So I wrote my congress representative an e-mail, expressing my dismay at how he voted on a recent bill.

This is part of the reply I got back.

“Thank you for taking the time to write to me. I always appreciate hearing comments from my constituents, especially young people who are taking an interest in our legislative process.
I enjoy hearing your thoughts about our helmet laws, and they are important in shaping the way I represent our district. Please know that I have taken the time to read your letter carefully, and will take your views into serious consideration as I continue my work throughout the 110th Congress.”

Somehow I do not believe him, since my original e-mail did not concern helmet laws in the slightest. I suppose I’ll be turning to pen and paper. That seems to get taken more seriously these days.

Oh, and we went to the Dickens’ Fair last weekend, which is like a Ren Faire except set 200 years later, and had a great time with the Hillfolk. Some pictures (Ms. Hillfolk's, not mine; I had stupidly forgotten the camera) are here. I dithered about dressing up or not and finally decided not to*, but I was kicking myself as soon as I saw the steampunk people. Why didn’t I think to do that instead? We met an intrepid pioneer with a new invention that ameliorates the soiling of shoes and clothes while traveling. Science!!!

There were people all over the place acting out various snippets of Victorian stories; mostly "A Christmas Carol," of course, but some other Dickens stuff, and (as you may have guessed from the above) some H.G. Wells, Doyle, etc. Like most things we’ve attended here** we were amazed at the scope and quality of the event. A densely populated area plus years of experience means that you have the time and resources to do things right, and we’re more than happy to benefit. Also, R:tAG found a very reasonably priced frock coat, gloves and spats, which is one less thing I have to make for him. I think I will make him a weskit, since he'll probably want an unusual fabric. I got a hat, but it's too early-period for my polonaise, so that's another dress I have to make. Alas, what a burden!

* I still haven’t completely finished the Victorian polonaise outfit, plus I discovered that an hour’s drive in a corset isn’t all that pleasant. Walking and sitting in chairs is fine, but there’s something about the design of the Honda’s driver’s seat that just doesn’t work well with corsetry.

** The Gilroy Garlic Festival, the Ren Faire, the Pirate Festival, the Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt…

Reasons to be sad and glum and gray and generally wondering why we came down from the trees in the first place:

  • The usual early December reason
  • A couple of new reasons
  • Bad things happening to good people
  • We’re not going to be visiting Canada this year at Christmas. R:tAG’s been advised to stay close to home because of the state of his Green Card application.
Reasons to be happy:
  • Doing another beta test of a friend’s treasure hunt in Palo Alto
  • The movie Saving Grace
  • That we have our health and are living comfortably doing things we enjoy
  • That I actually managed to get card and presents in the mail in time for them to arrive before Christmas. I hope.
  • Trader Joe’s just started carrying these frozen chocolate croissants that you take out of the freezer the night before and they magically triple their size and then the next morning you bake them for twenty minutes and jeezum crow, they’re good.
Five versus four. Happy wins, right?

So as I hinted in my last post, we left town for the US Thanksgiving weekend to go visit my parents in Virginia. I didn’t really mention anything because I’m sort of leery about announcing to the world that our house will be relatively unattended.*

As is traditional, we ate ourselves stupid though the highlight for me was the supper of rockfish in wine sauce, not the turkey (though the turkey was damn fine). The three hour time change plus the inherent difference in our typical schedule versus my folks’** meant that we were almost as lagged as if we’d traveled to England, but the food was way better.

We also went to Jamestown, a colonial recreation site, and visited the glassblowers’ which is one of my favourite places anywhere. When I was a pup my parents had to practically resort to force to get me away from the place. They still have to nudge pretty hard, but I’m harder to move these days.***

We also went to the Mariner’s Museum to see the progress on the Monitor exhibit, which was quite neat.

The funniest thing that happened was probably on Thursday, when my dad said “OK, we have to get to bed early so that we can go shopping and hit all the sales tomorrow!” He managed to keep a straight face for all of two seconds, while we were frozen en tableau, before everyone fell about laughing. OK, maybe that’s only funny if you know my father, but trust me, it was hi-larious. It got even funnier when we saw that an anti-consumerism organization was offering free hugs at a local mall. Shopping, large crowds, and hugging. Just what my family’s all about.****

But now we’re home, anyway, and back to the grind. And an incipient cold that I probably picked up on the plane. Bleah.

* Relatively. There’s still Rocco and the pitbulls, of course.

** Hint: The phrase “Early to bed, early to rise” does not and never has included us.

*** Especially after being ballasted with turkey and potatoes.

**** You may imagine the sarcasm hand sign here. My sisters were attendants at my wedding, and when the photographer squished us all together for a “picture of the sisters together, awww!” one said “I think this is the closest we’ve ever been to each other.” She may have been correct.

Whoo hoo!

Every 20 years, whether we need it or not!

Edited to Add: Flying home last night, I glanced at the images from the news programs on the airport TVs and I swear, my first thought was "Man, Rider Pride may have gone too far."

Oh, didn’t I tell you? I’m trying NaBloNoPoMo. No posting for me for November.

Oh, wait. Damn.

Well, now that I’ve broken the seal, I might as well post something. Wait, I’m remembering why I haven’t posted anything. My brain’s empty.

However, my teeth are whiter. Coincidence?* I mentioned that tooth-whitening deal that my nephew won when he was visiting; it expired in December so I used it.** The fun bit was when the dentist made the mold of my teeth because I got to bite into that squishy dental plaster. I love that. It’s like walking through mud barefoot, but with your teeth.

It’s almost Thanksgiving here, and it will be nice to have a holiday. I miss the stat holidays of Canada. We went up to San Francisco for a Remembrance Day get together, but because of late notice and a last-minute location change, we and the organizer were the only ones there. We hoisted a few in honour of the vets anyway.

And did I mention that there was Christmas stuff on the shelves before Halloween? I always thought the States was better for that, because they have Thanksgiving here as the barrier, but I guess because of the economic downturn, retailers are putting the screws to consumers really, really early. Consume! Consume!***

Oh, and the Reduced Shakespeare Company made me laugh. You can get their production of all Shakespeare’s plays on DVD now, and I think it’s worth checking out.**** Other good movies we’ve seen are The Host, Vampires in Havana (thanks, David!) and Layer Cake.

And now my brain is really, really empty.

* There may actually be a causal relationship, because during the whitening process I was not supposed to eat or drink anything stain-ey, including tea and coffee. I thought I’d shaken the caffeine addiction, AKA the brown monkey, but apparently even my modest two cup a day habit has a pretty profound effect on my mood and mental capability. Or I’ve gone and caught the depression.

** Funny, isn’t it… the thing didn’t cost me anything, so letting it expire would not have put me out of pocket in any way. It’s not something I’d ever get for myself. Yet I still felt that it would be a waste it if I didn’t use it. People are funny.

*** What movie was that? Oh yeah

**** Their interpretation of Titus Andronicus as a cooking show was particularly inspired, I thought.

Whee! We're real Californians now!

We, and all of our possessions, are fine; the house shook for about 10 seconds and everything rattled on the shelves. Apparently, if you were in a place (like a shop) with plate glass windows, the quake was strong enough that the glass actually rolled; like a wave traveling through the glass. That would be interesting, if rather nerve-wracking, to see.

