Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I am getting steadily more pissed off and frustrated with Blogger's current trend towards destroying any posts I opt to save to edit later. I lost MANY paragraphs of work in switching laptops and I'm so irritated and disheartened I can't bring myself to recreate it just this moment.

As as aside, everything by Sigur Ros sounds pretty much exactly alike. It's relatively pleasant, but more suited for putting my niece to sleep than having as background coding music.
I have been extremely under the weather lately, not realizing I was dealing with the onset of anemia. When I realized I was having issues getting up the energy to move my mouse, it occurred to me that I probably needed to be at home. This after a weekend of negativity and crying and just generally not feeling like myself. At the time I had the presence of mind to pack up the laptop and power cord - just in case, and head home.
I've been home two days taking iron supplements, multi-vitamins and Gatorade to try and get me back to functional Thankfully I think we're cresting that hill.
In the meantime I have not talked about my continued amusement at Bumps in the Night, the utterly awesome surprise ending to Heroes that has restored my faith in good writing, my joy at seeing Walter return to his constantly bemused self in Fringe, and my excitement to see some actual haunting activity on the mid-season finale (what the hell is that exactly?) of Ghost Hunters. I didn't write at my joy in discovering that DTDs are not nearly so difficult as I originally thought them to be, I just needed my awesome coding-guru/awesome boyfriend to walk through the basics with me on it. And I didn't detail my excitement at reading up on and taking photographs with my adored Holga.
The internet is probably better for it, come to think of it. Except that instead I twittered about all the cool birds I could see from the kitchen table that were visiting the bird feeder, and occasionally threw in grouchy shit.
I haven't felt that much not like myself in a long time, and at least we now know why. Thankfully, it's correcting itself and I'm smiling and laughing again. Also, cannot complain about the Kitty Contingent, who have been within arms reach at all points over the past 24 hours. Daisy has personally accompanied my work day to the left of my chair today and yesterday, occasionally meowing at me to remind me she's still there and is fully open to me randomly reaching down and petting her.
I myself do not feel like I'm going to fall over if I walk forward too quickly, or exhaust myself climbing the first few stairs. This is happy stuff.
I processed the termination for my good buddy Ben today. It wasn't fun, but he put on the face of being lighthearted and really if you keep being moody when that's staring you down you need to just give up and go write bad poetry for a bit until it passes. In the back of my head I'm wondering if he goes the way of my last 2 coworkers who I talked to every day, and now don't give me the time of day, but I suspect Ben-baiting might become a new favorite pastime when it's slow at work. He may not get the ~chance~ to disappear.
I don't talk about it a lot, mostly because I'm not really well versed in this particular aspect of the world, but I love graphic novels. I fell in love with them when I was introduced to Sandman and Death in high school. 12 years later and I still seriously enjoy me some sequential art.
I fell in love with the movie 28 Days Later, and when I found out that there was a coinciding graphic novel planned entitled "The Aftermath", I grabbed it. Bob and I were in Seattle at the time and I stumbled across it in the comic book shop in the underbelly of Pike's Place Market. I consumed it with zest after a long day spent pounding the pavement in downtown Seattle and enjoyed it greatly. The dimensions it added to the story, and the continued theme of the individuals with the knowledge not passing it along fast enough before it was lost resonated between the first and second movies. I really enjoyed the small details and the depth it added when 28 Weeks Later hit the theater.
So you are now aware of why I would be excited to find out that there is a 28 Days Later comic book series in the pipe, scheduled for release later this year.
It follows the story of an entirely new character which will be refreshing. This story deserves to be told from numerous viewpoints even if the endings are rarely happy. In fact, this is one of the great draws about this series for me... it isn't marinated in feel-good crap or closure and reconciliation for the characters. Most of them die mid-stroke attempting to be brave, strong, or just to survive the nightmare of the Infection. Further, it exposes the thin veneer of civilization, and placed it in the most perfect location in the world for it. Britain, known for its stress on civility and following the rules, is a place where the punk rock seen was taken with one lumps or two of sugar and dealt with mostly by the rolling of eyes and clearing of throats. In a land where the natural outgrowth of rigid adherence to history and proprietary, such a thing was understandable. One would expect that even under great duress that Britannia would soldier on and do what it needed to, even in the face of a huge disaster. And this is why 28 Days Later is so beautiful. Because it offers up a time when they don't. When the military, those most conditioned to follow orders and protect the public, degrades in to something going through the motions and devolving in to something only barely recognizable as human. It is, above all things, a commentary on society, culture, and philosophy in the guise of being a monster movie. It's a British drama with a thick veneer of horror overlaid on it, so smoothely laid that one almost doesn't see the subtle commentary until the very end. They stepped away from that a bit in 28 Weeks Later, but "The Aftermath" fully embraced this method of storytelling and it's my hope that the comics to come will keep with the tradition as well. It will only do good by them.

10 Golden Rules of Lomography

(to be followed concerning usage of any and all lomo cameras, including HOLGAS!)

1. Take your camera everywhere you go.
2. Use it anytime, day and night.
3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it.
4. Try the shot from the hip.
5. Approach the objects of your lomographic desire as closely as possible.
6. Don't think.
7. Be fast.
8. You don't have to know beforehand what you captured on film.
9. Afterwards, either.
10. Don't worry about any rules.

This is what I love about the camera. It specializes in the wabi-sabi between moments and wants to caputre what goes on when it isn't perfectly framed, or perfectly lit, or saturated, or the film is the wrong speed. Whatever ends up on that film is ~just fine~ and exactly what should be there. Lomography, while also a bit of a trendy cop-out for creativity, also teaches one to embrace randomness and the nature of the moment. I am seriously in to that thought.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My main moment of amusement for the day

What was potentially the best moment today, a dream that woke me up.

