Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Actual Conversation # 50 - wherein naming conventions in regards to types of airborn photographic apparatus are discussed.

I am proud this is #50 on these.

me: *looks around for her rally buddy who has gone missing*
gru: wandered off for a bit RALLY! *shakes pom-poms*
me: You have pom poms???
Can we have a rally kite?
gru: Sure!
me: Can it be purple and blue?
grudan523: Yup!
me: Yay! Rally kite buddies!
gru: That's us! *flies the kite*
me: We could do kite photography!
Proof that we rally
gru: Rally proof! I like it!
me: :)
me: Berkeley. I just saw that. And I"m not even remotely surprised.
gru: Ohhh, so the camera is on the kite? Instead of taking pictures of kites. I got it now.
me: Yeah!
Kite photography!
As opposed to...
Well...aerial photography does not involve TV antennas, so...
We have a bit of an inconsistency in our naming conventions here.
gru: I suppose so. But now we know what we mean so it works!
me: Yup!
me: photographyAirborne_ofkites
gru: 'floatingCameraAvecString'
me: LOL!!!
gru: :-)

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Few Random Thoughts

~I think I'm not tolerant enough to have really good friends, nor wise enough to know how to "see" them and who they are beyond how I don't get their viewpoint.

~Occasionally the universe drops awesome in to my lap and I'm paying attention when it happens.

~No matter how long I make the journal entry, NOTHING could accurately describe how wonderful it was to walk with Bob around Longwood Gardens this weekend. There was nothing else in the world I would rather be doing. And we got to see some beautiful orchids.

~Cherry Cream soda is tempting, but oh so very not good for the digestion

~I haven't seen a snail in years, and that made me a little sad to realize.

~I love trees and plants and gardening. No amount of computer-geekery is going to ever get that out of my system. I can forget I know all that I know, but I can't loose the grip that growing things have on me.

~4 hours of walking, no soreness the day after. WIN.

~Kennett Square is the mushroom capital of the world. Despite this, there were very few mushrooms to be found.

~Thunderstorms are cooler when accompanied by hail and tree-bending winds.

~I miss drawing and painting. Furiously and deeply.

~No memory of when I last actually wrote, be it poetry or something that wasn't an exercise in clearing my mind via blog. I want to change that.

~Watching someone play Silent Hill is by massive degrees less scary than being the one with the controller.

~Sometimes (most of the time) my first impression about a situation or person is correct. I wait too much for secondary confirmation only to find out I was right, and letting the doubt stress me out in the interim. Too much of my own bullshit too often.

~Cactuses are gorgeous and stately in a way that the ramshackle rainforest never can be.

~ I love Bob. A lot. And though the connotations of the words are pre-empted by some groups, I feel blessed to have such a partner in my life. He's awesome, and by that I mean by the dictionary definition of the word.

~When working to clean up one's health and fitness, one should not be surprised at the massive and sudden detox that will occur suddenly and go on at length. After all, 20 years of not taking care of yourself is not going to move out in one day.

~People take a while to get back to you on things, especially emails. That doesn't mean they don't like you, don't want to talk to you, or are ignoring you. Patience is not my strong suit.

~Neil Gaiman is a fantastic person and a terrific writer. I hope to encapsulate that spirit one day in my own work.

~There are few things more wonderful than waking up to find your cats collapsed against both sides of you, pinning you under the bedsheet, and purring like motorboats. Chaucer taps my forehead each morning so I'll roll over and he can curl up against my back. If I don't do it, he starts removing books from the bookshelf as an auditory reminder that I have forgotten his favorite part of the morning.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I'm a huge fan of fLow and Flower, the latest games from the group who decided to call themselves, quite wittily, "that game company", complete with lower case letters and all. The point of the game really is just to move. In ANY of them, it's just to move.

What I did not know, even though I had already seen it once before, was that these were the people that also released the Indie game "Cloud".
=Notice a theme of one word, one syllable titles? No crazy 8 word descriptor like anything Tom Clancy will put out. But I digress. It just feels more ~clean~ with a short name.=
I didn't realize this connection until reading an article that point out this lovely little PC downloadable was the predecessor to their latest on the PS3 network, "Flower". Flower has an unusual premise, is infinitely intertaining, just challenging enough to keep one's attention, and entirely beautiful. Bob had no issues sitting on the couch while I "drove". Which you do. You tilt the controller and use the sixaxis to steer the wind. Besides speeding it up a bit, that's all you do. Two controls. An hour and a half of utterly engrossing gameplay.
Having never played Cloud, I opted to download it this afternoon and give it a shot. It hadn't seemed that interesting when it was first noted on G4's Indie Games blip, but at this point I don't think they described it very well. Actually, I think it was more a case of them not being sure what to make of it. It's not exactly a puzzler, it's not exactly... anything. But you do still interact with it, move objects and construct shapes for a purpose.
There is a story line behind it, about what seems to be a sick child trapped in a hospital room, and how he longs to fly. Having played the first, where you "make friends" with the clouds, and the second where you create a lollipop shape out of them, it's probably fair to say they'll all be based on the child's experiences.
It is a fun game to play. Really fun. I am normally dubious about downloading games to my PC of this sort, prefering to do it off of a CD I bought in a store that I know is virus-free, but I felt this one might be worth the chance.
You can definitely see the influence of this game on both fLow and Flower later on with the focus on player movement and environmental interaction. I'm hoping that this sort of thing becomes more common in the marketplace in the future, as I'm utterly fucking sick of FPS's. There is very little new to be done with a guy and target to use the gun on. And this is from the girl who skipped classes in college because she was winning Quake battles.
Of course, I will happily announce I'm wrong if someone decides to do something innovative there as well, but so far the game industry has proven full of clone-churning cowards.
Cloud, fLow and Flower are refreshing. You have a goal, there's no timed rush to get to it. You're not really penalized for missing the point the first time around. You can take as long as you want exploring. And while this might appeal more to the casual gamer, it's not entirely in their field. There is room for precision and timing within these as well. You have to be careful with your petals, or your clouds, or your amoeba, or you'll lose some of it. Or get eaten. Or miss finding something special up a hill in a stone circle. Exploration, ~aggressive~ exploration, is rewarded several times in Flower. A "real" gamer could take a good experience away from this as well.
I'd honestly have to say that if you don't think you like video games, or you want something relaxing that doesn't require managing finite resources, space marines, nazis, or mana pools, you're going to get a kick out of Cloud. Honestly, I would recommend all 3 of them, with the reservation that fLow has the stress of avoiding having your amoeba-guy get eaten the further in to the pool you go. The colors and motions are still relaxing, however.
Oh, just go frakkin' download it. You won't be sorry. You might be confused, though, since there's no grenades, bullets, or gold coins.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ragdoll Physics

