This Space for Rent

Sep 30, 2008

Picture of the day


Sunset through the haze of a warm autumn evening.

Sep 29, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Dorrie is a sweet cat, but she is not afflicted with the ravages of intelligence.

Sep 28, 2008

YAFYE picture of the day


Three Eng!s pull a train north towards Brooklyn Yard.

Sep 27, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas shows off a blue-painted twig he discovered on the Llewellyn playground.

Sep 26, 2008

New Code!

Discount has been shoved, rudely, up to version 1.3.0pre3 as a test release for a large stack of new features and a smaller list of bugfixes.

On the bugfix front, I’ve fixed a case where the code dumped core when it was fed an empty list (reported by Petite Abeille), a few cases where I was overrunning buffers and testing against bogus data (also reported by Petite Abeille), and where a list of the form 1. this 2. is - a - test incorrectly produced two lists in the output, instead of a (bizarre, but that’s what the language demands,) single ordered list like this:

  1. this
  2. is
  3. a
  4. test

On the horrible feature front, I’ve added

  • table of contents code (originally code by Jjgod Jiang)
  • xhtmlpage() function suggested by Tim Channon. xhtmlpage() takes a markdown document and attempts to build a complete xhtml page out of it, inserting the contents of any [header][document header]s and style blocks in the correct places.
  • many boundary condition bugs discovered by Petite Abeille
  • class blocks.
  • superscripts.
  • alphabetic ordered lists.

I have probably forgotten some new features, the features I’ve remembered are still woefully undocumented, and I suspect there aremany many things wrong with this code, and that’s why it’s version 1.3.0pre3. But what use is life without some New Code! to play with every now and then?

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


The elusive dust mite spotted in its native habitat.

Out on the line

4 P&W geeps, no waiting

a brace of P&W eng!s pull a long freight towards the Portland Traction trail overpass at the northern edge of Clackamas County. When that freight passed under the bridge, it swerved off the Yellow Menace onto the P&W mainline south to Lake Oswego and the west, but by that time I was back on my bicycle and heading east again.

Sep 25, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas runs up to collect his Pokemon®©™ cards.

Sep 24, 2008

YAFYE picture of the day


Today I bicycled down into the center city instead instead of riding my regular route out towards Gresham. I turned around just south of Union Station because a Yellow Menace transfer freight was about to block my route further north.

At least I got a picture out of it (though I wonder just what these bike rides are doing to the pentaprism alignment in my *istDS? And I’m certainly not keen on replacing the pentaprism with a pentamirror OR replacing the tiny(ish) *istDS with a big old K20 that doesn’t even take AA batteries. Ugh. If I had US$2k lying around, I’d buy a VoigtlanderEpson RD1 as a walkaround camera, because the ancestral Vito BL has worked out nicely except for the tiny detail that it uses film. It’s a pity that nobody else [well, except for Leica, and the M8 would have been too rich for my blood even when I was making a mid-six figure income in the late 1990s] ever wanted to sell a digital rangefinder camera.)


Life on the river (#27)


The Ross Island Sand & Gravel tugboat pushes a couple of (hidden by the trees) barges upstream towards the processing plant on Ross Island. (*istDS, 55mm Super-Tak, f6.4, ISO 200@1/125th sec)

No, there’s nothing suspicious about this request

I’m selling off a bunch of my old computer stuff on ebay, including some fairly ancient laptops that have been put through the wringer and are good for not much more than parts. Most of them end up selling for pocket change (plus shipping) and I’m always happy when I can pocket a dollar or so while sending hardware to a place that can actually use it.

So, imagine my surprise when I get, in regards to an ancient p233 laptop that I’m trying to sell for US$.99, the following mail request:

Hello Seller
I will like you to consider me in selling your item for me , I will like to offer you the sum total of (900USD.00)both the buying and Shipping of the item, i will be waiting to read from you that you have consider me in selling your eBay item for me and i will like you to end the listing of the item for me, and i promise not to let you down in the process of the transaction,Thanks waiting to read from you,I will like you to get the item ship via (EMS) Global Express Mail 3-5 Days and i will .like to pay you via pay pal,and this is my PayPal email (, so i will like you to get back to me…
Waiting to read from you.

Sooo, they want me to pull the auction and then they’ll pay me US$900.00 for this laptop? For a laptop that I’m selling for US$.99, which has two hours left on the auction, and which has a “buy it now” price of US$29.99.

… no, I can’t see that there’d be anything that would seem suspicious here. After all, doesn’t everyone want to pay US$900.00 for a laptop that they can buy for US$29.99 + shipping? Perhaps I’ll open a bank account and deposit this promised US$900.00 alongside the US$20,000,000 that those nice nigerian bankers which to share with me.

Sep 23, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


A mass of purple flowers at sunset, snapped en passant while going out to dinner with Russell.

Sep 22, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas attempts to figure out how to knock me over while I’m taking pictures of him.

