It's really hard to start up blogging again, but I continually feel bad about enjoying my friends' blogs and being happy when they update, and yet denying them the enormous pleasure of reading mine. So here we go.

I'm actually glad I remembered to take the occasional picture in the last few months; it reminds me of events. Going through my bookmark list also helps. I do think of y'all! I'm just terrible with the follow-through...

So in roughly chronological order, a while ago we took in the Genghis Khan exhibit at the Tech Centre, which was very good. Engineer John happened to be in town (it's so nice to live in a place where people actually get sent on business) so he accompanied us.

I have a strange fascination with Mongolia, so I was pleased to learn that there is a Naadam festival held regularly in the area. Maybe next year!

We had a Halloween thing at work, but I wasn't organized enough to really do anything elaborate* and didn't want to repeat last year.** I settled for a joke that I'm not really sure a lot of people got, which surprised me. Usually if I know about something, it's gone past pop culture and into obscure history.

(Teal Dear? TL;DR? Geddit?)

We had an election. No pictures. Argh.

The local university put on a Steampunk version of Twelfth Night so we had to go wave the cog-and-goggles flag. It was very good! I especially liked Orsino; they did him as a mopey emo-goth who kept theatrically collapsing with woe. Malvolio and Sir Toby were also standouts. Malvolio was especially excited that R:tAG also had a clockwork hand (Malvolio's mostly out of costume in this shot, sadly, but he ran backstage to put his hand back on when he saw R:tAG's )

R:tAG and I went up to Seattle for SteamCon II which was great. This year's theme was "Wild Wild West".

Next year's is 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea and I have some costume ideas for next year (thanks to Prof. Wright from Polygnostic U.) that will be awesometastic. Perhaps even better than the ostrich, though the ostrich was a lot of fun. Next year, though, I am going to put the costume completely on at least once before the event.*** I spent too long in the morning jury-rigging bits and pieces.

And then we visited Arizona to have (American) Thanksgiving with my folks, who were also visiting there. In the theme of "R:tAG Re-enacting Scenes From Fallout", he decided to harvest some prickly pear fruit. At least he wasn't shooting Roman legionnaires in the head.

We were staying in a town named "Surprise" which kept me in a constant state of low-level amusement. I think the locals thought I was a bit simple.

And finally, we went this weekend to the Dickens Fair**** and there saw a production of the Mikado, spoke to Edward Allan Poe and Cyrus Harding***** had some fine English comestibles****** and bought some cool stuff including a fox mask.

I only wore the mask for this picture, but it is a great mask.

And I think that brings us up to date! How are you doing?

* Also, after about 20 years of ignoring all levels of (in)activity and (un)healthy diet, my body has finally decided to change shape so many of my costumes were no longer an option. Anyone interested in a dark green and black Size 8-ish Italian Renaissance dress (Simplicity 8735, View B (lower right))? There's a slim (hah!) chance I'll be able to wear the Edwardian, Regency and Victorian outfits comfortably again, but I think the Italian Ren is a write-off.

** The delicate flower of a UI Artist has moved on, alas, so I couldn't even get up the motivation to think up something really disturbing.

*** The logistics of the costume were complicated by the fact it had to fit into checked luggage (I didn't feel like being a poster child for the new security procedures). I was explaining this to a mundane in the Seattle hotel elevator, how the costume collapsed and folded, and she said "Oh, you should be an engineer!"

**** Not for the Steampunk Day, alas, I was already committed for an all-day gaming marathon that day, but sometimes it's nice to just go straight historical and not have all the serious volunteers give you the side-eye like you're wearing LotR costumes to a Ren Faire.

***** Not really.

****** "Try our French Onion Soup! Tastes like French people! And onions!"

More Steampunk goodness, with the Handcar Regatta on September 26. It was really really hot, but we found that a nice Italian lunch with lemon gelato takes the edge off the heat quite nicely. In addition to the actual races* there were blocks of stalls with cool stuff** and food and even some DIY-type displays like Makers' Faire.

And then Mr. Tall visited for a bit, which was a pleasure as always. We'll get him to move down here yet! Unfortunately he was here only during the week, which meant we didn't get a chance to do anything very photogenic with him.***

Thanksgiving here is called "Columbus Day"**** and we spent it in part assembling our newest impulse buy.