Many times when I'm writing here the entry either has to be very quickly entered, or it will take several days of saving drafts and then going back to make sure that the tone is the same the whole way through. The writing gets interrupted a lot and it makes for jerky long posts a lot of the time. I tend to try and steer away from those because of what can appear to be a rapid change in thought pattern that really occurred after pondering on something for 24 hours or more. But that doesn't always happen.
For the most part I like nice, quick, concise little blurbs about what I just saw or how the day is going, OR... some funny stuff that went down and can be transcribed quickly. A lot of things get missed.
I bother to say this because this will seem to come out of the blue, especially when I mention it happened a few days ago. You would think it would be something mentioned immediately, but yet not. I wanted to think on it and post something intelligent instead of a "zomg GROSS eww n' stuff" quick blurb. And those take time in this alternate universe.
The other day a friend of mine told me that she'd witnessed a truck hit the corpse of a man who had apparently jumped from the L to commit suicide. He landed in the middle of the road. If you google for it in Chicago, you'll probably find it in recent news.
Hallmark definitely does not make a card for these instances. In a way, I'm glad because that would come across as money grubbing, and the purchase of one as a somewhat perfunctory "Here, I thought of you, paper and glitter might give you relief" thing. But there is something nice about being able to hand over something for people to hold on to and look at after they've had to leave to tend to their dog, children, homework, whatever.
That aside, there really isn't a proper sentiment to express when trying to interact with someone who's seen a corpse. Well... there is. If you are easily grossed out or have a phobia about dead bodies, it's probably good to keep that to yourself for the time being. But in the end, there's not a good way to say "Wow, I'm sorry you saw ragdoll physics' in such graphic detail".
To her remarkable credit, she called the police immediately and was capable of communicating fluently without wavering about the entire event
Wow. I'm sorry you saw ragdoll physics in action on a human form. That probably sucks. I have no words. Except that it must seriously, seriously suck.
If I had a lollipop and something distracting in my hands, I would offer them both, but that really doesn't cover it sufficiently even then.
Funny how this is two journal entries now about our personal reactions to what happened and not really the event or the person it happened to....

Actual Conversation #49 - CYA maneuvers with non-existant Latin words.

Co-worker: "Just FYI, there's an internal issue and the servers are in a loop getting to XXXXXXXX website."
Me: "Okay, thanks. G2q." (Spoken aloud. Gee -too- kyoo)
Co-worker: "G2q?"
Me: "Good to know." (I have not realized my mistake yet)
Co-worker: "What's the Q stand for?"
Me: "Its... Latin. For 'know'."
Co-worker: "latin?"
Me: Yyeah. I'm in a weird mood, don't mind me."

Somehow this actually worked.
-for the record, the actual phrase, when not spoken by me, is "g2k".


I had been laboring over this in my mind for a bit now, with the launch of the DSi on to the market lately. The ability to take pictures! Yes! The ability to save and download games on internal memory! Yes! The microphone IS still there, unlike I reported previously, it's just disguised to look like a microphone to the right of the internal camera, so I missed it entirely. Observation roll failed.
My concern was mainly over the games it would play, and if it would play them better, and really I'm not feeling that it will, at least not this first gen.
In reviewing the DSi... as much as I would love to have it do more things like the PSP does (surf the web, play music, store pictures), I cannot condone dropping another $150 for something that actually does LESS in terms of playing the games that I've purchased. I have some swanky import-only GBA games from Japan that will languish from lack of accessibility. Though they talk about setting up the old GBA games as downloadable content, I'm really not seeing a push for Nintendo to get in to downloadable media quite the same way Sony or Microsoft have with their platforms. Also, what are the chances that what are now import games will get translations in to English as well as downloadable content? I've got 4 right now in Japanese that never made it to English translations and a backlog of similar games I want to get with the same issue. I can't see it changing with the development of the DSi, but I am fully open to it occuring and hope they prove me wrong. Until then, though, that's a major ding against them.
I just can't see myself as hanging on to the old DS if I've got a new one to use (trade in value, anyone??) and going further out of the way to purchase a GBA just for those cartridges, with poorer graphics and not nearly all the fun touch pad functionality, is just not worth it at this time. If I need to get online I'll go to my computer. I buy game devices for games.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Apparently there is a new game coming out from Team ICO, the creators of the totally awesome Ico (naturally) and Shadow of the Colossus games.

It drifted across my consciousness as a Twitter post that I would have totally missed had I not subscribed to Kotaku recently. It's neat to know there's another awesome puzzle game coming out from those guys. And not a puzzle game in the field of Dr. Layton. A puzzle game...well... in the field of Shadow of the Colossus! It's combat and escape-oriented! Except that it's mostly escape oriented with a little bit of combat when totally necessary. And a lot of climbing things. Very fun.

So now there are TWO games to really look forward to coming up... Bioshock 2 (and really I should completely Bioshock the First in order to get an appreciation for it) and Team ICO's new mystery game that is unviewable to me currently courtesy of the corporate firewall. Maybe I'll read up about it once I get home.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I am thrilled with the Universe right now, because such a thing as the Pocono Kite Symphony exists.

I've been on a kite kick recently. I know I don't really ~need~ one, but I've always loved them, and loved flying them. The first I remember ever owning was a rainbow cellophane dragon kite we bought in Chinatown in San Francisco. (At the time the fact that a city could have a town within it, and that it would be specifically dedicated to one country or culture totally captured my imagination. I was all of 8, however.) It lasted for years despite having to have the long, whipping rainbow colored tail reattached several times by packing tape.
Maybe if there's extra $$ at some point I can justify purchasing one. It's sort of exercise to stand outside with a kite and do tricks, right? I kinda wanna get a stunt kite, those always looked so fun to operate.

In other news, we'll be headed to the International Orchid Show at Longwood Gardens this weekend. I'm rather excited, as I used to have several different kinds but ended up losing them all right before moving. I love their unique and ancient shapes. It'll be a good chance to walk around and get some exercise, and see some unusual and rare orchid types. Seeing as I finally got myself some new sneakers, it'll be nice to break them in somewhere so pretty!

...maybe I could fly a kite later that afternoon. Hmm...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Inner Fire is to Light Up All That Darkness.

People who are creative are also prone to depression or mood disorders.

This is not to say that emo leads to great art. We have deviantArt as proving grounds against that. Instead, the Fire in the Head that is often referenced for artists is possible in response to them being able to over-study input from the environment, something that coincides with depression or bipolar disorder or whatever.
Considering how often it was referenced in stories and characterizations of artists, it's nice to see there's a study backing this idea up. Me, I always suspected the overly sensitive were a bit prone to recreating the world that was grating on them.

Finally! I've sighted it!

After being on it for nearly a whole month, I finally saw her! She was majestic in the afternoon sun, her presence imposing and at the same time demure.

My very first Fail Whale on Twitter. It's a proud moment.

Actual Conversation #48 - wherein a coworker is helpful, and that help is then promptly abused.

Helen: Hey, if you saw this sitting out somewhere, would you wonder what it was?
Helen: Like, would it look weird if you just walked in and saw it on a desk or something?
Ben: looks like some blair witch shit going on
Helen: That's what I thought.
Helen: Would you ~say~ something? Or just look at it and wonder what the hell's going on?
Ben: look at it and wonder what the hells going on
Helen: Okay. Thank you. You have been invaluable in my research.
Helen: Now if you walked in and you saw ~this~, what would you do?
Helen: LOL
...I'm sorry. That was mean.
If it makes you feel better, I just laughed until I coughed.
A lot.

(7 minutes later)

Helen: Man, I am still laughing.
Helen: Think up something good to get me back, I deserve it for that one.
Helen: /blogged

Monday, March 23, 2009

Yoga I

Dunno what's up with these one-word titles lately, but eh... they're descriptive.

