This Space for Rent

Mar 31, 2008

railroad picture of the day


Three Yellow Menace geeps at the north end of Brooklyn Yard.

Mar 30, 2008

railroad picture of the day


I was down at the Mill End store in Milwaukie this afternoon looking for some pretty fabric to use as the border on the quilt I finished yesterday, so I was able to take pictures of this string of ex-caltrans bilevel cars (that appear to be painted in Oregon Pacific colo(u)rs??) sitting on an industrial siding across 99e. They’ve been there a while, but I’ve not had a chance to see them when I’m not zipping by in a car until now.

If they are Oregon Pacific cars, I wonder what Mr. Samuels is planning on doing with them? passenger service from OMSI down to 17th, or borrowing #700 for some steampunk commuter trains?

1 comment

Mar 29, 2008

Now this is something new


Snowing. At the end of March. That’s something you don’t see everyday.

Now that’s a *tiny* camera

*istDs vs. auto 110

The Pentax *istDS is a teeny camera (that’s one of the things that got me into the cult of Pentax in the first place), but when you compare it to the (film only and discontinued) Auto 110s it’s as if I’ve got a large-format film camera sitting beside a regular 35mm SLR.

You can’t get digital camera backs for the Auto 110, so I wonder how hard it would be to take a fixed-focus digital point and shoot and convert it into a homebrew camera back. If I could get a digital 110 (After having three Canon A60s/A70s die with lens errors, I decided that removable lenses would be a requirement for any camera that I purchased. This severely restricted my camera choices) then I could carry that around as my tagalong camera instead of the small-but-still-large (and discontinued, to be replaced by the larger K20 [or the (ick) pentamirror K200]) *istDS.

Of course, there’d be the small problem that if I got a hole in my pocket I’d run the risk of having the 110 fall out along with the loose change.


Project of the week

Another one

More scrappy fabric samples meet their destiny in the form of another blanket-shaped object (not trimmed yet, because the fabric sample pile is getting very low. But it will be another simple box frame backed with garage-sale fabric, so there’s nothing too surprising yet to happen.


Mar 28, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite takes the elevator up to the penthouse level in the skyscraper the bears built (and later demolished) yesterday afternoon.

Mar 27, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Russell and Leo.

Railroad picture of the day


Two Yellow Menace freights hang out on the south side of Brooklyn Yard, waiting for the 6:15 Cascades to arrive.

Mar 26, 2008

Picture of the day


It must be springtime, because the back of the Prius is in bloom.


Mar 25, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


A pair of SD600s pacing us on the last half mile into the airport.

Mar 24, 2008

Picture of the day


The tower crane at the OMSI entrance to the east side big pipe project.

Mar 23, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


It was a rainy day today, but that didn’t stop Silas; no, there he was, all soaked but busy at work helping a trickle of water get to the bottom of the driveway.

Mar 22, 2008

Project of the week


When we moved into the big yellow house, we ordered a great huge computer desk from The Joinery so that I could have room to put a large CRT monitor on it and still have room for things like a keyboard, vermin, and my hands. It was a wonderful desk, but, alas, things like bears interrupted our spacious lifestyle and the space I could afford for a desk became much smaller than the space needed for a 42x84 huge desk.

I tried a few alternative programming arrangements ranging from lying on the bed typing (a *spectacular* failure from the carpal tunnel point of view) to lying on the sofa typing (also a spectacular failure that ended up with the entire right side of my body going numb) to sitting at the dinner table typing (not as spectacularly bad, but still a loss on the being able to program front. And using a mouse makes matters worse [Fortunately for me, I don’t pay much attention to my corporate masters when they try to force Windows on me – Linux makes a pretty crappy desktop, but blackbox is a sufficiently inobtrusive window manager so I can use it for my regular routine of terminal sessions and the occasional web browser window without excessive mouseriffic nonsense. But I digress.])

