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Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 07:03 am
I ordered a used copy of "The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People" after someone quoted from it regarding tears and the different chemical constituents pointing to the release of stress hormones in some types of tears. Christine is incredibly empathic and i think i am too, a little bit.

I found it just a bit to much "try spraying rose water and lighting a white candle" for my taste. And it frustrates me, because i think there's some wisdom in the book. Part of me wants to yank the text apart and restructure it as a paced self exploration or as a first aid guide (admittedly, there is some inclination in the text towards the latter). I think of Julia Cameron's deft techniques for helping people lead themselves to self discovery: the content of Orloff's book could benefit from that. I can believe there's a need in self help books to stimulate creative problem solving by presenting a variety of solutions to help the reader discover the right solution for themselves, but i also think it helps to be clear about the general principle.

If i were to rewrite the book i think i'd have a section on refining strategies so they are meaningful for you with sections on senses, rituals, and visualization. The book had scattered sensory solutions: bringing them together in one place and systematically considering what stimulations are meaningful and then different ways to access them would support readers in creating a toolkit.

One visualization/practice in the book was to visualize washing away the stress in the showere. I've encountered a similar visualization in trauma healing, where the important point was a shower provides a whole body stimulation of the sense of touch. I know there are tapping therapies that similarly use touch stimulation. I imagine a chapter that asks the reader to first determine if the sensation of touch is one where they are oversensitive or is a sense through which they may find safety and solace. If touch was a modality that was helpful, the reader would be invited to explore different practices, and then a suggestion that the reader of come up with different ways to access that sense along with examples. "A shower," i would write, "might be accessible a few times during a day, but you can develop a practice of bringing your hands together so your finger tips rest in your palms as an immediately available focus while in a meeting or at a family dinner. Drinking water might offer a similarly accessible focus if the sense of cleansing or refreshment was what provided you the relief in the shower practice."

I am surprised i care so much.

I wonder if i was hoping for more help for myself from the book and i am disappointed.
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Friday, March 1st, 2019 08:17 am
Tuesday was colored by a password flaw in Apple's Mojave operating system combined with the enterprise management software used by my company. Pretty much my whole workday went to that. My out of office time was colored by visiting the hairdresser who colored my hair. We continue with the very delicate coloring that is barely noticeable -- but it's enough of a brightening to make a difference.

Wednesday i had worried calls from Dad, therapy, and some stress from switching work tools. My iMac, which i bought for editing photos and rarely sit at, appears to be in some shadow of the wifi transmitter. After a frustrating video meeting i dug out an Ethernet cable and, zoom, all the bits started flooding my way.

Yesterday my sister, father and i met to make plans, and i apparently ran the meeting like a martinet. OK, that's me over-stating. We did get through resolving on next steps. It turned out that the place she is at had, at Dad's Wednesday request, sent the information needed over to the facility we would like her moved to. My Dad's expectation that things would be drawn out drove me a little nuts: it will be drawn out if we draw it out. He was going to make a more clear request for information to be set over today. He obviously doesn't recall the four hour turn around we had in early February between request to send information and receipt of the results. (Then a "no".)

I'm hoping that the slower response regarding the transfer is reflecting more consideration this time.

I felt stressed and unwell most of the day. I think tree pollen allergy season is at hand, and forgetting an antihistamine at night contributed to the sense of illness yesterday.

I have found a mystery series that i may enjoy reading in the library eBook collection, the Flavia de Luce Mystery Series. The sleuth is a 1950s-ish impoverished British aristocratic family's youngest daughter, with many tropes of the cozy British mystery with Sherlock Holmes like awareness of scientific detail and the inner life of a vengeful and precocious ten year old.
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Monday, September 24th, 2018 06:00 am
The tulip poplars had begun turning yellow in August, scattered yellow leaves in the green. And i noticed the black cherry trees' leaves falling -- also yellow. Elm leaves are beneath the elm, even if i don't notice color change in the tree. Dogwoods have red in the leaves, and i'm beginning to notice the occasional bright red of sumac. The leaves i raked up from underneath the maples were burgundy-black, but the tree still seems green.

My recollection from last year was that autumn color, as a striking thing, didn't really take off until mid November.

The roadsides are covered with the golds of goldenrods and flowers related to blackeyed susans and sunflowers.

Christine's asked after why i am interested in Joe Pye weed, a tall native plant that has a cloud of hazy pink-purple flowers at the top. I like saying the name, but i think i am also delighted to see Not Yellow at this time of year. I plan to grow great blue lobelia, which will hopefully be a lovely contrast to the golds.