I was in the midst of dreaming that we were at a resort, and there was one shop that was difficult to get to, only the really hard core people would go to see it. apparently it had a lot of rare momentos from famous actors and actresses and musicians. Specifically, I remember there being a nickel signed by someone who was big in the 70's, and it was on display and for sale for $250. (I'm sure this is my mind's idea of an ironic commentary on celebrity worship and free enterprise.)
I decided I wanted to be one of the hardcore visitors and climb up to this shop on the cliff. But when I got up there, for some reason the first thing I asked was if they would take my credit card.
The shop owner, a nice looking middle-aged woman, smiled and said absolutely, she took cards. As long as they were used at the ATM (at the bottom of the cliff and across the street) in front of another store to get cash, as she could only ring up cash.
Somehow this didn't come across as smart-ass.
When I admitted I only had the card, she offered to walk with me down to the ATM and come back, as it was going to be a pain to get down and come back. The other customer in the shop said she would come along, too.
So the shop owner and the other customer are climbing down the cliff face, and I walk over and start to lean forward to balance myself and swing out to get a toehold for climbing. Except I completely miss and roll off the edge, shooting past the two women on the cliff face staring at me in astonishment.
I must stress to you that, as a cliff, this was not a misnomer. It was very high. Probably the better part of a ten story building. So climbing up it really sucked. And slipping off of it sucked worse.
Here's the good part.
As I fell, I looked at the shop owner in embarrassment and said "Oops!" Then as I continued to plummet, I called "I guess I'll see you down there!" to both women, watching them recede above me.
It occurred to me halfway towards the bottom to roll over so I landed on my back, as I would probably break my arms landing on them. So I rolled, and right about that time I hit the earth, bounced a few feet up, then came to rest in the dust.
As I lay there staring up at the cliff, I realized that surviving a fall from that height was completely impossible, and that what had happened was utter bullshit. Literally, I thought "this is utter bullshit. I should be dead. What's with the bouncing??"
At that point I actually woke myself up laughing.
Then two minutes later when I was fully awake and realized again what I'd said I lost it again. I hadn't laughed in my sleep in a long time. It was good to start a morning that way.
"Oops. I guess I'll see you down there."
Really, brain? Really??

: (

it would appear that my computer is dead again. That's the second time in 6 weeks. I'm angry beyond words, but I'm also incredibly, incredibly sad. Sad to the point of having lost all of my energy, and not wanting to do anything. Sad to the point of depressed and laying on the couch staring at the ceiling.
The last thing I needed was to take a hit like this so close to vacation, when finances were going to be a bit tight. Now I get to buy a new power supply to get the machine up in running that we JUST frickin' paid to get up and running. I did all of that restore-work and everything... for not.
I guess it's good I have a laptop for these things.
It is very difficult to describe the depths to which I am unhappy at this development, however. Amusing that I could have such a wonderful day yesterday with the sun and the frogs singing by the pond, and getting the Holga finally... only to haveis happen. I would've loved to have carried that a little longer than a few short hours. Thanks, Universe.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

<3 Holga <3

Here it is, the thing I've been whining about for the better part of two weeks.

My totally awesome bright red Holga! I've already been over it and taken it apart twice to see what adjustments need to be done. It should be a ton of fun to make the small tweaks. Despite having it in hand, and having the film as well, I'm determined not to actually photograph anything with it until I've prepped the inside and smoothed the edges with gaffers tape, as is suggested by multiple sources. But once that's done believe you me... I'm gonna go crazy with it! I cannot WAIT.
I actually hugged it and squeed when it showed up. I am THAT excited. :D
Sadly, the Oktomat I purchased doesn't fire but 2 of the 8 lenses and doesn't spool or wind film properly. The seller was nice enough to give me a refund, thankfully. But I won't be getting one for half price as I originally thought. Given the twitchy nature of a toy camera, I should get it from the manufacturer just in case this repeats itself.

Anyway, I have something really cool for a shadowbox!
When i get one of these working I look forward to taking lots of happy little 8-block images. Best part? It uses 35mm film, so no special spooling, no craziness with special formats or development processes. Just slap a standard roll in and go.
Oh, and yes, that's my latest knitting project to the left. Yoga socks. That yarn ROCKS. And photographic evidence of my cat actually behaving himself, since it's so rarely seen. I like the photo, personally.
Anyway, a fair warning now that if you're near me over the next little bit, you WILL be subjected to Helen's Crazy Photography Kick and I appreciate your cooperation ahead of time!
I also got the macro lenses for the Nikon in the mail and a beautifully marked stink bug obliged with his presence on my computer speaker this morning, letting me test them out. They're seriously badass. I can't wait to get some flower-action with the higher magnification lenses! I also can't wait to try out the fisheye and pinhole lenses I'll be snagging for it. It's great to be excited about something again.
That being said, I'm in the middle of torturing myself with really bad Sci Fi movies (Scariest Night of Television my ASS...unless you're referring to the acting) and I should get back to that and being confused by my XML homework.
But I couldn't be more happy. It feels familiar just to hold it, and I can see this becoming a serious obsession in teh future.

In all it's red gloriousness...



Friday, April 24, 2009

Paradigm Shift

It's really rare to run up against something that's entirely new in terms of thought AND behavior, AND be aware of it when it goes down. Like that language thing, I sort of notice it eventually but I'm not really present mentally when it starts.
I just had the bizarrest thing happen, though. I actually thought of something in a way I had never thought before. And it caught me so off guard I sort of stared at my screen for a long moment.
I was toying around with all of the very neat Flash gadgets on another blogger's website when the ball got stuck in the plinko game and balanced perfectly on a peg. Throwing another ball at it didn't work, since they're coded to coexist in the same space and just slip past behind one another.
I sat there staring at it for a moment, then suddenly had the thought "You know, these are all programmed on an array, so there's no unique behavior for any of them. This is just a freak chance happening."
At which point I stopped dead in my thought process and realized that not only had I never thought in programmer language like that before, I'd recognized it in an item I was interacting with, and upon double-checking with my honey, determined that it was a correct assessment.
It's funny to realize that in that moment my thinking switched over from the land of the vaguely aware to the land of Those Who Can Pick Up Programming Patterns. If there is one. I kinda doubt it, I just wanted to set that up in capital letters. It doesn't really deserve them.
This is going to be weird going forward. I'm fascinated and kinda looking forward to it.
I'm tired and drained and without joy this morning. My Oktomat DID show up, but I don't see 3 of the 8 lenses firing and the seller has conveniently left off all means of getting in touch with him to tell him I would like an exchange. It clearly says no returns, but you exchange would work just dandy for me.

