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Texx (sometimes denizen of Grand Central Starport)


End of June
Im looking forward to pride this weekend, its 50 years since the cops of NYC underestimated the regulars of a certain bar in Greenwich Village in NYC.
It should be a real corker.

So Im a month into my new gig, relearning a bunch of stuff as Im dealing with Unix versions nobody has seen in years (HPUX AIX Sloaris)
It turns out they are still out there.
Im also working for a rather dodgy agency and have yet to be paid.
I exhausted the bank account at the start of May.

Financially Im in deep doo-doo

Dad came back from a tour the night before fathers day, having picked something up on the plane home.
This week Dr confirmed my suspicion, its either pneumonia or legionella.
Hes slowly improving.
This morning was my first time talking to him in nearly a week.
I hear him coughing and as long as I hear that, I know hes OK.
He was very quiet one night and I got very nervous.

Sharon wishes she could afford to pay me.

Meanwhile, a couple more trips to her Dads place have happened.
We are now able to do overnights, so we go up Friday night and that gives us 2 full days.

We have a vague idea where the septic tank is in front of the guest house.
The wood roof is starting to fail and I have to keep reminding people not to walk over it.
"If you go swimming in there, Im NOT going to go in after you !"

Interestingly enough, the toilet goes to a 4in dia iron pipe and goes through the foundation, presumably towards the tank.
The sinks & shower drain to a separate galvanized 2in dia pipe that goes off at a different angle and heads off behind the guest house.
Apparently not into the septic tank.

Her step bro & his GF are in Sharons grandads art studio.
GFs 3 grown sons live in various trailers on the site.
1 of them works. The other 2 play video games all day.
They used to put on a show of appearing to be working on the place when they knew we were coming.
The one who has a job actually gets stuff done during the week after work.
The other 2 its just a pretense.

There are a couple tall wind rows of trash bags, about 10 years worth of household garbage.
The "boys" are complaining about being asked to load the trailer and do a dump run every week.

Ive got enough of the blackberry chopped down, Ive exposed a couple cars, and now Im running around with a mattock to dig out the roots.
They have cut them down before and the vines just grew back.
They dont understand that if you remove the roots they wont grow back.

One complains about his back and how hot it is.
Im usually up a tad before 6am and its nice and cool.
Im self treating a couple infections, could really use a few painkillers a week, have about 30 years on those bums and am doing this after working 50 hrs a week on my day job.
And they complain about 5 or 6 hrs a day...
Ive pointed out that if you start at 6, its cool and easy, then you knock off from 11 to 2 and get back into it after the peak heat of the day.
I usually work through it, but they come out for about 2 hrs, then disappear and then you hear the heavy metal blasting.

So, we have water in the guest house when we connect up the garden hose.
The sink in the bathroom didnt work, even though the toilet flushed.
Don was sanding floors and I took on the sink.
I shut off under the sink and dismantled the valve.
Then I slowly turned it back on so see if anything came up.
"KA-BANG" as something ricocheted off the ceiling and I closed the valve.

It turned out the screw holding the washer had let loose and the washer was jammed into the bottom of the valve.
Proper reassembly of the valve returned the sink to operation.

The drains in the kitchen and bath seemed to be backed up.
No luck with a plunger or a snake.

Fortunately, all plumbing is in the front wall of the house with external access panels.
This week, Don was scrubbing walls in prep for paint, I waded in with a blow torch.
There was a clean out under bathroom and kitchen sink but they were sealed in lead.
This allowed me to snake further down the line before hitting an obstruction.
As long as I leave both clean outs open, sink water drains into the weeds in front of the guest house.

On the downhill side of the guesthouse, I started digging up the blackberry Id cut down before.
I found a blu tarp under the dirt.
I was afraid Id found an old dump.
I peeled back the dirt covered tarp and found concrete panels 2 in thick 3ft long and a foot and a half wide.
Apparently the sinks drain into a settling well, and it lines up with the sink drain line.
The tarp was to keep rain from filling it up.

The first weekend we were up there overnight, I noticed a hose bib with a leak on the downhill side of the guesthouse.
It turns out the riser had a pipe leak.

I tried to remove it, but the pipe broke and the wrench just wouldnt budge what was left of the riser.
We needed hardware any, so we added a "nipple extractor" to the list.
This thing goes inside the broken pipe and grabs from the inside.
We hit it with liquid wrench, but no luck.
This meant we had to keep the water off until we could plug the line.
Several more doses of liquid wrench and overnight.
Don suggests next morning we try both wrenches at once.
The problem was that the extractor had been slipping.
I put a wrench on the outside and gave it a pull to set the grip and partially crushed the pipe.
Well, that was what it took for the nipple extractor to stop slipping, so we got lucky.
With 2 of us, we had the remains of the broken riser out and a plug in its place.
This gave us water again.

I found another clean out on the sink water drain under the house, Im certain the remaining clog is there.
Next trip Ill chase that one out.

Don & Sharon will finish paining next weekend and start laying flooring.
Plumbing is almost functional at this point.
Considering the pipe condition, drinking from it is not wise.
Need to fix that.

While I was chasing drains between the sink and the elbow into the final drain run, the water pressure dropped abruptly.
That had me worried that we had pump failure coming up.
The next morning, one of the "boys" pointed out that we had a hose running near the main house.
Thats when I realized that when Don turned on the hose I was using to rinse all the rust in the drain,
hed initially turned on the wrong hose and failed to turn it off when he finally got the right one.
Pressure is back to normal.

This leaves 2 problems.
First, where is the incoming water line to the guest house and where is the master shut off.
Sharons grandad was very good, and would not have half assed this detail.
This has been driving us mad for over a month.

Next to last time we were there, Don & I were checking the pump and wondered about this capped off pipe nearby.
I joked about Dirty Harry "Do ya feel lucky...punk?"
We took the cap and got a geyser.
This was just about the same time we realized that when the guest house had water, so did the main house.
So now we knew where to pressurize the line to bring house and guest house on line.

The next problem is how to turn off guesthouse when not there so burt pipes wont raise havoc.
The water line comes in very close to where the toilet goes to septic tank.
It then turns 90 degrees al the way to the access door to the cellar.
Another pipe leads back up to run the rest of the guest house and the 2 pipes are joined at the cellar door.
There is a faucet there, obviously a drain line for the house.
This past weekend, closer inspection revealed a second valve.

Water comes in, down to cellar door through shut off valve, past a drain valve and then back up to run the rest of the house.
OK, now we can shut off and bleed guest house as needed.

At this point, we just need to figure out how to do a swimming pool shock treatment on the water line before permanent re connection.

Tenants from hell a number of years ago, stuffed the guest house with trash from floor to attic and underneath.
Sharon and her brother had cleared the inside of the guest house pretty much, but ti still needed the cleaning weve been doing lately.
The had most of the trash out from under too, and Ive pulled a half dozen demolition bags out from under there.
I think another 3 or 4 will finish the job.

We still need to have a session on the electrical.
The place had an electrical fire some time back, but its not totally repaired.

Ive now given roofs a leaf raking theyve not seen in a decade.

Saturday night, I did a bunch of picking up and floor sweeping of the print shop.
I found a new package of type that was still tied, but over time, the string had failed and it had "pied" all over the top of the type cabinet.
I did a number of little cleanup in there.
It still needs more.

I also did a rough diagnosis of the Ludlow typesetter.
It looks like the last time it ran, the lead pot was still a bit cool and the casting operation stalled
midway, thus jamming the machine solid.
Ive got a vague idea what it needs to run again, but no time to do it this season.

We werent sure if there were any "mats" for the Linotype.
Ive now found them.
Sharon always wanted to learn to run a Lino.

We need to get the bats out of there.
They are pooping on everything.

The main house needs a good cleaning out.
Tenants from hell left a mess in there too.
Don & I boarded up a few windows to make it weathertite until we have time to fix them.

Sharon took a nap before we left on Sunday.
Shed mentioned that on of the first things she wanted to do when she started on the main house was to retrieve her coffee mug from the kitchen.
During her nap, I wiggled etc and got both her and Dons mugs from the main house kitchen.
She cried when she woke up and found it on the bedside table.

This adventure has been eating every weekend, but I can see it slacking off to once a month next year.