Bits of weekend, recorded )
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Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 07:47 am
Greycie seems to be perking up. The boost in prednisone helps and we have an appetite stimulant pill. Hopefully a virtuous circle of feeling better and eating will get in motion. I suspect i won't see her tail get back to its normal carriage and motion: one mass is on her lower spine and i expect it is what limits her control of her tail. It is hard to see it dragging behind her. But she has been vocal and moved around with some speed: it's such a joy.

We had a bad bout of elephants in the late evening yesterday. It followed my reading of a memoir of someone's homeless days (see below). That followed my conversation with a "retired" colleague. I found it wasn't exactly a retirement, which stirred up my bile at the layoffs and firing that happened last week. It certainly feels wrong.

I am glad to have today off as i need the rest, and look forward to some family time. I grow to question the American foundation myth--more than questioning when it comes to the issue of slavery--and the violence of the revolution, but i value the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. I'm not sure what that comes to with respect to "celebrating." Perhaps i can write some letters arguing various policies of state and trade have impact on immigration that i have had on my mind.

I hope those of you who have the day off have the joy of it and those of you who celebrate Independence Day can use that energy to promote the ideals of the experiment.

Everett, Mik. Self-Published Kindling: Memoirs of a Homeless Bookstore Owner. Unknown Press, 2013.

referred to by

Price, E. “Laziness Does Not Exist.” E Price (blog), March 23, 2018. https://medium.com/@dr_eprice/laziness-does-not-exist-3af27e312d01 .
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Saturday, March 24th, 2018 09:05 am
I woke at 5:30, thought "I'll go to the living room and won't wake Christine," and next thing i knew it was 7:30. I guess i needed the sleep. Having many days this week when i felt my reserves were down, restoration is a priority.

This week:
* snow! A beautiful snowfall over an hour resulted in a powdery blanket on the deck and the moss, and immediate melting.
* dips into the upper 20°s in the dawn hours.
* The peonies are protected and thriving, with many buds. I was not expecting blooms this year after transplanting them.
* Houstonia pusilla finished blooming. I hope i can find the tiny plants and collect seed. It is a smaller, more purple bluet i've never noticed before living in this house, and i want to make sure it survives.
* Took the camera with me walking Carrie around the local community college (Christine calls the trail "the tenure track")and shot photos of the blooming speedwell (European), henbit (Eurasian), and the local violets. I can't figure out how to compose a photo that captures the low western light through the grove of black walnuts, the glow of backlight spring greens and the delight of the many violets -- the violets aren't really visible until you are standing over them. The experience is a composite of impressions. Maybe if i had a violet in foreground and was shooting up into the trees? Not easy while walking Carrie.
* still feel i can wander back in the woods -- the green wall isn't there yet and i may have learned the landscape enough that going back isn't quite the mystery it was. Also, no ticks yet!
* worries about bursitis, as a knee i'd bruised some weeks ago in a fall down the front stairs felt "spongy" -- this morning it's not there.
* otherwise, generally good health!
* beating myself up for delayed writing to California friends about my coming trip - people will be gone.
* worries about missing the first week of April in my yard.
* first "regular" cleaning visit by cleaners and the acquisition of a new dryer had many irregularities which is not good for Christine's elephants. There was a great deal of unnecessary stress, particularly around the sale of the dryer by an associate in training, but it will all be good in the long run.
* carrying weight for a colleague and friend whose spouse died in a tragic and unexpected way. This colleague is out on medical leave and had work performance issues before leaving (related issues). They rent in the bay area and were already distressed about finding a new place more affordable.
* work was OK but i bailed on some meetings to focus on privacy policy work driven by the GDPR (and because of feeling drained) -- a European law going into effect in May -- (presumably many folks are getting emails from online systems explaining how GDPR is being handled? I've seen three this week)

Ok, why does "an European law" sound wrong. Is there some exception to the a/an article consonant/vowel distinction that applies?

I read The Murder of Mary Russell (fourteenth in Laurie R King's series featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes) which had a fascinating moral landscape and back story for Mrs Hudson. I can't manage to get into Artemis the second novel by Andy Weir of The Martian fame. I appreciate the main character and the detail, but ... perhaps it's more "caper" than science fiction and i just won't click.

My phone theoretically measures stress, and this morning i pinned the high stress meter. I know my jaw feels a little clenched. I just now measured quite low. I don't know what this is really measuring (Although the blood oxygen and pulse seem reasonable and not nearly as extreme.) Apparently, i'm not the only one unimpressed: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sharifsakr/2014/05/29/samsung-s-health-stress-monitor-hands-on
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Sunday, January 7th, 2018 08:18 am
I ended up leaving work early on Friday to rest. And i did a good bit of resting yesterday. Chest still feels tight & heavy, coughing spells still occur.

