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Happy anniversary to me!

Today is the 20th anniversary of my PhD defense. I’ve been Dr. Goslee for two decades!

How am I celebrating, you might ask? By finishing the invited seminar I’m giving in Belfast and Dublin next week, then getting on a plane.


Critter posts properly go on Stringpage, but that apparently isn’t as fixed as I thought it was, so.

The velocikittenraptors are three today, and thus properly and thoroughly velocicatraptors.

pair of sleeping sister-cats

They still attain a decent velocity, especially at 3am, but not as often as they once did, and they no longer squeak at exactly the Jurassic World velociraptor pitch, but being velocicatraptors suits them.

snuggling Cawti cat

May they have many more years of sunbeams and tummy rubs.

Norathar cat in a sunbeam

The culprit

You may recall that last time I wrote here was Thursday, and I’d been having a pretty good week.

The Universe seeks balance, it seems: after dinner on Thursday it became abundantly and damply clear that my refrigerator had concluded that keeping things cold was far too much work and it just couldn’t be bothered.

I can now tell you where to buy a chest freezer at 10pm on Thursday, should you ever need that information.

Friday morning I spent some time looking at new refrigerators online, but that really wasn’t what I wanted to do with my raise. So I asked Google, font of all wisdom (anyone remember the Usenet Oracle?).

“Oh great and wonderful Google,” I typed, “my refrigerator is doing this and such and so and so. Am I screwed?”

And Google replied, “It’s probably this $50 part. Here’s how you tell, and here’s how you use a multimeter to check the compressor. If the compressor is bad, you are well and truly screwed, but the other part is a five-minute repair.”

I liked what Google told me, so I pulled the fridge out and took the back off. Sure enough, the start relay was bad. (Diagnosis: unplug it. Shake. If it rattles, it’s dead.) Even better, the compressor wasn’t.

Through the good offices of Home Depot’s online parts department and overnight FedEx, I had a working refrigerator by 11am Saturday.


That’s the culprit over there on the right.

Apparently this is a very common failure point, and it’s an easy fix if you’re willing to take the back off the fridge and give it a try.

Somehow all the coolers and ice and throwing things away (not much at all, just the fresh dairy nd mayo) and replacing them ad such ate up my weekend, and the internet was down so I couldn’t even participate in the writer hangout on Sunday. But I buckled down yesterday evening and got two stories submitted and a few words on the story in progress. I’ve been neglecting fiction in favor of things with more urgent deadlines since March or so, but everything is slowly calming down. Except for sudden refrigerator death, but how do you plan for that?

Someplace else to be

I’ll start with the punchline, so you’re not lulled into thinking this is a happy post. Nick and I took Grendel to the vet this morning and had him put to sleep. Renal failure, finally, but he’s been steadily getting more elderly (and not just older): failing hips, heart murmur. The walks have been getting shorter and shorter, and this past week he wasn’t really eating and could barely get up. We didn’t know we weren’t bringing him home – the last few days could have been primarily hip-related – but we suspected, at least a little.

Grendel was twelve, and he had pretty much as good a life as a dog could have. I’ve been sorting through the photos of him, trying to pick out my favorites. It was just about impossible. But I noticed something: nearly all of the photos fell into three types: snuggling, looking alertly at someone in the pack to see what we’re doing next, or trying to lead us off over the next hill. He was a wonderful sweet dog.

From the day we got him.


Obedient to cats.


Eager and attentive.






Right up until yesterday, when he and the cat were both ignoring the brand new orthopedic dog bed.


I’m going to be listening for clattering in the hallway for a long time.

C’mon, hurry up! I have someplace else to be!


(More photos here.)

More on my commute

I was asked for more data on my morning commute.

Walking to work earlier, not reading:
36 minutes
3896 steps
15 floors (e.g., 150 feet of vertical climb)

Walking home yesterday while reading:
36 minutes
3846 steps
7 floors

Walking to work today while reading:
38 minutes
4200 steps
17 floors

The weather was pleasant all three times: neither hot nor wet. I followed roughly the same route each time.

Very preliminary conclusions:

  • Reading doesn’t affect my pace markedly. (Motivation does, but I have no data to support that yet.)
  • I do not in fact walk uphill to work both ways, no matter what it feels like.
  • Today was the first day that I remembered to hit the record button at the door, rather than across the street. That might account for the 300 steps.

I will need to keep recording my commute. Now I’m curious how much of the variability is due to the FitBit, and how much is due to me. Also, science requires that I remember to push the record button in the same place; I will have to work on that.

The morning commute

My morning commute:

3896 steps.
36 minutes.
150 feet of vertical climb.

Why yes, I got a FitBit, can you tell?

I haven’t managed to convince it of my stride length, despite multiple attempts: the 3896 steps should be just under 2 miles, but the FitBit is convinced that it’s 2.33 miles. The step count seems to be quite accurate, although it doesn’t record short, slow steps very well (like walking around in the studio setting things up, for instance). The vertical climb estimate is interesting (expressed as flights of stairs): State College has lots of hills.

I walk between 65,000 and 70,000 steps a week, or 32-35 miles. Pretty good, I think. That morning commute and its evening companion contribute most of it. I climb about 150-170 floors a week, between the hills and my upstairs office.

My most active day in the three weeks I’ve had the gizmo has been 15,000 steps and 50 stairs.

Data: I like it.

Lift a glass

My friends said it better.

I’ve been part of the mysterious far-flung group known only as the UCF for a while, but hadn’t had the privilege of meeting Wendy in person, only through her presence online. A fair number of my friends live only in the computer, but they are no less important to me than the friends I see occasionally, or all the time.

Edit: More words from others. I’ll post additional links as they appear.