Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day-Final

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have an announcement make.

At 6:35 pm EST, yours truly crossed the finish line with 50,770 words. 93 pages.

I have earned my special fox hat that I will be modeling for everyone later, along with the celebratory pie that Bob and I are going to go have as soon as he is done with his raid. Following that I will go on to complete my homework for this week and in general feel like I'm pretty hot shit for pulling all of this off.

In the final review, it's amusing to note that it all came down to the bribes and the Hat of Cat that I stuck on my head whenever I got stuck.
To that end, I'd like to take a moment to thank Pawstars for providing me with that hat at AnimeNext earlier this summer. Without it I wouldn't have had my own version of the "viking horns" so often referenced in NaNoWriMo mythology as a means by which one can spur their creativity. Sitting there with that hat on my head told my brain it was time to focus and get some shit done. And got it done I did.
If anyone's interested, their website is, they are lovely and fun people, and I just got the Extra Warm Fox Yip Hat II from them to reward myself for making it through. They also make cat hats, wolf hats, rabbit hats, panda hats, and cosplay things. All of it is fairly adorable, and a lot of it probably would mostly look good at an anime convention or on a snowboarder.

If there's a way I could be more excited or proud of myself at this point, I don't know of it. This evening I am epic and legendary and full of the need to feast and be victorious.
Tomorrow I will be a normal, mundane helpdesk technician with a manuscript in need of fleshing out, grammar checking and finishing up. But for now...I fucking rule.

I rule so much that I'm going to go get that 72 pack of copics I've been drooling over, the next edition of Tokyo Mew Mew, and some paint brushes. I'm feeling the need to channel all this creative energy elsewhere finally!

Happy Thanksgiving....

NaNoWriMo, day 29....

Word count as of today: 46,530

Total pages:87

I will be completely finished by tomorrow with utterly no problem. My only gripe is that one of these years I will have to learn how to write and finish a story in 50,000 words, as this'll be the second year I wrote something and wasn't even halfway done with the story when the time and word count was up.

I think I just love being descriptive a leeeeetle too much.

Anyway, here's to victory! Onward and forward! I'll give an update on the Thanksgiving weekend tomorrow.

Monday, November 24, 2008


What an awesome world we live in, when people feel the need to randomly set up mystery pianos in the woods.

I just hope somebody isn't out a very expensive piano for giving the rest of us a smile.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My early Xmas preset to you all...

Remember how much fun it was to get your hands on bubble wrap when you were a kid and go crazy?
Well, thanks to the procrastination station on the NanNoWriMo website, I was introduced to the Online Bubblewrap Popping Page. If you ever have a spare moment, or you're frustrated, head on over and waste a few minutes. I suggest clicking the box marked "Manic Mode!" in order to bypass having to click individually on each little bubble. Also, I highly suggest clicking the "Fresh Sheet" button with your sound turned on so you can experience the slightly creepy yet very amusing audio queue that results.

Segwaying from that to something more serious... A few weeks back I was talking with a coworker and we swung over to people-specific ringtones. I joked that I had a special ringtone for the phone number of the guy who used to stalk me, so I would know if he called. The coworker looked at me like I was nuts and asked why I would bother to do that. Well, I replied, so I could be warned if he was trying to contact me again. And has he? asked my coworker. And at that point I realized that it had been well over a year, and I was being paranoid...but also, I was hanging on.
That evening, I deleted the whole thing, and updated my online phone list so that ti wouldn't even be saved there in case of an update. and with that, it was all officially banished from my life. I hadn't realized until that moment just how stupid I was being, and how I'd been holding on to old emotions. After that moment, the remaining fear left, and I just felt lighter.

The connection here is that the coworker I talked with was the same coworker that provided me with real-life bubble wrap on Thursday to play with. That drove me to dive in to the bubble wrap page when I saw it. And there you have it. How my world is connected some days. :)

A Few Things I Have Learned Today

1. I can't write during the day. there is some sort of mental block that keeps me from sitting down to a laptop and typing. It is now 12:30 at night and I'm finally starting to work on NaNoWriMo. This does not make for a successful 50,000.

2. Blanket statements made by the uninformed piss me off. If you're not a gamer, but you feel the need to go off about how irresponsible some gamers are, perhaps you should check your audience first. Some of your audience, I can ~guarantee~ will be that very thing you have chosen to randomly rail against. The universe does it because awkward backtracking by loudmouths is amusing to most involved. The hurt feelings that come from aforementioned uninformed loudmouths, however, are not amusing. Those of us that are usually thick-skinned until you find the one chink in it and manage to drive the spear home are going to fight back. You don't get the right to act indignant or surprised when this happens, people.

3. I love to move and exercise. At one point I used to dance and stretch constantly, and I miss those days. When I do finally get off my ass to do it, I enjoy it. I just wish it didn't result in a blood sugar crash and a few hours of low-level headache to follow. :(

4. Snow is still magical, even after 3 decades of being exposed to it. Self-explanatory.

5. Hypochondria is funny, but only until you give a second rebuttal on why you might have a certain illness. After that, further insistence in the presence of someone who obviously doesn't believe you will just lead to annoyance. (For a short time on Thursday I thought I might be a sociopath. Then I realized no one can be THIS insecure about wanting more friends and enjoying talking to others and have a brain malfunction like that. I'm just very badly self-absorbed and it shows.)

6. There are a lot of assumptions that go along with the holidays. They are not the same assumptions held by your loved ones. It will take a while for you all to figure this out, and even longer to untangle, investigate, and reach compromise. Have patience. Rome was not built in a day and deciding whether to hang colored or white lights on the tree won't either.