But, anyways, I’ve been thinking for a while that if I there are no arrangements at home suitable for programming I’d better make one myself. Fortunately, I’d done some dumpster diving when a local store was being gutted, and had a small supply of 2x4 and 4x4 oak, which I could rip into smaller sections, mortise, then glue together to make a slightly less crookedy than usual desk.

I cheated on the desktop – I’d bought about 25 feet of oak 1x6 a few years ago, and used them as the desktop after some of my other “lets use scrappy materials” plans were rejected by the review panel – but after sitting in the basement for 9 years it counts as close enough to scrappy for my tastes.

This desk is very tiny; the tabletop is 26x48, which is just the right size to put a notebook or a keyboard and flat panel display (I’m using the macbook keyboard these days, but it’s not a good replacement for a Model M,) plus when I need to do some sewing it’s the right size for holding the sewing machine and giving me a work surface that doesn’t eat the dining room table.

Now all we have to do is carve out some space in the house to put this desk and then I’ll be set.

1 comment

Mar 21, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite vs. Cow – who will win the staring contest?

Life on the river (#25)


The big Ross Island Sand & Gravel tugboat pushes an empty barge out of the Ross Island lagoon.

Mar 20, 2008

Railroad picture of the day


A brace of Yellow Menace locomotives pass through the crossing at 11th,12th,and Division streets.

Mar 19, 2008

Railroad picture of the day


A Yellow Menace freight pulled by eight engines peeks around the corner and heads southwards into Brooklyn Yard on an inconveniently rainy afternoon (the sun was peeking through the clouds when I hopped on a #9 bus at the Ross Island bridge, but by the time the bus reached 20th and Powell it was starting to drizzle and by the time I reached my traditional trainspotting spot it was enthusiastically raining. It was still raining when I hopped on the #70 to go home, but when I got there, guess what? The sun was once again peeking through the clouds.)

A day that will live in infamy

2 years 'til Nuremburg

Mar 18, 2008

Picture of the day


Daffodils in what we laughingly call our front garden.

Mar 17, 2008

Picture of the day


Detail of the fountain near where I work.

Mar 16, 2008

Picture of the day


*Part* of a field of flags memorialising the brutal slaughter that the United States is doing in Iraq. (The red flags wayyy down at the foot of the hill? Those are the US soldiers that were sent to their deaths by the evil and corrupt B*sh junta.) War crimes? You’re soaking in them!

Mar 15, 2008

Project of the (indeterminate period of time.)


Years and years ago, when we moved into the Big Yellow House, we stocked up on furniture for the upstairs room by buying a fistful of convertible futon beds from the (now demised) Futon Factory. As it turned out (and not too surprisingly), convertible futon beds make terrible sofas, and I finally snapped last year and dismantled the one in our library with the plan of converting it into a real sofa.

Over the course of a leisurely nine or eleven months, I tore the sofa apart, cut down one of the bedframe sections, notched the arm units to fit the now-truncated bedframe into, glued and screwed the frame into the arms, then cut down a couple of the old frame members into a sofaback (with the lower part of the back being a sheet of plywood that was salvaged from the Stupid Room,) glued up and installed the sofaback, and then finally, after a loooong winter’s nap, the best and I went out, picked out some fabric, and I spent this afternoon sewing up a cover for the sofa cushion.

If I ignore the amount of money we spent to buy the original convertible futon bed (and the ridiculously long amount of time it took me to build the silly thing,) this sorta-craftsman style sofa cost us about US$140 (and most of that was the cost of the large chunk of furniture-grade foam I bought for the cushion core.) It has a few flaws you’d not find in furniture from a place where people make furniture for a living, but it’s at least US$3000 less than it would cost to have a good bespoke sofa built by a professional woodworker.


Mar 14, 2008

New Code!