When I was younger I used to take the occasional yoga class, practicing quite often on my own. I was unusually flexible thanks to a few years spent in ballet and dance, so I could go through the motions with minimal pain and stress. It was fun, and it was good for exercise and that was about it.
It never really occurred to me that there was a system behind yoga and that it wasn't simply just a type of exercise the way pilates or aerobics was. In fact, I didn't even comprehend that it came from a medical tradition until much, much later after I started practicing it. Even then, it wasn't until a few years ago that someone asked me point blank if I enjoyed the benefits of yoga in terms of how it brought me in to a dialogue with my body and focus in my mind.
Focus? What? Why on earth would I focus my mind in the middle of trying to keep one leg in the air, one arm tucked under my chin, and the other patting my belly all while maintaining balance on one foot?? Trying to do it under those circumstances was retarded! thought my untrained and relatively judgmental mind.
I fell out of practice for a while and mostly looked at it wistfully while I did other things, like sit in front of the TV and wish my bf would change his behavior so that I could be happy staying with him. Useful things.
When I got back to PA I took classes with my Mom, noting that untreated injuries in my neck and back due to a car crash made it markedly worse for me to do some of the moves, and that it would occasionally make me dizzy thanks to the supremely stiff neck I had. I loved the instructor, though, and kept at it despite the crazy after-affects I got, like being light-headed. Anybody in their right mind would know that was a sign to stop doing what they were doing and in the very least inform the instructuor. To me it was just a weakness to be forced through.
The result of this was that I started to not look forward to my yoga classes, and was almost relieved when she announced she would no longer be holding classes. I was tired of feeling dizzy after everything, with little else in the rest of my body. Even then I didn't listen, not realizing that at that moment I needed to care for my neck and shoulders. I just viewed it as an irritating obstacle and proceeded on.
For another long while I didn't practice it. During that time my health deteriorated, I put on weight, and the aches and pains that came and went in my joints took up residence and got progressively worse. It culminated in me sitting cross legged in the shower this morning from pain in my knees and my cracked feet. I literally could not stand until they'd warmed up in the hot water. An interesting way to start the morning, if nothing else.
I'm a mess. I'm overweight. I have hormone issues that result in some fantastic acne even at the age of 30. I am in pain pretty much all of the time. And I feel like it is going to take forever to work my way back out of these things.
It wasn't until this past year that I really started exploring the mind-body connection and only within the past month that I seriously began researching what it could do for me. In my mind, as a Buddhist, something from a Hindu tradition felt alien to add in for anything besides a means to stretch. I have been thoroughly humbled and educated now, for it has become obvious that a good idea is a good idea no matter what culture it comes from.
Yoga brings mindfulness to the forefront. Mindfulness of breath and movement. Of intention and motivation. Mindfulness on one's health, on the imbalances in the body, and the environment around you.
My mantra that I attempt to remember (and only truly managed to keep for 32 seconds straight thus far) was Breathe - Observe - Accept. Nothing to focus on but breath. Nothing to focus on but observing what is around you. Nothing to focus on but these and accepting that they are happening. This, too, for a while seemed at odds with what I had been taught. But in viewing it now, I see that they are the same. Focus on the breath to bring one to a place of stillness where the active, chatty, 6-year-old-on-Ritalin mind most of us possess can take a break and give YOU a break. Observation... simply noting what is around you. (While I type this I am eating lunch and looking up a recipe for key lime pie. Ever the multi-tasker and slightly unrepentant about it.) In pulling in these observations, by not judging or classifying them, you remember more in looking back on them. It provides for a far broader history. If you're asked about it later it'll come to mind easily, and whoever is trying to help you will have better information. Observing everything also allows you to see how it impacts you. So really, these two were only at odds within my own mind via my assumptions, our current favorite theme to constantly revisit.
Perhaps I'm in that mental space where I can reconcile everything and let the assumptions drop away from what I need to do to heal myself. If so, that would be nice. My body craves the movement that I get in Yoga, even as my joints holler at me. Proud warrior? Oh hell yeah, I'm all over that bad boy. Downward Dog? I'll try it until my shoulders and neck scream and I am forced to drop to my knees, but when I get back up and do it again, they're looser. It isn't about forcing past what you're able to do anymore, but recognizing it, then moving with it. Even Corpse-Pose is an opportunity to try and focus on the breath. I look forward to putting a few quick poses in where I can in the evening, and already I can feel a difference in flexibility. It actually makes me feel as if I could put a dent in the wall of pain and blockage that hems me in.
I think that's enough for now. Don't want to spawn another TLDR comment, so I'll pick the rest of this thought up another time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


In spite of my desire to make this blog about the run-ins and massive potholes that happen while I attempt to attain enlightenment, very rarely do I bring it back around to where it stands in the scheme of things. You see, I know when I'm ranting that I am not putting myself in another's shoes and being compassionate. When I'm angsty over something, I know that I am trying to hold on to a certain future, where anything in the universe doesn't change at every second. This is probably why I don't bother to say it, because already I am mentally chastising myself for the act before it is even submitted as a post. So there's a lot of bitching, and not a lot of Buddha in here.
That's probably a good thing, because Buddha wouldn't want to be my focus, the extinguishing of suffering would.
There are times when I feel a bit cocky for being able to take half a step back further and see a big picture, know that the people who are freaking out on the other end of the telephone in my ear are unable to realize that if they don't get their emails, the world isn't going to grind to a halt in tragic entropy and destroy themselves. They only see that at this immediate moment something has changed in how their daily life goes and CHANGE IS BAD GOD DAMNIT! NONONONONO!
And I tell them, calmly, that I'll fix it. Because I remember what it's like to be those people. I was actually acting that way on Monday. So I know what they're going through and I've got some empathy. But I can't help but think it's a bit funny, and in these moments where I recognize what's going on, I get a little smug.
I just assume I'm further along than most people and...perhaps I am, BUT... what's great is when it's brought home just how much longer the road still is.
Last night we went to see the Kodo Taiko Drummers. Kodo is their name (Children of the Drum/Heartbeat depending on which translation you go with), and Taiko is the style of drums. The o-daiko, aka The Big Muthafuckin' Drum in the Middle, is hollowed out from a tree trunk, and the one they used was 4 feet tall. That means the tree trunk was a minimum of 4 feet in diameter, and that in and of itself is impressive.
We watched them open with a very rousing deep toned song that resonated and bounced in the sternum, felt it in the floor and our feat, and it was wonderful.
And then mid-song, my brain started flitting around. This concert, which I had waited a good portion of a decade to hear, was being completely preempted by these random thoughts that just started flying around in my brain. It was completely unbelievable.
Was it the fact that the drum music was so strong, I wondered. Was it forcing my brain to shut down and go in to hibernation because it couldn't handle all the noise and the movement? That couldn't be it, because I knew what that felt like, and it was the sensation of staring at something for a long period of time, but without much else going on. Certainly not so many thoughts!
I kept jerking my brain back in to focus like trying to manhandle a Great Dane on a leash, forcing myself to breathe deeply and focus. After doing this half a dozen times and realizing it wasn't working, I gave up, disappointed in myself.
After another song where I caught myself wandering, I found myself looking at the players on the stage. Even in the midst of all of this hard work (and they were sweating) they smiled. They always smiled, at every point. They were there, not thinking about the fact that they had blisters or their thighs were cramping. They were in the moment and just playing the hell out of their drums. There was nothing to them but that performance and that music, and the next drum stroke. Followed by the next.
I was sitting in front of a giant mirror, which was reflecting everything back at me that I was throwing out there. I've had this happen before with other individuals who were in the moment, acting as a mirror as is described often in Buddhism.
I was bouncing off these guys. Instead of sitting there and being a set of ears, I was being Me, throwing all of My Junk out there as if it had some kind of importance. And it was being shot right back at me, to rattle around with the music while I was distracted.
Upon this realization I nearly laughed out loud, then settled in and accepted that I wasn't paying attention. I was not in tune with the moment and the energy. So be it, I would get out of it whatever I could manage.
And from that point on I remember nothing else but the show. :)
It was completely magnificent. At one point I had to cover my ears as the sounds of a simulated thunderstorm crashed in and made my eardrums literally buzz with the vibrations. I focused on this discomfort, and found my mind immediately wandering again. Ahh, but this sound, I told myself, is also you. It's only because you think you are separate that it's hurting you so much. And once this was brought to the forefront, I relaxed and accepted that my eardrums would buzz and I would be a bit deaf tomorrow. My mind returned once more to the performance.
There is something driving and primal about drums. They say that we as humans resonate with percussion because the first thing we hear is our mother's heartbeat. This may be so, but I think there are other things we feel that we aren't aware of. The pulse of electromagnetism that goes by from the earth. The pull of the tides. The slow scrape of rock and stone past each other at fault lines. I think that though we may not "hear" these things, we feel them in our body, a thousand little percussions a day, every day. And this is why when it is made physical, when some slight Japanese man takes something the size of a baseball bat and hammers the HELL out of the drum braced before him, we stir. It ignites those fires and sparks those neurons way back in the lizard-ancestor parts of our brains, reminding us of our connection.
On top of this primal excitement, there was the blur of beaters and sticks as they flew, wielded with martial-arts precision, so fast you only saw the afterimage of it like a bad samurai arcade game.
When the o-daiko was brought forward it was played by two gentlemen who came out in loincloths and....that was it. The audience shifted uncomfortably for a moment, but as he got in position and began to play, they forgot and fell back in love with the beat. The necessity of his attire became apparent when, halfway through playing, his back was streaming sweat.
It allowed for a fascinating insight in to what it must take to play a drum, though. From that vantage point we could see that every single strike actually came from the players core and hips. He turned his entire body in to it and used the leverage to deliver the blow.
I've seen martial artists do a worse job of using their body against their target in that fashion.
I couldn't help but stare at the o-daiko players and marvel how very much their backs resembled a doitsu koi.
For reference, a picture:

