Caveat: Tree #865

This tree saw me down in the boat, in heavy rain and wind, making sure the batteries were charged so the bilge pump was working – when there’s lots of rain, the boat fills up with water, which needs to be pumped out of the bottom of the boat.

picture[daily log: walking, 2km]

Caveat: So Much Blog

I have been doing some maintenance work on my blog, preliminary to trying to get it moved over to my other, newer server, so I can finally shut this older one down. That will save me some money, and the various websites and programs running on my servers will be more rationally distributed.
I downloaded a “text file” version of my blog (a kind of backup file) which contains everything ever written here, but not the pictures. And I had a strange thought. The file is 29 MB. That’s really not a very big file, but it’s fairly standard to say that 1MB of text is approximately 500 pages. So. If I were to print my blog out in this backup format, in its entirety, right now, that would come out to… 500 x 29 = 14500 pages. Actually, a lot of the text in the text file is “metadata” and various formatting information (e.g. HTML). So maybe only 25% of that figure, 14500/4, is actual writing. That still comes to 3625 pages. And if the pictures were printed too… I believe there are about 2000 pictures embedded in this blog. They’d each need a page, right? Or say, half a page. So add 1000 to that figure. That comes to 4625 pages. Very approximate. But that’s a very fat book.

Did I really write that much?

UPDATE 2021-05-31-16:00 – This blog is now on a new, better server. This was the last piece in “cleaning house” on my broken-down restored-from-backup server that crashed in February. So now I can shut that one down and no longer be billed for it. Yay. The structure of the site and its behavior should be identical except for the word “blog” being inserted in front of each and every address: e.g. is now

Caveat: Boat Afloat

Finally, much later than originally intended, we have managed to get the boat launched and tied up at the dock.
We need a fairly high tide to launch the boat – that has been one impediment, as most of the super high tides have been in the middle of the night, this past month. But this morning, at 4 AM, we had a +11 foot tide. 4 AM might sound like the middle of the night, but at this time of year, it’s already getting light – sunrise is around 4:30. It was drizzly, but the tide was high at 3:55 this morning when I took this picture.
So we successfully lowered the boat into the water and floated it around and tied it to the dock. We had some issues with starting the motors, but finally got them running too. Unfortunately, there’s an electrical problem with the downriggers, such that there will still be no fishing happening. We need to get and wire in new connectors for both the downriggers. My evaluation is that it’s just corrosion on the connectors that is causing the issues, but Arthur’s generalized and wide-angle pessimism seems to feel that there are other things to worry about.
Here is the boat down at the dock, as seen at 5:30 AM. We were running the big motor for a while to make sure the batteries are charged up properly – now that it’s out in the water, the bilge-pump needs to work.

Caveat: on maladaptive perfectionism

My friend Bob recently shared with me the term “maladaptive perfectionism” in another context, essentially describing a personality trait. I decided, however, that the term pretty succinctly summarized some of my own struggles over the years – especially when younger but continuing through the present moment.
I had a further insight yesterday. I was watching Arthur struggle with a piece of saran wrap, over at least 20 or 30 minutes’ time span. He was cussing. He was throwing things. He was refusing my offers to help. This happens more and more often, with Arthur, and there’s little that can be done. Typically, I flee the room and let him deal with it on his own. His reflexes and physical abilities cannot match the mental picture he harbors of what his reflexes and physical abilities should be. This is exacerbated by his memory issues – his brain isn’t very good at updating old self-images with new ones, even in the face of overwhelming new evidence.
This led me back to thinking about my own “maladaptive perfectionism,” and it occurred to me that this is an issue not with behavior but with belief. It’s about the interaction between expectation and self-image. Unrealistic expectation vis-a-vis self-image leads to frustration, and the broader the mis-match, the more the frustration. But self-image can be incorrect, and over-determined by fantasy, by past experience under circumstances that no longer apply, or by many other factors. Therefore fixing the problem of “maladaptive perfectionism” is a matter of changing beliefs, not changing behavior.

