Thursday, 14 July 2011 11:53 pm
I spent 20 minutes earlier this week filling out an online MBTI, and today I went to Career Services on campus to review it with their resident expert, Liz K. (Free for staff; and mah boss has told me it's job-related and I shouldn't count it as personal time. ...But wait till she hears I'm going back.)

It was an entertaining hour, and I took a few notes on things that tickled me. To be read with various grains of salt.

* One area the Myers-Briggs has no predictive power is in the workplace. People with widely different types can both be happy in the same positions.
* However, it is useful for identifying preferences that people might not realize, based on cultural assumptions against those preferences- and, to some extent, strengths and weaknesses for personal interactions.

* ESTJ is what employers almost universally want from their front-line staff. Though many of these companies seem to brand themselves as looking for ENFP. And Introverts get no respect in the workplace. (Which is why we get to impersonate the E/S/T/J types at the office).
* N's are stereotyped as creative, but S's are creative as well- one such area is toward efficiency, parsimony.
* S's prefer to work a project from bottom-up and use language for accuracy; N's prefer to design from top-down and use language to play.
* N's might buy a fast car as a status symbol; S's might buy the car because they like the sensation of driving fast.

* NT's might be energized developing strategies; NF's energized by nurturing people.
* NT's may be known for their sarcastic humour.
* NF's may be known for enjoying taking the MBTI and learning the psychology of others; whereas FP's hate how the MBTI questions try and box you in without any subtlety or context.

* A bad combination in meetings: EN's tossing out half-baked ideas one after another, and after everyone else is in agreement, the IS might come up with his/her best answer, which s/he has taken the time to hone and finish in his/her head; coming across as passive-aggressive.

* A meeting of all J's may make a quick decision that's wrong; a meeting of all P's make the same decision over and over and over.

* Couples usually pair a P and a J. If both are P's, one will probably "fake it" as a J in order to keep the household running and bills paid.

* For J's the T/F dichotomy becomes crucial for how they deal with the outside world (setting their structure/organization via logic/objectivity or values/subjectivity).
* For P's the S/N dichotomy becomes crucial (via present/concrete or future/abstract).


I've tested myself online every once in a few years, and I consistently turn out IN__ - neutral between T/F and J/P. Sure enough, this time I rated "T" but just one point away from being rated "F"; and I was rated a "mild J".

But that didn't satisfy Liz; she said this didn't make sense with what I told her. And if I was J, I would be dominant for Feeling/Thinking- I certainly wouldn't be ambiguous on that measure. So, yay! I'm an aberration! She said perhaps I operated as a "J" both at work and home, but they aren't my preference? This seemed likely. So, she had me read some summary descriptions, until we zeroed in on INTP or INFP.

And when I read the long-form descriptions, I identified most with INFP, the same type as I self-identified 4 years ago.

She said if I come back, she can print out the appropriate pages out of their guide for me, but as it was, my custom printout wasn't at all accurate.

A cynical person might conclude that I've been told to vote early and often. Or, roll my character stats but change them around until they look right.

We were supposed to talk about strengths/blindspots I might want to know about, but we ran out of time. Fortunately, the second hit is free as well.

One thread of thought I found interesting is that I will make to-do lists, and refer back to them, which is a "J" type activity. However, the system for lists that I have settled on, GTD, allows maximal flexibility for choosing on-the-fly what tasks you're up for doing next. Which is the embodiment of "Perceiving" type.

So: yeah. INFP inna ESTJ wrld.

open data

Sunday, 13 March 2011 11:19 pm
Guess what? I'm too tired to make a very coherent post. Busy weekend. Very social.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to an "open data codefest"- I had a blast learning, though I didn't write any code.

What's open data? It's a philosophy that public data should be machine-readable, so people can produce software mashups such as smartphone apps or websites that repackage the available information for (different, perhaps unexpected) purposes. Think realtor websites that incorporate municipal property data and walkability scores... or lots of things Google does now, such as maps incorporating transit schedules and bike paths. Or there's this LCBO search app that has indexed all the liquour stores in Ontario, to give you inventory search results in a more clean way than the official LCBO site.