It's a walking eye! It's a walking eye that makes compost! It's a walking eye that makes compost and was on sale! Irresistible! It's resting on six upturned caster wheels, so you can rotate it easily in any direction. It was actually kind of fun to put together... it arrived flat-packed, if you can imagine. I think I will have the opposite problem of trying to make compost in Saskatoon; it is harder to get brown material here than green. Difficult to believe right now especially, when I'm sure the lawns of Saskatoon are ankle deep in dead leaves.

* As you can tell from even a cursory examination of the photos, actual speed was not the only consideration in judging the winners. Artistic merit also factored heavily.

** I bought a parasol with tentacles on it, mainly out of self-defence. The sun was hot!

*** Drinking and watching RiffTrax Shorts is really of interest only to the participants, and only at the time.

**** This statement is not exactly true.

So, monthly round-up, I guess.

We went on a train. No, I'm not saying it right... We took a train!!!!! And we went with a bunch of very cool Steampunk people from all over.

(Ah, all the high tech in the world can't keep my thumb out of the picture, apparently. Where is my Photoshop Thumb Filter? Better pictures are here)

It's the V&T Railroad, from Carson City to Virginia City, and it was fun. We went on the steam train (of course!) which uses fuel oil and not coal but which is still very steamy! We had a group picture taken in front of the engine in Virginia City and the engineer obligingly created a big cloud of steam for atmosphere and now the back of my coat doesn't have wrinkles any more.

It took about 1.5 hours to go (IIRC) about 20 miles, so we were going slowly enough to appreciate the Nevada scenery. Virginia City was once quite large and active (during the silver rush and the Comstock Lode and all that) but now it pretty much exclusively caters to tourists and shuts down at 6 PM apparently. Still neat, though. We had a beer at the Bucket of Blood (as you do) and saw a couple of museums* and had our pictures taken by (other) tourists who thought we were part of the show.

And the next day before we headed back we walked around Carson City for a bit, which seems very small for a state capital but has a disproportionate amount of history and very nice old houses (see above re: profitable holes in the ground).

A while ago we also saw They Might Be Giants down in Santa Cruz, and I just have to share the decorations from the Rio Theatre:

I'm pretty sure that Tragedy and Comedy have been replaced by Terror and Psychosis. Should we say anything?

* Including the Red Light District Museum, which is in the dim and ancient basement of a bar and which includes medical implements from the 1850s. Nothing makes me appreciate being born in the late 20th century like seeing the state of the medical art of the mid-19th. Mind you, as one of our new steampunk friends pointed out, people in the next century might say that about this one.

  • Inception was very, very good.
  • Black Dynamite was very, very good. It's like Lost Skeleton of Cadavra but with a higher budget and for a different genre. An absolutely spot-on... parody? Homage? Affectionate spoof?
  • The Expendables was pretty disappointing. If it was meant to be to 80's action films what Black Dynamite is to 70's blaxploitation films, I think it failed. It was no A-Team, anyway.
  • Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant was really unexpectedly good. Did that even make the theaters? I remember seeing a preview for it and then bang, it was in the Netflix queue. A pity, I really liked it and hope they make a sequel.
  • I do not recommend watching Inception, Franklyn and Re-Cycle within three days of each other either, and not just because I thought Re-Cycle had a pretty banal ending. You will start thinking disturbing thoughts about the nature of reality and end up not getting anything done.
We've been watching a lot of movies, haven't we? Never fear, we also did a short hike at Almaden Quicksilver County Park,* saw Cinematic Titanic live (um, does that count as a movie?), and saw Blondie and the B-52s at the Mountain Winery.**

Oh, and of course Uncle Baby Quinn and his cool pop were here for all-too-short a time on a motorcycle trip. We got up to SF to see the Asian Art Museum and the mandatory Fisherman's Wharf visit.

(the bottom picture is Quinn. Just in case of confusion).

I highly, highly recommend taking a ceramics expert with you on your visit to the Asian Art Museum. Quinn's Cool Pop made the visit about a million times more interesting (um, not that it's not an interesting museum. But having your own personal expert tour guide is great!)

And the picture-taking during all this activity raised a bunch of interesting questions thanks to my recent reading of Cognitive Surplus. At the Mountain Winery concert particularly, a sign said "No Professional Photography." What is professional these days, when literally anyone with an Internet connection has a "Publish" button?

That whole question might be another blog post, but I do highly recommend Cognitive Surplus and Here Comes Everybody, especially to those people who have read Blind Faith.*** I guarantee you will thoughtfully put the book down and say "Huh. Never thought about that," at least once.

* Motto: "Our wildlife is so full of mercury that you can tell the temperature by watching the snakes' heads bob up and down!"

