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For those who knew Jane: given the kerfluffle around LiveJournal, [personal profile] keshwyn suggested to me that I should make sure there is a copy of her journal over here. That got stymied by the fact that I don't know her DreamWidth password (she had a mostly-empty account here, but the password isn't any of her usual ones), and getting it changed isn't simple at this point. So I eventually just created a memorial account for her. (Fortunately, I do have her LJ password.)

So -- you can now find msmemory's LiveJournal copied over to here, as [personal profile] msmemory_archive -- pass it on if you know folks who would care...

ETA: before clicking over there, please remember that it's in standard reverse-chronological order, so the depressing stuff at the end is on top. Take due notice thereof, and govern yourselves accordingly...

ETA2: oh, right -- unlike my journal, a lot of hers was locked, and those access permissions are only granted automatically if you've claimed your LJ OpenID here. (In practice, I only see 8 accounts that currently have access.) So if you don't see the locked entries in [personal profile] msmemory_archive and you had locked access on LJ, subscribe to it and I'll add your DW account to the access list. (Assuming you have the same handle here as there.)

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One of the odd side-effects of having owned and used my own domain for a *long* time now is that I wind up with an interesting and sometimes annoying view into the world of Spam. I've had waks.org for well over 20 years, and I used it as my primary email for much of that, as did Jane.

More importantly, we were both great devotees of giving out bespoke addresses to anybody we didn't entirely trust. Hotels get *very* confused when I tell them to use, eg, "radisson@waks.org" as my email address, but it means that I've been able to detect who has bad email security and filter out anything to that address if it gets picked up by the spammers. If you sell your email address list, or are just careless about it, I will know. (As it turns out, political groups tend to be the worst.)

(NB: you can do this in Gmail, at least most of the time, by putting a "+" suffix onto your email address. So if you are actually "joe@gmail.com", you can give out "joe+radisson@gmail.com" -- it'll still go to you, and lets you do smart filtering based on the To: field. Some sites choke on the "+", but it usually works.)

The result is that I have given out hundreds, maybe thousands of email addresses on waks.org over the years, including my legitimate ones, the ones given to vendors, and specialized addresses I've put on websites, like "cookbook@waks.org". And it turns out, that makes waks.org a remarkably effective honeypot for spam.

A "honeypot", in computer security, is something you put out there to lure the bad guys in -- typically some fake data that looks real and appealing, that you use to draw them in and trap them. In this particular case, much of the content of my spambox is *wildly* obvious spam -- not so much because any individual email is conspicuously bad, but because I receive two dozen copies of it to two dozen email addresses.

So for instance, today's biggest example has the subject line "Image[some random number].pdf", and the body "Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone", plus an attached "image" that is, of course, actually a virus. It's unlikely I would fall for such a thing anyway, but I'm certainly less likely to when I have multiple screenfuls of them. Google is smart enough to notice that these contain viruses, and put them into Spam -- I'm downright surprised that they aren't smart enough to notice that there are so many near-identical emails, and just trash-can them. I would far rather they did.

I've long been amused at the lack of honor among thieves -- it's been very clear for 10-15 years that some people are simply taking existing waks.org email addresses, modifying them in trivial ways, and reselling them in order to bulk up the lists. For example, caitlin@waks was a real email address, but about ten years ago I started to notice "caitlinn", and then "caitlinnn", or "aitlin" -- non-existent email addresses that somebody invented. (I rather like "ookbook", which sounds like I'm writing about monkeys.) I'd bet good money that that was done simply so that people could sell packages of "ten million email addresses!" and suchlike. Indeed, many of them are even less real -- addresses that look like nothing so much as a cat walking across the keyboard.

The really interesting thing I'm noticing this week, though, is a sudden spike in what I can only describe as industrial-scale spam. There's been an *enormous* uptick in the number of spams landing in my Spambox. Traditionally, I would get ten of something; now, I'm getting a hundred. And they are from all of the above categories -- addresses stolen from vendors, addresses from websites, and the various multilated forms that have gradually come into common use over the years.

I suspect somebody has gotten serious about selling Spam as a Service. This feels like some site has bought up *all* the lists they can find, and opened up an API for blasting out trivial variations of a template to umpteen million addresses at high speed. The virus-laden ones have a straightforward business plan behind them (one thing you learn in financial security is how much spam is all about stealing ACH credentials); the ones that are simply, eg, "Hi ekyz how are you?" are a bit more mysterious, but I assume are attempting to lure a victim into a conversation.