We have a number of things to get done before Rennfaire starts.

Its been great for me to work off some nervous energy.

After pride, its the 4th of July in El Cerrito where Ill be on production crew again and manning the studio back haul for KECG-FM.

End of May
Its been quite a month.

Im sure youve seen "Case" tractors, backhoes etc.
They actually started before WW1.
KSW has 2 of them, "Hortense" from 1915 and Pappy built in 1917.

Pappy is a recent donation.
We have borrowed Pappy, but its now ours, failing clutch and all.

3 weeks before Maker Faire, John took the clutch apart and built them back up with Bondo.
Next, we made a sand casting of them which allowed us to cast and machine a brand new clutch in time for
Maker Faire.
During the faire, Pappy remained stationary, supplying steam for the engine belt driving
the printing press (1897 CHander Price 10x15),
a small "mantle engine" driving the orrery, and some steam to drive a steam powered bicycle up on a stand.
Off the flywheel from Pappys engine, we had a 12in wide belt driving a generator.

Originally, we were goung to use wood to make steam to drive an engine, to drive a generator,
to drive an induction furnace to melt metal.
With the chance of rain, a bank of expensive 2ft tall vacuum tubes was a bad mix,
so we ended up using the generator to drive a bank of high voltage transformers running jacobs ladders.
That was probably also a bad idea in the rain.

We had a canopy over the press, and Troye & Zee were doing iron casting with the oil powered furnace.
Zee is slowly sand casting a series of fruit. Completed are bananna, apple, pear and a tiny pumpkin.
There is a standard bowl of fruit that every art class gets to draw.
Zee is going to cast all the pieces and the bowl in cast iron!

This year the fair was smaller than half of last year.
Corporate sponsorship has dropped.
Considering that it poured most of both days, this was probably the last of the Bay Area Maker Faires.

I had planned on printing, but spent most of my time working the crowd as an explainer.

On a steam powered tractor, the firebox is close to the operator towards the back.
Toward the front is the boiler and then at the very fron is a chamber where all the fire tubes open into
allowing the smoke to go up the stack from here.
This means there is a 3ft diameter by about 2 and a half foot deep chamber full of smoke that sits
around 3 or 4 hundred degrees.
We have been threatening to do this for a while.
We baked several pizzas and a dutchoven containing a porkloin and BBQ sauce.
I was also drying shop rags on the outside of the smoke box.

I pointed out that a steam tractoe is a vehicle, a portable steam engine, a portable boiler, as well
as cooking lunch for the cre out in the field and drying your laundry.
It got laughs.

We will do this again in Oct at Roaring camp, but Pat will once again belting up an ice cream freezer to one
of the small steam engines, and Im going to take a shot at eith peach cobbler or berry crisp in another
dutch oven. Pat and I want to make cooking in a steam tractor a tradition.

Pappy's boiler is poorly insulated, so the rain put quite a chill on it.
We could barely keep up 60psi despite the boiler being built for 175.

We got soaked and chilled to the bone.

I picked up a month or two of work.

Weve had 2 more trips up to Sharons Dads place.
Last Nove when we tried to move the press was the first time since Sully died that Sharon didnt break down and cry.
Shes finally ready to deal with the place.

The guest house has no running water or power right now.
We gave it a good cleaning out and its almost habitable to allow overnight work sessions.
Her brother disconnected the water and now we cant find the water feed.
I put a reverse hose fitting on the laundry sink and managed to get the lines to hold pressure.
Most importantly, the toilet flushes so we dont have to bug her step bro to use the one in his cabin.

Problem is that the water pressure there is very low, despite being connected to the end of the city main.
There is a booster pump, but its hard to get to.

Armed with a weed eater and 2 battery packs, I cleared a 5ft wide path about 250-300ft long.
That dot us to the pump.
Replacing the pressure switch, brought pressure from 16 to 40psi.
The pump cycles on for 2 secs, and then off for about 30, and then on again.
We suspect there is a leak in the pressure tank, so we have another session on it next week.

While Don wired up the new switch and Sharon did more cleaning on the guest house, I went wild with the weedeater around several other buildings etc after topping off both batteries.
Sharon says that when I started around the main house there was a green cloud in the air where I was working.
Then she asked, "Wait, what did you do about all the poison oak that was over there?"
Thats when we realized that the green cloud in the air surrounding me was a cloud of airborn shredded poison oak.
I also fopund a toppled tower and the heating oil tank that once graced it down the hill and single handedly dragged both up the hill.
Miraculously, I survived.
On the other hand, Im quite sore still from the exertion.
I wasnt TRYING to prove anything, or perhaps I was. I dunno.

This weekend, we will verify that it ts the pressure tank and not the piping that is leaking,
we will go looking for where the guest house was connected to the water line and restore that.
Most of the floor in the guest house is covered in tar paper in preparation for a tile floor that was never
installed. Its got to go because tar paper is no longer used under tile, its badly walked on
and Sharon wants to start over on the floor.
I will be on my hands and knees with a heat gun and a putty knife.

If there was ever any doubt whether or not I was crazy, I have probably now removed any doubt.

End of April, on the edge
Ive been away from Dreamwidth a bit too long.
Its bad enough that Im only sporacic in posting, but apparently we almost lost Colleen and I didnt know it.
If there was a year to make Rainbow Con, this would be it, but I cant afford the trip.

Ive been out of work since Early Feb and the bank account is about to empty.

Ive been working on consolidating storage, preparing a growing batch of stuff for the Computer History museum.
Im also engineering the closeout of my remaining storage locker in Santa Clara, which Ive had since late 2002.
Once I have the shelving in San Leandro, I can pull everything from Santa Clara to San Leandro which is closer
to home, cheaper, doesnt go up in price as fast, longer access hours and with everything at one location, I
can do a much better job of sorting.

Last weekend was the annual San Jose Printers Faire & Wayzgoose.
I went to the Silicon Valley Emergency Communications Breakfast and then on to Wayzgoose.

After that, I went to Don & Sharons in Pacifica and removed 40 feet of boxwood hedge in preparation for
laying drainage along the unhill side of their house.

Next morning, we headed to Sharons Dads place in Willits to work on a few nagging issues.

One of the things complicating Dickens Faire last season was the problem with the trailer.
It has hydraulics allowing the trailer to "kneel" so we can move heavy equipment onto it.
They werent working in Nov. Don & I completely unwired and rewired it. We got battery grease into the
electrical connections, ended up replacing the relay, and repaired failed wiring for the power button.

I waded into a blackberry briar that was endangering one of the buildings on site, while other
"weedeating" activities happened elsewhere. We got a lot done.

Next trip involves preparing the cabin for re flooring.

Meanwhile, Im hopeful on the job front.
I dont have a choice, I HAVE to be hopeful.

Ive got fingers crossed for Colleen.

Feb already
Closing night of Dickens Faire, I came down with a croup.

The usual Cow Palace Croup didnt really rip through the cast because Red Barn Productions secured
permission to modify the building and add extra ventillations.
The 1pm sauna didnt happen this year.
While people came from far and wide with their own germs, the "petri dish" that the mid day sauna provided
wasnt present this year and as a result, we had a healthier year.

The last week of Dec and the first 2 of Jan were miserable for me.
I couldnt sleep because of the coughing jags.

I found a way to prop myself in the one position that didnt make me cough.
I think next year Ill look for a neti pot.
I discovered that I could force lukewarm water up my nose in the sink and it helped.
I knew it had gone bacterial when I blew my nose and it came out orange.

The job wrapped up the last day of Jan, so i spent the day on the computer today sending out resumes.
I tried to do it at work but every recruiter wanted to have a 20 min chat with me in the middle of
the day and in the middle of open seating. (Bad thing)

Lodema the Potter took a fall late in Dickens Faire (happened at home), thus takign her out for the last 2
weekends of Faire.
We had some leftover "Scrooge & Marley" eviction notices in the printshoppe, so we plastered her closed booth with them.

Closing weekend, I ran off a bunch of cards: "My cough should be better, Ive been practicing 4 weeks"
"When small men leave large shadows, the sun is about to set" and "Raise your voice! Even if it quavers..."
The second 2 brought tears as I gave them oput among the cast & crew.
"Cough" was inspired by our booth manager who came down with the croup opening weekend and missed the first 4 weekends of faire.
She was in for the first and last half hr each day and went home to bed the rest of the time.

