Monday, November 13, 2017

Book

This is Book.  So named for looking like he's got writing on him, and since "Boo" and "Bo" for short also suit him.  His mellow temperament also reminds us of Shepherd Book from Firefly.


To expand on that particular metaphor, he inadvertently spooks our in-house mental patient, whose most positive reaction to him so far has been along the lines of "keep walkin', preacher man".


We adopted Book as a late anniversary present to each other, and Autumn (River?  ;^) hasn't fully forgiven us since.  They can be civil at close quarters as long as they're sleepy or getting snacks, but otherwise Book is eager to play and Autumn is eager to growl, hiss, and be a drama queen until pesty little brother goes away.

It will be in Autumn's interests to warm up to him sooner than later, since at 8 months Book is showing every sign that he's going to be a big beefy boy.

Welcome to the family little guy, we're happy you seem to like us all.  ...Even though your big sister's a brat.  ...And your human parents are silly enough to keep adopting you young energy-filled cats.


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Move Moments

We bought a house.  We've been moving into it.  There's more to tell there than is worth telling, and certainly more than is worth reading about.  But the other day we moved a big couch and chair, which required renting a van.  In lieu of my usual long-winded babbling, here are a few captured moments.


 It's just a bruise.  But yeah, it scared me at first too.

 The van and garage doors shared a moment.

Brainstorm: hide away bedside cords from the cat.
(Our implementation was simpler but works :^)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Doodled Dudes

One thing that I haven't seen dug up from the 1980s, slathered in modern attention-deficit-mediocrity and re-sold to us is those little finger puppet monsters.  They contained no sound chips, activated no unlockable video game content, and were cheap enough to come in happy meals.  Probably.  Who knows if I can remember the 80s correctly.

Alternate opening paragraph:

Nowadays everybody's 3D-printing fidget spinners.  Perfectly fitting for today - can't sit still, noisy, no personality.  Me, I've got a not-completely-atrophied imagination and my little 3D pen came with some flexible rubbery plastic stock.  So now if my fingers need to do some fidgeting, here's what I've got:


Precision, detailed figures they are not.  But, they're cute enough not to have been banished from my desk yet.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cobbled Counterfiet Cat Carrier Clip

A lifetime ago, we had a sweet kitty who, when boarded at the vet's while we were away, managed to knock over a room full of pet carriers.  Everything survived, more or less, but ever since then our carrier has been suspiciously missing one of the clips that holds it together.

With Murphy, that wasn't a problem since she basically weighed nothing.  Our current kitty, though, has a bit more junk in the trunk, and is going to need proper support when we move, and take her to her overdue vet visit, etc.

3D printers are all the rage, able to turn files from CAD or animation software into physical, strong plastic parts.  I'd like to have one of those some day but for now the closest I've got is a more arts-and-crafts version - a 3D pen that draws in plastic by hand.  It really is to a 3D printer what an ink pen is to an inkjet printer.  With a steady hand and some thinking ahead, it's possible to make useful stuff.


My hand isn't super steady and I don't plan things all that well, but still the replacement carrier clip turned out pretty nicely.  :^)


The inside of a pen with a couple layers of masking tape was just the right size to scribble the part's "hooks" onto.  The flat bits are just a matter of filling in a shape on paper (or on masking tape, since the melted plastic doesn't stick to that quite as stubbornly).


It snapped right into place, just like the "real" one.  If I cared about it being pretty, I could sand it down a bit, but since its lot in life is to clamp together a cat carrier, I called it good as-is.

If it's not a bit dinged up and cobbled-together, it's probably not mine.  (My wife wishes I wouldn't say that, but she's the exception that proves the dinged-up, cobbled-together rule.  :^)

Friday, April 07, 2017

What's Next?

So the Grievous Oligarchy Party has, on behalf of those few who already have everything, have taken by hook and crook the final pillar of this old republic.  Any legitimacy of our institutions is truly forfeit.  Power and money now rule people who once ruled themselves.

And now they're going to war.  Now, it doesn't feel, to me, today, like nuclear annihilation of humanity is certain or imminent.  But it also doesn't feel very far-fetched.  And I suspect that if the day comes, for many of us it will be a bit of a surprise, even now.


Just in case we don't have a lot longer, I want to thank the people who have touched my life.  I hope I've made you smile; that's the most rewarding thing I've found in life.  My thanks to you.  To everyone who's made me smile, and who's made anybody smile.  Humanity has in many ways become a blight on this little blue orb in our little arm of our not-terribly-unique galaxy in our grand cosmos, but I'm happy to have existed.  We are what we are.  We like to pretend that isn't so, that there's "us" and "them".  I do it too.  Right up there, I call out some of us as power-hungry.  Tyrannical.  Illegitimate.  Dishonest.

We're all just humans, which have a tangled and snarly genetic ancestry.  We grew capable of guiding our own development, building our own significance.  That was a neat trick.  We don't know any other critters who managed it.  We even grew capable of authoring our own ending, releasing our own constructs.  It's a shame, it's a waste.  But that is power.

That is what we acquired.  Power does not care whether it is stolen piecemeal or granted by unanimous consent or a byproduct of natural physics.  Power made us, and will some day, some way, unmake us.  Gravitational dances of rocks wield more power than anything we humans have faffed around with.  We can shape and transform our own little sphere, to an extent.  We have the power to destroy everything everybody has ever built, and to feed and care for everybody who's here now.  Most of the time we use our power without such concentration.  Destroy a bit here, care a bit there.

So, what happens next?  There's no "them" to ask, just us.  All of us: what's next?


