Search Results for “Wife” – I, Wilson

When I had the original blog, back in ye oldeney timeseyness, search engines weren’t quite so savvy about hiding information. So what would happen is, you’d get a referrer hit that told you what the web query was that led to your page being clicked on. And, since that’s how people found things (rather than shared links on social media) you could generally count on some interesting results. Often a peculiar use of words would be enough to get yourself listed and hit.

I vaguely recall some really strange searches leading to my pages. Now, if you get a hit from a google search, they’ll mask the search terms used in the referrer entry because google’s run by a bunch of assholes.

But I’d generally forgotten about this ’til I just happened to look at my hit log. Someone from Maryland last week hit the site, read a bit, then searched my site for the word “wife.”

Now… me being me (and more on that later) my brain IMMEDIATELY started fantasizing about who that could be. I don’t know anybody in Baltimore, but then I haven’t lived in Nashville for all that long (nor will I for all that much longer, more on that later) so it could be anybody.

Does make me wonder.

The Universal Church of Cosmic Uncertainty

So…I’ve been planning, weakly, to post stuff from the old blog up. It was titled

“The Universal Church of Cosmic Uncertainty:

A potentially painful excursion into the unabashedly narcissistic day-to-day ramblings of a severely A.D.D. ubergeek, baker, & fledgling world graveller. :P”

So I’m going to start doing that, backdating the posts to their original times. I’m going to TRY to remember to tag them UCCU or something. But we’ll see how that goes.

Of course, if something is just irrelevant or full of now-dead links I’ll skip it. But otherwise, it’s all coming over.

Wheatness

Saturday night I tried to occupy myself as the evening progressed, still maintaining the delusion that Comcast would have my internet back up and running at the projected and oddly precise 23:32, which turned out to be a lie, as had every prior “about 3 hours from now at an oddly precise time” assurance I’d gotten from their automated tech support line (complete with the fake sound of a keyboard as the automaton “looks up your account information.” Not gonna lie, nice touch. The keyboard sound in fact reminded me of the old 3270 terminals and their gigantic IBM keyboards from back in the Walter Karl days.)

But I digress.

I don’t MIND not having internet. I can get along with it just fine. Yeah I’ll twitch for a couple hours as I try and figure out what to do. But if I know it’s going to be out for a couple days I can just get on with something else.

What I DO mind is being lied to about how long it’s going to be down.

But none of that has anything to do with my countdown.

THAT was about a decision I’d made on December 31, to take 3 months and go without wheat, soda, and give myself a minimal amazon allowance. Saturday night was the end of the three months.

I was heating up the cast iron skillet and getting out a few slices of bread and some cheese to make myself a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches as the midnight hour struck. I made them as usual, too much butter for a human, cooked slowly and for several minutes on a side. One was just american cheese (an easy win) and one was shredded cheddar (an experiment.)

Finishing them up I grabbed a bottle of Virgil’s root beer from the fridge (I’d been planning this), took a pic, and headed over to chow down.

I did everything right. The sandwiches had that golden crispness of having been cooked in enough (too much) butter. The cheese in both was JUST starting to squeeze out the side.

I ended up completely nonplussed.

I mean, yeah, they were good (though the cheddar one was really strangely bland; made stranger still by the fact that I was using extra sharp (if store brand) cheddar) really good. But I expected an epiphany of some kind. Nope.

Now, the Virgil’s root beer was as sublime as ever and I savored every delicious clovey drop.

I got up on Sunday the first…not feeling quite right (suddenly willing to attribute everything to wheat consumption.) But went ahead with my plan anyway.

I made a small batch of teeny bagels I’d prepped in my not-quite-boredom on Saturday evening. They were okay. Nothing earth shattering. But worth pursuing. I ate a few (they were only a few inches in diameter) and tossed the rest.

The final recipe I used was a bastardized version of a couple/few different ones I’d found around, with some modifications of my own. The only real problem with them was that…ya know what, nevermind.

An aside about recipes and such: Despite my reputation in the offices where I work, and the parties and gatherings I attend, I actually bake neither a wide variety of things nor very frequently. But the things I DO bake I’ve worked really hard on. I start with a recipe then tweak it to my liking, changing one variable at a time over years, keeping detailed notes, until I’ve got it where I want it. Then I make a tweak every other attempt to see if I can improve on it. But I generally stick with the baseline once I’ve found one. It takes years of work to get some of these things right. There are little tricks of process and ingredient that I don’t even put in my own recipe notes. So, before you ask.

No. I’m not giving you my bagel recipe. To paraphrase the immortal Jules Winfield: I’ve been through too much over this shit to just hand it over to your dumb ass.

I’ll trade techniques. But I’m not giving away shit.