We did faire with only 1 press this year.
Upcoming projects for this year include manufacturing 5 replacement parts for the 10x15 press.
Might even repaint it complete with original pinstriping.

This year, the Cast & Crew Solstice Party at Dickens Faire was final Saturday night.
While everyone was at the party, pranksters got into the Corinthian Rose Fencing Club and
took up the carpets.
The carpets were replaced, but only after precision trimmed bubble wrap was installed underneath.
When the booth opened in the morning, the carpeted area went pop popitty pop pop.
Truly one of the best done pranks.
Particularly well done, considering that the party was 100ft away and in the same bay.

Last weekend, Kinetic Steam Works did both nights of the SF Edwardian Ball.
It was like running off & joining Circue Soleil for a weekend.
I met a lighting designer. I hope Ben returns my email. Hees hot.
The Regency Ballroom is an old Scottish Rite Temple, complete with pipe organ.
They try to get it played monthly to keep it alive.
Edwardian Ball uses it during the evening.
It had a stuck pedal note that marred the concert first night.
Second night, I went up just as the concert started with a roll of gaff tape and silenced the offending
16ft Open Diapassion D# with a bit of tape accross the wind slot. (Aint I a stinker?)

I saw Jane & Andrew both nights.
I thought Andrew was going to pee laughing when I told him about the gaff tape and the organ.

Its been a whirlwind 3 months.

DCF aftermath... (Le Mal de Palai de Meux)
Will post more later, but suffice to say the "Cow Place Crud" hit me on closing night of fair
and Ive been in recovery since.

Orange snot and all !

Last 2 nights Ive managed to sleep 2hr in a row, this is a big deal.

DCF 2018 winding down
I note the post about @DonSimpson in @mdlbear recent post.
(Im experimenting with tags, dunno if I got it right or not)
Going through an archive of past printing jobs, I found a card that Sully did for Don.
I really should re set the job and duplicate the order just for fun.
Surprise hell out of him when the package arrives in his mailbox.

Every year, some groups have a better time at faire.

NCRF decided to permanently switch to 6 week season.
Unfortunately, they added the 6th week to the end instead of starting early.
They really wanted that pre Halloween weekend.
Nevermind that this forced an overlap between NCRF teardown and DCF opening workshops.

This was my first Nor Cal Renn Fair since 1978, 40 years.
The politics that drove me away are gone, replaced by others that Im able to deal with.
It was safe to come back.

The real reason I was back was to get into the swing of things in preparation for the
return of the "Roaring Dragon Press".
The Roaring Dragon is a wood "common press" of the wine screw variety,
as appropriate for the late 1500s.
NCRF opened this year on the 10th anniversary of his passing.

It will be a year or two before it returns, but there is prep work to do.

I would really rather print as a scot, but operating a printing press in a great kilt
is just too much. Sadly, I must go as a Brit.

Ive been in "Faire Season" since early August.

This brings us to Dickens Faire...
Im not sure how it is that a Christmas fair is what enables me to endure the
Christmas season, which I abhor.

Season started out rough, with Don tearing down NCRF and the rest of us at DCF Workshops.

Once build started, don had to stay close for French Postcards rehearsal, so Sharon and I
went up north to bring down the part of the shop that lives up there.
One of her brothers usually does this but smoke from the Paradise fire had him out of commission.
We got up there and the trailer had problems.
We had to return empty handed and set up the shop with what Sharon had in her basement.

A number of improvements were made in the shop to alleviate problems that have plagued
us as long as I can remember.
One problem was that every horizontal surface filled with clutter several inches deep by the end of first weekend.
A mug shelf also got a number of other things up out of the way so that we could actually
set type on top of the flat top cabinet.
With mugs, pens, pencils, exacto knives and a few other things up there, things really neatened up.
Don didnt really want to do it, but by the end of first weekend, he was a believer.
The other thing was a small 1ft cube on the wall to hold things like order book, sample books, past order books, extra under tympan packing sheets etc.
He came around on that one too, 2 weeks later, but not til after a useless counter was installed
in the middle that will be in the way next year.

We also had only one press this year, so the shop had a lot more open space.

The plan is to return to 2 presses next year, but probably not the 14x20.
We used to use it to print bags, but Don & I figured out how to do them on the 10x15.
Instead of the 14x20, the plan is to bring down the 8x12 and keep it down here in the off season.
This would make the trip up north less critical and anything else we need can be brought
down before DCF season.

Unfortunately, there was this insistence on building a front counter on top of the half wall inside the booth.
We already had a front counter where the windows open to the street.
With one press, this second counter is OK, although it doesnt do much beyond collecting clutter.
With a second press, this counter and the required space behind it really cramps things.
I really think this second counter was a waste of time but I cant convince the rest who were
oohing and aaahhing over it. I was voted down.
Worse yet, this waste of time was getting in the way of something we REALLY NEEDED.

Somewhere around mid 3rd weekend, we FINALLY got it together.

Health had Sharon out of the shop till 5th weekend.

For the 1st time since Sully died, we did a multi color print job.
For the 3rd year in a row, we will finish all orders in the order book and we still took orders
through the end of the next to last weekend!

We have a LOT off off season work to do this year.
Its hard to explain that time now means less panic later.

Z! and I are going to make some replacement parts for the presses.
They are 140yo and about due for some repair.

The weekend approaches, Ill post more after final weekend.

Edwardian Ball with KSW is coming up
(Like adjusting from Challenge Gordon presses to Chandler Price, - some levers work backwards)
Back to you all then.

Oops, this never got posted!

Dickens Faire starts tomorrow
This is turning into a very bumpy season.
Worse than usual.

Before getting to faire topics, theres something in the air.
About a week ago, I came out of the office in Redwood City to some rather dirty air.
A QUICK search on my phone for Redwood City smoke turned up a small grass fire at 101 & 84.
Reaching home, I realized this was something bigger, probably up north.

When I was 19, just starting to drive on my own, I was all over the hills east of Chico.
It was wonderful countryside than I might retire to some day, filled with communities of
Cohasset, Conchow, Magalia, Stirling City, Forest Ranch, Butte Meadows, Lomo and more.
The largest, outside of Chico, were Oroville & Paradise.

As far as i can tell, the fire came up out of the canyon on the south
(there may have been a separate one to the east that burned together)
crossed Rentz Rd, and like a squeegee, wiped a town of 27,000 people off the map.

At the moment, over 50,000 people are displaced.
A very small number of them will have something to go back to.

Among the victims were retirees on fixed income, and people who were not well off but had a trailer and a place to park it.

Housing was already scarce, and finding homes for 50,000 people is near impossible.
The bulk of those people wont be able to settle anywhere in CA.
The cost of rebuilding in Paradise is probably out of the hands of the people who lived up there, even if they had insurance.

The only school to survive is the HS.
Their football team was heading on to championships, and now they have to forfeit because the team is scattered.
Odds are nil that they will be able to get the class of 2019 together again to graduate.

The death toll is over 50, now and most are elderly or people camped out in the boonies.
A number of people waited it out shivering in Conchow reservoir, including a cat in a carrier outfitted with floats.
One guy was scrambling to fix his truck as flames advanced.
Because he was able to get it fixed barely in time to make a run for his life.

A co worker at the USFS retired to a home hed just built in Paradise.
It was new years eve when he handed me his laptop and his cardkey as he left the USFS the last time.
I dont remember Prestons last name, so i have no way to check on him.

My HS band director is on the west side of Chico in his home that includes a tracker pipe organ.
Hes OK, although the smoke is preventing him from riding his bike.

The one I was worried about the most, surfaced in Redding last night.
Paul is a church organist. He escaped Paradise with his van and his cat.
2 organs, 3 synthesizers his music library, family stuff personal stuff is gone.
Also gone is his church, congregation and probably job.

They say "You can always replace stuff" but thats really a hollow statement.
Its something that clueless but well meaning people say.
Theres a lot of stuff that cant be replaced, and its loss will haunt you for the rest of your

Initial missing list was 260, finally dwindling down to 100 or so.
Last nights press briefing, there was a gasp when the sheriff updated the missing list to over 650.

