I just got it. Well not really, I just thought of an amusing way to think about StarKist's mascot Charlie the Tuna. For those who don't know Charlie the Tuna wants to be caught by StarKist because this will prove that he's a Tuna with good taste. Okay, hipster, wears a beret, and wants to be eaten... Oh my gosh, he's into kinky sex! He's a forerunner of those guys on the internet who want to be killed and eaten as part of a cannibalistic orgy. Or did StarKist unintentionally create them?
Their standard Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-Shirt is well cut, but a bit pricey at $17.00 a piece. Even though I'd rather support American workers I find myself wishing they were only a little more than tees at Target rather than being about twice as expensive even when Target is not having a sale. The colors I like are Brown, Cranberry, Aqua, Sea Foam, Kelly Green, Olive, and Army.
I would have been likely to order rather a lot of the Long Sleeve T-Shirts, but almost none of them are available in even small, much less the extra small that my measurements say I should wear, and in colors I like. Unavailable in Cranberry, Light Blue, or Silver. And only in small for Brown and Asphalt, so I'm only thinking of getting Sea Foam since it is available in extra small. Fortunately their arms are more than long enough for me even in XS.
A silly technological tee that interests me is the Thermochromatic Sheer Jersey T-Shirt. But what color? "Hyper Green" is nice, the "Hyper Vermilion" is fun, the orange gold is good looking, but might be the wrong color with my skin tone, and "Hyper Fast-Blue" and "Fast-Black" do not seem cheerful/vibrant enough to me. And what size? I've tried on their products in the past and the extra-small fit me exactly with just enough room to move comfortable and not a centimeter more. This is because I fall between their sizes with my 29 inch waist and 33 inch chest. So if I was buying strictly for looks I might go with extra small, but would this sort of thermochromatic tee look better a bit loose?
If anyone has better suggestions for me to spend my hard earned money on I'd love to hear them.
Last week Richard let me know that he had an offer of house sitting for a friend who'd be working in India for a year (or something like that). If K___ accepted this job he'd be moving out in July. Well today K___ accepted the job so this is on. I have to get all my stuff into one room and find a roommate if I want to keep this apartment. I could pay for it all on my own, but that would be a real financial bummer. So... anyone going to need a roommate in Denver 'round about July or August?
Social networking sites have nothing on the drama that happens in meatspace. I was sitting down to a movie with cheese (a very ripe Brie) with Richard when we heard wailing and screams coming from the hall. One of our neighbors was out in the hall crying hysterically. Her elderly parents and boy were also crying hysterically inside their apartment. Something was wrong with the woman's baby and instead of going to the hospital, which is all of 300 meters from the front door of our building, they were all wailing and carrying on. Richard had to take the phone from the woman as she'd called 911, but was unable to give the operator anything more than "baby" and "I want a doctor". Richard had to take charge of getting information conveyed to the authorities and getting them bundled out the door.
When I encounter this sort of situation again I am going to have to remember not to assume there is a good reason for the wailing.
I had a lovely time on Thursday. I went to Herman Gulch Trail with J.K. Simmons (not his real name, just one I'm going to use because that's the actor I think he most resembles, though not when he's playing J.Jonah Jameson). I was a crazy person and took along a bottle of Cristallino (A nice Brut sparkling wine from Spain), a pork chop with apples and onions, and various other hiking necessities. Good food, good wine, high altitude, a warmish day, and bright sun, what more could you ask for? Not many wildflowers yet on the hike, but there were not an excess of people either. Part of that was it being a Thursday, but the rest was how early it is in the season. Still a fair number of snowbanks to climb over, but it was warm and dry enough that my clothes dried out as we were still climbing.
I think I'll go back in a month or so to the same trail to see the wildflowers. In certain places I saw evidence of such a mass of columbines that it is sure to be fairly spectacular. Later J.K. and I walked around Georgetown looking at the Victorian buildings and a Victorian power station that I did not know was open to the public as well as still generating power. If you have time to stop for a visit I highly recommend the Georgetown Energy Museum. It is free and somewhat exciting to see such old equipment still spinning away making electricity.
Dinner at Beau Jo's Pizza and then it was off to Denver.
Whenever I start getting depressed over the future one of the things I think of is breakfast. The big picture does not matter because (some of) the things I love are inexpensive in the extreme. I am about to have a bowl of oatmeal with fresh strawberries and milk. Even the most extravagant accounting of what I spent upon this 'luxury' would peg the price at no more than $1.50. So even though I expect that I'll always have reason to sing "If I Were a Rich Man" I can always have reason to be happy. Cup of tea and my oatmeal.
I'm also working on a nice salad for lunch. I love that the 'spring mix' is so inexpensive at Costco. But I must hurry because I want to be gone from here by noon.
I'm trying to figure out how I should fit my current job as a loss prevention agent into my resume given that I am trying to get out of the security field. I think it is a bad fit for me and I'd much rather have a job that was less physically dangerous even if it paid less. Resume writing is one of my least favorite tasks since I feel like I have nothing to brag about and this sort of self examination is exactly the sort of thing that tends to bring on bouts of depression. Thus trapping me in less than desirable job positions.
It was a very good mail day! Today I got my paystub, which is not actual money (it having already gone into my account) but is still nice, and my Denver Botanic Gardens membership card, and a CD all the way from Europe sent by my wonderful friend Vince.
Hold fast to the law Of the last cold tome Where the earth Of the truth lies thick Upon the page And the loam Of faith In the ink Long fled From the drone Of the nib Flows on, Till the last Of the first Depart And the least Of the past Is dust And the dust Is lost Hold fast! Gormenghast!
I'm listing now and it is making me pretty darn happy along with a glass of port and some nice cheese.
I am seriously considering the purchase of a new car. Why? Because buying now may be paradoxically safer than waiting until I have more money later. If inflation takes off then money I am currently saving towards a new car right now would be partially wiped out. On the other hand if I can get a fixed loan from my credit union or whatever other financing group I would be protected. Provided I also could save a near equal amount as a hedge against the much more frightening prospect of deflation.
I could also, slightly, reduce the amount I spend every month on gasoline if I purchased a more efficient car. I currently get about 28 miles per gallon and given my moderate driving habits I can expect to do slightly better than the EPA rating for a car. If I got one of the new Priuses I could halve my gas expense at the cost of a higher car payment than if I got a less expensive vehicle (as I would want to get it a Prius would cost about $23,348). Also, I have heard there is a waiting list.
On the other hand I could get the nearly as efficient new Honda Insight for just $20,769. Given Honda's ability and reputation I expect that it would be just about as well made as the Toyota. The only reason to go with the Prius is that it is a third generation of an existing car where they've worked out the bugs rather than essentially a completely redesigned model. Plus I've heard good things so far about the things they're doing to make the Prius more reliable, like eliminating belts.