Kayso…

Doing some math based on my sourdough’s hydration level (not to mention that I only had a kilo of active starter going) and the net weight of dough I wanted to end up with, I ended up making about 3 pounds of dough. This should probably be enough for at least 2 dozen bagels. I let it rise, then punched it down and started forming them when I quickly realized I don’t have the fridge space to keep that many bagels chilling overnight and I certainly don’t have the oven space to bake them all in less than a few shifts.

Seeing as how I was going to need to get up at what looked like 5 am to bake these puppies as it was I ended up making them…HUGE. NOT the best idea in the universe. But I was running out of day and was getting real tired. I ended up fitting 18 bagels on 3 trays (huge.)

I found myself waking up every hour because I was worried about hearing my alarm, finally getting up and absolutely WRECKING my kitchen (the dishwasher toils away even now) and getting them baked.

I burned a tray, undercooked a try (mildly) and one came out right. They’re a little goofy looking, but I don’t really mind.

Of course they were a grand slam at the office. Homemade sourdough egg bagels. I probably ate one and a half or so, over the course of the day (srsly. Huge.)

By 11:30 I was ready to pass out. I was full of caffeine. But it just wasn’t helping. It was like someone’d replaced my blood with mercury. I made it to lunch and went, after some consternation, to Five Guys for a burger that was NOT put in a little tin for a change (I’d been getting bunless burgers there a couple times a month) with a small order of fries (so….34 pounds of them.)

It just wasn’t that satisfying. I just wanted a damn steak. My mind drifted back to the NY Strip I’d had on Saturday.

The afternoon dragged on in similar fashion when I realized it wasn’t the lack of sleep, but the damn carbohydrate crash. I just felt positively awful and had since Sunday morning. There wasn’t any real “oh my god I can’t believe I went without this. Life is finally worth living again” moment I’d expected (reasonably I think. It happened with pizza back in September after all.)

While trying to debug a particularly gnarly query I just kept thinking: This isn’t worth feeling like this. I’ve just felt like complete crap for two days. I was going to make myself a chicken cheesesteak burrito for dinner. But now I think I’m just going to eat it out of a bowl with some guac salsa and be damn glad I did.

So I took some of the remaining starter, fed it really dry, and sealed it in a plastic container before putting it in the freezer. I’m just not going to do this anymore. It’s not worth it. Ironic that my thesis really is an awfully close parallel to “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” goals of weight loss notwithstanding. The pleasure just isn’t worth that persistent feeling.

Yeah, I’ll have pizza here and there, and a burrito or sandwich on occasion. But baking bread? I love DOING it so maybe I’ll do it for holidays, parties and such, and keep the other confection and baking pursuits going.

Baking bread without eating it is sorta like….well… like brewing mead you don’t drink.

But that’s a different post.

So close

My plan had very little particularly to do with blogging; just writing something down every day. So I expect that as I get more interesting, I’ll post less frequently. I just figure that if I take it in a certain kind of direction I might just as well hit post. But nobody’s even hit the site in the last two days so I’m under no particular delusion that I’m writing for anyone but me anyway.

Anyway the month is closing out as is the quarter, which has some exciting implications for me this turn.

A couple years ago I was getting very concerned about my mental fortitude and willpower. It was really bad. So I came up with an idea:

Every month, give up something or make a single habit change for the duration of the month. Just do something different and difficult that’s good for me. Seemed harder then than it seems now, but that was quite precisely the point.

So I did. Every month I’d give something up or start doing something differently. Some of the things were harder than others. Sometimes I stacked a couple.

The final list had things like:

– No gaming
– No non-meal snacking
– Read an hour or more a day
– No computer use at home
– No noncritical spending (nothing but food, gas, utilities.)
– Meditate every day
– No soda
– No Amazon
– Eat something green every day
– Only drink water
– Write daily

There were more, but they’ve slid into obscurity.

The plan worked. Over the first year it was really tough, but got quite easy. By the last few months it was such a trivial exercise that it barely seemed worth the effort.

Then in August of last year I decided to try and find something a bit tougher.

No wheat.

Now… I’ve been a baker for 35 years. I eat sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, burritos, pasta, cookies, crackers, cake, etc. This was gonna be tough.

And it was. It was complete fucking torture. I did it. But it sucked. It wasn’t “no carbs.” But “no wheat” and in the spirit of The Purity Test (look it up. I won’t be responsible for what you find) “All technicalities count.”

Did you know soy sauce was made with wheat?

I did it. I got through the month. But it was just so damn taxing that I stopped doing monthly things like that. I just cancelled the program. I’d developed what I wanted to develop and proven what I needed to prove to whom I needed to prove it.