Sep 21, 2008

Decisions, decisions

I’ve been missing being able to mark up alphabetical lists with discount, and have added a(nother) horrible little hack to it for alpha lists; If I do

a. this
b. is a
c. test, eh?

It should resolve to

  1. this
  2. is a
  3. test, eh?

I’m not overly happy with the a./b./c. prefix (it doesn’t look like a natural list prefix to me – I’m used to doing things like a)/b)/c) ) but it does have the decided benefit of looking rather like what my local web browser produces after it processes an alphabetic list, and, just as importantly, it’s like the way numeric lists are defined in markdown.

So I’ll put it into discount for a while, but make it difficult to get to, and see if there’s anything about it that will cause discount to go all gcc on me.

Lemonade (project of the weekend)

One of the side-effects of the last project of the day was the creation of a large (in the 4-5 ton range, if not more) pile of broken up chunks of sidewalk. I didn’t have any place to put it, so I stacked it up on the front yard as a prototype dry stone wall, and that resulted in the whole family agreeing that putting in a concrete rubble wall would be a fine plan.


I started implementing this plan this weekend, by chopping a trench into the yard and stacking slabs of concrete in it. After a few mishaps (like trying to dig in hardpacked dry clay with a shovel. Ha ha) I managed to get the horrible thing done just in time for a torrental rainfall this afternoon, which, as you can see, managed to successfully not wash my work away.

And now I don’t have to hire a dumpster to remove tons and tons of crushed stone, hurray!

Sep 20, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Is it a cat, or is it a cat-shaped pillow?

Here’s US$700,000,000,000. Try not to spend it all in one place, okay?

Section 1. Short Title.

This Act may be cited as ____________________.

Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.

  1. Authority to Purchase.— The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.

  2. Necessary Actions.— The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

    1. appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

    2. entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

    3. designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

    4. establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and

    5. issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.

Sec. 3. Considerations.

In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for—

  1. providing stability or preventing disruption to the financial markets or banking system; and

  2. protecting the taxpayer.

Sec. 4. Reports to Congress.

Within three months of the first exercise of the authority granted in section 2(a), and semiannually thereafter, the Secretary shall report to the Committees on the Budget, Financial Services, and Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committees on the Budget, Finance, and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate with respect to the authorities exercised under this Act and the considerations required by section 3.

Sec. 5. Rights; Management; Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.

  1. Exercise of Rights.— The Secretary may, at any time, exercise any rights received in connection with mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act.

  2. Management of Mortgage-Related Assets.— The Secretary shall have authority to manage mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio risks therefrom.

  3. Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.— The Secretary may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at prices determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities loans, repurchase transactions or other financial transactions in regard to, any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act.

  4. Application of Sunset to Mortgage-Related Assets.— The authority of the Secretary to hold any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act before the termination date in section 9, or to purchase or fund the purchase of a mortgage-related asset under a commitment entered into before the termination date in section 9, is not subject to the provisions of section 9.

Sec. 6. Maximum Amount of Authorized Purchases.

The Secretary’s authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time

Sec. 7. Funding.

For the purpose of the authorities granted in this Act, and for the costs of administering those authorities, the Secretary may use the proceeds of the sale of any securities issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, and the purposes for which securities may be issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, are extended to include actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses. Any funds expended for actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses, shall be deemed appropriated at the time of such expenditure.

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Sec. 9. Termination of Authority.

The authorities under this Act, with the exception of authorities granted in sections 2(b)(5), 5 and 7, shall terminate two years from the date of enactment of this Act.

Sec. 10. Increase in Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.

Subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $11,315,000,000,000.

Sec. 11. Credit Reform.

The costs of purchases of mortgage-related assets made under section 2(a) of this Act shall be determined as provided under the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, as applicable.

Sec. 12. Definitions.

For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

  1. Mortgage-Related Assets.— The term “mortgage-related assets” means residential or commercial mortgages and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008.

  2. Secretary.— The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Treasury.

  3. United States.— The term “United States” means the States, territories, and possessions of the United States and the District of Columbia.

via CNN

I’m impressed. Was someone betting that the Secretary of the Treasury couldn’t be suborned, or was this just a case of “oh, hell, might as well make one more sweep through the treasury now that nobody’s going to stop us?”

Obviously I made the wrong career choice when I decided not to go into white collar crime. And since they put the “prior to September 17th” line in, that means I can’t go out and set up “Honest Ed’s Mortgage Company” and spin out a few hundred million in top-quality mortgages just in time for this bill.

Sep 19, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite, presented by Silas

Dust Mite and friends, hanging out on an overturned lego basket.

Planes & Automobiles, too

Construction vehicles and an airplane

An United Airlines 737 on final approach into the dump trailer of a construction truck.

Trolley picture of the day

A trolley car on a maze of twisty railways, all alike

A Beaverton-bound Airport train creeps over the fishhook bridge connecting the Airport branch to the Gresham<->Portland mainline.

Sep 18, 2008

More Bee Pictures!