I have shame because we are totally unprepared for Hallowe'en this year - not even a pumpkin. We did manage to remember to get a bag of candy from the drug store, so we won't be reduced to giving out packets of take-out soy sauce to the little ones, but I'm not sure if we'll be home early enough to see the majority of the trick-or-treaters.

A friend from R:tAG's work had a Hallowe'en part last Saturday, which was fun though we ended up watching Feast which I could have lived happily without ever seeing. I kind of wussed out for a costume; I just wore the Steampunk outfit (the apron one, not the red velvet coat; it's still warm here) instead of making something new. I have a great idea for a Kali costume, though I idly wonder how offensive that would be to the average Hindu. Mind you, there's nothing new there.

Here are some Hallowe'en links!

Fantastic Entree

Fantastic Cupcakes - and links to other spooky food too
Fantastic Project
Solstice Wreath - OK, a little early.

Edited to Add: We did get a pumpkin! R:tAG's workplace had a punkin-carving contest (and I hope he posts pix - some were awesome) and there were a couple left over when I went to pick him up. So I grabbed one and did some hasty jack-o-lanterning:

We only got two trick-or-treaters, though; it seems like no-one goes out after dark (which happens around 6:30 now; don't even get me started about Daylight Savings Time and the gummint's mucking about with it). Luckily, we anticipated this by buying candy that we like. None of those horrid little wax-paper-wrapped molasses chewy things for us!

Movies, movies, movies… always the go-to subject for blogs, n’est-ce pas?

Edited to add: I didn't realize people might be worried about us what with all the fires in San Diego. The fires are awful, but we're fine, San Diego's about 700 km away, and as far as I know our area hasn't even been seeing refugees. Back to movies!

A while ago we took a flyer on Coffee and Cigarettes, which Netflix recommended to us apparently based on our renting history. I have to say, it was a good choice, and we’ve actually discussed this movie more than any other we’ve rented. It’s very arty; a collection of short and seemingly pointless dialogues* in different places, all between two or three people, always involving coffee and cigarettes. All the scenes are shot in black and white, so visually the differences are smoothed out and you’re free to concentrate on the other content. Figuring out the relationships, parallels and differences between the scenes is actually really interesting, if vaguely reminiscent of a first-year English class (but hey, I liked first year English). This is a very subtle and nuanced movie, which to some of y’all will mean “excruciatingly boring” but if you want a conversation starter, this is good.

On the absolute other end of the scale, we had to go see Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D. I was very pleased to find that the Disney 3D technology (polarized lenses, not the old red/green cellophane kind) actually works for my wonky eyes. Since this was a remake of original content, the 3D was rather understated... more 2.5D. You won’t find yourself dodging 3D-effect spears or anything but I still found that the dimensionality let me notice new things. Or maybe that was just ‘cause this is the first time since its release that I’ve watched it on a big screen. Either way, it was fun.

And lastly, we also went to 30 Days of Night, because hey, vampires! I had never read the comic** so I had no idea what to expect. A friend expressed surprise that I was going to see it since I don’t like horror movies*** and I asked ‘Isn’t it going to be sort of Anne Rice meets Northern Exposure?” Well, not so much. It’s a stock horror/shock film, with some pretty gaping plot holes, but at least the vampires were pretty smart**** and there was some good atmosphere. The film was shot in New Zealand, apparently! I guess the real Barrow didn’t look real enough, though I’m pleased to see that the film-makers got little details like the name of the airport and the houses on stilts correct. Also, the movie ought to have been called “67 Days of Night” but now I’m just being picky.

* There’s one scene in particular that gets tooth-grindingly repetitive but which has a moment at the end that for me completely redeemed it and made it fascinating. I emphasize “for me”; R:tAG still found it annoying.

** Graphic novel!

*** There is no way to covey that in-joke properly via typing, is there?

**** Favourite line “Yeah, the UV light worked, but they’re going to cut the power soo…” [[click]]

Well, we went on the Victorian Cemetary Walk and Picnic and it was a hoot. I didn’t finish the ruffled skirt to go with my polonaise so I used a black modern velvet one, and we had to rent a hat (for me) and a frock coat (for R:tAG) but we still looked quite smart if I do say so myself.

The walk was fascinating and fun; the organizer was full of interesting stories about the cemetery in general (designed by the same man, Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York), and the inhabitants in particular.

This is the mausoleum of the Ghirardelli family, famous for their chocolate,* and this was also my favourite story. A daughter of Mr G. died tragically young, and the priest did not come in time to give her the Last Rites. Until then, the Ghirardellis, being a good Catholic family, had buried their dead in a Catholic cemetery. But after the no-show priest, Mr. G. had this mausoleum built in Mountain View, and then he and two of his sons went in the dead of night to the Catholic cemetery and moved all the Ghirardelli dead to this new plot.** But the absolute best part was when R:tAG leaned over at the end and whispered to me “And in the Catholic cemetery, he left replacement bodies made of chocolate!” I’m still laughing about that.

If you’ve seen the Dr. Who episode Blink, you’ll know why this creeped me right the hell out. The angel statue is in front of the door to the crypt, and there’s a mechanism to swing it out of the way when someone needs to be interred. The mechanism is still functioning, by the way, and it was just poor timing that we couldn’t see it in action (the caretaker couldn’t be there the day that we were).

Here’s another geek reference, which also shows one of the marvelous views from the cemetery. It’s still a very popular place to stroll, dog walk and picnic.

We also played a game along the walk; identifying famous Victorians by their supposed last words. I got one, but it was hardly a challenge.***

And then we had a picnic, where people had brought tables and chairs and china and real silverware and everything so it started off as a proper Victorian affair but because these were 20th century costumers, some people ended up in only corsets and bloomers to show off the finer points of their undergarment construction. It didn’t get to the point of “Le déjeuner sur l'herbe” or anything, though.

So it was a very good weekend; we got out of the house, met some great new people and learned more about a local landmark. I'd like to go back to the cemetery with a sketchbook and the camera. We didn't see near enough of it.

* Some of you who have visited us might recall Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.

** He also included some decoration that would be deliberately offensive to Catholics (the Masonic symbol, though he wasn’t a Mason, and the upside-down torches). I’m not clear on how the upside down torches would wound Catholic sensibilities. Maybe it was a Victorian thing. Any culture where you can insult someone using flowers has some pretty complicated semantic layers.

*** Oscar Wilde: "Either this wallpaper goes, or I do." Probably apocryphal, though.

A friend of ours just lent us a movie and warned us that we probably would hate it because it was “weird”. Well, I loved it. It’s Kamikaze Girls, and all y’all should see it. It gave me great dreams last night, where the girl-biker gangs from the movie sort of blended into a W:tA LARP, and it was a lot of fun. Our social life here isn’t at near the same level as it was in S’toon (a combination of time, aging, and laziness) so I think the thought of belonging to a gang (or pack) has even a stronger fascination for me than usual.

In that vein, there was rather pointless bickering in a knitting forum about the practice of calling non-knitters “muggles”* and whether this is bad because it means we’re identifying people as “other.” To me this is sensitivity taken to the ridiculous extreme. Everybody is someone else’s “other.” Language becomes pointless without the ability to classify.

Here are some links! Enjoy!

