They flutter by

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:42 pm
wcg: (Default)
[personal profile] wcg
Some recent daytime photographs of local specimens.



I'm told it's a Red Spotted Purple, and Google seems to agree.

Two more back here. )

For your viewing pleasure

Jul. 21st, 2017 12:15 am
wcg: (Default)
[personal profile] wcg
I see it's been three weeks since I posted anything here. July has been a slow month for astronomy, due to persistent clouds over the Canary Islands and Chile, but I do have a few gems to share with y'all.

Behind the velvet curtain... )

Yet Another Book Meme

Jul. 18th, 2017 12:46 pm
stardreamer: Baby Got Book! (books)
[personal profile] stardreamer
50 questions about books!

1. You currently own more than 20 books:
2. You currently own more than 50 books:
3. You currently own more than 100 books:
Let's just lump all these together under HELL, YEAH.

4. You amassed so many books you switched to an e-reader:
Not really. I added the Kindle app to my phone for traveling convenience, and because of a few things I wanted which were only available in e-form. But I still prefer hard-copy overall.

5. You read so much you have a ton of books AND an e-reader:
That would be me. I should note that I also have a TBR stack on my Kindle app.

6. You have a book-organization system no one else understands:
Mostly it's pretty straightforward. Where people might disagree is some of my judgment calls.

7. You're currently reading more than one book:
Generally speaking, yes.

8. You read every single day: Yes.

9. You're reading a book right now, as you’re taking this book nerd quiz: No.

10. Your essentials for leaving the house:
My belt-pack and cellphone. I don't have to carry physical books any more because of the Kindle app.

11. You've pulled an all-nighter reading a book: Yes, many times.

12. You did not regret it for a second and would do it again:
If that refers back to #11, yes.

13. You've figured out how to incorporate books into your workout: Workout?

14. You've declined invitations to social activities in order to stay home and read:
This happens in the other order. I decline a social invitation because I don't want to go, and then I end up staying home and reading instead of doing something else.

15. You view vacation time as "catch up on reading" time:
Not as a rule. If I've spent money to go somewhere and do something, I'm going to do it. Reading may happen during travel time or in the evenings.

16. You've sat in a bathtub full of tepid water with prune-y skin because you were engrossed in a book:
No -- reading in the bath isn't compatible with showers.

17. You've missed your stop on the bus or the train because you were engrossed in a book:
No, but I did miss a fork on the interstate once because I was listening to an audiobook. That was the only time I ever tried to listen to an audiobook while driving.

18. You've almost tripped over a pothole, sat on a bench with wet paint, walked into a telephone pole, or narrowly avoided other calamities because you were engrossed in a book:
No! I loathe people who aren't paying attention to what they're actually doing.

19. You've laughed out loud in public while reading a book:
Yes. And then glanced around to see if there was anyone nearby who'd be likely to appreciate the joke.

20. You've cried in public while reading a book (it’s okay, we won’t tell): No.

21. You're the one everyone goes to for book recommendations:
Only some people. It's pointless to solicit recommendations from (or make them to) someone who doesn't share your taste.

22. You take your role in recommending books very seriously and worry about what books your friends would enjoy:
That's putting way too much emphasis on a matter of opinion.

23. Once you recommend a book to a friend, you keep bugging them about it:
I may ask them, once.

24. If your friend doesn't like the book you recommended, you're heartbroken:
Disappointed, sometimes. Heartbroken... no, I don't invest that much of my ego into it.

25. And you judge them. HELL, NO.

26. In fact, whenever you and a friend disagree about a book you secretly wonder what is wrong with them:
I would wonder what was wrong with someone who actually did this.

27. You've vowed to convert a non-reader into a reader:
No, I don't tilt at windmills. If it's going to happen, it'll happen with or without me.