A few days after Christmas I came back from New York on a single-shot drive to Nashville (16 hours from Albany to downtown Nashville. I was pulled over at 4 in the morning by an awfully cute cop, less than one block from my apartment. She let me off with a warning and a smile.) On the trip down I’d thought myself a good thunk and I thought to myself… “Self? Whatever happened to those little monthly prohibitions? You’ve really been taking it easy. SOME of the guys in here are saying you’re bitching out. I’m not going to name names. But… there’s….been talk is all I’m sayin’.” After all, the internal monologue on a drive like that eventually becomes an internal dialog, then a conversation and finally the cacophony of an insane asylum’s common room a month after they’ve run out of Thorazine.

“You know what you should do, I mean, if you haven’t backslid entirely into bitchdom that is?”
“What?”
“Three months. Three months…aaannd because it’s three, you can’t just do one thing for three months, it’s gotta be three. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So… No soda, a tight amazon allowance ($100/month) and…. Yeah, no wheat. Three months. You aren’t a bitch, ARE you?”

New Year’s Eve I ate in such a manner that would make Oscar The Grouch flinch and say “damn dude…” But at midnight it was over.

The first couple weeks were just positively awful; stomping around yelling “What the hell do people even EAT!?!” But I started getting in a groove when the novelty wore off pretty good.

Then it was just a barren road leading off into forever where I’d have to occupy myself with keto bread substitutes (they ALL suck. Take your wacky ass egg and cheese concoctions and GTFO.) But I managed.

Interestingly, the biggest problem wasn’t craving. It was just straightforward food choice. Picking things to eat without getting crazy with repetition.

Between this and some light (twitter based) reading about a carnivore diet that people keep mentioning I started eating a WHOLE lot of red meat. The sous vide always has something going and I’ve got pounds of cooked ground beef I just bring to work and eat a little bit of for lunch (today I ate half a london broil though. *urp* A bit tough to chew but holy shit was it delicious.)

I noticed something, a few weeks in: I feel fucking great. I seem to need far less sleep. I don’t drag through the day. There’s absolutely no 2:30 lunch hangover.

I’m still dying for pizza and crackers, burgers and burritos. In fact I went to the supermarket tonight on my way home from the office and bought all kinds of bread. Plus I pulled my sourdough starter out of stasis.

I’m 25 hours and 16 minutes away from being able to eat something with wheat in it. I think what I’ll end up doing tomorrow night is make myself a grilled cheese sandwich and drink a root beer. But next week is gonna be completely fucking bananas.

I’ve got to say though, after all of this, I’m seriously considering cutting carb consumption to one day out of every two weeks or something. Go for a pizza, make fresh pasta, etc. Weekday lunches will still be a logistical bitch. But the things that cuts out are almost all in the fast food category, and how can that be bad?

Especially since I’ve lost almost 20 pounds.

Out of a fog, back to the past

It must be the fact that I’m putting pen to paper at all again. I can’t really imagine what else it could reasonably be.

This might get a little wacky, I don’t know. I’m all stream of consciousness all the time anyway lately so you get what you get.

Lately, and by that I mean within the last couple weeks to a month, I’ve felt myself coming out of a fog of sorts. It had been years since my brain felt like my own, since I progressed at all in thought or skill in any measurable way. This is not to say that I’ve been a window licking idiot for the last N years, but the difference is one in degree rather than kind.

There’s a thing I say to people when they get on my nerves, which also means I’m chanting it to myself ad nauseum: “If you were wrong, how would you know?” When I use it as an admonishment it’s usually, if I’m being honest, my way of saying “shut the fuck up.” But it has more value than that.

How DO you know if you’re wrong? You should be able to ask yourself that question about all things you think you know anything about at all. Now, the answer may very well be (and is, with frightening regularity) “I have no idea.” But at least be aware of that.

This comes up for a couple reasons: First, I’ve been listening to the narration of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book “The Black Swan” which, a couple hours in is exceptional. Go get it and read it. I’ll put a link in the sidebar. I’m not going to butcher his thesis here. Suffice it to say he touches on it enough that I was bouncing up and down in my truck saying “I do that! I do that!”

The other is that one of my favorite things in business happened to me today at about 4:30. This is not something that comes from my better nature as a human (indeed there are at least a couple people who would no doubt argue that I don’t HAVE one of those. But I’ll tell that story when I’m good and fucking ready and not a moment before.)

The most nightmarish place I’ve ever worked was a firm on Wall Street. It was a huge, german, backstabby financial institution with a 12-14 hour work day. I was a C++ programmer (oh THOSE were the days *le sigh*) working on a trading system. I feel compelled to add that it was one of the best few year stretches of my life. My boss and I locked horns frequently on the job, but left that shit in the office. It’s one of the only jobs where I made friends that I still keep in touch with. For all the misery, we build quite an esprit de corps. And holy SHIT did we drink.

