From the Guardian: 15 Ways to Get Back to Sleep. I’ve been waking up randomly at 3AM with various anxieties floating around my head for the last six months or so, and I think I need to internalize some of this advice.

Date posted: August 13, 2023 | Filed under life, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

After about 45 weeks of almost flawless fitment, my Invisalign trays started to get out of whack at the end of last month, specifically the top sets. Usually they go in with a nice satisfying click as they fit around the little nubs glued to your teeth (the trays need something to grab onto), but mine weren’t clicking. The tray  was hanging down more and more to the point where I couldn’t wear them during the day because they gave me a horrible slobbering lisp. I checked in with the orthodontist, they rescanned my upper and lower palate, and I picked up two new boxes of trays the other day. When I put the top set in I got the click and they fit perfectly. I put the newest set in Tuesday night and I can tell they’re now working on moving my premolars outward to continue making room for the front teeth—which are almost straight—because the premolars are sore as shit. I’ve got about 30 weeks left in the series, which will put me somewhere around the end of the year for a straighter smile.

Date posted: May 18, 2023 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »

Back in the late 1990’s, when the web was alive and open and could be anything you wanted it to be, there were a handful of writers who started keeping journals online, and small communities formed around them, and their numbers grew. The best of these became daily stops during my morning coffee, and I found enough inspiration in their ability to code their own sites and write so well that I started this site—halfassed, really, hiding out as a secondary link on my primary site for a year until I got enough nerve to buy a boutique domain. Some of these folks hung it all out there, writing about every feeling and experience they had, and they gathered audiences around them to share their experiences. They also attracted haters who threw bricks and perfected the art of shitposting. Most of those pioneers are gone now, their domains shuttered, but a few old-school bloggers are still out there.

One of the originals, Dooce, died by her own hand yesterday after a long struggle with depression. She was a singular voice, who wrote with cutting humor and heartfelt tenderness about her kids, her dog, her husband, and life. In the early days I remember her comments section as a supportive place where friendships were made and she often responded to her readers. But she also took a lot of shit for her site. Whole websites were created just to attack every post. Her site had fallen off my regular reading list a decade ago or so when her site became mostly about sponsored content; the ad landscape was changing and she had a family to feed. She was still posting occasionally, and apparently her viewpoint over the last couple of years was transphobic and ugly, which was a shock to learn about.

Whatever the case, I consider her one of the primary influences for starting this site and my striving to be a better writer. I’m terribly sad for her and her family.

Date posted: May 10, 2023 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »

My brother in law and I drove down to Bob’s house on Sunday to install a new bathroom vanity, and I was glad for his help. It’s not heavy but it’s bulky, and having two people to get it up the stairs, into the bathroom and over the toilet to fit in the corner was super helpful. 1970’s bathrooms were made for hobbits, I think. We had to return the original sink that had been delivered with a giant chunk broken off the backsplash, and were able to exchange it with another off the shelf. Then we spent most of the rest of the day chasing plumbing fittings down. His house seems to be nonstandard in all the most annoying ways; by the time I had the sizing sorted out it was 5PM and the standard-sized reducer we found to go on the paint waste pipe didn’t fit the P-drain kit we’d bought—which claimed it would fit anything. Good times. So we contented ourselves to cut and fit some kickplate, swapped out the original plug with a GFCI unit, and measured for a new medicine cabinet.

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Renie, you will be glad to know I’ve figured out the notification preferences out for my AirTags. There’s a handy little setting to specify not to be notified at certain locations—so I’ve got notifications off for when I leave the AirTags and all my other location-aware devices at home, for example. Down at Bob’s on Sunday, the tag I put in my messenger bag worked exactly as advertised when I left to go to the store. So I’ve got three of them activated and serving different purposes, and I have an idea for the fourth.

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For the last three weeks I’ve been battling a weird form of insomnia. For my whole life I’ve been able to go to sleep almost anywhere, and make it the whole night through, even when I’d have to get up to go to the bathroom. But lately I’m waking up at 3, sometimes 4AM and I’m unable to get back to sleep. My mind is off and running, and I’m working through problems and issues from the day and I can’t calm it down to return to sleep. I might doze off and on until Finn’s alarm goes off—this morning I had a pleasant dream where Emma Watson delivered a pizza to our house, and I sat down with her and had a wonderful conversation about shooting the Harry Potter series with her even though I’d never been there or knew her—but more often than not I’m just awake. I don’t drink caffeine after 11AM anymore. I’d spent a good part of the day running up and down Bob’s stairs. The previous day I was on my feet for 14 hours straight. Something is clearly going on with my brain or my metabolism; I just haven’t figured out what.

Date posted: March 6, 2023 | Filed under apple, family, life | Leave a Comment »

In this article, Stephan Ango writes about the strategy of hybridizing vs. specializing: focus on being a generalist and bringing multiple pursuits together to find unexpected connections vs. focusing completely on one career path.

Having a wide base of skills with one or two specialties gives you more tools in your toolbox — more ways to solve problems.

As an unintentional hybridist (illustrator, designer, game designer, coder, front end developer, videographer, photographer, carpenter, teacher and contractor) I can now maybe claim I had this brilliant strategy mapped out for my whole life, or I can admit that I have the attention span of a moth. Whatever the case, I do see how this mixture of pursuits has helped me think beyond just that of an illustrator (which is what it says on my diploma).

Date posted: November 1, 2022 | Filed under life, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I had my final welding class last night, which consisted of a final test and open lab night. I haven’t studied for a test that hard in decades. It was on all four processes we learned, and because each one is fundamentally different there was a lot to cover. Plus, there were welding symbols and basic diagrams to memorize. I found a bunch of online quizzes offered by Miller that I used to go over the basics, and spent my time on the train to and from DC to review the textbooks. My score was an 84, and it would have been higher if not for a bunch of SAT-tricky true/false questions toward the end. I actually aced the welding symbols and diagrams sections, which made me happy.

