Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Archive of posts with tag 'home'

: Tonight, Mountain View: Rick Talking on OpenSprinkler Systems

Rick’s talking at SVLUG (the Silicon Valley User’s Group) tonight on a topic that’s useful for pretty much everyone in California right now who has a garden: OpenSprinkler and Arduino-based systems.
Rick’s done a ton of work on reducing water usage for our garden. (Here’s a super-old post on what we were growing in 2009.)
The talk begins at 7 pm and is at Symantec in Mountain View. Directions in link.

: Mom Update: She's Home! \o/

Plum Blossoms
So, after over two months in the hospital, ICU, and rehab (skilled nursing facility), mom just arrived home. We’re waiting for the cat to figure out she’s here.
She still hasn’t had any of her surgery, but she’s recovered really well.

: Merry Christmas!

[![Cute cartoon Christmas reindeer ](/images/2014/12/deer_fly2_sm-700x700.jpg)](/images/2014/12/deer_fly2_sm.jpg)Illustration by [Anna Alekseeva](

Hope you and yours have the best day possible.

: Making Your Favorite T-Shirts Last Longer

I wound up having a discussion about making printed t-shirts last longer over the weekend, so I thought I’d discuss a few techniques.

  1. Wash and dry inside out. Less abrasion.
  2. On delicate cycle.
  3. Line dry your shirts. The dryer takes quite the toll on printed shirts. For those of you who aren’t savvy with the home stuff, that means hanging them up on hangars to dry and not using a dryer.
  4. If you’re hardcore, you can always hand wash and line dry.

I prefer machine drying because I have problems with dust and lint, but air drying really does make t-shirts (and underwear) last a lot longer.

: Crow Baby

We have a crow fledgling that’s been involved in several adventures where my mom’s gone to protect the little dear.
Crows have a very complex family structure, and our fledgling’s parents are very involved in their baby’s upbringing.
crow baby

: What Passes for Excitement Around Here

Plum Blossoms
We had the plumber in the house yesterday, and had him look at a side issue.
He said our toilets were installed weird, and that they’d continue to leak occasionally until we got new ones. Essentially, they’re mounted too high and they’ve always rocked a bit, so they don’t really seat on the wax seal right, and yada yada yada.
It was decided by His Benevolence that we should get new ones.

You guys are welcome to get two—and also to get WHATEVER you
think best. I plead for no scary Japanese AI-driven waterclosets, but
leave the choice to your joint discretion.

My response:

No washlets with heated seats?
What kind of cruel and inhumane husband are you? 🙂

To which Rick replied that Scary Japanese AI-Driven Watercloset is his next garage band name.
But then I remember accidentally setting the flush sound on a Japanese hotel room washlet—and the hilarity that ensued when I tried to fix it and hit the wrong buttons. Several of the wrong buttons.

: Just So You Think It's Not All Glory

  1. Rebooked airline reservations for different date.
  2. Dug into why a cruise reservation was borked. Oops.
  3. Refactored some jQuery stuff. Not yet done.
  4. Used a bunch of graphics tools, finishing with Photoshop, for a site revamp I’m working on. Why is it I want to enhance detail on a photo I’m going to blur into oblivion? Contrary design goals.
  5. Worked on logo design for same.
  6. Wrote someone for graphics permissions.
  7. Finally got the back-and-forth convo that needed to happen about some money stuff. Ugh.
  8. Had a great idea for something I should have done at Thanksgiving. Anyone have a time machine handy?
  9. Made a note about #8 for next Thanksgiving. Go, me. (I always feel extra virtuous scheduling things this far in advance.)
  10. #1 made one item on my ToDo list moot, so I got to cross it off without spending the time to do it. Go, me!
  11. Finished another half-dozen outstanding items on my ToDo list.
  12. Wrote some Python code.
  13. Wrote some Ruby code.
  14. Wrote on three of my four active book projects. Before noon.
  15. Looked at ISBN prices. Closed tab. Ugh. (Every indie publisher will understand this one.)
  16. Made hotel reservations for Loncon3.
  17. Made sure I had iMovie on my iPad for a workshop I’m going to next week.
  18. Made appointment for portrait photography. Author photos, y’know.
  19. Got my T-Mobile iPad account set up to have international data. I hope. FYI, they can convert the account if yours is set up wrong. It just requires someone with root privileges (practically).
  20. Discovered that, by changing flight dates in #1, that my hotel’s no longer available. ::bangs head on desk::
  21. Found a new hotel.. It has no stairs.
  22. …and the reservation wouldn’t attach to my account…
  23. Banged on more Ruby code while on hold listening to the GoGos. Their choice, not mine.
  24. Turns out the reservation did attach. Bueno.
  25. Went to Draeger’s (aka “Two Whole Paychecks”) for some groceries. We bought some of their amazingly wonderful mashed potatoes, aka “crack.”
  26. Dropped the mashed potatoes in the parking lot. Sigh. Yes, onto the asphalt.