So, I wanted to work on transit data, but we don't yet have a clean data-source. The best available is "screen-scraped" (unofficial, therefore suspect for accuracy and legitimacy). So instead I learned about GTFS, the common format for transit feeds. I learned how to geo-locate via web-browser (not just mobile; it works from the desktop, thank you googly overlords).

The region is investigating what sorts of data they can open up; apparently a few region staff-members were present earlier in the day.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out!

a ramble

Monday, 16 November 2009 12:35 am
I've been listening to Lady Gaga / Bad Romance on loop for the last few hours. It's a catchy song. Video's sort of weird. OK, really weird. [1]

This morning I dropped off [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball at Toronto City Airport, for his flight to Chicago. He's gone for a month- but I'll see him in three weeks on a visit. I'm... not sure how this will go, keeping myself on a sane eating/sleeping schedule; at least the dog will remind me to go to bed on time.

Since I was in downtown Toronto on a Sunday morning, I went to Quaker Meeting. I can't claim to be a stranger there, despite only having visited for a wedding once many years back- I was surprised to discover I knew half a dozen people. I was introduced to a friend's house-guest, visiting from Holland, who was surprised I had visited his hometown in the north of the country. (him: "But nobody visits Groningen!" me: "Ah, but we did." him: *shrug* "...OK." [2] I also met Steven, whose partner is a Master's student the department where I work. (They moved to Canada for his school, and they're from Rochester NY. It's a crazy small world.)

And then I excused myself for the second part of my plans, to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Royal Ontario Museum. Even though it was just three blocks away, I wasn't sure how I would get to the ROM, given that until I got there I had overlooked the Santa Claus Parade between me and the museum. (The Dutch guy said, "How long is the parade? Maybe you can just wait." I told him it's over two hours. Deadpan: "Two hours? It's just one guy!")

So I dashed across Bloor Street, narrowly missing being trampled by Elves. [4]

And can I just say, November 15 is too early for a Christmas parade. (December 15 might be too early for a Christmas parade, if you were asking me- but nobody did.)

Right. No trampling, though the clowns were scary, and there were too many people in general, but at least the crowds outside the ROM meant the museum was comparatively empty for a Sunday afternoon.

The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit was neat (if pricey- $28 for my ticket). The ten fragments of the scroll were text from various books of the Bible, apocrypha, and non-Biblical texts, from 2000-2500 years ago. The fragments are quite fragmented- on the one hand it's amazing that paper scrolls have lasted this long; on the other, you were often looking down at a smudge on a dark frame and only really seeing the text in a reproduction. The light was quite low, in order to preserve the fragments. There was a fascinating video of how badly the fragments had been treated over the last 60 years. Early after discovery, they were taped together, which just makes my jaw drop. They were pieced together in a brightly lit room, people ate while handling them, and so on.

The uncertainty behind how the scrolls got stashed in the caves where they were found is also neat. One theory was the nearby hilltop town was a religious community of Essenes. Another justifiable theory was that the town was a commercial center occupied by stone-masons and potters- which doesn't explain the cache of 600 scrolls hidden in jars in the caves under the town. The exhibit did an OK job putting out the evidence, showing videos of archaeologists arguing about it, and leaving the mystery for the visitor to consider.

I mostly liked the rooms of context they provided before the actual scroll-bits- how the civilizations in the area had been living for the prior hundreds of years, and how they lived in the subsequent centuries.

I was having a bit of a grin at the context, as well, because I'm in the middle of reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Right. Fiction, history. Fiction, history. But "Lamb" mentions many of the same pieces of daily life. Such as the Mikvah ritual baths, which involved a joke I won't try to explain but involves the frustrations of being a teenager and needing to take lots of ritual baths.

The ROM certainly could have done better with sound-insulation. The space is tall and echo-y, and a few videos have loud sound, meaning that visitors will be talking fairly loudly throughout the exhibit, making it a bit hard to concentrate.

And the gift shop had some truly special items, like Aveta (sp? can't be bothered to google) brand Dead Sea Mud in 4 different varieties. Also some odd book choices, including "God's Little Princess Devotional Bible" and "God's Mighty Warrior Devotional Bible." [5]

I also saw some modern art on the theme of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which partly worked for me- it had text sliding off glass plates onto the floor, written in rainbow glitter; the text might as well have been "Lorum Ipsum" for its lack of meaning, though the visual effect was interesting.