Possibly more practical would be getting a Honda Fit ($15,706) or a Toyota Yaris ($15,288). Of the two I would probably lean towards the Honda going for a bargain price car. Really it is the much more likely option, but it would probably only give me a marginal improvement over my current gas mileage.
I am increasingly comfortable with the idea of a ballot initiative to remove the anti-same sex marriage amendment from the Colorado State Constitution. I've looked at the numbers myself and read an analysis by Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com that is even more optimistic than my own. He has the break over point as being in 2010, that is if the anti-gay marriage initiative was on the ballot next year rather than back in 2006 it would have failed. My own numbers seem to be a bit more conservative, I put the break over year as being 2014.
The thing is that with all these numbers the situation at the time can overwhelm demographics. I mean by this that even if Nate is right that we could have a lackluster liberal turn out in 2010 in Colorado due to uninspiring candidates or disillusionment with the folks we elected last time.
My impression is that the best early date would be 2012 if President Obama is popular and we could reasonably expect high turn out among gay allies. If not we'd have to put it off until 2014 or 2016. The same would seem to hold true with California, which Nate Silver puts in the same category as Colorado. Personally I think that California is a bit more likely to get an early date done due to the gay rights groups out there being fired up to win and on the ball with figuring out how to run a better campaign.
And if it succeeds it might finally give everyone a reason to approve of higher numbers to change the constitutions of both states.
My first exposure to the humor of Marcus Brigstocke was in a you tube video created by a fan by adding (a somewhat mediocre) collage of images to a radio program.
It is not an exact representation of my views. Well my serious views anyways. But it does get my general point of view about religion across in a humorous way. Not in a way that I would share with, say, my parents or someone else I liked a great deal who I knew to be seriously religious. I could see where some religious people would have a nice laugh about this much the same way that I would laugh at jokes pointing out the (well known) foibles of Atheists, but it isn't entirely fair. That said most humor isn't fair and it amused me.
Yes, I realize that if religion actually went away it would not mean a new era of peace and prosperity. It would just mean that people who wanted to beat up someone they do not like would need to find a new excuse or rationalization as to why it is okay. But I have every confidence that people would find a way and possibly even to pretend that it was better for the person being killed than to go on living in his mistaken beliefs. People are amazing at what they can rationalize. But it is a nice little fantasy that maybe if normal, sane rational religious people stopped going to church because of the irrationality of their leaders we might actually get a better world.
I seem to be thinking a lot about food lately. Food and memory seem to be intertwined for me, which should not be surprising since memory is largely about being able to find food. And I'm hardly the first to make the connection between food and memory, Proust famously started remembering things because of petite madeleines.
I am mostly remembering all the camping trips I took as child and young man. Today it was seeing the packages of instant oatmeal in all their flavors that brings back those mountain mornings. I remember that I had a definite hierarchy of which packets were better or worse. I liked the apple and cinnamon ones with their funny little bits of dried apples and the fake dairy powder. The 'maple' flavor was okay, but even back then I had a preference for fruit. Terrible was if I got stuck with a packet of plain. I think I recall liking the peaches and cream flavor okay. But apple was definitely tops. The flavor I saw today was strawberry and I don't recall that one specifically, but I suspect I disliked it for not tasting either of real strawberries or artificial in a way that appealed to my childish palate.
I remember specifically that we'd bring water to boil, rather quickly at over 2750 meters in elevation (9,022 feet), and then carefully pour it into the bowl. I always wanted just enough to moisten the oatmeal and not enough to make it goopy. My mother liked it a lot better when it was more like traditional oatmeal, I wanted it to be almost like oatmeal cookie dough in consistency. Plus without as much water it could be eaten faster since not as much heat would be transferred. Perhaps my aversion grew out of an early experience of trying to eat hot oatmeal on a cold morning too quickly.
I cannot say which camping trip it was specifically, but I remember it was in the beat up camper that my father had before he got the big trailer. It seemed to be at Steamboat Reservoir, but we went there so often it could be a composite memory rather than one specif instance when I got the oatmeal just so and was quite happy with it.
Tomorrow I shall have peaches and whole milk on my oatmeal. Yes. That sounds like a good idea.
Funny thing seen at work today. A guy with a pink motorcycle helmet with a black spike like a Pickelhaube (those old Prussian/German army helmets). When I walked by him I realized that the spike was in all probably a very thin butt plug. I found this more amusing than anything else and I assume the vast majority of people would never realize what the intended purpose of the spike on his helmet was.
Usually the presence of something triggers a memory. How much longer does the absences of something take to make someone remember? I noticed the other day that Trident no longer sells cinnamon gum. That was the kind that my paternal grandmother almost always carried. I have a lot of memories of her giving me a stick while we rode around in her big van in San Diego. She often sang part of a song that I thought was a lullaby while driving.
"Down in the valley, valley so low Hang your head over And hear the wind blow"
One of the differences between my apartment and most places I've lived is that in the bathroom the toilet uses a flushometer rather than the tank usual in private residences. This morning when I went to flush the thing first would not work and then allowed the water to flow until I figured out how to close the 'control stop' to shut the thing off. Learn something new every day and all that (The particular model is a Sloan Royal Flushometer and the internet supplied me with the assurance to turn the little screw thingy with worry that I was going to cause a worse problem).
It did make me wonder why different types of hardware are selected though. I know that to work the flushometer type need bigger pipes, but that should cost more money. Does the use of the type in commercial settings indicate that they make it more expensive to install but less expensive to operate? Certainly in rural settings the water pressure might be insufficient for the flushometer type to work, but why are they not more widely used in cities?
I almost never go to conventions because of the guests. I do, sometimes, avoid them because of their guests though. I was just looking at the guests for Gaylaxicon and MileHiCon this year because I can only get the time off for one and saw that Lawrence Schimel is going to be at Gaylaxicon. I have a high negative desire to meet him so I'm glad on two levels. One I do not have to back out of plans now and I feel much better about being a stick in the mud and staying in Denver.
The ads for the new Star Trek movie do not excite me. In fairness I am often a fairly difficult person to convince that something will be good. Advertisements in particular have a particularly high hurtle to get over with me since I have seen so many good ads for bad movies or products. However, I do have a certain fondness for Star Trek since it was a favorite of mine when I was a child, though that nostalgia is tempered the the knowledge that it was great for its time and when I have seen reruns of the original series it is no longer quite as magical.