Why Women Worry So Much - So the summary seems to be that women are more likely to apply past experience to predict the future. Isn’t that also called… intelligence? Also, in the Yahoo feed where I read this, this headline was immediately followed by the headline Six Die From Brain-Eating Amoeba In Lake which I found sort of amusing in that I think the first headline should maybe have then been “Why Men Don’t Worry Enough”.

Red Figure Chucks
- beautiful beautiful shoes. I can’t imagine ever wearing these.

To Live and Die in D&D - R:tAG just ran an introductory D&D session for The Apple Couple and me, starting at first level, and we got two hit points away from TPK. And those hit points were not possessed by the same character, even.

Happy Solstice!

Really good headline

Maybe a new contender for best LOLCats

Cool photo

* A Harry Potter reference; “muggles” are non-magicians. In the books it’s value-neutral, and Ms. Rowling herself said that she spent quite a bit of time trying to come up with a term that didn’t sound derogatory

There are not a lot of songs that mention curling. In fact, there seems to be one. Okay, two.

Our weekend was notable for us finally making an effort and taking advantage of the rich milieu in which we now live. Of course, one can only take so much culcher at once, so we went up to Berkeley to see a comic re-telling of Citizen Kane, where Kane is possessed by a demon sled that gives him the power to create zombie minions, and which can only be defeated by the touch of a holy curling rock. The play is Aah! Rosebud! and except for the length (two acts) it would be right at home in any Canadian Fringe Festival.* Of course, then the play would probably no longer be able to assume that the word “Saskatchewan” is automatically funny, and might have to tone down the comic-relief Canadian character (a Bob-n-Doug Mackenzie type).** Or maybe not; self-depreciation goes down pretty well in Canada.

We’ve been watching Season One of Heroes thanks to Netflix, and it’s pretty good. We also have The Devil Wears Prada, but R:tAG is less keen to see it since he found out it’s not actually called “The Devil Wears Pravda.” I don’t know what he thought it was about, but I guess that’s why I was able to get it with no objections from him. And it’s too late now!

[EDIT AFTER WATCHING THE SHOW - OK, who else has seen this? Did anyone else get the take-home message that women shouldn't have careers? This movie actually made me pretty angry, and not for the reasons that I was expecting.]

Other than that, we have been leading extremely dull lives. I am still working on my outfit for the Victorian Cemetery Walk, but slowly because taffeta is a slippery bitch goddess. I am still knitting, of course, but Ravelry is sparing you all that (though I still will probably inflict pictures of finished projects upon you, once I have some. Ravelry is really great for organizing one’s work-in-progress queue, one’s I-have-everything-I-need-except-time queue and one’s someday-somehow queue. And you can look at everyone else’s queues also!***).

And you know, a few carrots in the form of comments help keep the donkey going.

* I just realized that that could be taken wrong. I mean it in a positive way.

** Who did have what (to me) was the funniest line in the play, the other characters were commenting on how odd it is for a sled to have a name and the Canadian says “That’s not strange at all, eh. I had a hockey stick named Cooper!”

*** My Ravelry user name is “sputnik,” for anyone else who drinks the Kool-Aid.

Arrr, shoot a horse and call me Susan!*

It be International Talk Like a Pirate day again, arr, the third one since we turned our sails to westward and sailed away from the Prairies. Damme, can ye fathom it?

It saddens me heart to report that none of the scallywags in me office, curse their black hearts, are celebratin’ today. But when I was havin’ me grog and hardtack at eight bells, I noticed a saucy wench in a striped cap and eyepatch. She was across the galley from me, belike, and I didn’t catch her eye before she weighed anchor.

Me and me hearty R:tAG have been workin’ like galley slaves for the past few weeks, with no shore leave or chance of roisterin’.** It’s a sorry state of things, ta be sure.

And in special honour of the day: What does a pirate with cardiac arrhythmia say? Arrrrrr, me hearty!

* All right, ye dogs, it’s not actual-like a pirate sayin’ but it be damned funny anyway, by th' powers!

** We did manage to see Blood and Chocolate. A pretty tale, but as predictable as Teach needin' a light, arr.

Six years ago. There’s been some foomphetting* about how memorials are getting ignored, commemorative events are getting smaller, but isn’t that natural?

Still no rain here; the leaves are brown because they are dry and dead. There are two fairly major fires going on in the area; and the air has been very hazy. It makes for some pretty images, though (I know, that last one is a few years old. Still a neat picture.) And yet I still see people on the highway throwing lit cigarette butts out their windows. People are stupid.

In day to day news, our Xbox 360 has succumbed to the disease of its kind, but we hope that fixing it will be painless. Microsoft will send us a shipping box to return the original unit, then just give us a new one. The really bad thing is that this happened in the middle of playing BioShock, which is the first game since American McGee’s Alice that I’ve wanted to watch all the way through.** Grrr. At least we have the hard drive.

In the “Movies That I’ve Never Even Heard Of But Can’t Imagine Why I Haven’t Department” (MTINEHOBCIWIHD), I present to you Perfect Creature. It’s a New Zealand movie, which probably explains it, but check it out. It’s essentially steampunk vampires and the female lead is strong,*** resourceful, and wears beautiful handknit stuff. It’s like they know me.

* This probably isn’t a real word. Is there a real word meaning “To talk like Sam the Eagle on the Muppet Show”?

** And I help with the mini-games! I’m a good helper!

*** And I mean strong, not the typical Hollywood “plays hard to get and/or makes stupid decisions just to be “independent” but ends up just standing around on the sidelines or being rescued while some man actually does everything” definition.

OK, first of all, HAH! I told you it was evil and disgusting!

Second, I don’t understand why this is funny. I’d watch it.

Thirdly, why was I not told about The DM of the Rings?

Fourthly… ah, the hell with the numbering thing. Here are some more cool links.

The Reader’s Manifesto - Cenobyte, read this.

And on a related note (sort of) the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Contest results

Goth dance instructions

The pinnacle of Lolcats (it gets no better)

Eyeball Pincushions
- I’m going to make a batch of these. Who wants one?

Laid-Back Labour
- Hobbies and economics. Actually interesting.

Oh, and we had an anti-Labour Day weekend because R:tAG had to work for most of it. On the plus side, I finished off three items in my knitting queue, made progress on another, and started two new ones, and since I was alone in the house, was able to commandeer most of the living room floor to block the Mystery Stole.* I keep forgetting how much lace grows when it’s blocked (no pictures of it being worn; I’ve tried and tried to get decent pictures in the only full length mirror in the house but the light is just not right.)

* My room is taken up right now with the construction of a polonaise. It is fiddly but straightforward. I even remembered to use my corseted measurements, which meant that I could use a fabric width of 36" instead of the recommended 45" (barely!), which meant that I didn't feel quite as stupid for accidentally buying 36" fabric (the lesson here is if the price seems really low for a fabric, CHECK ITS WIDTH!).

I’ve been busy at work and sort of down-ish… I think English needs to borrow a few words to describe moods. Weltschmerz? Anomie? Hulihudu? Dukkha?

Then, of course, Cat and Girl came to my rescue and cheered me right up. There’s some really deep truth there, I think.

I’ve been meaning to take pictures of stuff, but I’ve been getting home after dark, and last weekend R:tAG took the camera to PAX* . I especially wanted to take pictures for Ravelry, which is a social networking site for knitters that might divert knitting content from this blog. Probably not, though.