28. And you've succeeded: n/a

29. You've attended book readings, launches, and signings: Yes.

30. You own several signed books:
Many! I even use "autographed" as a tag on LibraryThing.

31. You would recognize your favorite authors on the street:
Some of them, because I know them socially from cons.

32. In fact, you have: If you include "at a con", yes.

33. If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, you'd choose your favorite writer:
Maybe. Still stiff competition from Howard Shore, though.

34. You own a first-edition book: A few.

35. You know what that is and why it matters to bibliophiles:
It's about rarity and historical interest. And bragging rights, for some of them.

36. You tweet, post, blog, or talk about books every day: No.

37. You have a "favorite" literary prize:
I take more interest in the Hugos than I do in other prizes, but I'm not sure that translates into "favorite".

38. And you read the winners of that prize every year:
Not necessarily -- even for the Hugos!

39. You've recorded every book you've ever read and what you thought of it:
I try to keep up-to-date with entering books into LibraryThing, but that's partly to make sure I don't re-buy a book that's on my TBR stack. Sometimes I write reviews, but I don't feel compelled to do so.

40. You have a designated reading nook in your home:
Not really. Mostly I read either at the table while eating, or in my favorite chair, but I don't think of them as "reading nooks".

41. You have a literary-themed T-shirt, bag, tattoo, or item of home décor: Yes.

42. You gave your pet a literary name:
Of the current pride, Grey Mouser, Sunfall (of Ennien), Spike (from the Toby Daye books), and arguably Loki and Kitsune are literary-related; Spot, Winnie, and Catgirl aren't.

43. You make literary references and puns nobody else understands:
Yes, and usually my friends understand them.

44. You're a stickler for spelling and grammar, even when you're just texting:
Mostly. In casual writing I'll allow myself some leeway, and I don't beat myself up over the occasional typo.

45. You've given books as gifts for every occasion:
Every type of occasion, probably. But not every single one of any type.

46. Whenever someone asks what your favorite book is, your brain goes into overdrive and you can't choose just one.
No. I have "all-time favorite" which doesn't change, and "current favorite" which does. I do sometimes get snarky and respond with, "You want me to pick ONE?" Especially since I like different books for different reasons.

47. You love the smell of books: Meh.

48. You've binge-read an entire series or an author's whole oeuvre in just a few days: Yes.

49. You've actually felt your heart rate go up while reading an incredible book: Probably.

50. When you turn the last page of a good book, you feel as if you've finally come up for air and returned from a great adventure:
Sometimes. When I do, I frequently go back and re-read it immediately.

Good news and bad news...

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:15 am
johnpalmer: (Default)
[personal profile] johnpalmer
So the good news is, I'm learning more about what fatigues me; and, I've been learning to to be more plugged in intellectually.

The bad news is that some of the stuff that fatigues me seems to be pretty low-key and difficult to avoid.

I've also gotten better a learning to avoid stuff that fatigues me when things are going badly - I think this is part of why I'm keeping plugged in mentally. That's a good thing.

In other good news, I'm learning about other database systems and starting to be able to reason about them more deeply, and to collaborate with other people who know them. The not-quite-bad news is I'm learning how hard it is to go from knowing huge gobs of information about SQL Server, and not always being able to translate it to other engines yet, because of the depth of the knowledge.

An example? Well: SQL Server is a database engine; most database engines make changes in memory, and then flush those changes to disk later. SQL Server has two mechanisms for this: the checkpoint, and the lazywriter. MySQL runs checkpoints too, but it also has a scan that runs once a second that *sounds* like the lazywriter, but might not be. And for some reason, this lazywriter-like function can block changes to the database. So, why? What's up with that? How does it work?

These are pretty deep questions, and they're pretty advanced, too. You could build a fine and powerful application running MySQL and never need to know this. You could build multiple such applications and never need to know this, in fact - and you could manage many such applications without need to know it. So where is it documented? Well... hither and yon. There are hints here and there in blogs and forums, but not all such hints are made by people who understand the process on a deep level, so they have to be reviewed carefully.

Just as in life where there's always a solution that's simple, elegant, and wrong, I'm sure there are discussions of this process that are likewise simple, elegant, and wrong.