The ROM also had an exhibit on the 10 Commandments, but I wasn't particularly impressed- the historical info didn't seem well explained and the modern art part of that exhibit wasn't very interesting.

Oh- and food- I went to both restaurants, just for kicks. The 5th floor was too pricey for me, with $5 coffees , $9 fries, and $50 lunches. But the basement restaurant was surprisingly good- I got poutine, made with "hand-cut fries", with real cheese curd, and with chicken gravy. In the past I have mostly avoided poutine for two reasons: fake cheese curd, and beef gravy. This poutine was awesome. Oh, and their meats are from Cumbrae farms, so they're local and free-range and very tasty. $5 for a lunch-size portion. The other dishes there looked quite good as well, and they had tasty looking deserts too.

And that was my day, more or less.

[1] this version has a cute guy in it though. Not that Lady Gaga isn't attractive too- but flaming breasts don't really do much for me.

[2] in case it's interesting to anybody else, the reason I went to northern Holland was to visit Barbara Katz Rothman (who has come up in various friends' discussions on inter-racial adoptions and childcare)- her son was a friend in college. [3]

[3] which is why I know the Dutch proverb De een zijn dood is een ander zijn brood,
One man's death is another man's bread, a grim saying, but what the guy I met on the train to Groningen wanted to share with us.

[4] at the beginning of the day, while dan was driving us downtown, I saw a partially lit sign, and I joked on facebook about renting "Elf Storage." Which was all fine, and I joked with [livejournal.com profile] araleith [livejournal.com profile] insaint [oops!] about stashing my elves there, but I think the elves were unimpressed with the joke.

[5] Don't follow this link to God's Little Princess Devotional Bible unless you are less annoyed by gender-typing nonsense than I am. *shudder*

In Threes

Sunday, 1 November 2009 06:56 pm
"What's funny to me," I said, "is the front doorknob to our house came off in my hand yesterday."

"Well, bad things usually come in threes," said the tow-truck driver.

"I'm hoping that the storm-door latch shattering a week earlier was number one. I really am."

Yup, I got my first tow-truck ride yesterday.

Welcome back to North America, [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball! You've been experiencing the hour from 5:20pm to 4:20pm repeatedly since you left Tokyo 12 hours ago! As a special bonus for taking the [livejournal.com profile] da_lj Corolla Chariot back home, now you get to sit on the side of the 401 for an hour, after the muffler bracket decides it's had enough and now's the time to fall off. Whee!

Joining CAA this summer was a good idea. I called and they said they'd send someone ASAP, since the 401 isn't a safe place to be broken down. After a mix-up when the first CAA towtruck arrived just ten minutes after I called, and determined he was looking for another broken down car in roughly the same place (WTF?), it was a relief that the second CAA truck was actually going to stick around and help.

According to him, the only thing we need is the bracket and bolt which hold it on. He tried to wire it up with a coat-hanger, but the connections were difficult, so he had to put the car on a big dolly to tow us from Mississauga home.

And we made it home by 8pm, after d. and I acted like an old married couple when I was giving directions and dan woke up in the back seat and wanted to give slightly different directions. ;)

And the tire place on the corner, which we trust for minor fixes, can replace the bracket and bolt, I hope. I left them a voicemail. "The car that appeared in your lot on the weekend? That's us. Can you fix the muffler bracket? I'll call back early Monday."


The front door breaking, which feels anticlimactic now, was Friday's fun. Bleary morning routine: walk downstairs, get newspaper, make breakfast, deal with [livejournal.com profile] roverthedog. Fail step 2, open front door successfully: the handle pulled off in my hand, but without taking any of the innards with it. I'm like, "wait, there's a set of tabs sticking straight out inside the lock, which match the 4 slots in the handle, but... that doesn't look so easy to reattach." Blink. Blink. Hey, I need to get to Physio and to work. So I dealt with it in the evening. It turned out to be fixable, without even needing a trip to Home Hardware. And I also sanded down the top of the door, figuring that was the real cause of the failure. Only 8 years we've lived here, now we finally have a front door that doesn't stick.