Discount has been pushed up to version 1.1.5 with a few assorted cleanups and bugfixes:

  1. First, try to make it more portable to not-quite-standard systems (like Windows + MSVC) by not using alloca anywhere and by having configure look for strcasecmp vs stricmp and strncasecmp vs strnicmp, then
  2. Clean up some horrid interactions with bsearch by converting blocktags[] into an array of struct kws and having isopentag() construct a struct kw and use that for searching instead of malloc()ing a buffer, making a null-terminated string, then comparing against that, and, finally
  3. Catch a horrible parsing bug where I didn’t null-terminate html blocks during the blocking pass of the compiler, so at cleanup time I ended up double-freeing blocks and causing the program to dump core if I used anything other than alloca() inside isopentag().

It still passes the standard Markdown test suite, so it’s bound to be perfect in every way™, and that makes it good enough to be New Code for your compiling amusement.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite attempts to celebrate π day, but is thwarted at the last minute.

Mar 13, 2008

Railroad picture of the day


It’s springtime and a young man’s fancy turns towards taking pictures of Eng!s. Alas, Portland Traction runs trains erratically enough I can’t reliably wait for one down at the East Portland yard, so I have to fall back to the everpresent Yellow Menace and the most boring paint scheme in North America.

I picked the right year to not vote Democratic

If I listened to the TUGgies on the net, I’d believe Geraldine Ferraro’s spectacular outburst of bigoted nonsense against Barack Obama was actually an evil plot by the Clinton campaign to cater to the closet racists in the Democratic Party, and that her attempts to get Michigan (17 ev) and Florida (27 ev) seated at the Democratic convention are a horrible plot to take the Democratic Party down with her.

And if I listened to the SUBbies on the other side, I’d believe that the offensive sexist tripe uttered by too damn many of the TUGgies is actually an evil plot orchestrated by the Obama campaign to cater to the closet [if you define “closet” as right out in the open] misogynists in the Democratic Party, and that his attempts to encourage Republicans to switch over in open primaries, and to keep Florida and Michigan from being seated at the Democratic convention are actually attempts at vote suppression.

It’s no secret that I prefer Ms. Clinton (she didn’t hire a homophobe to headline a series of campaign rallies in South Carolina, which makes up for her hiring Mark Penn (who appears to be spectacularly unqualified for anything other than looting the bodies of dead campaigns) as her campaign head) but I don’t favor her enough to get off my butt and vote for her over the other interchangable center-rightist that the Democratic Party has served up as a potential nominee in this dead-even primary race that has all of the Democratic kingmakers wringing their hands and whining about how competition will tear the party apart (“tear the party apart” is shorthand for “we want to know which butt to kiss, and we don’t want it to be too obvious!”)

About all the armed warfare between the cult of Obama and the Clintonistas (who are running a couple of months behind the cult of Obama; it’s only in the past couple of weeks that I’ve started to see the sort of spittle-flecked ranting that’s been coming from the cult since about 2 days after the Iowa caucuses) is doing for me is that it’s giving me a reason to aggressively edit my bookmarks list, and I’ve been needing to do that for a while now.

Now all I have to do is decide who to vote for for President. Should I vote for James “Kibo” Parry, Bob the Angry Flower, or the Scorched Earth Party candidate ?


Mar 12, 2008

Creepsy creepsy goes the trolley line


After about a year of construction, the transit mall trolley line is beginning to look like it will be finished in finite time. The yard area at the south end of the line has been graded and the two yard throats are assembled and waiting to be tied into the (still piled up in a heap) yard trackage.

It’s PERFECTLY SAFE. (Sign here, please)

The United Kingdom has decided, no doubt after long discussions with the farsighted leaders of the American Imperium, that Iraq has been pacified and it’s time to start getting rid of the backlog of pesky Iraqi asylum seekers by getting them shipped back to their newly certified as safe homeland.

But, just to make certain, the UK is asking the deportees to sign a waiver agreeing the government will take no responsibility for what happens to them or their families once they return to Iraqi territory..