I kind of wish I was younger - there were times when I'd imagine this as being akin to studies of magic in many fantasy worlds, where people know set spells, but don't quite understand precisely why they work. It would be exciting viewed from that perspective!

And it wouldn't surprise me if such stories were more likely written more by Unix programmers and admins than Windows. One interesting difference between Unix and Windows programs: Unix programs have a tendency to have dozens, or hundreds, of configuration options that you can set, meaning that there are all kinds of ways to control your daemons (no, really - that's the Unix term for what we Windows people call a "service") using these options, but it's really hard to know what, precisely, is making a difference.

So, you see, understanding MySQL is a lot like learning magic in such a world - you can see things to change, but if you don't have a deep understanding of how they all tie together, it's easy to make superstitious changes (things get better, but not because of what you did) or to confidently break something completely; you can also make the right changes, and things work much better. It could be really kind of fun and exciting to tie all this together and to feel like you're understanding the magic better.

Right now, it's a bit frustrating - but it's getting better. As I keep reminding myself, there are only so many ways to do things and I know many of them - once I figure out what is being done, and why it's being done, I can usually piece together how it can be done, and then reason from there how they are doing it. It's not as fun as imagining myself as a master of the mystic arts, but it's getting the job done.

Here's hoping life is treating you all well - that you have joy, and love in your life, and that you have striving where you need challenges, and rest and support where you need succor.

(Oh, great. Now I'm remembering old cartoons - someone gets in a bad scrape and someone yells SUCKER! It would be twisted in a good way, I suppose, to reverse that - have the cartoon show someone getting help when they need it, and having someone call out SUCCOR!)

I suppose, next I'll have to explain why, when thinking of random numbers, I'll usually come up with 2356.

NorthAmeriCon report

Jul. 15th, 2017 07:04 pm
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
[personal profile] stardreamer
Cosplayers 1
I've been saving up for this trip for nearly a year, because I wanted to have the experience of taking an overseas trip while I still can. And, sadly, it looks as though not only will this be the only such trip I ever take, but it will probably be the last time I ever fly anywhere at all. The default cabin pressure during flight has been raised from 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet, and at that virtual altitude I have Issues -- to wit, it knocks me off my feet at the other end for the rest of that day and most of the next as well. And that's on a 4-hour flight; I don't want to think about what might happen if I took a trans-Atlantic flight.

My flight out left at 10:35, but (working back) that meant I needed to be at the airport by 8:30, which meant I needed to leave home by 7:30, which meant I needed to get up no later than 6:30. Generous estimates all, but if the choice is between sitting in the waiting area for 2 hours and missing my flight, I'll take the former. And in point of fact, that's how it worked out; I was running early enough that the traffic thru downtown wasn't horrendous, I found the long-term parking lot I intended to use without trouble, and the bag-check and security lines were only 3 or 4 people long.

I had decided that since I was traveling solo, money spent toward making things easier for myself was worthwhile, so I sprang for the Early Check-In option with Southwest. This got me into the A boarding group, which meant that it was easy for me to get a window seat with bin space directly above it for my first carry-on bag. The flight was uneventful. Someone I know had told me that the San Juan airport was "a pit", but either it's been significantly spruced up since she was last there or she has a very different definition from mine; it was a lot like the Nashville airport. I retrieved my checked bag and got a cab to the con hotel (apparently the hotel itself doesn't run a shuttle).

The con )


Random notes:
- I would doubtless have gone to more of the panels if it hadn't been so goddamn cold on the convention level. I was feeling not really up to snuff all weekend for various reasons, and that made me even less inclined to sit in an ice-cold function room.

- I think this is the first con I've ever been to where I bought nothing from the con itself. There just wasn't that much to buy.

- Also because of not feeling up to snuff, I didn't take very many pictures.

- The streets in Old Town make the ones in the French Quarter look wide! One parking lane and one traffic lane, and you didn't see any SUVs or pickup trucks because there wasn't space for anything larger than a standard sedan to get thru.

