In the North Sea heading for NewCastle

On the Disney Magic and having a great time!

Currently we’re nearing the end of our first day at sea on the Magic. Today was an ‘at sea’ day and relatively quiet. The weather has been excellent. We had a chocolate and wine tasting this morning. Fun, interesting and tasty.

We’ve been meeting folks on the cruise this time. I guess we’re becoming a bit more gregarious this time around. We grabbed dinner with a number of folks who had been on the pre-cruise facebook group and have seen several of them around the ship since then.

So far I’ve taken a few pictures, mostly sunrise and ships on the horizon (and a bunch from Dover and London before we sailed out). We saw a huge wind farm this morning while chatting with a couple we had met at the dinner and I grabbed a few shots of that. Currently my outgoing bandwidth is limited (pay per meg with a first level limit of 100 MB) so I’m going to keep the picture postings down until I get home.

I’m going to try to keep posting as things progress and may extend entries during the day as more happens.

Getting ready for formal-ish night tonight. We didn’t bring full formal wear as our weight and bags were limited in order to make getting here sane.

A few shots from the last few days in reduced size.

Deep in the castle ramparts


Beauty among the ancient stones


The view from our room in London 🙂


Science Fiction and Science Fact…

I was just talking with someone here at work and they mentioned being introduced to the works of Charlie Stross and in particular the laundry files. That got me thinking about some of the tangential things that I discovered after following Charlie’s blog for a while. The book Ignition is a very cool walk through the early work in developing rocket propellants…particularly fun is anything that is ‘hypergolic’. Hypergolic fuels ignite spontaneously when fuel and oxidizer are mixed (a little thought make the importance of this clear as the consequences of dumping a few dozen pounds of fuel and oxidizer together and THEN having them ignite can be unfortunate in a boom! sort of way). Another connection near to this one was the hop to Derek Lowe’s medchem blog with particular attention to his things I won’t work with articles (which have been few and far between of late 🙁 ). The items in these articles are more diverse than the stuff in ignition, but no less interesting…

Munchin is gone…

Muchkin is gone.

He was a neighborhood stray that looks similar enough to a rescue kitten that had gone missing shortly after we first let him outdoors that he picked up his name. The original (I’ll call him Munchkin beta as the cat that just passed from this world earned full title to the name over his many years with us) was adopted with his brother butterfly. After butterfly died of liver disease, muchkin beta went out one day and didn’t come back in.

Some time after that we saw a black and white stray around the neighborhood that from a distance looked like the original. He didn’t want to come in the house and quite a few folks were feeding him so we just let things ride, assuming that our Munchkin had gone a bit wild and keeping an eye on things.

One day, Munchkin arrived at the door with his head an neck pretty badly ripped up and he walked right in and lay down in the house. We took that as a sign and brought him in to get his wounds cleaned up. At the vet, they mentioned that he was unfixed which pretty much dismissed any possibility that he was the original cat come back. We got him fixed and vaccinated and from that point forward he was part of the household.

He still ruled his stretch of the neighborhood and roamed far and wide. He became a wonderful pet who loved laps (but hated kissed on the head).

More later…

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A bit of a grey and drippy day outside.


Starting to get traction at KMC and feeling like I’m going to be contributing significantly in the near future. Nice to be getting there as at Kiva/Amazon it never really felt like I was going to make a significant difference.

Eva is Gone

Buried Eva last weekend. She was a good little cat and didn’t deserve whatever congenital problem did her in. I hate putting down a pet…I am particularly sad when the critter is young and otherwise doing well. We adopted her last fall before Alyssa went off to boot camp. One of Alyssa’s friends had a stray they couldn’t or wouldn’t keep that they were feeding outside. We adopted her and took her in. She took a little while to settle in, but in the end she had established her place in the house. She liked Lorna more than she liked me (she’d accept pets, but never really trusted me). She was in the process of domesticating Yagami and she really disliked Khan. Otherwise she seemed to have a ‘you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you’ attitude.

Lorna visiting Lys

Lorna is flying out to Chicago soon to visit Alyssa. Lys seems a bit stressed by things…and I do understand. She’s got school to deal with, friends coming and going around the training center as they start and finish their own training, a serious boyfriend in the process of deploying to Peal Harbor and I think she worries that home is changing/slipping away. Hard transitions to make, even when you’re able to come home on the weekends from college…she’s dealing with them far from home and with no chance of visiting for some time. I feel for her and will try to do what I can to help provide a stable point of reference. I think Lorna is pretty stressed at the moment as well. Between putting Eva down, Leo being in the hospital and the trip (which always stresses her even though she tries not to show it) she’s a bit on edge.