What I'm (hopefully) calling failure number 1, almost two weeks ago now, was coming home to discover the latch for the storm-door had shattered into a pile of little metal shards on the front stoop. I haven't made it to the hardware store to see if a reasonable replacement can be found. Oddly enough, I feel busy otherwise.

I'm not sure what there is to learn here. Entropy happens? Replace stuff before it fails? Always have spares on hand? Have friends with good advice? I like that last one. If the muffler had actually fallen off, I liked the recommendation of one friend, who said "throw it in the trunk and drive on home. It'll be loud, but that's fine." I was tempted to just do that anyway, while we were waiting the hour for the CAA truck, but I'm glad d. convinced me not to, because I expect it would have cost a bunch more to reconnect the muffler.

So yeah. Just another boring weekend Chez nous.


Thursday, 29 October 2009 08:59 pm
ARPANET, it is claimed, was born on October 29, 1969, and the first message sent was supposed to be "login", but it crashed before they got to "g."

I learned this in today's Globe and Mail, which comes to me on large sheets of bleached paper printed with soy inks. Yeah- woah.

ARPA, Advanced Research Projects Agency, became DARPA, a Defense projects agency, the year before I was born. It was the parent agency responsible for GPS, Gallium Arsenide integrated circuits, and of course for the Internet.

They are also responsible for stealth bombers and the mechanical elephants that ravaged Vietnam and led America to military victory oh wait maybe not.

Some months ago, I read an opinion piece (I wish I remember where) claiming that DARPA held [edited to clarify] distinction among US government agencies for successfully funding innovative R&D for over 50 years. DARPA goes for high-risk/high-reward projects, with flat hierarchy, tiny labour pool (fewer than 150 employees), and a distributed development model. "Cool," thought I, "if only they cloned the model for non-military agencies."

This evening (in [livejournal.com profile] googleblog) I learned of ARPA-E, which hopes to have the same success in the Energy sector. Visiting his friends at Google Headquarters, the US Energy Secretary announced $150 million in grants, high-gamble projects in projects like energy storage, carbon capture, fuels, and desalination.

[Checks watch]

C'mon folks, it's been two days already.

(ARPA-E was actually created in 2007, but it didn't get kicked into gear until it got its first budget in Obama's first few weeks on the job.)

[Checks watch]

C'MON already!
1) my left hip-bone is sort of fused to the sacrum, the middle hip-bone. My physiotherapist showed me that yes, I have worse range-of-motion in my left leg than the right. This was news to me- I just thought I had lower back-ache from the new bed. He says the bed probably alerted me to problems that had been going onward for a while. He did some fairly rigorous stretches to my back-joints and gave me a pair of additional stretches I'm supposed to do. (I think I'm up to something like 30 minutes a day of stretches I haven't been doing regularly.)

2) maple syrup does not go well on a dog.

3) [various work things that aren't nearly as interesting as 1) and 2)]

The road between the Indian city of Amritsar and the Pakistani city Lahore crosses the border through the village of Wahga (or Wagah, depending on which side of the border you’re on) ... By day, people and goods flow across the border, often with porters of one nation handing packages across the border to porters from the other. However at sunset, troops from the two countries parade in aggressive fashion, with much stamping, staring, brandishing of weapons, slamming of gates ... crowds from both nations packing their own grandstand for a lively and festive celebration of nationalism.

From this video, it's hard to believe they do this every single day:


Humans are weird.
My last 24 hours, in three acts.

Act I

Last night, I wanted a burger for dinner. So I drove to our nearby veggie-burger joint, had a yummy dinner, then discovered the car's battery was flat. Lights on? Nope, it was still sunny when I got there. I opened the hood, the battery's covered in corrosion. Ooookay. So I called Rachel and Robin, Quaker friends who live 3 minutes away, and they drove up and gave me a jump-start. The car started right away. Exeunt both directions, warm fuzzies and happy music.

I took a 30-minute drive around town to recharge the battery, with the windows down, yippee!, got home, parked in front of the house (just in case). Turned off the car, waited a moment, tried to turn on the lights, and it went "click-click-click-click".

Oh. Damn.