- I had taken quite a bit of money with me, and came back with about half of it -- see above about nothing much to buy at the con. The largest chunk of what I spent, aside from the hotel, was on food and cabfare.

- I gave out a few no-Nazi buttons at the con, and two more to employees at the bookstore.

- Puerto Rico is primarily Spanish-speaking. Although everyone I interacted with was bilingual, all the signage outside the hotel was Spanish-only. I was happy to leave the navigation to my taxi drivers!

Bottom line: While I didn't get as much out of the weekend as I might have hoped, I'm still glad I went.
johnpalmer: (Default)
[personal profile] johnpalmer
I've been trying to update more often, but a bad side effect of chronic fatigue is losing sight of what might be interesting to say.

I recently mentioned to a friend that when one is in a bad situation, one should try to cheer and be motivated by tiny victories. A person trying to learn to walk after a spinal injury has to be glad to be able to do the tiniest of things that normal people take for granted, and see them, not as signs of loss, but as signs of progress.

I said this because I find people are more motivated by gains and rewards - and happier people strive longer and harder, and are more likely to be tired but satisfied after a long struggle, versus feeling beaten down.

Well - yesterday, I was doing very poorly but I went to bed at 8:45, and slept (albeit poorly) through the night. Today I had a fine day working, and came home with no energy for happiness or fun, but not exhausted either.

So now I know that about 10 hours of rest can take me from a bad day to a better one, at least sometimes. And while a 9pm bedtime *is* pretty early, the point isn't "I'm losing nearly two hours from my day!" - it's "I know that I can do something to take back some control." l

So: that's something to celebrate - probably tomorrow, because as I said, I don't have any real happy-energy today.

Life is a gorgeous, broken gift.

Jul. 11th, 2017 10:12 pm
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
[personal profile] naamah_darling
I lost a very, very old friend over the weekend.  The illness was sudden, acute, and ultimately fatal.  In less than a week, she was gone.

We weren't so close that her material absence will affect me on a daily basis.  I didn't see her often.  But I respected her, and she had an effect on who I am today. Without her I would be a slightly different version of me, not the me I am.

My own grief and pain is still daily, and pressing.  It's right and fair, it's proof I loved someone, and so it's not something I want to turn away from or bury.  I cared about her, and I am reasonably sure she cared about me, but this is nowhere near as devastating to me as it is for others who knew her better, saw her more, loved her in ways that I did not.  That hurts to see.  All the pain I can't help alleviate in any real way.

So it hurts, yeah, and it is frightening to know that someone so young could die so suddenly -- she was DECADES away from a reasonable age to go.  It's terrifying to watch this happen, knowing how helpless everyone was to stop it, seeing how it left everyone bereft, and how all of us, every one, is going to go through a version of this with someone they love.

That bit, the anxiety over the unavoidable future, is the part that's been hardest to cope with.  I know how to grieve, and grief is not unhealthy.  Anxiety doesn't help anyone.

So yeah, that's been a little rough.

I'm also doing some really hard work in therapy.  Working on old trauma that is holding me back.

And I'm doing some medical stuff that has also been difficult -- I'm over one of the big humps, and things are going so fucking well with that I can hardly believe it, but it was really stressful going in, and there is more difficult stuff ahead of me.  The goal of the therapy is to get me well enough to do it.  I'm not looking forward to it, but it's a thing I'd like to have in the rearview, not the passenger seat.  You know?

I am caught in the middle of a complicated and frightening life that is nevertheless very beautiful.  I am doing well, I am doing poorly, I am doing everything at once, feeling everything at once.  It's hard and it's easy, it's good and it's bad.  It's all so unstable.  All I know is that I don't care how fucked up everything is, I want to be here.  I am happy to be here.  This is a good place to be, even when it's terrible.  I very much want to live.  I am very glad to have a future again.

ETA: She was an organ donor, and that saved lives.  I have registered to become one.  I urge you to consider doing so as well, if you are able.

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