That being said, it IS a very cheap little plastic camera and I am very amused at the hipster-oriented marketing campain that Lomo has launched to get people in to these cameras. When the Holga finally shows up, I know it'll be of similar quality. I'm just hoping There's less room for confusion due to there being only one lens on the thing.

I'm exhausted. There's just no getting around it. I'm even having trouble spelling and writing straight this morning because of it.

In fact, I'm going to stop right here before I goof anything up.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I'm watching the dollar drop against the yen the closer we get to the trip and getting seriously depressed. Right at this moment it takes 98 Yen to make a dollar. I would really, really like that number to be at least 100. Life would be a lot easier if we could count on not suddenly being minus $200+ by virtue of a market dive while we are overseas. That's the difference between having protein in a meal and eating at the seven eleven, ya know? That's been bugging me for quite a few days, especially since it was up around 100 not a week ago now.... man.... I really don't want to have to worry about the machinations of our economy while I'm trying to relax on a vacations...
I'm also watching the calendar days drop away and noting in surprise that I'm not hyper-excited about the approach of my birthday. This is highly unusual. I guess after the huge blowout that was my 30th and the impending Fucking Awesome Trip to Japan, my birthday no longer really rates. Maybe it's about time. Too many years of BFs goofing up cakes (present companion IS excluded) and sort of...not...quite... doing it right. I think after last year's, there's just nothing more to want. So I'm looking forward to strawberry shortcake and flying a kite. And making sun pictures.
Oh, we DID grab tickets to a wine tasting and jazz fest at the Longwood gardens for May 2nd, though. It's ~sort of~ birthday-ish. Maybe I can talk them in to a little more wine?? Either way, it should be awesome and I'll have all my little cameras with me to document like crazy, and Jazz in the air to accompany our feet on the grass. It's exciting to think about! But... not really a birthday thing. :)
I'm waiting on my Holga. Still. Yeah. It's probably not as long a wait as I am imagining it to be, but it would seem to me that it is made worse from the fact that it is coming from a small island nation in a large ocean that I can't see unless I turn the globe backwards. This is creating agitation within me.
On the plus side all of the filters I ordered for the N80 have shown up, and I get to play with cheap macro photography options for a bit. I'm looking forward to that. I always ~did~ want to catch the hairs on the back of a bumble bee as it paws it's way through pollen. And the insides of flowers and such. I'm pretty sure those images are a prerequisite to having a portfolio and calling yourself a "photographer".
Of course, I say this tongue in cheek, but you know I'm headed home tonight to try that out.
It is date night, and for date night we have decided to cook together and stay home instead of going out. The original focus was to spend time together, not to go out constantly and eat. I'm feeling unbalanced anyway, and would like the opportunity to enjoy something less greasy and better for me. I'm kind of excited. That, and having all my homework done (I AM DYING FROM XML HOMEWORK)leaves me room to relax for a day. I need it. It's been NUTS.
I still don't exactly understand how to rig up a DTD, but we'll go with it.
No necessary schoolwork, early sleep, AND romantic shared cooking. Even if the Holga doesn't show up (or my shiny Oktomat), it is assured to be a really good evening. I am so ready for one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eyes on the back of the conversations

All these years of demanding to have a camera on my cell phone to take pictures... and I have now learned that a cell phone photography movement has been 2 years in the making. There are even galleries on flickr, art shows in LA, and fan clubs on the internet for it.

And here I was just thinking that I was using a poor substitute to come up with images that just would never be good. A lesson learned! The abstraction that comes with low pixel settings can be used to great advantage!

Just as an example, one of the lovely images I caught the other day and uploaded to my photobucket account.

And this is the kind of stuff they're talking about. It's entirely possible to create something gorgeous with a few tiny pixels and the right lightning conditions. In this case it was sunrise and I was trying to capture all the different frost patterns that had developed on the roof of my car overnight. Voila! It all came together beautifully.
(If you click on the image, it gets bigger, btw. Love teh interwebs for that kind of functionality.)
I was once told that to really become proficient and earn your right to be called an artist, that you would have to practice at it every day. For the longest time I beat myself up for my inability to do that, as I loved photography. It never occured to me, though, that by taking pictures with the cell phone I was, in fact, doing the practice daily. I tend to max out the photo memory on my devices every 2-3 months with all the stuff I take, then either don't send or don't upload.
Give that there are now even website for Tips on Shooting with Cell Phones, I guess I can count myself as part of the digital future.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Advertising FAIL

Taken from the sidebar at, which I only visit for research in to how things might look overseas, and not because it's totally freakin' hilarious when things are mistranslated.

Toy Story 3 got awful grown up.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Turn of Phrase.

I swear to god, my new battle cry is "I kill you on your face!!1!" (the one will be spoken aloud.)

In other news, I've gotten in the habit of saying "Amen!" whenever someone says something ironic or true in general. Not sure where I picked it up, but I'm going to keep monitoring it to see when it goes away again. It's odd in that I'm not devoutly Christian, nor have I been in the South lately where they use that as a means of signalling agreement with everything.
If I add other odd phrases on to it that aren't mine, like "Well goooood night!" (traditional used in the South as a replacement for HOLY SHIT!!!1! -one remaining unspoken-) there will be a more in-depth investigation as to where and why I picked this stuff up. It's like the time I started praising people for following my directions over the telephone by saying it was all "fantastic". It wasn't fantastic. They just managed to listen to me tell them how to turn their modem on, but you know what? Didn't stop me from saying it. That went on for two months.

I think I've lived so many places and worked so hard to pick up the local parlance in each that I actually float in limbo surrounded by a cloud of phrases and sayings that can be plucked at random and assembled in to a sentence that best reaches the mind and comprehension of the one I'm speaking to. But I, personally, have no native tongue to speak of.
That begs the question... does anybody? Or do they just sit in what they're accustomed to and recycle it over and over again? Interesting to think on...

As and aside, I'm very happy that blogger decided to stop freaking out and duplicating and/or deleting my posts randomly. It was getting irritating. And I MUST say thank you for eating an entire post on Holga cameras. Because, really, I didn't want to post that after typing for an hour. Nope. That's just dandy. Grrr.

Actual Conversation #56 - No, this isn't Unix.

(In response to sharing the Bumps in the Night blog)
gru: So you're suggesting drunken blogging to bad horror movies?
me: Well... or drunken watching.
I was going to suggest drunken Silent Hill... but... you really need that hand-eye coordination thing for some of those encounters.
And quicktime events would just wtfpwn you.
gru: Eh... there aren't many, it's doable
cd dc-atlanta
...this isn't Unix
me: just tried to change directories on me.
cd dc-BOB HAH!
gru: ....I was gonna bring you a souvenir?
me: Who's Atlanta, Bob?
gru: Yeah...I was hoping you wouldn't ask that.....
me: Well you've opened up that can of worms, so let's dish... she prettier than me??
gru: On par from the waist up. From the waist down she has the body of a spider not there.
me: Well played, sir.

An Experiment Worthy of Duplication

This comes courtesy of Bumps in the Night, who do the best mockumentary on the ghost-hunting reality TV trend I've come across. It is also the only one I've come across. But you can REALLY tell they put some good effort in to it, so they get extra points for that.

"Since this -April 16- is, (per Sci-Fi Channel’s marketing campaign) “The Most Dangerous Night on Television,’ we here at Bumps in the Night decided to watch it in the most dangerous way possible: drunk, with the windows open."

Hell yes. I'll take Dance of the Dead, Let the Right One In, 28 Days Later and a bottle 140 proof OMG This Was a Bad Idea in Liquid Form, for $400 please, Alex.

The blog goes on to be further amusing when reviewing "Legion of the Dead". SciFi's inability to actually view what it is they show, but insisting on calling it "scary", "horrific", "terrifying" and "chilling" mostly suggest that someone got a Thesaurus for Xmas and was asked to do a marketing campaign without viewing the product. I'm told that's actually how the Captain Lightning Rod cosplay costume line got its start.

I love horror movies. I love zombie movies even more so. There is nothing quite like the chills I got upon watching Hellraiser for the first time. Seeing Friday the 13th and F13 part 2 scared me so much I refused to take a shower with the shower curtain closed for THREE MONTHS. (Not an exaggeration. I finally talked myself in to closing it after Mom complained of water on the bathroom floor and impugned my honor by saying it was courtesy of direct action on my part.) I was, for a short time in my youth, utterly convinced that Pinhead would pop out while I was delivering newspapers on my newspaper route and kidnap me, taking me somewhere vaguely dark with lots of chains and nails and mutter things that were confusingly sexual but dangerous. Then nobody would finish delivering the papers and my parents would get phone calls and I would be SO grounded.
I loved this stuff. You can't peel me from the TV when AMCs monster fest comes on. Halloween? Yes plz. Halloween 2? Yes moar plz. Halloween 4 contains whiny kid. Halloween where Busta Rhymes actually goes kung-fu on Michael Myers? YES PLZ. (Don't remember the actual number, but it's somewhere between 5 and 83 and this point.)
It's good to see that there are fans of good horror movies out there, and that they are also equally willing to completely lampoon the utterly horrid ones. I knew this was a phenomenon spawned back in the days of budding young cable shows like MST3K, but it does my heart good to see the tradition has migrated over to the internet and moved beyond Mike Nelson and his crew. It's a long and storied tradition, and honest to god there needs to be more of it. Especially when SciFi/SyFy just slops the fodder out there for us to partake in and comment upon.
I think this has got to happen, and I think I need to be a part of it. I think drunken watching of horror movies with the windows wide open has to go down, and I will even wander off by myself to go to the bathroom, followed by having sex. Because as we all know, any one of those things or a combination of any of these guarantee that Monster Mentioned In Title will find me and end me.
This seems like a really, really good plan. I need to dig out my horror movie collection and see what I haven't watched yet.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Green Fuse

April and May are usually the months of Really Cool Things Going Down in my life, although August tends to bring the party to the table as well. And October, but October cheats because it has Halloween and I go crazy for that holiday.
But I digress.
There were times when I looked down on the spring festivals and religious rites of older societies, laughing at their idea that the sun might not return to warm everything, the plants might grow... that somehow their rituals and songs could raise the sun from the ground and force the green fuse. How could the sun NOT rise? It's held in place by the gravitational pull of the planets. How could spring not occur? We reached that part in our orbit. It was just going to happen, as sure as I was going to wake up and hit snooze on my alarm clock.
Except this year something shifted. With the cold of winter but the lack of snow, the lack of any rain, the strange tesslations of weather patterns over everything, I actually started to suspect that spring wasn't going to happen.
Believe it or not, I was really afraid. I was afraid it hadn't been cold enough to really stop the sap in the tree, so they wouldn't be triggered to grow leaves. I was afraid somehow that everything was so messed up the world just wouldn't know it was time. I looked out the window as I drove to work each morning wondering where my beloved, riotous green haze was, and if it would ever be coming. This in an age where I have the chance to be distracted by electronic items at any given moment. And I noticed things were off in spite of all that.
Imagine being in a culture where the only thing you really have to do is your daily chores and interacting with the world outside? Every weird variation in temperature would be noticeable. The lack of growing grass or flowers by a certain time? Everybody would be aware. They didn't have Twitter or Facebook to update constantly, or video games... most times they didn't even have books to bury their nose in. they walked outside, and the progression of the seasons was right there in their face constantly.
Upon realizing this, it makes sense that they would do their best to make sure everything stayed regular. The world in those days could kill them or starve them. A late spring meant possibly a bad August harvest. You were extremely sensitive to anything that so much as quivered before it was supposed to. And you didn't like seeing those extra quivers.
It makes sense now why people might thing that spring would never come. If there was extra long winter, one weird cold spell... well, the fear is understandable now.
It took a massive shift in weather weirdness to bring my attention over to this possibility. Yes, I was literally terrified the green and red buds would never form on the branches this year. It just seemed to take too long, like something was missing.
Then the cherry blossoms poked out shyly. And last week my riotous green haze descended like a rain on every bush and branch so that the woods I drive through to get home were alive and breathing again.