Anyway I was on a long running project where I had to interact with a team of junior developers on a green field project. A more contentious team of fucknuts I’ve never had the displeasure of dealing with, before or since. Anyway I was providing (after 6-9 months of negotiation and spec tweaking) a feed file every night. There were constant complaints about data quality (I could only provide data that was as good as the data I had, Garbage In Garbage Out after all) and there were all kinds of other “I’ll tell your manager/VP/Director” horseshit problems I’ve forgotten within the last 14 (holy shit is it 14?) years.

We were running tests on a daily cycle. I give them a file, their overnight process ingests it, we sort through the problems. It should’ve been really straightforward. But it was a case of them being able to do no wrong and punting everything because they didn’t understand defensive coding (be liberal in what your program accepts, conservative in what it emits.)

One morning I got in (Seven Fucking Thirty) to a series of OMG THIS CAN’T KEEP HAPPENING emails firing back and forth. Yeah there was some really wacky problem with the file.

I went out to the drop location and found “filename.xls” and “Copy of filename.xls”, screen shotted the directory and copied the files locally, zipped them up, then started looking at copies I’d made of that, while keeping my eyes on the drop location.

Someone had opened the file to putter around with it before they imported it and had fucked with the formatting badly enough that the data wouldn’t load, then tried to pin the failure on me.

Now, we all like to tell stories wherein we are the hero. It’s WHY we tell stories most of the time. I wasn’t a hero. The reason this sequence of events were sufficiently powerful to make me sweat is that a lot of the time my feed was bad. I did forget things. I was eeking in on accuracy but it was taking a long time.

But not this time. THIS time higher managers were getting called in to deal with the situation. After some rounds of nonsense I called the developer (on the PHONE, which says something about how hot I was.) The “copy of…” file had disappeared in the interim.

“Dude, you edited the file and broke it.”
“I didn’t touch anything. You submitted a bad file.”
“Okay man, look. I have screen shots of the directory and local copies of the original and the backup copy you made. I have the real original I generated here so I can point to the exact changes you made that broke your import.”
“…”
“Here’s what’s going to fucking happen next. I’m going to give you the opportunity to send an email to me, my boss, HIS boss and whomever else you want, explaining exactly what happened. If you don’t, I will and I promise you it will be a much different email.”

The righteous fury with which I was barking at him by the end of that sentence was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever felt. I was RIGHT. It was the ultimate gotcha.

Petty? Sure. But I was fucking right.

I don’t go over that story often in my head; not like I used to.

The less interesting parts of my job today involve sending all kinds of data all over the place, including to a company who’s charging us a terrible amount of money to provide a service they can’t seem to get off the ground. They’ve got ENDLESS problems ingesting incoming data. They shift goalposts, slide new specs in as “quick changes” and play all kinds of underhanded games they think we can’t see. They’re not only assholes, they’re inept assholes. (For the record, we deal with many counterparties who are perfectly competent and pleasant. I don’t actually just hate everybody.)

Well, I got an email…Tuesday, “Hey man, the last two files you uploaded were both truncated and they’re corrupting our upload process. This keeps happening. Can you check the process on your end?” Fuck. (Also. “keeps happening?” I’d never heard about it.) I dodged the email because I didn’t want to deal with it and replied with a mea culpa email this afternoon, when I finally started looking at it.

Okay. They’re files coming out of two different processes completely. So something’s truly fucky.

I keep copies of these files for months (3-6 depending.) I find the files, one is in a zip file I send, and the other is just a csv I transfer natively. I crack them open and…they’re fine. I look at the end of file rowcount screen shots that were sent over and, sure enough, they were truncated. I puzzled around this for about an hour this afternoon.

An ftp transfer truncating files? That’s…weird. I run a test (though not a file size test) post-upload, to be sure they transfer was successful. So it’s not possible that the data connection bails during a partial upload.

I grab our systems guy and drag him over to show him and re-narrate the sequence of events, show him the email and the files. We bat about a couple theories when I go ashen.

“Wait..” I said. “THAT file came out of a zip archive right?”
“…yeah?”
“If the transfer had truncated the zip file, it would be corrupted. He wouldn’t be able to open it, much less retrieve a partial file.” Understanding dawned.
“He’s…”

“Fucking lying.”

I can not WAIT to go in to work tomorrow.

Freedom and Power

I had a conversation with a friend of mine last night that got me to thinking, as conversations with him are wont to do.

Since I’m now in the real name world, I’m going to be a bit sparing about details. But suffice it to say that I’ve made medium and long term decisions about where my life is going, and am acting with some alacrity to make those things happen. Some of the bigger changes are happening….not so much “on a long timeline” as “in the future” since they’re largely in stasis until a couple few other slow-rotating gears line up. Fair enough. Do what you can and make yourself ready for luck.

