I left the project half-finished last night, intending to fill the radiator with the water that had been lost in pulling out the water temperature sensor. This morning I got up, intending to drive the Spitfire over to the Annual Little British Car Show, poured a bunch of water in, and watched it cascade out of the sensor recess. Tightening the nutbolt (a bolt with a hole through the center that the sensor lives in) down didn't help. I drove my normal car over, checked out some pretty cars, and drove back, and then removed the sensor and started poking at it. Halfway up the bulb that lives in the water, there's a tapered ring of metal. I thought it was a precision tapered ring, that sealed against the matching taper inside the water pump. But this is automotive: there is nothing precision outside of the innards of the engine and transmission. Instead there was secretly a rubber gasket that, when I removed the old sensor, had stayed inside the water pump housing. It was totally shot, and no amount of trying to carefully put it back in was going to save it. I ended up getting an o-ring from my collection of high temperature water-resistant o-rings and using that instead, but because it was smaller, the nutbolt no longer managed to press the sensor down well enough to seal. I had to cut a little collet on the lathe, like a thick washer but sawed in half so it could be put in two pieces around the sensor line. With that, everything sealed correctly, as far as I can tell, and the car is ready to go again. A quick jaunt around the block shows the water temperature gauge indicating roughly the right numbers. I'll check tonight to see if the radiator is full of water.
Yesterday I spent about five hours painting the house, getting a layer or two of exterior paint on all the sun-facing wood on the first floor, and getting a good start on the non-sun-facing wood. Today I'll get the small amount of wood on the second floor. Man this is sore work, all above my head, a lot of it from a ladder, but it should last several years and more importantly prevent the wood being damaged by being exposed, as it was. Looks a lot better, too, than all the flaking and peeling paint that had been there since we moved in.
Oh! I just discovered that Houston has a hacker space with lots of classes, including woodworking and soldering! I might have to see about taking some. https://txrxlabs.org
EDIT: Orrr...hm. TC has at least 3 custom millwork shops. That might be a way to bridge engineering and get into woodworking. Can't hurt to try.
If I wanted to take some free or cheap online courses in introductory programming to help me figure out if that's a potential career change (with reschooling) I should consider, are there particular programs you'd recommend? (I enjoy the problem solving aspect of what little I've done, but I do tend to yell at the computer a _lot_ in the process, which is why I hesitate.) I was just glancing at MIT's Open Courseware. I've heard of others like Coursera and Codecademy, and here's a little list with those and others. My background: I learned some Basic and LOGO as a kid in the dawn of PCs, struggled immensely to self-teach while completing honors calculus assignments in MATLAB in the early 90s, dabbled in class-taught FORTRAN '77 in the mid-90s for engineering courses, and have done a little VBA with Excel over the past decade (with a class to start). I have historically been able to figure out generally what code is doing by reading it. I played with LabVIEW a bit and found it pretty confusing, but I was slowly sorting it out.
The adjuster said he'd put in something for cleanup costs for us, at least. But that wouldn't be more than our deductible, I don't think. And he suggested we look at FEMA stuff too (conveniently, my friend from CA just texted me this morning that he's in town helping FEMA and suggested the same).
But it's just flooring, thankfully, and stuff that was pretty old already (he noted that the carpet is high quality, which would explain why it looks so good after the 13 years I've owned the place and however long it was there before that (it was definitely not new...probably late '90s vintage, if I had to guess). He also opined that he'd pull out the bar cabinets too. Which, if we add concrete, would have to happen anyway. In the meantime, I need to talk to my insurance agent about adjusting my policy, if it's not going to cover some 20% of my house.
Just need one of us to get a job elsewhere, then we can move north and sell this place as-is, probably for about what I bought it for. =/
There are two low blips where we stopped for stoplights, and a high point where my heart got up to 185 or so, but the rest is a nice solid consistent 160-ish, the rate I can maintain for an hour without throwing up.
It was also quite warm today, just about body temp.
The result was that when we got back, everyone showered and ate and then we had a staff meeting and at the end of the staff meeting, when the department manager stood up and said "thanks, everyone", and the rest of us all stood up, I promptly put my back against a wall and slid down it to a seated position, my manager fell over and landed halfway in a chair, and the other manager, who had been drafting me, just had to sit right back down and put his head down on the table.
So it's not just me.
Department manager was all "what are you guys DOING out there?"
"Dear Dr. Astrology: I'm feeling lost, but am also feeling very close to finding my new direction. It hurts! It would be so helpful if I could just catch a glimpse of that new direction. I'd be able to better endure the pain and confusion if I could get a tangible sense of the future happiness that my pain and confusion are preparing me for. Can you offer me any free advice? -Lost Libra." Dear Libra: The pain and confusion come from the dying of the old ways. They need to die a bit more before the new direction will reveal itself clearly. I predict that will happen soon -- no later than October 1.So very timely while considering what to do about the house, while looking for ways to move north (or jobs to ensure us income there, anyway) and where exactly to go (gut tells me TC or Madison...the latter's a lot better for jobs for me (and probably both of us), but it's not all that close to my family, being on the wrong side of a giant lake; Grand Rapids would be the theoretical best compromise), and if going back to school for a career change (and to what) would be better. Josh's is pretty good too, while he undergoes similar soul-searching for similar reasons.