I'm sorry for making fun of you mentally all these years, Druids and Mayans. I get it now.

Another new development... such silly things we get conflicted on!
I have a Nikon N60. It has lived through having a thumb go through the shutter, a woman who didn't know what the hell she was doing use it, and 16 years of neglect, repair, and adoration. It still cranks the gears and rewinds the film, takes decent pictures. But in the last 2-3 years it has, at times (and much like a stubborn mule) refused to advance the film. It's had to be rewound, stashed, and a new one put in with fingers crossed it wouldn't happen again.
As much as I like our little Cannon A550 digital, it can only take good pictures under very specific conditions, and aside from those 3 minutes outside at mid-day, the rest of life's goings-on don't fall in to that. (It takes nice pictures, but sometimes the lines aren't as clean as I would like) I couldn't trust the N60 to come with us for 2 weeks to Tokyo because in that noisy and bustling place I couldn't be sure I would hear the strange noise of film not advancing in the camera. We could lose an entire afternoon of images due to Alzheimer's-camera.
Late last week I talked with Bob about acquiring a newer one that could utilize the lens on the body of the N60, and we discovered that N80's are damned fine pieces of equipment, and also that Amazon was selling used ones for incredibly cheap.
The body showed up on Friday and with shipping included cost us less than $100. It's insanely fast, works very well with my current AF lens, and has lots of room to work with. Also, so far it has worked beautifully through the film. No problems that I can tell, and I'm psyched we'll have a steady film camera for when we're in Japan. I was so excited I almost cried when it arrived because of that.
See, the N60 was the best birthday gift in the world, given to me around my 16th natal day. I was going to use it to become this fantastic photojournalist, traveling to the rainforests of Costa Rica to take pictures for national geographic and the Audubon society. It was going to be epic.
Then the camera started having issues. Shutter wouldn't close fast enough. Poor understanding of the settings... and it fell by the wayside. It became my point-and-click over the next few years, with the knowledge that even my daily pictures would look really good coming from it, even if they weren't professional-grade.
I had looked in to getting a new one, at least a new body that would work with the basic lens on it, but for the longest time I didn't want to consider it because it had been a gift and it felt like a dream deferred every time I looked at it... like it was still waiting fr me to use it to its full potential, and really I hadn't used it well as the gift that was given. Like the dog sitting on the porch waiting for its owner to come home after work and wagging when you get closer, only to be disappointed because you're too tired to play or walk it. There was a lot of emo going down about that camera.
So when I took the lens off, put the body cap on, and set the camera in to the Nikon bag my parents presented me with many a moon ago, it was a little emotional for me. A very small part of me was hoping that maybe the lens wouldn't fit the new body and I would be forced to return it and get the N60 repaired once and for all, restored to its former glory. I would be running around Tokyo with an analog antique, but it would still be fulfilling it's role as Documenter of My Life's Awesomeness.
But it did. And I couldn't really bring myself to take a twitchy, older thing with me on this trip. I'll cause enough failure on my own without an unreliable machine.
It was freeing for the N80 to show up, in the end. It's a new machine. It's one I helped buy, so I didn't feel like I'd just been handed something and was taking its existence for granted.
It's a really nice camera. I can't wait for a chance to get out there and shoot with it. I think it's time the N60 got to be put away properly in its cushy bag instead of propped on the kitchen divider or the front hallway. Like the fluffy bed you get for the old golden retriever with arthritis.
You know, the N60 came before I started naming all my technological devices. It boggles me that I've had something in my possession ~that long~.
What's more interesting is the fact that because the N60 wasn't named, I didn't even consider giving the N80 a name. Funny how we just automatically run those patterns in our minds.
Had enough of cameras? You'll hate me over the next few days then. Just wait.


It's always interesting when you realize that you've actually been going about things the wrong way for many, many years of your life.
For instance, I wasted a LOT of time attempting to hone my photography skills in to the sub-par wielding of a point-and-click that you would usually see in my profile.
My main problem was attempting to wield something made for powerful, precise actions to capture completely weird, unique or disambiguated moments. And being that I never mastered how to do that with a razor's edge of accuracy, they never really came out. Sheer luck dictated my shutter-clicking. I have learned the rule of 3rd relatively well, but as far as the finer points of aperture, f-stop, flash use... still a n00b. I was lucky to have a camera that auto-sensed and took care of all of that for me.
What I really wanted to do was some guerrilla photography, running around catching odd textures, moments, lighting... things that one can't do properly if they aren't familiar with that razor of reproduction that comes with heavy-duty 35mm models.
With the transition to the new camera body and thoughts of how the newer technology would probably set me up for some mighty fine snapshots, even if they weren't breath-taking. I was okay with this. I just wanted the trip documented well.
Then I stumbled across something that's pretty much cracked my world open. You see, out there is a cult of VERY loyal, VERY excited owners of what are called "toy cameras". Made mostly of plastic, and prone to things like light-leaks and double-exposure, they are part of the "lomography" movement. They basically reject the ability to mess with focus, to get the wide-angle shot, to The Lomography Rules of Engagement
I enjoy them. Things like "shoot from the hip" and "it doesn't matter if you don't know what's on the shot right now". I love the antithesis of digital media that it advocates.
And I'm so terribly addicted.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Actual Conversation # 55 - where the maleable nature of the future is touched on.

gru:Okay, scheduling discussion. There's a guild thing I'd like to do on Friday. If I don't play tonight or tomorrow (date night) you cool with me playing after Friday when we get home from dinner?
me: Sure
gru: ((I'm assuming my parents won't want to stay to chat since it's past their bedtime. If they do, then of course I won't ditch you))
me: I will play Flower. Or possibly Portal: Still Alive.
gru: You got it?
me: Not yet. But... you know, it's one of those things about the future and being able to put stuff in to it that could happen. I seriously dig that feature.
gru: chuckles
me: Also, I now have $15.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Help Me Find My Way!