I guess that the so-called “Labour” government couldn’t find industry standard bowls to wash their hands in (the little nametags saying “Hello, my name is Pontius Pilate” are not strictly necessary, but it’s considered good taste to wear them during the process) while sending these asylum seekers off to almost certain death. Forcing them to sign their own death warrants is a somewhat déclassé alternative, but it certainly fits with the sort of low-class thuggery that all really enlightened western democracies want to emulate these days.

Picture of the day


Some bus windows are so dirty that trying to take a picture through them is an exercise in psychedelic gymnastics.

It’s still a tie.

Silly me, I thought that the Obama campaign was winning in the “stupid comments made by supporters” campaign. Apparently I just don’t read the right weblogs.

  1. [“Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let’s address reality and the problems we’re facing in this world, you’re accused of being racist, so you have to shut up,” Ferraro said. “Racism works in two different directions. I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?”] (
  2. Every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist,” she said. “I will not be discriminated against because I’m white. If they think they’re going to shut up Geraldine Ferraro with that kind of stuff, they don’t know me.

And this follows a comment that is basically “the only reason Barack Obama is doing well is because of black privilege.” That’s, um, barking mad, and if the Clinton campaign can’t convince her to resign from her fundraising and finance jobs, they really need to fire her immediately because this is the sort of nonsense that makes your campaign look like a racist version of the Keystone Kops.

If I was an active Clinton supporter, I’d be really mad about this, because it’s insultingly stupid bigotry and it’s going to tie the “Ms. Clinton doesn’t like n_____rs” card around her neck in such a way that it can’t be unravelled until after the general election (and there’s a nice Mr. Rove who will be happy to run a vote suppression campaign prominently featuring this campaign killing stupidity as soon as the small arms fire has died down at the Democratic convention.) As it stands, the only reason I favor Ms. Clinton over Mr. Obama is that she didn’t invite a homophobe to headline a series of pep rallies in South Carolina (I loathe the moonie-style cult of Obama on the weblogs, but I’ve got a very good way to avoid that sort of nonsense and that’s known as “edit my bookmarks list”,) so it’s “eh, one carbon copy candidate is as good as the other.”

Yes, yes, I know that Ms. Clinton has said, repeatedly, that Ms. Ferraro’s views are not the views of the campaign, but Ms. Ferraro is on her finance committee and isn’t some moonie-style camp follower. Maybe Ms. Clinton doesn’t actually want to win the Democratic nomination after all?

Update: Ka-bunt!

Mar 11, 2008

Picture of the day


Red/Blue scuttles along the half mile of private ROW on a rainy afternoon, made more dramatic by being slightly out of focus and then being “repaired” by iPhoto tweaking.

Mar 10, 2008

Trolley photo of the day


I took the trolley up to Broadway tonight, and when I stepped off I decided that I’d get a picture of the thing before it departed for parts unknown. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d managed to jostle the mode select wheel on my Pentax, and the camera was in bulb mode. So I turned around, framed up the trolley so that it included some of the sea of memorial flags, and pressed the shutter.

*click* …

(That’s funny, where’s the clack of the mirror dropping. I pondered this for a couple of seconds, then remembered to take my finger off the shutter button and then I heard the *clunk* as the mirror dropped. Whoops. But at least the resulting picture is kind of interesting.)

Your liberal media at work

“A law enforcement official has told the Associated Press that New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s involvement in a prostitution ring was caught on a federal wiretap.”

AP article via The Guardian

You mean that Mr. Spitzer’s been pimping from the governor’s office?

No? Um, so perhaps he’s being paid off so the prostitution ring won’t be investigated by the state police?

No?? Well, what else could it be?

“The official says the New York governor met last month with at least one woman in a Washington hotel.”

Oh. So if you’re a Democratic politician, hiring a prostitute means “involvement with a prostitution ring.” That’s an interesting interpretation there; you’d almost think that the phrasing was deliberately chosen to make it seem like Mr. Spitzer had, in fact, been pimping from his office and is thus inferior to his Republican brethren who encourage entrepreneurship by only patronising self-employed rent-boys. And how could that happen? After all, the mainstream press is liberal and would never EVER do anything like that!