So now I have a basic understanding of welding, but need to get time with some equipment and practice. I would have already signed up for the intermediate MIG class, as that’s the one that translates best to automotive work,  but I’ve got other bills to pay right now and I don’t have a welder of my own yet.

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On the bench downstairs I have the Carter AFB carb from the Chrysler 95% rebuilt—I just need to put the linkages back on. With the videos I followed, the whole process went very smoothly, and any questions I would have had if I’d done it on my own were answered pretty quickly. So the plan is to head back down on Sunday with the battery from the Scout, some 50-1 gas, a fire extinguisher, and some other small parts, and get the yacht ready for a test-fire. If I can get it lit off from the carb and running, the next step will be to drop the fuel tank and either have that cleaned or replaced. While it’s up on jack stands we can run it with the rear wheels off the ground to see how the transmission works. And if that all looks good, then it’s on to a basic brake job.

Date posted: May 27, 2022 | Filed under cars, life | Leave a Comment »

It’s been quiet around here this week, as I’ve been going pretty much nonstop since last Friday and haven’t had much time to sit and think. As mentioned earlier, I spent all of last weekend chest-deep in a dumpster hauling stuff out of Jen’s father’s garage. On Monday I had to fit a week’s worth of work into eight hours and prepare for the marathon to come: I was signed up for the CreativePro conference in Arlington for three days, which meant I had to get up at 6:30 to be on the road by 7 and be parked in a hotel garage by 9. I had a day of courses focusing on new tricks and features of the design software we use daily. I had to leave at 3 on Tuesday to drive all the way back up to Baltimore for welding class at 5:30, and practiced stick welding until 8:30.

Wednesday was another conference day, and after the last track was over at 5 we walked down the street and I bought the design team dinner. It was great to sit back and hang out with them, and by the time I got on the road the evening traffic had calmed down. Thursday was a repeat of Tuesday’s schedule, and we spent the evening practicing stick welding and started learning MIG theory.

My brain is full, my body is tired, and I’ve driven in more traffic in the past week than I care to ever again. But I feel good about design and better about welding. I’m looking forward to a quiet Friday.

Date posted: May 12, 2022 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »

From VICE, yet another chilling story: a data broker is collecting and selling location information of people who visited Planned Parenthood, where they came from, and where they went afterwards. I think we all need to be trained up on proper information security to circumvent the oncoming Big Brother state that’s bearing down on us. Step one: leave the phone at home.

Date posted: May 4, 2022 | Filed under life, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

For people born in the 1960s and the 1970s, when leaded gas consumption was skyrocketing, the IQ loss was estimated to be up to 6 points and for some, more than 7 points. Exposure to it came primarily from inhaling auto exhaust.

This explains a lot about me.

Date posted: March 22, 2022 | Filed under life, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Our health plan at work is good for some things and lousy for others. I had a Major Life Event strike back in 2017 and by all accounts the insurance company was exceptionally good about covering what they promised. Jen hasn’t given me any of the details—I’m sure if I saw any of the numbers my head would explode and I’d wind up right back in the hospital. But they are lousy for other things. Theoretically we enjoy dental and vision insurance but I’ve never been able to get details on exactly how the vision insurance works or where to get a card to hand someone. Given that my lenses have now tripled in price—I ordered a set of progressives a couple of weeks ago—I figured I’d put my shoulder to the wheel and try to unravel the mystery.

My first logical stop was the company intranet, which was built on top of Microsoft Sharepoint by the lowest bidding vendor, and as a result sucks worse than a trip to the DMV. Search results are comically bad; by bad I mean no search results. after digging around I found a Word document from 2019 listing benefits which gave the barest of information and referenced a table further along in the file that did not exist. You read that right: we have a website where they post unsearchable Word documents that immediately go out of date, instead of using HTML. The veteran digital strategist in me has ground my teeth to nubs over this.

I then looked on my insurance card, and figured I’d call them; hell, they employ people who are supposed to help. After sitting through the automated menu, which couldn’t identify me by the Member ID printed on my card, I talked to a cheerful CSR who sounded like she was working in the bottom of a mine shaft. She informed me that I needed to call the parent company who runs my insurance and talk to them.

Miraculously the phone transfer worked and I talked with another lady who helped me identify myself and then explained that I would have to write a letter, with paper and a pen and a stamped envelope, and send in a copy of the receipt to a post office box in Utah. I guess this is their way of making the barrier to entry high to avoid reimbursement; who writes letters and buys stamps anymore? Still, we’re talking about $400 in total so I dug out the required stationary and got it done. I expect a prompt reply by spring of 2027.

She also told me that it should be easy for any vendor to look up my vision insurance, but when I explained their repeated failures and pressed her, she gave me my Member ID. Was that so hard? 

Meanwhile, I’ve been wearing my safety glasses at my desk more and more in order to see what I’m doing; I must look pretty stupid during Zoom calls. The new readers should be here next week, and I surely hope they work for me.

* * *

I called my window vendor yesterday to get a quote on the basement windows, and for kicks I threw the measurements in for the window halfway up our stairwell, figuring it was a good place to start replacing stuff on the second floor. The numbers for each basement window came back about $20 higher than what I paid for a full-size window three years ago, and the full size window is now double that amount.

After picking myself back up off the floor, I kicked myself for not having replaced them all three years ago before the world went completely to hell.

Date posted: February 24, 2022 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »