a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
Entries tagged with stuff.tech 
22 June 2016 22:00 - "No rings on your sword hand"
rosefox: A woman's muscular arm. (arm)
I went to see a new occupational therapist today. She instructed me to look at everything I use my arms for and figure out how to do it more ergonomically. If I'm not sure how to make improvements, I can have someone take photos of me and she'll help me troubleshoot.

* Using my laptop. I just bought a very clever folding standing desk that hooks over a door, which means I can use it in my bedroom where there's a/c but no room for a desk or table, and will set it up with my laptop and ergonomic keyboard; hopefully that will help. Nothing to be done about using the laptop when I'm out and about, unless I want to spend another $300 on a ZestDesk. (There are much cheaper folding standing desks, such as the $25 Oristand, but they're hard to tote around.) I'm also going to try OS X's built-in voice recognition; it doesn't work for InCopy, but it's good for social media. I am, in fact, dictating this sentence right now. The selection commands don't seem to work very well within this Chrome window, but I'm impressed by the speed of it and how well it understands my commands when I'm speaking at a normal rate.

* Using my phone. Holding it is hard and swiping on it is hard. I don't know what to do about this. Just use it less, I guess. I should definitely use the voice recognition more, since it's surprisingly good.

* Folding laundry. Ergonomically it's okay, I think; I stand at a table that's a good height. It's just a strain.

* Reading books. I downloaded Moon+ Reader, an Android e-book app with pretty decent auto-scroll functions; it can do continuous scroll on epubs, and for PDFs it'll do this wacky thing where it starts unrolling the next page at the top of the screen while you're reading the bottom half of the current one. If I can prop up my tablet and auto-scroll a book, that gives me something to do while putting ice on my arms, and is generally easier on me than holding a physical book. I've been using auto-scroll in Chrome to read books on Gutenberg and it works really well.

* Driving. The OT recommended changing hand positions frequently, doing upper back stretches (bringing my shoulder blades together) while driving, and taking breaks to rest and shake out my arms and shoulders. I also plan to bring our giant ice packs in an insulated bag. They won't be frozen solid by the time we stop for a break, but any cold is better than nothing.

* Picking up the baby. The OT suggested scooping from the side (one arm supporting the baby's head, the other supporting the bum), which uses my upper arms, rather than lifting under the armpits, which uses my forearms.

* Pushing a stroller. Hard to change the ergonomics of that, but we just bought a lovely shiny 10-pound Maclaren Volo that will be much easier to push and lift than our splendidly feature-rich but heavy Graco Modes; the Volo even has a carrying strap to use when it's folded up. We also got an Ergobaby 360 carrier that's better ergonomically for both us and the baby than the Baby Bjorn. X would rather push a stroller than use the carrier, especially in the summer, so they'll bring the baby to daycare in the Volo, and I'll pick them up with the 360 and either push the Volo home empty or fold it and carry it with the strap.

What the hell else do I even do with my hands these days? X and J have been taking over a lot of my chores so I can rest and recover. And I already know not to stir a pot or chop vegetables or carry grocery bags by hand. I suppose this is enough to change, anyway. Just another way that I'm shaking up my life. Might as well do it all at once. (I am very glum today, but that always happens on my first day of physical therapy or equivalent; it brings up a lot of miserable feelings about how long I've been in pain and how hard it is to believe that I'll ever really get better. I'll be okay once I've had a chance to get some rest.)
30 May 2016 20:58 - "Thanks Slackbot"
rosefox: A half-completed game where one organizes jumbled dots. (order)
[twitter.com profile] jsuttonmorse asked me whether I knew of or had written a post on using Slack for households. I don't know of one, so I decided to write one.

For those not familiar with Slack, it's a chat room app, as distinct from a one-on-one chat app. It runs basically like IRC, if you're old enough to remember IRC. :) The fundamentals are:

* multiple users
* timestamped chat in text and emoji
* topic-based conversations in individual chat rooms called channels
* personal conversations by direct message (DM), one-on-one or in groups
* importing and integration of images, documents, links, etc.
* searchable archives
* hierarchy of owners, admins, and users, plus a programmable autoresponder called Slackbot
* can be used on the web, in a desktop app, or in a phone app, with various types of notifications
* reasonably full-featured for free, accessible pricing for additional features

Slack is pitched as a platform for business collaboration. I've never used it that way. But I'm currently part of five different active Slacks and one that's gone dormant. The active ones are the Subtle House household Slack, two social Slacks, and two project Slacks. The inactive one was an attempt to be a combined project and social Slack and it never really got off the ground for reasons I'll get into below.

