In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

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Goodbye Mom

I’ve had such a difficult time even contemplating writing about this even though most of you already know. My mother died on May 14.

She had a number of health issues plaguing her in her final years. It came to the point that she was under palliative care at home for the last month (or so) of her life. In fact, in addition to the twice daily visits from caretakers, she was scheduled to have a nurse come to spend the nights with her to take care of her. The nurse was to start the night of May 15, so that didn’t happen.

When my father died some years ago, Mom told me that he was lucky because he went very quickly. He rode his bicycle to get the mail on Friday and was dead Monday. She said it wouldn’t be so easy for her. I’m glad that she was largely wrong. She died in her own bed at home. If how she looked was any indication, it was a very peaceful departure because the next morning, I peeked in on her and thought she was sleeping in. Only when I tried to wake her for her medicine an hour later, was I shocked to find her cold to the touch.

Mom and I, quite some time ago.

Many years ago she told me, with a hint of apology in her voice, that I would be the one to find her. She was right.

In the time since then, my sister and I have dealt with almost the entirety of her estate, including emptying her home. It was more work than I could have imagined. It was more difficult than I would have ever imagined. I continued to live in her home for three months after she died and that was not good. There wasn’t a moment I wasn’t reminded of her, and while I certainly won’t ever forget her, being submerged in it was not good for my mental well-being.

I’ve since moved in with my fiancée and things have improved for me a great deal. That’s not to say that the grieving is over, because it’s not. I miss her so much and I don’t think that will ever change. She was my mother. She gave me life. I love her and I always will.

Best heater ever!

I’ve moved, and in my new digs, Kitty has discovered the best heater ever, perhaps besides the electric blanket. Feast your eyes:

IMG_3898.jpg: iPhone12, back camera @ 4.2mm, 1/12, f/1.6, 640 ISO

She started lying on top of my power amplifier so I had to do something. You see, the top of the amp is covered with vents to let the heat out. Vents her hair might end up dropping into. Can’t have my amp clogged with cat hair!

Many years ago I had a piece of glass cut to protect the amplifier from dust, but dust wasn’t such a big issue so I stopped using it. The cat sleeping there is a big issue so I resurrected the glass and hunted up four hockey pucks to act as spacers so the heat could escape more quickly than placing a piece of glass on top of the amp would allow.

Everyone’s happy now.

NB: Yes, my cable management is a mess. I’ll get to it. I’m still unpacking and I certainly needed music before worrying about tidy cables.

It's 1993 again!

I recall that the company I was working for had a computer system set up specifically to burn CDs in 1993. Of course it had a CD burner. It also had a special AV hard drive that didn't interrupt the reading of data during thermal recalibration1. On regular hard drives, this operation paused the data flow and therefore the burn would fail, resulting in a bad disc suitable for the garbage. The computer also had no software, other than the operating system and the burning software, that might steal CPU time and slow the flow of data. Burners now have a feature where the writing will be paused while the data flow drops below the rate of it being written to the disc, but back then, as soon as the write buffer emptied, the disc was garbage. So in the old days, once the disc burn started, no one even touched the computer. Just in case.

Oh, did I mention that the blank 650 MB blanks cost in the neighbourhood of $25 each?

So why is it 1993 again? I burned a data disc today that cost me $24 and it took in the neighbourhood of three hours. It wasn't a 650 MB CD, but rather a 100 GB Blu-ray disc. Yes, I know writable CD/DVD/Blu-ray data discs for backup are on their way out. I certainly agree that I won't ever back up my hard drive to writable discs. But in this case, I have my photos backed up to two removable hard drives (one stored off-site) and I'm worried about bit-rot2...which I have experienced. A large capacity optical disc is ideal for this irreplaceable data.

It seems that writable optical discs have undergone some advancement since I last stored any significant amount of data on them.

The obvious advance is capacity. When BD-R discs were introduced, they came in the form of a single-layer 25 GB capacity or a two-layer 50 GB capacity. These days BDXL discs are available in a three-layer 100 GB capacity and a four-layer 128 GB capacity. Given that most years I've taken digital photos have resulted in files that easily fit on a single 25 GB disc, the files are easy to back up. But last year I took photos that total 99.04 GB in size. Sure I could split them across four discs, but that offends my sensibilities, and prevents me from trying these cool higher capacity discs.

The other advance is longevity. M-Disc is a new type of optical disc that uses a non-organic data layer. Regular discs use an organic data layer that is subject to chemical changes, especially if the lacquer fails and oxygen comes into contact with the organic material. As a result, these newer discs are more focused on long term storage and claim to last anywhere from a few hundred years to a millennium. Of course that's overkill, even if it's true, but regular discs can fail far more quickly.

I loaded up on 25 GB M-Disc BL-R discs and have backed up all the music I purchased online and I'm starting the process of backing up my photos. I ordered one 100 GB M-Disc BL-R disc for last year's photos. Happily, the burn and verification were successful.

Now I have my photos backed up a fourth time in a non-modifiable form that should take care of things if I find damaged copies on the backup hard drives. All I'll have to make sure of is that I have a working optical drive that can read a BD-R.


  1. Or did it recalibrate only while idle? I'm not sure. It was 27 years ago!
  2. See the Wikipedia entry on the topic.

Steps

Pictured is a graph from my phone. It shows the number of steps I took on the last five days of my holiday vacation followed by the first day of school this term.

Yep…

A Strange Christmas

This has been the weirdest year ever. I’m only grateful that everyone around me is still well in these times of COVID. I haven’t written since August because it seems that I’d be writing all day, every day, or it’s just too much to pick though.

Christmas has been especially trying because mom had to go to the hospital and ended up staying for a week, partly because there was a COVID-19 outbreak in her ward. Not only did the outbreak have her stay there longer, but she had to self-isolate upon her release, but it would mean that I have to self-isolate as she can’t stay alone for that length of time. So we’ve seen no one, beside her health aids, since the Friday before Christmas, and we’ll see no one until New Year’s day.

The timing is so unfortunate, but I saw no way to avoid it. So as an escape, I watch a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation each day on Netflix.

So as it stands, I’m just starting the second of the two weeks in isolation. Last week was long. This week will be longer, I’m sure. I’m just glad everyone is well.

I’m hoping that you and yours are well, too.

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