The most recent non-technical posts to Joey's blog.

southern fried science fiction with plum sauce

Had an afternoon of steak and science fiction. Elysium is only so-so, but look what we found in a bookstore that was half religious materials and half SF, local books, and carefully hidden romance novels:

Star Wars, Star Trek and the 21st Century Christians

Best part was at the end, when I finally found one of the local asian markets Tomoko tells us about when she casually pulls out the good stuff at family gatherings. I will be back for whole ducks, fresh fish, squid, 50 lb bags of rice, tamarind paste, fresh ginger that has not sat on the shelf for 2 months because only I buy it, etc. Only an hour from home in the woods! Between the garlic scapes, bean sprouts, enoki mushrooms, etc that I got for $10 today and this week's CSA surprise of 18 inch snake beans and smoked pork knuckles, I have the epic stir fry potential..

Spock and R2D2

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Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks

Today, map in hand, I explored the "long valley, narrower than the great dale in the South where the Gates of the river stood, and walled with lower spurs of the Mountain".

"The dangerous search on the western slopes for the secret door"
"It seemed as if darkness flowed out like a vapour from the hole in the mountain-side" "They spoke low and never called or sang, for danger brooded in every rock."
"It is almost dark so that its vastness can only be dimly guessed, but rising from the near side of the rocky floor there is a great glow. The glow of Smaug!"
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leap day

This leap day saw me driving along the river on a rainy, with 4 chickens in the car's trunk, and 3 terabytes of disk (and a half a bale of straw) in the back seat. I may have not been blogging much lately about life, because these situations can be hard to explain. (Or because "joined the Debian haskell team and spent two days working on rebuilds for the ghc 7.4 transition" is not thrilling reading.)

hens in a car

The Light Sussex chickens are my sister's spare flock, which are "too tame". They're now cozily installed into a coop we built last weekend. In return I gave her a 6 foot long APC power strip, which had been mounted on the wall of my office. I'm preparing my house in town to be rented, and have little need for two dozen power outlets here in solar power land.

Google <3s Your Work

Indeed, today is a gift economy day all around -- when I arrived at the cabin, there on the porch was an unexpected package from Google. Particularly surprising since I never get deliveries here, since the driveway is a mile long and often seems like it could dead-end into the woods at any moment.

The combination of technological wackiness (I also debugged a laptop whose USB hub hangs when a particular trackball is plugged in) and in your face country texture (including coal trains, being stuck behind a tractor, and miles of amazing tree-height mist) made this a memorable day.

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a resolution that stuck

Last year, my new year's resolution was to write in my journal every day. That actually stuck, I wrote 262 journal entries in 2011. While I've been keeping a journal intermittently since 1998, last year I doubled the number of entries in it. And wrote a novel's worth of entries -- 53 thousand words!

Most of it is of course banal and mundane stuff. Not good compared with Lars, who does something with his journal where he goes into some detail about code he's working on, and other work. The excerpts I've seen are quite nice. But after I've written code, written a commit message, documentation, perhaps bug reports etc, I often can't find much to say about it in my journal, beyond the bare bones that I worked on $foo today or faced a particularly hard bug. I also worry that the journal, and my reluctance to repeat myself, often tips the balance away from me blogging, if I write down something in the journal first.


Here's my journal for today:

Compare what jokes are funny now with those in 1982. The 1982 ones from net.jokes on olduse.net seem juvenile. Now compare what Unix joke man pages are funny now with those I'm reading from 1982. They seem basically the same. What would Biella make of this?

Liw noticed ikiwiki OOM on pell. Tracked down to a perl markdown bug with long lines. Had quite enough of perl markdown; ikiwiki will be moving to a different engine. Added discount support to it today, still needs Debian package tho.

[censored]

Really gorgeous sunset, with a high wind, moon, puffy low, fast moving clouds. Enjoyed it ecstaticly. It's going to get cold soon. Very rainy early, but then got intermittently sunny; power is holding out ok.