What excited me about Star Trek was that even in the 1980s it was pretty cutting edge. Not in its special effects but in the stories that it was telling and the issues it was asking us to have a hard look at. Racism is not exactly dead even today, but when Star Trek put a black woman on the bridge of a starship it was a completely different world. Not to mention the story lines that dealt with exactly the same issues, but using aliens as metaphors. Not to mention that the idea of a future where the Russians would be trusted friends and all the rest of it.
Even Star Trek: The Next Generation did a certain amount of dealing with real world issues though science fiction and asking questions about how we treat returning soldiers for instance. But unlike the first television series it seemed to shy away from being too critical of our own culture or the hard issues of our time. Gays and homosexuals in the future? Never once. Not even in metaphor. Every series since that time has moved further and further away from asking hard questions as the franchise became more mainstream.
Under all the bright shiny newness it has become one of the boring mainstream institutions. Established institutions don't deal with hard issues, they put them off until someone else has to deal with them. Under all the gadgets and special effects there isn't a story for me to be interested in anymore. That's what is wrong with Star Trek for me.
Plus I'm sure that I've already seen all these special effects/stunts before in everything from Independence Day to Riddic. Great. Someone who can show how bad-ass he is by kicking it up to 11 and jumping of something even higher or blowing up something bigger. Bah.
Perhaps I was just not as effective at searching all those years ago or perhaps it was all ready out of print when I first saw it, but this evening I thought to search for the Gormenghast Soundtrack. The best price I saw was for a used copy in the UK going for thirty pounds. That is currently about forty-five dollars plus international shipping and whatever I might have to pay for conversion. Call it a nice round $60.00 on a sight unseen item...
I would overall be happier to pay such a price if I knew that the artists involved were going to see any of it rather than the speculator who bought the physical CD. And yet I am almost considering this. Almost, but not quite yet.
Why am I ranting today? Because after watching "The Old Curiosity Shop" on PBS I happened to see part of something like a gay talk show. As usual even liberal talk shows are full of people who act like they got one too many whacks with the stupid stick as a baby. It does not matter if a talk show is conservative or liberal, it is at heart about filling time with things that will make people alternate between rage and schadenfreude. Because it is all about filling airtime with stuff that will keep people tuned in at low cost.
Mission accomplished on the making me angry. Though not in either keeping me tuned in or turning me again the target I suppose they wanted to point me at. After just a few moments I wanted to shout at them, "What the hell is wrong with you people?" As a thinking person I am outraged that you're paying attention to the opinion of a beauty pageant contestant.
"Headline: Beauty pageant contestant says something stupid. People shocked that woman selected solely upon her beauty would not necessarily be a nice person. In other news an untrained dog bit its owner today. Bystanders quoted, 'We never expected this.'"
If the Senator from California had said what she did I would have been surprised and outraged. But a beauty contest winner? Come on people. She's just a pretty face, not an elected official or something. She isn't even as consequential as a "D list" actress. The only reason she has become important is because all the twits in the gay and liberal communities are acting rather like that alcoholic uncle who somehow learned about your birthday party with the open bar.
The sad thing is, that unlike relatives with unfortunate social skills, the talk show problem would go away if we'd just tune them out. Notice I didn't put down the name of this show precisely to break the cycle of paying attention to this sort of nonsense. Turn them off and they'll go away.
In my opinion one of the problems with a restaurant or bar as a 'third place', somewhere other than work or home for people to hang out is the inadequate correlation between consumption and the occupying of seats. The establishment needs to sell a certain number of drinks or meals, but there is a limit to how much a person can healthily consume.
So my crazy idea would be to put an old style coin operated parking meter (they can be purchased quite inexpensively right now) on the table and let the people there stay as long as they want as long as they feed the meter. So instead of getting falling down drunk at the local bar a patron can consume as many drinks as he will enjoy and separately pay for the space.
Since they're disappearing or gone the old style mechanical parking meters would also add to the decor or atmosphere of the establishment, I would think. But since this would be a new/different way of doing things I suspect it would not catch on with patrons.
That is how much I owe myself right now. I think I'll be brave and transfer the money to my savings account sometime today. It if for driving my car around as I figure I need to start saving money towards eventual repairs and/or replacement of my vehicle. I am trying to save 50 cents per mile, but that's rather severe given how much I am ending up having to drive for my job. Still, it must be done either now or later when something bad happens and I have to replace my car.
Still, ouch. No more fun purchases this month. I'm not broke or anything (far from it), but I'm going to delay certain purchases until after my next payday so I can maintain my 'zero balance' in my checking account. If I can I always keep a certain amount of money in my checking account in case of emergencies and so that if I make a minor error in the balancing of my checkbook it does not matter. Never an overdraft for me! It is one of those little strategies I recommend to anyone as a way to reduce stress. If you always have $200, $500, $1,000, or even $2,000 in your checking account it does not matter the exact timing of your paycheck deposit vs. expenses like rent on the first of the month.
But I used up my cushion when I was unemployed (of course) and I've been working on getting it back up to where it should be over the last two months. I will be $70 short, or so, once I pay all the start of the month bills for May, but that's pretty darn close and it happens with our biweekly pay that I'll have three pay dates in May. That should put me well over the top for June. Little things like that really make me happy.
I am, contrary to some indications, rather introspective. Often my very flightiness is wrapped up in introspection where I go off on some tangent because I'm busy living in my head where one thing has already lead me to go off in some other mental direction instead of finishing what I had intended to do.
So long after the very minor brouhaha over giving a negative review in response to someone promoting his work in my journal I kept poking at why I few off like that. It isn't as if the internet is some sort of pristine no advertising zone, after all. Or that most of us are not out looking for some sort of validation or a minuscule shard of fame. After all if we're not interested in at least some attention from people we do not know we'd be posting in locked journals, if at all.
So what is different about posting a comment on a journal entry? I think in my case it seems like a violation of one of those messy unwritten social rules. There are exceptions, but if a person promotes his or her own work or is doing so for pay, I expect it to come through pay channels rather than through channels reserved for two way communication. A person might get around this rules by being sneaky about it, cheeky about it, or even brazen, but that's a delicate act. If you're not willing to take at least a few tomatoes along with the roses it is a very bad idea to use personal communication channels as a way to seek gain. It is part of why Amway has such a bad reputation, it trades on friendship.
So, what route is open for a person who's an aspiring self-publishing artist on the internet? Short of spending actual money on advertising anyway.
One route is to contact your actual friends and then just keep plugging away. If you're good or getting better you'll connect with an audience somewhat naturally. Friends will tell their friends and so on. If what you're doing is more blog than free book/comic/art on the internet it makes sense to offer up links to other blogs you read when you feel inspired because this will tend to lead to reciprocation if it is honest.
