If WWII Had Been a Realtime Strategy Game

More to come, describing our yachting weekend (yeah, no kidding, we're going to start calling each other Biff and Muffy and wintering in Antibes at this rate) and maybe a few pictures!

I feel vaguely dirty about this. Rilla "tagged" me in a blog-meme-virus thing about music, and what the heck, I'll go along with it although I've never been a bandwagon type, and I'm actually not a huge music buff. It'll keep me from peeling sheets of dead skin off my sunburn, anyway.

Number of CDs I own: Lemme go see... between R:tAG and I, we own about 300, it looks like. I think most are his.

Last CD I bought: Hmmm... This is a tough one. I could sort of cheat and say Sacrifice but I haven't actually bought it yet because I never remember to ask R:tAG to do his Paypal mojo in the short window where he's conscious and home (he's been putting in very long days at work this week). Sorry, Gayleen. The last CD I remember buying, because I was so happy to find it, was Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie's Together In Concert. This was a staple of my childhood. I also, within the last year I think, bought Lute Music For Witches and Alchemists after hearing it at McNally Robinson. But I don't buy a lot of music, actually (and no, I don't pirate it either. I just don't listen to music very often. Distracts me from my reading :))

Recent Favourite/New Listen: Aw, man. Does it have to be CDs? Because pretty much all I've been listening to recently is Shanty Raid-io (see sidebar for link) which is mostly drinking and pirate songs, or my I-Pod, which still has the music that Suz and Chris so kindly loaded for me when I realized I'd have to drive down to California on very short notice after my CDs had been packed and moved. As far as "Band what I had never even heard of but really quite like, from the aforesaid I-Pod," I'd have to go with Cake. As far as "Band what I hadn't heard of but as it turns out does some of the songs I really like on the aforesaid Shanty Raid-io," I'll go with The Jolly Rogers. And the mix Pirate CD that Tomas made for us gets played a lot too, especially when I'm cleaning. What can I say? Pirates are cool. :)

Five CDs that are meaningful to me:

Interesting category. Not necessarily CDs that I like, or own, or would recommend, but that are meaningful? Hm. As it happens, I do own all of these:

- Kirsty MacColl's Titanic Days because I think it's wonderful, tragically under-rated, and one of the few albums I've ever heard where every single song resonates with me to some extent.**
- A mix CD that my sister made me for Christmas one year, containing music from our childhood... Linda Ronstaadt, Schoolhouse Rock, Willie Nelson, because it's basically a bunch of in-jokes from growing up together that always makes me smile.
- The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band because it's just one of the best albums ever and "When I'm 64" was our wedding recessional.
- Beethoven's 9th, the lovely, lovely Ludwig Van, especially the Cleveland Orchestra disc. It's not George Szell conducting, but you'd never know it. This is almost the only music that I just sit and listen to... I don't read, knit, anything (and you may or may not realize how significant that is for me)
- Shoggoth On the Roof because when I grow up, I want to do something like this.

There's plenty more... I didn't even mention the Plaid Tongued Devils, the Arrogant Worms, Spirit of the West, Sting, Sisters of Mercy, Dead Can Dance, The Mission, The Cure, The Real Mackenzies, Inkubus Sukkubus, the Pogues, CCR, The Flying Pickets, The Nylons, Mozart (especially the Requiem and the 40th), Mendelssohn, Bach (both Johann Sebastian and P.D.Q), O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Roxy Music, XTC, The Wonderstuff, Fishbone, Captain Tractor... I guess the trouble is that because I don't listen to that much music (really!), what I do listen to gets invested with an unfair share of memories and associations. Each of these has a "because" clause after it, but this blog entry is threatening to get too big as it is. :)

Tag 5 more

Hm, no. I think everyone I know who would do this has already been tagged, and passing this on would just increase those uncomfortable chain-letter vibes. If you're reading this, and want to do it, feel free to tag yourself. Go ahead, it doesn't grow hair on your palms, it's beautiful and natural.

** Geeky admission that I hesitate to even put in a footnote: every LARP character I write a background for has a theme song. Two are from Titanic Days - Don't Go Home and Soho Square. I'll be amazed if anyone identifies the characters... it's more to do with a theme or mood than specifics, plus there just aren't many people who "met" both of them. Anyway, yeah, geeky. Sorry.

If you haven't seen The Story About the Toddler, go and read it immediately. The previous "The Story About the Baby" is partly available, but the author actually made it into a book so most of the content is taken down. But damn, that's some funny stuff.

As is I am a Japanese Schoolteacher.

Oh, and never, ever buy presliced mushrooms. Hm. I guess that is original content. Oops.

I just got my CA driver's license, having passed both the written and the driving test (without once referring to any instructional material, I might add... I am quietly proud). I am also pleased that they re-took my license photo. The first one was taken after a 2 hour wait at the DMV and without access to a mirror. If I want to know what I'd look like in twenty years after a nasty crack habit and being arrested for disturbing the peace at 3 AM, I now have a reference. Even the DMV lady said "Whoa!" when she saw it. Or maybe it was "Woe!" Either fits.