** A very nice venue, and there's a restaurant up there that we'd like to try out. The view is amazing.

*** Well, at least if you found Blind Faith disturbing and dystopic, and want to be reassured of the good side of modern information technology.

So Cenobyte with her writeyness has mentioned this, of course, but a couple of weekends ago was the wedding of my old and dear friend to a lovely woman who I hope will become an old and dear friend. It was a blend of Vedic, Catholic and secular traditions, which provided a constant low-level cognitive dissonance that was really enjoyable. Ganesh was invoked and the sacred fire was kindled under the benevolent gaze of the Christ. I had no idea that Catholics were so ecumenical.* And of course Cenobyte and I still share a brain.**

The reception was in the basement of the Post Office.*** As I believe I said at the time, if someone had told me 28 years ago at a D&D game that one day, I'd be in the basement of the Post Office celebrating the DM marrying a supermodel ninja, I'm not sure I'd have believed it. But there we were, watching the father of the groom in full Highland fig (he had changed from his shalwar kameez), singing an Elvis song to a group of appreciative ladies in saris.

(our friends have the best weddings!)

We got to see many other friends too even though our visit was terribly short. On the bright side, we only had a few days exposure to the mosquitoes, which because of the warm, wet summer are particularly vicious. The event was two weeks ago and my legs still look like a bunch of Smurfs went on a hickey rampage. We've lost all our Saskatchewan-born instincts of self-preservation, as I realized when I paused outside the rental car to text Effigy that we were coming. Silly me.

Still, a great weekend!

* Not meant to be snarky, honestly. I really was pleasantly surprised. Apparently the Catholic Powers That Be, with the close reasoning that I associate with Jesuits, have carefully thought through how mixed marriages will be performed ("mixed" here being Catholic and non-Catholic, so a hard-shell-Baptist/Catholic wedding uses the same rules as a Hindu/Catholic wedding. This pleases me.) I gather the participants still have to be of different sexes, but baby steps.

** I wore a gray dress and decided it needed punching up a bit with a red handknit shawl. Completely independently, she wore a lovely red dress and decided to wear a gray handknit shawl. We looked like the backup singers. And she stole my shoes again!

*** Well, in a jazz club that's in the basement of the downtown building that used to be the main Post Office. To me it will always be the Post Office.

So there was much rejoicing. About the only cogent argument* I've heard is one that unelected judges should not overturn decisions that the majority of people have made. But the question I'd like to ask to that in turn is: Is an unelected judge overturning a majority decision ever right? I think that it is; that judges are supposed to protect the minority from the majority, because no one else can.

I seem to have lowered my writers' block a bit; I actually have a couple of other posts fermenting in my brain-juice. But this just seemed worthy of note.

ETA: A funny yet accurate summary of the debate is here

*Some religious book defines marriage differently? Irrelevant to the law. Marriages must be for producing children? Simply untrue. It's a slippery slope that will lead to paedophilia and bestiality? Demonstrably untrue, any more than giving women the vote led to hamsters and babies voting. It will degrade hetero marriages? Bewilderingly untrue. Children must be raised by one mother and one father? Untrue, with disturbing implications for the legal future of divorce and single parenting.

I don't know what it is; my writing juices have utterly dried up. There are several things I really need to write, including this, and I am just completely at a loss.

It's not as if there aren't things to share; we were back up in S'toon in June (hah!) to see my dad receive an honorary degree from the U. of S. It was really great to see that, as well as to catch up with many old friends and abuse their hospitality. We were able to get out to see R:tAG's parents, too, which is always a pleasure.* There was harness racing going on, so we went to see that (never having seen it before):

I really miss the SK skies.

Their town was very, very wet when we visited (an unusual thing by the standards of the past, oh, 20 years) and later, it got worse. R:tAG's folks, fortunately, live on relatively high ground.

And then Mr. Tall visited, and we all went to Half Moon Bay, to which none of us had ever been and which we found charming. Mr. Tall had the concept of micro-climates vividly illustrated; you go over the ridge and the temperature plunges and the sun disappears. We went to the beach anyway,

and had a meal at the Moss Beach Distillery that was awesometastic even though I was still recovering from a bad cold and mainly appreciated the textures.** Then we drove back, out of the dim, chilly fog, and into the warm golden sunshine of a California evening. The transition is quite startling.

We saw the Last Airbender movie and I'm not even going to link to it. Just watch the original TV series. The movie was really awful. On the other hand, I really enjoyed Despicable Me. Apparent key to me liking a movie; knowing nothing about it beforehand.