Im exceedingly fortunate to only have to deal with the smoke.
I feel traumatized, nonetheless.
My only solace is that Paul finally turned up.
Those are nice people up there and this should NOT have happened to them.
Im barelly staying oin the black, so Im not in a position to help, beyond hoping that some miracle comes through to ease their situation.

Ive been busy showing my niece "Ali" the ropes as she joins us for DCF.
Its been fun introducing her to people.

Ali is known in the family as a timid driver, and my sister knew that she needed some work on that.
My offer to meet Ali in San Leandro and help her learn the route was accepted.
Timid turned out not to be the right word.
I found someone "prudent" who just needed more practice.
Her navigational skills are improving. It turns out, she navigates by landmark as I do.

We did 2 weekends of workshops in Pacifica and last weekend booth prep at the Cow Palace
(Le Palais de Meux)

Last Friday night, I ran 1500 shopping bags on the small press (foot powered).
By the time I ran the job and washed the press, it was 4am, but half the job was done.

Sharons brother was not available for the press move, and Sharon wanted to get back involved
Last Saturday, Don & Ali worked on booth until Dons rehearsal with postcards started.
Leaving at 7, Sharon and I made the run up north. (I was trashed)

The trailer we usually use needs to be worked on, it cant be used.
The pallet jack was out of oil, but I found a jug of it in the shop and managed to get the pallet jack running again.
Its really ready for new seals and a fill up.
It was my first time in the shop up north and I had a chance to do a mental inventory.
There was less type than I expected, and it wasnt as full of trash as Id been told.

We returned empty handed.
I prepped typecases in the basement at Pacifica for moving, boxed the bags Id printed for
delivery, and went to bed.
Sunday morning, Ali and I loaded the small pickup with all the type cases, the big truck with 2 type cabinets, and the paper cabinet and a few other oddball items.
Alis Honda Fit (an amazing car) swallowed 6 cases of bags, the file boxes with the contents of the paper cabinet and a few other things.
Ali was nervous about taking more, so we didnt max out her car.

We were hoping to rent a trailer suitable for trying the north shop run again on Sunday,
but it didnt work out.

Sunday evening, with Dons help in managing the infeed and outfeed tables of the press,
I was able to finish "the bag job" and did 2000. My peak was 500/hr, by hand.
Towards the end I was probably down to 200/hr as the session ended.

Something joined us briefly in the basement that night.
There was a presence I could feel and I caught a flash of something in the peripheral vision.
The running joke in the shop is that Im apprenticed to a ghost, and sometimes it becomes real.
If I add up all the days ive either set type, operated a press or done maintenance on a press, I
have less that a year of workdays, and yet Ive learned so much.
Very little time has been someone teaching me something.
It just comes to me and I get obsessed with perfecting some skills.
Obviously, Im getting help from somewhere.

This week, evenings after work, Don & I wrestled the paper cutter on one run and the composing
stone & cabinet on another evening into the shoppe at faire.

At this point we are all set to go, but we dont have ANY press at faire yet.
Tonight is going to be rough.

A week ago when I first noticed the smoke?
That day I was on public transit.
I had dropped the car off at the mechanic next to BART the night before.
The last 2 miles I was creeping along slowly, trying to hit the lights just right.
I aimed for the outdoor mechanics lift because I knew that it would stop the car, as the brakes definitely wouldnt.

One of the brake shoes was missing. One of the brake rotors, the show had worn through the
surface into the internal cooling fins in the rotor.
Having done so, the "high hat" that actually attached to the axle was completely free from the
rest of the rotor.

Its good that I did all that riding with Ali to and from Pacifica.
Imagine losing brakes on CA rte-1 on that grade?

I note that I already despise this holiday season.
The fires have made it worse.
In a pavlovian way, after 4 years in a row, not only is the holiday season cold dark and
stressful, but I now associate it with large numbers of people being burnt out of their homes.
Did I ever mention that I dislike Christmas?

On the other side, I realize that it is this bunch of bipolar stressed out lunatics that
are keeping me sane.
Aint THAT a kick in the ass?

On to Dickens !
The Ham Radio Pacificon is complete, Nor Cal Ren Faire is complete.
This past weekend was first Dickens workshops.

Don was still down in Hollister tearing down the rest of Ren Faire, so we didnt see him til Sunday night.

Noobs have to take 7 workshops, intermediates 5 and those of us with over 6 years only have to take 3.
Being in a booth, I COULD sneak off without any, but we are doing our best play by the rules to the utmost.
This season Ill be taking 9.

Fortunately there are some new ones.
Victorian color was interesting as well as one on the victorian flower sellers.

I knew about complimentary color and color triads.
I didnt know about color quads, or split complimentary.

Ive been encouraged to take the corset lacing workshop.
With my niece joining the shop, this became even more apparent.
Alison is having a custom corset made.
After taking the course, I found out that Ali did not actually know the dos and donts of corsets.
For example, you do NOT tie the lacing strings around your waist.
Not only is this hard on the person wearing it, it also damages the corset.
Sunday afternoon, as we were leaving workshops, the Fezziwigs rehearsal was starting and someone
was doing a rough fitting of a corset over clothing.
I ended up doing a commentary on the lacing.
Then I dissolved in peels of laughter.
Not only was I teaching women how to lace a corset, I realized the likelihood that the first corset I would probably end up lacing after the class would be Ali's !
Keep in mind that while I have friends who do drag, its not my thing.
The very idea of me instructing people on womens dress is beyond laughable.
She further kazzingled me with "Oh, you just figured this out NOW?"

This is proving to be quite the bonding experience, considering that Ali and I werent even on
speaking terms until she hit 13.
Now in her mid 20s, we are cohorts in crime.

Sharon made the Grand Meeting and then slipped off to Half Moon Bay to play music and on Sunday she was battling an obstreporous window contractor on her house.
Ali and I popped by after workshops on Sunday.

Ali is going to borrow part of her outfit from Sharon, this year.
They played "dressup" for a while.
While they did that, I uncovered the press in the basement and pulled out the cut block for the Cuthberts shopping bags.

They joined me, and we started the "makeready" process.
Not wanting to wash the whole press, we rolled a bit of ink onto a scrap piece of marble and
hand inked the block with a roller.
At this point, we need to raise the image up about a quarter inch in the chase and check progress.
We are close now.
Disturbing is a light spot on the block, either its my hand inking, or we have an issue with the photo polymer.
I hope we dont have to make another plate.

Next week is "stake out" at the Cow Palace.
It appears we are in the same place as last year, first bay right off the London Docks.

Many were missing from the grand meeting because they were either already at the cow, or they were down in Hollister tearing down the last of NCRF.

In the meantime, the storage consolidation project continues in parallel.
I still have 2 remaining Public Storage units in Santa Clara which I hope to vacate over the next year.
At the moment, I now have enough at the new place I can start weeding out in ernest.
I may also have found a source of some desperately needed shelving.
If I loop by every night on the way home for 1 or 2 hours I can keep the momentum going.
I really do have a fair amount of stuff that really is trash.

I also have some stuff that is too cool to toss, and Im seeking "free to a good home".
Ive unearthed a bunch of stuff I need to get over to the computer history museum.
I need to find people from the vintage computer community to take what the museum wont.
I have a number of sun-3 workstations that need homes.

Ive found a fair amount of just plain scrap iron.
Cast iron intake and exhaust manifolds will probably go to Kinetic Steamworks to be recast into something.

Its a long process, but Ive got to get going on it.
You dont even want to know how many hundred square feet of stuff I have to go through.

Finally a break on Saturday night.
I have 2 lamps in the tail light that often fail because it rains inside the housing and shatters hot lamps.
As a result I often have 2 burnt out lamps.
Most recently, Ive been tagged for not having any tails at all.
The temporary fix was 2 wedge 2 sheets of cardboard (cut up cerial boxes) between the 2 rockerswitches.

After getting home Saturday night, I tentatively started working on the dashboard to pull the headlight switch.
Automotive shops dont take back anything electrical, soi I needed to make sure I got the RIGHT headlight switch.
It turned out I didnt have to remove the whole dashboard.
A 5 x 8 section removed separately and that was enough.
Once I had it out, I found the switch was good.
I exercised it a bit and it bacame 100% reliable.
I put everything back together again and it was still good.
That saved me $20 right there.
I picked up 2 LED tail lamp replacements.
They were a tad pricey, but I think they will fare better than the glass ones did.
At this point, I have proper tail lights for the first time in Im not sure how long.

