This Space for Rent

Jun 30, 2008

Cute baby pictures of the day

SilasIceCream<- ->RussellIceCream

Russell and Silas helped me with my errands today, including the very importantGo to the ice cream fountain and have a little treat” one.

(This whole “stay at home and babyherd all day” idea may not pay very much, but it beats working in a goddamn cubicle 37 different ways through thursday. I don’t know how long I can make a living wage with the “sell excess junk on ebay and bricklink” self-employment scheme, but I’m certainly going to try to stretch it out as long as possible.)

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Jun 29, 2008

What use is a purse full of lenses if I don’t USE them?

When I went down to ride (and photograph) the 700, I stuffed all three of my primes (K50/f1.2, Lensbaby 1,Zenitar fisheye) into my purse on the chance I might want to use them. After I parked myself in the cupola of the Portland Traction caboose, there was nothing aside from smoke and ashes stopping me from actually using them.


=The 700 at speed, via the K50/f1.2= ->SPS700CementPlantSiding_20080629<-

=The 700 at rest, via the Zenitar 16mm fisheye= ->SPS700Snoot_20080629<-

And now all I have to do is sit down and shake the soot out of my *istDS and lenses.

Blasphemies in the eyes of G-d

No, no, I’m not talking about trivial things like how the Anglicans are busily tearing themselves apart because the disgusting bigots in their ranks don’t think that the glory of G-d is worth a penny unless it means they can kill faggots and anyone else they personally disapprove of (it’s a bonus that this jihad is being driven by priests who, in the grand tradition of religious bigots everywhere, are attempting to climb the church hierarchy on a staircase made of human bones.)

No. I’m talking about tiramisu.

It turns out that if you completely drop the coffee and use Oregon Chai as the solvent to dissolve the ladyfingers in, the resulting tiramisu (in my case, the one from the Moosewood Book Of Desserts, with ladyfingers from the 1892 edition of the Fanny Farmer cookbook) is just as good as the regular coffee-laden version, and will be eaten by a few of the coffee-hating people I cohabitate with.

The bears claim to loath it – “It’s too spicy!” is what they whined while they gobbled the chocolate shavings and ladyfingers off the top of their pieces – but I suspect that this is merely an artifact of my incredibly stupid decision to buy a box of candy for occasional treats over the summer, and the resulting declaration that all sweets, except for the goddamn processed candy, are unacceptably yucky. We will see; the candy is going to be chopped up and tossed into my next batch of biscotti, and then the proof will be in the pudding.

Railroad picture of the day


I rode one of the SP&S 700’s excursions today, and when I discovered that one of the “passenger cars” was the Portland Traction caboose that normally sits down at the EPT Milwaukie shops, I had to take advantage of the cupola ride, and the chance to bring out the Lensbaby and take a few pictures from the traditional railway worker’s observation car.

It’s not a pair of Class As, but it’s a pretty view nevertheless, and the absence of 3000 RICH CHUNKY VOLTS means that I can actually sit in the cupola and enjoy it instead of having to cower safely deep inside the faraday cage.

Jun 28, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Russell disapproves of picture-taking, so if I want to get a picture of him I need to be stealthy about it. A SLR is not exactly stealthy, so I have to be extra stealthy to compensate; I took this picture from the hip, after manually estimating the range, and to my intense surprise it actually turned out to look fairly good.

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Jun 27, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


With a new straw hat, Dust Mite is finally ready for summer!

Blurry zoomy railroad picture of the day


SP&S #700 moves past Oaks Rink as it returns from the 4pm excursion from Oaks Park to OMSI today. Picture taken with my half-meter Cosina zoom, mounted on my el-cheapo tripod as a reminder that I have to get a better tripod someday.

Jun 26, 2008

Hmm. Shouldn’t the computer be exploding around now?

It's been a while since the co-lo has been stable enough for a 400 day uptime

Pell has a couple of ancient scsi disks in it, one of which has a moderately large swath of uncorrectable bad disk blocks (which, annoyingly, only show up when p*n* does one of its erratic scribbles to disk. This doesn’t get me, but the best remains wedded to UWash’s odd little kitchen sink tool and thus occasionally has a pine session to directly to hell when it trips over one of those blocks.) So I’ve been waiting for the colo to lose power (or for someone to absent-mindedly kick the powercord out) so I can go in and put in a somewhat larger disk.