Longread )

And most importantly: Your Slack will work if everyone enjoys using it and finds it valuable.
rosefox: Batman feeds a baby while saying "We'll both be just fine" (baby-yay)
Many months ago, before there was a Kit in the world, I went over to [twitter.com profile] kissane and [twitter.com profile] meetar and [twitter.com profile] dailyjuna's place to hang out with them. I think [twitter.com profile] kissane and I were having a work date or something.

[twitter.com profile] meetar came home and was v. tired and shagged out after a long day. He went to their music player and put on some amazing soothing music I'd never heard before. It was the most relaxing. "What is this?" I asked in wonder. He told me it was Brian Eno's "Thursday Afternoon".

I fell in love with it. I played it for X, who fell in love with it. And one night when we had a fussy baby, X played it for them. Now, every night at bedtime, we play "Thursday Afternoon" and rock Kit until they get sleepy, and then we put them in the crib to sleep. And every night I think how glad I am that [twitter.com profile] meetar happened to be in need of some soothing music that day.

Today I downloaded "Thursday Afternoon" to the tablet we have over the crib for a baby monitor, so it could sing Kit to sleep. Just now they woke up yelling--poor baby, trying to get used to dreaming, which really is such a weird thing--and I put my hand on their belly and put the music back on. They settled right back to sleep. Out like a light.

The only snag is that we have to wait for the track to finish, or sneak in and turn it off*, before we can use the sound-activated baby monitor. But that is a very small price to pay for an aural sleep-cue that is 60 minutes long, can be turned off at any point without a strong sense of interruption, doesn't become boring or annoying no matter how long or how often you listen to it, and doesn't require a parent to sing the same three-minute song over and over to the point of hoarseness. New parents and parents-to-be: I recommend it very very highly.

* At some point I'm sure we will set up some sort of networked speakers, or root the tablet so we can remote-control it. Right now, tiptoeing in works fine (and lets us stare at the baby a little bit too).
27 January 2016 00:06 - "Stuff and things"
rosefox: Batman feeds a baby while saying "We'll both be just fine" (baby-yay)
I can't remember who said something to me about baby gear being the geekiest part of parenting, but it totally is. There is some super cool shit out there for babies! These are some things we've gotten that are working very well for us. Prices are MSRP but you can often find great bargains on lightly used items. (But never buy a used car seat--you don't know whether it's been in an accident or is up to current safety standards--and think twice before buying a used stroller.)

Feeding, travel, bath, bedroom, and data tracking )
rosefox: A cheerful fellow with a giant chaotic jumble on a leash. (busy-good)
"My arms aren't that sore, I can totally go to the gym and work with a new personal trainer," I said on Monday.

"Ow, ow ow ow," I said on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Arms blah )

Other than my perennially cranky limbs, my health's been very good. I've been moving around enough to keep my knees happy. I don't remember the last time anyone in the house had so much as a cold. My ears are being very well behaved. I have a weird ongoing thing where it sometimes feels like food is caught in my throat, but my ENT checked it out and says it's just congestion.

I finally went to a decent allergist (after years of thinking I should) and learned that I'm allergic to roaches and dust mites; we don't have roaches but we do have a lot of dust, given all the books and all the cats, so I guess that's a good reason to change my sheets weekly, have the sainted Angela over to clean the house monthly, and maybe get an air purifier for my room. I could also get allergy shots but there's no guarantee they'll help, I hate injections, and it just seems like more than I can emotionally cope with right now. Ask me again when I've slept.

Still not caught up on sleep post-RWA. Hoping to fix that this week.

=====

Being good partners )

=====

J went out of town for a week. Every day he was gone, Alex got more and more vocal and unhappy and lonely and affectionate. When he came back Alex glued himself to J and would not leave his side until J went to bed and shut the door. Then Alex plunked down sadly outside J's room, looking woefully at me every time I walked by. Apparently he has decided that he's J's cat. J wasn't consulted about this but doesn't appear to be displeased. He still gets to pick our next cat. :)

The cats are generally getting along very well. There's still occasional chasing and swatting and hissing, but you know, they're cats. Sam and Sophie generally hang out on X's bed all day, grudgingly managing to get within a foot or two of each other. Alex sleeps in my room at night, up on top of the dresser; Sam sleeps on my bed or windowsill.