There was a ridge of muscles on either side of the man's spine that looked like the scales on the doitsu's back. You could see his trapezius pretty well defined as well, along with all the other muscles of the back. And you could tell exactly when he used them with each swing, as they all moved under his skin. The poor guy was totally out of breath at the end, although he had to have been familiar with playing these drums regularly.
Something else I thought that was interesting, the o-daiko had a design painted on it of a 3-armed star circling outward in a spiral. The drum had been played so much that the paint had worn off over the design in two very even strips... like this:

In some later reading, I discovered that this was because the drum was 10 years old. That is certain long enough to wear the design off of one drum head, although I suspect that wasn't the original.
In a moment of self-amusement I stopped to ponder what they did if there was a blown drum head. it wasn't like a guitar where you could just restring it, tune, and keep playing. There would be a breaking-in period. I gigged at the thought of someone back stage furiously hammering away at a new drum head skin to try and get it to loosen up a bit.
There is a trick I picked up from spending time in seedy bars with certain best friends listening to the local music of my region; if you have a shoe with any sort of air chamber in the sole, be it Doc Martens, sports sneakers, or highly cushioned slip-ons, by raising the ball of your foot it creates a resonating chamber. I took a moment to do that in the middle of one of their louder songs so that it was not only hitting me in the ears, chest and abdomen, but right on my foot. It was a slightly different sensation than the beat traveling through the floor. So one foot intercepted the sound shockwaves as they crashed through the air, and the other as they rippled through the earth.
I checked often with Bob to make sure that he was enjoying himself, as I had hoped the combination of vibration and tone might appeal to his particular sensibilities. He assures me that he really did enjoy it. So much so, we went and grabbed a CD off Amazon afterward from the performance.
There were so many other elements to the evening; watching the people in kimono and haori hand out pamphlets to the Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival, something I have wanted to see for at least 2 years now and finally got the heads-up for. The Kimmel Center itself with its odd, relaxed architecture somehow brought out of curving steel and glass. The lights and murals on the Avenue of the Arts. The cute little bistros we passed on the way back to the parking garage.
I'd already liked Philly. It seemed like a nice, homogeneous city with its own beat. But somewhere in the middle of that evening I fell in love with it and wanted to know more and see more. I really wish we were closer so it wasn't 45 minutes to get in and see everything. I could spend days exploring everywhere, seeing the neat little non-national-chain shops, and the local touches. Philly seems proud to be Philly and I want to learn why.
If you haven't yet seen them, I would suggest a live show over the DVD. While you can tell the quality of their playing, it won't have the same drive to it as the live beat does. Unless you can't stand percussion, you'll enjoy this type of music.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Actual conversation #47 - wherein the amusement factor of Google is upped.

gru: Fun Google trick. Type in a partial question and let it fill in the rest.
Typing in 'How do I' gets
How do I love thee
How do I find my up address
how do I get a passport
how do I know if I am pregnant
And my 'how do I live without you' followed by 'how do I remove Norton antivirus 2009'
me: Yeah. Sorry. I went a little crazy on your work machine.
That I've never seen.
grudan523: 'where is...' get's 'Where is Santa' 'Where is the love' and 'where is chuck norris'
This may be my new favorite thing to do...ever
me: LOL
What happens if you put in What if monkeys....?
gru: nothing sadly, not enough results
Although getting as far as 'what if mon' leads to. 'What if money didn't exist' followed by 'what if money grew on trees'.
Which is a nice dichotomy because that's both end of the spectrum right there
me: Wow. Yeah. 0_o
gru: Creepy. "where can I..." ends up with half the results being some variation on '...watch Twillight online for free'. A lot of cheep ass fanboys and girls out there.
me: *laugh*
fanbois like it shinay!
gru: I'll stop now. :-)
me: That was epic.
Although I still think you should have figured out what if monks....
gru: It came up nada.

Karioka!!! Oh Frabjous day! Calloo Callay!

Well, it's a bit of a hazy day inside this sleepy brain, but the good things keep coming!

Many years ago when I was in the magical land of Seattle, there was this fantastically huge Asian grocery store called Uwajimaya. It was a magical place, filled with books on origami, bonsai tools, and rice cookers. You could get 10 of the 43 sanctioned flavors of Pocky on their shelves. The sushi was fresh, and it wasn't insanely expensive to pick up an "exotic fruit" or other thing for dinner. It was a happy place where coconuts and lemongrass shared the shelves with apples and pears, and all were better for it.
What was great, though, was the cafeteria setting it had where you could go and pick items out from a multitude of countries and place on your plate. Thai food, Korean, Chinese, Japanese... all were there. On any given day you could sample from half a dozen countries on a single trey, pay $12, and call it good.
It was here that I first came across karioka, the most wonderful thing I have ever tried on a stick. Yes, that includes corn dogs and cotton candy and deep fried twinkies, which are friggin' nasty. Karioka, for those who might never have been blessed to come across this heart-warming construct, is rice flower and coconut milk mixed together, deep fried, skewered, then soaked in caramalized simple syrup. It crunches when you bite in to it, it's chewy on the inside, and wonderfully sweet without being sick. I used to go to Uwajimaya just to buy one stick with 4 HUGE balls on it for only something ridiculous like $1.50.
My first encounter with the delicacy produced what would later come to be called a "joygasm" wherein every fiber of my being was made so happy simultaneously that I vibrated in my chair from happiness (often misinterpreted as "happy wiggling", I have since come to know).
I have not had it for 6-7 years now, and must admit that I often hope I will see it upon entering asian restaurants, as I had no idea what it was called. I was secretly searching for it in listings of common Japanese foods in the hope that I would come across it and be able to dine upon it from a cart in the street in the midst of Akiba or one of the other wards of Tokyo. But it eluded me.
Finally, giving up, I decided to throw it to the internet gods and tossed "crunchy rice ball on a stick" in to Google. (Yes, seriously)
First listing: Karioka (carioca)
And that was that. I had a recipe in my inbox 2 minutes later and my love of life firmly back in hand.
At some point in the next week or so I will create these crunchy-chewy lovelies. And when I do, you will probably not hear from me for a day and a half because I'm going to make so many I'm going to get sick off of them. Because love hurts, and the only way I can control the longing for them is to make myself sick of them so it's not constant in the background, the way one longs for whitefish tuna sashimi or truly awesome uni rolls. Or the perfect chocolate cake.
I am a very, very-very, VERY happy girl today. And shortly I will be a happy girl with skewers of karioka in each hand, stick-fisted and grinning like a retard.

Happy St. Patty's Day!

I've wanted to see the taiko drummers for the better part of a decade. I got to catch a brief one-song glimpse of their technique courtesy of Cirque du Soleil many moons ago in Vegas, but only short internet videos since then to tide me over. I really love the drive of the percussion as it hits you in the chest.
I'm trying really hard to avoid cliches when talking about them, but on only 4 hours of sleep that's proving difficult. Let's just say they're driving.
When I found out that they would be coming to Philly for a performance, I promptly took the idea to Bob. After much discussion, yesterday morning we finally opted to check for tickets. The last time we went to see music together it was Clann an Drumma and we were baking in the sun at Celtic Fling. It was high time we went to see some good world music together!
So Bob called yesterday morning, being that we could no longer do reservations on line, and reports back to me that he literally purchased the last two seats in the house.
That's right. Yours truly has the last 2 seats for a sold-out show to see the world-famous Kodo drummers.
Serendipity is a really great thing. (Or maybe it's the luck of the Irish a bit early?) I'm supremely excited.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I think I'm ready to review the Watchmen now.

The sheer length of the film and depth of the story make it hard to process all at once, though many of my contemporaries already had something to say by Monday after watching the movie this weekend.
Granted, the majority of what they had to say was "I liked what they did with it. They didn't screw it up."
Much beyond that wasn't really to be found even though I tried to engage a few folks in an at-length discussion on the topic. The only truly satisfying dissection to be found was, per usual, at the hands of Bob and his Wonderous Other Side of the Coin mentality that he brings to the table, that fantastic viewpoint outside my own that pretty much puts a lightbulb over my head every day whether I admit it or not. Living with him is like having a living, huggable Greek philosopher that also really likes video games.
Per usual, I digress. The man loved the movie much the way I did, and shared with me many of his own "zomg!" moments from when he first read the graphic novel. We bandied about ideas, about how they translated the sheer wall of visual input in written form in to the sometimes thin media of the moving picture. He expounded on how things translated well, how they didn't (this was rare) and how they just plain rocked. Having him to bounce things off of made the whole experience far richer and more valuable than had I gone on my own. In fact... I probably would not have gone on my own. It was the type of generational thing that needed to be shared. This was like our geeky Forrest Gump.
Before proceeding much further, you can most likely already tell that the movie was enjoyed, because I've decided trying to keep my bias secret would be retarded. The words I write are automatically tinged with the emotion of my thoughts, and my thoughts say THIS MOVIE WAS FUCKING AWESOME at their core. It's just going to translate through.
It was not awesome in the way that Iron Man presented itself up to us to be enjoyed and loved as a retranslation of a beloved childhood icon. It was not, thank god, a "reimagining". In 10 years we can have that and it will be lauded as its own particular creative bent, probably at a time when we go to the theater just to plug the screen in to our social net-jacks in the back of our skulls and experience media as a rare physical social grouping while it's piped in. But anything before that will not give this story enough breathing room or time to mature. Hopefully someone's listening to this and takes it to heart. About the movie, not the skull-jacks. I imagine that might cause severe headaches in the early adopters of that technology.
The story is already dated at its outset. It is an alternate 1985 where we won Vietnam. As one of the characters boldly points out, had they not won it, America would have gone a little crazy. You can't help but feel that the truth hurts in this.
Nixon is putting in for a 3rd term and trying to get the constitution amended to allow him. That alone raises unease in the American psyche, who is used to being protected from dictators and kings by the laws on that pale peace of parchment. It was a good and subtle pinch to a nerve most of us don't pay attention to most days. It was enough to alienate us from this time, but also to bring up the familiar so that we recognized the world as our own...just not as our history. We were visitors in a giant What Could Have Been, and I am relatively confident that the impression was made on others in the packed audience as well.
I spent the first half hour of the movie crying. The montage of all the things that came before, all the major moments in history that we clasp with pride were displayed, hit me like a fist to the gut. There was an unspoken acknowledgment that without those things, the world we were sitting in to watch that movie would not exist. Everything that came before compounded itself on to that screen to the strains of Bob Dylan.
And of course, the towers... Oh, the twin towers. In '85 they still existed. In fact, I set foot in them for the first and only time in my life in '87 on a trip with my family. That New York didn't know what was coming yet, and left me with a sinking in the pit of my stomach. Brace yourselves, I found myself thinking each time it loomed up on the screen. And honestly, I have to complain with how often it loomed up on the screen. Even in the face of their discovery when Dr. Manhattan and the Silk Specter returned to earth, they were VERY careful to put the towers in the background. It felt very tacked on, as if to throw in our faces the most obvious landmark they had that would tug at us. And in that particular instance, it seemed they displayed it to show that they had NOT blown the towers up, a quick CYA to our national psyches.
On the other hand, one has to wonder if we would have noticed them in the background had they not been leveled. I am almost disappointed at this cheap grab at attaching us to the time period, when it could be done more subtly. The fact that the background shot was nearly always centered on them, as well, seemed to cheapen their usage even more. There were many, many other things that could've been utilized to describe a 1980's America, but they went for that.
This repeated itself in other places. The music used was jenga-ed in to fit where it could, but at times it just seemed to be there to hit you in the face that the film took place 15 years ago. When Laurie entered the cafe to meet with Dan and they threw "99 Red Balloons" in our faces, it seemed entirely out of place in tempo, key, etc... the only thing matching was the theme of nuclear war which, lets be honest, most of the audience does not realize. I feel the irony was lost, and the pacing of the song was just too upbeat for that moment. It was almost jarring, really.
When Ozymandias has the wall of TVs in front of him and every single screen is sporting an easily recognized iconic ad or TV show from that time period... I felt that they were just stretching far too hard to scream THIS HAPPENED IN THE EIGHTIES. LOOK. REMEMBER THE MAC COMMERCIAL? DOESN'T THAT BRING NOSTALGIA? The same could have been done with clips of news reports, with the clothing shown on screen, with a number of smaller more finely detailed moments. I would have to go back to look at the comic, because on this point Bob points out that many of those that were seen were literally on the TV wall in the comic. (I don't remember, to be honest) If they recreated it exactly, then this fault may lie with the comic's writers. Either way, it felt like they didn't trust the audience to follow along in the use of subtle zeitgeist and simple handed it to them.
It was visually playing tee ball. There, I said it. We were prepared for the major leagues.
Let us talk about something that really WAS in our faces the entire time; Dr. Manhattan's nuclear blue space junk.
In this, wow, props that they stuck with the comic book and showed full frontal male nudity without even a wink or a coy nod about it. It was just there, in the middle of the story, and nobody in the movie even blinked to see it happen. Granted they didn't get to see the finished CG, but the directors could have inserted some oddness to try and cover for it at some point. It flowed smoothly, as if people simply just accepted that was Dr. Manhattan's thing and it was no big deal.
There were 12 year olds in the audience. I must admit between that and the prolonged sex scene inside Archie, I was wincing that they were seeing that. Surprisingly, the huge national outcry against Giant Naked Blue Guys and Sex In Hovercrafts did NOT become quite the controversy I thought it might, and I must say now that I am really, really proud that you've grown up, America. Way to handle your frontal nudity.
They were, for the most part, loyal to the comics in their portrayal of the story line. A great deal of time and money was put in to making the streets, shop fronts and basements all look like they were taken from the pages of the book. They got the look of the young man reading the Black Freighter right, and the newspaper stand man...who, sadly but understandably only had a few short cameos in it. For those of us who had been through the graphic novel, it felt right, which was perhaps even better than just presenting the story as visually interesting. It allowed us to get comfortable and wait for the story to come to us however it had been put together. For that I must thank the director, and for Hollywood to be smart enough to hand it over to someone who loved the story enough to be true to it.
But for one rough spot where the acting was just utterly flat between elder and younger Silk Specter at the very end (made odd by the fact that they had interacted just fine prior to that and had believable chemistry) all of the characters interacted well, and felt as if they'd known one another, though there did seem to be a bit of distance between the other characters and Ozymandias. Understandable, really, in that he came from a world of private jets and high finance, while they lived in row houses. This is aside from the oft-mentioned intellectual divide between them that Ozymandias himself confessed he felt towards the majority of humanity during the story. It was believable. We embraced it and went with it. That is what mattered.
They could have gone far deeper in to Rorschach.
They could have spent more on the trickle of media in to everyday lives feeding the horror of an impending nuclear war.
They could have gone far more in depth in to the dehumanizing nature of Dr. Manhattan's experience and what it does to a formerly mortal psyche.
They didn't. It worked. We not only went with it, but cheered at it. Anything else would've added to length, but not necessarily depth. It seemed to stop just where it needed to. Just short, in fact, in leaving us with a desire to see more of this world where super heroes existed and nuclear men could deconstruct time and space
This was a good film. Good enough that when Bob suggested we go see it again, all two hours and forty minutes of it, I didn't hesitate to think this might actually be a really good idea. I can think of only one other movie I went to see in the theater more than once, and out of embarassment I will not name it. Suffice it to say, in hindsight, it doesn't nearly stack up to the Watchmen.
I'd love to go again, and hope my schedule opens up enough to see it this following weekend. I want the chance to absorb more of the details, maybe catch on to points where they finessed the story and I was too wrapped up in the action to notice it.
I liked this story. I loved the alternate take on history, and a look at what might have been. I liked the strategic use of tachyons, probably the first of its kind. I loved that the man who could see the past and the future was surprised twice in the matter of an hour, and that the same one that proclaimed a live human had the same number of electrons as a dead human and therefore of no consequence was forced to realize that he was, in fact, still one of our species despite the accident that seemingly removed his humanity. In the end He of the Nuclear Blue Junk proved to be the same as everyone else... he didn't actually give a damn about the rest of the world, just those close to him. The only difference was that he was freed from the moral burdens that went along with having to care about the race as a whole when we weren't designed for it. He could talk about life matter of factly, without the overlay of emotion, assumption, supposition, or cultural conditioning. He was, in fact, almost Zen in his existence.
This was a good movie. I really, really liked this movie.