7. The majority of my computers' resources, both desktop and now laptop, are taken up with getting me access to music. XM Radio, the new and faster Winamp program I just downloaded to play all of the mp3's I've also downloaded, and for when I can't get to XM... all of these take up a lot of space and processor speed. Pandora particularly is a system hog. Best not to leave it running in the background unless you absolutely HAVE to listen to a station dedicated strictly to French and Chinese rap that you have carefully constructed over the course of 2 weeks. (That is a true story.)

8. The human mind can devise multiple things to do with your free time. Only choose a few of them, and do not beat yourself up that you chose those instead of others. You'll simply spend your time regretting that you can't do everything at once and not be happy with what you make the time to do. Knit a scarf instead of doing the dishes. Vaccuum instead of playing the new video game. Be glad that you get to experience any of these things at any time, and the beauty of the choice to. (thank you to Bob for pointing out I do this a lot to myself.)

And finally...

9. Don't ever suspect you're good at something. Just do it. And keep doing it, as hard and as thoroughly as you dare try it. People will let you know when they're impressed. If you're really good, large groups of people will tell you they think so.

Now off to go write. 24,144 words, 50 pages. I will have 35,000 by the time the weekend is over!! I have to earn my fox hat!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Sublime and the Sub-human, all before lunch.

This morning I awoke to 3 inches of beautiful snow blanketing everything in my backyard. I was happy to watch it drift down quietly in the early morning's growing grey light. When I got out of the shower, it was a beautiful pervasive white that highlighted every dark branch and reed, drawing attention to the form of the thing simply by laying upon it.
I wrestled with getting to work, finally turning around to come home and set up the VPN to work from home for the day. When the initial setup did not work correctly, I ended up packing it in and heading to work around 11 after all of the people scared of the snow had gotten off the roads. I enjoyed the whiteness of the forests and fields and the fat flurries that dropped down past my car as I drove. It truly felt like winter, the winter I've been waiting for with baited breath. It's my hope now that it stays a while, and doesn't simply melt by the time we all get out of work. Already it was starting to melt on the streets and sidewalks and fall off tree branches in places. Maybe if it can hold on there will be something to walk around in on Saturday or Sunday. Maybe we'll even see more. I'm tired of bland, grey winters with snows that don't stay. I long for the years when I could pile up the snow high enough to jump off the roof of the garage in to the waiting cushion of it below. (This is a true story and my Mom still yells at me for it, btw.) I want those winters back of boots and cold noses and the blessings of hot chocolate in cold tummies. I wanted to appreciate a fire for putting me in to a deep, drowsy state while slush melted off my shoes and gloves. And I want a chance to make a snowball and throw it at Bob when he's not looking, then run inside and hide like a wuss.
Perhaps all of these things will come. It's just one snow fall, and the middle path states you don't put all of your hopes in one snowstorm. But it is fun to remember. :)
Of course, in the midst of all this reverie and hope for a white winter and Christmas came the news that a young man killed himself live via a webcam. And nobody realized it was serious. He took something like 20 xanax, fell over, and never got back up.
The jokes and the demands that someone stand responsible for it are already flying, with the stipulation that the people demanding someone take ownership of it shouldn't have to ,because they weren't directly involved (of course.) Pass the buck, internet style. Amusing to watch, sad to see start.
I do worry a bit what the repercussions of this might be. Copycats? Tougher regulations on those of us who wouldn't have thought to use it that way? A backlash against people who use the internet as a way to find help for issues like that? (Will they all be dubbed "candyjunkies" now?) Ahh, the next step forward in loss of innocence.
Oh well. Welcome winter. I've been waiting for you. Glad you're here now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Art for Art's Sake.

I figured out how to make a rather fetching ascii headcrab at work today. Thought I would share, as this is probably the best thing I have accomplished today.


If you take the end , off, it would be Lamar.
I know you guys love it.

NaNoWriMo count day 18

16,965 words.
Don't remember how many pages.

I'm seriously behind enough at this point to warrant putting the cat hat back on and getting to work.

Advised word count for this day: 30,006.

I have to make up 15,000 words in the next 12 days. This is when I think back trying to determine exactly why I decided ~not~ to write at any one given time.
Hiking in the woods with my Dad and then going to lunch was NOT something I was willing to forgo, though. Screw you, wrimo count. Screw you.

As of 11:35 I am at 20,653 words, 45 pages. If I have 2 5,000 word days and one 3,000 word day, I'm easily caught up. Story wrote itself again when I put on the cat hat and sat down to do some business. Have I mentioned how much I love this process??

Monday, November 17, 2008

Left 4 Dead

Nooooo no no no no no nooooo no no-no. No. Nuh-uh. No way. No. Nooooooo-ho-hooooo.....
*rocks back and forth rhythmically, staring at the wall*

The cinematic alone made me want to curl up in the closet and hide for days. The game play between video card glitches was freaking awesome. The AI was relatively good, and it was only on the 4th reload that I screwed up and shot my teammates.

But zombies? Noooooooo way. In my world, they better NEVER EVER EVER move that fast. If they do, I am going to crawl in to my attic and drink my own urine as quietly as possible for as long as possible until I either die of starvation or they get it together to scour the countryside and pick the super-speedy necrophagists off to the point of extinction. I'm dead freakin' serious about this, folks.

I was leery of zombies to begin with, and it used to be watching Night of the Living Dead was enough to send me in to nightmares. But no... someone had to go and create 28 Days Later, introducing the idea that they could outright sprint until you collapsed. Meanwhile, they were ready for another 5 K and not even winded in spite of having just downed your sweetbreads and the majority of your esophagus. When I saw that, I had nightmares on and off for a least a YEAR.

What's really sick about it is that both movies mentioned are now among my favorites. So is Sean of the Dead, a British flick that spends most of its time making fun of other zombie flicks, and good on them for it. It made me howl.