Pankaj Mishra is erudite and compelling as a writer, and yet, I have almost never been more frustrated by his writing or a popular critique of the Enlightenment. Mishra’s critique of globalization goes back to the Enlightenment’s philosophes and the various reactions and ressentiment that it exposes when the promises of development are realized upon. Yes, neoliberal snottiness and whiggish history plays villains, but Mishra wants to see this as a psychological development between modernity and its periphery. He traces 18th and 19th century reactions of Germany, Russia, and Italy as well as the parallel developments in Zionism, then in Iran, India, and among various kinds of Islamism, throwing in overlaps with Timothy McVeigh and Donald Trump. In short, Mishra attempts a grand theory of ressentiment.
Mishra places blame everywhere and nowhere for globalization’s elitism and the nationalism that emerges in reaction. After using Gabriele D’Annunzio as a cautionary anecdote, Mishra starts with the now obviously naive declarations of the end of the history and then jumps backwards to the conflict between Rousseau and Voltaire. Mishra’s sympathies are deeply with Rousseau even though he paints Rousseau as increasingly populist and even conservative in his battle with the philosophes. Mishra then jumps ahead to the Iranian revolution, Ataturk and Hitler, Herzl’s use of social Darwinism and his original liberal German nationalism, and the Mazzini inspired everyone from Hinduvtaists to Jabtinsky.
Mishra, however, traces genealogies in ways that link Islamists to Orthodox Christian thinkers, and shows that anti-Western thinkers were deeply schooled in Western thought. He also condemns the “compradors” such as Niapal and Rushie for lacking all nuance in their defense of the Enlightenment. Yet I am giving Mishra more of an argument that he allows. His genealogies are not maintained and often done by jumping between historical moments and movements to traces analogies and letting the juxtaposition stand as argument. By doing this, he is able to conflate different kinds of Enlightenment, modernity, and reactionaries. Religious nationalists and racialists are seen as having some response to the Enlightenment.
Mishra knows that capitalism and secularization have created brutal competitions, but he seems unwilling to go the way of Marxists in dealing with the limitations of capitalism. He condemns Marxism as mirroring capitalist thinkers belief in progress and essentially putting Protestant eschatology into a secular form, but Mishra doesn’t argue this from Marx’s words or even his actions but just asserts it. He, however, oddly defends Leninism, and still even more oddly doesn’t mention Adorno or Horkheimer’s similar critiques about the “Dialectics of the Enlightenment” nor does Mishra talk about the differences of Latin America’s experience of liberal modernity compares and contrasts with India and Iran, Russia and Germany.
Furthermore, Mishra far, far too often just name-drops and uses short hand to stand in for an argument. Take the following paragraph:
After all, Maxim Gorky, the Bolshevik, Muhammad Iqbal, the poet-advocate of “pure” I Islam, Martin Buber, the exponent of the “New Jew”, and Lu Xun, the campaigner for a “New Life” in China, as well as D’Annunzio, were all devotees of Nietzsche. Asian anti- imperialists and American robber barons borrowed equally eagerly from the 19th- century polymath Herbert Spencer, the first truly global thinker – who, after reading Darwin, coined the term “survival of the fittest”. Hitler revered Atatürk (literally “the father of the Turks”) as his guru; Lenin and Gramsci were keen on Taylorism, or “Americanism”; American New Dealers later borrowed from Mussolini’s “corporatism”.
Everything becomes everything else because they seem to rhyme or have overlapping influences even if the answers are diametrically opposed. Mishra has given himself a impossible task: to explain the move from rationalism to ressentiment without completely condemning the “West” or the response to it. Moving the definition of modernity and the precise ways it fails around, Mishra’s anecdotes are often insightful but his conclusions are milquetoast.
He does not explore masculinity and supposed feminization, he condemns Modi and Trump but is sympathetic to the romanticism and populism of which they seem like modern representations. Mishra’s argument that
“The key to man’s behaviour lies not in any clash of opposed civilizations, but, on the contrary, in irresistible mimetic desire: the logic of fascination, emulation and righteous self-assertion that binds the rivals inseparably. It lies in ressentiment, the tormented mirror games in which the West as well as its ostensible enemies and indeed all inhabitants of the modern world are trapped.”
Yet there are better and more coherent articulations of this: Isaiah Berlin’s histories of Russian and Counter-Enlightenment thought, Camus’s critique of revolutionary nihilism, even banal books like “Jihad Versus McWorld” from a decade ago are as insightful and far more sustained in their argument. This doesn’t mean that Mishra isn’t worth-reading: he is, but he ultimately doesn’t maintain his own argument and seems to think his he shows enough rhyming history, the point will be made for him.