But I’m certainly not going to knock off a starting-to-get-reasonable uptime on the last remaining Linux 2.0.x machine on the net, so I guess I’ll just keep waiting for the sky to fall in. Perhaps it’s time to start working on backporting SATA and USB support into Linux 2.0.x so I won’t have to keep hunting around for SCSI disks when /dev/root finally dies the True Death.

Fixing a horrible game defect

The best and I have been playing various versions of Mayfair Games’s Empire Builder game for the past 20 years or so, and we’ve come to grudgingly accomodate most of the more horrible design decisions that various editions have come with.

However, in the past couple of weeks, we’ve introduced the bears to some of the games, and the horrible things that we shudder at, then move past, are not the sort of thing that the bears are willing to take in stride.

Take, for instance, Iron Dragon, which has some of the most horrid art in any game that we own. The foremen cards were a particular irritant, because not only were they drawn by someone who was phoning it in from Outer Mongolia, but they screwed up the Orc card by taking a drawing of some dog and putting long fangs on it. Hmmpf:


I’m not sure why it’s taken us so long to fix it, but we finally fixed it. We selected a bunch of Lego figures, set up a macro portrait studio, took pictures of them (I didn’t have a umbrella reflector handy, so I set up a white-walled studio, then simply hand-held a sheet of white paper above the [turned backwards] af280 flash gun and let the white surfaces diffuse the light a bit,) then fired up OpenOffice to set up the print side of the cards.

They look a bit better now:


You may be able to figure out some of my artistic influences from the names of some of the foremen. Some of the other choices come from my irritation that every single freaking foreman was male, as well as the beforementioned orc card, and my longstanding annoyance with the assumption that the other half of an elf/2 will be human (not this one! Thogg is half-elf and half-Rodian, and would like the world to know that he is not a bounty hunter and bears no desire to collect the bounty that’s been placed on the captain of the Millenium Falcon, thankyouverymuch.) And Dr. Gratz? He’s the finest brain surgeon in the underworld, but he enjoys railway engineering as a hobby just as long as he doesn’t have to do it in a place where he runs the risk of becoming a well-sculpted chunk of granite.

Jun 25, 2008

The curse of summertime


What summertime looks like at our house; dishes of fresh berries (yayy for living in a part of the world where berries are picked. They aren’t overly cheap, but they’re much cheaper than processed sweets) fighting for tablespace with whatever boardgame we’ve got set up on the dinnertable.

The odds are much more severe for the boardgame; no matter what spills, it will be the boardgame that ends up getting indelible berry stains all over it.

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Picture of the day


A cyclist heads east on new bridge over 99e on the Portland Traction trail.

Jun 24, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


There’s a collection of flowering bushes in the parking lot at the local New Seasons, and one of them has produced a crop of pretty pink flowers just in time for me to take a picture of it when we stopped there to pick up some groceries on the way home from dinner.

Railroad picture of the day


When we were doing our not-as-usual-as-I’d-like drive past the EPT shops this evening, a southbound train was doing its drive past the EPT shops. It couldn’t go much further, so it was stopping while we stopped so I could hop out and take a couple of pictures of an EPT train on the (slow) move.

Jun 23, 2008

Cute baby pictures of the day

RussellBook<- ->SilasHover

Russell and Silas, caught by my Zenitar fisheye lens.

Jun 22, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


Still life with flowers, table settings, and fine art.

Jun 21, 2008

The annotated yard


When we moved into the big yellow house, the backyard was cluttered up with various dead trees, overalive bushes and flowers, and a huge horrible deck. We could have hired a landscaping service like the people who just scraped the neighbor’s yard down to bedrock, but it’s more fun to just sort of whack away at the stables by ourselves. It’s taken a decade to get this far (FLOWERS, CLUBHOUSE, and NASTY BUSHES were paved over with grass this last week,) and I fully expect that we’ll get it finished before we die, provided they hurry up with that cure for mortality.

Oooh, shiny!


A Wordle text cloud of TSFR’s homepage.

–via Parts-n-Pieces

Jun 20, 2008

Le déluge!


It wasn’t raining today, so the bears had to engage in a little bit of hydraulic engineering.