If that's too passive cultivate a great facility for feigning interest in other people and posting comments on their blogs/journals/whatever. You cannot do this with a canned comment saying, "Hey you're neat, come check out my work." You've got to let people make up their own minds to check you out. And if you are not actually interested in the person then expect someone to figure this out at some point and be even more outraged than if you'd been up front about what you were doing. I did a bit of this when I was first on livejournal, but I was actually interested in the people I commented on their blogs.
The third option is to just not care that you're going to attract negative attention. Plenty of people get away with this, but you're going to need a thicker skin.
That's everything I know about self promotion. It isn't much, but I thought I'd share. I should do another post later about how my view of friendship is somewhat similar to this. Reciprocation, dishonesty, and strange methods.
Important life safety tip: Don't steal. Ignore moral implications for a minute, stealing from a large corporation is a bad idea because of the low reward to risk ratio.
Yes, everyone does it. But you shouldn't not because you're a better person, but because it could potentially screw up your life.
Let me spin you a little story based in reality of something I saw happen, but where I have changed all the details and give no names. Girl works for company that is a subcontractor with a retail establishment. One day when girl is out and about she impulsively chooses to put jar of face cream into her pocket and then pay for some other minor item thinking she's clever. Unfortunately store security is on the ball that day and one of them spots her slipping the makeup into her pocket. They stop her just as she's outside the door and they have her dead to rights.
Worse it happens that this one item is on the expensive side and so she's over the limit where they have discretion on if they call the police on her or just give her an expensive warning. Even if the loss prevention people wanted to be nice and just let her go they would be risking their own jobs to do so and they're not willing to do that for a stranger in this economy. So they call the police. It isn't as bad as it could be because she's cooperative and has official identification and nothing else against her like chronically unpaid parking tickets or something. But she's still cited and given a trespass admonishment.
What does that mean? It means that she's banned from the property of the retail establishment for one year from the date she was caught on. So she's likely to be put in an awkward situation. She's going to be sent back to this retail establishment by her job and if any of the security people spot her she'll go to jail. Plus there is the court costs and civil restitution so that she's going to end up paying nearly one thousand dollars and not even get to keep the makeup she bought so dearly.
So she can be out of work or run the risk of going to jail. Don't shoplift kids.
This is a sort of worse case scenario where someone loses a job over shoplifting, but that's the problem. You don't know when everything will go wrong for you. Sure, you'll probably get away with taking that CD, but what if you don't and it happens to get much worse than the minor problem of not being able to go to one store and a $100-250 civil restitution (in Colorado). And this is not completely made up, I got a ringside seat to seeing it go down.
By the by, civil restitution is a thing where retailers can charge a person for shoplifting. Never heard of it? Relatively new and if it goes unpaid they turn into actual arrest warrants and criminal charges later. It is so that the police do not have to deal with every case of shoplifting a candy bar and to let the store get back some money for all the times a person took something and did not get caught.
I forgot to mention that I did get my LED light strings and put them up in time for my party. They work really well for giving enough light, and in a pleasant color, for parties or just walking around in the evening. Personally I'm just as happy using them as any of the brighter twisted florescent lights. I think they may not be rectified though as i do detect a bit of a flicker when they are on. And, as is usual with such things, I could have used just one more string. But they'll last a very long time and I'm happy with my purchase.
I turned them on again tonight as things got dark and I was finishing up dinner. Lamb, white asparagus, and spring mix salad. Lovely things and I'm quite happy to have tried white asparagus. It has an earthy taste quite different from the wonderfully bitter flavor of the more common green variety. It makes me think of a radish without the bite. I'd just as soon have the regular green kind (especially considering the price), but it was very neat to try the other. And I might have it again next year on my birthday.
The leg of lamb was simply lovely. I'm going to have lamb sandwiches and other wonderful things the rest of the week. And plenty of salads on the side and asparagus (of the regular sort) with dinner every night. What a wonderful spring! Today was a particularly fine day, the sort that makes you happy to be alive even if you are loading boxes into a truck for your parents. Yes, still helping with that though it should only last one more week and I have some hope that I won't have to go out again on Wednesday. Only a little though. There will probably be a last minute crazed push in a week. They might even call upon me to help after work some other day. We'll have to see.
It is part of the nature of things for a job to fill up as much time as is available. Speaking of which I'm off to do a few dishes before bed.
So now I am 32 years of age. I suppose I can deal with this. The final result on the orange chiffon cake was another fall. Having been very scrupulous about making sure that everything besides the different ingredients was exactly the same as the lemon chiffon cake I think it is clear that it is a problem in the recipe rather than something I have done wrong. Two cakes using the same ingredients and methods and one came out just fine and the other fell (though not as destructively as the one last night) so it is clear that the recipe needs further adjustment.
I am going to proceed on the assumption, possibly wrong, that what is needed is slightly more baking to cause the structure to hold together better. If this hypothesis does not work out I shall try reducing the amount of sugar to see if that will cause it to hold together better.
The party has been a great success in that I have given away a great many books and everyone drank and ate as much as they wanted. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the last guest left at about a quarter past eleven at night. As far as I am concerned the only way it could have been better is if there had been someone who was interested in me sexually in addition to someone to have a good conversation with. I did not meet anyone new, but I had plenty of wonderful guests. Three bottles of champagne have been consumed and I'm flying higher than a kite. I'm now going to try to get some real food into myself (salad) and do some more hydration so that I do not regret today's excess upon the morrow.
Though I had dread and wanted to quit before thing started happening I am glad at how things worked out. Score one for being determined to enjoy myself rather than giving into the old demons of despair trying to escape from my past. Even though my second cake went wrong it did not bother me as much as the first one going off did. Interesting. Perhaps I am getting better at managing my own life.
Update on condition. Still crazy, but there is a lemon chiffon cake in the oven. Now I need to decide what to do next. I have 58 minutes while it is baking and then another two hours while it is cooling to do other things. Should I try to mix up some cookie dough or clean? And when should I take my shower? And should I attempt the orange chiffon cake again? Decisions, decisions.
Further Update: The cake has been hanging for about an hour now and has yet to fall so I'm cautiously optimistic that this will work out. I've been moving things about and started in on my vacuuming. If I could get oranges delivered to me by some kind soul I think I would make the attempt at a second cake.
Final Update before Tea-Time: I am making a run to the store to get oranges. This may not be wise, but I am determined to make good on my attempt to get the orange chiffon cake to come out. Positive thinking and getting back on the horse that threw you and all that.
Mel Brooks explained the difference between comedy and tragedy as this, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when somebody falls through an open manhole and dies."