People wash their cars here a lot. Like, once a week. Perhaps as a consequence, car washes have evolved strangely. You drive your car up to the "vacuum station" and give it to the care of the attendants. Then you while away the wait in the fully appointed gift shop. This one reminded me of Home Again on Broadway. Clothes, hats, shoes, all kinds of candles and scented unguents, tchotchkes, a wall of wine, wine accessories... and the wall of the corridor to the cashier is glass so you can watch your car proceeding through the cleaning process. The cashier's room looks more like a hotel lobby; comfy chairs, coffee and tea. You pay the cashier for the car wash and whatever else you picked up, then stroll out to your shiny-clean car. It's positively decadent.

Upon reflection, car washes like what I'm used to (a la the PetroCan) are probably poorly suited to the climate. They probably had one too many cars roll out with their occupants parboiled and dead.

And the oil in my car is still there after the weekend's driving, and still even a reasonable colour! After my old "Check the gas and fill up the oil" Civic, this is a pleasant surprise indeed. I'm planning on making an exploratory call to the Honda dealership here, to see what's involved in replacing the speedometer plate (though I'm getting pretty good at the km->miles conversion) and maybe even installing air conditioning. Hey, it might be possible. Allow me my dreams.

So, no pictures from the mountains, since the idyllic mountain stream we went to turned out to be a nudie idyllic mountain stream and it felt, as Bne would put it, "kinda stalky" to be taking pictures. But it was a beautiful place. and one quickly becomes blase about the flesh on view. There were enough people wearing clothes that we didn't feel too out of place, which was good because I got a pretty ferocious sunburn over the bits of me that were exposed, so I don't even want to think about what the parts that never see sun would have been like.

It was a three hour drive up, in my black car with no air conditioning and 104 temperatures (about 40C) . I was on the edge of heat exhaustion... when we stopped for cold drinks and exposure to a controlled climate, a cashier actually asked if I was OK. I was beet red and sort of glassy eyed, I expect. But we soldiered on. To get to Yuba River, you leave the highway and start up a very very winding, steep, heavily forested mountain road. The road starts out as paved and two lane, then goes to paved and 1.5 lane, then to unpaved and 1 lane. Traffic is light, thank Christ, because there's barely enough room for two cars to pass. The second car that we met, I started getting grumpy about how they seemed to be driving in the middle of the road, squeezing me up against the cliff on my side. Then there was a thin spot in the trees on the other side, allowing a view.


I had not realized how high up we were, or what a steep drop there was. It was like the view from an airplane window. You know how you can walk on a board with no problem when it's on the ground, but if it's three stories up, you can't? Yeah. And being in a car makes it worse, for me at least, because it's harder to have a sense of where the wheels are and where the car's center of balance is. That drive took ten years off my life, I expect. And, at the end, the parking lot was full so we had to park on the road, pulled over as far as we could to let people pass but not so far as to tumble to a fiery doom. I made R:tAG come with me so I wouldn't die alone to tell me how much room I had, and he practically needed pitons to get out of the passenger door and back onto the road.

Luckily, the beach the next day was a short easy drive, and overcast and foggy, and actually chilly when the sun went down. A rarely expressed sentiment, I know! (I found this picture on the Web, but the guy must have been sitting exactly where we were. Picture the clouds at ground level, and you've got it...) The last time I was at an ocean beach was Fort Lauderdale, I think, and this was different. Florida beaches are so clean that they look sifted and swept, the water stays shallow forever, and is almost as warm as bathwater. This ocean looks like a scary chicken soup... full of vegetable material and feathers, and it's COLD. I got my feet wet and decided that that was enough. R:tAG stayed out for a very long time, learning to boogie-board with some friendly locals. He's a better man than I. :) But my sunburn didn't get aggravated, which was all I cared about.

The best part about the beach was not, alas, immortalized on film. Around sunset we lit a fire and were sitting around chatting. That bit of the beach has a row of firepits, so there was a family next to our group doing the same thing. There were four children, about 8-14 I'd guess, and watching them "play" quickly became our entertainment, because they were more vicious than the average WWF event. The highlight was when the three youngest stuffed themselves into the adults' bunnyhugs, back to front, with their legs in the armholes, and the hoods up over their faces. The kids' arms were pinned by the bodies of the sweatshirts, and they were forced into sort of a crouch, and they were blind because of the hoods. So they started hopping around trying to push each other over while the oldest (who was too big to fit into a bunnyhug like that) tried to peg them with a huge purple beachball. It was like "The Prisoner" re-enacted by squigs, to make a hopelessly geeky reference, but it was hysterical. Unhappily, it was too dark for pictures to turn out and we felt weird about taking pictures of strange (in all senses) kids, but damn.

So, a good weekend. We got to see some really beautiful parts of California and hang out with new and old friends. We were careful to drink lots and lots of water, so apart from the sunburns, there was no recovery needed (you get wimpier as you get older, but you also get smarter). And we learned that any car we buy here is going to have air conditioning.