I’m pretty antisocial, as it turns out,** so Ravelry for me is more of an on-line project diary and occasional resource to answer the question “What does Garment X look like on a real person under real circumstances?” instead of a way to meet people and/or talk on forums.

I finished the Mystery Stole a while ago, by the way, but wanted to take pre- and post-blocking pictures. I am also wibbling over whether or not to add this to my large line-up of projects-to-make. I love it a lot, but I have a ridiculous number of things in the queue.

At next year’s GenCon, I hope, R:tAG will be releasing his game. So I’m planning my costume already (he might get one too). I just got my pattern in the mail, and coincidentally got a 40% off coupon from Joann’s,*** and also found additional incentive to finish really early by finding out about a Victorian cemetery walking tour coming up soon. Since we didn’t end up going to the Revolutionary Picnic, I’m going to try for this one. R:tAG might end up in something rented, though.

I’m not sure that the dress that I’m picturing, being more on the mourning/undead end of the spectrum, will be suitable for the Christmas Dickens Fair. Perhaps I could do something in dark red or purple or gray or green, which would be more versatile than the black that was in my head. Hmm. Maybe not dark red, though, as all the pictures from the long red steampunk coat show what that does to my colouring. Mind you, I was pretty warm.

I am also excited about possibly designing an Empire of Bone-themed knit lace shawl. There’re patterns out there for lace skulls, and bats, and generally gothic patterns so it should work. OK, dress first, shawl second.

* I didn’t go, but I probably should have. I can take or leave PAX itself, but the hotel at which R:tAG was staying was right next to Pike Place Market, and I could happily have spent a weekend there. Ah well, probably better for the budget that I didn’t go. R:tAG did bring me back about half a pound of smoked salmon. Yum!

** I know y’all are gasping in amazement, but it’s true!

*** Not the nicest fabric store (they have no woolen fabrics, for example, and are heavy on the quilting cottons and sparkly novelty stuff) but for my first attempt I think I want something fairly cheap and plain anyway.

I know I’ve used this song’s lyrics already. Twice. But damn, it’s so true.

So R:tAG’s brother and fambly were here, and we had a great time. Though trying to hit the highlights of the Bay Area in only five and a half days, while still eating and sleeping sufficiently to sustain life, was a challenge.

Most notable bits:

  • The look on our 13-year-old nephew’s face after spinning a dentist’s “Wheel of Fortune” display at a local community fair, and instead of winning a toothpaste squeezer like everyone else (and which he’d actually been hoping for), winning the Grand Prize of a $500 tooth-whitening procedure.*
  • Getting seriously sunburned on the right half of my body watching a lacrosse game in San Francisco when the tricksy tricksy fog decided to part. In about 15 minutes I looked like a Cheron variant.**
  • My sinister in-laws dragging – yes, dragging! – us to an outlet mall and forcing us to spend lots of money on kitchen gadgets and discount clothes! We were helpless!
  • Finding out that it’s not just me that gets really weirded out by the steepness of San Francisco’s hills. Seriously, you almost get dizzy after a while because of the discrepancy between the ground plane and the direction of gravity.
And then the fambly had to leave, and we had to get ready for GenCon. I’d done most of the costuming work previously except for the clockwork hand that I’d been planning. Of course, that turned out to be the fiddliest thing, but luckily it was just a lot of hand sewing (haw!) and I finished it in the hotel room on Wednesday night. What with the 3 hour time difference, I was staying up late anyway.

The steampunk costumes turned out well, I thought, and later that night, when Cenobyte and I were trying to go see a movie,*** a gentleman with gold teeth offered her $1,000 for her goggles. He produced an impressive bankroll lest we think he wasn’t serious, but Cenobyte declined (much to his confusion, I think).

We entered the costume contest, but didn’t win.**** I can’t argue; the winner (of our category and overall) did a replica of Queen Amidala’s outfit that was movie-quality. The closer you were, the more impressive it got. And the second place winner was pretty impressive also. *****

There were lots of goodies to be had on the dealers’ floor, and of course thousands of great games that I didn’t manage to play, and a few I did, and the usual stench of Indianapolis in the summer****** and a magnificent thunderstorm on Sunday night that made us very very happy. We miss thunderstorms.

And Stardust is really, really good. Go see it.

Oh, and it was R:tAG's and my eighth anniversary yesterday, so yay for us (does it seem like eight years to you?) So, a good couple of weeks. How ‘bout you?

* He gave it to me, bless his heart, since they weren’t staying long enough to use it. Tooth whitening? I am on my way to becoming completely assimilated by California. I suppose breast implants and hair extensions are next. Though a woman in our office just had extensions put in, with real hair, and now all I can think of when I look at her is “EEEEEE YOU’RE WEARING SOMEONE ELSE’S HAIR!”

** Hoo boy, the geek doesn’t even scrub off, does it?

*** We ended up going to the White Wolf party instead, at a rather cool industrial club that made me sort of nostalgic for PPM and where I told a punk with a 12” mohawk that he wasn’t a real libertarian. He was a great guy, and apparently quite involved in the punk scene (he’s the vocalist).

**** Thing I liked the most about the costume contest… there was Dr. Girlfriend, one of the Monarch’s henchmen, and Rusty Venture himself, and they all had come separately! Here’s a better picture of the last two.

***** And looking for pictures of us, I realized how much I didn’t see. This is a collection of links to collections of pictures that gives you some idea of the size of GenCon.

****** A bouquet of decomposing corpses, feces, and mildew, with a top note of urine. Downtown Indy is steam heated, which apparently means all the runoff of all the gutters gets blended, simmered, vaporized, and sent back to the surface via steaming manhole covers and gratings. There is a theory that GenCon moved to Indy because after walking downtown, entering a hall full of close-packed gamers is actually a nasal relief.

R:tAG’s brother and fambly are here for a visit, and then we’re off to GenCon right after they leave. Another busy late summer for us. It’s amazing what the addition of two teenagers to a household does to its water consumption.

Oh, I think I solved the Mystery of the Disappearing Coffee. R:tAG had another early-morning physio appointment* so I stole another cup of coffee from his workplace. This time, I tried to surreptitiously** pay attention to my drinking it. I’m pretty sure that the first time I actually just drank more than I thought I did, because I took a few big sips (to try and get the level down) and then put it in the cup holder without taking my eyes off the road. The big sips were bigger than I thought, so the level was much lower than when I last actually looked at it. So. You can all resume your normal lives; I know that y’all were on tenterhooks waiting to find out the answer to the mystery.

Speaking of mysteries (nice segue, eh?) the Mystery Stole is almost done. It turns out to be an interesting asymmetrical design. The designer had you put in a lifeline at one point, and I was going wild with speculation as to why… I was picturing some really cool techniques with lots of dropped and raveled stitches, or three-dimensional inserts to make godets, or something. Turns out it was just so if you didn’t like the proposed asymmetry, you could rip back and work a mirror image. Once again, reality fails to live up to my imagination.

I think I forgot to get a picture of Clue 4, but here is Clue 5. For Clue 4, just picture the same thing but without the odd flappy bit to the right where the direction of work changes to go diagonally. Eventually that bit will be as long as the body of the stole is wide, if that makes sense. I think this will end up being pretty short for me, as I had feared. But blocking will tell the tale, and at worst some shorter person will get a lovely Christmas present. I’m all about the process, not the product.