Act II

This morning at 8, I walked to the tire-place down the street and swapped batteries. I rolled back home (with battery in a cart; I ain't carrying that thing even 4 blocks.) Put it in, tried to turn on the lights, and it still just goes "click-click-click-click." Grr.

I called the car shop we use; they said Mondays are busy, but yeah, I could drop it off. Now, on Tuesdays we're still leaving the hosue at 7:30, and dan's not yet healthy enough for a walk to work, or even really the walk to/from the bus. So this ain't great. Not a disaster, we have funds, but not great. I got a recommendation for a towing company, called them, they said they'd be 30 minutes.

Then, I asked my local programmer-friends on IRC whether the tow would drop the car off without me going with it, a suggestion from my clever boyfriend (who hasn't ever done that, but thought it was sensible.)

Yes, a friend said, you can do that, especially if the tow company has a relationship with the garage. Yay, I said, they recommended them. And it saves me a trip which I know would take at least 90 minutes, since the bus up there is sporadic.

Then Justin chimed into the IRC conversation, and said this problem sounds strange, it still sounds like a dead battery problem to him. He suggested I take some 400-grit sandpaper to the terminals to make sure it's a clean connection. Good idea! That I did, and also noticed that the positive terminal didn't even have a bolt clamping it on. Which I sort-of fixed. And Lo, the car started. I ran in, called the tow company and canceled, and went back on IRC to tell Justin I owed him one.

Then I heard the sound of a tow-truck backing up outside. Oops! Came out, waving, jumped on the running board to find myself face to face with the butchest woman I've seen in ages. Her head was half-shaved, half long-orange hair, she had a lip piercing, and when I said hi, I'm really sorry, I called a few minutes ago to cancel, she laughed and her tongue piercing didn't look at all out of place. She looked tough. I'm glad she was friendly. And it wasn't until she had left that I realized, I totally should've gotten her name, at least.

Right. So, off to work; got some stuff done, then at 2pm, dan asked if I could take him home.

Out to the car, which... started immediately.

Dropped him home, stopped to run an errand, and... it refused to start again.

This time, I had the jumper cables out and the hood up, at the ready for a quick jump from the next available driver. Yes, I've lost any inhibition against asking just anyone... And y'know, people in this town? They'll jump you just as promptly. At least if you're able to get your hood up quick.

Curtain, before the snickering gets too loud.

Act III:

What now? Maybe alternator, maybe starter, maybe dud battery. Motor's running, at least. Off to the auto shop, on the north side of town, to beg them to maybe fit me in this afternoon somehow?

They were busy; 4 cars had to be finished today. But the head guy said OK, I can wait around and see where they are in an hour. So I sat in the car, windows down, and listened to their radio and machinery. In my short sleeve shirt- OMG this weather! If it wasn't the uncertainty about the car, it would be pretty much divine. I even meditated for a while. And I discovered a pair of sunglasses in the glove compartment, which helped.

90 minutes later, I was back on the road. Here's what I learned:
1) the terminals need to be clamped down so they can't shake off.
2) hand-tight is NOWHERE near good enough, even if that's what they were when I took off the old battery. (Gee, maybe that was the root cause? Not the dying ancient battery? Hm.)
3) gruff car guys are still OK folks. I tipped him, because he didn't even bother writing it up, just said how about $20. And he could've said, no guarantee he'll even be able to look at it today, but he didn't.

And that is, I hope, the end of this story.
Don't ask yourself what the world needs.
Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

- Howard Thurman

History of Hallelujah

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 09:08 am
An interesting History of Hallelujah from Leonard Cohen to the 100+ covers of the song. The author suggests it's been dumbed down- the first few covers changed words and tone; and subsequent covers were covers of one or another of the previous covers and lack some of the emotional complexity of the original.

And so when Jeff Buckley decided to cover "Hallelujah," he didn't really cover Cohen, he covered Cale; the form and lyrics of their versions match almost exactly, while none of the three previous versions (Cohen studio, Cohen live, Cale) match at all. [Buckley's] effect was to flatten the song emotionally, to take out all the different Hallelujahs Cohen depicted and reduce them to one: the cold and broken, which appears here twice.

And that's the version that gets recycled for TV and movie, it becomes a placeholder for "people are being sad now."