Remember when the US press was liberal? Me neither.

Mar 09, 2008

Cute baby pictures of the day

russellmar2008<- ->silasmar2008

Russell and Silas at Westmoreland Park.

Picture of the day


We went down to Westmoreland Park this afternoon so the bears could run off some of their excess energy. Since it was a sunny day, everyone was out enjoying the weather, and by “everyone” I include the approximately 75 million ducks, geese, and dump ducks that commute between Oaks Bottom, Westmoreland Park, and Crystal Springs Lake.

One adolescent seagull was sitting on a bridge as the three of us approached and didn’t realize the threat until Russell was within about 10 feet of them, and I was within easy reach with a short telephoto lens.

Mar 08, 2008

Whoa, now, let’s not be too wild here!

Some homeowners use their kitches as much for cooking and baking as for family gatherings.

–from “Cabinets designed with you in mind” (Taunton’s Kitchen & Bath Planning Guide 2008)

Now don’t be too hasty here; if you cook in that kitchen, you’ll spoil the finish on that US$10,000 Viking® stove and Kitchenaid® mixer. You don’t want to do that, do you, because what will your friends think if they discover that you’re actually (shudder) preparing food in the kitchen?

No, you’d better order takeaway food again; it’s okay to use the kitchen island as a dinner table, just as long as you don’t dirty your hands with food prep.

… *shudder*

I just don’t understand interior design fashions. Between “master suites” that are as large as the first floor of our house, “great rooms” that look like they have the charm of an aircraft hanger (pilots may have a different idea of what an unappealing echoing vacant space might be,) or kitchen remodelling magazines that think that people who use kitchens as kitchens are a sort of rare and exotic species that need to be pointed out as if they were exhibits at the zoo, it seems like some vastly alien world where usability and livability take a remote backseat to a variety of increasingly absurd architectural potlatches. I’d ask “why?”, but I don’t think I want to know the answer.

I’ve still some work to do on cleaning up image stability


I do not believe that Rigel dances around quite as quickly as this picture would seem to indicate. Perhaps I should cobble together a gear drive for my tripod instead of hoping that I can keep it from shaking while it’s trying to take a picture?

Picture of the day


The clouds broke up enough this afternoon so that some sunlight was able to sneak past them. The best and I were on the way back from the grocery store and were able to catch the view.

Mar 07, 2008

Let this be a lesson that you never talk politics with conservatives

Okay, so it’s fine and good that the Obama campaign has this theme of going beyond partisan squabbling and getting back to the whole process of governing the country. As a pack of lies, it works pretty well. But if you start to believe in these lies and, um, chat with Stephen “Mini-Me” Harper about the future of trade agreements, you’re drinking from the wrong water pitcher.

Mini-Me is a B*sh clone. And, worse yet, he’s not a dissipate upper class twit with a S&M bent, but a smart sociopath who will cheerfully leak selected parts of your correspondence at just the right time to fuck you over but good. Consider yourself very fortunate that the Evil Party foolishly thinks that a drawn out Democratic primary campaign is bad instead of the PR opportunity from heaven that it’s turning out to be. If it wasn’t for that foolish bit of Evil Party strategy, the “I was only lying about NAFTA” story would have been dumped out in the middle of the general election instead of harmlessly in the middle of primary season.

Perhaps your policy team should learn a lesson from this, instead of just whining and continuing to exchange the stupidity token with the Clinton campaign?

He’s talking about torture, kids, and that’s a war crime.

The White House confirmed on Friday that President Bush will veto the bill passed by Congress to restrict the CIA’s interrogations to strictly non-torture methods, with a spokesman saying it would “take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror.