The final shape of the stole will be something like this:

But look closely! The rumours are true! It is the Lacy Mark of the Beast!

The official theme of the stole is “Swan Lake,” by the way, in case you were wondering about the post title. The border pattern is called “Wings of the Swan,” the Russian-y motif at the pointy end is from the costumes in a certain production, the center lace pattern is called “Cat’s Paw” (the standard choreography for a famous bit in the ballet uses a step called “Pas de Chat”) and the part I’m working on now will be a feathered wing shape as if the stole is changing into a swan. The suggested colours (black and white) represent Odile and Odette, and while the designer said she just added the beads because she liked them, someone pointed out that they look like droplets of water which is suitable, of course, for an aquatic bird theme.*** The designer originally said it might not be suitable for a wedding because the ballet is a tragedy with suicides and such, but I think it's a nice design and anyone who's that sensitive will just find something else to be upset about at their wedding anyway ("That butter knife is pointing right at me! You ruined it for the WHOLE LOG!")

* Hopefully his second-last one! Yay!

** Well, I was trying to duplicate the effect of not paying attention, so I had to kind of fool myself into acting like I was absentmindedly drinking it, while in reality observing. It’s hard to live in my head sometimes.

*** A note of interest to knitters; this post vividly shows the importance of checking gauge and how the suggested needles and yarn are only a starting point and no substitute for a swatch.

Dammit! I was fooling around with changing templates and managed to lose the content of all my link lists. They don't warn you that that's going to happen (even if you restore your old templates the content of your custom widgets is lost).

I don't have time to fix it right now, but rest assured I still love all y'all and I'll get your blog links back as soon as possible.


Well, I sort of fixed it for Firefox, but in IE it seems like the secondary content (the stuff in the left-most column) is now only accessible through scrolling, which sucks.

If there's anyone out there who knows CSS better than I, I'd appreciate advice.

Where did July go? Man…

I had a weekend that scared even me in its hyperfocussedness. Cenobyte needed a steampunk costume for GenCon too (yes, needed!) and that apron just kept calling to me, since it’s adjustable enough to fit both of us.. So I made one. And embroidered it. And made my goggles. And shopped for the cybernetic hand.* And started the embroidery on my costume.

I wonder if I should pursue the possibility of doing stuff like this for a living wage more assiduously. Or would it, Tom Sawyer-like, become a chore once I have to do it?

For your consideration… The Case of the Disappearing Coffee. R:tAG had an early morning physio appointment, so when I dropped him off at work I came in to steal a cup of coffee. They had no lids, so I drank the coffee down to half-way and hoped for the best. Driving to my workplace, I got engrossed in the radio** and forgot about the coffee. I got to work… and the coffee was almost gone. I swear I didn’t drink it (when you drive a standard in the California rush-hour, there is no such thing as absentmindedly taking your hand off the wheel or the gear shift) but there was no detectable spillage. Oooooo, mysteeeerious.

Oh, and a cooking tip, do not use a really hoppy beer (like an IPA) to deglaze a pan and make a sauce. The good flavours of the beer go away, and all that’s left is palate-assaulting bitterness.

And just to make this post be a completely random collection of statements, here are some links! An abnormal number have to do with fashion, since I’m sort of in a costuming head-space.

Before and After Makeovers - Some of these cannot be considered improvements, by any standards.
What-the-hell-is-this Knitting - Well, as costumes...
I Don’t Do Walking - Horrifying.
Facebook: Big Brother with a Smile - Noooo! Don’t do it!
Literary Lolcats - I mentioned the Lolcats thing before… this is really, really, funny.
Scary Soap - Because a list of links just isn’t complete without a horrifying picture.
Beautiful Wildlife Photography
World’s Biggest Yarn Stash – This is not a shop. This is a private collection. I now feel better.
Construction Site Floods – Wow!

* Not a euphemism

** A discussion on veterans’ health administration… some caller was trying to use the current VA mess as an example of why socialized medicine could never work. Because, somehow, people working for the government can never have the best interests of a patient in mind, but people working for an insurance company always do. Grrr.

R:tAG is doing much better. The physiotherapist seems to be throwing a grab bag of treatments at him (twisting and pulling - which I’m sure has some fancy medical term - massage, electric shocks, ice, and ultrasound. Not all at once) but some of them at least seem to be sticking.

He was well enough that we walked around a farmers’ market on Sunday. It’s peach and plum season, and I’ve never seen such huge peaches. Grapefruit-sized, some of them. So there’s lots of peach pie in our immediate future, which is A-OK by me.

We also went to the local military surplus/camping/survivalist store to get some goggles for my GenCon costume… I’m doing basic steampunk this year so of course one needs the goggles. Here are a few links that I’ve been perusing for inspiration:

The Motherlode of Steampunk Costuming
Steampunkifying Welding Goggles
Awesome Apron
Awesome Monitor - and also see the keyboard... so beautiful!
Cog Embroidery

Oh, and you know that knitted lace Mystery Stole that I’ve been boring you with talking about for a while? It got a bit more interesting when the rumour went ‘round that it was going to incorporate Satanic symbols, which caused some people to state that they weren’t going to work on it any more until the designer reassured them, which caused other people to deride the first group, which caused other people to weigh in on religious freedom, being mean, persecution of Christianity, and a host of other topics. I am so glad that I don’t actually subscribe to the message boards for the Mystery Stole group.

As far as the original rumour, I can only quote dear Mr Babbage: “I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.”* The whole concept of this Mystery Stole thing is that you don’t know what the final product will be, but there’s certainly an element of trust. I looked at the designer’s previous work and read her blog, and I was fairly confident that the design would not end up being a) her name in 12” tall letters b) a huge phallus c) swastikas d) a high-res rendering of an alien abduction, or e) anything else that would appeal to the thin end of any given bell curve, including overt religious symbolism of any flavour.**

But even if you did think that the designer was deliberately including Satanic symbols to fool you into wearing The Lacy Mark of the Beast, why would you expect her to admit it?***

* Mr. Babbage of course was responding to the question "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" but I find the phrase appropriate to many situations.

** Though now I have some great ideas for my Mystery Stole knit-a-long…

*** I really don’t want to know more about this, and most of the discussion is apparently in a forum to which I do not have access (thank goodness) but there seems to be a possibility that all this started because someone guessed that the theme of the stole might be Dante’s Inferno. Can’t see it, myself, but I don’t even want to think about the mindset that would equate Dante with Satanism.

So, R:tAG’s X-rays show nothing wrong with the spine (yay!) and the physiotherapist says it’s “innominate pelvic shear” or something like that (R:tAG didn’t hear him quite right and I wasn’t there*). The important bit is that it’s a fairly common thing, there’s a standard series of exercises to do, it can happen to almost anyone, anytime** and R:tAG is getting better each day and ought to be able to go to work on Monday. This is a huge relief. R:tAG will have to go for physio twice a week for the next while, but the clinic is fairly close by and he says even this single therapy session helped noticeably. Double yay!

And it’s Mystery Stole Friday and Clue #4 has just been posted! Triple yay!

Here’s the progress after Clue 2, with half-assed pinning-out (that's causing the scalloped edges):

Mystery Stole Clue 2

And Clue 3 with no pinning out:

Mystery Stole Clue 3
These pictures make the yarn look lighter than it is, and don't show the beads very well. When it's done, I'll have to actually make an effort to figure out the camera settings and get better lighting.