Anyway, as some of you know I love to embrace that which terrifies me in an attempt to understand it and get over it. Because of this I've actually done a lot of reading on this history of zombies and zombie movies. For the most part, I know what to expect when I'm looking at the depiction of a zombie, and rather pride myself on that fact.

But with the Left 4 Dead demo, it pretty much took everything that made it scary, twisted it to wring out all impurities, then added in a few small things that upped the ante. Like different KINDS of zombies, so you have to have a different tactic for each of them.
Also nice was the fact that the group will not follow you if you go wandering away from the direction you need to be headed to reach your objective. On our first run through the apartment building Bob and I went off to the right away from the stairwell to do a bit of investigating, and the other two didn't follow. That was the only way we knew that we were supposed to go down, and it worked out nicely. There's really no map to be had that I could tell, so a subtle indicator like that which keeps you in the game is highly appreciated.
Those guys that spew bile all over everything? Okay... dude, that's harsh. Because you can't see, and it attracts the infected, so they're swarming at you and you're basically shooting at whatever runs up and tries to eat your face. This happened twice, and miraculously we got through it alive without shooting each other a whole lot.
I did notice that closing a door to keep zombies from creeping up behind you seems to pretty much invite them to swarm at you THROUGH that door, so learning to constantly strafe and keep my back to walls was important. Another great thing was that each time we went through, the makeup of what attacked us was entirely different. We didn't have the same encounter twice. That made it really enjoyable.
That being said, if I can clear up the issue with my video card, I will probably be getting this on the PC. I may even play it alone, since there are 3 other AI companions that join me in the story. I'd recommend it to others somewhat leery of the survival-horror genre as well because of that. It lets you be slightly less panicked than perhaps you would be otherwise.
Maybe this will be the deciding factor in me getting over my fear and moving on!
...probably not. But it is HIGHLY satisfying to plug holes into things that really, really want your precious fluids.

And in this corner...

This morning as I was leaving my development I saw two birds jumping on each other and rolling around on the ground.
When I stopped in my car I realized they weren't crows, but two red-shouldered hawks. It looked like they were playing, and when they flapped their wings the undersides ha the most beautiful barring and red I had ever seen. It took my breath away.

Hawk wrestling. Sometimes the universe gives you something cool for Breakfast. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Night of the Living Bivalves.