Monday, 26 January 2009 10:19 am
Staples just redeemed themselves in my books.

I decided I'd call them now and get it done with rather than brood.

First thing, checked getsatisfaction.com and this comment was helpful toward how I should take the conversation if the store manager doesn't resolve things.

I called the store, asked to speak with the manager, and she was actually the person who answered the phone. (!)

Told her my story, said I didn't want to have to carry the filing cabinet back again, and she said, would I like somebody to drive to my house and exchange it? (!) Or would I like a discount on the cabinet? I said it would be simpler to get the discount since the dent is cosmetic not structural. She said 10%? I said, well I was thinking $30 off felt fair. She said fine; I just have to bring the receipt in some time; doesn't matter how long, and talk to her. (!)

I think that will work out, if I can get myself up to the wilds of Staples-land again.

Ni Pena Ni Miedo

Tuesday, 20 January 2009 08:44 am
In Pinochet's Chile, a poet held and tortured in the dictator's jails named Raúl Zurita imagined "writing poems in the sky, on the faces of cliffs, in the desert."

In 1993, this poem was etched into a mountain-base: Ni Pena Ni Miedo.

No shame nor fear.

It is three kilometers long. If you zoom in on the google map in that link, you can the attention to detail. The desert has been reclaiming the field, just as the thousands of victims of Pinochet were disappeared.

But it is said that every Sunday the children of the nearest village go out with shovels and turn the dirt inside the letters to refresh them. My mind is boggled at the scale of this.

(I originally saw this on Google Sightseeing; there was more info in their links, and more also in the translation translation of his wp page here.)

Happy Inauguration Day, everyone.

Getting Older

Friday, 12 December 2008 07:43 pm
I just went to the going-away reception for a colleague of dan's, a man of many talents who is moving west to become a CTO at another University. There were hors d'oeuvre, wine, cheese. And there were many speeches; some entirely professional and largely boring, some more heartfelt messages with personal touches. But you could tell this man will be missed for his even-keeled and wise service to the University.

And so, walking Rover just now, I was trying to determine exactly what I was feeling in response. I thought, for a while, that it was sort of a proxy pride-mixed-with-loyalty; watching all of these people who'd been working together for decades, showing honour to one of their beloved colleagues.

I'd be feeling it by proxy because of course it's second-hand imagining of their pride and loyalty, recognizing their depth of connections over the decades. And while I do feel loyalty to the University (as an excellent employer, as a source of social and societal good, as somewhere I hope to work for a long time) it's not anywhere near the loyalty of someone who had given it his all, for multiple decades, in a career he'd spent his entire life in.

So, I figured this proxy feeling was best personally described as "inspiration". And that was OK.

But you know, that's not quite it. As I watched Rover run in the school-yard I realized something else was more true. What struck me, hearing these profs pay their respects, was a personal profound sense of getting older.

Not in a negative sense, at all. Or, yes, but not only. Realizing it's the way of things. You spend your time on earth in whatever you're going to do; and possibly you pay attention and get better at things (and possibly the things you're better at, manage to find you). And perhaps you are recognized for the things you do, or perhaps you just know, yourself, and that's OK. And maybe if you're very lucky, it makes a great story; or maybe it seems dull.

But it's your life, every step, and you wouldn't be here if you hadn't been there first. And the you, now, can see a lot further because of it. And it's like seeing a photo of yourself from a decade ago with that hair and clothes and realizing shit, I really thought that would look good on me? And like listening to a Quaker friend's twelve-year-old go on about how much he loves watching The Wizard of Oz over and over, and as he gesticulates wildly with his hands, keeping the Cheshire grin to yourself (and thanking God for his parents not being bigots). And it's like recognizing to yourself the dues you've paid, ultimately OK with them even if they were crazy over-priced stupid dues.

And maybe, looking honestly and lovingly at the you-of-half-your-lifespan-ago and whether, if the two of you met, younger-you would laugh out loud in surprise (and maybe awe) at the you-of-now. And you're mostly looking forward to discovering the you-of-the-same-timespan in the future. Shit, he really thought that was a good idea then, didn't he? By God, yes, I do. And you'll please be keeping that smirk to yourself, future-me?