Having made these decisions and plans finally, a couple/few weeks ago, I’ve noticed something (though it may be related to other factors that I’ll get in to in a sec.) I’m operating from a much stronger position as far as my day to day work life is concerned.

The act of deciding upon and planning my future I knew would take me out of the world of “seat of my pants” living, sure. But it’s given me a foundation, an unassailable fortress from which I can act. Add to that the fact that my immediate manager is out on vacation for a week and I’m actually having a grand old time; moving as many projects forward as I possibly can before he gets back. It’s been a week of meetings, planning, and proof of concepts.

I’m not deluded by it though, like that Chevy Chase movie where they move in to a house, hate and are hated by their neighbors, so they work together to make it “showable” such that they can sell it and get the shit out of there. They have a moment of weakness at the apparition they’ve created for the sale, thinking it somehow represented reality. I forget what happens in the movie after that.

But it’s not fucking happening to me.

pics, upgrades, and micarta

Yeah I’ve definitely got to get image/media storage squared away. I made micarta for the first time this weekend, documenting as much of the process as I reasonably could (seeing as how I couldn’t take pictures while I was applying layers of fabric and resin.) So that will be coming.

Unfortunately I still don’t know how I’m going to get the stuff machined down to size, as I really overdid it with the initial size. Turns out that was a good thing since I hadn’t the faintest idea what I was doing and the result was…less than uniform. You’ll see what I mean. But there are some deep ridges in the top where the workpiece ended up being wider than the jig I had put together to hold it in place during clamping, so it folded a bit. Still, there’s more than enough usable material for a knife or three.

I’m going to have to run a prototyping operation with a couple pieces of hardwood. Damn I wish I could get maple down here.

A funny thing happened to my head on the way back here. Over the last 72 hours, my brain has started dredging up all the old ideas about site design and such that I wanted to implement. Even after only a couple days here my brain is plotting embedded wikis, gateways to and from social media (is there a goodreads “currently reading” addon? There must be) and all kinds of crap.

Damn. I had something else but forgot. Alas. I do want to implement some tagging scheme here and start putting in some project notes for the stuff I’ve been working on. Hey, who knows, maybe I’ll progress past this stream of consciousness stuff some day soon.

Don’t get your hopes up though. :p

RIP: Mad William Flint

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

I was a frequent blogger. This was back in 2002 I think. I used Radio Userland as my blog platform. I still remember my user id number (which was a part of my blog url) 0108194. The title of the blog was “The Universal Church of Cosmic Uncertainty” and I had all kinds of little cross-links, badges, cute little cycling memes, etc. Someplace I have a copy of most of the front page template. I’ll put it up at some point, it was funny; probably cringeworthy now. But I don’t much care.

Back then social media (as a series of monolithic aggregation points for individuals to come scream at political opponents and silly memes) didn’t exist. NOR, I hasten to add, did smartphones, so “food pictures” weren’t a thing.

Sharing ideas on the internet was generally done in long-form writing, cross linking between websites and huge comment discussion threads. You’d post stupid web quizzes and other nonsense. There were instant messaging platforms (icq, aim, yim, etc) where you had contact lists of people you’d talk to in one-on-one conversations, for the most part. The old guard of IRC and usenet were there then as they are now, creeping around in the background of things, generally out of the light of the normal internet user.

It was a golden age of the internet. We were emerging from the crash of the dot-com bubble and people were building and using interesting tools.

I loved writing on that little blog. I wasn’t particularly good at it, except for the occasional tuning fork of word choice I’d stumble over, combined with what I’m told is a relatively natural tendency to “write exactly how I talk” which I’d always heard was a good thing.

I talked a lot of smack and relayed work stories, dating stories, and all kinds of nonsense that, today, would make me absolutely cringe. Stories in fact that should have made me cringe back then. Not for their content, but for the possible exposure, were the people involved to have read them. And yes, more than once I had the rookie mistake of a girlfriend stumble over my site (who even knows how) and misunderstand what she read (I’d taken to the habit of pulling stories out of the past and telling them in the present tense as a narrative device. So imagine HER surprise when I talked about dates I’d gone on that he had no memory of. Go Team Dumbass *\o/*.)

Eventually I whitewashed UCCU.

During this couple/few year period of absolute wonderful chaos I had, at one point, taken a “Stupid Web Quiz” that was “What’s your Pirate Name?” It went on for about 10-15 multiple-choice questions and actually put something funny together:

Mad William Flint.

I liked it.

Blog friends liked it.

I decided this was the other half of the isolation process between my online presence and my meatspace presence.

So I went and grabbed the gmail address (having gotten a gmail alpha invite, donchaknow. *preen*) a domain name, and I set off to carve my niche anew.

