Dreamwidth Posty

So I used to be on LJ. I shall not be updating the LJ account anymore… I’ve finally got around to tweaking the crossposting to crosspost to Dreamwidth (and tumblr).

End announcement.

Danger, Will Robinson!

Danger, Will Robinson!

I have fallen into the dangerous territory of the mechanical keyboard. See, many years ago I had a rather nice IBM keyboard which died. I can’t remember how it died. It probably got run over by a steamroller, or somesuch (I think it got knocked off a desk and landed key side down on the prongy-footy-bit of a wheelie chair).

At any rate, I loved it, but eventually it made my poor hands hurt when I was doing technical writing. Also, I tried taking it to my office and had to bring it home to prevent my summary execution for the clickety-clackety-noise of it distressing and distracting my colleagues. Anyhow, so first I discovered tenkeyless keyboards, which are nice. Especially if you have a dinky little numpad to go with it that can float off and be moved around as needed.

Mhm.

Then I discovered pretty keycaps.

And while I knew that mechanical keyboards were “a thing”, I’d not really realised the extent of “the thing” that they are. And I can feel myself being sucked into it. Mainly because I thought “oh hey, wouldn’t it be fun* to build my keyboard myself”. Why I thought this is probably related to my dad, who had to build every damn bit of the computer himself, and made a rather fine hardboard cased lilac coloured keyboard. And I am always rather sad that I got rid of that in one of the tidies. I mean, it wasn’t useful or anything, because it was a terminal keyboard for a terminal he built, which I no longer have either.

But I rather liked it.

And then I saw the T0mb3ry SA Carbon keycap set. And I spent far too much money on it. Which is silly, and I couldn’t work out why I liked it so much.

Then it came to me. It reminds me of the old CTL / ITL keyboards my dad used to bring home (scrap ones). I was aware that it kinda reminded me of early 80’s computers, but it’s that whole orange/black bone/black combo that makes me think of the Modular One system. I’m not sure if those keyboards came from Modular Ones, or if they were from some other CTL / ITL machine.

So that explains that.

So anyhow, I’ve ordered the keycaps, because I’m weak and they’re pretty, and I’ve also started to nose around for a mechanical key tester (one with a USB connector so that they can actually serve a purpose as a num pad later), and then I’ll need to work out if I really want to fork out the cash for a keyboard kit, or whether just buying a keyboard and slapping the keycaps on will do me.

 

Car, house, life.

So, I made a spreadsheet. I can’t be bothered to deal with the fun and games of raw HTML editing at 10pm on a Saturday night so you just get a picture of it.

Really it’s a “pro-con” list. We’re thinking about whether we can afford a used EV replacement for our hybrid.  And this is how it’s looking. Realistically, because we want to be able to visit Nikki / Kate / Fam down in Oregon, we need something with DC rapid charge, or the range to get there without charging.

Spreadsheet of car costs/actual prices / ranges Pro-con.

Of course, this is entirely theoretical. Basically, because I’m changing job and have my ‘summer pay’ saved, I’m contemplating whether that, plus the sale of the car, might mean we can pull together enough to make the switch possible.

Sadly, having looked at charger locations, we think a 24kW Leaf isn’t going to do it. It would mean that we would essentially have to stop in Castle Rock on the way to see friends, and given the number of Trump signs, and the shitty shitty greeting our friends got in a café there, we think that’s not somewhere we want to spend ages if we don’t have to.

Also, a 24kW Leaf would mean we have no extra leeway should a charger be down. With the Soul EV or a newer 30kW Leaf then we’d actually be able to make it to one of the other chargers, if we were gentle.

Whether it’ll happen or not depends on a few things – one of which is whether we’re going to manage to sort out the house, and how much it might cost. The house we were looking at and super positive about fell through. The owner had no interest in replacing the End-Of-Life and believed-to-be structurally unsound roof, unless we paid half. And then we discovered the termite issue. 9 years without treatment, then they found termites…

…so, does it have a wall? Or does it have a sheet of plasterboard on some ornamental lace-trim woodwork?

Who can say?