This reaffirms my faith in humanity, seeing as this was set up in Central Park in New York City.
Just watch. It's worth it.

It's the tweenbots project, and I must honestly say it's adorable. This was courtesy of Tim Buckley(of Ctrl Alt Del) via Twitter. I feel I should credit the cuteness distribution.

Nothing special.

You know, we're going to Japan, and that is fantastic, but I'm still going to commemorate my b-day by getting something special.

I've been eyeballing this for years. I think this year I'll finally snag it.

Raven Steals the Moon, from the Pendleton Woolen Mills. I love NW art, and I love the colors on this!

I asked Bob for a kite.

I also think I'll take the time to get a tagine and Portal: Still Alive as a download. And that being said, I think that's probably more than enough to mark the occasion. Except for strawberry shortcake. I really want strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Hard to believe it's only about 18 days away. Normally I'm more excited. I guess I've just been too distracted with school and the trip.

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action...

Amazon. Absolutely. FAILS.
And clicking here will show you why.

What's disgusting is that it's so obvious they are going after a core of LGBT items. Why in the hell is Ellen Degeneres' biography marked adult? She's not even ~that~ interesting, much less adult.

Sign the petition here: ZOMG Ginormous Amazon FAIL
They're looking for at least 12,000 votes and have already garnered nearly 11,000. Rock the vote here people. Inconsistent application of policy is shady, retarded, and gives the appearance of bias even if one is not present. Amazon as a huge company in multiple nations should be a bit more polished in its execution of changes and its tolerance for cultural differences. Those of us who love sex toys buy books, too. (The ones with pictures are the best.)

Also, as an aside, and I believe in response to my previous post #250, my Mom called me last night and left a message on my cell phone. I haven't actually checked it yet, because I'm pretty sure she's going to yell at me. But good to know my underhanded daughter-tactics are effective.

Love you Mom! Seriously!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

250th post!

I'm going to use it to say this:

Mom. Register with Ravelry already. Then friend me.

If you don't, I'll cry about how you don't love me and want to get involved in stuff with me anymore in the next post I make.

Your Daughter,


#include /emotional_blackmail

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Date night success!

I can say with utmost authority that Firecreek in Downingtown kicks serious, major fucking ass.
Everything was good.
I had meat.
I am happy in my belly.

We went drunken yarn shopping afterward so I could obtain appropriate yarnage for a sweater I'm working on that is awesome. Bob saw the "Pound of Love" skeins in the all and stopped to study them, so I thought.
About two seconds after I bent over to look at a color, it came sailing down the aisle at me and bounced off my hip, landing with a fat THWUNK! on the ground.
There was nothing else to do but stare at amazement at him. I was too drunk and too stunned to do anything else.
He has taken the opportunity to point out that it said it was a pound of love, and he was just being literal....
...I'm still stunned he whipped a giant ball of yarn at me. A giant. Ball. Of yarn.
Oh yeah, also? I had meat. ^_^

Actual conversation #54 -wherein the importance of panda color is emphasized.

(In reference to the trip to Japan)
talula: take pics of any pandas you see.
me: Ueno zoo! Red pandas!
talula: not red.
giant only.
fuck red Ones.

(I love how my blog is slowly becoming more and more akin to

Friday, April 3, 2009

When life doesn't happen the way you were planning for it to go, but manages to pull one out in spite of things, that's pretty awesome.
We had intended for a while to go to Coyote Crossing on one of our date nights. Deciding to give it a shot last night, we saddled up and made for West Chester. However, upon arrival we noted that the doors were unusually locked and the lights VERY out. In the window was signs advertising for waiters and hostesses.
Now... we live in the computer age. The internet is out there and available to anybody who wants it. Also available for anybody who wants to put ~information~ up on it. So when you don't update a website that has a ton of flash animations and multi-media (complete with the douchebaggery of some funky beat-music to try and appeal to the 20-something crowd) to let folks know that YOU AREN'T OPEN... that's just very poor business sense.
So instead, we drifted up the street to a place called Limoncello. It was an Italian restaurant, and as seems to be our want, we accidentally engaged in some fine dining.
The restaurant was cute, a bit quaint, with very friendly staff and very potent alcohol. The food was fantastic, and if we don't go back there for dinner again, it will be a damned crime.
I would like to personally recommend the sacchetti pasta, it was wonderful. Bob had salmon stuffed with cheese and spinach, and it was delicious as well.
Also, their tiramisu is utterly wonderful and exactly the way tiramisu should taste. I haven't come across a place that could do that in many, many moons.
At the end of the meal they offered us shots of limoncello for digestion, and while it probably didn't really help the raging buzz in my head, it WAS very good stuff and made me remember why I liked the stuff. We walked out of there -I slouched and commented on how tough it was to raise my feet suddenly after that many drinks- and headed home.
Fascinating to go from being so damned irritated about a closed place to being so pleased with a complete surprise. From this I am taking away that attempting to control the future with your expectations is stupid... because you could be potentially closing yourself off from something better. It surpasses the "glass is half full" mentality and goes right on to "Who needs the glass? There's a hose right over there"
I like it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Actual Conversation #53 - The machinations of the mother tongue

gru: Hey, here's something we discussed in the status meeting. What's the past tense of 'troubleshoot"
me: troubleshot
gru: troubleshot? troubleshooted?
me: You don't "shooted" a bird.
That's my take on it.
you haven't, rather. erf.
gru: Well, sure. That was my take on it too. Still, uit;s it's own word, it can have it's own declensions if it wants. Maybe it doesn't want to be troubleshot.
me: Yes, but there's something to be said for maintaining verisimilitude in the pronunciation and execution of the English language.
Although we are the thief and dumping ground of all other languages IN THE WORLD.
gru: Oh...I think we've already hosed any sort of verisimilitude in pronunciation long ago. I submit 'Good food' as exhibit 1.
me: >.>
gru: I think part of the charm of the English language is that it lies in wait sometimes...waiting til you think you know what you're doing and then BAM! Pastry.