I first came across the Watchmen when trying to research the poem "Ozymandias" by Shelley and Smith on Wikipedia. In the multiple following links I came across The World's Smartest Man, Dr. Manhattan, and the others in the superhero group. At the time, before I'd read the graphic novel, I thought it was a novel but bizarre concept and thought nothing of it...until a month later when then announced the movie was being made. The serendipity of the timing was not lost on me.

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand." The City's gone,
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.
We wonder, and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
—Horace Smith.[10]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Actual Conversation #46 - wherein the quality of a comeback is discussed.

(said at The Paddock restaurant down past Berwyn during dinner this evening.)

Bob: "Wow. You were really reaching for that comeback. Like trying for the top shelf. And you....are short."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Writing this blog... Jesus told me...

Oh man, if this was not the weekend for Interesting Crap Rolling Down Hill, I do not know what was.

My desktop computer is fried. So fried they can't even spin up the hard drive. (Like an FTL drive, but not as cool) When I tried to call back about it I ended up conversing with a very rude woman who had me on hold forever before telling me I couldn't talk to anyone until Monday about my machine. So I wont know until today at some point if I can reclaim all of the music, photographs, fiction works and art projects that are not backed up anywhere else.There will be hell to pay for the people in charge of maintenance in my development if it can't be recovered, as it was one of the repeated and frequent power surges that ate the machine. In a development only 7 years old, losing power every time the wind blows a little bit is pretty much unacceptable.

I went to my brother's house to celebrate my niece's 1st birthday. I waded among a bunch of people I don't know, and who didn't give a crap that I existed beyond the fact that I was connected genetically to my brother and his SIL. I believe the majority of the guests were my SIL's, most definitely more of her family was present than not. I spent a great deal of time wondering why on EARTH anybody would invite that many people to something so trivial as a first birthday - a birthday the child will not remember - and eventually came to the conclusion that it was just a chance to have a celebration and get as many people together as possible.
I am not by any stretch of the imagination a social person. I enjoy the company of the few over the company of many, and prefer those few to be relatively intelligent. A giant gaggle of people all talking at once has just never seemed desirable to me. But I got to see all of my family, including my extended family acquired by marriage or viking raid, and for the most part it was fun to see them. We enjoyed Guitar Hero on my brother's new PS3, listened to folks play real guitar, took a walk up the street for a bit, and sat and chatted with many, many folks. Bob and I both really enjoyed ourselves during our time there in spite of the chaos and noise.

It's interesting that the few down moments came primarily from my own family. The first and foremost was when i was sitting talking with my brother... enjoying myself immensely, actually, and getting to finally talk to him. Then, in a moment of drunken enlightenment, he turns to me and begins to berate me for not coming up to his house until that day.
GG and....fail.
I find it amusing that the people in my family (and sometimes my friends) think that when I finally get it together in my life to come see them, the best way to emphasize that they would like it to occur more often is to sit there and bitch at me about it. Boggles the mind, actually.
The fact that he later confessed to having 5 beers in his system before opening his mouth gives him some leeway in my mind. But when I later attempted to talk to him about a time we could come back up, since he'd made it clear staying connected was important, he actually stopped talking and wandered off. So...really, it doesn't make me feel THAT welcome. Or that in reality it's that important. Maybe he was too drunk to realize what was going on. The fact that it is not surprising he was toasty says a lot for his typical social gathering, as well.