Certainly not us, it turns out, without ripping apart the walls. Which would have been a whole other debate, but since the roof debate didn’t seem to be moving in our favour, we abandoned ship.

So we’re on the hunt again, and looked at three entirely terrible houses today.

  • Terrible house the first seems to be attempting to make good its escape by slipping quietly down the hill. Bonus points to this one for having a building (shed) so shonkily supported that I declined to even attempt to look in it for fear that it might fall several feet down into the ravine.
  • Terrible house the second actually could be quite cool. It’s an ex-creamery, but in the 1980s it had what I would call an extremely shoddy residential conversion. The carpet appears to have been laid directly onto concrete floor making the building so damp you could actually see the rising damp watermark on some of the doors. It still has the fridge door and a great delivery space that could be amazing. Indeed, I was trying to convince myself that we could do something cool with it when we noticed the dirty great cracks in the wall and around the roof. Structural failure makes it beyond us, sadly. Also, loud, loud road.
  • Terrible house the third was a 1940s rambler that’s been rented to someone who appears to have been morally opposed to cleaning. Ignoring that, and the fact it broadly needs gutting, and a garage reinstating where there’s a room with a giant fireplace….and the washer/drier… oh, and the chimney reopening and providing with at least some ventilation (because it’s got mould appearing on the wall where it’s just panelled in)…and the fact that the roof looked shonky as all hell… ignoring all that…oh, and the crappy electrical panel… ignoring all that – it had black mould on two of the walls in the bedroom. The realtor tried to persuade us it just needed some abatement. Personally, I think a match and some petrol should sort all the building’s problems

So, that wasn’t exactly a raging success.

On the life front, I can now formally state I’m going back to the Emergency Department. Teaching this year led me to a place I don’t particularly wish to return to, of stress, feeling bleak, and feeling like I wasn’t able to serve the students. Rather than subject myself to another year of that I applied to my old place of work and they kindly gave me a job.

I’m hoping that I’ll get to return to doing some stuff with Transport Evolved, too, which would be cool.

In other, other news, my Macbook seems to be intent on dying. It’s taken to randomly switching itself off for no obvious reason (obviously, it’s decided to start doing this immediately after I bought it a new charger). I’ve put myself on the list for a Pinebook, which is certainly not meant to be a proper laptop replacement, but… the plan is to have an actual functional desktop (for video editing, if required…) and so hopefully this will just be my dinking box. Also, with luck, if I need something more beefy, for the time being I can run it on the media server.

Anyhow, hopefully my 9 year old Macbook will hang on a bit longer.

And that, my loves, is the news.

Well, that lasted a long time

So that last post may have been premature. We knew that there were potential problems with the house because of the structural / roof issues; what didn’t occur to us (until Kathryn talked to our mortgage broker today) is that me changing job would be a huge-ass problem.

Apparently, because I’m changing job, if I have a probationary period (which I do) they won’t lend to us until that’s over. So I’m going to call my new workplace tomorrow and beg/plead/politely request that they consider nixing the probationary period (I worked there before for 6 months, so I’m hoping they’ll consider this).

Otherwise, well, we’ll put the problem to our realtor – but actually we found out more stuff about the cost of putting a roof on that we’re willing to consider – and that may be enough of a crimp that we decide against it. But then there’s the joy of the fact that we can’t then look for a house until the end of the summer.

So, well, let’s see how this goes tomorrow.

Given how the past year and half has gone, I’m not feeling vastly optimistic.

Smoothies

Smoothies here have been the biggest disappointment. I’m guessing it’s something like when a USian goes to the UK and mistakenly orders a lemonade at a pub*, or a milkshake more or less anywhere else**.

In the UK smoothies were fabulous combos of fruit and either yoghurt or possibly tofu. Healthyish but also so insanely good.

Here most places smoothies are a revolting sugary goop that’s maybe seen a fruit. There are some smoothie stand things that do smoothies, but honestly, their flavours are a disappointing averageness and their prices do not match their bare adequacy.

Le sigh.

* For translation purpose, a lemonade in the UK is more-or-less equivalent to a US 7-UP. A freshly squeezed lemonade is what you USians are looking for in the UK.***

** A milkshake in the UK is generally milk with some flavouring. In the US it’s generally icecream smooshed up into a delicious goop.