Caveat: Tree #862

This tree (the small alder on the left fairly far back) saw me plant a bunch of raspberry plantlets that I got from my boss Wayne who was weeding and thinning his raspberry patch. I was thinking that if they establish themselves here, on the berm of the flat area that’s over the septic field on lot 73 (left side of photo), I’ll have a nice raspberry patch in future years.
Meanwhile, in my greenhouse, my single healthiest plant right now is a pepper plant I bought at discount in town because it was looking decrepit. And now it’s flourishing and has a charming little 3/4″ green pepper growing on it.
picture[daily log: walking, 3km]

Caveat: raggedsign

Contrary to superficial appearances on this here blog, I’ve not been a layabout, in recent weeks. I’ve been quite productive in the sphere of website building and administrative work.
This spurt of productivity was impelled by a request from the owners of the gift shop, where I work part-time. They wanted me to build them an improved website for their “other business” – a cabin rental business for tourists in Klawock.
That website is now “live” and running well, hosted on one of my servers – same as this blog and all my other various web projects. You can visit that website:
This work has led to a whole host of ancillary projects, as I try to clean up and update my several servers. I felt that if I was actually going to start being paid for what has so long been a hobby, I should get my proverbial ducks in a row.
By far the most difficult thing I’ve done wasn’t building that new website, but rather it was rebuilding, from the bottom up (i.e. from bare-bones, brand new “blank” server) my “map server,” which I’ve mentioned many times here. This has been necessary since my giant server crash a few months ago, and having the old server running, with all its problems and wasted space, was very inefficient. By doing this, I could free up a lot of space for new projects without shelling out for another new server. It was quite a job, and I’m proud of the outcome, though it’s the least glamorous, since in fact the objective was to get it looking and behaving exactly as the old map server. So if you go to my map server, at its new address, you’ll see something exactly the same as my old map server (which I have now shut down). The new map server is:
Another difficult thing I accomplished is that I have finally built my own email server – after many years of wanting to. Nothing will change as far as reaching out to me. I haven’t “killed” any of my existing email addresses, and my gmail one remains my “primary.” But having my own email server simplifies website administration and hosting substantially – a website server produces a number of automated, administrative emails, in the vein of responses to “Lost your password?” queries or “Server backup job completed at 07:00 AKDT”.  It is actually pretty hard to get such emails to go out correctly when you don’t control your own email host. So I built one. I placed it on one of my many domains:
As a side note, therefore, if anyone who knows me wants a customized email address, I now have the ability to provide that. The email server includes a “webmail” interface, so if you really wanted to, and trusted me enough, you could throw away your gmail account and be (or any of my other domains, or your own if you want to buy one).
I also set up a blog for a neighbor and good friend of Arthur’s, Jeff. He hasn’t done much with it, but I’m going to be providing him with some orientation so he can get his blog started:
Having done all that, and thinking about the fact that I am earning money from a few of these web programming adventures (though not at all breaking even, yet), I decided it was time to declare my web design and hosting “business” in some kind of official way. So I built yet another website, which is my “business” – such as as stands. Currently the income is less than the cost of the servers I have. Not to mention the programming time is, so far, “free.” I’m doing it as a hobby, I guess, but if I’m going to be making some money with it, I might as well try to look professional.
That new website: I would welcome feedback on appearance and text – it’s quite rudimentary and “first draft,” right now.
“raggedsign” is a name I came up with in around 2001 or 2002, as a kind of “brand name” for my efforts at learning website design and web programming. It went into extended dormancy during my decade in Korea and I only recently decided to resume using it for the same, original purpose. I have also used the brand-name “general semiotics” for my computer-related work, specifically my year and a bit as an independent “database design consultant” in 2006-07. I still own that domain, too, and for now I’ve redirected to the raggedsign site.
My next project is to provide a new “Topo layer” for the site where I am still active, bearing an informal “administrator emeritus” title. The previous “Topo layer” for that site was deactivated due to performance issues, but I have always been one of its biggest users and fans. So rather than complain to the other admin people on that site about the now-missing topo layer, I thought I’ll take on hosting one, myself – if I can. There are some technical hurdles to be overcome. But I think I’ll manage it.