Today I am a comedic figure since I am dealing with some petty tragedy. Last night I baked a cake. It was going to be light airy orange chiffon perfection, but I was an idiot and did not pay attention to the warning signs that it was not ready to come out so when I turn it over to hang and cool it fell with a disheartening plop. A beautiful wreak of wonderfully orange scented slightly undercooked cake chucks. Being the sort of person I am this lead to quite a bit of self recrimination and this morning I'm somewhat nuts, on the edge between buckeling down and trying again with mad determination to make things as pin perfect as a 1950s Republican housewife and throwing up my hands and screaming, "I don't want a party!"
Right. Well I feel a bit better for writing this. Time to try again with lemon chiffon and then seeing if I can get three more oranges to try, try again on a second cake. I'm still nuts but for right now it is taking the form of insane baking.
It has been a day with some degree of accomplishment. Not nearly as much useful work as I would like, but real progress. I see a path towards being able to host a birthday party on Saturday despite having recently brought in all the books I used to have in storage. Long term the solution is both to have bookcases I would not be unhappy to have out in my living room and only one bookcase worth of unattractive books hidden away in my bedroom.
This is all part of the plan to move forward after my breakup with Richard. After all at some point he will no longer wish to be my roommate and at that point I have limited options. Move to a much smaller space, get a roommate, or support the whole cost of a two bedroom apartment by myself. I think at least the possibility of having a roommate and supporting the place myself is the better option.
Additionally the current living arrangements are not fully comfortable. If I can move the books into the living room in some tasteful cabinets/bookcases I'll be happier in what is turning into my room. Because as much as I like books as decor I need my full bedroom set with both dressers for clothes more than I need books in my bedroom.
Most of this is all way off in the future, but right now I need to reduce the size of my collection to what I can reasonably keep as single person earning a very basic living wage, and as a book collector who is narrowing his focus quite a bit. Even more importantly as someone who does not want boxes of books lining the hallway when people come over to party.
Slowly, but surely, we're winning. Vermont has overridden the veto of its governor and passed same sex marriage. I don't know that we can hope for any more states this year, but this is real progress. It is particularly gratifying since this comes so close on the heels of the Iowa Supreme Court decision.
With all of this going on I have real hope that in 2012 the ban on marriage in California can be overturned by amendment to the state's constitution. I mean it could shame 2% of voters into changing their mind and with the death of older voters that too favors same sex marriage.
I also think that it is realistic to think all of New England could legalize same sex marriage by 2012 when the Republican governor of Rhode Island has to retire. For that matter it could be the year that we get the first openly gay governor given the competence and popularity of the gay mayor of Providence. Though that's more of a long shot than getting gay marriage on the books.
A long ways to go yet, but progress is being made.
Hey, howdy - no need to buy anything from me. I came across your blog as I was looking for fellow nerd-ish Denverites, and was thinking "Hey, this guy should really come check out my blog"
Howsabout it? -The comment "Joel Wyatt" left on my blog entry enthusing about Lackadaisy.
One of the real dangers of self promotion is that you might run across someone who takes offense. Or someone like me who is just as self-centered and is annoyed not so much by the self promotion itself as the ineptness of the act. I mean really, "Hey, this guy should really come check out my blog"? That's his come on? Not even a patently false, "We have a lot in common"? If a person is to so brazenly self promote he should at least give the person he's trying to entice a little ego stroking in return.
So instead of the nice private brush off I have given to dozens of aspiring writers over the years who wanted me to promote their book for them I'm going to give Ted Campbell (the writer behind "Joel") exactly what he wanted, space on my blog's front page.
Ted Campbell has written sixteen parts of a blog novel that he conceitedly describes as, "One part "Soon I Will Be Invincible", one part "Wild Cards", a healthy dose of "High Fidelity" and just a dash of "Hitchhiker's Guide" for extra flava." Yes, Flyover City is just as bad as you might expect from such a description. It is a universal rule, I think, that books compared to other more famous works simply will not measure up. When the author himself, rather than some advertising department lackey, is so deluded as to compare his work to that of famous authors before it has even been professionally edited it is like a big writing toxic waste warning sign.
His writing wants desperately to be funny, instead it comes off like the pale and flabby imitation of his betters. This is not the worst writing I've yet to come across since I've been sent many self published novels over the years. That's one of the dangers of being the Director of the Denver Area SF Association, people with low reading comprehension think that it is a good idea to promote their 'cutting edge and revolutionary! science fiction novel' with your reading group even though it isn't a reading group. Since he's doing essentially the same thing as the people who think that self publishing will lead to fame and fortune without even paying a scam outfit to print the book it should come as no surprise that Flyover City can stand up proudly among the worst of the genre.
Boring, hackneyed, trite, and dull are all words that I would have used in the ad copy for this particular work. To say it sucks would be a monumental unfairness to all wonderful men I've met over the years who were fantastically good at sucking, not to mention myself. He wants to be some sort of Hunter S. Thompson of superhero writing, but instead of having punch or interest it is just boring. Take this first paragraph:
Existentialist philosopher, chain-smoker, and all-round party animal Jean Paul Sartre ended his 1944 play “No Exit” with the denouement “Hell is other people”. I don’t know whether or not JP ever worked in a call center for a global telecommunications company (his Wikipedia entry doesn’t say - har har) but sitting here, tethered to my cubicle by a telephone headset, musing over the details of his life while Mrs. Marci Duncomb of Lakewood, Colorado screams in my ear about not being able to find her “stories” among the 682 channels offered with the Vaig Broadband Deluxe Package, I can definitely say I feel a deep, profound connection to the guy. Is it bad faith to declare kismet with an existentialist? Sort of like the Dalai Lama announcing to the world that he was reincarnated from a Catholic saint?
After reading several more pages rather like that I felt deeply in need of a beer. This guy is less funny than I am, and that's saying something since my sense of humor was surgically removed during my youth. True story.
So the long and the short is that your writing is bad, go back and try again, and your self promotion style is worse. No sane publisher would touch you with a 10 foot pole. I don't say that no publisher will because I've read The Fifth Sorceress by Robert Newcomb. Quite possibly the worse novel to be professionally published.
It isn't exactly charity, but as part of being employed I have started buying stuff from people who put neat things on the web free for people like me to enjoy as long as we have internet connections. Being employed helps with that too. As such I recently purchased Lackadaisy Vol. 1 from 4th Dimension Entertainment.
You should go read Lackadaisy. Go on. Trust me. Sure it is anthropomorphic cats, but it is neither self indulgent furies or Disney's Robin Hood. I mean these cats run around shooting at each other with machine guns and some of them actually end up dead. Plus there is lovely prohibition booze.
I think and expect that the right wing in America will calm down and stop spouting rhetoric like, "How much more will Americans take? When will enough be enough? And, when that time comes, will our leaders finally listen or will history need to record a second American Revolution?" A year or so and it will become apparent that it is just talk like the mutterings about escaping to Canada did for most liberals after Bush was elected.