We have no water this morning, which is not a complete shock. The area has passed the 1982 record number of consecutive subfreezing hours yesterday. Our outside thermometer says -8°F this morning. We'll run a lightbulb out to the pumphouse in a while and hope nothing has cracked. We have jugs of water around for when we loose power (and the pump doesn't work) so no hardship yet. Also, there's plenty of snow to melt.

Eight Fahrenheit degrees below freezing. I am strongly inclined to cuss.

With respect to resting, i read The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. which i almost didn't finish: it takes off very very slowly, and i felt the foreshadowing (can you have foreshadowing with time travel?) was rather blunt. But FINALLY there were a few new characters that introduced a little more complexity and i did finally finish. I also read Piers Anthony's Wielding a Red Sword and concluded my expectations have changed since i was in high school. If i end up reading more today, i'll try reading a book i just had delivered which is about Quakers in Tibet in the 1950s.

Speaking of delivering, we had several postal packages trudged through the snow to our house. The were light but bulky (HVAC filters, primarily). I thought of someone else's story of not receiving a delivery because their porch hadn't been cleaned of snow. I suppose delivering up our snowy walk and snowy drive and snowy porch is no big deal because the roads are black ice and icy snow.
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Monday, December 18th, 2017 07:59 am
Friday: took the day off, tromping around in the yard a good bit. Small rocks lining the entrance to the new roof water drain*, some raking, some scouting the fence line. In the late afternoon i joined my sister's family to see The Last Jedi which we all thought was well done. (And likely to spawn another ninety films.)

Saturday: Christine and i tried to translate our Yuletide tradition of visiting the San Francisco Flower Mart to North Carolina. The restaurant was a satisfactory replacement, the nursery less so. It's possible we missed more yuletide bounty from earlier in the month. Just because it was less Christmassy didn't mean it was a disappointment: we hauled home three cat sculptures that now reside in the little courtyard area, two flats of pansies, miscellaneous phlox, and two spiderworts. I planted half the pansies, discovering that the soil (clay) was pretty solidly packed and mixed with gravel. Fie. As i dug to loosen it, i was worried i would cut the phone line again.

Sunday: As Meeting ended i felt a pressure to return home asap. I assumed it was my shyness kicking in. I just felt awkward. At home though, i found Christine in distress with the elephants. I'm glad i got home quickly. I don't think i was able to offer much solace; she did something new to cope.

While she coped, i worked in the yard, most successfully inscribing a 20' diameter circle within the driveway island and turning soil for the pansies and phlox in the area between the circle and the house. (The island is a blunted tear drop shape, with the fat end extending towards the house a few feet further than the inscribed circle.) Loosening the soil means finding more rocks: small chunks of quartz (walnut sized) and larger slate bits. One good sized rock turned up: maybe the volume of two coffee mugs? I do wonder if i am inefficient in messing around with such small rocks, but fitting them together to line the area around the drain intake gives me pleasure.

I've read another good speculative fiction work: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. It's book two in a series. Book one has holds that will keep it out of my hand for a small forever. I'm glad i went ahead and read book two. I didn't feel like i was missing out: the character whose back story might have been outlined in the first book couldn't recall that back story. The story of survival that makes up the back story thread of another character in this novel resonated when the speaker at Meeting on Sunday shared his interactions with a street boy of Nairobi. The second story was one of identity and embodiment. I was quite pleased to find a second very engaging book in a row.

I also read Daytripper by by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon. Too quickly: i need to go back and look at the art and give it the time it deserves. I am appreciating the graphical novel selection my library system has made in Overdrive.

Am i still happy, despite the elephant visit? It certainly created an ache but i think i also continue to carry the openness and lightness i've become aware of. The ache for Christine is not that different from the irritations and discomforts and physical aches that punctuate my physical being.

I suppose i do have an awareness that one particular discomfort is one i hope will fade before i need any assistance dressing it. Maybe better medications will come about. I can hope.

Back to work!

* About 30% of the roof water drains into a small area outside the kitchen window in the tiny "courtyard" at the front door. There's not much room for water barrels even if it was a place i'd want them visible. We've managed to adjust drainage so it's not pooling near the foundation, but in a heavy rain i've watched it wash down the driveway. Part of the driveway re-work was to address this drainage issue, so there's a pipe to drain the roof runoff into the east yard. I'll probably design a rain garden near the outlet.
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Saturday, December 9th, 2017 10:07 am
Toutonghi, Steve. Join. S.l.: Soho, 2017.