Caveat: The Most Loyal Blog-reader

My mother has been tentatively diagnosed with lung cancer. It’s tentative because she is stubbornly refusing any more tests, at this point – as is her right and as is in line with her long-declared philosophy about this type of thing. She’s also had a coronary occlusion, which is a kind of proto heart attack, as I understand it. My speculation is that the occlusion was brought on by the severity of her coughing fits. Information is scarce and third-hand, so I say none of this with any confidence. [UPDATE: This paragraph’s last sentence is proving appropriate. The current, revised diagnosis has taken lung cancer off the table. The conditions are still serious – the heart occlusion, lung problem (emphysema, now). But the “end-of-life” tone of what follows is now seeming a bit premature. None of that negates the emotional turmoil discussed below. And the frustrating interactions I’ve had with others are if anything made more frustrating by having been, to some degree, a “false alarm.” I’m feeling now not just humbled but vaguely ridiculous, and even more inclined to just go into hiding for a good, long while. I am tempted to simply delete this whole blog post as over-the-top and embarrassing, but I believe in transparency, and admitting error and letting mistakes stand is a part of that. So all that follows is to be taken with the understanding that it was an early reaction to a situation still in flux.]
There’s nothing in my mother’s medical history, nor in the last several years of described symptoms of various kinds, that makes the idea of lung cancer at all surprising. She’s been struggling for years with a steadily declining weight, with a persistent cough, with phlegm and chest pains – not to mention she was a smoker for 45 years. So there’s nothing shocking at all in this. Given our family’s characteristic stoicism, she’s probably allowed it to get pretty far along – just as I did, in 2012-2013, with my mouth cancer.
My mother and I have actually gotten along really well, this last decade or so. I speak to her on the phone weekly, and we have exchanged emails two or three times a week for many years. She is this blog’s most “loyal” reader – and she provides me with meaningful reactions, thoughts, and much-needed copyediting. She is possibly one of only two people about whom I can say, with confidence, that she has read every single thing I’ve published on this blog over the last 17 years – 8455 articles and counting!
My mother is an Australian citizen, and I actually have a lot of faith in the Australian healthcare system (socialized medicine!) to do the right thing – both with respect to her needs but also respecting her oft-expressed wishes regarding such things as healthcare directives, living wills, and the like. She was, if anything, quite over-thorough and obsessive about end-of-life planning. I sometimes found it morbid and frustrating, in talking to her, with how often it came up.  In this moment, however, I’m deeply grateful for it. Because of it, I have a high degree of clarity about her expectations, her desires, and I feel I could easily answer the question, “What would she want?” in almost any possible circumstance.
There are lots of people in her life, there in Australia, who are equally well-informed: friends, neighbors, etc. Because of this, I personally have utter confidence that, left to their own devices, the Australians would solve things and would do so entirely respecting Ann’s wishes, within the bounds of what the law and local healthcare practice demands.
What has left me frustrated, confused, even bewildered, is that I failed to mentally prepare myself for interacting with all the other people in her life. Different people have different perspectives, and they see different priorities, and I’m left confused and feeling helpless because, despite being psychologically prepared for what is happening to my mother, I am unprepared for how other people will handle it and react – to me, to my thoughts, to my desire to step in and “manage” things in some moments, or to my reluctance to do the same, in some other moments. I can manage my feelings, I can predict my mother’s feelings, but all these other people are muddling the picture.
So I’m not handling this as well as I could be. If these other people weren’t in the picture, I could feel utterly at ease with my mother’s situation and with the choices she’s made and where that puts us, now. But… with these other people, suddenly I feel very anxious, unable to cope with balancing different points of view, more than once on the verge of a frustrated retreat into non-communication.
I know this sounds terrible, but I’m actually grateful that, due to Covid, no one in North America will be going over there. Australia remains completely locked down – an island continent is easy to do that for. I feel like if one or more of us family members showed up, it would leave the Australians worried about offending someone, and they’d retreat and wait for one of her family to act, and then things might get messed up, because the North Americans would be unfamiliar with the legal environment and Australian healthcare system.
I am at peace with the interactions I’ve had with my mother. Hopefully, if things go according to her plan, she’ll be allowed to go back home to “die in peace”, with minimal palliative and/or support care of some kind. Her home is in an isolated location, but there do exist agencies in Australia that will take on that role, if asked. Her friends and neighbors, there, are well-informed as to her wishes and competent to make these things happen. And hopefully I’ll get to interact with her some more, once she’s out of the hospital, via phone or skype or email. We’ll see.

Caveat: Tree #859

This tree was drawn by me in 2013 and published to this blog originally, here. The title of the drawing was: “girl cavorting in a tree with small aliens.”
I learned a few hours ago that my mother, who lives in Queensland, Australia, is in the hospital ICU. This girl in the tree, above, could be seen as a kind of notional representation of “my mother as child” – something I never saw, obviously, and something where my insights are limited. Yet I recall my mother reacting to this drawing when she saw it with a lot of engagement and interest and maybe a tone of nostalgia, too. There were also other influences, of course: I had a student named Violet, at the time, who often spoke of aliens, so that’s probably where the violet dress came from.
picture[daily log: walking, 3km; retailing, 6hr]

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