: On Privilege and Normalcy

(Repost of something I wrote on LiveJournal in 2010)

A while ago, Jay Lake talked about his privilege in his cancer treatment, and it got me to thinking about my privilege in a number of contexts.

I’m white, and that comes with power in our culture, but it’s not that that makes my own set of privileges interesting, at least I don’t think so.

Without further ado:

  1. My parents, grandparents, and so forth, went to college. My mother has documented family members going to college as far back as the 1400s. My great-grandfather had three doctorates, one of them an M.D. So I never had to struggle with family to get a better education. It was expected.
  2. Not only did my father work in the sciences when I was born, so did my mother. Not only that, my mother appeared in a science textbook in the 1950s, as though that were perfectly normal. More to the point, I was raised thinking this were normal and common, and that is a very odd privilege indeed.

    My Mother in The World of Science, © 1958

  3. My parents worked at an atom smasher:

    Where My Parents Worked, late 1950s

    Later, my dad worked in aerospace. He worked on one of the Viking Lander projects (his specialty was mass specs, and the GCMS project was affectionately known as the “Green-colored Martian sniffer”). An early project where I worked for him was measuring the helium line of the sun. Later, he won a NASA prize for his work on the TOMS (ozone-mapping mass spec) project.

  4. While I certainly know people who know more decorated scientists than I’ve met personally, especially as an adult, the fact that I’d met any as a child is a form of privilege. (My father taught the Feynman course on physics as a grad student, just as one example, and was asked to write part of the handouts for it.)
  5. When I was a teenager, my father suggested I take a programming class. After I finished it, he asked me if I wanted to do programming — that’s how I got started on my career. He thought, correctly, that I would enjoy it, and his urging me to take classes like that was partly motivated by the fact that he didn’t enjoy programming that much but did have programming work that needed to be done. So it wasn’t just a class, it was the beginning of 35 years of work (so far) in the industry.

    It was a long, long time before I met another female software engineer; I’ve never worked on a team that was even majority female. In many cases, I’ve been the only woman with a group of a handful to more than 30 male software engineers.

  6. Even when I wanted to be a musician, both my parents were willing to support that choice if and only if I got adequate education for a plan B. I got lured in by the consistent money in programming and for quite a while resented that I’d gone that way, but later came to peace with it after a summer off busking in Ireland. It met enough of the music goal that I was able to move on with my life. This is not to say that I don’t burn out occasionally — I have.
  7. After my mom remarried, we always had a plane and a boat, and tended to travel places. I got to see a lot of places that other people just don’t. San Clemente Island while it was being shelled in a military exercise, for example.San Miguel Island, where a ton of stuff floating in from Japan landed on the long beach, and its odd caliche forest:

  8. I didn’t realize how odd my upbringing was until I was in college and we were asked to write about our mother’s cooking, and most people wrote about white kitchens and poultry. Here’s an excerpt from my piece:

By far my favorite sea dish was the one I usually got to prepare–abalone. Abalone clings very hard to rocks and has to be pried not only off the rock but out of its shell. Once out, it doesn’t have the decency to just sit there and behave. No, it has to crawl all over. Abalone is inherently tough, so I would pound it with a meat tenderizer as it crawled across the cutting board. I’d stop wailing on it with the metal tenderizer and watch it to see if it had stopped moving, but it would curl up its edges and slide away.
So it’s hard for me to remember that some people have to fight to attend even two-year college, hard for me to remember that some people fight with their family about careers in the sciences and so on. It’s just so normal for me.