A mysterious moth


One of our neighbors is putting in a retaining wall at the front of their property, and the vendor they hired to do the work defines “putting in a retaining wall” as “bulldoze the front lawn down to bedrock, put a wall in, then truck in new earth and grass.” It seems a terribly expensive way to pile rock up at the front on a lawn, but it’s not without its benefits to the neighbors; yesterday, after I realized what was going on, I got permission to cart away several wheelbarrels of sod, which went into our backyard in 5 places where we’d previously removed clubhouses, overly aggressive bushes (we had one bush that, by the time we realized what was going on, had expanded to cover 8 m2. Soon after that, it was ripped out, but that left 8 m2 of bare dirt that gathered nothing except for weeds. Until yesterday,) nasty aggressive prickly-leaved blue flowers, and masses of concrete that used to be part of a driveway before we rezoned it as greenspace. Today the rest of that lawn had, in a triumph of american-style destruction, been trucked off to a landfill (I am the sort of homeowner who, if sod isn’t available, will sod new ground by digging grass out between concrete slabs and transplanting it. You might laugh, but when I ripped out 12 m2 of concrete last spring that’s how I sodded it in, and by last July it was the most enthusiastically growing grass on the property) but dozens of little chrysalises like this were scattered around the construction site.

I presume it’s a moth. I don’t think it’s a dinosaur (we’re reading The Enormous Egg to the bears these days, and so dinosaur eggs, particularly in a story placed in a part of the world where a “Mrs. Parsons” may be based on my grandmother or a slightly more distant relation) or Mothra, but one never knows.


Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Surround sound, Dust Mite-style.

Jun 19, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


A dandelion blossom does a fireworks imitation.

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Dorrie, sitting in one of her sunny spots.

Interesting graffiti


This piece of graffiti is signed “Noam Chomsky”, which may not be completely accurate.

Jun 18, 2008

YAFYE picture of the day


A single ex-SP switcher, tucked in to the middle of a lashup of Yellow Menace road engines.

Jun 17, 2008


A phool and their money will soon be parted

Now, these are very pretty looking ethernet cables, and I might pay as much as US$20 for them, but US$500? For “directional” serial cables? Oh hohohoho no. I wonder if these cables are simply bought at the local Radio Shack, then reskinned to convince the stupid that skilled artisans carefully duplicated the aesthetics of US$5.99 store-bought cables at a price only two orders of magnitude higher than before?

No, actually I don’t wonder this. I wonder if Satan had to offer the Denon people anything for their souls, or if it was simply a case of “can we please go to hell? We’ll rip off audiophools to show you that we’re serious about wanting to be damned.”

Pretty(?) flower picture of the day


One of the bears yanked my glasses off hard enough to convert it into a pleasingly irregular, but optically useless, piece of sculpture, and when we were going out the door to head off to the eyeglasses place to have it converted back into eyewear I decided to, just for amusement value, to try to take a picture of a flower with blind man’s manual focus.

Amazingly, a small part of the flower is in focus. And it may even be the flower I was aiming the camera at.

But I think that in the future I will attempt to keep my glasses on and functional when I’m out taking pictures.

Picture of the day


Two cranes pick up the last bit of evening sun at Division & 7th.

Jun 16, 2008

Nothing succeeds like excess


If we buy our tea in 3 pound lots, it has a better chance of lasting longer than a week.

Jun 15, 2008

Huh, now that’s something I don’t see everyday


It wasn’t all that long ago when the idea of a Republican conservationist wasn’t the sort of thing that would cause eyebrows to raise – Tom McCall was many things, but he was most definitely not a Democrat, despite the feverish wishing of the slash-and-burn vandals who control the Oregon Republican Party these days – but it’s a sign of something that the first McCain ‘08 bumper sticker I have ever seen (there are still a ridiculously large number of W bumper stickers floating around even after eight years of slash-and-burn at the national level. I might not have much respect for the conservatives who have taken over the Democratic Party these days, but at least they had the sense to put a political firewall between them and their soul brothers who remain lashed to the mast on the blazing ruin of the GOP ship of state) should be attached to a brand new Prius.

It gives me hope that some Republicans might be backing carefully away from the cargo cult that has taken control of their party and might be thinking that even pretending to be fiscal conservatives (conserving resources is fundamentally a conservative thing to do, because even if you’re a good friend of the ruling junta you’re still going to have to try to live in the desolate ruin left after the pillaging hordes have moved through) is better than going over the cliff with the dimwitted B*sh family and their rapacious friends.


Jun 14, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


A splash of blue in a bright-green sea.

