Damon William Hill's Journal|
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|Saturday, September 19th, 2015|
|Blind in the Mind
My mind's eye is blind, has been for years if not most all of my life, and I'm only just realizing this is a thing.
There is a name for it. Aphantasia.
There is no light for my darkness. Current Mood: gloomy
|Tuesday, July 14th, 2015|
|From Pluto, with love
I didn't sleep at all last night. Too excited. Running on two or so hours of sleep and feeling wasted.
I've been waiting for this moment of the Pluto flyby, for nearly all my life. The little world has been an enigma since it's discovery; my discovery of astronomy and space must have come before I was ten when I was reading my first books on the subject from the library and the encyclopedia and I was trying to imagine what all these worlds were really like apart from the mostly blurry photos until early space exploration started revealing those worlds in greater detail.
So it was with a sense of history and a little sadness that I stayed awake all night to 'watch' the flyby in a simulation running on my computer, showing the Plutonian system and the spacecraft, and how various instruments were active at a given moment and what parts of the little world and its companions were being scanned. It's a little eerie to see our entire Solar System so distant and tiny, finally playing out in a way I could not have imagined as a nerdy child (personal computers were still a couple of decades away). Science fiction has become science fact.
I finally gave up and went to bed for real after NH was now looking back at Pluto as it eclipsed the Sun and Earth, itself an experiment to measure Pluto's atmosphere, and begins it's next phase of exploration beyond the arbitrary boundary of Pluto's orbit.
The vast majority of the data has yet to be downlinked, and it will take more than a year to get it all because there's so much of it (we hope!) and the extreme distance and low power of the transmitter means it can only trickle in.
For now, the world finally has a true picture of Pluto's face, an iconic image that I think people will associate with the little world for a very long time to come. It's historic, this age you and I have lived through, from fuzzy telescope images to actual visits and even landings of the entire Solar System by our robotic minions.
The First Age of (Space) Exploration is complete. It's time to move on.
|Friday, January 9th, 2015|
|Feel the music
One of the last unalloyed pleasures of my life is music. You have to feel
Bach fugues at some volume to really appreciate his music. I live for music, because it makes me feel alive.
To that end, I've been building and collecting audio gear since 1968. I've just put together yet another audio power amplifier based on the late Marshall Leach's design, but with better output transistors in a chassis that approaches what a commercially built amplifier should be. I'm about five years behind schedule getting this thing put together and working properly, for various reasons. But it's finally ready.
It sounds good. (A testimony to Prof. Leach's design skills and love of music.)
Dawn and the cats think I'm mad, but I don't care.
Music, really good music, is life. Current Mood: exalted
|Saturday, December 27th, 2014|
|No guiding spirit
Looking back on my growing years (the 60's), I realize that I never had a mentor, a wise friend. I had parents, yes. My father was often drunk on the weekends and buried himself at work (an engineer for a major aerospace company). He was cynical and negative, and very likely as depressed as I am now. I have always abstained from alcohol as a result. My mother simply didn't know what to do; attention deficit disorder and accompanying major depression didn't have a name in those days, much less treatment. But she was certain I'd turn out to be a failure, and sometimes said so.
I had some terrible teachers and two employers for the first half of the 70's who could be best described as anti-mentors, that's for certain.
I'd like to believe in a guardian angel, a guiding spirit; I needed an archangel at the least.
Dawn's the only thing that keeps me going now. She cooked corned beef for our holiday meal, with her grandmom's simple but savory sauce, cabbage and mashed potatoes. Current Mood: disappointed
|Saturday, November 1st, 2014|
"Let them die. Forget them. They are useless, even to themselves. Let them end, and be forgotten. Useless." Current Mood: depressed
|Saturday, November 16th, 2013|
The only thing worse than antidepressants that don't work, are the ones that make me feel A WHOLE LOT WORSE when I go off them. What the hell does medical science think it's doing? Nothing to do but tough out another bad weekend. I'm beginning to suspect I know why my father was an alcoholic.