Then again, I grew up thinking radioactive hazard signs were normal, too….

So, yeah, I’m the weird kid, but I come by it honestly.

: Solving Some Mail Issues

Because I have a few email accounts that only get the occasional piece of email, I hadn’t noticed that I’d hit this problem on Mavericks until it affected my primary email account.
After last week’s fun with a DoS attack and an even-more-fun experience with invisible windows, I finally thought I had it all fixed, only to discover that my mail server list was suddenly woefully outdated and couldn’t be edited.
Using the first link, I think I got them all behaving.

: Sixth Annual Edible Landscaping Tour, June 21

The sixth annual Common Ground Edible Landscaping Tour is coming up this Saturday, July 21. (fixed date)
We first went in 2009, photos here.

: Mediating Cats and Dogs

Love this opening dream sequence from the upcoming Fairly Legal episode “Borderline”:

“They’re smart enough not to chase cars.”

: The Beeping

My mother complained yesterday that something in the house was beeping. My iDevices were all happy, so I ignored it and went back to catching up on Anthony Bourdain episodes of The Layover.
Later, she mentioned something to Rick, who then set off trying to find the sound’s source. A few seconds after he passed the TV, there was another beep. A few seconds after that, another.
It was the show. Specifically, it was profanity being cut. Of course, I hadn’t noticed it because of the context in which I was hearing it.
Rick reports back to my mother, who asks, “Why the beeping?”
Rick says, “It’s Anthony Bourdain.”
Which made me laugh.
For what it’s worth, the Amsterdam episode of The Layover is one of the funniest pieces of television I’ve ever seen, though the clips on the web site are dramatically cut from the iTunes episode.
In my blog post about transiting through Amsterdam, I forgot to mention a detail that sticks with me: the couple ahead of me at the transfer desk were clearly stoned out of their gourd and had, accordingly, managed to miss their flight.
I mean, the Dutch are super-efficient, so I was a wee bit gobsmacked by the relative size of their transfer stations (though it is the 14th busiest airport in the world), at least right up until I realized that part of the underlying issue was also oh-so-Dutch.

: Long Weekend Trip to San Diego

I was originally scheduled to come to San Diego on Saturday morning so I could go to a work-related event on Friday, but, well, I had an opportunity for yet another medical appointment, so that took precedence and I flew down Thursday morning.
Getting to the bottom of my medical stuff has been something of a nightmare and has been a multi-year process of peeling the onion. In short, the celiac disease seems to have triggered other stuff, and now I think we’re getting to the last and possibly most critical bit.
Many years ago, I was given a diagnosis of fibromyalgia without excluding other diseases, and fibro’s supposed to be a diagnosis of last resort after everything else is ruled out — and nothing was. I do mean nothing.
For several years, treating it as though it were fibro was enough, but for the last few years, it has not been, and it’s been getting worse.
The good news? I think I finally figured it out. I could be wrong, but I’ve done a lot of reading lately, and I don’t think I am.
So, I found a doctor that agrees with me (thus my earlier trip), but isn’t “in plan,” so it’s more of an advisory role, and there are serious concerns about treating the issue (which I knew). On the other hand, it’s possible that I could get full remission in a few days.
I also got some work done, though I was limited by my doctor schedule and travel logistics.
The event I was coming for is, of course, World Fantasy. So last night I had the opportunity to participate in the mass signing, and I met a local writer who also happens to be a co-worker, so I introduced him to the other sf/f writer co-worker I know. I got Neil Gaiman’s autographs for a friend, too.
Today was my first full con day, and I went to the SFWA meeting at (oh my God) 8 a.m., which went well. As I was leaving, I was just out of it enough that I thought to myself, “Oh, I’m moving well now that the drugs kicked in.” Not five seconds later, I didn’t see that there was a step and took a rather nasty tumble, and I’ve been very sore since. A very sweet African-American teen here for another event helped me up and wanted to know if I was okay.
Because of the pain from the fall, I missed a lot of stuff, and spent the con sitting and talking to people for longer periods and not moving around so much (perfectly understandable). It remains to be seen how well I’ll be feeling the next two days, when the soreness from a fall is generally at its worst. Fortunately, I don’t think I hurt anything seriously.
I have a reading at 10 a.m., and I am now thinking everything I’ve written is crap, and I’m feeling the pressure; I’m reading right before someone I’ve always looked up to and it’s intimidating. I am not sure what I’ll read in the morning yet, but I brought seven things to pick from. I’ll probably read two or three.
I spent some of my downtime this trip reading Steve Jobs’s biograpy. I hope to finish it by Halloween, which seems fitting given the focus of the holiday for me (the annual honoring of people who’ve passed on). I’m going to write a longer post about that when I’ve finished the book. I started reading from the time of Steve’s cancer diagnosis forward, finished the book, then started again at the beginning. I think that’s actually an interesting way to read the book.
I’m going home tomorrow to a newly-repaired car. I have two follow-ups in-plan medical-wise on Tuesday, then a backup appointment on Wednesday with a different doctor.

