Oubliette (was Abyss)

I recently considered the naming of abyss and decided that the word oubliette made a better name. Oubliette is a much more appropriate description in understanding the theme and purpose of the machine as a replacement for thevoid.

The name change happened a while ago but I'm bringing it up now because oubliette is on my mind. Having just purchased six Western Digital 1.5TB drives and another SATA controller, it is finally time to obsolete the last remnants of thevoid. This actually stirs some amount of sentimentality in me but, even though the hardware and operating system are no longer that of thevoid, oubliette will carry the purpose and data forward. It is almost as though oubliette is my ghola thevoid.

For those with technical interest, the drives will be arranged in an mdadm RAID6 array with luks dm-crypt. This should provide me with 6TB, secure storage, and two drives worth of failsafe.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Thanks to hunch, I recently discovered the anime Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, or just Gurren Lagann, which I have really been enjoying.

Gurren Lagann is, at its heart, a mecha anime and, as anyone who knows my love of Transformers and Battletech will understand, that is a plus in my book. The art is great and the battle scenes are just awesome. On top of that, there are some pretty great characters in the show; I am especially fond of Kamina. Also, Gurren Lagann has already run its full 27 episode course, which means that I can watch it and enjoy a degree of completion, which is a thing that I really enjoy being able to do.

As far as anime series go, Gurren Lagann is the first one that I've seen and really enjoyed since Trigun. I wouldn't say that Gurren Lagann is not Samurai Champloo caliber but it's certainly worth hunting down and giving a shot.

Sleep and stress: inversely correlated

I have noticed in my life that there is an inverse relation between the quantity of sleep that I get and the degree to which I am experiencing stress. It is unclear to me in which direction causality lies and it may be nothing more than a correlation but I recall times in my past where I went as many as three nights without sleep. All but the last of those such times were before I understood the sensation of stress--such is my disconnect from my emotional state.

As I think about it, I am inclined to suspect that not sleeping is a sort of coping mechanism. In the extreme of those three night vigils, I would reach a level of exhaustion that was so strong and pervasive as to be able to wash over any other stress that I might have been feeling. Eventually, I would sleep and the rest would be needed to such a degree as to make everything else seem insubstantial.

It seems as though, for quite a long time, I have had to approach my emotional state from an indirect point of view; sussing out how I might be feeling by watching my reactions and back-tracking to the most appropriate descriptor for my state. This is an arrangement that I have come to accept and although it often works well enough, it can be a little slow as far as processing is concerned.

I'm sure that there exist other thoughts on these matters and things that I might express but, mostly, I am finding the issue rather pertinent at this (just after) one in the morning time. I intended to go to sleep a number of hours ago and, at this point, I will not get much sleep, which causes me to suspect that I am avoiding sleep in some manner correlated to stress. Unsurprisingly, this continues to be my standard way of being; such is my life, I guess.

Electronic Organs: the old school analog synths

Conn 580 Organ

Conn 580 Organ

Conn 580 Organ side view

Conn 580 Organ side view

Because indulging impulses and ridiculosity are both things that are fundamental to my being, I purchased, off of the craigslistnettertubes, an electronic organ. Most specifically, I purchased, for my apartment place-thing, a used Conn 580 manual organ. There was a wonderful alcove in our apartment that was the perfect size for an upright piano or similar; I was browsing the interwebworknettubes and went to the craigslisternettertubewebworks and happened to find this wonderful organ for sale. To my advantage, the man I bought the organ from was nice enough to deliver it to our apartment. Of course, hauling the organ up two flights of stairs was quite a hassle but it's here now and it's not moving again for a very long time.

Conn 580 internals

Conn 580 internals

This organ, much like most other electronic organs, is a complex device composed of gobs and gobs of analog electronics. It would be accurate to describe the device as an early analog synthesizer. Amongst the many other awesome things about this organ, the top can be flipped up exposing the crazy mass of wires, oscillators and other circuit craziness. The number of switches, buttons, keys, and such on this organ is rather mind-boggling and I'm only starting to figure out what half of the stuff does. That said, I've been pretty successful at tossing out some pretty awesome sounds without knowing what I'm doing.

With luck, having a keyboard in the house with provide me sufficient impetus to get around to relearning how to play a keyboard. I feel like I want to get back to knowing how to play the piano (or, in this case, organ). Failing that, though, I've got the potential to make some pretty fun sounds.