It was a busy weekend.

Faire season midway
This is proving to be a most exhausting season.
This is not actually a bad thing.
Dancing on this edge is actually something that keeps me sane (
well... sorta...)

A number of things have come together.

I have outlived most of my family at a time when I desperately NEED family.

In 2011, I was all but dragged kicking & screaming into Dickens Faire.
As it turned out, this was a good thing and Ive embraced it ever since.

In 1978, I had a front row seat to some seriously bad politics and swore off faire ever since.
Since then, Ive heard additional horror stories, such as the banning of chainmail merchants because one of the directors didnt like chainmail.

Through Dickens, Ive gotten into printing and actually have excelled in it in a rather short period of time.
This in turn has led to other things.

Don and I have been batting around the idea of printing at Rennfaire.
Sharon's dad, Sully, used to bring a wood common press "The Roaring Dragon" to faire.
Sully passed in 2008. The press hasnt been to faire since.

At the end of Dickens 2017, Sharon mentioned that I needed to learn how to run the Roaring Dragon.
A platen press is quite different from a common press.

It turns out she was having the same thoughts I had.
We didnt have the timing for this year, but I really needed to get back into the swing of faire.
NorCal Rennfaire has some politics, but nothing nearly as bad as the 70s, so, for the 1st time
in 40 years, I returned to faire this year.

I had a blast. As a Dickensfaire printer, I was already a shirt tail "Cuthbert" anyway.
They really needed people for parades.
Well, thats what I really WANTED to do at faire, so that was cool.
One of the benefits of "Cuthies" is that if you go hungry, its YOUR FAULT!
Ive gained 20lbs since the start of August.

Don has kept Z! apprised of my success at keeping up with the 20 years olds
in the drinking dept. They have been having a good laugh.
Ive been laying out a sleeping bag on a plastic tarp on a concrete slab and
its helped my back alot, especially if Im pretty bombed when I do it.
Im out in like 3 mins.

Also at the start of Aug, I started a new gig.
A lot of companies want cloud computing, but dont want to do it in public cloud.
I am installing private clouds for customers.
Its complicated, and the documenttation is poor if it exists at all.
Its been an exhausting learning curve following one of the rougher onboarding process I can remember.

Rennfaire went back to a 6week run.
Unfortunately, they tacked an extra weekend on to the end, rather than adding it to the start.
This means that tear down weekend conflicts with opening workshops for Dickens.
Its not going to go well.

Dickens, because of a quirk in the calendar, is going to 6 weeks this year,
returning to 5 next.
This means that every weekend from start of Aug to xmas is filled.

I took a day out of rehearsal weekend to work the Solano Stroll with KECG.
I woke up at 5, after the Tiki Party to drive from Casa De Fruita to Albany CA.
I ended up leaving an hour late because I needed to make sure I was sober.

I blew off opening weekend of RennFaire to empty a storage locker that was getting expensive.
Its good that I did, because the latch had been tampered with and no longer locked.
I also found cut marks on my lock.

I combined 2 lockers at that facility (the other latch was also messed with)
into one single at the new place where I am.
The game plan is to get everything to one facility that has evening hours so that I have everything in one place to sort.

I also took off weekend 4 to do Roaring Camp with Kinetic Steamworks.
It turned out to be a bucket list event, unbeknownst to me before hand.
It was "Brewgrass Festival" weekend with craft beers and bluegrass.
We ran the 4 press trailer with the steam engine.
We also had a Stanley Steamer, The steam tractor "Pappy" (101 yrs old),
the portable iron casting furnace, and another engine running a hay bailer and an ice cream freezer.
You havent lived until you have had ice cream made by steam!

The silliness from Maker faire continued, with a few more bananas being sand cast and a couple of the tiny pumpkins.

Z! is threatening to cast a whole bowl of fruit, and the bowl,
just like the famous art assignment everyone does.

Many patrons came up from Santa Cruz on the beach train, so sometime after 9,
the train took them back. KSW was comped a round trip.
Beach trains after dark are rare.
They had spotlights on the roof of the coach lighting up the trees on the way.
Looking up it was like a coral reef.
Looking down you could see the trees down the hill, off to nowhere, like being on the edge of a cliff.
Parts reminded me of Carlsbad Caverns.

The tracks go down the street in parts of town.
Families came out on porches to wave at the train, some with kids already
in jammies, people at the Casablanca Hotel came out on balconies to wave.

The return trip was in the cab of the locomotive. That was cool too.

While packing up on Sunday night, we stopped loading a steam engine into a
trailer to watch SpaceX cross the sky.
Suddenly a huge teardrop section of the sky went to a lighter shade of blue and we saw the stage separation, and we actually saw the retros fire for recovering the stage.

Next week is the ham radio Pacificon convention, so Ill miss closing weekend of NCRF.

I understand I missed Devon Black when I blew off opening weekend for the
storage caper.

Jeanie was with court, and Fred was with us at Cuthberts.
I ran into someone I hadnt seen since marching band in HS who works with security.

Sky who works both Dickens and NCRF as well at World One July 4th waved at
us every time parade passed her booth.

I have a new faire family. This is a good thing.

The guild system at all the faires in CA have been falling apart.
St Cuthberts, like many is a shell of its formal self.
I started looking for something I could do.
Our parades have been sparse.
Ive spent my half season this year recruiting people to join us in parades.
By this weekend, we had all 10 banners in all parades.
Sunday night, our parade director commented,
"Where did we suddenly get all these 'tweenagers'? Having them in the parade is great!"
It would appear that I did well.

Last fall, I learned that older niece Ali is coming back down from Washington.
Ive been working on setting things up so she could join the fencers at Dickens, as she was with UCSC fencing.

Thats when she told me that she was hoping to print with us.
This came at the same time that Sharon showed interest in joining Don & Z! with postcards, leaving me to run the shop late afternoon.

Having Ali join us in the shop will help things alot.

We have been joking about me being apprenticed to a ghost.
Its almost not a joke. Ive learned fast. Im passing people up
and in terms of actual hours, I havent had that many.
Every year, theres something that I get completely sucked into until I get it perfect.
Its Sully managing me from the great beyond.

I now let the hair and the face go wild after 1st weekend of Aug.
The funny thing is that by the end of Dickens I actually start to look like him.

Interestingly enough, the 10th anniversary of Sullys passing was opening day of Renn Faire this year.
The Roaring Dragon was on display but not used at NCRF that year.
It hasnt been back since.
The Dickens printshoppe didnt happen that year at all (2008).
I met them final Dickens weekend 2011, so I really didnt join the shoppe until 4 years after his passing.

My 2nd year in the shoppe, Don was in Southern CA dealing with his parents estate.
It was mostly Sharon and me that year.
When Don came back, he said Id pulled her out of her shell a bit.

We both have a problem with outliving our families.

Its possible having someone vaguely resembling her dad, and almost as crazy might help.

Im still getting to know Sully from the stories people tell.

Looking back, seeing Z! in there with them got me to stop and chat them a while.
We are now wondering if Sully actually grabbed me.
This has been a definite twilight zone situation (not a bad thing).

Further complicating things, is that part of what we use at Dickens, lives in Willits.
The Willits run to the Cow Palace is usually handled by Sharons step brother Max.
Max is a mechanic and had a mishap a while ago that resulted in him bench pressing a Cadillac.
Its looking better than even that Sharon and I will do the Willits run this year while Don & Z! are rehearsing French Postcards.

Indeed, this is going to be a brutal faire season, and its only half over.

When Grand Central Starport disbanded a few years back, I was given a pair of boots.
Steve & Colleen will likely be happy to know that those boots are the foundation of my Renn Faire outfit.
I really wanted to do it at a scot, but printing in a great kilt is going to be trouble.

As a result, this year, Im in a pair of Sharons dads breeches.
Yes, I got in Sully pants....

Outta the north...
I had several recruiters after me this morning, all trying to put me into a full time position,
including relocation & visa help to move to Vancouver BC.