I read Join via Overdrive last night and found it a wonderful speculative fiction novel. Craftwise, the ending seemed bumpy, but this did not detract from my enjoyment. It is interesting to compare to Haldeman's Forever Peace, which also addresses the idea of a technological merging of identities. There's a resonance with Leckie's Ancillary series, too, in addressing consciousness spread across bodies and awareness of the very embodied experiences.

I was delighted to have randomly picked a book that was so engaging. It probably needs a little trigger warning as death, violence, and fatal illness thread through the plot in meaningful ways.

To compare Join and Forever Peace is somewhat challenging, as the technological connection is fictional, so the impact of the connection on a human's sense of identity can't be said to be more plausible in one than the other. Forever Peace's form of connection does not seem to affect identity nearly as much as in Join. I wonder, though, how "true" that can be. If you sense the embodiment of another, would you still find your sense of identity to be isolated to your "own" body?

Might as well toss the Borg and Voyager's "Unity" episode.
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Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 07:50 am

When i was listening to the biology & genetic lectures a few years ago, i was astounded by new realizations. The key has to do with how DNA is NOT a blueprint, a description of the final structure. It's much more like computer code, with all the cruft that developers often leave in a great big system, code that used to do something important, but the output is no longer needed. Somehow activate that code path, and the code can still execute. On the other hand, since the system has evolved away from that need, it the code does execute, it's not necessarily going to behave as it did originally.

DNA doesn't execute in a vacuum: chemical and physical signals affect what segments of the DNA will be activated. The embryonic environment has a huge impact on the gene expression in a developing organism -- i can't find a recent article i read about how poverty-stress of a mother can be expressed in the cognitive pathway development of the child, thus providing a physiological basis for poverty changing the way one literally thinks.

(In Butler's Wild Seed, one of the characters could "examine" the DNA of a creature and then express the creature. My awareness of how gene expression works triggered a momentary collapse of my suspension of disbelief.)

So, i pondered, what if an organism was exposed to primordial compounds, compounds that don't exist in the oxygen rich environment of today? What parts of the "junk" DNA might be activated? What might happen next? (Could an alternative being be in the DNA that could be expressed with the right primordial signals?) Keyword for more research: epigenetics.

" It’s for sure that there are many biosynthetic-looking gene clusters found in these species that don’t seem to be turned on most of the time, which makes one think that under the right conditions you could perhaps elicit some “break glass in case of emergency” structures that might be well worth seeing."

Derek Lowe, July 3, 2017

Why, yes, exactly.

[The group] ran all sorts of stress experiments on the organisms to see if any of these caused some activity. As it turns out, exposure to etoposide and to avermectin, both quite toxic to the organisms, caused some of these biosynthetic pathways to turn on, and several new compounds emerged, including one with antifungal activity and some that appear to be cysteine protease inhibitors.

Hint: Wikipedia relates that "Cysteine proteases... are enzymes that degrade proteins."

Organic chemistry and genetics are so incredibly amazing to me. I envy nascent scientists -- so many of these discoveries have been since i was in school. To be entering the fields with this landscape as a foundation....
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Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 08:29 am
The end of last week featured a great deal of demotivated being. I think i understand it: a biological nadir, the joys of the self assessment at work, long weekend anticipation. I picked up two digital speculative fiction books from the library: I checked out Haldeman's Forever Peace and then my hold on Butler's Seed to Harvest came available. That's actually an omnibus edition and I have read Wild Seed & Mind of My Mind. I'm drawing the line at Clay's Arc some chapters in, partly because i need to get up, partly because I'm really tired of Butler's characters.

It's remarkable, given the semi-random selection i made from Overdrive, how very similar the concepts are in the two narratives -- and yet how very different. Race, with African American and African characters, is featured in both books, as is a sort of change of humanity. Butler's focus on slavery is far more prevalent than in Haldeman's, and i've been left with a great deal of discomfort. (And, after reading Butler's Fledgling, i feel the ground well explored.) I guess the power dynamics of manipulation and enslavement is a more accurate description of Butler's theme, not slavery outright.

I think the two books would be a little more comparable if Haldeman had kept going and described the post "humanization" world. In Butler's "Patternist" world, there was a clear hierarchy within the powerful. Haldman's optimism -- that there is a way to overwhelm the viscous part of human nature and bring compassion and love forward -- stopped at the point where the narrative gets challenging (but perhaps less dramatic). Would he have described a Quaker-like governance?

