Friday, May 28, 2010

An Exercise in Letting Go and Impermanence, courtesy of the Sony Corporation

A few weeks back we had the unthinkable happen in this household - our Playstation 3 died after 30 minutes of playing and refused to let us play any longer even after cleaning it out, reseating a few things and running a fan test. We faced up to the fact that we'd bought it 3 years ago and used the heck out of it. Poor Stewie, as we lovingly called him, had Alzheimer's and he wasn't coming back from it.
We discovered that we could send Stewie in and receive a newer refurbished one for about $100, so we opted to do that. Since most of him worked, just not the fan, his parts could be recycled in to other machines so there was less waste going out in to the world.
We went to great trouble to back Stewie up and copy the files over, and seeing that it showed they were successfully saved, we confidently sent Stewie off in his cardboard coffin, thanking him for 4 long years of service to us.
A week later, we got back a PS3 Slim which doesn't have nearly the charisma of our old PS3, and we dubbed him some ridiculous thing like StewTwo, Or Stewvee2 or... I don't rightly remember. We aren't attached to this one, so its given name (for we name our media appliances in this house) just never stuck.
We did our backup and moved the saved information on to the new device, excitedly expecting to launch back in to God of War III, Heavy Rain, Final Fantasy XIII... all the games we had going right now and that we were planning on getting in the future. Then, excitedly, we signed in....and discovered that 4 years of gaming had been lost.
Every song on Guitar Hero and Rock Band, gone. Every goofy moment in LittleBigPlanet that Bob and I had playing it together - obliterated. The story line we so lovingly uncovered from Shadow of the Colossus? No more.
I will admit that in that moment, realizing my beloved Noby-Noby boy was ripped from my hands, I was upset. My entire progress playing Kuon, a game that scares the sh*t out of me, is gone and I have to start over from scratch. It's a Japanese horror game. It doesn't matter that I know when the spooky things show up, up until a point. JAPANESE HORROR FREAKS ME THE F*** OUT. And I was seriously invested in the story line, so now I gotta drag myself through that again.
I spent the better part of a morning thinking about how we'd put all that time in to the games, and how it was gone now, like that, without a way to get it back. If we wanted to have Dante's Inferno progress back, we'd have to play through it, same as with everything else. (I may actually be the one to play through this time, though.)
Basically these things were impermanent, and I let their loss kick me in the stomach repeatedly until I was sick over them. Like the realization of how much time I'd lost with friends and family sinking hours into my troll mage in World of Warcraft. When it's all gone, there is nothing to show for it.
It's literally no different than life. Instead of a hard drive being wiped, though, it's the human being. Everything you've done or said or thought just blips out of existence.
In the end Bob was the savior of the moment, reminding me that we could always replay Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Little Big Planet. The other games, if we REALLY wanted to, could be played again. We hadn't gotten rid of any of them, they were all still around. Noby Noby boy could be re-downloaded. But in the end it was pixels, electrons, nothing but time spent and lost. We still had the memories of the games.
I eventually calmed down from all of this and accepted that it had happened. After all, it was a waste of energy to be angry over something that had already happened and that couldn't be changed. I like the idea of replaying the old games and experiencing their fun, especially since we can't get a bunch of new ones right now. In the end it's another practical application on "things" and how having and losing them causes distress. I fell right in to it, and am embarassed to say that it happened. But in the future I will definitely have this to look back on and learn from. When I start to feel the same, I'll recognize the hooks this time (hopefully) and catch myself. I'll be able to short-circuit it and understand that all things come and go. Sometimes more so in the digital age when we are less based in the physical world to begin with.

A 360 of the nasty storm setting in yesterday evening. To quote Bob, "It looks like the Smoke Monster is coming!"

Sometimes I forgot how close to our back door the wild is...

Mother duck and 9 babies that wandered right up on our deck while looking for food.