But my narcissism would NOT let me maintain an online presence without SOME crossover. So I’d give a work friend the address with an admonishment. A week or two would go by and I’d start blowing out the lines on the keyboard about some work story and I’d stop….Shit. I can’t say that here.

Then there was the 9/11 account, the link to which I sent to a family member. Welp, there’s a whole new raft of shit I couldn’t talk about at all.

So I became weirdly detached and noncommittal. If I couldn’t really blow out the lines, what was I doing there. Years of false starts, multiple parallel sites with different “blogonyms” and such; every one a further fragmentation. Every one received less attention.

Until finally I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed writing entirely and I was finally fully adrift.

There’s a book, I’ve not yet read, preferring to cover the author’s prior works first. It’s “Skin In The Game” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. If you’ve never heard of him, go get some of his stuff and read it.

It’s sufficiently popular that the title is bandied about pretty frequently. The thing is, even not having read it yet, the phrase “skin in the game” conjures up a powerful and immediate mental admonishment to “put up or shut up” in me, every time I see it. And so, an idea repeated in different contexts over a long enough time (especially one we agree with at the outset) tends to sink in.

In what areas of my life am I just a dilettante? Well, that question has a truly horrifying array of answers. But I’ll get to that…perhaps not today.

All this winding nonsense does bring me to my point: I’ve decided to stop the anonymous internet thing. Screw it. I’ve got too many wacky little compartmentalized clusters of interactivity to manage.

So today heralds the death of Mad William Flint. Once I hit post on this, I’ll paste the link a couple other places and cross-pollinate once and for all, these disparate forums. This of course means a whole lot more for me than it does for you. After all, in order to have a superhero unmasking, you need a superhero first.

I’m just some asshole with a blog.

o7

10/17/17: Backsliding and horseshit

Not sure I’m terribly inclined to share what’s been going on. After all, even I have limits of what I’ll share. It’s one thing if it’s about me.

Sure feels good to type though.

Been keeping up with the 52 books a year stuff and I’ve been adding entries to the original post as I finish books. I think I’m up to 45 or so at the moment. Unfortunately it’s a pain in the ass to find the post so….I’m gonna leave that as an exercise for the reader.

I’ve finally broken away from gaming for a snap. It was getting really bad. Though it occurs to me now that I haven’t done one of those monthly self-discipline things in a little bit. I think maybe the “no wheat” month was the last one. Could be that I was using that as my primary motivation to stay on the wagon as far as basic mindfulness went and now that I’ve untethered myself from that I’m drifting more than I thought I would. Of course that would make this interesting data. So I’ll go with that.

On the plus side I’ve got a couple trading accounts set up and I’ve been muddling through books on metatrader specifically and forex trading in general. Looks like a spectacular platform, even if my broker is tied to MT4 instead of MT5. Meh. I don’t see it being much of a problem. If I keep this up I’m going to spring for faster internet. But we’ll see if I end up with significant slippage. It’s going to be nice to put my money where my mouth is.

9/4/17 *blink blink*

Oh HEY!

Well thank god August is over. Turns out I did do the full month with no wheat whatsoever. What a shitshow. I mean it was great. But it was really taxing on my willpower, especially since it was also a “No Amazon” month.

I think I’ve decided not to do THAT anymore. I end up focusing really hard on the day after the prohibition is lifted. So what I do is add things to my shopping cart all month, then place the order at midnight like some kind of “I don’t even have an analogy for this”, osTENSIBLY after I’ve gone through it and pulled out things I had second thoughts about. This month I pulled the trigger on an order so large that Amazon was literally, LITERALLY, mind you, moving things to the “save for later” shopping cart section as I added them. I managed to spend $nevermind in 30 seconds. It was truly horrifying.

But oh the toys 🙂

Yesterday I created a Raspberry Pi “pi-hole” which allows me, at its most basic level, to block ads from anywhere on my network by routing all DNS queries through the Pi. That’s great and all, but I have something different in mind for taking this a little farther:

One of my constant frustrations is the addictive nature of social media, most notably Twitter and Reddit. I can “go check something” and blink to find it 4 hours later, not quite sure where the time went.

I can (and frequently do) edit the hosts file on my desktop and route those domains back to localhost. It solves the problem for a while, but it’s a pain in the ass to block and unblock things at specified time intervals.

So what I’m working towards is setting up a little cron job on the raspberry pi that will add and remove things from a block list at intervals, so I can work uninterrupted by my own impulse to distract myself, yet still “check in” for a half hour at lunchtime or at night.

Currently I’ve got all of this running on a Raspberry Pi 3. But when my Pi Zeros get here I’m going to just migrate the thing over to one of those instead. No reason to tie up the computing power of one of these things for something simple as that. Or maybe I could just add a bunch more stuff to it. I’m not sure I want to make these (I’ve got a few, remember? toys?) too general purpose. I’d hate like hell to be fucking around with some html screen scraper and /r/opendirectories download script and have it bork DNS for my entire lan.