*** If you want to throw people, in a US-pub ask for a lemonade. Oh they look so confused.

 

Incidentally

This site (at in my web server)  has been under attack a lot recently. Tediously so. If anything super weird pops up on here I’m sorry, and I’ll fix it as soon as I know. 

I am sure that I am not the first

I am somewhat concerned that members of the Russian federation are going to use the fact they have a puppet / weak / blackmailable US president who has weakened western government cooperation, and the Brexit which has weakened and distracted Europe to commit mass genocide on LGBTQIA people. 

Each time it gets worse.

Animated image from 'Brazil' by Terry Gilliam.

So, it turns out that now our county planning technician is asking us to obtain a surveyor’s report to delineate the high groundwater risk for our property. Because the county think it’s at risk of flooding. Despite the fact that it’s almost the highest point for the entire street. But no, it’s at risk of flooding.

Today we went out because the hydrogeologist has put markers in the areas he would like us to identify the high groundwater risk, when we went out he strongly implied there was no significant problem. But left open the ‘We need to have an internal discussion before making a decision’ get out of jail free card.

And then we got our answer.

It’s a fucking disaster.

The county requirements would force us to move our house to chop down at least 1 of the beautiful old maples (at least 50 years old), and a large number of firs, cedars and assorted other trees. At least, that’s the only way we can interpret them.

The county is also asking for a permit that requires has a potential 128 day processing period (which probably means at least 2 years, given that our 8-12 week permit process is now running into it’s 6th month).

So the answer is, we can’t build.

We might be able to argue it. We’re considering legal options because the county told us, provisionally, that it would be an easy plot to build on.

So yay.

Oooh, shiny.

So I ordered another Razika album (direct from Norway, because no one locally could get it) which arrived yesterday.

Razika - På Vei Hjem (Album cover)
Cover from Razika – På Vei Hjem

It’s on white vinyl and handily came with a CD copy. So that’s pretty easy to rip. The white vinyl and my SL-6 are not close friends, I have to turn off the autosense mode for it to play the record… but even ignoring that, yay! Yay for more Razika.

I need to stop buying records however* because I’m nearly** out of record storage space

Also, what is overjoyously cool is hearing those few words I understand and going “Yay! I understood that!”

* I may have bought a second hand Desmond Dekker record a couple of days ago, having listened to him on 6 Music and having realised I didn’t have enough…
** By which I mean that all the gramophone records are packed away in storage because there’s not enough space in the house, and despite that, the shelves are kinda full. Full in an ‘oh, I might need to obtain a new record storage thing. Or make one. I’d love to make one. If only there was more time!

Not a disaster, but not a raging success

So it’s Spring Break here, which I get the impression should be capitalised. I continue to believe that the US does holidays wrong. It’s not like the UK is any great winner on the holidays front, the rest of Europe has always been way better at that kind of stuff, but the UK is less terrible than the US by a long way.

I say this because the students (and staff) get one week off between winter and spring quarters, which is quite clearly insufficient. But then holidays in the US are generally ridiculously inadequate as far as I can tell. The presumption appears to be that people can rest when they’re dead.

Anyhow, so it’s holiday time for me, although I’m actually going to end up working through most of it (perhaps this working thing is infectious?) because otherwise there’s no way in hell I’ll be ready for next quarter. That said I decided to take this weekend to do some of the long delayed jobs on the cars. Kathryn’s mother and her wife kindly let us use their garage, because… it being Washington, it’s raining and the main job needed the car to be dry. First up was the swamp-mobile insight, which has been leaking since we got it, had sprung a new leak early in winter, and had continued to leak in a most distressing way.

Indeed, frequently getting in to the car was unpleasant in the extreme, with it smelling like you were hopping into a cozy swamp, the carpet on the driver’s side smelling distinctly less than fresh. It turns out that first generation insights are notoriously leaky beasts, with Honda essentially building a car with many large holes which they filled with caulk and then painted over.