In short, I am disappointed because this book starts to show how developing world and the West replicate the dialectic of Enlightenment that plagued “the West” itself, and it can’t keep its focus long enough to prove the point. Instead, one gets bloody-history quick cut with dread, which is justified, but with universal theory of the views of progress in trying to explain everything, doesn’t actually explain things very deeply at all.
Ugh. The $$$ keeps piling up when I start thinking like that. I saw one of those signs today: "Joel buys houses, any condition, with cash!" and I'm tempted. Might be worth taking a loss on the sale before spending tens of thousands on repairs (not even really remodeling to make the place nice!) and still not getting anything like that much delta in the sale price. *sigh* I've already put something insane like $60k into this house for roof, HVAC, windows, plumbing, hot water heater, pool fill-in, added attic insulation, coax and ethernet wiring, plumbing fixtures, drain repairs, attic-critter eviction, and foundation repairs, and none of that is sexy or attractive to average "beauty is skin-deep" buyers. And I need to get someone out to redo a bunch of the rotted eaves/soffits and repaint the siding and repitch/replace gutters one of these days too. After I get the attic critters reevicted. And relevel the foundation/add piers under the laundry and breakfast rooms, which have settled badly. And more. The county tax assessor thinks I could sell this place for $230k. They're on crack/haven't actually been here. I think I'd be lucky to get $200k in its current state. I bought it for $190k 12.5 years ago. =( This house is the definition of a money pit.
But anyway, on the topic of filling the living room with more concrete, there seem to be some good tips in this forum post and this one.
Front, detail including all 13 fabrics, and back. I took these with my real camera, and the colors are truer than the previous shots with my phone. It's obviously not quite big enough to work on our queen size bed, but it'll make a nice throw. You can see my wobbly quilting stitch lines on the back, and my fancy pattern on the binding is decidedly wobbly and unevenly fed, but whatever. I'm proud of this pretty thing I made, and the new skills I learned. I probably won't be making another any time soon, but maybe someday.
Afterwards my coworker came in and nearly melted down, because he is unusually averse to change, and I'm putting vast quantities of change on the table: new software, new hardware interface, new instrumentation, new system for extracting data and manipulating it, I'm using parallel processing and calling modules I've precompiled in a different language. A lot of that I'm doing A: to see if it works and B: to see if it's worth the bother, not because I have to, but he sees this as an onslaught.
Aside: labview is a whackadoodle language. To call a subroutine, you drag the subroutine icon into your work window. There is a C-style header, with C-style parameters, that you can go find in a header file if you want to, but the way you actually handle that is you draw lines from the main program's output terminals on the main program box to the input terminals on your subroutine. If you're passing an array, it's a dotted green line. If you're passing a double, it's a pink line. If you're passing a signed/unsigned 8 or 16 bit integer it's a blue line. Terminals have to match lines, have to match terminals on the other end. You can t them, as well. Some parts are really obscure. A while loop is a box, with a terminal into which you feed an unsigned integer, to determine the number of iterations, and another terminal into which you feed whatever it is that the while loop is supposed to do. But you can also click on the point at which that line enters the while box, and hey presto suddenly it's a shift register instead of a while loop. ??!? Coz that makes sense, and is really easy to debug when you're looking at the program later.
And, excitingly, everything is pass-by-reference, so it's really easy to completely muck up a datastream if you're trying to just, say, increment a value every time you get a good reading, and inject a bunch of trash into your data. But it does let you return an arbitrary number of values from a function call without having to use pointers to structs, so that's kinda nice, I guess.
So today we went on a bike ride at lunch and when we got back my manager sent out a meeting invite to pretty much everyone in the building, with ten minutes of notice, to look at my project.
Luckily I hadn't broken it down.
But man that's not a lot of time to prepare for a raft of technical questions. It's a good thing I'm a loudmouth.
It went really well. I managed to field all the questions successfully. One coworker wanted to know if he could integrate what I was doing into matlab. Another had a bunch of questions about hardware parallelizing. I could see my poor coworker, the one averse to change, winding himself up into enough tension that he was bouncing both legs up and down uncontrollably, his stress tell. Afterwards he had *pages* of questions about the questions other people were asking. He really needs a more deterministic job.
Everybody liked it.
They're going to like it a lot more when I have a demo system ready to talk to new silicon the moment it comes through the door, while our applications software guy gets called off on other emergencies and won't have even a cursory interface ready for two weeks after we get new silicon, as happened the last two times. I'm trying to get our digital designer to give me a (FPGA-based) hardware simulator for the chip, so I can actually try out some more complex stuff before the new chip's anywhere close to coming back, but apparently his hardware simulation doesn't actually work like that.