Different people deal with disappointment in different ways, that's a key to understanding this. Some people think or talk about hurting the people they perceive as hurting them as a way to vent. I think what will actually happen is that most of the crazy people will go as far as buying a gun or two and making intemperate postings to the National Review Online about doing 'something' about gays, feminists, scary furrieners, blacks, and other liberal 'traitors'. A few people will take the rhetoric seriously and there will be some shootings and bombings with finally one getting so much attention that the movement will die due to backlash and the government doing something about it.
In other words I think sometime in the next three years there is going to be an event of the same impact as the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing. It is more or less inevitable given how much the conservatives are made nuts by the thought of a person with as much melanin as Obama in the White House. What will it be? No idea, but it is coming as sure as Rush Limbaugh saying something provocative.
It will fail because unlike in a Latin American country there are not a huge number of people with nothing to lose here combined with (and this is critical) an army that has a tradition of taking over/overruling the government. Because no matter what they might dream in their fevered imaginations militias cannot overthrow governments. Private citizens are just never as well armed or disciplined as units funded by the government. It is worrying how many right wing types there are in the army, of course, but the question is how many of them are led by officers willing to cross the Rubicon? Not many I suspect.
Could I be wrong? I suppose so, but unless things get much, much worse than they are right now the seeds of civil war will fall upon parched ground.
If you are local to Denver and I have forgotten you in the sending out of invitations to my birthday party on the 11th I apologize. Drop me a note and I'll correct the oversight.
The 2nd Annual FestiviTea Extravaganza!
•What? A tea themed celebration of Mishalak's Birthday •Why? Because he really likes tea. •When? Saturday April 11th from 3pm until people drop dead from fun or go home. •Where? My apartment (send an email for address directions, etc.) •How? I intend to bake at least two cakes and some cookies as well as having brewed black tea on hand and at least one bottle of bubbly for later. Please RSVP, but you don't have to declare a specific time and you may bring anyone with you as a guest.
•Hobbit Presents? Yes! I will be giving away books because I have far to many. Take a book, I insist!
•Questions? Comments? No, you don't have to stay the whole time. In fact I imagine the party you experience will depend upon when you come and how long you stay. I expect it to progress towards alcohol of every variety as the sun sets so for a tamer party come earlier. For debauchery come after eight.
Yes, my birthday is actually the next day but some of you might have plans to do things with family that you don't want to miss on Easter. So as tempting as it was to have an Easter themed birthday party I'm going to put off that plan. Though interestingly my birthday is within a week of Easter in two of the next three years and falls on Easter again in 2020.
Also there is a DASFA Dead Dog happening the week afterward at our place just in case you want to attend that as well.
I love tea and cake in the afternoon. You know, one time we had a half a dozen people over, for 4 hours. When it was all over, I finished off the last piece there in the warm afternoon light. The taste, you know that delicate flavor of lemon chiffon with the bitter tea, the whole afternoon. Tasted like... victory. -Lieutenant Colonel Tetime
Yesterday was wonderful. I cleaned and after a while Richard went out to deal with a parking ticket and pick up his friend Stacy. She's going to stay with us for a short while before she heads back to Georgia on a permanent basis and she's nice enough to help out a bit in return. A little later Sibohan, a friend from the library, arrived and I finished frosting the cake that I started while I was cooking. Lemon chiffon cake is my favorite and I'm going to bake one of them and an orange cake for my birthday party on the 11th.
We had a wonderfully wide ranging talk about adaptations of fantasies and which ones worked better in movie than in books. I mentioned The Prestige in this category as while the book is good I think the movie was better for having simplified the plot. Stacy mentioned that she does not watch dramas because she has more than enough drama in her own life, I wonder if that is true of most people. The Lord of the Rings was talked about again and that moved us on the the subject of when computer-generated imagery overwhelms a movie rather than serving the plot.
After all the tea and cake was done and over with I finally cooked up the pork loin for dinner with Stacy and Rose. It was good paired with some asparagus I got at Costco the other day. And now I'll have good leftovers for a few days that can be turned into soup, sandwiches, and the like. Double duty cooking as suggested by Cook's Illustrated. And after all this cooking the apartment was still pretty well put together. And I'm going to make a bit of progress on "spare 'oom" today. Both for Stacy's comfort and so that I can get people in here to start hauling away the books.
I went to get a new pair of Levi 501s the other day and was very disconcerted to find that the pair I tried on had four buttons instead of the five that have been on them. I did not have a pair to compair with me at the time, but upon arriving home found that I'd been correct in thinking that all my other pairs have five. Is this an error on all the 30x34s at this particular store or some new standard they are going to? I don't know but it seems to be something no one else has noticed yet. But how could someone not notice, it was jarring to expect another button and not find it.
A really manly guy does not have anything to prove so he won't go out in a blizzard unless it is really necessary. No, really necessary. Why? No matter how good a driver you are (or think you are) there are other people on the road. A bad driver with no one else around is only a danger to himself and may even avoid a crash since there are fewer objects to run into than on a full road.
Go slow, be careful, and don't go out unless it is required. I went out to pick up Richard from the airport last night since the only other option for him would have been a taxi and that may well have been more dangerous given how taxi drivers are in the snow. If I had not been doing that I likely would have stayed in even though my company wanted me to do an extra shift. $200 to risk getting in an accident that would cost me much more is not worth it.
Today things seem all right and I'm going in to work for my normal shift, but it is much better now. Just driving a little slowly will make it pretty darn safe.
But last night there were a lot of really dumb people on the road. I was on the freeway where there are normally three lanes of traffic. But everyone was following the leader so it was down to just two lanes of traffic with generous spacing. Then this idiot in a black Mercedes comes barreling along passes me with about 10 centimeters to spare heading up between the two lines of cars. Moron! When ahead he could not do that anymore he followed one car length behind another guy and speed off as soon as he could squeeze though. I sincerely wish him ill and that he wreaked his car on his way home. But I got home in one piece despite the best efforts of the other people on the road. I even managed to get my car up the slight incline into my parking space.
In an ideal world this is what I would get. Six sets of 'raspberry' type (The G12 globe) LED Christmas light strings. Half would be in warm white and the other half would be in cool white and both would be full wave rectified and on white wires.
Why? I think the round globe shape is neat and when Halloween rolls around I'll just have the cool white globes up since they look rather ghostly. But together I think they will make for a neat blue and gold effect at during the Yuletide season and with warm ones alone I think they will be pretty good party lighting at other times of the year.