I'm not about to start. I'm already addicted to chocolate.
(At the library trying to distract myself from a pounding head; staying at home is a lot worse when I feel this badly.) Current Mood: depressed
|Wednesday, August 7th, 2013|
I started working at Carlisle Interconnects last month, building various cables and electrical harnesses for commercial aircraft. The job consists of standing at a 40 foot long table, laying out the wires, spacing out the labels (made of heat shrink tubing) and shrinking them, tying together bundles of wire with equine-duty waxed dental floss (I've made enough clove hitches and square knots to earn an Eagle Scout badge about ten times over) and pretty much double-checking nearly everything before electrical test and shipping. I will be learning other duties as time goes by.
Pay isn't great, but the environment is comfy and the people friendly (if rather heavily accented). There's a company-wide exercise/stretch routine early in the morning. Work hours are 6AM - 2:30PM; I may be working a 50 hour week soon, if I can stand it. I certainly need the extra money for a long and difficult financial recovery from the Great Republican Recession of 2008.
First "real" job I've had in many, many years; it's not really electronics but at least I can practice that skill at home, now that I'm starting to have a budget for projects and parts. Current Mood: optimistic
|Saturday, July 27th, 2013|
|Don't fall in love with mermaids: Lost Voices Trilogy
They'll only break your heart. Why did I fall in love with the very symbol of unattainable beauty and unrequited love?http://sarahporterbooks.com/lostvoices.html
This story blindsided me at the end; I never expected it to hurt so badly. It's an excellent treatment of a subject once dear to my heart. Read at your risk.
I'm going to quietly bleed for a while. I've already put my mermaids away. Current Mood: broken and bleeding
|Monday, January 7th, 2013|
Life without love is lifeless.
I'm dying. Current Mood: lonely
|Tuesday, December 18th, 2012|
An empty jar with no label sits on the shelf.
I see myself in reflection. Current Mood: apathetic
|Thursday, September 20th, 2012|
|Falling Through at 62
So I'm back to being unemployed again. Working at Orion was a generally good experience, but after fifteen months and a couple of extensions, I'm still not placed in a permanent job. :( I've applied for a position at Orion, which manufactures precision sheet metal components for Boeing and others. But my former career in electronics seems hopelessly dead; I haven't even done much this year as a hobby.
Since this was a state-funded program, I'm not eligible for unemployment compensation; my fall- back plan was to go on early Social Security. It'll pay rent, but that's about all.
For a while I'll continue the job search and work on chores at home while the weather's so Indian-summery. Plenty of cleanup to do outside and inside; long-neglected projects gathering dust. I'm trying to finish a 2.4 GHz high-gain antenna for more/better Wifi piracy. I'll post a picture by and by; it's made from fence wire. Really, it is.
Apart from strawberries, gardening wasn't all that great this year. A very wet and cool extended spring discouraged nearly everything I attempted to plant, but strawberries didn't seem to mind at all. I'm building mulch baskets from that same roll of fence wire and large heavy-duty garbage bags, for composting all our yard waste.
Many years ago I had a lawn mower and even better, a heavy-duty chipping machine for grinding up yard waste; wishing I had something now, even a light-duty electric chipping. The "lawn mower" is a battery string trimmer; okay for my postage stamp of a lawn, but about useless for reducing the bulk of twigs, small limbs and leaves.
|Thursday, April 19th, 2012|
|No Two Ways About It
One-sided love's delusions are all that I recall.
I'll never know love, at all. Current Mood: very
|Saturday, October 1st, 2011|
|Bootlegging the 'Net
Being offline sucks. It's frustrating having a computer that does very little without an Internet connection. And it'll likely be next year before we can afford the service again.