At this point, according to the author, it’s 1/3 done. So I have to decide whether that’s going to be long enough…lace is tricksy before it’s blocked but it seems short-ish right now (the above picture has some foreshortening happening but it's still pretty stubby). She gives directions for lengthening it in 11” increments, which is a fair bit but I guess that’s the shortest repeat for the border and the centre to get back in synch. I’ll have to do a quick on-the-needles blocking, measure it properly, and see how an extra 11” would affect the proportions. I don’t want it looking too skinny, or be so long that I'll pull an Isadora Duncan.

* The clinic happens to be near my favourite LYS. Hey, what was I supposed to do, just sit yarn-less in a waiting room? I don’t think so! And besides, I had to go back there because I'd bought some sale yarn there and then changed my mind about what I was going to do with it, so I needed two more skeins, which I found out was exactly the amount they had left. So obviously that was the right thing to do.

** The physiotherapist said that one of his patients had had this happen just by shifting his weight in a chair during a long meeting. Eek! We’re such fragile bags of thinking water…

So, Reason Number 48 for not being a complete slob; if EMTs have to come to take your husband away on a stretcher, they won’t be tripping over books, piles of clothing, and Rubbermaid bins of yarn in your bedroom.

No, it actually didn’t come to that, but at one point I’d dialed the first two digits of 911 while waiting to see if R:tAG was going to start screaming again. That was pretty horrible. It’s his lower back… he merely leaned the wrong way on Saturday afternoon and something went terribly wrong. The pain kept getting worse until he had to remain flat on his back and immobile to get any relief, and then even that started hurting. By 5:00 AM on Sunday he was having full-blown back spasms. Not fun, and there was no way I could get him even to my car, much less into it, to get him to any place where they could help him. So it looked like it would be an $X,000.00 ambulance ride.

However, R:tAG is a trooper and we agreed that since it had been about five hours since he’d had any medicine, he’d take some more and see what happened before we called 911.* Thank goodness, the spasms responded to the drugs, and the pain gradually ebbed and his mobility returned to some extent… enough that he could stand, sit, and walk (with help, and considerable discomfort, but still a vast improvement over the previous blinding agony). We saw the doctor this morning** and got the good painkillers and anti-inflammatories, and we’re waiting for the X-ray results and physiotherapy recommendations.***

So, we had a lousy weekend.**** How was yours?

* Which also gave me the chance to pick up the bedroom a bit. Now we are ready for EMTs!

**I guess we’ve never been in quite this situation before, having a really-urgent-but-not-actually-life-threatening medical situation, so I can’t really compare the Canadian and American responses. It helped that all the doctors in the clinic are part of our HMO deal, so R:tAG could see the first one available, but being able to be seen within two hours of calling was sure nice. We had to wait about an hour for X-rays… comparable to my experience at the Community Clinic.

*** On the various papers documenting the experience, R:tAG’s condition was listed as "Lubar Spam," which would be a great name for a rock band, and also as "Back Spasums." The first might have just been poor handwriting, but the second was typed. I guess they don't teach spelling in med school. Oh well, as long as they give us Vicodin!

**** Never did get to that Bastille Day picnic, but I didn’t get the costumes finished in time anyway. Plus, it was stinkin’ hot.

Lots of pictures! First some of the ones that should have illustrated some of the events I missed:

Carl and me at the Digital Moose Canada Day celebration. I managed to look away from the iPhone long enough to sing the anthem, but it was a close thing.

We went to friends’ for a July 4 BBQ* and I finally had the excuse to make this cake. I halved the recipe and got an 8”x12” cake, which I thought would be plenty, but damn, this cake is astonishingly good and we probably could have eaten the whole thing. You certainly don’t have to do the flag pattern with the fruit… I strongly recommend that you make this cake even if you end up just dumping a couple of handfuls of berries on top of the icing.

And finally, a schwack of knitting.

The Arrrgyle socks with some additional help. I’ve never wanted to make argyle socks before, but these overcame me. Unfortunately, they ended up too big for me, but R:tAG says he’ll wear them.

This is why I never wanted to make argyle socks. I really dislike weaving in ends. Unfortunately I didn’t convince R:tAG that they were meant to be shaggy on the inside (“No really! They’re thrummed!”) so I made all the wretched little ends disappear. Eventually.

A shawl for me dear Mum.** I meant to get a pre-blocking picture, but the heat made me forget.

I also blame the heat for something else… I’m not much of a joiner, so I passed on the the whole Mystery Stole thing last year, and had no intention of doing it this year. But then I saw that the sign-up closed this Friday. So I signed up, just to see if I liked the design. It looked very nice. It began with a point. I love things that begin with a point.*** But I didn’t think I had any unspoken for laceweight…

Well, not counting that Merino Oro that I was going to use once and discovered upon winding it up that carpet beetles or something had turned it into Simpson’s Individual Stringettes**** However, I’m a pro at spit-splicing now, so I could use it. But I don’t have any suitable beads, and I hate stringing the little buggers anyway.

Huh. I do have suitable beads. And the pattern uses my new favourite way of adding beads, instead of pre-stringing them. But I don’t have time to even swatch… I have a bunch of work to do this weekend.

OK, so I have the fiercely-blocked swatches and chose a needle (3.75mm... the top swatch), and the yarn will work well, and the beads look great, but I really should wait until I have enough spare time…

Oh dear. That’s Clue #1 done. I blame the heat.

* Highlight of the evening: watching some neighbours set off some (illegal) fireworks and having the box tip over so that the fireworks – real grownup go-high-in-the-air-and-explode-many-times fireworks – were shooting horizontally a foot off the ground into someone’s yard and ricocheting off the house. We were too far away to see the aftermath, but apparently nothing and no-one was damaged. Amazing.

** "A Curved Shawl" from Victorian Lace Today, 2 balls of Misti Alpaca laceweight, 3.75 mm needles. Addi's new lace needles are awesometastic.

*** Literally and figuratively.

**** Two points for getting the reference.

I’ve missed posting about a bunch of birthdays… Canada’s, America’s and this blog’s. Well, I guess I’m not technically too late for America’s. Happy Fourth!

I’ve been working a normal full day (or a bit longer) plus every evening has been taken up by a conference call to Bangalore. We’re in the middle of a crunch, and the time has just flown by.

Today’s a stat holiday (one of the few) and so I’m idling at home. R:tAG’s still asleep because he was up ‘til 6 AM playing Overlord. Silly, silly R:tAG. I tried unwinding just now by playing Katamari Damacy, but perhaps because of stress, perhaps because I’ve been staring at a screen every day for the past two weeks for 8+ hours, it’s making me very motion sick (a lot more than normal). Too bad; I think I’ve finally figured out the route for the level 8 star but it’s not worth throwing up over.

So instead, I stare at a screen to update the blog! Oh well, the cosmos’ loss is your gain.

So, changing subjects completely, I don’t put a lot of pictures on this blog, do I? I finally found one of me that I don’t mind. I don’t think I’m very photogenic (I’m not fishing for compliments here, it’s just a fact. Some people look good in pictures. I’m not one of them. I made my peace with that a while ago). But I think the key might be not smiling. And a 3/4 profile to showcase my pointy nose.