Trolley picture of the day


A pair of downtown-bound Airport cars, pausing at the convention center stop while our Prius zipped on by.

Jun 13, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite sneaks downstairs and tries to use the new MBA, but is thwarted by not being able to manipulate the pointer properly.

Pretty flower picture of the day


A couple of daisies in the vicinity of the railroad crossing at 12th and Division.

But the train never came

(not so)big sky

I spent half an hour standing around at 11th and Division this afternoon while waiting for the northbound Coast Starlight to not show up (it eventually showed up at the exact same time I was walking under the SPYellow Menace bridge at Powell & 17th, and I don’t have a high powered X-ray lens for the Pentax, so I missed it) and took this picture just before I headed off for 17th and Powell to miss the train.

My career in JCL



Jun 12, 2008

There’s a moon in the sky


After careful experimentation, I have determined that handholding my Cosina 100-500mm zoom is not the best way to get maximally zoomy pictures of the moon. I guess I’ll have to build some sort of counterweighted head for my el-cheapo tripod before the next maximally zoomy lunar photo session takes place.

Railroad picture of the day


An Amtrak Twinkie pulls the (90 minutes late) Coast Starlight through the mess of crossings at 11th/12th/Clinton St this afternoon. It’s not the most inspired railroad photograph of the day, but it is exceptional that, barring an act of congress forcing me to stay working, it will be the very last Amtrak train I see while I am still working for my “no-we-can’t-give-you-leave-you’re-too-important” corporate masters, and the symbolism is more important than the pathetic execution of the photo.

Trolley picture of the day


Red/Blue turns off 6th onto the Riverplace extension of the downtown trolley line at about 13:00 this afternoon.

Jun 11, 2008

YAFYE picture of the day


A northbound freight (the second of three) at the 11th/12th/Clinton St. crossing, taken from right up next to the tracks. These locomotives have very loud horns that sound like they’re set under the frame and aimed so they’ll go right into the ears of anyone standing near the tracks.

Oh, I so love reading the New York Times

But there is one important area where special-interest money is flowing into the Democratic campaign effort - the millions of dollars being raised from corporations to finance the party’s convention in Denver. Elected Democratic officials have been calling on corporations - meeting with Wall Street executives and flying to San Diego, Philadelphia and Las Vegas - to raise the $40 million the party has budgeted for the convention, in August. In return, these Democratic officials are promising corporate donors “sponsor benefits packages” that include private sessions with federal officeholders and other influential party leaders.

–via the New York Times, of course

“sponsor benefits packages”, eh?

When the Evil Party was pulling this sort of shit 20 years ago it was considered to be an affront to all that was good and decent to the left. But, heh, it’s a little bit different now that the Stupid Party is being run by people that think that Evil Party style conservatism is a good thing and who will do anything possible to ensure that the Democrats nominate conservatives and thus keep that flood of lovely lovely payola coming into the party coffers.

Feh. I’d vote an Evil Party ticket this year if it would make any difference, but Oregon is so blue that it would simply open the floodgates to a torrent of Evil Party slime without applying the necessary whack across the nose that the Stupid Party so desperately needs. So I’ll just vote a split Socialist/Green ticket, like I should have been doing years ago when it became painfully obvious that the Stupid Party had developed an irrational fear of liberalism.

Jun 10, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


A yellow rose, prettily planted along the way I walk home from my soon-to-be-ex corporate masters.

Graduation Day


Silas graduated from kindergarden today, which meant that the best and I no longer have any children of kindergarden age or less. Only 12 years now until he can vote and otherwise wreck havoc on an unsuspecting world!

The sunny summery days of June

Are *not* supposed to include a low temperature of 7°C and a high temperature of 14°C. Waking up, in June, to the sounds of the oil furnace burning another US$10s worth of diesel is not an experience that I consider one of the traditional benefits of living in a temperate zone.

Jun 09, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


Calla lilies from the window of the #19 bus on the way downtown this morning, lightly mangled by the poor man’s photoshop (iPhoto.)

I think they missed an choice or two.

The slimy marketeers at Apple asked me to fill out a customer satisfaction survey for the MBA I bought a couple of weeks ago, and, for yucks, I decided to grant their every wish and fill it out. It was, as expected, marketing galore – the slimy marketeers really REALLY want everyone with a Mac to also have an iPod, and iPhone, an iTV, and an iTunes account, so they don’t ask very many questions about what an unrepentant Unix programmer would find appealing about the MBA.