A while back, I was introduced by a boingboing video series (1, 2, 3) to the chocolate manufacturer TCHO. Sometime after watching the video series, my friend Josh showed up to one of our poker nights with a block of TCHO chocolate. That, beta bar that Josh brought was fantastic and TCHO has further perfected their recipes in the interim. Having recently discovered that TCHO has opened a retail store at Pier 17 on the Embarcadero, which is quite close to where I work, I decided to pop over and grab some chocolate on my lunch break. I grabbed a TCHO-A-DAY 60-pack and have thus far tried the "Citrus" and "Chocolatey" flavors, which were excellent. This may well be the best chocolate that I have ever had.

If you would like a little bit of truly wonderful decadence in your life, I highly recommend getting yourself some TCHO chocolate. The engineering, quality and flavor to this chocolate is truly top-grade.

Theme caught up for Wordpress 2.7

Took me a bit of doing but I've updated my old theme to work with the latest version of Wordpress. Most of the effort and time was taken up because I decided to do it in as much the, so to speak, right way as possible.

Other than changing two lines of functions.php, everything is accomplished using CSS.

If you want it, you can grab my theme.

Influenza Influence

Arising from a nap taken while sprawling across three seats on MX976 from Guadalajara to San Francisco, I am reminded of a desire to comment on the so-called swine flu. Of the five flights taken during my trip, none have been at capacity and two have provided me with full rows for myself. The true utilization is in stark contrast with the near full planes that were described when I purchased my tickets; I understand Mexicana was allowing refunds of some sort on account of the flu.

Cancun was, I have been led to understand, empty relative to other years at this time. The resort at which I stayed was likely at no more than 30% occupancy; near full capacity is the norm. Other resorts and hotels were closed due to a lack of guests. This, of course, meant that we largely had the resort to ourselves but, selfishness aside, it also means that the local economy is suffering an absolutely horrible collapse and any locals without sufficient savings may need to seek other work. Compounding with the general global downturn, there will likely be a profoundly negative effect on Cancun and other Mexican resort areas.

The response of the Mexican government is rather interesting as well. The government had health checkpoints set up at airports and state borders. Individuals are required to fill out a questionnaire as to whether or not they are suffering any flu symptoms and then have their temperature checked by thermal camera or infrared probe; neither of which I suspect is particularly accurate. What they would do to one who fails such testing is unclear as they did not seem set up for any sort of quarantine. Furthermore, a few Tylenol, aspirin and lies ought to be enough to get anyone through. The whole exercise reeks of security theater, a topic which I fear raising lest I rant far beyond your patience.

Frank Herbert's deeper meaning

Having just finished Heretics of Dune, I am, once again, wowed by Frank Herbert's skill as an author. There exist very powerful thoughts within his writing that seem to plant themselves in the psyche as Leto II planted himself in the worms of Rakis. As I sit here, I can't help but react with a desire to better myself mentally, physically and socially. I feel as though this is a moment of opening and from here my choices are to pass through into the chapel perilous or step back, allowing the doors to close.

As to which path I shall take, I cannot say but it is my great hope that I will have the strength to push forward.

Dreams have flowed like sand down a beach dune

Something that I have been acutely noticing is that I have had extremely vivid dreams every time that I have slept or napped. The dreams have been vivid to a degree that might be described as bordering on hallucination. I suspect that the dreams have been present on account of the adequacy of the sleep that I have been receiving. I am inclined, however, to attribute the vividness to the potency and desiccation of the sun and heat. It is, perhaps, as if I had ventured into the desert to undertake a vision quest of sorts.

I am enjoying this dreaming to an extent that strongly suggests the adoption of a decent sleep regimen.

myStress = 0; myEnlightenment += 1;

Today, shortly after spending ten or twenty minutes following a sea turtle and listening to another thirty minutes of the Heretics of Dune audiobook, I found miraculously that my personal stress levels had reached zero. This stress level turns out, as one might suspect, to be wholly pleasant.

I am inclined to suspect that this state is not driven purely by the vacation; the Dune books tend to put me in a particular philosophical/spiritual state. In this case, I blame the combination; that is, I suspect that some trigger was pushed whilst I was in a receptive state.

There exist other aspects to my current state, which extend beyond a lack of stress to a calm clarity. This clarity and calm may well be of greater import to me than the pleasant lack of stress. The question that I find arises for me now is, how can I make myself receptive and intentionally self-trigger; this will, hopefully, serve as a continued avenue of self-inquiry in the future.