Butler's focus on manipulation exhausted me, but it's made me poke at Forever Peace and its focus on violence: am i missing something? I feel like i'm watching a magic trick where the violence is the misleading distraction. It might be a difference in scale. The powers in Haldman's narratives were governmental and global scale; the two "Patternist" books were much more interpersonal, concluding with a couple thousand.

I'm thinking about reading the nonfiction work The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters. It seems to argue for a fractal quality of ecological rules. Perhaps i could phrase that as "Life is life at any scale." I need to think about how that sort of fractal view meshes with the concept of emergent properties of complex systems. Hmmm, most of my learning about nonlinear mathematics and properties of chaotic systems was absolute ages ago. I bet there's some synthesis of understanding, a correlation between the concept of emergent properties and strange attractors.

This comes to mind because there may be some fractal similarity between Butler's communities and Hadleman's global consideration, human dynamics aren't linear.

I was watching the first episode of season 4 of Sherlock, where he makes some statement about if all the threads were known, everything is determined. Poor writer, missing the point of Lorenz's butterfly (and on the smallest scales, dice are everywhere).
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Monday, March 13th, 2017 03:08 pm
Apparently, when you boil the violets (Viola sororia) with the sugar to make a violet simple syrup, the color turns out emerald-y -- or as Christine put it "yellow striving towards blue." Recipes indicate i would have had more success had i steeped the violets in hot water, strained them out, then made the simple syrup.

Speaking of V sororia, there's no violet flavor to speak of.

We had snow! Started Sunday morning, we were able to gaze at it, go for a walk in it, make pancakes & hot cocoa watching it, and it was gone after lunch.

Sick on Thursday. Meh.

Took Wednesday off, in solidarity. Wasn't very productive (probably due to onset of cold). Drove to a historical oyster bar with my Dad & Christine and had a little bit more birthday celebration with a peck of lightly steamed oysters.

Didn't do much adulting on Saturday. Read two of "The Sharing Knife" series by Lois McMaster Bujold. I feel it misses the strength of the Chalion series, but it's an admirable series. Most of the demerits for the November-April relationship are redeemed by a comment about laundry in the second book.
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Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 07:19 am
Similar to my reflections on Trump and Loki some weeks back is David Brooks' reflection The Lord of Misrule.

While i admire Brooks resolution, it's not clear it follows.

Also, this documentation of Trump's network - thank you :

I have apparently misfiled Buzzfeed in my mind as silly listicles, but seeing this article about Dylan Roof it's clear i need to file it as also a good resource.
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Saturday, December 17th, 2016 07:15 am
Mystery: Microsoft is certain my browser is in Sweden. I remain perplexed. Looking up my IP address on a number of the sites returns a scattering of locations in eastern North Carolina. Hmph.

I've been reading two memoirs of late:

Kaufman, Wallace. Coming Out Of The Woods: The Solitary Life Of A Maverick Naturalist. 2000.

Lanham, J. D. The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature. 2016.

Both share stories of intimacies with a landscape very similar to where i live now. Lanham writes of a piedmont landscape in South Carolina, while Kaufman writes about, literally, across the street and down ... a quarter of a mile? I picked up Lanham because of an essay he wrote about birding while black, Kaufman because i wanted to learn about the history of where i live. Last night i read much of Kaufman's book and realized how the two narratives offered intriguing points of comparison.

First, over my evening's readings i've grown to find little respect for Kaufman. He strikes me as a narcissist. I wonder how much of the affinity i feel for Lanham is that he's another southerner and Kaufman is a Yankee, despite living in North Carolina since his graduate student days. Lanham also grew up on the land, a more intimate farming background than i did, but one i recognize and my father would recognize. Kaufman is -- well, was -- a back to the woods romantic.

Lanham's story is the arc of his growing up and his family, and his deep roots on a patch of red clay in South Carolina. In some ways, i can read much of his story with great familiarity. My parents moved around a good bit as i was growing up, and they built homes (at one point, they had their own home building company). Lanham's story is of a single place and the work of efficient and sustainable use of their land. The forces of work and family shape Lanham, and he shares that. The force of race is there, too, not hidden, and yet ... i still feel more akin to Lanham than to Kaufman. Kaufman did not come from wealth, did not have class privilege from birth, yet the privilege that seeps out of Kaufman's narrative is revealed by its absence in Lanham's story. I don't know if i would have felt it if i hadn't been reading Lanham at the same time. Kaufman has a little awareness, i think...
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Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 08:40 am
Observing the wheel of the year has not been very active on my part. Last night i didn't feel like bestirring myself from the house, and did not drive up to see the pumpkins on the Old Bynum Bridge. Instead we watched the new Ghostbusters. I found it amusing but a little weak: i have a suspicion that there was interesting narrative left on the cutting room floor in order to keep special effects. The multitude of hat-tips to the original were delightful.