So I hauled out my USB wireless widget and had a look at what was in range. Aha! One, just one, out of a dozen routers wasn't protected and at random times I could connect, unreliably. The weather has an effect on WiFi reception just as it does on UHF TV reception, generally not good during rainy and windy conditions. I needed a better antenna, so does the TV, but the budget's too lean for even modest hardware purchases. Experiments with a metal pie pan as a reflector gave marginally better results, but the revolution came when I set the USB widget on top of the pan, it serving as a ground plane. May still not work during bad weather, but it'll do for now.
Now I'm pirating a service and I know it, but I'm poor and desperate and worst of all, bored without my Internet connection to the world. Getting an occasional fix at the library just isn't enough; even having access to a terminal at work during breaks and lunch doesn't quite scratch the itch, though it helps. So, 'til my unsuspecting neighbor wises up and locks his router I can connect, and I feel connected.
Work's pretty interesting for the moment; I'm in Hydraulic Build Unit cleaning parts and labeling aircraft hydraulic parts, and attempting to assist the mechanics who do the modifications to the gear. Despite the minimum wage pay it's steady work and will hopefully lead to better things. Maybe I'll master the cantankerous labeling 'gun' and be able to keep up with the afternoon 'surge' as well. At least for a few weeks until I'm reassigned to another department.
Gardening this year was modest but somewhat successful: the pumpkin vines contracted a mold infection but produced one small pumpkin, the tomatoes (cherry, grape "Juliette", and Early Girl) in their five gallon plastic pails finally bore sweet fruit (much to Dawn's pleasure) and the strawberry bed is being populated with runners from the strawberry pots. The cucumbers didn't do squat, but we had a good wild blackberry season. I just wish I had more sunny exposure and room for a more ambitious garden. Compost made a big difference.
|Saturday, July 16th, 2011|
|Employment at last!
I'm now working a full-time job; the work's menial and my back is killing me, but it's a paycheck. Building small parts that go into Boeing airliners; nothing so exotic as you'd expect, it's pretty boring work that's the lowest common denominator of a complex machine like a modern airliner: clamps for hydraulic and other pressurized lines.
My income's more than doubled, but we're still on a tight budget for the present. Hopefully this job will lead to better things, depending on what Voc Rehab can find for me. I'm still looking for work in electronics, even as I repair audio gear at home in the evenings.
|Friday, February 25th, 2011|
|It does ADD up, after all.
After many years of suspecting I have attention deficit disorder based on symptoms, Voc Rehab does a evaluation and confirms it so. About 45 years late, I fear, to do much good in my life, but I have to start somewhere.
Running the gamut of doctors to find someone who will prescribe appropriate medication has been a frustration; I had the diagnosis in January and won't get an appointment with a psychiatrist until early March. grrrrr....
In the meantime, I'm researching the subject online as I can, with the help of a book:
Delivered From Distraction, by Dr. Edward Hallowell
Maybe it'll be life-changing, or not.
|Friday, January 14th, 2011|
Due to poverty, I'm ending cable and telephone service. We'll be on
cell phone and the occasional visit to the library for Internet. My
presence here will be sporadic at best.
The recession/depression sucks.
|Saturday, November 13th, 2010|
|Truckin' at 125,000 miles
Age is catching up with my '97 Dodge Dakota. Had to replace the battery last week; still, it was over five years old and had been abused with several deep discharges. 'Bout $100 I'll never see again.
This week it was the starter. There went another $320 or so; I jacked up the truck to see if it was feasible for me to replace it myself. Looked tight, very greasy and the rain made it too inconvenient to attempt; I suppose I was lucky to find a shop open on a Saturday that was able to fix it in short order.
I'll probably take it back shortly to have a full tune-up since it's getting balky in cold weather. On the whole the old girl's not in bad shape, but money's way too tight.
Got to get employed RSN; the job prospect the temp agency indicated last week seems to have evaporated. I'd hoped to be employed by now. :(
|Saturday, October 23rd, 2010|
|Never buy Moen!