: Morning State

So there you are galumphing lopsided down the hallway in search of ibuprofen as is your usual wont when you notice that your legs feel weird today. They felt a bit odd yesterday, too. In fact, it feels a bit like the odd you felt in June when you suddenly wound up with a bad case of shingles and they shoved prednisone down your throat along with some antivirals.
And, for a few days, everything stopped hurting, though the legs had this oddly pliable feel that was disconcerting, to say the least, given your usual stiffness. You felt it particularly when you went up and down stairs, wondering if your legs would collapse underneath you. They didn’t. When you were near the end of your course and the shingles was on the mend, you started taking walks because, hallelujah, you didn’t hurt.
Then you went to the doctor saying that you think you don’t have fibromyalgia after all — gotta be something related to inflammation, at which point the rheumy consult thought you were bonkers, saying that if you had MS or Crohn’s, you’d know it. Your main doctor gets the point, though: fibro’s not an inflammatory disease. She orders an inflammatory panel and advises you to wait a few weeks to get the blood draw for so your system will return to its normal state after all the drugs she’s just pumped in. Also, you’ve had this strange low-grade fever that comes and goes for a few days at a time, but this problem’s been going on for years.
Last Friday, you had your teeth cleaned, and you apparently have a bad dental abscess from that root canal you had ten years ago, one root of which was never able to be killed off and is apparently flailing in a great pile of painless unhappiness, so the dentist makes endodontist invocations and materializes a scrip for antibiotics. So you haul yourself down to the HMO and wait in their never-ending line so you can pay less for the stupid amoxy, and then you’re about to ask for the blood draw — and you realize, huh, what if this really is the same issue? Better wait until after the antibiotics work and have cleared the system.
Today you feel almost as good, whole-body wise, as you did under the prednisone, though, so that makes you wonder: was it a frakkin’ low-grade dental infection all along? Could this whole ten years have been better if you’d done the dental thing differently?

: How My iPad Kicked a Bad Evening's Ass

Worldcon ended Sunday, and we briefly went to the dead dog party and then hit the road.
After we got out of the mountains and passed Sacramento, the check engine light came on, and was flashing. It turns out that we’d had this symptom on the way over immediately after filling the tank with Arco gas, but it seemed to go away after we’d added a different brand of gas. Bad gas was listed in the manual as a possible cause.
Now the light came on tonight immediately after having gotten more Arco gas, but this time we got premium. However, this time, the engine light flashed and we lost power and had to re-start the car and get back off the freeway ramp. Talk about your scary.
So I get out the iPad’s map app, and then look for the nearest dealership (since this involved possibly proprietary diagnostics) and then a towing company. Then, when we’d established where we were going, I was able to book us a room within walking distance from the car dealership for the night.
Sure, I could have used my iPhone, but the device I almost invariably pull out is, in fact, the iPad. It’s easier to show someone else details of the route due to the larger real estate, plus the extra size is nice when your eyes are tired and you want bigger text.
The other day, someone (who didn’t have a smartphone) wondered what use one would be to him. I wonder what the hell he does if things like this come up.
Over the last week, here’s what I’ve used my iPad for: writing a short story, reading email, web surfing, culling and editing photos, ordering a new computer (which we decided to get after leaving for Reno, so had it delivered to my mother’s workplace), keeping up with my RSS feeds with Pulse and Reeder, playing music, watching movies and television episodes, playing games, taking notes, emailing Rick’s boss and mine saying we’re stuck in Vacaville, writing a draft of a future guest blog post (to be announced soon), and brainstorming some ideas for a possible new short story.