This message was sent using the Picture and Video Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Actual Conversation #91 - wherein business ideas are discussed.

me: I know I've got to get this day started, but I am really having a hard time of it. *chuckle*
gru: Heh, yeah, that's why I rely on coffee. After 2 cups it's easier for me.
me: Hmmm... coffee to wake up in the morning. It's quite a concept.
gru: *chuckles* Indeed, I'm thinking of patenting it.
me: You could open, like, a store that's about that!
gru: Oooo, good idea!
me: Then we could, like, BUY coffee there in the mornings.
And if you offered muffins for $2, since people are sleepy and haven't had their coffee yet...
...they'd be like..., a muffin sounds good. And $2 is in my wallet...
gru: That's so brilliant it just might work!!!
me: And they would totally pay 4 times what a muffin's really worth
gru: :-)

(Been a while since we've had one of these, thought I would share. To top it off, I was surprised to note I've never tagged a post with the word "coffee" before, so that's changing today.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Getting there!

Today a TON of new clothing arrived. Managed to snag multiple very cute t-shirts from the sales racks at different online shops. They’re all very clean cut, very pretty and very feminine. And even though they’re mostly T-shirts, I thoroughly believe it’s possible to be elegant even when wearing bluejeans.
I’m going to go through and empty out every old piece of clothing that has a stain, a hole, or something else in it that makes me feel ratty or ghetto when wearing it, and I’m going to throw out or donate it depending on the state of the item.
From here on out I am only keeping and wearing clothing that makes me feel beautiful, feminine and well put together. Today was a huge step towards that goal.
Following on this I’m going to work on the other things that go along with looking put-together… Going to throw out any makeup that’s older than 2 years (I have some things from college. Ew.) and culling my jewelry collection as well. Then i’ll be replacing it with newer, subtler shades (sorry, panic purple lipstick!) Also, going to FINALLY learn how to put on eye makeup, since the only way I ever learned involved black eyeliner and heavy kohl from the Middle East. That’s a very dramatic look that I can’t pull off anymore, much less want to. Best for belly dancing, aye… but not for the office.
I’ll also be looking for unique but timeless pieces of jewelry that could be worn with anything from t-shirts to dresses. That way they can be used over and over without having to worry about looking dated or formerly trendy/out-of-style. Having worked in a jewelry store before, it’s easy to see what styles stick around and which ones are going to disappear before the fall!
With all this going on, it’s my hope that I’ll be looking well put together and beginning to approach elegant in my every day wear. Part of this goal is to also feel more feminine, something I’ve been missing. And I think if I accomplish one, the other will follow. :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Phishing -Yer Doin' it WRONG.

On Fri, May 14, 2010 at 4:07 PM, wow*****@******.com wrote:

When you receive this letter we are reviewing your account.
We have reason to believe that you have participated the illegal business.
To obtain further information, please help us.
Please visit
complete a questionnaire.
If you refuse to cooperate we will be in 48Hours after your account status changes to disable.

On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 5:42 PM, you wrote in reply:

Fuck off. Learn English.

What's great is that my account has been disabled due to me not paying them for about 6 months now. I haven't logged in for at least 8. The blatant poor grammar, misspellings and cadence just makes me think that if someone truly was dumb enough to fall for it, they probably deserve it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to build my own camera

"Super easy with the right supplies!"

How I did it: Being a complete camera fiend, I have been drooling over the Plamodel Camera Kit released by Superheadz. When finished, the thing yields an almost entirely plastic toy camera that uses 35mm film. It's a bit of a cheat to buy a model kit, but it was incredibly easy and way too much fun. I had the whole thing assembled in about an hour. Decorating it actually took much, much longer and was much messier!
When it was done, the result was adorable and 100% personalized. I love this thing!

Lessons & tips: ~easier if you get a kit and want something that's a little more in-depth than a pinhole cam, as it already comes with all the pieces.
~READ THE DIRECTIONS VERY CAREFULLY. By not paying attention you run the risk of breaking something  or putting the wrong part in the wrong place. In this case, after the camera was fully assembled it turned out the springs were reversed, and now the camera has to be opened back up to switch them out since the shutter doesn't close all the way after it was assembled. Learn from my mistake!
~Remember that it's a plastic kit, and it will not be the neatest thing when done. Just have fun doing it!