After no small frustration I’ve set up an 8T drive as a usb drive on another pi, so that I can use it as the aforementioned downloader. There’s some work to be done on that front though. I need some way of giving it a queue of things to download. Plus I need to prioritize download tasks. I’d REALLY like it to scrape some twitter feeds. There are some funky people out there and I hate missing their stuff.

But now I’ve got to go take my project list (which has gotten huge) and sort it into doable stuff.

And I’ve got to figure out how to sync up the data off my iPad with the rest of my universe.

Yeah. I bought an iPad. No. That’s not part of the big amazon order. It’s a whole other thing. Damn thing is huge.

7/31/2017: fin

Well… for July anyway.

I’m planning a lot for August, though “no wheat” and “no noncritical spending (with 2 or 3 preallocated exceptions)” are on top.

I do have some interesting toys coming from Adafruit and I’m getting my C++ chops back (as I’ve oft whined about.)

I’ve got to stop making mud pies in the kitchen though. In another iteration of my ongoing quest to more or less duplciate Cajun Power Garlic Sauce, I’ve blended a pound of peeled garlic, spread it out on a cookie sheet, and baked it at 200 degrees for about 6 hours. The idea being to toast and dry it all out. Then RE blend it and mix it with vinegar, for a Louisiana style sauce base before adding ingredients to it to try and get it where I want it.

Should be interesting. But it stinks like hell (even after being toasted.) And frankly I could just throw all this crap out right now and I’m not all that sure how much I’d care. I’m just sick of looking at it.

A week and a half ago I even bought a few dozen lemons, thinking I’d zest and peel them. But…the sight of them just sorta disgusts me at this point.

That’s not to say I have any kind of malaise or anything about all of this. It’s just cluttering up my space in a way that makes me agitated to even look at my kitchen.

I’ve shown the pic of the notebook covers around and, as I feared, people just light right the hell up. Sort of a weird thing to say perhaps. But they’re gonna want me to make them some. Seems like it’d be a good gift for a few people this year, so I’ll probably do that (after I practice some tooling. I actually want to number these things so I have some idea what I’ve done.)

All I can think of is Rick in the “Something Ricked This Way Comes” when he finally just gets bored with the curse removal business.

Meh. I’m bored.

7/30/2017: Notebooks.

So…I like notebooks. I really REALLY like notebooks. The biggest problem I have with them is I have a peculiar tendency to revere them such that I don’t want them to get all spoiled. Doesn’t sound bad? Okay. How about “having more than one topic” counting as “spoiled”?

It’s a problem. It’s one of my most fun problems.

A couple years ago I discovered the Midori Traveler notebooks. Essentially it’s a leather notebook cover with inserts held in with elastics. This way you could fill up a single insert and then just change it out. Also, they hold at least 3 independent inserts.

My prayers were answered!

I’ve had a few of them, a couple brand name ones, a couple custom made ones off Etsy and the like. And I’ve had an itch at the back of my brain about them since about the second week.

The size of the inserts is such that you pretty much have to buy Midori’s. Sure, you can make them and I’ve done that a couple times. I imagine there are people out there who make them and sell them besides Midori. But I can’t just go to the notebook section in Barnes & Noble or Staples and pick up a couple inserts if I’m breaking in to a new project.

Now…when you look at these things they’re really…I mean…they’re just…rectangular pieces of leather with 5 holes in them. There’s not even any SEWING, much less fine leather tool work.

So I thought to myself, I thought… “Self? How hard can that POSSIBLY be?”

The answer is…

Not.

Presenting my first four.

The first one I made was the small one, designed to fit 3-5 Field Notes notebooks. It works. The leather’s a little stiff, so I try to carry it around a bit. But I tend not to use it because I’ve turned into one of those fountain pen assholes and the Field Notes paper is FAR too absorbent for any of the pens I use regularly. So it’s just sorta sitting there.

The other three I’m quite pleased with. The left two were cut from the same piece of leather, darkened (and softened) with neatsfoot oil. The upper left one is SO oily that I’ve got to be careful what I leave it on or it’ll just bleed through. You can feel it in your fingertips after you’ve handled it at all. I don’t find that particularly objectionable. But I don’t like having to pay attention to where I put the thing.

Plus those three fit the standard Moleskine 5×8 small notebooks that come in the 3 pack. It’s perfect. I’m positively chuffed with the way they came out. I’ve clearly got to dial in the neatsfoot oiling process a bit. (The top-right one has none. I think I cut that one out of an 8.5×11 piece of leather I got from Hobby Lobby.)