I’m starting in on building the ‘catio’ to allow the boys some outside even when we’re not letting them out the door of the house. We’ve bought a bunch of the piece parts (wood, hinges and such for the door and lots more deck screws to hold it all together). I’m adjusting the design to add a sloped roof with shingles (from the brick or two that we had left over). Lorna wanted a top rather than the wire top that the original design called for. The option in the plans she got was for a flat roof made of plastic (not sure where they get polycarbonate panels, but the local home depot doesn’t have them). Given our sometimes snow loads in the winters, a flat roof seemed like a way of asking for trouble. This will be a one to two pitch roof with standard roofing shingles on top. Should do the job and look reasonable as well. I’ve cut the base 4x4s and dropped them in place by the side of the house. I’ve also cut an angle template to help set the table saw tilt for the long rip on the top board that the roof sheet will attach to. There’s still a good bit of figuring out to do before this project is done, but I think we’re headed in the right direction. Next step will be to bed the 4×4 timbers a couple of inches into the soil of the garden to lock them into place. After that is done I can start putting the main frame of the structure together.

Lee on the mend

Lee should be coming home from the hospital soon. Hoping that he can keep up with moving around on a regular basis. This cellulitis thing has been a bit scary. I believe that he went in on Friday and he may be coming home today. Lots of antibiotics along the way and hopefully a bit of a wake up call.

I’ve got to figure out how to partition these posts between public stuff and private. Ideally there’d be some sort of tagging on the post, but I don’t expect that to be supported here. Plan B would involve keeping two posts every day, one public and one private. Not sure I’m up to that so there may just be the private one for now.

Trying to choose a new game system…

So our old Wii has died the death without resurrection (at least no time soon) and we’re looking at choices to replace it.

Alyssa is interested in Manga/Anime/Japanese games. I’ve been out of the gaming world for a rather long time and never had much to do with consoles but enjoyed casual FPS playing and some of the older RTS games back when I was buying them for the PC.

Options appear to be

  • XBox One: This keeps things in the Microsoft camp (we all have PCs of some sort. Being able to play multiplayer with one person on a PC and the other on the console (if this is possible) would be nice. I’d love to try out TitanFall and Halo and so far the mix of games on the Xbox looks interesting. Alyssa heard from someone that Anime games are mostly on the PS (though Steam on the PC seems to have more than we found on the PS4). I think Lorna might enjoy games that use the Kinect for active gaming. It is though rather clearly the second place in terms of popularity in the US behind the PS4.
  • PS4: Seems like the clear leader in terms of popular, current gaming consoles. As this is the current PS machine Sony is pushing it should be more future-proof than the PS3. I have the impression that it may not be doing as well in Japan as the PS3 and the list of Anime-ish games we could find that ran on the PS4 wasn’t that much bigger than what showed up for the Xbox One. It has a kinect-like accessory, but the camera is optional and expensive and I’m suspicious that this will mean that there aren’t many games that mak use of it.
  • PS3: The PS3 seems to still be available online. The list of Anime games for PS3 appears to be much larger than what is out there for the PS4 or the Xbox One. It is a ‘last generation’ console though and even at the lower price I’d worry that new stuff won’t be written for this console and we’d be trading lots of current titles agains a dearth of future options.
  • Gaming PC: I have most of the hardware to make this happen in hand already. The cases these systems are in aren’t the most portable (19″ rack mount chassis with full sized motherboards) but the systems are reasonably capable and with a small video card update can be very capable. This would cut us out of all of the console exclusive titles though. I’m no longer familiar with the sales chain for PC games either. I know that they’re no longer on store shelves. I have a steam account and there seems to be a lot of material there (and lots that is reasonably priced) so I’ll probably do something down this line in any case.

Opinions and advice are welcome. So far, every time we thought we had a clear choice made we came up short.

The raspberry pi that I ordered…

…came in the mail yesterday. I’ve loaded up the OS (one of several available Linux derivatives) and booted it up free standing.
Next I need to find the driver code I need to get the USB WiFi module I bought for it working with the RedHat derived OS that I loaded.

The module is from a company called ‘EdiMax’. The source from the provided CD failed to build last night (just a quick make to see what would happen) and a few web searches suggested that the chip vendor site had better drivers available. I’m going to take a look at lunch time and see if I can locate that reference again and download those driver sources.

The board looks like

R-Pi board

and the adapter is tiny thumb drive sized

R-Pi WiFi Adapter

I just read a few more comments and it looks as if the quick road to getting this up may involved wired ethernet (which I cannot connect to here) and so tonight may be the earliest I can try this out.

I’m hoping in the long run to get moving on the RepRap build and perhaps use this board as the control computer for the thing. The Arduino handles all of the ‘fast twitch’ work and the R-Pi for WiFi and high level control. That could give a mostly free standing device which could be pretty cool.

Starting my second day with Kiva Systems…

Long first day. Aside from the HR stuff, found out that they use Macs for most desktop stuff. They hit the one OS that I have not had a reason to become even the least bit familiar with. Now trying to familiarize myself with the environment and basic system behaviors so I can get to the really hard stuff. Interesting times, gonna be some hard work in the near future, but should be interesting.

Thoughts and Considerations…