Resources: ~my kit came from the Four Corner Store, you can find the kit that I used here:

~for decorations I went to Etsy and snagged stickers and small items off the site that came straight from Japan.

~anything else came from craft stores, including glittery glue and other seriously girly looking stuff.

It took me 1 day.

It made me Ecstatic!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oh I, I will long as I know how to write I know I'm still alive...

So far I have 8 stories over on, and I am enjoying being able to log in and just store the story there. I’m 4 stories behind, but have plans to write 2 stories over the next 2 days (meant to write 2 today, but today’s story took a lot longer than I thought it would and now I’m rather tired.
I’m actually quite proud of a few of the items I’ve managed to produce, and of those that I am not, I’m excited my brain even came up with the concepts. And the rule is no going back… for now. I can revisit these themes at the end of the month and expand on them or completely change them. some of them I already know I could get more out of, so I’m happy about that. mostly, I’m excited I’ll have 30 stories to my name and that I’m working on my writing.
The more I do this, the more I crave it, and the more I really and truly wish to do this for a living – write fiction, that is. I love the worlds I weave. I want to share them with others for their amusement. this is some of the best practice I’ve ever forced myself to have. I should keep it up after this month is done. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Starting today, I am officially refusing to live a normal life. I have too many things I want to do, and having a standard 9-to-5 with a dog and a lawn mower doesn't quite cover it for me. These things I would love to come home to, but I'm going to do more. Lots more. There's no way to set a timeline on it, but these projects sitting around in my head, with each one that I do I release more creative energy. Eventually I'll have no choice but to jump on these and finish them and see what becomes of it.
Rather vague? Yeah. But I'm trying not to jinx what I want to do by defining it too much. I just can't become a housewife with a job at a desk forever and ever... at least, not one where I'm not writing or drawing.
Randomness, but it felt like it needed to be set down in writing. I find that things move more quickly and it sticks in the brain pan far more easily. It's now a goal. I'm only doing things to shoot for my goal going forward, and screw being uncomfortable or not knowing what to do. I'll learn.

Three quarters of the way there!

As of this morning I am officially 15 pounds lighter than I was on January 1st. I haven’t been this skinny for at least 2 years, and old clothes I had are now becoming easy to fit in to. I’m just shocked at the kind of difference a few pounds will make!
This summer I’m going to wear shorts instead of jeans. And for the first time I won’t feel so self-conscious doing it. I’m excited.
At this rate I will definitely have lost 20 lbs. by June. I am now shooting for 40 pounds by January 1st of 2011. It’ll be nice to fit back in to the few remaining pieces from when I was that skinny!

Friday, May 7, 2010

How to build a pinhole camera

"Lots of small detail work, but for great effect!"

How I did it: The main thing is determining which container you want to use. Paint cans have been used before, to something as small as a film canister taped to a lamppost. For me I already had a tin of chocolate covered Altoids that was almost empty, so I decided to use that. Later I found an MnM shaped easter tin that, once emptied of its candy, would work fantastically!
I already had some flat black paint on hand from another project, so I painted the insides of both tins with it. To make the hole, instead of drilling down in to it I took a craft awl and a hammer and just punched it down through the metal until I felt it had a 1/4 in. hole, then hammered the twisted edges flat.
A few snips of some aluminum from a Coca-Cola can, a sewing needle and a blunt object to hammer it just barely through the aluminum, and the pinholes were created! To cut down on the reflectivity I colored them with a black sharpy since painting them would have filled up the hole by then, and I didn't have the forethought to paint them before punching the holes in them.
After that I hot glued one of the squares of punched aluminum inside the Altoids tin, and voila! Done! Just need to do a few more things to ensure there are no light leaks, like wrap the outside in some black tape, but for the most part it's finished! Damage to the MnMs tin during the whole punch had to be corrected with a repainting, so we're just waiting for that to dry before hot glueing the aluminum square in to that as well and sealing it up from light leaks. It feels good to be finally done with this project!