The reality is that it can be very hard to find exactly what one is looking for. I can find the cool white LEDs on white wire and free of flickering, but they're not globes. The warm white LEDs on white wires are actually not too hard to locate. I may end up just getting the warm white ones for now and getting cool white ones later on green wire when it is a bit closer to Halloween.
For pure bargain price I might consider Holiday Direct. Full rectified M5 (mini) and C6 strawberry lights on white wire. The only problem is that I worry that they are somewhat fly by night. 100 M5 LEDs for $7.37 a string and 100 C6 LEDs for $10.50 a string.
There are lots of things on offer from Christmas Lights Etc. They have both warm for $27.95 and cool for $26.50 white M5 lights on white wire, but they are not rectified. All their rectified strings are "commercial grade" and thus need special adapters and are on green wire to boot.
There are plenty of styles and types at Forever LED and they're all rectified. Slightly less expensive than Environmental Lights, but no white wire except for icey white bulbs in the M5 and C6 styles. Wait, I take that back, some soft white M5s, but with "icicle" style wires.
If I wanted to pick up lights right away rather than mail ordering it I probably could try a local store named St. Nicks down in Littleton.
Night after work seems to be when I am at my low ebb. I feel uninspired, often unhappy, and unmotivated at such times. But when I wake up in the morning I feel totally restored by blessed sleep. Perhaps I am a morning person after all, I'm just not as early a morning person as living in the countryside requires.
I lived all of my formative years in Elizabeth, Colorado. That's a small town due east from Castle Rock, which is itself nearly halfway between downtown Denver and downtown Colorado Springs. I went to high school at a private institution in southeast Aurora. To get there each day I would get up early, five or six in the morning early, and ride with my mother on her way to work. I arrived at school early and left late since the drive for her to Lakewood was another hour or so beyond where I needed to be.
If there is one thing I am sure of it is that I never, ever want to be in the situation where I have to go on an hour long ride to my place of work, much less the hour and forty-five minute journey made by my mother. I dislike driving in any case, but having to do it for two or more hours each day going and returning would make me quite grumpy. This is why I think I shall always be a city dweller.
Getting up at seven or half past in the morning is just fine by me. I'm up, cheerful and making breakfast and tea. I'm even feeding Richard's fish with a modicum of good cheer though I'd rather not have to do that job. It looks to be another beautifully cloudy day in Colorado.
I may post later about my online LED searching adventures.
After SF conventions there is a species of rant that appears like mushrooms after a fine warm rain. Complaints that to a person's shock and horror there were attendees who did not adhere to the ranter's standards of behavior. Then large numbers of people jump in with self congratulatory agreement and their own examples of such from the same or other conventions.
I'm going to tear into one of these rants, not because it particularly needs to be done, but because it amuses to dance in minefields of the mind on occasion. I'm going to take this in order of how it best fits in with my own counter rant.
For example in her 7th point there were many fine suggestions under this heading, but one struck me as hypocritical nonsense. "Do not tell people how to stand, what facial expression they should wear or what other aspect of their conduct they should modify to please you, especially when you have no actual friendship or other positive history with them."
Boy, if you really believed that you should not have written your essay. I see nothing wrong with criticizing other people or pointing to behavior that I think should be avoided, but I'm not two faced about it. Though she did not make it clear in the body of her rant she's talking about men making personal comments to women about uncrossing their arms and smiling. Yeah, that's bad behavior and if I had been there I might very well have said something in reply to the man along the lines of, "Lose 30 pounds so you're more pleasant to look at first." But the the fact is that what she wrote rather than what she intended to convey gives the appearance of a contradiction.
Like in point number 1 she stridently makes the point that people at conventions should all bathe for the purpose of not smelling awful to others. Personally I'm all for this, but how does that square with what she writes later on? Maybe someone at the convention thinks that saving water is more important than adhering to the arbitrary American standard of removing all body odor. Or is from France or another culture where they're not as hung up as Americans are.
I make this point because despite being a person with a near religious devotion to personal hygiene (I shave my armpits, wear unscented antiperspirant, bathe with vigor daily, and usually wear a modest dash of cologne to boot when attending public events) I am sure that at some point or other at a convention I have smelled less than fresh. We all have off days and in a crowd of many hundreds or even a few thousand people there is sure to be a person who's had a inadvertent deodorant failure or simply the combined funk of too many people in too small a space. Not to mention that some people, despite everything they might try, are simply more smelly than others.
Many of her otherwise sensible bits of advice are similarly sabotaged by conflict with her other points (especially that one about the conduct other people should have) or by not taking into account the full breadth of the human experience.
I do not disagree with the notion that there should be standards and decorum at conventions. But I think that such standards and decorum should be modified with the knowledge that we all make mistakes at times, especially when excited.
Much more importantly it is my opinion that writing an essay on the internet isn't a useful response to problems at a convention. It's venting, no more or less. In order to correct bad behavior you personally have to be willing to do something about it rather than just standing by and blogging about it later. And with criticism you have to accept that sooner or later you're going to be criticized yourself.
The alternative is to accept the fact that there are folks you don't want to have anything to do with at conventions and move elsewhere. I do this all the time because I cannot take yet another libertarian rant on what's wrong with the world and I'm sure that with my flamboyant gay mannerisms I've caused others to do the same.
That's life. Sometimes you bend like a reed in the wind and sometimes you stand fast like an oak.
I am looking for LED lighting, in particular the strings that are often used for Christmas. Why? Because I wish to decorate with them. I want to put them up as decoration for a few parties. So I thought to inquire among people I know online to see if anyone has had a particularly good (or bad) experience with a website or a manufacturer so that I might have some clue as to where to purchase them or what to look for.
Alternatively if you local to me and have a string of LED lights you won't need back for some months I'd be happy to rent them for a while.
The ideal situation would be to put up enough lights that I would softly light a room to set a good party mood and I like LEDs for this purpose because of their low power consumption and their wonderfully bright and clear colors.
I've done a google search and I'm uncertain about my results. Some sites mention full wave rectified strings (that sounds good since it means they will be brighter due to not being off half the time) and a huge variety of prices. This leaves me uncertain as to what to do since I don't want to buy something that will quickly become dim or cause a fire hazard. But I also don't want to end up paying commercial grade prices for something that isn't so just going by price is no guarantee of quality one way or the other.
Today when I was at Safeway I noticed a new flavor of ice cream I shall have to try. Ben and Jerry's Mission to Marzipan. I like the name and I like marzipan a lot so I'll give it a whirl sometime this week, especially since it is on sale.
So that goes on the list along with a nice pork loin, sugar, and lemons to pick up so I don't run out of critical ingredients or food. Pork loin is a nice thing to fix since it gives one really nice meal and then several quick meals afterward. I'm thinking the leftovers will go nicely on sandwiches or in soup with ramen and little shreds of cabbage or seaweed.