Anyway, just some food for thought. There is one sad consequence of all this: I think it's time for me to turn most of Jane's email addresses off. The various forms of "jane@waks", "caitlin@waks", and so on, have been coming to me over the years, but we're down to well under one legitimate email per year, and a fair number of spams per day. So I think it's time to filter those into the bit-bucket. I will admit, even knowing that it's the sensible thing to do, it's remarkably hard for me to set up those filters...

Five Years

Jan. 20th, 2016 09:56 am
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(No real content, at least yet -- just marking the date in my head...)
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The releases have been signed, and the checks have been written to the Heirs At Law. After exactly three and a half years, the end is *finally* in sight on settling Jane's estate, knock on wood.

(And if I haven't said this to you personally, I'll say it here: if you haven't done so already, and you have *any* assets to speak of, Get A Freaking Will. Your heirs will thank you for it. Jane's case was relatively simple, and it's still taken bloody forever...)


Feb. 13th, 2013 12:33 pm
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I'm currently boxing up the books I didn't sell, and still making finds.

Today I'm boxing the remaining children's books -- mostly the ones I remember fondly from my childhood, or which were clearly favorites of Jane's. And I came across the two slim blank books. I had clearly glanced at them at the time of the book sale, and put them back because they had Jane's handwriting in them. This time, I actually took a better look.

They're Jane's high school diaries, circa 1977.

I confess, I find myself weirdly torn. On the one hand, there's a lot of cultural baggage that you never read someone's diary. OTOH, I know my wife: she would have wanted to be remembered, as completely as possible, rather than simply put on an over-simplified pedestal. I'm pretty sure that, this many years on, she'd rather they be fondly read, to flesh out memories of her and better understand who she was and where she came from.

Not today, though. They'll get brought home and put on the shelves, not boxed up, but I suspect that this is going to be a slow process of discovery...
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I'm starting to seriously clear the house. It is *full* of boxes and papers and cruft, and I am beginning to realize that, if I'm going to actually list it in March, I need to get cracking on clearing stuff. So today's focus is going through miscellanea and making the fast separation: Keep, Discard, or Hold Onto For Further Study. And there's this box labeled "Library Articles".

Most of it is sadly frustrating. I clearly need to get rid of it, because I have *no* use for it myself. I'm hoping that I can find some school somewhere that would be interested in it (Simmons, maybe?), because it's a fascinating archive of the history of online librarianship, from the early days in the mid-80s. Jane clipped a vast number of articles about solo librarianship, research and search over many years, with the result that you can study much of the history of the field just from the contents of this one box.

I'm only keeping the bits that are exceptionally interesting or personal. Some of that is the humor -- random library-related cartoons and the like.

And then there is the ANSI Standard. An innocuous little pamphlet, very official, of ANSI Standard K100.1-1974:
Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis
It's the best grin I've gotten in some time.

Read it for yourself -- the link above is to the official NISO PDF online. It's almost straight-faced at times, wandering off into beautiful excesses such as Table 1, "Maximum Permissible Olive Displacement". The best bit is the end, as they evaluate the possible mixing techniques, eventually recommending the "Radiation" method.

It's a delightful piece of silliness, and I'll be keeping it, even as I sadly deaccession a career's worth of meatier content...
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Going through all the books has turned up a lot of interesting reading matter, but it's also turned up the occasional surprise that just happened to be sitting on the bookshelves. Possibly the most surprising is material indicating that Jane's mother Catherine had learned how to use a computer -- in 1959.

She never made the slightest reference to it -- indeed, I never saw her use a modern computer, although I think it likely she knew word-processing -- but the materials seem clear. I found a telegram, inviting her (back in her assistant-professor days) to take a course on programming a Univac the week of August 31st, 1959. And elsewhere on the bookcase, I found a ton of related materials: a Univac manual, notes, and a thing that looks vaguely like a circular slide rule whose use I am entirely unclear on. I assume we inherited it when she died ten years ago, and Jane never got around to filing any of it.

Very neat stuff, although once again I find myself wishing there was *someone* left from the family that I could ask about this...
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X minus about two weeks, and I am still culling at high speed.

Reminder to all: on the weekend of Sept 29/30, I am going to be selling off a *vast* number of books. I'll be opening my house by 10am each day, and selling until 3pm or so. On Saturday, the books will be a good but reasonable price -- something like a buck for mass-market paperbacks, up to $5 for some of the better hardcovers. Sunday morning, I'm planning on cutting the prices in half, and Sunday afternoon we'll go into "take 'em away" mode, at something like $5-10 for a whole box.

