going for uninterrupted sleep
Thursday, July 24 2014
Things haven't been perfect since migrating Woodchuck (my main computer) to the new ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 motherboard (Extreme! That has to be good, right?). Despite a brand new installation, windows seem to randomly reshuffle to unwanted preferred positions on screens, sometimes deciding that it would be best to be far off-screen. The problem might just be that attaching five monitors to a Windows machine is expecting too much organizational coherence from it, though before I got the Asus HDMI 1920X1200 monitor, the setup worked reliably. In any case, the new behavior is somewhat different from the old behavior in that it is easily corrected by opening up the screen resolution control panel and clicking on the Detect button. I'm hoping that eventually the windows settle down to more useful home places, which I seem to recall happening back when I first successfully got five monitors to work.
Another problem has been with Sleep (or Suspend) mode, which allows me to put the computer into an inactive state that uses little electricity and later to reactivate it quickly. Being able to do this was a big part of why I wanted to do the upgrade. For years I'd been getting by with Hibernate, since Sleep didn't work. But because it always took Woodchuck 15 to 20 minutes to reawake from Hibernate, it made more sense to just shut it down at night (since it has an SSD, it boots very quickly). Well, it would have made more sense, but I'd rather not have to reconstruct all my open web pages and applications every morning, an error-prone process that would probably take longer than emerging from Hibernate. Often, I didn't bother to do anything with the computer before going to bed at night, and so it would stay fully awake, serving as an electric space heater no matter the season. The problem with the new motherboard is that, though the computer goes to sleep nicely, after a certain amount of time (maybe fifteen minutes, maybe two hours) it wakes up. It has never successfully slept through an entire night. This morning I focused on what could be the matter, setting all the possible devices that are allowed to wake it so that they were no longer permitted to do so. But even this didn't work. Finally, though, I found a post a messageboard saying that if you leave a phone charger USB cord plugged into a USB hub with nothing attached to the end, that alone can spontaneously wake up a Sleeping Windows computer. I had just such a cord plugged into one of my hubs, and after unplugging it, Woodchuck managed to sleep for hours at a time on several occasions today (particularly this evening, when I went to a dinner party at Deborah's place).
I should mention that yesterday I migrated my Woodchuck boot disk from the small mechanical hard drive it had been living on to the SSD that had formerly hosted the Woodchuck boot disk. I'd been reluctant to overwrite that drive, since it had been the fallback boot disk in case the new motherboard didn't work out. Now, though, I have perhaps 98% of what I need on the new version of Woodchuck and it's clear I won't be going back.
The tiny kitten Celeste has continued widening her little world, repeatedly coming down the stairs and walking around with confidence and even venturing into the laboratory. Sylvia the Cat seems perfectly happy with her being around, while Clarence is a bit more skeptical. Julius (aka "Stripey") is fascinated, though I'm worried he might not take it very well if she were to run up to him (something she is bold enough to do). Today we decided to allow Celeste to venture into the front yard under supervised conditions so she'd have a sense of how to get back in the future when she goes out on her own. She's so tiny that the possible predator list for her is huge, so we probably won't be encouraging any unsupervised outdoor adventures until she is significantly bigger. But already today she could be seen pushing on the pet door when the front door was closed. She might not yet be strong enough to use that pet door, though I have a feeling she'll have it working sooner than we will want her to.
Celeste is still too small to successfully jump up onto a cabinet to eat her cat food (we can't keep that food on the floor because it would quickly be eaten by the dogs). So yesterday I made her a little wooden stool with legs splaying out in two dimensions (this was my first-ever use of a dual bevel cut). I didn't include any cross members between the legs, so the stool was too weak for most uses. Today, though, I added those cross members and then painted the stool white. It's now a very solid (if somewhat rustic-looking) stool. It's still a bit too low for Celeste to use to get to the top of the cabinet in the bathroom, so I placed a shoe box on top of it, temporarily making the stool into a structure having two steps.
Me with the new stool in the laboratory (balanced on my wheelchair).
Since our party on Sunday, there has been a big grocery bag of wild Chantrelle mushrooms that Michæl (of Carrie & Michæl) had collected in the forest. His instructions had been for people at our party to help themselves and take mushrooms home with them, but of course nobody had done that, and I was worried the mushrooms would go bad. So yesterday, I'd cooked up a bunch of them with fresh kale from the garden, onions, beans, jalapeño peppers, and lots of oil. This had made for delicious burritos both last night and this morning. Since I'd be going solo to Deborah's party tonight, I'd need something to bring, so I decided to cook up the rest of those Chantrelles with more kale, onions, garlic, and lots of oil (but no beans).
At about 6:30pm, I arrived at the concrete bunker in Olive Bridge that Deborah calls home. Nancy was already there with Deborah, as were an older couple I've met before. They provided Deborah a place to live in Woodstock years ago, and they've been friends ever since. Unfortunately, the male half of that older couple is deathly afraid of dogs, so not only did I have to leave Ramona and Eleanor at home, but Deborah had to find other arrangements for her own dog Allou. Rounding out our party were Sean and Hope, notables in the Saturday art gallery scene. Hope had just returned from a bike-riding art project that saw her and a team of others cycle together for 450 miles over a series of rail trails from Seattle to Montana. Part of what had happened was that they'd been filmed from the air as they trailed flapping sheets of white material.
We had our dinner out in front of the house in patio tiled in a checkerboard pattern with large pastel-colored squares of concrete. After we'd all sat down to eat, I looked around at everyone in attendance and realized I was the youngest person there. That doesn't happen very often these days.
In addition to my Chantrelle concoction, dinner tonight included cubed cucumbers, a gelatinous eggplant dish, and a surprisingly-good black-bean with quinoa thing. Dinner conversation dwelled a surprisingly long time on the subject of Jad Abumrad, one of the two Oberlin graduates behind RadioLab (the other being Robert Krulwich). (I'd thought Jad was a lot younger than me, but our age difference is only 5 years.) Hope had recently heard an interview of Jad on some program and had learned that he'd had his start doing experimental broadcasts on a 4:00 AM show that had "no listeners." Jad also reportedly said that if it weren't for other producers reining him in, RadioLab would be a lot trippier-sounding (with more crazy audio effects) than it already is.
Nancy and I were the last to leave, but before we did, Deborah showed us the garage part of the house, a large space with a high ceiling that would be a great studio if only her landlord would take his shit away. Deborah seems to entertain notions of eventually buying her bunkerlike dwelling from the landlord, but he wants something like $120,000 for it, which, given the rent Deborah is paying, is about $50,000 over market. Also, the place has a number of issues. Some of that concrete is exfoliating in places (probably because of rusting rebar beneath the surface) and the building is expensive to heat. Evidently it's walls consist of completely non-insulated concrete blocks, which easily conduct internal heat into the outdoors in the winter. If Deborah were ever to get a good price on the house and buy it, I told her she should immediately insulate it on the outside with styrofoam sheets (much as I did when building the greenhouse).
Meanwhile, I'd assumed Gretchen couldn't come tonight because of a mandatory poetry thing she had to go to. Either that was a made-up story or it wasn't so mandatory, because she ended up just staying home and doing the things she likes to do on the few occasions when I am not around. Everybody needs some alone time sometimes.
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