So I ordered a billion small plastic clips, some fresh silicone sealant, and this weekend (having had the clips for nearly a year) set to. It turned out that the person who rebuilt the car after its accident had decided to just slather glue on to hold the trim in place…

IMG_20170325_122547

There were literally no intact clips except for the ‘special’ ones at each end. So, I pulled the broken clips out* with my newly purchased ‘trim remover’ tools, dug out the cracked caulk from the passenger side, and tried to clean up that and the driver’s side as much as possible. That done I laid down a bead of silicone that I then realised I had no means of making as smooth as I’d like, because it’s fairly thoroughly recessed.

Still, it’s normally hidden under trim, so I wasn’t too worried. While I was doing this, Kathryn set to on the seat with the hot/wet/but not steam cleaner**. She pulled out a fearsome amount of filth, and it actually doesn’t look quite as horrendous as it did before, but it still looks pretty shitty. She also had a good go at the carpet which now smells much less bad than it did.

That done we went out for a nice curry and then headed home. Today I headed back over and started reassembly, which went okay although the driver’s side trim still doesn’t sit quite the way I’d like it to, which I suspect is that I didn’t bend the metal clips to quite the right place before reattaching it***. Well, I say it went okay. That’s a bit of a lie. There are two small pieces of trim that go at the back, and the sticky pad that attaches the (brand new) metal clip that holds on the small piece of trim is not sticky. It’s slightly tacky if you push really hard on it, but it’s not sticky. I’m assuming this is because it was probably made around 2006, when the car was last being built new.

Obviously, because it comes with a sticky pad I’d not bought any of the ‘trim attaching sticky shite’, so I had to abandon sticking it on, and it’s now sat lacking that part. When we get a dry day I’ll clean it and stick it on, but I’m rather peeved by its absence. Although I suppose it means that if it proves to still be leaking I can do a more vigorous removal of caulk and try again.

So anyhow I then traded the insight for the Rav, for which I had purchased a shiny new radio. It claimed to have bluetooth audio, bluetooth hands free, CD, and MP3 playback. It lacks AM, which the old radio did have, but frankly I don’t think we’ve used the AM feature on ours.

This installation did not entirely go smoothly, however.

First up, it turned out that I’d ordered the wrong gender of adaptor. I had bought female Toyota adaptors, and (if I think about it, it’s obvious) I needed male. Of course I realised that after I’d crimped all the sodding joints together with my crappy cheap crimping tool, and also after I’d pulled the old radio out of the Rav. So then I had to throw the radio back in, go and buy a 4x as expensive adaptor (which is just the same as the cheap adaptor I got from china for $2, but $16 and in a box), more crimping doohickies, and I also opted to fork out for a better quality ratcheting crimping tool (because the cheap one I was using kills my hands and produces crappy crimps).

Then I got back home and set to a second time. Then I found that the new radio required different mounting screws for its ISO mount than the original Toyota one, and that they weren’t included, I then ransacked one of my boxes of stuff and (thankfully) found some that fit.

Then I finally installed the benighted object only to find when I powered it on that it seems to be suspiciously lacking in actual bluetooth functionality which was the entire damn point of installing it. Looking through the manual bluetooth is not mentioned…and checking the box it doesn’t have the bluetooth logo anywhere on it. I’ve lodged a complaint with the supplier**** on Aliexpress although I’ve allowed for them to just tell me how to turn it on. I’ve also screencap’d the current listing which still states that it has bluetooth.

All of this has left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied with my progress. Especially as I had plans to also fix the broken heated rear window in the Rav as well, and that’s not happened either.

All in all, feh.

* Working on modern cars really is a world of hideousness, isn’t it. I’m really not used to ‘removal’ meaning ‘snap it in half and replace it’, leaving the broken bit rattling around inside the car somewhere. Ugh.
** I thought it was a steam cleaner when I bought it, but it turns out it’s not. Damnit.
*** Did I mention that I really am not fond of working on modern cars?
**** This is the first time I’ve got something from Aliexpress which wasn’t as described. I’ve bought things that didn’t work well, or were shonky ass crap, but it’s the first time I’ve received something which outright is not what was advertised.