My mom gave me some crud about contemplating buying a house with a guy I'm not married to, which, given that I've been in a house with a man I WAS married to and got even more royally screwed over, seems somewhat trivial. And a cousin teased me about not popping out tiny bundles of cellular activity that share 50% of my genome. All in all, a typical family gathering of people who seem to have issues with how I make my decisions, which is utterly unsurprising or even original 3 decades in to this life. Ah well, enough of that. A good time was had mostly overall.

After that Bob and I ventured forth to go have dinner with my father, seeing as the individuals at my brother's house weren't leaving, making it really difficult to have one on one time with my bro, SIL or niece.
(I still have no idea if they opened my gift or not, haven't heard a word about it.)
We showed off V*ger, our cute little netbook that's going with us to Japan, and Dad fell in love with it. We'll be snagging him one later when we go to pick up my finished PC.
We then made our way to McGrath's where we talked about such various and diverse topics as the proper way to prepare one's self for a Japanese bath (and that being the reason why I won't be going in to one this time) to my younger step brother encountering a teacher showing him "man movies".... for which he was fired.
It was somewhat unusual. Food was good, company was great.
We were pulling in to the parking lot to pick up the step from his job when he called us and said they were closing where he worked.
Bummer, we thought, as we'd pondered maybe getting dessert there before heading back home. So we snuck in, as the owner was my father's wife's brother (I refuse to call her step-mom, it doesn't describe the relationship appropriately).
We were all somewhat sad, as there are so many small local shops going out of business thanks to the economic bushmilling currently.
So as we stand there, observing what is actually a really nice restaurant, her brother walks up and tells us the following story:

He had a friend that's a well-known local radio DJ. In fact, I knew the man from his days with my father in the boyscout troop. He's a nice guy, and obviously enjoys a meal.
This radio DJ came to the restaurant's owner and told him that he'd been getting ready for bed and wasn't asleep yet when the lord Jesus showed up in his bedroom in holy blazing glory and told the him to go to this owner and say not to wait, but to close the restaurant now.
Then the restaurant owner proclaimed how Jesus was lord and savior, Jesus was king, and that god's will was deep and unknowable. Oh, and that he was closing the restaurant tonight in response to it, even though he'd pondered waiting until June to be sure. It was god's will and he was going to follow it, alleluia, amen, thank you Jesus for answering his prayers about this...
But it wasn't in the Southern, soulful fashion. It was in the Northern, reserved, devout-Catholic fashion that only a Yankee can produce, seemingingly with great fervor but not raising one's voice a whit.

I actually watched my bf's face wipe clean of any expression whatsoever. None. I think, for one brief second, in response to the complete strangeness of this story on top of what was already a weird day, his brain actually rebooted itself and left him standing there without any processing ability.
I myself was probably staring. There was simply nothing I could say in that moment that would have been of any help. The man didn't need comforting because, alleluia, it was god's will he close the place and he was comfortable with that. And his sister was right there agreeing with him, so he didn't need a fan club.
Instead, I opted to exchange Significant Glances with the bf, who finally came back around after a few moments and rejoined us.
There is simply nothing to say when someone happily tells you that they closed their restaurant because a radio DJ said Jesus told them to. Nada.
Well... at least nothing to their face. Bob later admitted to me that he was thinking the same thing I was. Which was a highly doubtful and emphatic exclamation of the expletive type.
After that, and me being temporarily mad at Spectral Jesus for ruining my dessert plans, we regrouped in the parking lot, gave hugs, and parted ways.
We stopped for an ice cream sundae at Friendly's before hitting the highway. And thankfully, that was the end of the Odd Day.

We occasionally look at each other and throw out "Sweetie, I have to do (insert random thing). Jesus told me." It makes for an excellent inside joke.
"Yes dear?"
"I have to eat these cookies. Jesus told me."
"Well then, let's not go against Jesus."

Saw the Watchmen as well, but that deserves its own little post so I will not run up the details here.

My PC, which was dead, is now reborn. I have a shiny new hard drive awaiting an OS and an old hard drive awaiting some data recovery solutions. I'm praying that they can get most of it off of there, since I have photos and artwork that aren't anywhere else. Not to mention a few dozen gigs worth of music and all of my fiction. I would QQ very much to lose all of that. We'll see what comes of it now that I have it back in my possession. I'm almost giddy with the thought of getting to reinstall the OS. But putting everything else back on it from before? Not so much. Meh.

It is most certainly the weirdest weekend I've experienced in a while.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Actual Conversation #45 -wherein ghost hunting techniques @ the Cashtown Inn is discussed.

me: Oh wow... there's a fridge up in the room!
WE could totally bring sodas!
gru: Yup!
me: Oh, and while there, I'd like to work on provoking.
Like.... on that couch.
really, really provoke things.
See what..comes out.
gru: Provoke the heck out of them?
Well.... yes.
gru: Oh....I get it
me: That'd irritate them, right?
Since they can't get any anymore?
gru: Maybe. MAybe they'd be into that. We'll find out!
me: Ooo... kinky ghosts!
gru: Okay *writes down on calendar Friday, Jan 15th, 2010 - Sex*
me: *laughs*
Let's go for 7:45, just in case dinner runs long
gru: Good thinking *scribbles in a time too*

Another Day, Another Gil....

This morning I went out to my car and saw 6 different types of frost on the car.

The frost is not the remarkable part. That it can form 6 different ways is. And as a further add-on, that I was paying attention enough to actually look at it and realize it instead of relegating it all to "I'll have to scrape that off" before jumping in my car.

Some of it radiated out, fern-like, from specks of dirt on my windshield. Others crowded up like jagged flat shards in the scrapes of the paint on the sides of my car. Along the top were 3 different kinds of hoarfrost. Some of it was bladed, like 3-D snowflakes. Some of it was simply jagged and spikey like the Fortress of Solitude (and here we pause to give me geek points for a Superman reference in the midst of ponderings. But only briefly.) and other places it seemed like crystaline squares, just stuck to each other and piled in jumbles. The frost on the side windows was different than the solid sheet that formed on my front and back windows. When I touched those, my fingers sunk in with a when munching sensation as the structure of the frost gave way and melted to the touch.
While I was putting gas in my car I stared -probably a bit over-intently- at the small garden of crystals that had taken up residence between the roof and the weather stripping of the door. I probably could have stared at them forever, looking rather asinine the entire time, but the gas pump clicked and brought me out of it. Of course, by the time I got to work the wind and sun had melted most of my mini ice-garden.
I was home sick yesterday with what we suspect is food poisoning. We suspect that mostly because it hit Bob, too, with the same symptoms. That's the only thing we can think of that might have struck dual-wielding like that.
I really like my job, and I like being able to perform it well. But when stupid things like that crop up and it eats in to my paycheck, I grow irritated. However, driving is pretty much out when you're popping a fever that has it so you can't walk straight.