We still have no idea how they'll all react to the appearance of a baby. We'll figure that out when it happens, I guess.

=====

Baby prep )

=====

And because I totally needed a new side gig while all this is going on:

Introducing Reading While Cooking! [livejournal.com profile] mrbelm and I are collaborating on this literary and culinary advice column. Submit a request with your preferences and restrictions, and we'll recommend books and recipes for you. The first post went up today and we plan to do at least one a month, maybe more.

We're very grateful to the people who have put requests in our queue, since we couldn't really do an advice column without people who want advice. If you want some tasty things to read and eat, send us a request!

It's the first time I've tried using Patreon; so far we have one backer who's pledging a whole $2 per post. :) But it's a start. If we're not profitable by the end of the year, we'll probably consider the project a glorious failed experiment--as so many books and recipes are--and move on to something else. In the meantime, we're having fun.
rosefox: A cheerful fellow with a giant chaotic jumble on a leash. (busy-good)
A freelance check came in, so I bought men's pants! Men's Wearhouse was having a two-for-one sale and the 31–30 slim fit 100% cotton slacks fit me perfectly. Another gap in my wardrobe has been filled.

~~~

Tonight J and I made lentil soup and then I made mint chocolate chip ice. Both came out reasonably well but could have been better. Recipes behind the cut. )

~~~

Ever wonder whether something is really as awful as you remember? X and I watched Blues Brothers 2000 tonight. It is actually more awful than we remember. Considerably more. That said, we're now very inspired to hunt down some good live music when we're in New Orleans for World Horror/Stokers Weekend next month. (Will you be there?) And it turned out she hadn't seen the video for "Q.U.E.E.N." so we rectified that as soon as the movie was done, and that made the world considerably better.

~~~

Last weekend I got both my inboxes down to zero, and I've kept them there all week. I have also been way WAY more productive at work and more relaxed at home. (I read a book--no, two books! I watched two episodes of DS9!) I don't think this is coincidence. I really had no idea how much stress I felt looking at unanswered things in my inbox until they weren't there anymore. Now I tab to my inbox, smile, and feel like I really get to choose what I do next--no pressure, no stress. I recommend this highly. (I explain my process in the comments on the DW version of this entry.)

~~~

After consulting with my therp, I'm tentatively planning to go off the Zoloft once Readercon is done. (The timing is not coincidence.) I'll wait a month to make sure I'm doing okay without it, and then try very carefully drinking some flavored tea and see what happens.

~~~

Readercon stuff is not actually that stressful right now, because we're in the part I love best: collecting data and building the program. I'm also organizing a really exciting thing for Saturday night that I hope will be stupendously awesome. Yay for friends who know what they're doing and can reassure me that my plans are feasible and unlikely to become "a clusterwhentwopeopleloveeachotherverymuch". Yay for feeling much better about trying this new-to-me thing now that I've actually got the ball rolling.

~~~

I wonder what I will do with all my free time and energy once Readercon is done. I'll still be on the concom and progcom and safecom, but I'm stepping down as program chair, and that's a huge weight off my shoulders. I don't go dancing anymore, and even if I took it up again, I wouldn't volunteer to nearly the extent that I used to (if at all). I don't cook for Arisia anymore. I have Long Hidden to co-edit, but that's a freelance project and I'll do it in freelance time. For the first time in a long long while, I will have no unpaid volunteer gigs to occupy me.

Maybe domesticity will be my next thing. It's what I most love doing right now: bustling around the house, talking with X and J about household projects, cooking, building and buying things, having people over, family time. More of that would be really nice.

Maybe I'll knit more, read more, do a better job of keeping up with the rewatch.

Or maybe I'll just improvise, be spontaneous, do whatever I feel like doing. I'm not very good at spontaneity, but the only way to get better at it is to make space for it.

~~~

Augh, is it really getting light out? I am not doing very well with sticking to anything resembling my sleep schedule. Having a week off from work isn't going to help with this. Oh well.
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