[ Edit about the whole "going to war" bit: It seems increasingly likely that this was just a bit of illegally-conducted theatre, but we're talking about an unstable amateur bombing an unstable region, and a complicit congress which talks big but does very little to restrain the madmanchild. Let's hope I'm overreacting, like I was about Citizens United and rich bastards lying to us. Oh wait. ]

[ Second edit: Oh for crying out loud what are we doing. ]

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Sockmonster Mk. 4

Autumn is a strange little cat.  There was no distinction in her little head between fun-exercise playing and life-or-death fighting when we first got her.  She's much less rough around the edges now, but when she's feisty, there's a bloodlust and a need for savage close-quarters combat I've not seen in a domestic cat before.  Batting a little ribbon or feather does not cut it in most cases.

In the heat of mock-battle, there's hissing and growling and grabbing and kicking and yelling.  Claws and fangs swing and chomp without restraint.  With my childhood cat, I did this kind of thing by hand, and got a little scratched up.  This one plays ROUGH - bare handed play might end in me bleeding out.  (I have seriously considered buying a falconry glove, but it would need a pretty long sleeve.)


By the by, it is remarkably difficult to A) record video of a cat while playing with her, and B) convince a cat to do even a very usual thing on-command.  This is the best I could get without waiting for her to decide on her own that it was feisty time.

All this brings me to my latest haphazardly-crafted object: Sockmonster Mk. 4!


This is the entire Sockmonster family line, or what's left of it.  The original Sockmonster is actually inside of Mk. 2; its skin was a much flimsier and less interestingly-textured sock, and it was the quickest to spill its (mostly plastic-bag) innards.  All but the latest incarnations have had gashes patched up with the handyman's secret weapon, duct tape.

Mk. 2 subsumed the original and added an inner skin of brown paper for extra crunchiness.  Over time the stuffing got all shoved into the end, and indeed began to get ripped out like viscera.

Mk. 3 introduced a semi-rigid spine, a nice thin chunk of plastic that would bend a bit and spring back.  I also attempted to build it with segregated internal stuffing compartments, Titanic-style, to keep the stuffing evenly distributed.  But as you may be able to tell, the mid-point is a very popular kicking target, so the spine broke and the center stuffing compartment appears to have hernia'd out.


For the fourth one, the spine is a towel rolled up as tight as I could get it.  No plastic to wear out and snap.  The stuffing is in one big tube around the spine, and of the whole thing is wrapped in a couple layers of claw-armor burlap and chompy-thick felt.

Originally, I had both ends sewn up, but the thickness and firmness of the thing made it hard to grip one-handed.  Luckily, one end was pretty weak since this whole thing was an exercise in making it up as I go, and Autumn quickly tore it open again for me.  A little stuffing out of that end, squeeze up the sides a bit and boom, handle.  Much better.  :^)  It's a collaborative process, as it turns out.

So, we'll see how this works.  As one might expect, if one were familiar with cats, now that some effort has gone into constructing a more robust Sockmonster, kitty's aforementioned interest in brutal hand-to-hand combat has begun to sharply drop off.  These days she's all about running and being chased.

I concentrated a lot on physical points of failure, but forgot that a cat toy is a failure right away if the little furball doesn't want it.  Still, we'll see.  She has her moods and phases; it may well fall into favor again one day.


Update:
She may not like the thing I spent time and effort on, but boy does she ever go nuts on this $5 grill mitt.
Another update:
We've gotten our $5 out of the mitt, but it now offers very little fang or claw protection.

Monday, March 06, 2017

How to Fix: Maddening Subpixel Font Rendering

This is mostly a note to my future self so that next time I set up a Linux machine, I don't have to re-invent this particular wheel.

Most computers nowadays, by default, display text using sub-pixel rendering.  Microsoft calls their implementation "ClearType", and I'm sure Apple has some similarly innocent-sounding name for it.  Without getting into the technical details, it's an optical illusion that, apparently, for most of the population, makes text nice and clear to read.  For me, it looks smeary, and makes my eyes continuously strain and toil to make everything all right.  They fail, and I get a mighty headache if I keep looking for too long.



Naturally, on my own computers I turn this noise the hell off.  But for a while now, there has been one niggling little hiccup where the first QT program I load (or maybe it's KDE specific, I really don't know.  All GTK and other programs are fine.) would fail to honor my very explicit settings and fall back on the default behaviour of stabbing me in the corneas.  The workaround was quick and easy, and generally if I'm at the computer I'm busy trying to do something, so I let the problem stagnate.

But in upgrading my laptop recently, I had one more little burst of attempting to figure this nonsense out, and figure it I finally did.

~/.Xresources:

Xft.autohint: 0
Xft.lcdfilter: lcdnone
Xft.hintstyle: hintnone
Xft.hinting: 0
Xft.antialias: 1
Xft.rgba: none

I don't even know which line(s) make the difference.  I just found a handful of Xft settings to try and lo, once these crunch through xrdb when the session starts, all is well.  These can go in a global Xresources file too of course.

I hope this helps somebody else, and I'm pretty sure it will at least help future me.

keywords for searching:
disable subpixel antialiasing
prevent sub-pixel anti-aliasing
qt kde first launch ignore freetype settings
why the crap do some programs use horrible blearytype font rendering
To others whose eyes are allergic to this crap but are also stuck on Windows, be warned: your Windows lies to you.  If you ask it to turn off ClearType, it will claim that it has done so and carry on smearing your text with eyeball-shredding colors.  You have to go through some crazy multi-step "Which of these looks better to you?" quiz to truly turn it off, and sometimes every one of the options presented will be using subpixel rendering.  So, as always, good luck Windows folks.