And now it's back to work and the never-ending patching and small improvements that are part of building an MMO. I'm finding it's not enough to (finally) learn that hacky shortcuts always come back to bite you, it's being able to persuade everyone else of that that's valuable.

* Best story of that trip; we went with R:tAG's dad to his regular Coffee Row haunt, so that he could show off his son from California, and of course every person we met asked what brought us back to Saskatchewan. I told them that my dad was getting an honorary degree from the U. of S., and on two separate occasions the questioner's eyes got wide and he gasped "You're Gordie Howe's daughter!??!" I did not have the presence of mind to say yes.

** I don't get sick very often, honestly, but it seems that when I do, it's when we have houseguests. It's a good thing I am not a paranoid sort.

So normally I only mention comings and goings (mine, ours or others') after the fact because, as I have said, I have weird privacy issues about putting personal information out on Teh IntarWebz.* But our current houseguest is practically famous for writing about not being home, and I just want to brag about having such a cool friend.

So go read Pam's blog, Go See Run Eat Drink, and enjoy! We have to figure out a Weird Food for her to try here, and I have to think of a short list of must-see sights that will compete with the best Europe, Asia and Africa have to offer.**

* And yes, I just posted my full birthdate a few days ago. But I could have been lying.

** I really need to stock up on guide books; we've been going pretty much completely digital for that sort of thing but there's something about your basic Fodor's Guide that's very reassuring.

Hey there.

Still here, still reasonably content, no large life changes (apart from turning 41, but that's really not a change. Not turning 41 would have been a change. I would have blogged about that).

Also not real reason or explanation for stopping blogging. Sorry about that.

So, what did I miss describing? Visitors,* lots of work, nice weather, a few movies, some really quite good meals. And more work. I need a better class of dream or something.

Oh, and today I saw a Nuttall's Woodpecker, which I had never seen before. My new office** has huge windows that look out onto treetops, since the office borders a creek valley, and I therefore have Wildlife TV on pretty much constantly. It's nice, if distracting. Squirrel!

* Wode and Tox C., and then Mr. Too-Tall. It was great to see them all. Having Tox C. around to go yarn shopping with was especially awesometastic. Am I missing anyone? It seems like there might have been more people. My sincere apologies if I'm forgetting about you.

** Not due to a promotion; I was serious about the "no changes" thing. After STO released there was a big musical-office rearrangement as the team size changed, and I got shuffled around. I think it's an upgrade on the whole, though.

Complete blogging fail! OK, point-form précis of the last, oh, month or so.

- Knitting Olympics DNF. "Languishing Projects Pentathlon" too ambitious. Only completed 2/5 projects (small ones). Buttons didn't arrive in time for Big Project #1, so it was completed but not on time. Small Project #3 also completed, not on time.* Big Project #2 never even left its bag.

- Swarm of house-guests. February apparently popular time to leave Canada. Once again Bne and Ferlak part of our Chinese New Year's Treasure Hunt team, with the lovely addition of The Girl. Won third place for team name ("Bright Lights, Big Kitty") and came in 25th of 111 teams for actual contest. Not bad! Raven arrived later, fun times and much eating.

- Current sewing project = the fourth Steampunk Airship uniform. Making the same thing four times is about my limit. Nova Albion ahoy!

- Very insightful discussion of the current healthcare megillah.

- Work continues. Gabriel's Theory amply borne out by observation.

- Not attending GDC. Oh well.

* Small Project #3 involved randomly placing beads, holes, and ruffles. I'm really not so good with random, to the point where apparently I get hysterical project blindness.

I believe

It's the Knitting Olympics time again already. Four years just fly by! I'll have to find out if Bob and Bob are still available and interested in doing the commentary.

I'm planning a pentathlon event; I've got five things on the needles that I really ought to finish. This will be a challenge, for sure. I've gotten sick of each of the projects at least once already. One of the projects is actually older than our residence in California* so there's the additional challenge there of figuring out where I left off.

And some random links:

Pretty disturbing
I might get a tattoo... this design with this ink. How cool is that?
Life will NOT be like Star Trek
Hang This Up in Your Time Machine
And more time travel musings
How To Avoid Camera Loss (made me laugh, anyway)
Where Should I Eat? (First question = are you in Canada? Marvelous.)

* Seeing as how it's a wool sweater for R:tAG, I probably ought to make sure he's still interested.