(–via Talking Points Memo)

The “valuable tool” that Mount Doom on the Potomac is talking about is the ability to generate an endless (well, not quite endless; eventually the victim either goes catatonic or is tortured past the point where one of Mount Doom’s pet Mengele’s can’t keep them alive anymore) stream of fraudulent “confessions” that can be used as an excuse to kidnap more random people off the street and torture them into providing more “confessions,” thus providing job security for the evil torturers who are the backbone of the American Imperium.

And why shouldn’t it work? The Inquisition got a lot of milage out of torturing random people to death, and nothing ever happened to it. It’s not as if the American people give a fuck about trivial things like torture, just as long as they don’t have to actually hear about it.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite and Pikachu are on a three hour cruise.

Domestic vermin photo of the day


I bought a used 100-500mm zoom lens from B&H last week so I could have something superzoomy (500mm isn’t that zoomy, but I also bought a used Takumar-A 2x teleconverter, which gives me a gratifyingly large zoom at the expense of a (cough) f16 aperture, which means it will take about 60 seconds to get visible nighttime pictures) for taking pictures of nearby planets. The lens arrived yesterday, just in time for the clouds to roll in and hide the sky. Today, it was still cloudy and I had taken the day as a “please get me away from work!” holiday, so I was hunting about for something to take pictures of.

Why not a cat?

I found that if I sat in the far corner of the living room, it was just barely far enough away to squeeze the cat into focus. And at ~450mm, I could fit enough of the cat in to make it obvious that this was indeed a feline entity.

But at 1000mm, the cat is too close, too dim, and too large for any sort of programmed mode on my *istDS:


Beware the blurry thing!

Mar 06, 2008

Reflections on the death of Gary Gygax

You know, if I’d never become a trainspotter or a hacker, D&D would still have done a pretty good job of making me as eccentric as I am right now. Possibly not as well off, but still barking mad.

Well played, Mr. Gygax, well played.

Picture of the day


Beware Of The Cat

Mar 04, 2008

Picture of the day


South drops the last 40 feet into Gibbs Terminal.

Mar 03, 2008

Picture of the day


Clouds piled up north of downtown Portland.

New Code! (another trivial release)

Someone is trying to get Discount to compile on Windows with mingw, and having a collection of problems with it for various reasons ranging from the definition of the random number generators through not having an fchdir() function (this is a bit of a “huh?” moment, because that’s not an extraordinarily new function.)

1.1.4 attempts to work around mingw deficiencies and fake the fchdir() code so that the theme sample program will work. It gave me something to do so I could avoid thinking about ***bite* me** scoping problems for a little while.

Mar 02, 2008

New Code! (130 fortnights later)

Years and years ago, before I snapped and wrote postoffice, I wrote a collection of programs and a m4 mailer so that I could force sendmail to deal with virtual domains that I hosted on gehenna. After postoffice reached the point where it actually worked, I stopped using sendmail, which left post officially dead and forgotten.

At least that’s what I thought. But in February 2008, after post had been left lying untouched for five years, I received patches from Stas Degteff that added manual pages plus tweaks to the code so it compiles on modern super-picky systems. And that calls for a new release of the zombie code, which may be undead, but it’s still New Code! for you to embrace and love.

Signs of the times


Phrases I never thought I’d ever utter, volume n: “Silas, stop teasing the robot!

Mar 01, 2008

New Code!

Discount has been rolled up to version 1.1.3 with the addition of a README and an INSTALL file that tersely explain what it is and how to install it. And why such a trivial release? Well, I announced the program on the markdown discussion list and almost immediately got back a “well, it’s all very nice, but how does it work?” reply that pointed out that there was not one lick of how-to-do-it documentation in the software.

*sigh* It’s been one of those winters, hasn’t it?

So here’s the new version, with basically nothing new added in except for some documentation. It’s the most trivial New Code! there ever was.

All die. Oh the embarrassment.

Picture of the day


A rainbow peeks through the trees during a break in the clouds this afternoon.