The sale is going to wind up even larger than originally planned -- I'd targeted 1500 volumes, but I'm up to 1461 so far, and that's only a third of the way through the science fiction and fantasy. I'm being pretty strict about the SF/F (since the collection is so overwhelming), so I expect there to be close to a thousand books for sale just in that category. (Not to mention hundreds of mysteries, including nearly every mystery involving a cat ever written.)

Along with that, there's going to be a lot of other stuff. We'll be giving most of Jane's garb away -- in the case of the garb, I care mainly that it goes to people who will actually use it. And those who remember her wonderful taste in clothing may also remember that she had similarly great tastes in accoutrements: there will be a large number of necklaces and a *huge* number of earrings.

So please -- put this on your calendar and come on by. I would *really* prefer not to dump these books on a library, honestly -- it's a high-quality collection, and I would far rather that it go to SCAdians and other friends who will make good use of it...
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And in the meantime, I'm pressing ahead with the cull for the Great Book Sale on Sept 29/30. Just to keep everyone's attention (and encourage more people to come buy books), here's an update: the cookbooks have been culled, and I've pulled out four full boxes of them for the sale.

Now mind, this largely doesn't contain SCA period cookbooks -- for this pass, I'm allowing myself to keep most of them, and [livejournal.com profile] tpau has long-established dibs on all the duplicates. But it's still a ton of varied books of good quality. The list can be found in LibraryThing, mostly under the tags cookery, cookbooks, cooking, brewing and recipes. (Plus a bunch that just plain didn't get tagged.) And while it doesn't have much pre-1700 per se, it *does* include a lot from later periods, especially throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and lots of ethnic cookbooks ranging from Russian to Icelandic.

So if it isn't already, put the sale on your calendar. There's an awful lot of great stuff to dig through -- over 1000 books so far, and I haven't yet started the science fiction...
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So as I've mentioned before, my current programming project is the OP Compiler: taking the existing Order of Precedence and taming it with code, so that it can get fed into a nice, neat, vastly easier-to-maintain database going forward. I figured it would be a meaty but reasonably straightforward project -- after all, Caitlin was inhumanly good with data, and so the old HTML files should be at least *reasonably* consistent, right?

I am beginning to realize that my assumptions were incorrect. Caitlin *was* fabulous with data, and the flat files are perhaps more consistant than any other person could possibly have managed. But even she was human, and dealing with data from a zillion sources, with nothing automated checking the details.

So now I'm up to the point where I am successfully "compiling" a fair number of chronological court-report files (around the past eight years' worth), and all of "A" in the alphas, and I'm finding just how impossible the job had been. Everything *looks* great, and I don't think one person in 100 would catch more than a tiny number of errors. But besides the structural irregularities that I've been pulling my hair out over (mind, those huge files are completely hand-edited HTML, and the format isn't even remotely as consistent as it looks on the screen), it turns out that there are tons of *tiny* data bugs.

Let's just take the King, for example. Now that I'm actually able to print out what the compiler thinks is going on, I find that "Kenric Burn of Northampton" has a Valiant Tyger; "Kenric of Warwick" was a Rattan Champion, has a King's Cypher, and was named Crown Prince; and "Kenrick of Warwick" was Queen's Champion a couple of times, and got the Shield of Chivalry a couple of times. And when I get to parsing the K's, I'm going to have to rewrite his entry so that it cross-references all of these properly.

Mind, none of this is to fault Caitlin -- by and large, she was typing in what she was given by the heralds, and I'm 99% certain that she screened out 90% of the errors that were handed to her. But it is all demonstrating that the job of Shepherd's Crook really *is* impossible to do by hand, and it's miraculous that she managed to make it work as well as she did for as long as she did.

Anyway, the end result of all of this is going to be quite a substantial chunk of code. I am likely to open-source it, more as a way for me to kick the tires of Github than because I expect it to ever be used a second time (yes, I'm spending a solid two months writing a program that will, in the end, be run exactly once). But if anyone wants to see a medium-sized body of decently structured and not *excessively* cryptic Scala code, just pipe up and I'll be happy to point you at it and discuss what's going on in it...
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Mostly dealing with digging through SCA files and such at the moment: they consume a *lot* of the library, but for now are immune to the purge. (Eventually I'll have to get serious about "I'm not their archivist. Any more. Not officially.", but for now they're just in the way.)

I did find another pile of family history. Yet another photo album (I'm going to need to dig through the family tree and figure out if any of the surviving relatives are in direct descent to these people), and another big 19th-century family bible.