I've ordered two books about the area, one about trying to drive a small economy from the person who started the biodiesel plant and another about someone who apparently was "back to the land" in the 70s. I feel a little guilty ordering books as i have not read the book i bought at the beginning of the month: The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature. Instead i do things like read the 1937 soil report for the county -- which was interesting in its snapshot of the county's way of being. (I ought to find the county soil reports for where my Dad grew up.)

I'm hoping i haven't killed the mother plant of candystripe moss phlox. I recently moved it from its container planting (since i hadn't decided where it should go) to a spot where we had filled in one of the many annoying holes with (clean) kitty litter clay. I then put the phlox on top. I think the issue is one of watering -- the weather has been very dry since the hurricane. My one consolation is actually 13: the number of rooted plants I have from the mother plant.

In depressing work news, the competent security guy has left the company (well, last day is tomorrow), which means we're left with the tedious fellow who has failed to impress me with any sort of context or systems awareness. Christine helped me characterize the remaining fellow: he's a bureaucrat.
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Saturday, April 16th, 2016 06:49 am
I started using Zotero a year and a half ago to track botany research and Quaker resources. Over time, i expanded my use to where i am recording much of my reading, particularly when there's an interconnection but not a direct outlet. For example, this week's research into what to grow over a septic system is not reflected here.

For your amusement, this week's entries from Zotero:

* “CardioZen : Cardiac Coherence Everywhere | Apps | 148Apps.” Accessed April 9, 2016. http://www.148apps.com/app/593054863/.
** This app is related to the Huffington post article about the vagus nerve and vagal tone.

* Cordeiro, Monivette. “How an Orlando Data Scientist Is Helping #BlackLivesMatter Make the Case against Police Violence.” Orlando Weekly, March 23, 2016.
** I think i'd run across this article earlier, and was finally bookmarking it. More in the efforts to fill the data gap about police violence.

* “Focus-Stacking Season.” In the Moment: Michael Frye’s Landscape Photography Blog, April 11, 2016. http://www.michaelfrye.com/landscape-photography-blog/2016/04/11/focus-stacking-season/.
** I've been using focus stacking for macro photography, but here i learn a well respected photographer uses it in landscape images. He also recommends software other than photoshop's stacking tool -- and my latest efforts with photoshop and focus stacking have been highly manual.

* Harris, John. “Should We Scrap Benefits and Pay Everyone £100 a Week?” The Guardian, April 13, 2016, sec. Politics. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/13/should-we-scrap-benefits-and-pay-everyone-100-a-week-whether-they-work-or-not.
** I'm fascinated by this idea (Universal Basic Income, UBI), and had no idea it is a thing. There's a bit in the article about job loss due to automation: see Derek Lowe.

* Hill, Kashmir. “How an Internet Mapping Glitch Turned a Random Kansas Farm Into a Digital Hell.” Fusion. Accessed April 11, 2016. http://fusion.net/story/287592/internet-mapping-glitch-kansas-farm/.
** I have worked one one application that uses the MaxMind software, and have some GIS training. The technical challenges MaxMind faces in design and how users interpret the software aren't discussed in any detail; this is a lesson in design decisions and unintended consequences.

* Hoffman-Andrews, Jacob. “The Why and How of HTTPS for Libraries | Library Information Technology Association (LITA).” Accessed April 11, 2016. http://www.ala.org/lita/https-for-libraries.
** I just wanted to save the reference documents; i did a little presentation myself on https some time back at a local code4lib meet up.

* Lowe, Derek. “The Algorithms Are Coming.” In The Pipeline, April 12, 2016. http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2016/04/12/the-algorithms-are-coming.
** It's somewhat embarrassing to have an organic chemist's blog on my reading list and no physicists, but DL writes well and covers a wonderful breadth of topics. I saved this one, though, because of the interrelation of automation and the reading earlier in the week about the Universal Basic Income. Once upon a time there were jobs for people to do the calculations now done by calculators: here's another broad swathe of work that may be replaced.

* Mellichamp, Larry, and Will Stuart. Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden. Portland, Or: Timber Press, 2014.
** This is saved just as a book i might want to get out of the library in NC or buy used. I have no excuse to buy this new.