STO is on its way, boldly going etc. etc. etc. Reaction has been favourable on the whole. My personal warm fuzzy review so far is that the UI does not suffer any huge reproach.* The software dev team got an ice-cream cake! **

Kovbasa Steve was just here, which was great even though R:tAG and I were so busy that we didn't have near enough time to spend with him.*** Plus I was completely laid up with some kind of food poisoning for the middle of the week... about 12 hours of violent, erm, "issues" followed by about 24 hours of a healing coma. Thank goodness I was the only one affected, though it happened right after the only meal we all shared. I'd really REALLY feel bad about poisoning a guest with my cooking. I guess I got the lucky E. Coli. lettuce leaf or something.

Dundracon is coming up and there are an amazing number of LARPs. It's been a while, the pain has faded, maybe I'll get back on the horse. There's also the Chinese New Year's Treasure Hunt and Stitches West to look forward to. I'm glad the crunch of the game has faded to a dull roar and I'm allowed some extracurricular activities.

* OK, literal translations are always funny. It's actually "L'interface, bien plus pratique que celle de Champions Online, ne souffre d'aucun gros reproche," from this review.

** Plus personal handmade trophies from the team manager, who is a stand-up guy. Within a few minutes we'd figured out that the little Enterprise models on the trophies were designed to come off, and we were flying the ships around making "pew-pew" noises at each other. I like the game industry.

*** And it rained pretty much all the time. But that's still preferable compared to February in Calgary.

To forestall any questions about the weather and us, we're fine. It has been a lot of rain, and a lot of wind, though, and even hail and tornadoes. There was a thunderstorm a few days ago too. Very unusual for the Bay Area, but also sort of exciting.

(as an indication of how acclimatized I've become, though, I walked out of the office last night and forgot my jacket. That's overcoming a lot of Saskatchewan training, right there.)

STO Open Beta is going pretty well, I've managed to sneak fixes in for some of the little things that were bothering me, and most of the big things that broke were not directly my fault.* And right now I'm not allowed to change anything because we're building The Release Version and TPTB** want that to be as simple as possible. So I'm sort of at loose ends today. It's an odd feeling.

And I must resist the lure of online shopping. Specifically, I must not go to the Fluevog site.


I think I might have a bit of a problem. I've never considered myself a shoe person; for the majority of my life I think I pretty much owned a pair of Sorels, a pair of sneakers and a pair of black pumps.*** But in the past five years... eesh. I'm afraid to count. And there's something specifically about Fluevogs. Like these and these and these and these.**** And the boots. Oh, goodness, the boots. I've managed to talk myself out of any boots because really, where would I wear them? Don't answer that.

The other thing I love about Fluevog, by the way, is their confirmation e-mails. From their last one: "It should be noted that when your order came in earlier, a few of us sat around at break and talked about how awesome your taste and decision-making ability was." I know it's boilerplate, but it still makes me feel warm and fuzzy. People are funny.

* Not directly. Some stuff I did broke because some other stuff on which mine depended was updated/fixed, and I'd not done my stuff in as robust a way as I ought to have. But I think that's all sorted out now.

** The Powers That Be

*** OK, OK, I'm not counting shoes required for specific activities like playing squash, hiking, or getting married.

**** Um, yeah. I own them all. In my defense, I never paid more than half price for any of them, and look at the discount on that last pair! 85% off! I was helpless! Stupid Fluevog clearance section. Stupid, stupid Fluevog clearance section.

First day of Open Beta, and there are lots and lots of people trying the game out. It was pretty cool to watch the numbers climb this morning. Of course, there are some issues that really only happen when you get above a certain threshold of concurrent users, and they are all happening. Well, that's what Beta's for.

I've been working about 14 hours a day for the past five days straight and I'm rather tired. And I still didn't get all the little things fixed that I wanted to get fixed.*

Thank goodness for the sea-monkeys. Seriously. They're about 0.75 cm long now and scooting around in such a lively manner that I can't get a count. I think there are about nine of them. And an unexpected side benefit is that I can send my delicate flower of an office-mate into conniptions by pretending to stick a straw into the tank and take a sip.

ETA: This. What?? It's related!

* And a few big things. But we will not speak of those.

My second-favourite Christmas present: Sea-Monkeys!

I wanted them to have their birthday on Jan 1, but I didn't read the instructions and the water had to settle* for a day. So their birthday is Jan 2. They're pretty visible now, wiggling around, but I still can't see their little faces and hands and crowns. I can't wait!

It is oddly relaxing having an aquarium to stare at at work, even something as tiny as the Sea Monkeys.

* mixed with the Super-duper Wonderful Water Purification Powder!


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