Lessons & tips: ~Make sure everything is black, whatever it takes. You're not going for aesthetics when you build one of these things so paint dribbles and sprays are to be expected.
~use a sewing needle to get the appropriate size pinhole. Any more than that and you risk your photo being overexposed. If you can find an accupuncture needle instead, that's better but will take longer to expose.
~Any item almost literally can be used to make one of these, so be creative. Altoid tins are just easiest to get your hands on and empty out the contents of via eating, so they're most efficient.
~Remember when you go to take pictures to load the film in TOTAL DARKNESS. Otherwise your film will be utterly ruined.

Resources: ~the basic tutorial that I followed:

~A slightly more advanced Pinhole Altoid cam:

It took me 3 weeks.

It made me super happy!

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I had something happen to me which is a funny but common occurrence the other day. I was outside taking my dog walkies (we don't really say that in this house) waiting for him to decide that his bladder and bowels really were better off being emptied before heading back to the house when I stopped to admire the stars that were still in the sky and the receding moon on the skyline. There was a bit of drifting mist and the bird calls were wonderfully varied and bright for a day that had not technically started yet. I was enjoying the hell out of it, feeling the morning's cool damp breeze on my cheek, hearing the calls, smelling the good, cool earth and the greenness of the things we walked over. I was smiling broadly, my cheeks turned upwards to the pinkening sky.
Then Zen lurched forward at something and tugged the leash, which made me realize Oh shit, I was paying attention to that instead of walking the dog.
Then came the mental dilemma for me. I suspect that a lot of people don't take note of these things when they're walking their dog in the morning. They take the beast outside, follow them around, impatiently wait for them to relieve themselves, then hurry back to the house where they can make their breakfast and get back to their day of "doing stuff".
I had thought initially that because I had to be outside, taking in everything that surrounded me might mean i was being mindful, in the moment. I had to be outside because the dog needed to be outside, and while there I might as well look around and breathe, enjoying what surrounded me. Like the man being chased by a tiger who stopped to pick the strawberry and eat it, except less with dangerous tigers and falling and strangely placed farmer's produce. I was trying to cultivate an appreciation for the situation I was in, which is why if I'm in the middle of seeming nowhere and grinning, it's because I've probably noticed something about the environment and smiled at it. It's an almost automatic reaction at this point, seeing and hearing these things just makes me happy.
But then comes the thought that I am attempting to find something pleasant to focus on while walking the dog. I was not, in fact, being mindful of walking him. Or maybe I was and taking in the environment around me is part of that; but this is where I grow confused about things.
For a few moments there was nothing going through my mind but the sound of that birdsong. There was nothing but the feel of that breeze. And from what I am told and what I have experienced in the past, that sure felt like being in the moment. But why, then would the jerk of the leash startle me and make me think I wasn't paying attention?
Possibly because I had my eyes closed and it just caught me off guard. But if I truly wanted to be mindful and in the moment, shouldn't I have focus on breathing and just watching Zen do his thing? Isn't there a situation that I was distracted by temporary sensations?
And here the argument becomes circular.
If we take a step back though, we can see what the real culprit in all of this was - my ego needing to think I was being mindful and in the moment, and that I wasn't truly. It was that thought that broke up me simply noticing the world, and the second it was rendered I had judged both the previous experience of hearing, seeing, feeling and smelling and the following experience of finishing up Zen's walk. It was entirely possible for me to transition from enjoying what was around to paying attention to Zen without inserting that obnoxious little bit o' brain sputtering declaring that there was some inherent value in what I'd been doing versus what I should be doing.
It seems that once again we come back to the theme of shutting my brain up, because it's bossy and loud, thinks it knows everything, and generally isn't helpful.
What I will do with my limited knowledge of how things are, is remember the words within the Sattipatthana Sutra: "When you sit, know that you are sitting; when standing, know you are standing. . . ."
Which is actually a lot harder than it sounds.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Actual Conversation #90

Following conversation takes place at Wine and Jazz Festival at Longwood Gardens under a blazing sun and little breeze.

Me: A toast to earth's most abundant resource and the Universal Solvent! *raising wine glass filled with water*
Bob: Hockey?
Me: Yes.