* Munz, Philip A. A California Flora. Berkeley, Calif: Univ. of California Press, 1973.
** This is one of my surprisingly large collection of flora (systematic books on all the plants of a region). I don't quite have one cubic foot of them. Once upon a time i was advised that having multiple flora is helpful in identifying plants, because one author will focus on a distinction that another won't. Since weedy nonnatives can be just as hard to distinguish (filarees come to mind) and they may be found on either coast, taking 50 lbs of California flora back to NC isn't that crazy. (Once in a box, books now have an easily estimated dollar cost. $50 to ship the cubic foot collection of floras, another for the graphic novels/comics, and the moving estimator expects we have 60 boxes of books.... )

* Russell, Gerard. Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East. First Trade Paper Edition edition. New York: Basic Books, 2015.
** On the books to get list, linked to a review, see below.

* “Scientists Hacking Our Nervous System Discovered Something Incredible.” The Huffington Post. Accessed April 9, 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/29/hacking-the-nervous-syste_n_7469526.html.
** Click bait titles are SO embarrassing. This is about how the vagus nerve plays a part in immune system responses. Intriguing.

* “The Great God Pan Still Lives | The Revealer.” Accessed April 9, 2016. http://therevealer.org/archives/20527.
** Review of Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms

* “The Irish Friend, 1837-1842: Excerpts from the Pioneer Quaker Newspaper,” n.d.
** I received an email invitation to buy this book. Not sure i want it -- i ought to read the actual Quaker periodical to which i subscribe first! Nonetheless, an interesting document, so i saved the sales blurb.

* “Viewpoint: Why Bathrooms Matter to Trans Rights.” BBC News. Accessed April 13, 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36000356.
** Helpful education piece

* “We Asked Cops How They Plan to Enforce North Carolina’s Bathroom Law.” Mother Jones. Accessed April 11, 2016. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/04/north-carolina-lgbt-bathrooms-hb2-enforcement.
** Keeping track of NC's HB 2

* Whoriskey, Peter. “A Man’s Discovery of Bones under His Pub Could Forever Change What We Know about the Irish.” The Washington Post, March 17, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/03/17/a-mans-discovery-of-bones-under-his-pub-could-forever-change-what-we-know-about-the-irish/.
** Interesting discovery that feeds into my general curiosity about genetic genealogy and human migrations.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 10:04 am
I've told folks at Meeting, work, some local friends, and Facebook about the move. There are some other folks, too, who i need to tell.

[ ] folks who are part of meeting but are not there frequently

--== ∞ ==--

On my list of things to do, i have my forgiveness practice to exercise. The biggest target for forgiveness, i suppose, is the Governor of NC and the legislature. Christine checked and our representative to be protested the law. These aren't helpful targets, though: i don't feel any particular need for "revenge," just voting the fellow out. The Democratic candidate for governor is the current attorney general, about whom today's headlines read, "Attorney General Roy Cooper Says His Office Won't Defend Discriminatory HB 2."

I suppose i could work on forgiving the "new director" of years ago. Again, though, i'm not sure i see anything to forgive at this point. I don't know that i need to respect him, and again, this isn't about reconciliation.

--== ∞ ==--

This reminds me that i am listening to Debt: the first 5,000 years by David Graeber. It's been fascinating as he rebuts the economist "myth" that money evolved out of barter. His argument is that debt was the first "invention" in human relationships and that money was invented to simplify debt accounting. His arguments are based on ethnography and history and not on theory. One revelation, he argues, is that debt evolved hand in hand with a threat of violence and governments. His observations (so far) are that much of the exchange within communities were gift and "favor" exchanges where individuals kept track informally: sharing, essentially, was how communities met the needs.

I guess right now i'm curious to find reviews of this book by experts. I've found a Marxist review that points out that Graeber doesn't critique capitalism. No critique though of any of his historical interpretations other than not examining class. The beginning of a comparative legal review behind a paywall said Graeber avoids legal language and dismissed some sort of negligence.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Thursday, January 14th, 2016 04:52 pm
Yesterday was a Quaker day - midday Nominating committee meeting, evening Care & Concerns. I attended Nominating because the committee was going to grapple with some of the changes that are being proposed, and as associate clerk i showed up for the other.

We had a somewhat challenging issue brought forward, mixing race, mental health, gender, aging. YOICKS.

I was home lateish for me and was up this morning barely in time for the 9 am Eastern PrivacyCon. Which then started somewhat late. Distance attendance had me more engaged with others than if i had been there in person, thanks to twitter. The twitter space was far more diverse than most twitter conference threads i follow. Ah, diverse politically and indignation wise, that is: there was the guy who was indignant that no non-researcher engineers were presenting research papers, the "any regulation is bad" crowd, the K Street shills pushing their "Privacy Panic" paper every hour, and a bunch of Pro Palestinian (i think?) protesters. Universal snark when the FTC apparently sent an email to 900 people, with all the email in the To: field. The FTC speaker apologized first thing.