In addition to sizing them generally for the Moleskine notebooks, I added a bit of width to them so they could (conceivably) fit 5 inserted notebooks something close to comfortably.

I’ve got one more pair of these to make before I sit back and decide what I’m going to do with them, and that is large format ones. I’ve got a bunch of desk-sized 8.5″x10.5″ or something Moleskines I want to try this with. If THAT works, then I’ll make myself a pair for home and work, to stay at my desks. I may add a couple features to those, pen holder, different elastic configuration, something. We’ll see.

But I’m surprised how tough it is to cut a straight line in a piece of leather. I really need something better than “hold a long, thick ruler against it and drag a carpet knife down the length a couple times.” If I thought a guillotine paper cutter would work and not just tear the leather I’d do that in a heartbeat. But once you get out past the first few inches where the angle is really tight, it’s just going to tear and drag it all over the place.

Hrmpf. Back to the drawing board I think.

7/29/2017: What’s this? A post before 11:30 at night!?!

I woke up this morning thinking I should eat something good for breakfast, but knowing I was too hungry to make a smart decision.

“Ah!” I said to myself.
“I know what I’ll do. I’ll make a half pound of bacon to snack on while I decide what I’m going to eat!”

Seriously.

It scares me sometimes what a fucking genius I am sometimes.

While the pan was heating up (at this point I have a cast iron pan with a nigh permanent 1/4″ of bacon fat in it because that’s really all I cook in there) I started the sauce.

I’m still a complete Marinara noob. But I’m getting there.

This time I put the parsley and garlic in the dutch oven with the olive oil and added things pretty slowly. Oregano, pepper, onion, salt. I let that sit for about a half hour on medium while it broke down a bit.

and I’m telling you, the smell in my apartment? Holy shitsnacks.

Once it was drying out a bit I tossed some wine in there and simmered it for about 10-15 minutes longer as the first pieces of bacon came out.

Then in with the tomato paste, mix and let THAT sit.

Big mistake. Well…little mistake. The tomato paste is dry enough that it soaked up the liquid and caused it all to torch a little bit on the bottom. I tossed in a bit more wine and sorta deglazed it before adding the couple cans of tomatoes. (I use crushed in my sauce. Next time I’m going to back off and use one can of crushed and one of diced and see how that goes. I don’t like my sauce to be chunky, but all crushed is pretty homogeneous.)

So it’s all in there and turned down to simmer. I’ll fuck around with the spices a bit I’m sure before it’s done. But it already tastes pretty damn good.

I was toying with the idea of making fresh ravioli, ricotta and all. But that’s SUCH a pain in the ass. So I may use frozen. I dunno, we’ll see. Ooh, I should plan this for tomorrow and bake a loaf or two of bread as well.

Anyway here’s the original recipe, which I’ve doubled (except for the garlic because don’t be stupid.)

  • 2 14.5oz cans of tomatoes (it says diced, going with crushed)
  • 1 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove (oh, honey…)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/3C finely diced onion
  • 1/2C white wine

Next? Probably sit for 45 minutes, then it’s off to slice a gallon of potatoes to make fermented chips.

aaaannnnd the bacon’s gone.

7/28/2017: MOAR PEPPERS!

It’s clear that the yield on these one-quart jars, pretty as they are, is just not high enough to experiment with.

I get about 2-3 of those square bottles….MAYbe out of one of these.

So I went to walmart and picked up a couple gallon jars and

uhm

some jalapenos (well…the jalapenos were from publix, not walmart.)…

I actually was able to get them all in there, startling as that may be. It may also have been an awesome mistake. If that thing starts bubbling over I’m gonna be in a tough spot, so I’m setting the whole thing in a cookie sheet (with it’s minimal 1/3″ walls) for the first couple weeks, ’til it calms down.

I MAY just take a bunch out and blend them, to reduce their volume a bit. I mean that’s what I’m gonna do to them on the back end anyway and I’m not sure I believe it makes a lick of difference.

I also picked up about a pound of garlic. That I’m going to treat a bit differently. I’m going to mash that to death in a food processor, squeeze it as close to dry as I can, then spread the pulp out on a cookie sheet (don’t worry, I have several) and bake it at something like 200 degrees for 6 hours. Just turn it all to dust, then see what I can do with it. Probably mix it back in with the extracted juice and, after I tip some weapons in it and let them dry (can never be too careful about vampires down here) I’ll put it in some vinegar and see if I can use it as the basis for an interesting sauce.

There will be no fermenting of garlic until I get a multi-chamber charcoal filter for the blowoff. That was just too disgusting for words. But there are a lot of ways to do this besides puttin’ its head in a boot jack and yankin’ on its tail.

I ALso bought ingredients for marinara, ketchup, and limoncello. So…we’ll see how motivated I get this weekend.