I really want to stay in the bay area if I can.
Whats left of family & social support network is all here.

I think this is the first time Ive been recruited for Canada.
I briefely thought about the Twiterer of The US (TOTUS) and actually considered going for it.
Then I came to my senses and realized that just because we have white trash living in the White House,
I dont have to move.
If anyone should move, it should be THEM!

Mandel Bear has been doing a series of posts under Computer Curmudgeon in which he cuts
through a bunch of BS and explains some stuff I wish had been explained to me in the early 90s.
Im encouraging him to put it into a book.

As time progresses, I have a growing list of things that I wish my teachers had not made so complicated.

I never got logarithyms before 2010. Teachers made it incomprehensible.
It turns out logs are all about exponents.
10 to the 3rd is 1000 in base 10, so in base 10,
the log of 1000 is 3 because thats the exponent that got you there!
Why didnt they explain it that way in 1977?
I might not have flunked logs so many times, saving everyone a bunch of trouble.
Hell! I might have finished my degree.

Trig, I also finally got in 2010.
It turns out trig is about triangles and circles. Thats it!
I picked most of it up from a wiki article in about a half hr.
Again, several flunked classes that i would have gotten if people didnt make the damn math so hard.

Algebra2 was a problem because I could never remeber the damned quadratic formula.
Both neices had the same math teacher in Livermore,
who taught the classes to sing the formula to Pop Goes the Weasel.
Now, I could not forget that formula if I tried.
Its also fun to perform at parties for fun, although its even better after a few "Incredible Hunk" cocktails.

Per San Jose Mercury News, 120k is considered low income in the southbay.
The cutrate tech "body shops" like Tata, HCL, Cognizant, Wipro etc continue trying to post jobs at
They go in and quite low rates to the end client to get the job, then they recruite people
"Oh we only have this budget".
Several times now Ive pointed out that these numbers are unrealistic to these agencies.
Several times, I said "No thats too low" and they actually raised their rates into the market range.
If you have a good resume, and you dig in your heels, you CAN make them raise their rates.
Its kind of empowering.

Mid July
July 4th in El Cerrito went OK.
I didnt get out to the site untill the 3rd.
Setup starts a week in advance and I was busy with jobsearch.

A lot of things I usually do are no longer happenign and the gaps in my life give time for depression to set in.

Except for 2 months early this spring, Ive been out of work since Halloween.
Im a Sr Systems Admin, mostly Linux & Unix.
The workspace has changed and Ive not been good at keeping up with it.
This is my fault.

Ive been plinking away at Python in the meantime with online tutorials.
This helps.

I had been marketing myself at a Sr sysadmin, but sysadmin of any level now implies Jr level.
I held off on calling myself Dev Ops because I could not define it, and the very term seemed a buzz phrase.

Now I can define it.

Dev Ops is just a diffderent way of doing Sysadmin.
Classic Sysadmin, you interact with each machine one at a time.
When we only had a couple hundred machines, this worked.

Thanks to virtualization and containerization, its easy for a company to have 50,000 machines,
and classic sysadmin wont work on that scale.

In Dev OPs, we edit control files and let other software (CF Engine, Salt, Ansible, Chef, Puppet)
go out and do our bidding.
I note that in Salt, the client process is called a "minion".

In 2012, I was modifying web pages at Yahoo and these changes propagated to the machines I was working on.
A year later, I was editing XML files to do the same.
In other words, Ive been doing Dev Ops for 5 years without realizing it.

Rebranding myself as Dev Ops, Im getting nibbles at market rates, and Im hearing from more recruiters.

In Nov, I was nervous about my Python, so I was downplaying it.

Im no longer doing that and Im passing online code challenges at least half the time.

I only have about a year of Docker & Kubernetes each.
Most recently, they have stopped asking about Docker.

Im increasingly being asked if I have a GitHub account.
I write scripts for internal use. I dont work on end user apps.
I realized that they equate having a Git Hub account with Docker proficciency.
This is bad logic, but Im on to them so Ive gamed them.
I opened a GitHub account.

So whats the killer now?
Ive started working on an online AWS cert program.
We will see if the cert covers for not having used it on the job.

This spring, at a Python Meetup, someone talked about its use in artificial intelligence.
I never expected to userstand AI, leaving it to the PHDs.
The speaker touched on the primitive level mechanisms for AI and I understood it.
Its much simpler than I thought it would be.

"Object Oriented" was a buzz phrase to me from the mid 90s on.
When I took up PYthon 2 years ago,
(Exposed to Python & Ruby in 2014 but didnt actually start writing Python til 2 yrs ago)
I got an idea of how object oriented systems work.

Interestingly enough, once i started to get Python,
I found that I could understand many other languages I dont write in.
Suddenly everything from Ruby to Java became understandable.
Python functions as a Rosetta Stone to other languages.

Then came Mandel Bears (AKA Computer Curmudgeon) recent post on computer languages.
I really wish Id read that post in the early 90s.

I would love to see Steve expand that into a book,
because he gets into things Ive never seen in a computer language book.

Im really wondering if Steve might pursue teaching at community college.
Being able to cut through the BS, get to the point,
but still include the historical references is a hard skill to find.

We didnt get it together in time, so we arent going to be able to bring
the common press (AKA Roaring Dragon) out to Renn Faire this year.
This is ther 10th anniversary of Sully's passing,
and there has not been a printing booth at Renn ever since.

I joined the Dickens Fair printshop 4 years after his passing.
We started talking about printing out at Renn about 2 years ago,
and people are just about ready to renew the tradition.
This year, Dickens is 6 weeks long, so its going to be a brutal slog.

Incidentally, we are starting DCF prep already...

My older niece, Ali (cultural anthropologist) may be joining us in the shoppe at DCF.
I was working on getting her in the the fencers when she told us that she really
wanted to come print with us.

Her back story:
"Sent to London to live with her excentric uncle to catch a husband, but caught a career instead."
Shes such a wallflower, you dont expect a witty bit like that.

I had no idea she was interested in printing.

Moms BFF from 6th grade throught HS had 2 daughters about the same age as my sister and me.
Kathy & Trisha and my sister Margaret & I consider ourselves siblings,
and I refer to Kathy & Trish as my half sisters.
Trisha has taken up restorative book binding, which also surprised me.
Printing is slowly invading our family.

I enjoy apropriating an NRA slogan:
"I own a printing press, and I KNOW how to USE it!"

Scholars of history realize just how threatening this statement it.

Raise your voice! ... Even if its quavering.

Late June
Life just isnt that much fun these days.
Obviously, Im deep in depression.

Im going to skip Pride weekend.
Im just not up to it.

The 2 months at Apple was the brightest point in my life in a long time.

Its hard to get work because there are a few things that I dont have on my resume.
I dont have paid experience in any of the big 3 public clouds Amazon Google or Azure.
Im light on Docker & Kubernetes.
Im light on chef Puppet & Ansible.
At least my Python is better.

My retirement plans include working another 25 years as I cant afford to retire.
Of course that requires me to get re employed, and with the prospect of the current bubble popping
life is terrifying.
Before the bubble blows, I need to somehow amass a full years expenses.

Maker Faire
Back in January, we built a new casting furnace just before the 2 Edwardian Balls.

You can view pics here:

If you click on the Maker Faire prep, you can see several things including construction of the new furnace.
We had a bit over an hour to place the refractoty material.
I was mixing it in small bastches and we had 4 people placing and ramming it.
There will be more pics on the website later.

We had a problem getting it up to temperature, so it smiked alot.
It turns out the solution is to build a wood fire in it first and THEN start the oil burner.
They havent posted all the pics, but 2 weeks before Maker, we hit 3000f !
We got one cruicible white hot.

At faire, Troye got a little silly and sand casted a banana in cast iron.

I stayed with the steam powered printing press, making bar coasters.
We pulled steam off the boiler from "Rose", a steam powered tractor.

May Day !
I had hoped the project would get extended, but it didnt happen.
Im jobsearching again.
It was not for naught, however. My Python skills improved dramatically in that short time.

The first month at Infinite Loop, was special.
There was a magic in the air that was not present at Valco Park or at Potrero.
I miss that magic.
It pulled me out of my usual funk.