But the curious find is a *huge* blank book, pages numbered, starting with a series of A-Z pages apparently listing clients, with the remaining 300 pages full of what look like diary entries -- but the diary dates are in no obvious order. I think it's some kind of professional book, but the handwriting is rather dense, so it's hard to be sure. (One possible sign: in the front, it has a pile of blank IOU forms.) It all clearly dates to 1901-1904.

So yet another mystery added to the pile. At some point, we're going to have to decipher this thing (very carefully -- it's fragile) and puzzle out what it is.

(Oh, and the Matrix is finally registered in my name. Yay! They even let me keep the PELICN license plate, which I think Jane would approve of. Now I just have to get it towed to the shop and find out how much it's going to cost to get it back into working order.)
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[Like I said, this is a hard month. Today would have been our 25th wedding anniversary. (In the contrapositive world, we're having dinner tonight at Campania.) In memory of July 1987, I here transcribe our joint Honeymoon Diary, which I found while digging through the books last week. My writing is shown as plaintext and indented; hers is in italics. This pretty much mimics our styles in the book.

Keep in mind the era. This is before the Internet per se; considerably before the Wed; and *long* before blogs. Hence, I wasn't exactly a practiced diarist. And I tend to be much more concise in longhand.]

Longish )
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Today's main project has been digging through some files -- mostly because they are stacked in front of the next bookshelves that I want to deal with. So I'm finally continuing the great filing project that Niki started while she was living with me.

I just found the big archive of papers that [livejournal.com profile] goldsquare donated -- a mix of event stuff, formational paperwork for the Grand Council, and most of the key papers around the Crisis. So when it does come time to write up the history of What the Hell Happened in 1994, I know where the materials are.

But the really interesting bit was the manila envelope that has been sitting there for months and months, that I finally got around to looking into. Which is full of deeds. Mostly for land around Philadelphia. From around 1780. And I don't mean facsimiles -- I mean real cut indentures, on parchment, with wax seals on ribbons.

I *assume* these are related to Jane's genealogical research, but I'm not sure where they came from and I'm not certain whether they pertain directly to her family. (Niki, did you see any context for these?) But they are Incredibly Cool. [livejournal.com profile] ladymacgregor was over this afternoon, picking up cat stuff for a local shelter, and had great fun looking at one of them. These things are Legal Documents Dammit, written in utterly beautiful penmanship, some of them *big* -- like, a couple of feet across. They're all folded up (and look like they've *been* folded up for their entire 200+ years), so they have to be treated delicately, but the parchment is still in pretty good shape, and they're mostly legible.

So I have yet another fascinating mystery project here, and yet another case where I dearly wish I could ask Jane where the heck these came from. In the meantime, I've put them in the empty box labeled "acid-free", which I assume Jane bought for more or less this purpose...
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[There are a lot of things I like about my current philosophical outlook, and one of them is the focus on the here-and-now -- don't waste too much time fretting about past decisions or future choices, and for heaven's sake, don't indulge might-have-beens. They feel nice, but they're a fine source of dukkha, usually making you unhappy in the long run.

Most of the time I'm pretty good about that. But today is different, and I'm going to allow myself an exception.]
Once upon a time, a cell divided wrong.

It was a small thing at the time: maybe a little bit of genetic damage, or a chromosome misplaced in a daughter cell, or any of a host of other possible errors. But the result was that it didn't know when to quit. And time passed. And here we are.

Just for today, I'm going to peek into the world where that didn't happen.

Today is Jane's 50th birthday.

Yesterday was the blowout party. I'd thought about doing it on Saturday, but we decided not to step on Buttery Birthday. So instead, we had the hordes descend on our house yesterday -- I'd been talking it up for months, and close to 150 people showed at one time or another. In our usual way, instead of getting it catered, we mostly did it ourselves, although *bigger* than usual -- friends brought a bunch of tents and popups for shade, the potluck stretched across five tables, and the party lasted until almost 10pm, when Jane declared that it was time to kick everyone out, since it was a school night. I'll be doing dishes for the next *week*.

Tonight is quieter: a long-planned birthday dinner at Blue Ginger, which is always her favorite. She'll have the dish that used to be butterfish and I'll have the lobster -- tonight is all about celebrating age and habit.

I'm still working at Google -- my temper has come down to a simmer since the nymwars debacle, and I'm still trying to do what I can on the inside to make things better. I'm doing things with the Wave codebase, and still trying to convince people to revive the product in a more business-friendly way. Jane is still toddling along at NREC -- still always fretting about the company's future, but it continues to get by.