The kitchen sink faucet was leaking a little, and Dawn was after me to fix it before the counter rotted out. (It wasn't leaking that bad at all, but, eventually...)
First step, shut off the hot and cold water valves to the sink; the hot water valve wouldn't even slow down the flow. I eventually located the main water cutoff to the house, which at first didn't seem to have any effect and was forced at first to cut off the hot water valve at the heater. Eventually it bled off the pressure; oh well, I needed to find that valve anyway. Now I can fix the leaky outside faucets at my leisure.
Made by Moen says the label on the tilting handle, so I took a gander at their site and located what was probably the right model with an exploded diagram of a surprising number of parts. Set about dissembling it and that went pretty well until I got to the actual valve cartridge, which wasn't budging.
Back to the Web, which ominously contained many tales and some expository videos of how to change out Moen valve cartridges--they don't want to come out at all, even with the special removal tool. Even then, you have only a 50% chance of getting it inserted the right way so the water flows hot when set to hot, and so forth.
Off to Lowe's, where I eventually found the right part # (I hoped!) and a clerk helpfully pointed out an appropriate removal tool, not unlike that used to extract bearings from drive shafts. Much cursing and frustration later, we ended up going out for barbecue while I pondered the problem. Finally, with a vise grip and a hammer, I pounded the darn thing out--halfway there!
The replacement generally resembled the original but wouldn't you know it, it was just as stubborn about going into the housing. Eventually, I tried whittling a candlestick to fit into the housing and rubbed some paraffin into the metal; after that, with much less effort, I finally got the darn thing to fully insert without breaking anything. Reassembly and test, successful! No leaks, and hot water comes out when desired, not cold water--luck is finally turning my way!
The next day, I hop into the truck--battery can't deliver enough juice to turn over a cold engine. Sigh. Ah, the joys of home ownership and entropy...
|Sunday, July 25th, 2010|
|Back From the Dead: Zombie Motherboard
So, sometime in June my computer goes belly-up. Won't even POST. Two electrolytic caps on the MSI K7N2 Delta 2 motherboard were swollen and vented--obvious clue there. But I'm not worried, for I Had A Backup Plan.
Yes, a whole 'nother computer running on the network as a file server and backup, and grinding away at SETI workunits when not being accessed, which is nearly always.
To make a long and sorrowful story short, I pretty much screwed up and wound up with no computers; I'll spare you the wretched details. Dawn had the laptop I gave her a couple of years ago, but was reluctant to let me place my incompetent hands on it; at least I was able to get my daily Internet 'fix'.
So I order up a batch of appropriate replacement caps, desolder (with difficulty) and replace (with less difficulty) the bad caps, and...it LIVES!!! No Green Screen of UnDeath, either. Some more time is necessary to get the hard drive Windows XP installation back up to speed and work out the quirky boot issues--2 gigabytes of memory is now virtually essential to insure smooth operation. It also appears that I have inserted the memory chips several times too many and the sockets are too loose to function with my old memory. Windows XP runs wretchedly on 512 megs in the center memory socket.
"Brains...brains...brains..."(shuffle, shuffle) Really, this is ridiculous.
Well, the recovery plan is to go to the backup computer anyway with a fresh Windows XP install and the 2 gigs, and get all of the necessary files transferred over; once again I'll spare you the wretched details why this wasn't accomplished three weeks ago. Or that once again I didn't have comprehensive backups.
Some Happy Day I'll own a Real Computer: an AMD quad core at 3+ GHz with 8 gigs of memory and SSD and a honkin' video card which SETI can access for super-computer-like math powers and a Xonar Essence ST audiophile-quality sound card. Running 64-bit Windows 7.
First, I've got to find real employment.
|Saturday, June 26th, 2010|
|Summer and Sixty
I turn sixty on July 19th.
I don't >feel< old, just a kind of resigned middle-age average, coping unevenly with an unideal life and making the best of it I can.