A honeybee hangs onto a dangling flower and tries to clean excess pollen off before flying off to the next flower on the bush.

Sep 17, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Leo acts as an impromptu chair cushion.

Sep 16, 2008

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair


In 1995, this little Sparcbook 3GX would have put you back US$13,000 or so. After all, it had a 110mhz sparc processor, 64mb core, and a 1.2gb hard drive (and *cough* CDE, but let’s not discuss that in polite company, shall we?)

These days, it’s not worth quite as much. Let’s hope that someone buys it so I won’t have to pitch it into a landfill somewhere.


the food of the gods


We don’t drink coffee at home, so every now and then I have to make up some excuse so I can sneak out of the house and have a cup or two on the sly. I tell everyone I’m having an affair, and in this way I ensure that they will never suspect the sordid truth of the matter.

Sep 15, 2008

Perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration


The Xtracycle Free Radical is supposed to be able to carry extremely large loads, but I suspect two rampaging bull elephants would be too much for it.

TOY bull elephants, on the other hand, are probably ok.

Sep 14, 2008

Spider picture of the day


A smallish orb weaver spider, just hanging out above our front sidewalk.

Project of the day


After the Columbus Day storm (cyclone Freda) came through in 1962 and defoliated our neighborhood, some bright planner decided that sweetgum trees would be the ideal replacement for the now demised maple and/or elm trees that used to line our block. Well, sweetgums grow pretty fast, and by 2008 the two in front of our house had managed to push sections of the sidewalk 6-8 inches up above grade, at which point the city sidewalk inspector cheerfully condemned the entire sidewalk and gave us a month to fix it before sending in the city crews (at an estimated cost of US$5100.)

We don’t have that sort of money sitting around any more (retiring from computer programming is good for my mental and physical health, but, funnily, it’s not quite so good for our bank account,) so we decided we’d replace the goddamn sidewalk ourselves.


The first step was to go out with a 140 cm wrecking bar and a 25 pound granite boulder, so I could pry up slabs and then hurl, with great force, the boulder onto them. There’s no rebar in this sidewalk, so the concrete needed very little encouragement to revert into an unorganized pile of pebble and portland cement rubble.

The next step (after finishing the demolition of the other root-encouraged slab (directly behind you in these pictures)) is to call the city root inspector to find out whether I can cut the multiple 30cm roots that snake under where the sidewalk used to be, then, after the inspector says “no, you can’t damage a rare and exotic sweetgum!”, order 3-4 cubic yards of ballast and raise the trackbed up to the point where I can put concrete bricks down and have a sidewalk that actually lets the water flow through it instead of making large puddles that don’t actually reach the tree roots.

But that’s a story for another day, thank goodness.

Sep 13, 2008

Out on the line (YAFYE picture of the day)


The lead GE on a Yellow Menace freight, viewed from the Portland Traction trail bridge over the Yellow Menace mainline.

Sep 12, 2008

Picture of the day


Looking north on 4th St. from the Burnside intersection.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite rests on a bench at Llewellyn School after running around with Silas.

Sep 11, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Russell and Silas on the way to school this morning.

Guess what, George? Another year has passed, and the question still hasn’t been answered…


Sep 10, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


A pretty blue-centered flower (a daisy?) in a garden between home and Llewellyn School.

Sep 09, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


These flowers put up some huge ugly green leaves in the spring, which die back at the start of June and leave nothing except barren ground until the end of August, when these purple shoots spring up, flower, and die off by the middle of September. They’re really bizarre plants, and the ongoing debate at Chateau Chaos is whether or not we should just root the hideous things up and be done with them, punctuated with an annual “but they’re so pretty – quick, come look before they all WILT AND DIE again!”

They are pretty, in their own ephemeral way.

Out on the line (YAFYE picture of the day)


Two Yellow Menace engines wait for a clear block so they can head south on the ex-SP line to California.

Sep 08, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


An eastbound train departs Gresham City Hall station for the short run out to the end of the line at Cleveland Ave.

Sep 07, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


Blue/Green heads up Northrup on a hot Sunday afternoon.

Cute baby picture of the day


Our Prius has little vanity mirrors on the backside of the front sunshades, and they are just the right size to take pictures of tiny bears as they poke around in the back seat of the car and find interesting things to show me. As a bonus, Silas didn’t realize that I was actually taking a picture of him until it was too late.

Sep 06, 2008

Picture of the day


The ferris wheel at Oaks Amusement Park, viewed from the Portland Traction ROW.

Sep 05, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


A westbound Hillsboro train approaches Gresham City Hall station at ~2:30 today.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite at the end of the Portland Traction Trail in Boring, Oregon.

Sep 04, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


Rose hips on one of the rose weeds in our yard.

Sep 03, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


One of the weedy flowers in our front yard, at dusk tonight.

Sep 02, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Mavis and Leo balance gracefully on the newel post.

Sep 01, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


An airport-bound train approaches the station at 1st and Yamhill.