Wednesday night. In the annals of all that I have attempted and done, there is a common theme running through it... Helen don't mix with high society too good. While I wasn't born in a barn, there are certain public rituals and things that are of such a ridiculous nature I can't help but laugh and mock a bit.
Both Bob and myself had been looking forward to an oyster tasting session at Legal Seafoods ever since we found out about it back in September. We'd signed up for it and done a little jig when we found we were off the waiting list, looking forward to what had been billed as a night of learning about the various types of oysters available. As we've both come to view oysters as a rather delicious member of the crustacean family, this seemed the ocean-bound equivalent of a wine class.
We arrived, expectant and excited, to see that they were shuttling everyone in to the bar area. Everyone. Probably 50-60 of us.
In my head I thought it was a holding area until they had the meeting room ready where they were going to sit us down and do a talk about the pluses of each kind of oyster they were offering, and we would get a chance to taste them after these were highlighted.
Not so. We were handed a menu printed on cardstock. There were 2 stations set up for the oysters, and when they were set out there was just a sign put up with the name on it. A brief description outlined their individual flavors on the menucard, but no one took the time to tell us anything.
We took up positions at the bar and I watched as huge queues formed at each of the stations. There was much jostling of elbows and rushes to get there, with people craning their heads and watching carefully to see what people were taking ahead of them.
I know this behavior. I see it in my family whenever we get together and cook and there's anger that someone's eating too much, or fear that there won't be enough left for them. An entire room of adults switched over to survival mode in the matter of 2 minutes, and it was probably one of the most sad and disgusting things I've seen in a while.
Worst offenders were the elderly, who were aggressive to get to the front of the line. Any time a waiter came out with hors d'oeuvres he got perhaps 5 feet in to the room before he was swamped by people scrabbling to get a piece before anybody else could take it. Like seagulls going after French fries. Or that scene in the Mummy where the bugs run over the guard and devour him, leaving his bones to drop to the temple floor.
We got a decent share in the oysters, and one of each item that went around on the trays. It was all delicious, and through trial and error we DID learn which ones we liked the most. Amusingly, Bob and I do not like the same ones. But we can probably come to a consensus, as neither of us outright hated any of them either. When we return, or go elsewhere for that matter, we'll know exactly what we like.
The sheer gluttony involved, the eating for the sake of eating, the constant jostling and fear of not getting enough...I just couldn't figure out how anybody could enjoy their food like that. Eating for the sake of getting a lot of food is unhealthy, and it does disservice to the thing that's nourishing you.
There were a few who took obvious enjoyment in the ritual; I specifically remember one man declaring he didn't need a fork, he was "a slurper", then taking his sweet time tilting the shell to his lips and enjoying the flavor. THAT did my heart good.
At one point when people were starting to get very aggressive and pushy about things, we realized that we'd gotten what we wanted out of it -that is, to sample different types of raw oysters and preparations of them cooked- and that really we weren't having much more fun beyond that. Bob looked at me and said "You know, I could eat something else right now."
And I said "You know, I could too. How about cheeseburgers?"
With that, we departed, happy to be away from so many people in such a confined space going after limited resources. It was like Japan, but without the ingrained feudally-spawned politeness.
For the next 20 minutes we had drunken fun driving from King of Prussia to Radnor, where they have a Microcenter. I had been drooling over a laptop they had ever since the original one didn't work and wanted to have it in my hands to try it. If it was good, I was going to buy it then and there. I had fallen in love with the idea of a laptop too much to not have one, especially if it was only going to be $80 more with double the memory and hard drive space.
We got there and circled through, looking at things. I located the laptop, closed my eyes, typed on the keyboard, and when I opened them I was convinced I wanted to take one home. Previous keyboard being so unresponsive, I was really starting to appreciate when technology did what it was supposed to. When I was going through checking out the background on it, a saleman stepped up and began talking to me about the features on it. I guess it appeared that I wasn't really listening (he was listing things I didn't care about, so I may not have been) so he finally stopped and said okay... what will you be doing with this?
I turned to him and said you know, honestly, I'm going to take this home, strip Vista off of it, and replace it with Ubuntu.
The man blinked, and in that moment I realized he didn't know what Ubuntu was. The man who was supposed to help me make a decision on the laptop I needed to do things with in my life was standing there staring at me, lost.
Well, he then said, I guess I won't be selling you the extended warranty.
Then he went off on a tangent about how removing the operating system was going to void the warranty. Don't worry, I told him, I've got a household FULL of devices I have voided the warranty on. Non-plussed, he pushed further to make his point. What was I going to do, he asked, if something happened to it and it needed repairs? Well, if that was the case, I would fix it, I said. And either he didn't hear me or didn't believe me, becuase he continued on for a moment about how tough they could be to repair.
Nuh-uh. Not really. I own a screw driver. I can replace hard drives, RAM, processors, you name it. I can check wires. Software issue? I'll diagnose it. Because in the past few years, I have become a giant geek and I am freakin' proud of it.
He then asked, AGAIN, what I was going to use it for. Networking and programming I told him, I'm going to school and I need to code and write papers.
And he then looked straight at me and said "You know that thing doesn't have enough memory enough for that, right?"
It had 1 gig of RAM. As far as I"m aware, that's several more megabytes than is necessary to type something in to notepad in Windows. And at that point I promptly ignored anything else the man had to say about anything, because he didn't understand the product he had, he'd just been told to sell people on memory.
I bought some, but that was because I wanted to play video games on it and it was on sale for 66% off. That's not that bad a deal, actually.
What was funny was when the man went back to grab the memory (after assuring him that it was not "XP" I was installing as he kept stating, but Ubuntu, and yes, I wanted it for the hardware and the price, the thing was going to be my bitch the second I got at home and nothing else in the place even remotely interested me.) Bob came to me in the aisle, motioned me in close, then said under his breath "Hey, are you still drunk? Because you're buying a lot of stuff..."
I assured him I wasn't, and just the question made me laugh. He later stated that with as much as the man was questioning what I wanted to do, it was pissing him off, so he'd walked off for a bit. He figured I'd let him get away with it because of my normally congenial personality and the fact that I am a good-humored drunk. He had a very valid point. The man, despite my generally good mood, was a dumb ass and relatively rude in constantly questioning my knowledge and ability. I thought I might be over-reacting, but having someone there to confirm it made me feel a little better.
We gathered up the goods, I fairly skipped out the door with my new Acer laptop (which I still adore) and we headed up Lancaster Ave. to Berwyn, where a Burger King awaited us.
We finished off the night with double cheeseburgers, onion rings and shakes. And in a semi-dirty burger king run by teenagers that weren't paying attention to what they were doing while making the food, it was a far more comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere to be in. I love oysters, especially raw, but they just couldn't do for me what that greasy pile of hamburger and processed cheese-food could. I found it amusing that I (and from what I observed, Bob) were far more at ease in the fast food joint than in the nice restaurant. I guess you can take the girl out of the country....

...oh, and btw, when we got home he didn't see me again for the rest of the night, I was too busy playing with the laptop. It's freakin' awesome. ^_^

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NaNoWriMo update for day 13

Current word count: 11104
Page count: 29

Advised word count for this date: 21671

Only 10575 more words to write to catch up!
I'm in love with the story again. The magic of the process grips me once more, as long as I shut up and get out of the way.
My goal was to have at least 10,000 words and I blew past that to finish a section.
Rather proud of myself. 3,553 words in one sitting. (No, I'm not making that up, either. that's the literal word count for this evening.)
I figure if I have 2 5,000 word days, I'll be mostly caught up. I've trended towards writing more than the recommended 1,667 words a day anyway.

Also, just want to mention I wrote all of this on my NEW laptop. Got it at Microcenter Wednesday night. Wednesday night was an adventure on its own, deserving of a separate entry. I will do that, but later. I'm very tired right now and not feeling too great.
Send me heal-y vibes if you can. I'd appreciate it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Death to Sirius. Immediately.

So... apparently not just me, but most of America woke up this morning to discover that Sirius had lobotomized XM radio, and they were about as happy with it as I currently am.
My presets are fucked, and to my immense dismay and loathing, there are now DJs on the channels. DJs announcing the song titles and not really doing anything but making the airwaves sound like regular radio. I didn't move to XM to hear regular beer-chugging, frat-boy radio with ditzes trying to sound bad-ass and men telling jokes catering to the lowest denominator. Basically what's happening now is that you are paying for the priviledge of listening to REGULAR FUCKING RADIO.

And they're proud of it, too... Sirius is reacting as if it's a benevolent dictator allowing us to stick around and experience the greatness of ~their~ stations.

Fuck that.
When I am paying $13+ dollars a month to listen to something, I'd like to do so because it ISN'T like terrestrial radio: Full of ads and obnoxious DJs. There aren't ads still, but now that I've located the shuffled channels I used to listen to, there ARE irritating, loud, obnoxious DJs breaking in to my music enjoyment with their inane comments and insipid witticism. Why announce what song is coming on? IT IS ON THE DAMNED DISPLAY. Listening online instead of in your car? IT IS ON THE THE ONLINE RADIO PLAYER. Right there. Save yourself some money and FIRE those airheads. Recover some of those Q3 earnings you've lost so much of.