: Cord-Cutting: Antenna Ho!

The antenna guy came today. We used AV Solutions Pros out of Mountain view. He got it done as quickly as it could be and with great quality. We’re getting some channels I hadn’t expected to, and it all seems very nice. Of course, we’re subject to weather fade, much like satellite is, but he said it’s really worst conditions now due to the leaves on the trees.
Over-the-air cost so far is a wash with buying the HD shows the first year, but of course it’s a gain in years after that.
Now it’s an ongoing saga to figure out content we care about in this new ecosystem, plus I want to make sure to pick up any interesting show premieres somehow — that’s how I discovered FlashForward two years ago.

: Cable: The Final Insult

Rick and I drove our Comcast equipment back to its home in Foster City on Saturday morning on the way up to the city. The man behind the counter gave me a stickie that said $14.48 — as in the amount I’d be refunded.
Catch is, I had a bill that wasn’t yet paid (or due), so that wasn’t the final number.
A few minutes ago, I got an email: “Your Aug 7, 2011 Comcast billing statement is ready for viewing.”
So I tried to log on, curious what the final total is, and this is what Comcast’s site said:

You do not have access to account or billing information. Please see the Primary account owner to view and pay the bill online.

How incredibly dorktastic.

: Getting Rid of Cable

Before we met, neither Rick nor I had anything other than broadcast television. Not long after we met, I started to work at TiVo. At that point, we started getting cable again, and haven’t stopped since.
Until now.
Back when I re-subscribed, basic cable inched up from the high $20s to the mid-$50s. What I hadn’t really obviously noticed was how it had further creeped up in the last two years to close to $70, even on a discount plan.
We added Starz recently so that we could watch Torchwood, but it was free for six months.
I checked my cable bill the other day: it’s now $95.64.
Not on my watch, it’s not.
So then came the math: how much would it cost us each month to replace cable?
I decided to start first and see how much it’d cost us to buy the shows we can outright. Granted, many of these we don’t care that much about, and some (e.g., broadcast shows) are available over-the-air.
Even with that, though, if we bought all of them (including The Daily Show and The Colbert Report), it’d still be a wash.
So, given that, and that there are various means of getting the shows we want to watch without Comcast, cable is going bye bye tomorrow, replaced by a newer Apple TV (already purchased) and probably a Boxee in the future, as well as perhaps another small media server computer at some point.
The real beauty of this plan is the ability to actually pay more directly for content that we want to fund, rather than aiming a gob of money at Comcast, where we’re paying for ESPN, Fox News, Soap Net, Trinity Broadcasting Network, the Brazilian Futebol channel (srsly), the Gospel Music Channel, and a bunch of other channels that, at best, we don’t give a rat’s ass about, and, at worst, we think are harmful to sanity and civilization. (I don’t mind paying for the multi-cultural channels: I think they provide value to their target markets. I just don’t happen to be part of that market.)