Fond memories include the central quad at Infinite Loop.
Thwew are several grass areas. The ones in the middle are mowed fairly shory.
At each end of the elipse is a lawn that is not mowed and has calf high grass & trees.
It looks nice and natural. Then you see the gardeners weeding this lawn gone wild.
Its pretty funny.

What I also got was an understanding of the very core of machine learning.
Machines have lots of facts stored but how to connect this fact with another but not something else?
Thats the hard part. Now, I understand how its done.

The big story on the morning news this week has been about this new online game.
Its rated for 13 & up.
The premise is that you are dropped on an island and you are to be the last man standing.
This means the game is about KILLING EVERYONE ELSE on the island!

Everyone is screaming about the availability of guns, but they are looking at the symptom rather than the cause.
The CAUSE is that we have made guns cool. Ref the above game and its ilk.
If you outlaw guns, you will create a blackmarket that will be as dangerous as the gun problem they are trying to solve.
We should have learned that about booze, but we didnt.
We didnt learn it about drugs.
And we are about to make the same mistake with guns.

Imagine gangs shooting in the streets for the turf to sell illegal guns into.
There are simply too many lathes & milling machines out there.

If you dont want kids shooting up their schools, stop making guns cool.
Stop making a big deal about video games that teach people to be mass killers.

Get kids up off their butts and playing outdoors again.
Of course, nobody is going to listen to me...

With 30,000 you get Egg Roll
I caught this off NPR this morning:
30,000 people are expected at the Whitehouse Easter egg Roll.
One of the interesting things is that they have a "Story Nook" where various government officials will read stories.
Amongst the readers are the Whitehouse Press Secretary and the head of the NSA.

The Whitehouse Press Secretary and the NSA Director telling "Fairy Tales"...
Imagine THAT?

With the holidays, traffic has been light.
My shuttle came in a half hr early.

I think Stan Kenton "Flight of the Valkyries" was playing as I crossed Mariani.
Put the laptop on to charge and connect to mail.
Headed off to get coffee at Cafe Mac to "Mission Impossible".
Interesting morning.

So, it would seem, Im slowly transitioning into Python developer from Sysadmin.

Current challenges include finding a way to extract mail messages from a MacBook and then parsing & processing the messages.

Ive also got a problem trying to sort tuples in Python, I want to sort the tuples against each other and the sort function keeps trying to sort the contents of the individual tuples.

Dancing with the doors. (We LOVE our music)
Im on the shuttle, its quarter to 7, and amazingly, Im awake!
There is the start of a global coming over thet Oakland hills.
Dave Brubeck on the headphones, and with the bumps in the road and the pitch of the coach,
it took 5 tries to type Brubeck correctly. (Quite a shame, since he's such a god)

So far, we are breezing past the traffic in the HOV lane but come Hayward, even this lane will be a mess.
Normal is 1.5 hrs, which I USED to be able to do in a car, but now, car is 2.5hrs or more.
Ive been on the shuttle since my 2nd day on the job.

So, you ask, what the hell am I doing?
The pay isn't the best, but its better than unemployment and just barely covers the bills.
At the moment, Im analyzing system logs trying to reduce the false positives and the duplicates.
Im scrambling to get my Python up to scratch.

Ultimately, Ill be writing code to pull JSON format files from the monitoring servers, modify it and push it back.
This will enable us to automate the linking of alerts, suppress superfluous alarms etc.

The "alarm fatigue" due to false alarms is unreal.
This is becoming a problem throughout the entire industry, not just my client.
Backing off the alarm sensitivity is not an option since we are dealing with very critical customer facing applications. ($$$)

For the most part, my musical taste is quite a bit older than I am.
Try as I might, Ive never been a rock & roller.
Most of it screams of a lack of craftsmanship.
Its obvious that someone dashed it in 20 mins.
There is precious little GOOD rock out there and even that puts me off.
After 45 years of pop music being dominated by trios of distortion guitar with a drum kit and maybe a keyboard, the prospect of enduing up in a retirement home where they play rock terrifies me.
It sounds to me like roughly tuned angle grinders running in a foundry.

The shrieking into the mike doesnt help either.
hat one out.
Im still trying to figure out who mandated that all pop music has to be sung in a southern drawl and often ghetto dialect.
Im also trying to figure out who decided that all men have to sing falsetto.

Interestingly enough, I actually LIKED Disco, probably because it included something other than guitars.
Disco was never meant to be listened to, just danced to, but I liked it anyway, go figure.
Disco was lacking in craftsmanship too, but I STILL liked it.
That should say something.

Im not usually fond of Vocal music because I can't understand it.
It comes out as "noise" of at best a "montegreen" (Mis heard lyric)
I find myself thinking "Shut up and let me heard the music" which Im sure hurts the feelings of vocalists if they knew I was thinking it.
Its not that I want to hurt anyones feelings, its just that my brain is not wired to extract vocals effectively from a song to understand it, and Im left with gibberish.

So we finally hit the subject of this post.

People have noticed that when I need to, I can cover a lot of ground quickly without breaking into a run.
Some readers have seen me do that at Cons and other events.
I recently found out that my fast pace combined with exaggerated stride is what the British call "Quick March"

Ive found some stuff I like out on the net.
A lot of it has a cadence to it that matches my quick march.

Im up at 4 to get ready, and to catch up on my 77 Sunset Strip, Peter Gunn & Mr Lucky episodes.
Im on the BART platform a few mins after 6, with a 630 rendezvous with my shuttle.

Music on the cell music player and WiFi on the shuttle help.

At 8 I am dodging the pelotons of middle school cyclists as I cross Mariani 3 and Mariani Dr.
Im moving along at quick march.

A few days into the gig, I was still quick marching but a few dance steps were creeping in
I didn't realize that for a few days until I overheard one of the reception people commenting
"Thats the guy who dances with doors."

Once across Mariani, I approach the pylon with the card reader.t
Right left right left, forward on right touch the card, balance back on left, advance on right.
Another left, right, balance forward on left, drab the door handle, back on right, pivot turn as I go
through the door, quick march across outer lobby.
Repeat at the the next pylon, and again at the next security door.

Drop backpack, & plug in laptop.
Grab commuter mug and dance all the way to the cafe and finally get started working.

Jim Lange used to end his morning show on KSFO (When they still played GOOD music)
"Put a smile on your face, a 'Yessir!' on your lips and wherever you go, don't walk, DANCE!"

March begins its march
Theoretically, I should have been working by mid Nov 2017.
Ive touched all the "in demand" skills except for having actually used AWS.

One problem has been that I have only "touched" them and I don't have a lot of "in depth".
The other problem is that the job of sysadmin has been changing and I've been slow to adapt to this change.

What differentiates a Sr sysadmin from a Jr sysadmin has been removed from the job and spun of into other jobs.
The trend is to make the entire job of sysadmin a jr level position, and combine Linux sysadmin with Windows sysadmin.
In the case of jr level sysadmins, this is actually pretty easy to do.
With the march of virtualization & container technology, configuration management systems such as Puppet
& Chef, the number of sysadmins needed is dropping anyway.

My last 3 years on the job have actually given me 'red' as 'Security Ops', so thats good.
Im still a beginner at Python, but Im taking to it well.

Ive been staying quiet about it so as not to jinx things, but I landed a new project.

During the last 3 years, the commute into Silicon Valley from the east bay has gotten considerably worse.
It took 2.5 hrs to get in on my 1st day. Fortunately, they have shuttles that allow contractors.
Since my 2nd day on the job, Ive been on the shuttle.

For years, I THOUGHT I was not a morning person.
On my Facebook gig, I turned into a morning person.
I drove in for the 1st month, and then went to the shuttle after that.
This entailed getting up early to rendezvous with a shuttle in south Berkeley at 630 AM, but it was worth it.

So, Im back on that schedule.
Shower & shave night before, lay everything out ready to grab & go.
Alarm at 4am.
I could do fine with 5am, but if I get up at 4, I can get caught up with episodes of 77 Sunset Strip that were aired back the late 50s and an episode of Peter Gunn or Mr Lucky, depending on the day of the week.

As it turned out, my 1st day at work, the fuel pump on the car died a few blocks short of the house on the way home, my 1st day.
So my 1st week I was walking a mile to BART, riding the train 3 stops and catching the shuttle from there.
With the car back, I have the luxury of driving to BART.