I wrote them a letter expressing my intense dissatisfaction with the state of things, and that I'll be canceling my subscription in 3 months if they don't change a few things around. It's sad, because I really loved XM radio. The ability to get music anywhere at any time as long as it wasn't really stormy was great. I even went so far as to buy a unit for in the house to listen to it there. *sigh* All useless now.

Guess I need to shape up my Pandora stations until that dies as well. After that...who knows where I'll get my music fix. I'm really, really disappointed in all of this and what they did to something that was the anti-radio I so desired. It's not a good week for Helen or her gadgets.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Depression. I has it. Meh.

I've had a laptop for 12 hours now. And when I get home it will have been for 23 hours, and at that point it's going in a box with an RMA and being taken to the post office to be shipped back.
The keyboard is entirely unworkable, and considering I got it for the ability to do word-processing and coding, that's pretty much rendered it mostly useless for those functions. So, sadly, I must bid it goodbye.
On the upside, I found a much nicer, more substantial laptop for only $70 more, AND it's at my favorite Mecca of geekery in the whole word, Microcenter. So hopefully I'll get the return $$ soon and that price holds up so I can go test drive one and see if I like it. In the meantime, I dunno what else I'm going to do, maybe just sit there at the desktop like I always have.
Because of this I am now yet another day behind in the NaNoWriMo challenge. And also, this disappointment came on the heels of learning that I am pretty much failing the database class because I don't grok what the hell they're talking about when it comes to setting a database ~up~. That coupled with discovering this morning that I weight the most I ever have in my existance and I am pretty much ready to call it quits for the day.
By the way, Hiro's spirit walk? What the hell. Show him the villains... and he basically sees images of the Petrelli family and Claire's Mom. So from this I gather that the Petrellis are the root of all evil and he needs to kill them now. Sweet. Because every time we ~don't~ let a Petrelli die, the fate of the world gets a lot more dire.
I'm in a bad mood, I'm depressed, and it's making my back hurt in that weird way it only can when I feel completely bereft of initiative. I think I will dance when my candy shipment shows up (hoping it does today) and then I may go take a bubble bath. After that... literary genius. Or at least an attempt to catch up in NaNoWriMo. And somewhere in there I will make enchiladas. It's hard to hate life when you have enchiladas. I dare anyone to try.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oh crap! I almost forgot.!

My laptop will be showing up at some point tomorrow, and for this I am SINCERELY hyper. I can't wait to sit downstairs watching TV in the background while cranking out my homework and NaNoWriMo stuff. Or working on coding. Or whatever!! I can do it now and Bob can play Fallout to his heart's content. I like this idea. I like that I can just plop down and do something with Project Euler on the couch! I like that I'll get to play with the gOS and familiarize myself a lot more with Linux. It just all around makes me happy, mainly because I never thought I'd be able to afford one. It's right up there with the time I came home with my own Xbox and copy of Halo and proceeded to play that thing until my eyes burned at 3 am. Stuff I never thought I'd be able to do and I happily prove myself wrong. I GOT A LAPTOP. I AM GOING TO USE IT WITH DEADLY FORCE.

Secondly, I have found what is probably the greatest website on the intarwebs. is the website for all those kinds of candy bars you remember from when you were a kid. They have airheads, lemonheads, rootbeer barrels, charleston chews.... all kinds of things that are damned hard to find anywhere these days. They even had MOUNTAIN BARS, and I've never seen those anywhere else but the Summit at Snoqualmie out in Washington State.
Being on an after-Halloween candy binge, and also being out of mini Twix bars, which is what I was madly craving, led me to that website. They have a glorious thing you can create there called a grab-bag, where you can just go down the list of everything they offer and pick out as many items as you like. You can do it in bags, boxes, or as singles. They just wrap it all up in a plastic bag and ship it out to you.
I am a wee bit ashamed to say that I dropped $30 (with shipping) on a grab bag of stuff from when I was little. But my rationale was that I had fond memories of this stuff, and it was things like running across the street to buy Big League Chew bubble gum from the concession stand at the ballpark started teaching me how to save. So there's something redeeming in all of this.
Either way, I ordered 2 of everything. One for me, and one to share with Bob, who didn't really "do" candy as a kid. I'm going to slowly dole it out one sacred piece at a time and share my memories of it while we commune with the Gods of Glucose. It seems kinda fun in my head when it's presented that way.

Also... after it was mentioned several times, I decided that my passion for creation plushies, beaded things and other forms of crafti-ness probably needed a reason. So I created an Etsy shop. What on earth is an Etsy shop, you ask? Well, it's an online storefront where they take a very small commission in return for you being able to post your handmade goods. It is strictly specified that it is for hand-made, one of a kind items ONLY. It won't be turning in to eBay with 23 of the same thing purchased wholesale from elsewhere! I've been perusing the site to look at the people on it, and it seems like a decent community of committed artisans. Lots of REALLY creative ideas on there, as well. I'm sort of wishing I had an excuse to buy some hats, hair clips and feathered headbands right now. So much talent, and so many neat little things!
Anyway, wish me luck in the realm of trying to sell my little home-made creations. I have a feeling I'll be getting totally sick of crocheting Cthulus in the not-too-distant future. :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008