This was at my company’s summer picnic, at a place called Saratoga Springs. R:tAG’s summer picnic will also be there; there must have been a deal. The person who took this picture titled it "Look into my eyes." I think R:tAG must have asked if he had anything in his teeth.

Changing subjects again, I’m sure you’re familiar with the whole “lolcats” meme, as particularly showcased on I Can Has Cheezburger.* There are three spin-offs in particular that made me very happy:

Oh, and as I was idly browsing, following links that other people seem to like, I found Girls With Slingshots on Carla’s new blog. This one is scary in the same way that Something Positive initially scared me… do I have a stalker, or am I just more predictable than I ever thought?

* Personal fave. The whole “lolrus” thread is the best in general, I think. This is the one that started it all.

For some reason, I’ve found a lot of cool stuff recently, probably because I’m browsing more (since most of the restaurants around are closing, it’s easier for me to bring my lunch and eat at my desk… not a bad thing from a nutritional and financial point of view, though I probably should get more fresh air).

Hearing that a casual mention of a funny site helped someone during a funk made me feel good. If I can’t have coffee with all y’all every week, at least I can point you to things that I liked or that reminded me of you. Yes, you.*

Build Your Own Poi – for all my dance buddies.

99 Wolves Crash Into Glass - for all my werewolf buddies (an extraordinarily visually compelling work of art with no wolves harmed, don’t worry).

What the World Eats - I think Cenobyte will like this especially.

Smitten Kitchen - My new favourite food blog – have you seen this, Steve?

Geeky Yarn - For all my knitting buddies, especially Marcia and I hope she feels better soon. I'm putting the crochet Dalek near the top of my "to do" list.

The Joys of Home Fries and Wine - (you have to watch an ad to get to the site… totally worth it) The Achewood guys wrote a cookbook. If you don’t know who this reminds me of, you haven’t met him.

The Comics Curmudgeon - Why was I not told of this earlier? Sweet fancy Moses, this is funny, and I can almost hear Rilla laughing until she becomes inaudible.

PVP Online - for Carl, Mickey, and the other Apple slaves.

Another PVP Online
- for Ferlak, especially. Eerie, eh?

Sinfest - The whole thing reminds me of Bne, but that was the one in particular that made me fire up Yahoo and send him the link.

Partially Clips - This one’s for Alamalan despite the lack of octopuses.

Best Office Ever - This is so nice. And it reminded me of Suz because she’s so unnaturally happy with her job even without office furniture like this. Imagine!

Ninjas - For Quinn, of course.

Japan - For Paul, of course

Natureza Viva - To all my cross-stitching buddies… OK, I think I’m the only one crazy enough to have done cross stitch**, but if you’re at all interested in UI design or animation this is worth checking out. It’s strangely compelling and very well executed. Note the subtle use of fisheye distortion!

AT-AT stroller - For Seamus and Jen, and congratulations.

Narcissistic Blog Disorder
- For Terry. It seems to bother him when I don't tell him why I think a thing is appropriate for him, so I won't. Heh.

* And if you don’t see your name explicitly here, it’s because of my poor memory. I promise that I was thinking of you at some point but probably forgot to bookmark. Leave a comment and I'll try to re-find whatever it was that reminded me of you.

** I think I’m on record as saying it’s like paint-by-numbers, but without the creativity.

I often feel guilty that we don’t do all the stuff that we can here. There’s so much going on, but most nights and weekends we have a far more boring schedule than we did in Saskatoon (a combination of a smaller social circle and the formidable travel logistics; man, I miss living a block away from Broadway). So sometimes we make an effort to actually get off our butts and do things. And then I’m reminded why we mostly don’t… I’m tired!

Saturday was my regular dance class, and then we ran some errands and went up to have a lovely but expensive supper with friends in San Francisco, and go to a Jazz Age Swing Party. Our friends are big into the swing dancing, and they persuaded us to give it a try… there were lessons included.* It was actually pretty fun; there were all skill levels represented so we were not obvious in our ignorance, but ‘20’s dancing is tiring! Here I always thought that those old movies were speeded up (à la the Keystone Kops) when they showed all the jazz babies doing the Charleston but nope, you actually are supposed to look like that. The really embarrassing part was the old folks, some of whom looked like they might have been around to learn the original dances, who were still going strong after I had to be led to a bench and fanned. My ankles still are a bit achey.

And then Sunday was pirates! Yarrr! I guess the “pirate weekend” of the Renaissance Festival was popular enough that someone said “Hey, we could probably just do that bit!” and the First NorCal Pirate Festival was born. And it was free, at which I am amazed. It was a bit of a drive, and it was very hot, but still a good time. There was actors from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies signing autographs (which we missed, unfortunately; one of the suggestions I would have for next year’s planners would be to have a posted schedule of events, also more shade-providing structures), constant entertainment (this guy sang a very good song titled “You Can’t be a Pirate With All of Your Parts”),

a guy with amazingly tolerant parrots (there's one on my shoulder as well as the one I'm holding... yes, they're live birds),

and some really cute costumes.

We left sort of early-ish because the heat and the sun took their toll, but after some time reviving in an air-conditioned car** we realized we were pretty hungry, and we happened to be driving past the only Fuddruckers we’ve seen here***. Cheeseboat! Sweet, sweet cheeseboat!**** But the best part was because the Fuddruckers was in a strip mall with a movie theater, people would stop us and say “Nice costumes! You were just at the pirate movie?” to which we would smile, say “Nope!” and move on. Let ‘em wonder.

* Personal fave, the Collegiate Shag. Easily 90% of the joy was hearing R:tAG muttering “HOP hop HOP hop HOP HOP!” under his breath in a Sesame Street monster voice to try and get the footwork.

** Our friends drove. I still don’t have AC in my car. My resistance is crumbling, though.

*** The website makes it look like Northern California is littered with them, but I think they lie.

**** Somewhere in the back of my mind is a shanty-type song about pirates and cheeseboats. I don’t know what will become of it.

… and she swam the seven seas,
And some folks called her Susie-Q or Susan if you please,
And some called her Susannah like the Steven Foster song,
But those who called her Sushi weren’t her friends for very long.

The sushi-boat camera link from the last post gave me a craving, so I went twice to my sushi-boat place this week. Madness! But its last day is June 24, so I have a deadline to finally try all the scary little things I’ve been too chicken to.*

One of the reasons I like it is how quick it is (no waiting, at least for a single seat by the boats), the fact that I can be making decisions about my lunch right up until it’s time to pay**, and just how pretty all the little plates are going ‘round. Salmon roe in particular is just beautiful.

I’m pretty sure this “How to Eat at a Sushi Bar” is not completely serious.

Because of the massive construction, there aren’t many shops left in my immediate area. As their leases expire, they’re all moving out. I am pessimistic about what will replace them in the new downtown incarnation; the old area was one of those sort of past-its-prime strip malls*** with a great collection of really eclectic shops. Coins and stamps, fish and aquarium supplies, watch repair, a pawn shop, a couple of shoe repair places, a drycleaner, an optometrist, a furniture store, clothing, a bunch of non-chain restaurants…

Oh well. Change happens, especially around here.

* Except for maybe the baby octopuses. They just look so sad. I don’t think they’re very popular to eat, so they just keep going ‘round and ‘round, looking more and more disconsolate. Sometimes their little tentacles drag in the water, like a languishing Victorian lady in a canoe.