Another culinary discovery: lasagne made with sliced polenta instead of noodles is a very good idea, and might actually be superior. Thanks, Frugal Gourmet!**

We're about to have an outdoorsy weekend... the mountains on Saturday and the beach on Sunday. As per usual, my initial idea of "snacks or something" is threatening to become a Martha-worthy Event (hmmm. I initially meant Martha Stewart, not R:tAG's mom, but looking at all the food I've assembled I think the phrase works either way). At least I remembered to not use mayonnaise, since it's still stinkin' hot here -- hot enough that I had to move my chocolate chips to the fridge lest they become one uber-chip. Maybe I will use our new cooler after all.

Pictures to follow, if not on my blog then on the other. Have a great weekend!

** Huh. I didn't know he'd gone to the big kitchen in the sky. Rest in peace, Rev. Smith.


And on a completely unrelated note, I think that the thrift stores here are better than the thrift stores in Saskatoon. Maybe it's just that I found exactly what I wanted and was looking for and something I wanted but wasn't looking for and something that is probably completely useless since I don't LARP regularly any more but which I couldn't resist for $3.50. Maybe it's that when I went to thrift stores in Saskatoon, I was usually looking for something specific, which as all thrift shop habituees know, sets one up for disappointment.

But the stuff in the local Goodwill seemed in better shape and more current than the stuff in, say, Value Village, which seems to stay in that narrow zone between old enough to be cool and new enough to be cool. It was more like being in Winners' than Value Village. Well, OK, that thrift store smell was still there, but for example there were a whole bunch of formal dresses with the shop tags still on them.

Maybe pictures to follow, if I can find the camera and the charger, and everything doesn't melt in the freakin' 41C heat. Of course, it's announced as 105 and although I know it's in Fahrenheit I still get an involuntary spasm of panic... "It's above boiling! Aaaaaaahh!"

Oh, and on yet another unrelated topic, here is an open letter to SGI:

I miss you. I never appreciated everything you did for me. I was inconsiderate, and there were times where I even said unkind words about you. But now that I'm with someone else, I understand how much you meant to me. I hope you know that I think about you a lot... all this past week when I was getting quotes, and today when I look at my bank balance and realize that I'm paying four times as much for less coverage. I only hope that someday, maybe, we can get together again and put all this behind us. I miss you so much.



So we are, rather unexpectedly, going to GenCon. We'd planned on it, then with me not working we figured we'd be frugal (opted out of KublaCon too, which I am still somewhat regretting) and not go this year. And as time went on, of course, it became easier to justify not going... "Oh, we'd never get a hotel room! And flights are expensive!"

Then, of course, R:tAG found out that friends of his have a pull-out couch in their GenCon hotel room. And flights will be less than $250 each. And today was the last day for early registration. So we're going.

So why the title of the post? Well, I got our Con registration done before the noon deadline, no problem, but spent too much time looking at the bewildering choices of LARPs, RPGs and seminars when I was subsequently registering for events. I didn't realize that the deadline for registering for events was the same as for registering for the Con. The Con registration is $10 cheaper when you do it early, the events aren't. May I say, parenthetically, that the registration web page is not particularly well-designed? Anyway, at 12:15, when I had picked all my events, I tried to pay for them only to find that I was 15 minutes too late. Argh.

I don't think this is such a big deal, actually, since one can buy generic tickets at the door and use them to get into any event if there's room. It was more that many of the events I wanted were LARPs, which means, of course, costuming, which means luggage planning. I'd hate to haul the 3 meter tall foam gargoyle wings all the way for nothing.**

But hey, if this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I am Lady Luck's own tot.

** Alas, this is a joke. I don't have 3 meter tall foam gargoyle wings. Yet.

You can overcook jam. I now am the proud owner of six jars of plum-flavoured rubber cement.

I will add this to my other hard-earned bit of kitchen wisdom... a minute makes a difference when you're baking cookies.

Well, I didn't expect to update this thing every day. Every week is perhaps a more achievable goal. When all else fails, lower your standards.

I was all set to do a big "Why Canada is Awesome" post on Friday, what with it being Canada Day and all, but it sort of turned into just slagging the US, which isn't really fair. There're things I disagree with in both gummints, and the fact that my disagreements with the Canadian side are fewer and minorer (it's a perfectly cromulent word) might well just be due to familiarity.

(Though, parenthetically, it's still a shock to hear about what a burden medical expenses are even to insured people here. One mishap can literally ruin a family. And in an environment like that, preventative medicine doesn't have much hope.)

Of course, my equanimity is mostly due to the fact that I FINALLY GOT MY FREAKIN' SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER in the mail about 15 minutes ago. Yay! Of course, this happened just as I bought a big batch of yarn and was looking forward to weeks of knitting. The yarn came from a "Freedom From Taxation" sale; apparently a common feature of the July 4 weekend. We're still trying to get a handle on how holidays work here... there is no such thing as a stat holiday as I know and love them. Smaller stores may be closed, but mostly it's business as usual, 9 to 9 (at least), 7 days a week. It's the land of instant gratification.

Off to do some job scouting...


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