So Saturday I spent the majority of my day at my friend Blake's house in E-town. She's been studying incredibly hard for as long as I've known her to become a psychologist (or psychiatrist, a psych-individual). She's finally nearing the end of it all, and her current semester's class was about giving tests to individuals for various things.
Achievment and IQ, etc. And for some bizarre reason she decided that she really, really wanted to test me as part of helping her learn how to give the tests. I thought it would be interesting, as the last time I was tested was in 5th grade, and at that time it was something like 126. I was interested to know if it had gone up and I'd heard that it does over time (Also, I had no idea if 126 was "good" to be or not.)
I thoroughly enjoyed both of the tests, especially the part with the puzzles and the blocks. I was asked NOT to do the puzzles upside down so the finished products would be facing her, as apparently she had a picture of what it should look like from her angle and I was just screwing it up. Oops. Shows me for being a big damned show-off.
We took a break between the IQ test and the Achievement test to run and grab some Indian food at a rather nice place in Lancaster. It's been so long since I've had any that it was an immense treat just to have the Basmati rice. Tandoori chicken, tikka masala and naan absolutely made my day. I dove in and enjoyed myself. Meanwhile I chatted with Blake and her hubby Dustin about life, the universe and everything. Dustin's taking German, so we traded German bands we knew that he could use for his classes.
We came back, finished the achievement test (it would appear I actually know how to do math now... I've finally tricked my brain in to recognizing calculating patterns and ignore the numbers until I need values. SWEET.) and then retired upstairs to chat and listen to music. I shared with them my love of the GraphJam and TotallyLooksAlike websites, and they shared with me the YouTube videos for Nerd Porn and 1-900-Nerdy-Girls. VERY good stuff.
Blake decided she wanted to grade it while I was still there so I had my first real sampling of Portishead and a few other things as she worked her way through it.
Raw score got us overly excited at 157. Then I realized there was simply no way it could be that high based on the initial score. So we put it through the wringer, and came out with an adjusted, more accurate score.
Now...for the sake of not being overly obnoxious about it, I'm simply going to say this. I officially qualify for Mensa, which has been a bottom-of-the-pile goal of mine ever since I originally took the test. They take the top 2% of the population, and I handily slide in at the top 1% of the population. It's not something I was sure I could change. IQs seemed to be pretty much fixed.
With this in my mind, it now occurs to me that the only excuse I had for not completing college initially was letting stupid shit like my ex get in the way. There's utterly no reason I couldn't have pulled it off. It lays to rest -at least for now- all those sniggering whispers that I'm actually not that intelligent, that all the success up until now has been just pure dumb luck and really I'm a talentless hack... Nope. I'm pretty much capable of everything except launching a rocket. But I could certainly start it on my own.
It's interesting what peace of mind a simple number can give you. Also, I realized that without the quirks of it, I wouldn't be nearly as nifty a person as I'm told I am. I am slowly coming to believe it.

Thought I would take a moment to point out that I am currently at 7,551 words for NaNoWriMo. Should have 15,003 but at least I'm more than halfway to the goal. All I have to do is sit down and crank out 4,000 words over the next few days (not that big an issue) and I'll be caught back up. I'm liking the story, but not trusting the process. Need to work on that.

Time to go to bed, so as to be unbearable tomorrow at work and a bit smug. I know it'll happen, so I'm just embracing it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fallout 3, or; How I Learned to Stop Being Afraid of the Apocalypse and be grateful for my world

An odd thing has been occuring over the past several days as I have shoulder-surfed Bob's campaigns on behalf of the citizens of Megaton. There's been a slow evolution in my reaction to the bleak wastelands displayed on his screen.
In the beginning was irritation at the charred, ashen cast to the entire landscape. There is very little color to be had save for the occasional splotch of blood or streak of paint left on roadside signs that survived a blast. I spent my time being amused at the "use lots of light bloom and reflection over top of grayscales and browns for GRITTY REALISM!" trick they had in it. It was fairly cliche. I'd seen it in Resistance: Fall of Man, Gears of War, Halo...hell, I'd seen it in the Outlands in World of WarCraft. It's been done to the point of having no initial visual impact and basically making the enemy really hard to see if they are at all similar to the color of dirt.
But then as he ventured further I saw that there was a reason for this. It wasn't just that they were going for gritty realism, it was the fact that the entire world was scrabbling around after a nuclear freakin' holocaust. This was what the landscape would probably really look like after dropping the big one on suburbs of DC.
At that point the focus switched to how they were recyclng everything, and how scavenging 200 year old technology was keeping the current survivors afloat. And I was impressed that they'd kept the feel of the 1950's Americana around but still made it feel as if America had aged. I started paying far more attention to the signs, the billboards and the posters on the walls. Those little remnants of advertising and communication stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of all that is burnt out and sorta still on flame. Like America got trashed, but it isn't willing to go quietly. And it's going to tell you all about Nuka-Cola from the side of a ruined building because that's what we do in America. We drink soda, and we like to advertise the product. Sort of amusing and telling all in one little graphic, really. These days you can barely escape sponsors' labels on everyone and everything on TV. They even throw commercials up on TV in the middle of the show, those little banner-runners that creep in just under your line of sight and tell you that ER has a cliffhanger coming up.... crap like that. Indeed, it's SO prevalent that you would be more likely to find advertising for something in a former populated area than anything else. And this is why I think it's funny and entirely apt that it's the most visible....but 98% of the books are burnt.
Then, finally, this was reached the other night as my beloved was crossing the wastelands to the 3Com satelite station, or whatever it is called. Anybody who's hit this part knows what I'm talking about. It's the one near those with rusty armor from the Brotherhood. As he crossed, I realized that this could have all been true. One iota less sense, one micron more paranoia, and we could be scavenging Philadelphia for non-radioactive soda and food. The burnt out and crumbled overpasses, and the deserted subway tunnels would be where we would withdraw to in order to stay out of the radiation. There would be no continuation of society. All invention and innovation would stop cold at that point and take possibly hundreds of years to re-establish after trade routes and supplies for our every day life had been wiped out.
In that moment I gave great thanks that those who came before us were so deeply aware of what it might mean to launch a nuclear weapon in this world. I have a beautiful green planet outside my door, with people who don't want to shiv me for a bottle of soda or capture me for slavery. It's a place where we have the time to withdraw and create music and art, or play games. Or just sit and read. It's not a struggle every second to keep from being eaten, killed, or irradiated.
Why all of this occured to me as I looked over my shoulder to look over my mate's shoulder and watch this game he loved and lusted over play out, I can't be sure. I'm not sure it would have had the same impact even if I had been the one to play it, as I would have been absorbed in trying to find mole rats for testing, looking for characters for fed-ex quests, and the like. This allowed me to actually watch someone interact in the world and be an impartial observer of the whole mess, notice patterns and ironies that might have flashed by only partially appreciated otherwise.
If nothing else, it's left me grateful to walk outside and have grass in my yard and flaming foiliage on the trees. I won't get sick from drinking Coke, and nobody's going to run me down on the road to steal my clothes. I never even realized I had it to be grateful for until I watched my bf interact with the citizens of Megaton.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Time to move this caravan along