Was going to roast a chicken today, but got distracted and had a large lunch besides. Need to find some quick food for supper.

I need to start a new book, should it be the River Cottage book about meat that I stole from Anna, or some SF?

Blogged about journaling, and put this journal entry in it, so also journaled about blogging. Wrote it somewhat self-conciously.


The benefits for me have ranged from being able to go back and work out dates of events, to forwarding the odd excerpts to others. The best thing though is certianly having a regular time of introspection, to look back over my the day.

If you've not got a new year's resolution yet, I recommend this one. (Learning Haskell would be another good one, if you haven't yet.)

Just write something, anything, down in your journal every day.

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solar year

I've been at the cabin, on solar power, for a year now. I have a year of data!

Everything went pretty well until last month. There was an April rainy spell where power felt slightly tight. Then over the summer, plenty of power, no need to conserve. The last month though had what seemed like weeks of continual grey clouds, where I never saw the sun.

high noon today

Of course, even on a sunny day in winter, it does not get far above the hills, and the peak production window is only a few hours. This bad combination had my battery power dipping below the 10 volts that I consider low, down to 9, and even to 8 volts.

I use kerosine lamps in the winter. (I prefer the light anway.) I've also started unplugging my Thecus server at night to conserve power, meaning no internet late or early. For four or so nights, I had no power to run even my laptop after sunset. On one notable day, there was no power even in the daytime.

Even when it turned sunny again, I found that the batteries would seem to charge to 12 volts during the day, but then precipitously drop to 10 and 9 volts at night. I think the problem was not damaged batteries, but that these Nicads charge most efficiently above 12 volts (14 volts is best), and there was never enough power saved up to get them full enough that they could charge really efficiently.

So, I reluctantly spent three days away this week, to let the batteries soak up sun and recover. It seems to have worked; they've been holding a 12 volt charge overnight again.

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california postcard

Visiting California this week and having a great time. Experienced my first earthquake; visited the Noisebridge hackspace with Seth and Mako; and yesterday went up to Point Reyes and flew a kite from cliffs over Drake's Bay.



Up there even the cows have a view.

Tomorrow, off to Google for the GitTogether.

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borrowed dogs

I've never had a dog of my own since I grew up, but there have always been dogs in my life.

Calypso and Percy

Calypso was dropped off at Wortroot soon after I moved in, and was my borrowed dog for years. And she remained out there, spending a good decade with run of the woods, fields and streams, a good doggy life. She got old and feeble, spent winters by the fireplace, and finally it was too much for her. I'll miss her, the best dog I've known.

Recently I've caught glimpses of a dog lurking in the distance here at the Hollow. When I noticed it was sleeping on the roof of the battery box, I realized it was probably one of the dogs that used to live here but were given away last year. Exchanged email with the likely owners, now in Sudan, and they tell me her name is Domino, and she must have run away home.

So I've been putting out food for Domino this week, and yesterday she came close enough to be petted. Medium sized and white, her name is for a black mask extending from eyes to ears. Although currently skittish, she seems basically a good, calm dog.

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destructive impulse

I used to know guys who would take old computer hardware out in the desert and shoot it up. I never went, and I've never gratuitously destroyed a computer in 2 decades of working with the things. Until yesterday when I picked one up by the monitor and introduced it to the floor.

My regret isn't that I violently destroyed a computer, but that it was my Mom's computer, and I did it right in front of her, and without even a story-worthy reason, just out of garden variety frustration. And perhaps there's some regret that I was actually unsucessful in destroying anything other than the monitor and some speakers. The computer was salvaged, and my mom has a new monitor and a working system again.

Sorry Mom & Maggie. To make up for it, I'll humiliate myself with this recording of "broke mom's computer blues", which will only be available for a very limited time: click to listen (warning: contains harmonica).

Anyway, don't worry; any remaining frustration will be taken out the usual way: Splitting firewood.

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