What about gnomes?

I kind of believe that U2's CD is sort of a visual misqueue.

The title is "No Line on the Horizon". But it really doesn't go with the picture they've got.

See it there? Yup. Me too.

I guess it was better than making it all one color of blue. Either way, that's a complete misnomer.

Cancellation Hell

Last night I finally got it together to call up XM and cancel my subscription. I was already moody about it because I'd been really prepared to wire up my house to get the music, as well as my car. No changing channels to accommodate getting out of range of stations, able to surf to find a favorite artist... really it was excellent equipment and a great idea.
When the music didn't suddenly suck.
The thing was, when I bought in to satellite radio it was because I didn't want to hear commercials or radio DJs or any sort of talking. I was happy that on XM they had talk shows on a channel just for talk shows. If you liked it, well, you could turn in to that. Otherwise? Back to back to back music. And it would be nice, mellow music with very, very few repeats (if any). It wasn't where they played the same 5 songs every hour over and over and over again. I loathed that about radio, the obvious commercial drilling of the songs that paid the most for marketing in to our skulls during commutes, road trips, or what have you.
The merger with Sirius destroyed that, with them taking every opportunity to splash their 2 second slick intro between songs, throwing bullshit DJs in on channels I used to like, and completely deleting the channels that I had loved to listen to. Basically, they imported everything about regular radio that I hated, except that I was ~paying~ to listen to it.
So when I called up last night, I expected there would be some resistance to it. I expected to be passed off to a special department that would try to schmooze me.
I did not expect to be dumped in to space to get a loud buzzing sound in my ear twice as I was hung up on.
After the initial shock of having this happen back to back occured, I opted to just wait and ask to speak to a representative instead of giving my account number straight off. That led me to a very nice young lady in India who was very polite in taking down my info, but who told me that she couldn't help me and would get me to someone who could, making sure that I was delivered to someone without being hung up on.
Instead, I was dumped in to a phone line with utter silence, followed by an irritated "Uh...yeah? Hello?" to greet me.
This was pretty much a good indicator of the individual's temperament and how the next half hour was going to go.
I thanked him for trying to work with me on my hatred of the music change when he attempted to tell me they were working on it, but told him I wasn't interested in paying $40 while they got their act together and I wasn't assured I would like what they finally decided on, something I'd been told 2 months ago, amusingly, in an email from their vice president. This made me realize immediately they had nothing original to say in argument. In fact, he quoted virtually all of the vice president's email to me over the course of the conversation, irking me.
He then asked if it was the cost, to which I (foolishly) agreed was part of the issue. He then began on 15 minutes of not letting me talk while telling me he would give me 3 months at $20. Each time I said no, he would just talk over me. I finally got to the point where I simply kept talking the longer he kept talking, something I'd never had to do before.
WE then wasted 5 minutes arguing over whether I'd really been hung up on twice, as he only showed the one call had been made and that was the one we were on. Why that even mattered, I don't know, except that he was probably looking for a way to unhinge my resolve and throw doubt in there somewhere.
That's fantastic, I told him except that if I pull up my phone records it'll clearly show I've dialed this number three times this evening in quick succession.
At the 22 minute mark in the conversation I was so angry I was shaking, and finally threw down the word "supervisor" in the form of a threat. If it registered, I'll never know, because he kept on for another minute and thirty seconds about just leaving it at 3 months for $20.
Finally... FINALLY, he said "Okay, I'll tell you what, you're paid until June and we'll just have it be canceled at the end of that."
What? No. I'm calling to cancel tonight. Not June. Also, there was utterly no way to guarantee I wouldn't have to call up and be harassed again for wanting to not give money for a service I wasn't using.
So I advised him that was unacceptable and we were doing it tonight so I could be refunded the money for the time not used.
What came next was...well, fucking ballsy
"I'm sorry, we can't do that. So let's put it out at June so it's not wasted."
No no... you're cancelling it tonight, I informed him. I was getting a refund. And I knew he could do that.
I'm not allowed to issue a refund, was his next ploy.
That was all fascinating, I told him, except that I had an email in front of me from Listener Care advising me that they could, in fact, do that, and that it was what was usually done in these instances. And if he wanted, I would happily forward it to him so he could see for himself...
And suddenly he was compliant, putting me on hold (really just mute, as no music came on) and I sat there for 6 more minutes in silence.
In that time I drank most of my soda, discussed with Bob if I was being bitchy to escalate this to the manager if he came back with anything but "yes ma'am", and checked my email.
He came back with a yes ma'am and thanks for calling, have a good day.
Whoooooa, I said, can I get a confirmation number?
This irritated him, but he created one for me (why hadn't he already?? If the transaction went through it should have been generated...) and gave it to me. Then it was back to trying to get me off the phone.
What's your name? I asked again, realizing he hadn't said it the entire time. (and a big faux-pas most places that do phone support.)
Lemar, he told me, then he just kept talking over me until he hung up.
So I sat there with the phone in my hands and the question unanswered about when I could expect to see the refund and how much it would be for.
I promptly went on the website and emailed them about how incensed I was at how I'd been treated, how pretty much I was done with their service forever, and that I wanted to know that info he so rudely hung up on me about.
Quite frankly, if the American support talks to XM's customers like that, I expect them to crash and burn in the next 2 months.

Yes, this was mostly to air my grievances with them, and to add to the rising sentiment of irritation and aggression at XM/Sirius. But also to warn others who might be considering signing on to their service for a "test run". It will be hell to get out of the contract, and if you're not firm, they will run you down.

Running through phone tree twice and being hung up on: 11 minutes
Sitting on hold waiting for rep a third time: 9 minutes
Talking with apologetic rep in India: 5 minutes
Dealing with ignorant customer service rep who lied multiple times and ignored what I was asking for: 28 minutes.
Total time to cancel and get my money back? 53 fucking minutes.

Seriously. Fuck you XM.