I may adjust things once the motorcycle is back on the road.

This past weekend, I was "House Manager" for the Berkeley Pipe Organ Concert Series.
Since maintenance on the building is spotty at best, I start with a checklist right out of NASA
to make sure things are OK.
Running water in the restrooms?, Paper in restrooms?, commodes flush? soap? lights? signage to get patrons there?
And it goes from there.
Since we bring people in through the stage door and route them through the backstage to the ADA lift,
threads a lot of logistics.

We can't use the outer lobby anymore, and in fact most of the fire exits are chained shut.
We compensate with a plan where we manage any evacuation through the stage, as the whole place in concrete and unlikely to burn anyway.
Our house crew has a 1 to 5 patron ratio, so we can get everyone out safely, despite the building being legally noncompliant.

February funk
The job search continues.
Last Tuesday was a free one day Google Cloud training.
They fed be breakfast & Lunch.
There was a little too much marketing anot enough tutorial.

I really need this skill to continue in my career.

Aside from some very short highlights, Ive really been pretty depressed.
Its really starting to weigh me down.

I met someone interesting.
Ive been staying away because Im afraid Ill screw it up.
I have a kind of black thumb where it comes to romance.

Feb already
I had a blast at Edwardian Ball in SF, but Im sitting out the one in LA this weekend because I cant afford the trip.

Im making progress on storage in Santa Clara.
Im splitting the unit I have down there into 2 units which combined will be less than the one Ive had since 2002.
Annual increases have raised it to twice what an identical one costs.

One unit will be furniture from my old apartment in Santa Clara, stuff bound for the computer museum, and boxes of clothing.
The other unit is everything else from that apartment. It was a full apartment.

Im looking for someone to take a queen size bed off my hands (frame, box, mattress --guaranteed no bed bugs)
I really dont want to move that again.

Im now out of San Carlos, as of last month.
Im consolidating everything into my unit in San Leandro.
Im also searching for both pallet rack & rivet rack shelving at decent costs.

Around the time "Starport" shutdown, I was in the middle of a deal to buy a building that I was going to
consolidate into. The deal fell through.
A year later the West Oakland building housing the artist colony
I had been since the late 1980s was bought by a big real estate concern and the colony scattered to the winds.
I still miss popping by late at night to pick up something and watching people fire dancing in the middle of Peralta St.

As things consolidate into San Leandro, Im getting a chance to finally sort.

Theres a bunch of stuff for the Computer History Museum.
Ill have to get with Steve soon to make the right things happen.
I was going to take some stuff to the museum for him after cleaning it up and a buddy of mine wanted to photograph it.
The photo project never happened and the stuff sat in storage.
This spring the cleaning will happen as soon as Im working again.
I need to get the air compressor going again to get all the crap out of the machines before wiping them down and delivery to the museum.
Ill have to double check what went with which system.
Then there will be another pass through a bunch of stuff from *ME*.

That which the museum doesnt take, Ill have to get to the next vintage computer faire and look for homes
that arent just out to scrap them for components.

I already unloaded a load of old TVs & radios on the radio musum in Alameda.

I finally found a taker for the mass spectrometer and hope to hand that off to Nathan this summer.

Im still figuring out if the elephant standing on my chest is muscle strain, stress or something more ominous.
Hopefully it can keep, because I cant afford any more medical misadventures.

Ive been out of work since Halloween.
Its been hard, but Im managing not to go over the edge, at least not yet.

I finally managed to prove to unemployment who I am, so eventually Ill get something from them.
I finally had to produce a certified copy of my birth certificate.

My last 2 jobs have been at below market rates but I took them because they were contract to hire.
I really should have known better. Lucy ALWAYS snatches the football.
Lyris was bought a month after I started and the new owners wanted the assets but not the people.
Conversions were cancelled.
HP split into HP & HPE which put THAT set of conversions on hold and then during the sale of the SAAS
division to Micro Focus, my last 5 months were 4 day workweeks, so I entered unemployment already depleted.

The workspace of jobsearch has been depressing with a combination of Bozo recruiters, an attempt at driving wages in Silicon Valley, aided by Bozo recruiters, and the fact that there is this magic skillset that
they want everyone to have.
Ive got it, but only like a year of each and they want like 4 years of each.
I get close but not quite, unless I want to drop to $20/hr less than I made on my last gig.
They want: Docker & Kubernetes, Python, Ruby, Go, Chef, Puppet, Ansible Salt, PHP & Java.

Python has become quite the Rosetta stone, as Ive learned enough about Python that a whole bunch of other things suddenly make sense.
This helps.

I had a lond chat with a networking person and learned a few things.
I had never considered myself that much of a networking guy.
I knew enough to know how much I didnt know.
Sure I can address, subnet, vlan, etc on a network. It was the routing stuff that had me stuck.
I knew how to set up routes, but I could not describe the difference between IGP & BGP.
I knew what they stood for but that was it. Well it turns out I know more about both than I thought.
So I guess I am a network guy.

In 2015, I was still shying away from security stuff because I didnt have that much experience.
I landed into something that I would later realize was "Security Ops" in mid 2015.
Several times, we thought the project was going to end and i started looking.
Each time, we got extended and I stopped my search, hoping to get 3 years in one place on my resume
with a security title over me.
I should have gotten out of there when they cut our hours, but i didnt.

At one time, "Systems Administrator" was a manyfold job.
The last few years, they have pulled the scripting, & automation
out of the job and turned those into "Dev Ops"
So now I have to market myself as "Systems Admin / Dev Ops / Security Ops"

I still cant get any of the indian companies to learn to google the timezone for an area code,
nor can I teach them to do time math.
The phone starts ringing at 5am sometimes.
The are even less responsive when I ask them to flag my profile in their systems as "California ONLY".
It takes hours to weed out all the east coast jobs, so that I can concentrate on things I am able to actually do.

I still get a lot of "Java Developer" reqs that Im "Perfect for".
It turns out that Im perfect for this job because the computer found the word java in my resume.
They dont see a reason to double check the computer.

Ive been trying to explain to one Bozo that someone else already submitted me at $10 more on w2
and they threw in insurance in the deal.
He doesnt get it that 1099 is not a good deal. (You have to pay the FICA tax TWICE if you are 1099)

Edwardian Ball
Ive been working on my Python lately.
Suddenly I realized that I know go-lang without having studying it.
I seem to.know go by instinct.
I now find that Im studying Python Ruby & go at the same time.

Talk about the hard way.

This weekend was the Edwardian Ball.
KSW has been working on projects to go to the ball.

Weve been casting parts for the last few weeks.
I used to stay back during casting.
Most recently, Ive been brave enough to grab the tongs and lift cruicibles of yellow hot molten metal.
I dont know where this bravery came from.

This weekend we had the Edwardian Ball in SF.
The Regency Ballroom is an old Scottish Rite temple.

The music was great.
A lot reminded me of Circue Soleil with modern takes on old standards, electro swing, and lots of
stuff in minor keys.
Stage shows werw great with main floor ballroom, another stage in the basement fellowship hall, and the 3rd floor ritual hall.
Saturday, they actually lit up the pipe organ on the balcony for a while.

We had trailer with boiler out in the street.
Hoses carried steam up the lamp post, over to the fire escape, then in and over to the steam engine, then the exhaust back out.
We had several displays through the building, all needing tending, so when I was not printing bar coasters on one of the presses, I was a floater.

It seemed like half of Dickens Faire was there one night or the other.

I wore full highland formal. My weight is down to 160 and my outfit is a bit big for me.
I was afraid my kilt would fall off.

Both nights the ball closed at 2am.

After closing friday night we had to reset things for saturday.
Both nights we got out at 5am.

I only got 4hrs sleep before going back saturday afternoon.

Load out was completed at 5am this morning.
Exhausted, I was home by 6.
I wasnt done with theatre.

I gave myself my first haircut since labor day at 6am before crawling in bed.
5hrs sleep and 1 was up to shower, dress in suit and head off to Berkeley.
I was house manager at the Berkeley Wurlitzer concert and just got home from that.

I have that funny tickle that says I have a cold coming on.
Time for bed.