Out of the blue, my friend that I had been so angsty about texted me. And during the course of the back and forth, she actually stated that she needed someone to be positive, because everything was so negative for her. This led to more texts, and to a rather nice phone call between us on the drive home. She only slipped towards negativity once or twice, and I did my best to redirect.
Thus assigned a role and knowing what I need to do, I can go forward with half a clue about how to interact. It would be great if other people would let me know like this. Text from the car in front of me "I need you to forgive that i have my turn signal on, I'm herding a toddler in a car seat," etc...
Either way, we'll see what happens.

I've only actually made 2 whole socks and 3 partial socks, and already the process is wearing on me to a degree that I"m feeling the need to set it aside and do something else for a bit. Maybe return to amigurumi, or try that sweater Bob keeps hinting he would really like. I almost hate for him to be the person that has to wear the result of my learning-curve, but he's said he doesn't mind.Maybe it'll be a weekend-sweater the way the socks are.

I have a family get-together and a birthday party on Saturday. One set of gifts isn't done, since I didn't realize the party was THIS Weekend and I'm making it by hand. The other... well, I don't have anything for my neice yet. And when everybody talked to my brother, he actually said the kid is rolling in phat lewts and there is no need to purchase her anything. I know from experience that this is true. The only thing she doesn't have is a pony and a butler, and that's because she's too small to ride the pony yet. They have a huge back yard. I swear to you that this will happen. In the meantime, he's said she doesn't need junk.
Great. Except that I know if I show up without anything, I will get "the look", and later on some backhanded comment from the SIL about bringing anything.
She is totally getting a jar of beets for her birthday. I guarantee you she doesn't have one of those. If I'm feeling REALLY outrageous, she may get a can of white asparagus to pimp it up a bit.
I could be kidding. But at this moment, it actually seems like a good idea. The best part is probably that my family won't even blink if I wrap it up neatly enough.

My metric tonne of fuzzy on-sale sweaters showed up on Tuesday. I had to wait to test drive one of them all day, but I'd say so far they pass with flying colors. I'm incredibly warm. And everybody knows how much I love my disgustingly fluffy sweaters. :)

Headache. Gonna go find tylenol. Peace out.

Monday, March 2, 2009

In Like a Lion

I'm watching the juncos struggle with the snow, trying to find places to land where their small feet don't push right through the soft powers and leave them belly-first on the snow.They've begun to take refuge on the rungs of our outdoor table and the edges of some flower pots that never came in.I threw bread out there for them, figuring as how I had not refilled the birdfeeder this week and it was looking very low. They are industriously excavating the snow for the chunks and crumbs that fell in and virtually disappeared when I threw them. Who knew bread could be that heavy?
at times the wind will blow like crazy, driving all the snow sideways. For a long time there was very bad visibility. I could tell where our pine tree was in the back, but not much else. For once, a Snowpocalypse lived up to its name.

Take a look for yourself. It's completely white out there, but yet manages to be dark somehow. I've often loved how the natural world can just neatly provide such seeming dualities.
Normally, where the thin line of grey extends across the back of the picture, there is a rise, some woods, and then a highway. It's completely gone, and that's honestly about half a mile away. So the next time the weather forecast says "visibility down to 1/4 mile" and I wonder what that looks like.... now I know.
Watching the white dust devils that spring up with every gust has been great. They whirl and swirl and obliterate everything, rolling across the fields back there, or through the streets in front of the house, then it settles down to the silent sound of snow again.
The roofs across the street have been stripped of all but the really tenacious, wet snow in the winds. I imagine ours must look the same. I've often marvelled at now much snow and sand behave the same. This has drifted and eddied around and come to rest in dunes and rises and serpentine patterns. Except that instead of being the minutest bit of stone, it's crystallized water.
The tracks left by my little juncos have been completely covered in a matter of minutes, and they've abandoned the bread, which is being covered with snow as we speak. Hopefully when everything calms down they'll be able to make use of it. For now they're probably smart to go hole up in the pine tree across from us and wait out this mess.
I, by the way, am home for the day and enjoying the sights. I intend to run outside and make a snow angel in a bit after I get something useful done first. Like laundry. Or confirming I won the lottery on Sunday.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Arrival

Interesting start to the weekend, I actually got out of bed at 8 am and made my way to the post office by 9 am, where the lovely and fantastic government workers of the Downingtown Post Office helped me get my passport paperwork filled out and submitted! In 3 weeks I should be holding my shiny new passport with my not so great passport photo.
Today there was a new addition to the household, and it is wonderful to finally have!
But first, I just want to show everybody that it's a great multitasker, as evidenced by the photo here.

See, Chaucer, the wonderful and curious little beast that he is, usually tracks down anything new that comes in to the house about 15 seconds after it comes in the door. The papasan frame was no exception. As he was sniffing it, I realized that it could double as a cat-catcher and upended it. After giving me what I can only surmise is the cat equivalent of a sigh and an eye-roll, he laid down and hung out. He's smart. he knows he gets out faster if it stops being amusing. A cat laying calmly under a papasan frame is boring after the amusement of documenting his gullibility, so shortly thereafter he was released.

To play in the packing material.

So for a bit we played wrestle in the remains, and he was content to just lay in it while I went about setting up the rest of it.
The rest of it looks pretty darned good! See for yourself!

This chair, by the way, is evil. I sat down in it, wrapped up in a blanket, and woke up 2 hours later with my knitting in my lap and a freezing cold cup of coffee on the end table. So far it's proven very confusing to the cats, as it's a new surface that, by right, is theirs to jump up in and adorn with cat hair. But because of the curved shape, there's no way for them to easily enter it. I've seen an acrobatic leap from the coffee table, and a complete fail as one tried to step off the coffee table in to it, misjudging the movable nature of the bowl. It's been amusing.
I'm in the midst of a second class on web apps, this one focusing more on javascript. I'm really looking forward to it.
I'm still working on socks and other things, but perhaps too many for my own good. I let one drop so I could get the other ones done, and I keep plugging away.

Chaucer, in the meantime, has figured out a way to tell me to put the projects away and do other things. It's pretty effective. I can't get to my stuff since he's on it, and he just slathers me with love if I reach for anything near him, so there's not much I can do but let him have it unless I want to wrestle with an affection-bomb for 5 minutes.
We had a quick interview with the pet-sitter early this afternoon. we figured having someone come in to take care of the cats while we were gone would probably be a good idea, so that we wouldn't have to worry about his folks being in town, or something happening to one of our cats while we're away in Japan. She was quite seriously one of the nicest people I've met in a while. Chaucer utterly adored her, going so far as to collapse in her lap and purr while she pet him and talked. It's obvious she loves pets, and she lives close by. I feel really comfortable with leaving them in her hands. I sort of hope Daisy comes out and gets a chance to interact with her, because it's very clear the woman adores animals, especially cats. It's neat to find people like that in the world still.
As an aside, it's awesome to note that the coffee I accidentally spilled on this laptop earlier tonight (my beloved laptop, coolest thing I've ever purchased for myself, and yes, the same freezing cold coffee mentioned prior.) has had no averse affect. I was swabbing cold caffeinated beverage out of the LAN port of the machine and off the screen where it trickled down. the laptop is now warm, and actually smells like coffee just a bit, but otherwise everything appears to work just dandy. I feel retarded for having done it, but at least I got off easy. I can honestly say that's the first time I've done that to an electronic device in at least 4 years. See how I'm trying to convince myself it isn't exceptionally stupid? Heh.
And on THAT note, I'm incredibly tired. Time to hit the hay.