Actual Conversation # 52 - on the topic of video games and how one segues in to another

me: I had that as my trump card in case you decided to have a meaningful discussion on this.
Instead, I will spam you with this:
Because you will enjoy it
grudan523: *laughs* Nice
me: tunnel snakes RULE!
grudan523: sigh Now I want to play again :-)
Eh, it'll pass. I got enough going on. I'm enjoying doing Silent Hill with you. :-)
me: Yes.
Beating vagina-headed toothed monsters with a pipe is not Freudian.
grudan523: ..... why you gotta psychoanalyze it?
me: It's Japanese. You don't even have to bother to analyze it. It's pretty obvious.
The only way it could be more obvious was if you had to grease up the pipe each time before you beat them.
And he walked around with it in his pocket.
grudan523: Do we even want to talk about the fact the first one was in his mother's basement?
me: I figured that was part of the "secret".
grudan523: true
me: I mean, his Dad was apparently down there a lot.
Maybe he figured out how to avoid the teeth?
If you watch how they move, I mean...the height and all's perfect.
grudan523: I'm....I'm not talking about this's creepier than the game.
me: You never thought about the nurses that way?
I mean, if you get the knife away from them and turned the lights out... they'd stay pretty still....
grudan523: turning the lights out! Ever!
me: Not even if you just saved?
grudan523: Nope, it's a rule.
me: Your rule?
grudan523: I prefer to think of it as a universal rule that's wise to follow. Sort of like 'keep breathing'. Technically you don't HAVE to,'s a good idea.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What exactly is your usual customer base?

I proudly purchased some New Balance walking shoes about a week ago for the purpose of having a decent, non-ratty pair of sneakers to walk around Tokyo in.
They arrived yesterday evening. I unpacked them with a great deal of excitement, tossing the usual swath of glossy ads to the side in my drive for my new kicks.
After determining that they were in there and just as awesome as the pictures on the website (Yes. I bought them off Amazon, if you must know. Going to an actual shoe store was too much effort for me that day apparently.) I then started sifting through the ads to see what came along with it. I was expecting to see ads for overpriced yoga gear, discounted health club memberships from national chains, and maybe something about some really cruddy women's jewelry.
Instead, I found this.

So... yeah. A Walther PPK with a silencer.
Really? I mean... REALLY???
I scratched my head for a long minute trying to figure out why a pistol would show up with running shoes and if these people had really done their marketing research. A few scenarios did come to mind. Perhaps these were the preferred shoes of female assassins, who liked to pop a cap in someone's ass, then flee like hell. These were the only shoes that offered the traction, arch support and durability for female assassins the world over. I was simply uninformed, and had gotten a really good deal without realizing it.
Next time, though, they might want to, you know, send that to someone who hasn't bought Yoga products in the last 30, 60 and 90 days and who doesn't have a single firearm to her name. The closest I got to that was an issue with some appendages at a barbecue last year.
But eh... what's a few trees in the pursuit of poorly planned marketing forays?

Actual Conversation # 51 - where international dialing is discussed.

Caller: "Hello, I'm X calling from Some Company, trying to get in touch with Y."
Me: "I'm sorry, there's no Y at this location."
Caller: "Oh, I know that, I'm simply trying to confirm the phone number. It seems to be incomplete."
Me: "What is the number?"
Caller: "Well, it starts with 44+, and then 0 in parenthesis. Then after that it's xxxx-xxxxxx."
Me: "Well, I can see if we have a different phone number for Y in our directory, one minute."
*sound of me tapping on keys and clicking with mouse.*
Me: "Okay, what I have is 44-xxxxx-xxxxxx.:
*caller pauses*
Caller: "That's what I have written down here and... one... two...three-four..." *counts the number of digits*
Me: "Occasionally if you try dialing a 1 instead of a 0 it has gone through. You might give that a shot."
Caller: "Well, it's not that. It's that there should be 7 numbers here and there's...not... there's..." *more counting* "Well, I don't know now but there's more than 7 and I don't think the area code is right."
Me: "Well, I'm not sure how they do the area code there, I'm assuming that's the XXXXX at the beginning. But if you dial the country code, the 44, then follow it with a 1.."
Caller: "44 is a country code?"
Me: "Yes. That's the country code for dialing the UK, where Y is located."
*silence on the phone.*
Caller: "He's in the UK?"
Me: "Yes, in our (name) office. I may not have pronounced that right, though, if you need me to spell it..."
Caller: "Well, no, that's fine. I've been trying to dial Canada this whole time. I thought he was in Canada."
Me: "Oh." *large pause, silence in between* "Yes, 44 is the country code for Great Britain, the 1 or 0 is for the long distance, and I believe the rest of is should get you right to the gentleman's office. You just have to make sure you're on an outside line when you call first..."
Caller: "I had no idea he was in the UK."
Me: "Unless you've talked to them in person and heard the accent, it's sometimes hard to tell."
Caller: "I've talked to him on speaker phone. I didn't realize that was a British accent."
Me: "Oh."
Me:"Well, did that help you out? Anything else I can look up for you."
Caller: *sounding very meek* "No. I think that's fine. I didn't know I was dialing internationally. Have a good day."

Based on this I can only assume she thought it was a regular 10-digit long distance number that was transposed, didn't bother to google it, had never heard of a country code, and somehow didn't register that he would be in Britain when he had a British accent.
This is going up on my wall of international FAIL along with the conversation between my coworkers about the email with "weird Spanish" that was actually Portuguese.

Wait, what day is it again?

Email sent to my entire family today, possibly the best one I have done to date:
I wanted to let everybody know that after quite a bit of thought and contemplation that I have decided not to continue my education in computer sciences. After a long forray in to exploring and working with them I have found on a whole for it to be too commercialized to offer an authentic and fulfilling career for me.

In rejecting this road of employment, I was then forced to look around and think hard on what would give me enjoyment, challenge me, and lead to a fulfilling career. To that end after making several phone calls and attending several classes, I have decided to go in to the performing arts and engage heavily in interpretive dance.

I was able to get in to a rather prestigious school in Melbourne, and will be packing up tonight to head out and begin. I look forward to this new journey in my life and for the chance to perform for all of you after my dance internship is up in 6 months.

Love you all,