There was one place where they really missed the question boat:

Do you intend to run Windows on your Macbook Air?


They missed a third choice:

Not in a million years, buddo!

Which is the choice I would have picked for anything that mentioned the word Windows in conjunction with my brand new Unix box. Windows. *shudder*

The dance of the exit interview

My current soon-to-be-ex corporate masters have dropped a new twist into the whole business of the exit interview; rather than the traditional process of talking to the departing minion, they are using a multiple choice web page – a short multiple choice web page at that! – that I can fill out at my leisure.


Now that’s an interesting way of arranging a exit interview. I’m assuming it’s being driven by the same logic as chose the Gallop Q12 “employee satisfaction” survey? It doesn’t seem like it would actually be very good at figuring out why an employee is actually leaving the company, unless they have a astrologer on retainer to process the results with the assistance of the Tarot and a mass of star charts.

Ah, well, it will cease to be my problem in a little less than 4.5 days (less than 1.5 days if I have to burn off my vacation days before I retire.)

Jun 08, 2008

Autonomy, blesssed autonomy!

Russell and I went out this afternoon so he could try to practice riding his new bicycle. I didn’t bother to try to attach training wheels or anything, because I was hoping that something like this would happen:


Yayy for used bicycles!

And now he won’t be needing to borrow the family car when he turns 16, because he’ll just be able to hop on his cycle and pedal to almost anywhere he wants to go.

1 comment

Railroad picture of the day


Amtrak F40 sled #90340 leads a northbound Cascades towards an on-time arrival at Portland Union Station.

Jun 07, 2008

New Code! (“whoops, it’s not supposed to do that” edition)

Cron has been rolled up to version 0.9.1 with the correction of a minor little buglet in the way I handle syslog output. The minor bug is that when cron started, it did an openlog() and proceeded along after that assuming that the syslog connection would be forever valid. Well, this might be the plan, but if I ever do a /etc/rc.d/init.d/logging restart, syslogd gets stopped and restarted and thus the old connections to syslog now point off into never-there-was. Which means that anyone (like, um, cron) who wants to write to the old syslog connection just freeze up and die when they attempt to syslog something.

Cron writes a syslog message describing what it’s about to do whenever it runs a job. Or, in the case of the .../logging restart mentioned above, it locks up and freezes when it attempts to run a job.


The bugfix is to simply wrap all syslog output with openlog()closelog(), and now if syslogd goes away the next output will connect to the right place.

So, New Code!, and it’s code that you might want if you’d like your copy of cron to actually cron along for the whole uptime of your machine.

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas at Westmoreland Park this afternoon.

1 comment

Jun 06, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


I was trying to get a picture of the bumblebee with my 50mm lens (not really the sort of lens I want to use if I want to get bee pictures) and I ended up getting a nice picture of the flowers with the blurry bee rushing in from the left.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


There’s a lab cleanup going on at work, and my Corporate Masters (for another week, hahahahaha! Poverty, here I come!) are tossing out things that they can’t find a use for. Things like a collection of Red! plastic bins which are just the size for holding Legos, project parts, or Dust Mites. Well, just because they can’t use ‘em doesn’t mean that I can’t use them, so homewards they come, to become cozy little bungalows for the smallest of our domestic vermin.

Jun 05, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


A rose on the other side of the street from the Corbett & Kelly bus stop.

Jun 04, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


A bees-eye view of a recently-opened rose.

Picture of the day


Scooters at high noon, Milwaukie & Powell.

Jun 03, 2008

Household vermin photo of the day


Is it a cat, or is it a large furry mushroom?

1 comment

Jun 02, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Some people carefully compose, choose, and finish the photos on their weblog. They are skilled and know what they’re doing. I, on the other hand, have disgusting little housecats that are, nevertheless, very very cute, so I will ignore my indifferent skills at composition, editing, and finishing and just keep posting pictures of cute but stupid felines.

Railroad picture of the day


Two twinkies pass by a clutter of traffic signs and signals at 8th and Division St. at ~5:20pm today. The cheerful leaden grey sky came along with the light drizzle that started falling during the 10 minutes I stood waiting for the Coast Starlight to come scuttling past.

Jun 01, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas chases after Russell with straw, maple leaf, and purple glowstick in hand.