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Apr. 14th, 2014


2014 - #31, "Nights & Demons", David Drake

Previously unread.

Assorted shorts by David Drake. None of them cheery, all of them well-written. May well be worth a read. I will probably re-read it in some sort of future, but right at the moment, I prefer cheerier things (which will probably show exactly how dark this collection is, when you see the next entry).

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2014 - #30, "1920: America's great war", Robert Conroy

Previously unread.

Hm. Well... This felt almost exactly like the previous Robert Conroy book I read. A slight twist to a historic large-scale conflict, leading to an alt-hist large conflict, with the plucky Americans winning the day and our primary Plucky American Viewpoint Character winning the woman.

So, yeah, no, I wouldn't recommend this, unless it is close to a core interest for you. It isn't, for me, so I only ever accidentally get them through book bundles. But, I guess expanding one's horizons isn't specifically a bad thing.

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Apr. 7th, 2014


Old versus new

For a side project at $WORK I need to plot some data.

In the past I used gnuplot but as I wanted to interactively investigate the data I wrote a GUI browser in Clojure. This was relatively easy and fast enough.

But I've been told that I'm not with the new hotness and that I should investigate doing this in the browser. So I found the pretty impressive dygraphs javascript library.

The plots look fantastic and are really what I need. So I make my first html5 like page and tried it.

At first I thought that something was wrong. If I do this plot with gnuplot I get:

$ time gnuplot plot.gnuplot

real	0m0.818s
user	0m0.608s
sys	0m0.209s

In Safari it took 22 minutes, while showing a beachball all the time, to plot this data. Chrome and Firefox do it quite a bit better at only two minutes, but still... not subsecond is it? Using the 'canvas' html5 terminal in gnuplot produces 14M html file which only takes something lik 20 seconds to get drawn in all browsers.

But I must admit that the default look and interactivity of dygraph is lightyears ahead of my gnuplot settings...

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Aug. 18th, 2013


Latest with mom

Following from the last post in this thread…

Mom still lives at Winterberry. As a stopgap measure I've hired an in-home care service to spend a few hours with her every day. I started this immediately after the previous post, and Winterberry took pains to let me know how this turned her mood around immediately. We started with 12 hours a day, which I quickly turned down to six. Then I lowered this to four, but after a bad episode I rolled it back to six again.

I have to play with this knob because my mother's monthly expenses, with six daily hours of this care, top $9,000. With no in-home visits at all, it drops to around $5,500. Either way, her monthly income is around $2,000. I have a small pool of life-insurance payout money from dad, but that is dwindling very rapidly and will be gone by Halloween at the current rate of expenditure. When I first received that payout money unexpectedly it seemed a miracle, and while I'm still happy it exists, the wool's only recently been pulled from my eyes how horrifically expensive mom's current upkeep is, leaving me quite alarmed. Needless to say, there's no way I can afford to pay several thousand dollars per month out of pocket to support my mother indefinitely; the range matches or exceeds my average gross monthly income as a freelancer.

Selling the house becomes a top-priority project. That will immediately lower monthly expenses by more than $2,000, as well as provide a nice bit of cash for further cushioning (but not anything that will last for more than a year, at her current spending rate). Over the next few days I hope to sell the house's contents to an antiques auctioneer, who -- entirely cognizant of the fact he's doing me a favor -- is likely to offer a very token amount, plus the labor of packing it all up and moving it all away. With that done, we hope that the real estate agent I've hired ail have more success than she's found so far in moving the property along.

I also plan on taking mom to see her doctor in Waterville, so that the doctor can fill out a form from the Veteran's Administration confirming that mom cannot take care of herself. This is the final document from a long list I've been collecting since early June; on Friday I'm meeting with an agent of the VA in Bangor to talk about setting mom up with a pension, something she probably qualifies for based on dad's brief but on-record wartime service (Korea). I'm pinning a lot of hope on this pension, but I don't yet know how much it will cover, or how long it will take to activate. I've been warned that it can take as long as a year in some cases. I hope to have at least some of these unknowns resolved by this time next week.

While my last visit with my mother in June was perfectly pleasant, I'm not at all looking forward to this one. Over the last few days her mood has deteriorated quite a bit. Lately she becomes unhappy as soon as her "friend" from the in-home place leaves in the early afternoon, and spends the rest of the day resuming her campaign from Sunbury Village of calling phone numbers she finds among her things. Lately this is me or my brothers, but in the past this has included more distant family, or her doctor, or random professionals that dad did business with in the past. She'll tell them that she awoke to find herself alone in an unknown location full of strangers, some sort of hotel, but she doesn't have any money. Everyone's been very nice to her so far, but she doesn't have any way to pay for anything, and she fears she surely will be kicked out soon. She pleads with whoever she's called to contact her family and tell them she's in trouble.

I briefly had her phone disconnected, in part to stop bullying calls from her late husband's many creditors, which would always upset and confuse her. But this just made things worse, with her harassing the house staff or her neighbors to use their phone so that she could make her calls. So I've changed her number and her her phone reconnected.

When she does get me on the phone, she always begins "Oh, thank god," because as far as she's concerned this is the first time she's spoken to anyone she knows since her time in the strange place began (which she perceives as three or four days ago, invariably). When I say that I can't pick her up to bring her back to her real home, she heaps abuse on me, somewhat in the mode of a petulant teenager. I have done nothing for her; I am treating her like an animal. She knows she has memory problems, but why am I not treating them myself at her own home, instead of dropping her off in a strange place? She doesn't need me, she says, and if I won't help her then she'll just run away and hitchhike to Florida and start over by herself. She wishes sincerely that I am ignored and neglected just as badly when I get to be her age.

Then she tries to hang up, by pressing buttons randomly on whichever phone she found, so I end up being the the one to actually break the connection.

Mom's been on the waiting list to receive a geriatric psychological examination from Bangor's Acadia hospital for nearly two months. The receptionist of the doctor there has advised me to go ahead and check mom in to either of two local hospital's emergency rooms for an emergency geri-psych screening, which might have the same outcome as a scheduled one. I've told Winterberry that they can go ahead and do this at their own judgment, should things ever get out of hand again.

Either way, I want the outcome of the screening to be prescriptions for lots of psychoactive meds so that she'll be numb and happy-ish for the rest of her life. I have been more frank about this, in recent communication with them.

And that's awful.

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April 2014

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