Our spare time and attention is being utterly consumed with Carolingia, as we settle into the job. I'm being characteristically over-enthusiastic, with seventeen projects in the pipeline to try and bring the energy levels up. She's being tolerant, and going to most of the out-Barony events with me, but is periodically whapping me and reminding me not to burn out.

And our house is getting ever-more-full of Stuff. We keep talking about doing something about that (and she's gotten me to make progress on the great comic book project), but there's always tomorrow. We have years yet to deal with all of that...
[Make no mistake: my life is good. I'm enjoying building a new life with Kate, and pondering new adventures in my career. It's fun, and exciting in ways that my life hasn't been in a long time.

But today, more than any other day, I have to let myself miss the old certainties -- the life so well-practiced that I had real confidence about where it was going and what would come next...]
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Yesterday's major project was one that's been stored up for some time now: I finally removed my wedding ring.

Mind, it wasn't a sudden decision. After the first anniversary of Jane's death back in January, I had decided that it was getting to be time -- I'll always miss her, but I have to let go of the mourning. But that raised a very simple and practical problem: the ring was well and truly *stuck*.

It wasn't a total surprise, and was entirely natural. I got married just shy of 25 years ago, and probably haven't taken the ring off in the past 15. Since the ring was sized, I've probably gained 40-50 pounds. (While never precisely thin, I was in very good shape in college.) So my fingers are simply a bit pudgier than they used to be: distressing, but to be expected.

I *was* a bit surprised at how challenging it was, though: it used to be easy enough to remove that I hadn't thought much about it. But even lotions and things couldn't do much for it: there was just too much flesh there.

Eventually, I went down to Long's, to ask them to remove it, and was surprised to be informed that they don't do that sort of thing any more. Their recommendation was to go to either the ER or Fire Station to have it cut off my finger, but I found those pretty distressing options. It's one thing to have it removed by the jeweler who sold it to us in the first place, but from a ceremonial POV, the idea of having my ring chopped off with firemen's emergency equipment (and likely doing it a good deal of damage in the process) didn't sit well with me.

Fortunately, Aaron came through with a strange-sounding but successful method involving, of all things, dental floss. He pointed out a YouTube video for training EMTs to deal with it; I took that as my manual. The summary is that you take a long string of floss, and thread a bit of it under the ring. Then you basically mummify the finger pretty tightly in the floss, winding it around many times, and then unwind it from the other side. The process hurts like hell -- you're basically cutting off your circulation for a couple of minutes while you do it, and it bites into the skin a bit -- but it worked exactly as described for me. It leverages the ring off the finger, a millimeter at a time, but it comes off pretty much as quickly as you can unwind it.

(Note that this won't work for every situation -- in particular, I suspect that if the problem is the knuckbones you're simply out of luck. But in a case like mine, where it's just an issue of a bit too much flesh, it works surprisingly well.)

And now, I have a well-dented slot on my finger -- a bit pale, with well-defined edges. That'll go away soon enough, but I suspect that my habit of spinning the ring around my finger will take longer.

But it's off, and without damage, which is a real comfort. I've laced it onto a gold chain that I've had for many years, and stuck it away safely; I expect I'll put that on when occasion and ceremony suggest it. One more step towards building my new life: not an easy one, but I'm glad to have gotten a good resolution to it...
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I'm slowly continuing the Great Book Project, which is going to result in a huge book sale in September -- pruning through both her books and mine, figuring out what I can easily part with. And almost every day, it contains revelations.

For instance, today's: I just found two books of poetry in her hand. Most of it collected by various great authors and songwriters, but about a third of it hers. Not high art, mind -- it appears to have been written when she was 16, and is mostly love poems about her then-boyfriend John (and his cars) -- but still, immensely personal stuff, full of personal truths. And I don't think I ever knew that she'd written a poem in her life. She always claimed that I was the creative one, and that she wasn't.

The only moral I can draw is: share who you are, while you can. Every day I do this project, I come up with more questions that I wish I'd asked her, had I but known to do so...
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[Side note: no, I haven't forgotten the Timeline project. But I realized, a few weeks ago, that Google really does archive all of my chat history. This means that I have *vastly* more actual documentation of the history than I remembered, especially of the early weeks of Jane's cancer. So I've wound up going back and doing a lot of rewriting of sections that are already written, but not yet posted, correcting my faulty recollections.]

Anyway -- I just came across this pointer to a collection of photos of Jane that [livejournal.com profile] cat9 collected for the funeral. It's a great assortment of pictures of her life, and I suspect a lot of folks might be interested in it. I'm going to annotate some of them with when and where; I encourage others to do so as well...


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