It would appear that America is really, really sick of the Republicans and they are just wiping them off the face of the planet except for the VERY conservative locations of the country.
I must admit the wave of blue is a surprise. I really thought there would be a closer race. Then again, it's not quite finished yet and all votes haven't been tallied. We shall see.
That being said, I must admit there is a creeping fear that the Democrats will get together and start acting like it's a legislative kegger up there the way the Republicans did when they swept in many moons ago. I'm just praying fervently that this is not the case with the Dems. There is already that bit of antagonism there in Congress and they're letting such bullshit things as people sounding partisan in a speech hold up things that might actually help the common man. Lovely.

Pleasegoddon'tletthembeassholeswiththis.... Pleasegoddon'tletthembeassholeswiththis.... Pleasegoddon'tletthembeassholeswiththis.... Pleasegoddon'tletthembeassholeswiththis.... Pleasegoddon'tletthembeassholeswiththis.... Pleasegoddon'tletthembeassholeswiththis....

*chants five minutes solid hoping the elder gods, the eldritch gods, or the new and used gods overhears her prayers*

There is a bit of sadness to the McCain campaign. At some point it became obvious that he was already on an uphill battle and outmaneuvered by a younger, more tech-savvy candidate that had an uncanny way to tap in to the zeitgeist and ride it. Funding aside, it would've been hard for him to win anyway.
What was interesting was the announcement of New Hampshire going to Obama on CNN. When they did, one of the commentators mentioned that McCain had hoped to win there because he'd had such fond memories of the townhall meetings there. It made me a bit wistful that a man that tried so hard couldn't even take something small like that away with him. Hopefully he'll continue on with doing what he does best and take something away from this besides bitterness and a bad photo op of his wife smoothing his hair over. I really do hope so, the man's been through a lot.

And that being said, CNN just projected that Barack Obama has taken enough electoral votes to be the next president of the United States.
Thank you to my fellow countrymen for letting me be in a country that elected an African American to the white house. I had faith and warm fuzzies before. I will even admit that I had fervently hoped for this...but to see it happen is something I'll probably remember. In 20 years I will be able to bore my grandkids to death with tales of watching the first black president win an election. By then we'll have had 2 more and they'll tune me out and plug in to their video-scan game sets. That'll be a cool day.

My neighbors are setting off fireworks in celebration outside. This is wonderful beyond words.

Actual Conversation # 33 -Wherein the benefits of having a video game character as a public official are covered.

Ben: I am in hell
Helen: Oh?
Helen: Will it help if I told you I voted for Sonic the Hedgehog for PA attorney general?
Ben: yes
Ben: im making sonic sound effects now
Helen: I figure since I was also voting on a bill to spend $400,000,000 to upgrade irrigation, sewage and drainage systems in PA, we need a man who will drop cash the second someone pats him on the back a little too hard.
Ben: hahahahahahahahahahaha
Helen: Also, I came out of the polling place, threw my hands up, cheered, and said "America! Fuck yeah!"
Helen: That's been my theme all this morning.

Actual conversation #32 (with prologue) AMERICA! FUCK YEAH!

It is a glorious day in the United States of America. As a lot of my friends know, I wax poetic on the glories of the Republic and the singular honor of being able to decide who will govern me when so many others in the world don't. I will not rattle off the usual list of things that come to mind, however. I will just say one word. Sudan. Actually.... two words. Zimbabwe. Google "recent news" if you're still lost.

Bob and I bundled ourselves in to the car after having a breakfast of oatmeal together, obtained caffeinated morning drinks from Dunkin Donuts, and headed up to the church where voting was to commence.
We arrived there perhaps 2 minutes before they opened the doors, and the line was already around the outside of hte parking lot and down the hill to the berm of the road. 300 people all waiting to cast their ballots. It was just glorious.
It was also a 2 hour wait for those of us that didn't think to get up early and be there at 5:30, like the first 20 people in the line did.
Once we had our ballots in hand it was a quick minute to look over the candidates. Part of me was tempted to just vote straight party. But then I thought of the rich opportunity I would be robbing myself of by doing that, and instead filled out by hand each individual circle.
When I came to Attorney General really I didn't like the choice of candidates there, so I careful penciled in "Sonic the Hedgehog". I think he's run a good, clean campaign, I've been familiar with his efforts over the years to stop menacing robots from invading (he has been highly successful in this since the early 90's, I might add), and I think he'll be speedy and thorough in his decision making. Couldn't imagine a better man for the job.
All that done, we handed our ballots in to be scanned, then headed out in the cool fall day.
'Tis a beautiful day to breathe American air. Long live the Republic.