And maybe they won't throw a party with canapés and the University President, which is probably better off if they don't; and maybe actually the worst is yet to come. But maybe you get to use that as a stepping-off point to something even better than you'd ever imagine from here, the you-of-now who is getting older and paying attention and being open to the chance that the best is yet to come.
We just watched the Caves episode.

Opening shot: human figures diving into an inky cave that's obviously hundreds of meters deep, without ropes. It's not for a while until we see the parachutes. Well photographed.

But then, things got really gross )
This morning I brought Harold to Giilck Auto, a mom-and-pop shop I'd gotten a recommendation for at work. While I waited, he put our car on a lift and went over the three problems the dealer found (and now I have photos of the underside of our car.) He quoted a repair for just exactly 1/10 as much as the dealer wanted for "necessary repairs". (All four sway-bar links were bad, and they were what made the clunk sound I mentioned to the dealer.) While the control arms are separating, they should still be good for a while. And the brake and fuel lines aren't great but he sprayed them with oil to hopefully retard further salt damage.)

I will say this is quite a turnaround of fortunes from last night, when we were both feeling a bit sick about likely junking Harold over a bill just under the worth of the car. I like the dealer; they were good to us when our car was under warranty. (new car computer, new blower motor, and so on.) But yeah. Here's hoping the Giilck fix is good enough.

I also got myself a doctor's note for massage therapy, and a massage appointment. Yay benefits.

And I got a proof-of-concept program working that had me stymied for part of last week. PHP seems to have much worse tools than Perl for programmatically logging into websites. I;ve had to learn a bunch of libcURL by trial and error; my error last week was assuming it kept track of cookies automatically. But no. It's so annoyingly low-level. I have the feeling I will end up writing my own framework to act something like WWW::Automate. Though that looks like an annoyingly large job, and I'm not currently taking on extra large jobs for the fun of it.

Oh, and: some of these tetrapods are really pretty. I've seen photos of them before, and wondered what the hell they were. Now I know!

Saturday Wrapup

Sunday, 22 June 2008 12:15 am
For the curious:

Today I learned that if your house has an access-panel in the basement, with a grungy pipe head behind it, that is probably your house's main drain to the city sewer. And if that pipe starts gurgling, that means water is backing up from the street. And if the panel fills with water, that's another sign water is backing up. And if you're lucky, the plumber will get to it before things become really messy.

We were lucky- I called Hammond Plumbing at 11 last night, their rep (who sounded knowledgeable) booked someone for 8:45 this morning, who showed up with a power auger, and two hours later the problem was (temporarily) resolved.

I say temporarily because the problem is likely to recur, though it hadn't happened in the last seven years; his clearing the pipe brought up a lot of tree-root material, and his educated guess is that the pipe has a bad crack in it (we think from the big tree that the city replaced, three summers ago). And foreign material in the pipe will clog it eventually.

This extravaganza cost us $230, though at one point there were also two city sewer employees in our basement, being paid overtime by the city, because it seemed that the blockage might be beyond our property-line and therefore the city's problem. The two city guys took measurements, converted them to metric, reported them back to their supervisor, and eventually the city will probably turn that into a bill for $295 plus tax because in fact the blockages were under the old tree, which is on our property. However, they might not charge us, possibly due to the detail (also reported to headquarters) that the tree causing the blockage had been a city tree.


This wasn't the ickiest thing to happen in our house, but it was icky, at least until I bleach-mopped the basement floor, and it was all over by noon, thankfully.

...meanwhile, [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball was off talking to a sales rep for a condo, which seems a bit funny in the juxtaposition, especially considering d's been saying he wants to move to a loft every time there's a maintenance problem in our house, though this time it was an appointment I had set up yesterday afternoon. The "eco-loft" condos going in on Bridgeport had some new openings we wanted to check out. In the end, they aren't right for us; probably the condos going in at the Barrelyards will be, in a few years.

And then d. made strawberry jam and I ran errands:

- picked up a hold at the library
- bought coffee beans
- bought shoes, shorts, pillows, and pillow-cases at the outlet mall
- got back and crashed.

...and the rest of the afternoon has been lazing about, eating leftovers, giving the dog a long walk, and watching more of Angels in America from HBO. How was your Saturday? :)

August 2013

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