Available on iTunes, most are also available on Hulu:
Being Human (BBC America) ($10/$10) * CastTV
Being Human (SyFy) ($30/$20)
Burn Notice (USA) ($35/$25) * CastTV
Doctor Who (BBC America) ($40/$26) * CastTV
Fairly Legal (USA) ($26/$17) * CastTV
Falling Skies (TNT) ($17) * CastTV
Leverage (TNT) ($43/28) * CastTV
Nikita (The CW) ($50/$40) * CastTV
Outcasts (BBC America) ($21/14)
Project Runway (LIFE) ($34/23) * CastTV
Rizzoli & Isles (TNT) ($38/28) * CastTV
Sanctuary (SyFy) ($48/32) * CastTV
Suits (USA) ($30/20) * CastTV
Survivors (BBC America) ($10)
The Glades (A&E) ($32/22) * CastTV
Top Gear (BBC America) ($18/$12) * CastTV
Warehouse 13 (SyFy) ($35/23) * CastTV
White Collar (USA) ($35/$25) * CastTV
Colbert Report (Comedy) (special, ~$100/yr) * CastTV
Daily Show (Comedy) (special, ~$100/yr) * CastTV
$62/mo for all the above in HD; $50 in standard def
Available on iTunes but possibly also OTA with the antenna situation sorted out, most are also available on Hulu
Body of Proof (ABC) ($27, but the first season was a part season, so not included in numbers below) * CastTV * Hulu
Bones (Fox) ($60/40) * CastTV * Hulu
Castle (ABC) ($50/$35) * CastTV
Criminal Minds (CBS) ($43/33)
CSI (CBS) ($53/$36) * CastTV
CSI: Miami (CBS) ($53/$36) * CastTV
CSI: NY (CBS) ($53/$36) * CastTV
Fringe (Fox) ($30/20) * CastTV
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) ($50/$35) * CastTV
House (Fox) ($34/23) * CastTV
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS) ($60/40) * CastTV
$36 / month for HD; $28 for standard def
Not Available on iTunes:
Antonio Treatment (HGTV)
Ashes to Ashes (BBC America)
Baltic Coasts (HDNet) — gorgeous photography!
Design Star (HGTV)
Dr. G.: Medical Examiner (FitTV)
Holmes on Homes (HGTV)
Last Chance to See (HDNet)
Mexico: One Plate at a Time (ABC Local)
Sarah’s Summer House (HGTV)
Selling New York (HGTV)
The Mentalist (CBS)
The Story of India (PBS)
Torchwood: Miracle Day (Starz)
World’s Coastlines from Above (HDNet) — this one I’ll miss the most, frankly, even though it’s only a few episodes. There’s no way to purchase them, but it is stunningly beautiful photography.
World’s Toughest Fixes (Natl Geo) ($16, but no current episodes)
Invasion (SyFy) ($40 for entire series; show’s canceled)
Others I haven’t had season passes for but do watch:
Covert Affairs

: Early Plum Blossoms

Usually we have plum blossoms sometime between mid-March and early April. This year, we’ve got them in early February.

: Southern Hemisphere Plants

For the last two weekends, we’ve visited the UCSC Arboretum, which specializes in plants of the southern hemisphere, specifically South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. One of my favorite discoveries is this Banksia. At first, I thought someone had added the brown “elf,” but then I realized it was a dried flower.
More photos.

: Our Garden

I got my new camera today, a Panasonic Lumix GF-1 in pink. I had to test it out, right?
So I took pictures of our garden, which can be found here.

: Edible Landscaping

NB: Common Ground in Palo Alto is sadly no more.

Saturday, we’ll be going on Common Ground’s Edible Landscaping Tour. If you’re in the SF bay area and interested in organic gardening, it’s worth the day’s crawl. Last year, two of the gardens were Jesse Cool’s and the Warnocks.

: Theft: One Palm Tree

My mother wanted one thing for her birthday: a palm tree. A very specific palm tree.

She didn’t actually get it on her birthday, which fell on a Thursday, but we did get it to her shortly thereafter. A good thing, because mom was told she had cancer on her birthday.

She’d put it out in one area of the front yard, one that people come and steal plums from (because no one’s really known who the land belonged to).

Naturally, with cancer surgery and recovery and then the rainy season setting in, it was still in its pot, though put in its appointed place.

She last remembers seeing it this weekend, but noticed today that it had gone. Lacking locomotion of its own, that means someone nipped our palm tree.