes in my head that I need to write down before they get away.

dglenn: Photo of clouds shaped like an eye and arched eyebrow (sky-eye)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 12:10pm on 2005-11-29 under

Wow, gotta love it when the breeze has that "warm spring shower coming" feel to it! ... At the end of November.


This previously-unused icon seems appropriate for a weather post or a "Hmm" entry (I'm still not sure how to read the sky's facial expression there). Right now my "which icon gets used when" pattern is still vague. I should work out some sort of consistency so that I don't wind up being one of those people you lose track of on your friends-page because no image sticks in your mind as representing them. Right now my icons are images that I like, but which don't have obvious topic-associations, though I do tend to use "Vader" for tech stuff or when I'm feeling mischevious.

Mmm. Online-identity, avatars, "branding"; bunch o' stuff to think about. It seems to work out almost by accident for many people (and never coalesce for others), but being aware of the phenomena, my impulse is to work it all out intentionally. But maybe a longer period of observation is in order first.


Headache today; not as bad as yesterday or Sunday. Hoping I don't fall apart come evening again. Would like to get to rehearsal.

dglenn: Me in poufy shirt, kilt, and Darth Vader mask, playing a bouzouki (vader)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 07:58pm on 2005-11-18 under ,

Got my head quite thoroughly stuck in a computer problem/project and lost track of a) time, b) my own fatigue level, c) the temperature, d) my own hunger. Yah, the short translation is that I was "in hack mode", but the way my body is, that's gonna cost me later. And there was some place else I'd really intended to be today. Oops.

But I've got a spiffy new system for handling sheet music for pick-up bands in the future, I learned more about 'make' than I'd gotten around to before, and it's commented.

Uh huh, years and years of C programming, and I never bothered with more than the bare basics of 'make' (there was more that I needed to learn to understand what was going wrong with other folks' makefiles when I tried to port things, than I ever used in a makefile of my own), and it's managing sheet music that finally got me to go read the darned tutorial and find out what all else it could do for me. [livejournal.com profile] ohiblather recently asked who among her readers considers themselves "artsy/tech hybrids", and to which side of that we think we lean. ( Followup -- a whole lot of folks, of course.)) I've no clue which I'm more of, but today was about geek-in-service-to-art. Sort of. There was also that old gut-level pleasure at Building Tools, and Making Things Work, and Bending Computers To My Will. Now to resist creature feep and tear my head out of the code. (It's not quite drag-and-drop yet ... it can be even more convenient ... I could -- argh! No, no, no. Later.)

Of course, this system is a bit of art that I won't have much chance to show off. It's a little task-specialized, and I'll probably be the only one who ever uses it. But in the back of my brain, I'm already looking for ways to generalize this ...


(One of the things I said in my reply to Debbie was that I'd never really thought about how making art resembled programming, but I'd often noticed how programming felt like Making Art. Well, when you're doing it right, it's not so much "feels like" as "is". Hmm. That's for programmers in general, not just hackers, right? Or is it part of the defining character of hackerdom? My guess is that it's true for other programmers as well, but I don't actually know.)

dglenn: My face, wearing black beret, with guitar neck in corner of frame (pw34)
posted by [personal profile] dglenn at 03:57pm on 2005-11-03 under , , ,

Yesterday And Today

Yesterday: headache + nausea. Feh.

Today: better so far, trying not to get bogged down in stuff while still managing to avoid imminent disasters related to overdue utility bills.

Terminology

I ran across the sentence "[...] weblogs are part of an ecosystem (often called the Blogosphere) [...]", and thought that sounded wrong. Isn't the blogosphere more of a noosystem than an ecosystem? Hmm. OTOH, does 'noosystem' convey the interconnectedness that I think the author wanted to emphasize by choosing the word 'ecosystem'? Perhaps 'noocology'?

Computer Perceptions

In my house I have machines running Win95, Win98, WinNT, Win2K, WinXP, BSD, and a couple versions of Linux ... and MacOS 8.6 and 9. Most of these are capable (if I move the speakers to them) of playing recorded music. But the job of organizing playlists and doing playback has gotten lodged in my head as "a Mac thing". I'm reluctant to do much music-library stuff under Windows, not because the tools are lacking there, but because "that's a Mac job".

Am I reacting to the differences between the tools I've seen on each platform, or am I just stuck in an obsolete headspace, a leftover from way back when the lists of things Macs and MS-DOS machines were good for overlapped less than they do now?

Testing Questions

I've got a big pile of SIMMs that were given to me by folks who upgraded (or found a forgotten stash in the back of a desk drawer), or that I've pulled out of older machines. In some cases I've been told exactly what they were when they were given to me; others are from mystery piles. So far the ways I have to identify these are to Google part numbers or to put them into a computer and fire it up to watch the POST count the RAM. Both of these methods are tedious and slow. Is there a better way? Some RAM-testing machine that'll tell me the size and error-detection setup while telling me whether the SIMM is functioning correctly? (Of course there's still the matter of guessing compatibility with motherboards that I've no manuals for ...)

Similarly sorting power supplies into known-good, marginal, and scrap piles would be useful. ISTR that one does not test a switching supply unloaded, so I think what I've done in the past was plug each supply into a motherboard, fire it up, and check the voltage on the various pins of an unused connector. But how close to the nominal voltage is close enough? I guess I really ought to be using a sillyscope1 instead of a meter ...

A Dissenting Opinion

In TV Guide [ISSN 0039-8583; vol. 54, no. 45, 7-13 Nov. 2005, issue 2745, p. 37, "Is It Just Me?"], Rochell D. Thomas wrote, regarding a Hallowe'en M&Ms ad, "Candy should not conjure images of cannibalism, you know?"

Says her. Some of us like our chocolate ... dark. ;-)

Dust Bunnies In The Mailbox

I recently got around to installing CRM114 on the Linux box where I read mail at home, and fed it 18,000 old messages that I'd been meaning to get around to sorting. (This took several hours, so I had time to train it on the errors I found as it went.) Now I'm finding all sorts of interesting messages that I'd either completely overlooked before or had seen and put off dealing with then never found again. Every so often I go through the flagged-as-spam file looking for mistakenly-sorted messages and deleting a hundred or so spam messages at a shot. This afternoon I found email from an old friend who had written me in March to say, "Hi, long time no see." I'll probably be sending out a large number of "sorry it took me months and months to notice you'd written to me" messages as I work through the backlog.

I'm now down to 4,026 messages in the probably-spam box, 2,670 in mail inbox, and 3,121 that I've shovelled off to be archived, of the 18,000 I started with. This is a) since the start of 2004, b) not counting LJ-mail, mailing lists, or mail from automated services, c) not counting several thousand spams I deleted by hand over the past few months before installing CRM114. I wonder what I'd find if I told the filter to sort my archived mail from 2003 and earlier.

Whatever

[1] Yah, yah, I do of course mean an oscilloscope. Saying "sillyscope" makes me happy. You want me to be happy, right? Be glad I didn't twist the pronounciation to "osculascope" instead and make an obscure reference to measuring kisses.

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