Listening (when the stream wasn't stuttering) and reading privacy papers all day, particularly without my usual slow transition from sleep to engagement, has me all brain-full.

--== ∞ ==--

Meanwhile, Christine is getting the truck smogged and the title for the truck straightened out. Our mechanic had NOT smogged it and she's quite cranky about it. Hrm, looks like it is the seller's responsibility: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/vr/smogfaq#BM2537 .

--== ∞ ==--

I had about a half hour in the car yesterday to listen to Seveneves, thanks to the committee meeting. I'm not sure i can buy the seven races narrative: just because your family has a grudge against another family rarely seems to create a barrier to the next generation's inclination towards procreation. (Apparently geneticists don't buy it either). I don't spend that much time listening -- one to three hours a week, i suppose, given my variable number of days with a commute. I've three unspent Audible credits and other un-listened to books.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 08:46 pm
I don't quite know why i haven't written.


Let see: we bought the truck, we're in the process of selling the Accent. We had it detailed, and Christine posted it to Craig's List. We were slammed with folks who wanted to see it -- then Christine realized she'd calculated the bluebook value for a car two years older. At the higher price, everyone was scared off. She realized that she ought to get it smogged before selling and deal with tags and all sorts of details. So, Helen on Wheels isn't gone yet, but will be soon.

I spent a great deal of time virtually in Death Valley, reading reports of the 2005 flower bloom and then realizing this year may be just as amazing. A friend and i have been talking about going: we now have our hotel reservations and I've two different photographer's guides to Death Valley requested from the library. I chose the weekend closer to the new moon, and i've checked when and where to see the Milky Way.

I'm quite excited!

--== ∞ ==--

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business went well on Sunday: we are asking Meeting to consider taking risks and changing. The process has been well handled: i think people are ready to take on change.

--== ∞ ==--

I've had many thoughts about making patterns for spoonflower. I realized i could make a pattern collection using the "native" color palette and then make a variation with an "on trend" color palette each year. The "native" palette could persist, while the trendy colors could be retired. Complimenting the patterns could be a pattern of quilt squares that used more photo-real images (such as more complete images of redwood trees, or details of bark and so on, without the adaptations needed to make seamless repeats. Another complement could be a photo-real border, like a horizon of trees.

Meanwhile, i am procrastinating on exporting photos from lightroom to submit for two gallery shows. Some sort of anxiety blocking me there.

--== ∞ ==--

Tonight i finally got to the Seven Eves part of Seveneves. I had a very hard time listening to the politician in the second part of the book. Had i been reading, i am sure i would have skimmed the dialogue, just enough to register the creepy twisting of reality. Listening, i had to experience all the creepy twisting dialogue which i found depressing.

While the narrative features constant digressions to explain physics to make everything very concrete, i realized that how the robots convert the iron of the asteroid into manufactured iron was NOT explained. The little iron foundry did not get a digression. Or maybe it was so far at the beginning of the story i've lost track -- but i really don't see how the little robots made the iron wall.
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, December 29th, 2015 01:00 pm
Still listening to Seveneves. Not much progress as commutes are blessedly short right now. I think i'm past the parts where Ivy is having to struggle with her apparent leadership failures, as the Earth is now "gone." The issue of women in leadership positions and appearances comes close to a sore spot that isn't healed. So, i'm back to enjoying it. I wonder how long the book would be if Stephenson didn't instruct you in every detail. Instead of going over the various types of radiation, the various ways they interact with matter, etc and then explaining the concern of the captain, etc (while also explaining how reading logs works), the narrative could have us inside the cabin by now!
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 05:30 am
I don't often have trouble sleeping, but i drifted into wakefulness far too early this morning. I'm trying to balance "being up" with keeping the light off, not making tea, etc.

My brain was mulling over Seveneves, the 30 hour epic audio book. It's not much of a spolier, i think, to share that i am pondering the ways the “arc cloud” and “Izzie” (the international space station) will experience catastrophe such that there are seven eves. The last ten minutes of my drive home last night was outlining the statistical probabilities of various scenarios.

This book is obviously very very long because Stephenson obviously wants to provide you with detailed knowledge of everything. Before the ways in which catastrophe could be handled (and, presumably, it won't be one of those, specifically) a character was moving through the station in what was apparently a narration of a map and the details of where everything is stored.

I don’t know that this is engaging in the way i want to be engaged. Also, many characters. Trying to track but it's hard in audio book form. The gender dynamics (faithfully reproduced) is a little triggering, i think, as well.

Maybe i'll restart Dawn to Decadence.