Helen: Slacker.
Joseph: hey
Joseph: why am I a slacker?
Helen: For not going to vote!
Joseph: heel no I am trying again after work you can't keep me away from making Mcain go away damit
Joseph: my apologies if he is your conadidat e however!
Helen: Hey, I voted for the guy I think would do the job.
Joseph: col
Helen: Other people will vote for their guy.
Helen: I care not, so long as they get out there.
Helen: Meanwhile....damn are my feet sore from standing.
Joseph: thats what our men and women dies for right?
Helen: Indeed.
Helen: Well, we'd hope.
Helen: If they died for pudding, I assume we would consume mass quantities of pudding in their honor.
Helen: But voting is probably more awesomer.
Joseph haahah indeed hmm puding ughh

It is now my sacred duty today to make sure that every American I come in contact with (and a few confused Germans who call in) have voted; if they have not, it is also my sacred duty to give them unending hell until they give me enough assurance they will.

Monday, November 3, 2008

And just as an aside...

... I have never seen anyone more miserable or useless in an investigation than "Miz". Seriously. It wasn't 7 hours to talk about yourself. It wasn't Hollywood where people drop to their knees and sucked you off because you were making them a pretty penny. It's a ghost investigation and you need to shut your mouth and learn instead of talking over everything and everybody.
He was fucking useless. Utterly useless. And it became apparent as they didn't let him go down in to the dungeon or anywhere that there was a lot of activity that they were trying to keep his abrasiveness away from areas they were getting readings. The fact that he wasn't even visible for the last 2 hours of the investigation? Even more telling.
Perhaps the best part of all was when they cut to Grant, Jay and Steve Valentine and they immediately started making fun of him. You could tell they were irritated but trying to be polite about it since the cameras were on them. Bob and I had a good lol at that.
I'm just glad they stopped showing him. Hopefully it was because enough people bitched that he was ruining the show and they weren't there to listen to him talk about himself.
Also, I don't believe for a second that game was actually called "cornhole". Sounds to me like someone was just trying to get them to say it on TV a whole bunch.

As an aside, it is my beloved's birthday today. We are celebrating by just being together and having dinner while chatting. It's the nicest and most intense present I could give him. He's brilliant thinking these things up. :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NaNoWriMo Begins!

Well, it's November. For the second year in a row I opted to take part in the National Novel Writing Month's Challenge. Having this on top of work and school is going to be a hell of a challenge but I'm really hoping that I can pull this off.

Unlike last year, I didn't have any idea of what I wanted to write. Urban fantasy seemed a strong possibility but I had no idea what to do. I actually skipped the entire first day while trying to recover from the month of October, which was insane and hectic. Upon waking up this morning (on a day with an extra hour of sleep, no less. w00t!) I realized with a panic that I was ~already~ 1,667 words behind. I had no story ideas, I only had a title based on a minivan that had been driving ahead of us while we were out drinking on Halloween.
Then, per usual, the magic happened. I sat down this morning and began to describe an image I'd had in my head that had been waiting there without really telling me it was squatting and not paying rent. And then 4 pages later I had an interesting prologue.
After a bit more describing the alternate intersecting character, I had 7 pages. 2,266 words, to be precise. And then after taking a hike, having dinner, picking up the house, crocheting part of something and finishing watching the full DVR'ed 7 hours of Ghost Hunters Live that I missed Halloween Eve, I came back to finish off the allotted word count for the day.
I've had to stop myself from continuing, in fact. If i continue to type it'll take me MUCH further in to the evening than I would like to be awake. This story suddenly came together, all of the characters introduced themselves to me abruptly, and demanded I continue on with the tale immediately.
Oh me of little faith. I ~knew~ this would happen somewhere deep in the marrow of my bones but my logical mind (the one that has single-handedly murdered more literature and art than any other ANYTHING on this planet) screamed that I couldn't begin unless I had a proper plot synopsis, an agressor somewhere in the plot, and a definite idea of where the story was going to go. Guess what? NOT.
I didn't even know who the "bad guys" of this story were until we were going on a walk. I didn't even know one of the characters was going to be pregnant in it until the hike. I still don't know what's going on or why these guys are in danger, but I'm sure the story will let me know. Such is the way of literary endeavors. Really you're just fingers for typing and a mind for holding the data you're being fed. Fire in the head, indeed.
Anyway, here's the official statistics, whick I intend to update on as the month goes.

NaNoWrimo Challenge: 3,767 words, 11 pages.
Word goal for the day: 3,334.

Oh, and I officially ditched the GlaDos wallpaper today in favor of a lovely little number that tells me how many words I should have written by what day of the month, to keep me in line.
Really I expect to get very little in the way of other art done this month. My oil paintings will have to wait, I guess...and everything else.
It was good to get out and hike. I enjoyed the fall foliage and the sounds of the critters preparing for winter. There were very few people on the trail early this morning so for once we got to see the chipmunks, squirrels and birds running around doing their merry little thing. In the spaces between falling leaves we could also see more in the woods around the trail and realized there were several crumbled brick and stone structures. If I had more time I think it might be fun to research and see what was there before. Maybe in December.
PS - probably failing the database class. I just can't make myself to really understand the topic, so predictably perhaps I also don't give a damn in there. I'll do the groupwork so that they don't get a bad grade on account of me, but I just can't see pulling this one out.
The idea of switching to being a graphic artist appealed to me, until I realized I would have to buy a lot of rather expensive software (even with student discounts on it) just to complete the degree. I'm also worried about burning out on something I just love to do. So I guess for now we'll trundle along and pretend we reeeeeally want to have a future in computers. *sigh* I would so rather paint and write, but that logical mind of mine has an axe ready with the names of all my favorite things on it. Meh.
I'm sleepy. It's been a long 25 hours. Back to work and the real world again tomorrow.
Oh, and no ghosts this year really. That was rather nice but confusing. :)