** It's like dim-sum; you take as many plates as you have a mind to, and the server just tallies them up at the end. The plates are colour-coded by price.

*** Well, not really a strip mall. A downtown area, designed for pedestrians, where each block is one big building full of little shops, but each has a separate entrance and the sidewalks are all sheltered by the eaves of the building… OK, maybe it is a strip mall. But I sort of like it. Oh, hey, here’s a picture.

A little bit louder and a little bit worse.

Tricksy intestinal bugs. I thought I was over it, but I really, really wasn’t. Ooog.

I’m better now, though slightly floaty from eating nothing solid for four days. Bless Jamba Juice (the local equivalent of Booster Juice) and VitaminWater.

I have the energy for nothing but mucking out the link stables. Enjoy.

If we Taught English the Way We Teach Mathematics
Don’t Let Body-Mod Envy Ruin Your Entire Day - Now I wanna play Shadowrun…
American Food Manifesto
Birth of One Parrot
- Awwwww!
Snowglobe Art - Sooooo pretty
Chinese Ballet Circus - OK, this is possibly the most amazing thing I have ever seen.
Sushi Boat Camera
Fuzzy Thinking Bingo - A list of common “arguments” (and the quotes are definitely needed) that you can use to play bingo during discussions about woo.
VisiGoth - Heh.

This was the second weekend in a row that I was sick. Blargh.

Last weekend, it was the Western Canadian Lingering Lung Crud, which at least left me ambulatory. This weekend, it was some food poisoning/stomach flu thing that R:tAG might have given to me… he’d been under the weather all week and finally felt close to normal on Saturday, then Sunday I woke up knowing that I was going to be spending all day horizontal, sucking on ice cubes, with a bucket beside me. At least for me it was over after one day.* I guess between us we had the extremes of feeling kinda-sorta-bad for a long time, or really wretched for a short time. On the whole I prefer the “really wretched for a short time,” except when it is on a weekend day that I’d planned to use for other purposes.

What other purposes, you ask? Well, there’s this event coming up that I’d really like to attend, but it requires a costume. It’s the French Revolution Picnic and since I’ve been thinking about making a general purpose working-class Elizabethan outfit for a while,** and since I think that could easily be turned into working-class Revolutionary (it’s all about the accessories), and since I tend to need a concrete purpose before I can motivate myself to do anything, why not?

Getting R:tAG kitted up in time might be more of a challenge. At least time and budget pretty much dictate peasant revolutionaries instead of aristos.

* I was better enough this morning to come to work, but I’m still feeling the effects of not being able to eat or drink anything for all of yesterday. Well, more accurately, having nothing stay eaten or drunk yesterday. You really needed to know that, didn’t you? You’re welcome.

** I’ve got most of the material already, it’s just been patiently waiting…

(ETA: I'm talking here about Pirates of the Caribbean 3 - At World's End. I guess that wasn't obvious enough for some people.)

As always, she summarized the points better than I (spoiler warning in the link, I’ll try to avoid spoilers in this post*).

It’s rare that I think a movie is too subtle, but it really felt like a lot was left out. I know that you don’t want to do too many “As you know, your father the King…” type speeches, but no explanation at all just means I’m sitting there going “Wait, what… now she’s… and he has to… but why didn’t they…”** and lots of it just feels like retconning rather than a thoughtful overplot. They foreshadowed a lot of stuff successfully (e.g. Tia Dalma’s locket) which to me just emphasized what they didn’t foreshadow. There were too many places where I was saying “But if that’s the case, then why didn’t someone say something back then?” The whole Calypso thing, a major plot point, is introduced seemingly out of left field.

But I liked the movie and plan on seeing it again many times. A warning for those planning to take children; see it by yourself first. I do not think it’s suitable for sensitive young ‘uns, but watch the first ten minutes and judge for yourself.

I’m also a bit bitter because of what happens to my favourite character. Hmph.

Oh, and apparently there’s a whole explanation for the ending that is nowhere in the actual movie, which makes several things make a bit more sense or at least provides better closure. Be sure and stay for the post-credit bit, and brush up on the legend of the Flying Dutchman.

* But my absolute favourite Cleolinda quote from the above link is: “Taking my mother to see this movie is going to be hellish. 'Where are they? Is that China? Who's Calypso? Why are there so many Jacks? Why would multiple Jacks be hell? Is Will with the bad people now? Why is Will with the bad people? Why doesn't his father remember him? Why is Elizabeth Calypso? Well, why isn't she—' OH MY GOD.”

** Of course, some of that is undoubtedly because we went to see the midnight show and the movie is three freakin’ hours long. My level of intellectual analysis was basically “Oooh, ‘splody boats!”

(song lyrics here… heh. I hadn’t heard this before, but how perfect is it?)

It’s awfully short notice, but since today’s our birthday, and it’s also the official release date of Pirates of the Caribbean 3, we’re having a barbeque* featuring screenings of the first and second movies, then attending the third at midnight. It’s rated Arrr!

I came back to work yesterday and three people in a row reacted with “Whoa! You look like you need to take a few more days off!” The lung issues that plagued me throughout the weekend have segued from allergy-triggered asthma into some deep-seated crud that has me coughing continuously,** much to the detriment of my sleep schedule (and poor R:tAG’s). I am glad that a long weekend is coming up, and I am unspeakably grateful to Dancin’ Cicada Jen, hereafter known as Saint Jen, who came through with the prescription meds in a pinch because I am an idiot. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

But enough about depressing sickness! Boo, coughy lungs! Hooray beer!*** The week in Canada was great; old friends with new partnerships and new babies and new houses, dry ribs, Big Rock Traditional, Broadway Roastery mochaccinos, Firefly episodes plus red wine, and lots of driving across the prairies, which I happen to love.**** The only thing missing was a thunderstorm. I miss those very much. We had high hopes of one on our last night in Canada (Tuesday in Edmonton) where the wind was so strong that there were dust devils in the street intersections, the clouds were greenish gray, and the air had that heavy, foreboding feeling. Alas, everything just blew past.

Oh, and I did get the lace shawl done in time to wear it to the wedding; I finished it up on the plane, and did a half-assed job of blocking it on Ben’s living room floor. Luckily, Edmonton’s climate means that it dried almost within minutes. I don’t have any good pictures yet, alas, but I’m very pleased with how it turned out. I’ll re-block it and show you soon!

Thanks to Al and Jen for hosting such a great wedding, thanks to Suzi for hosting such a great party, thanks to Bne, Alamalan and Trent for the hospitality, and thanks to everyone for being such good friends. I apologize to anyone we didn’t see or weren’t able to spend enough time with; we underestimated the amount of time we need to do justice to y’all. We really, really miss you. Come visit!

*The etymology of “Buccaneer” and “Barbeque” is the same! It’s true!

** A “productive” cough, in medical terminology. We shall draw a discreet curtain over the disgusting details.

*** Have you seen the Red Stripe ads? They’re a hoot. And, unlike some of my favourite ads, you actually remember what they’re for.

**** Though not so much in a PT Cruiser. I cannot honestly recommend the car; very poor mileage, mediocre performance, not very comfortable, high-centered and tippy feeling (though of course some of that might be because I'm used to a much smaller car).


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