I just realized something. If I give 3% of my post tax disposable income to charity that would now be something like $24 every two weeks. I finally have the money to buy things from authors I like and the people who produce the comics I read as well. That's a good feeling. And 24 is a very good number as well so I think I'll set it there until I get a raise or a new job. I might be able to do some good with 624 dollars each year.
Life is good because I no longer have the excuse, "I cannot because I'm poor." My library, This American Life, Radio Lab, and a food bank are on my list.
As always things are not progressing as quickly as I would like, but that's why I allow for things to be pushed back to another day. Critical tasks undertaken today include hauling away a carload of books and stuffing them onto the few shelves in my apartment. It is not a perfect fit and I am still progressing slowly towards better space management. Though, to be sure, a great many of these books are going to be sold or given away as quickly as possible. Ideally I would like all the ones on the metal shelves to disappear in three months time, though I expect that it will be more like seven or eight months.
I have also rediscovered the last disk needed to complete my transferal of operations to the newer of the two computers in the spare room. This means that I could get rid of the older one. Even if I do not get any money for the old thing (apparently my brother in-law is a wiz at getting money for computers and got $100 for a fairly old one) it will at least free up both desktop and floor real estate.
I've also picked up my first paycheck and I'll be depositing enough to live on for a month, hopefully tomorrow, but more likely on Friday. Which is good since the next paycheck will arrive in about two weeks time, putting the deposit date (even if direct deposit starts by then) a couple days into April.
Speaking of next month I need to start figuring out invitations and such like. And deciding if I should have a Sunday party or a Saturday one. Both have attractions. Also I'll be having the DASFA Dead Dog party the week after that. What say you oh masses of readers, is a Saturday the 11th Nativity Party or a Sunday the 12th Party scheduling it opposite the big christian holiday to be preferred?
Oh, and given the state of the economy I can combine two problems into one solution. I could give away books to people who do not give me presents. No, you must take a book if you don't bring me at least a little inexpensive present of loose leaf tea. Why? Because obviously if you cannot bring me a prezzie that means that you are poor and if you're poor you need a book... Wha' you don't want one? Take the book so thing don't have to get ugly.
If you can afford a present then I suggest tea, a potted cyclamen, or a little money for the jar marked "Mishalak Window Plants & Other Frivolous Pleasures Fund" as excellent ideas. The MOFP Fund this year is going to be for herbs in my window, flowering plants, and wooden hangers. And if there money left over then I'm getting cham-pag-ne.
I am greatly looking forward to Thursday. I am having a number of people over for tea and cake then. And there will be discussion of books we have read like The Lord of the Rings. I do hope it will be a great success. I think I shall lay in a supply of really good loose leaf tea now that I can afford the occasional indulgence. And tomorrow I shall get lemons so I can make my very favorite kind of cake on Wednesday, the lemon chiffon cake. Were I to be really ambitious there would be crispy oatmeal cookies as well, but I doubt that will happen with all the cleaning I shall have to do on Wednesday night and Thursday morning to present the graceful apartment that almost never appears other than times when guests will be coming over. I need to wash my good brown tablecloth, the one that does not show drips of tea. Though possibly tea could be served on my coffee tables for a more informal gathering.
I know this sounds hopelessly housewife-ish, but tea and friends over for it make me happy. As do nice/pretty things. When I was young I was always disappointed that boys were expected to dislike things like unicorns, rainbows, fine china, and polished silverware. Or at least to take no interest in such things. I'm glad that as an adult I can ignore such anti-domesticity. And I don't care one whit if it is stereotypical. I am going to serve tea from my black teapot into my nice white mugs and there will be lovely delicate slices of cake.
Well somehow the sound system on my computer has stopped working. I'm smart enough to figure out how to test if it is a problem on the speaker/amp side and it is not that. I plugged the Y-cable into my trusty iPod and it works fine. But plugged into the sound card on the back of my computer it does not work. Instead the computer is producing the tinny little sounds that indicates that it does not recognize that there is a line out plugged in on the back like it did for months prior to yesterday. Feh. And I cannot go any further forward because I don't know enough to even figure out where to start looking for an answer. Maybe I'll just start saving the money to buy a real computer instead. A Mac so I can be rid of my windows box.
I have heard genius defined as something so simple that when another person sees it he strikes his head and says to himself, "Why didn't I think of that!?"
I had such a moment on the job last week. I saw a guy who was wearing a belt with a big brass lion head buckle, but fastened to the left of center. It looked very chic and I immediately decided I would try that sometime soon. He was also very cute and I might have tried chatting him up under other circumstances.
I am not there yet, but I am just starting to get the hang of my job. Two weeks into things and I'm starting to see when someone is a 'bad guy'. I'm not totally there on observation and coordination with my fellow employees, but it is starting to come. Which is good because I had a Tuesday from heck and I was worried that I would never be on top of things. Life is getting better and better and I am a positive mood upswing.
Part of the good attitude was a bit of luck at Nordstrom Rack tonight. Two pairs of black athletic shoes for the very reasonable price of $40 for one and $50 for the other. Throw in two very, very reasonable priced belts and I feel like I will not be a discredit to my sex in short order. And with my first paycheck (next week) I'll get myself some new socks and be set on new things until next month when I'll work on the tee shirts. Oh and let me say that one of the belts was a wonderful bargain. Brand name, not that it matters, but very handsome belt with a brushed steel buckle for just $17. It is dressy enough to wear with a suit, but not so refined that it would look out of place on a pair of jeans. The other is a rather basic blue-grey leather belt that was a good deal at just $14.
All in all it was a successful shopping expedition and I am not unhappy with my job right now. Life could be better, but it could be very much worse.
To follow up on and better explain my reasoning I assert that the definition for a planet, a moon, an asteroid, comet, or the like should be one that can be applied universally, be based upon a good deal of invariable physical characteristics of matter, and make good sense to a person of a non-scientific background. Because ultimately an in any linguistic argument it is common usage that determines the winner in long run. It does not matter if some scientist asserts that "a strawberry isn't a fruit, it is pseudocarp or 'false fruit'", people will still call it a fruit and ignore the scientific definition.
To that end I think that it should be mass or mean radius that is the primary characteristic that should determine if something is a planet or not.
Of the two mass is the harder to discover about a new object unless a satellite can be observed. So for practical reasons I think it should be mean radius that determines a body's status, but with an eye towards how mass, gravity, rotation, and orbit interact to produce a more or less round body. I think the right answer, since nature does not provide a nice clear cut boundary, is a mean radius of around 1000 kilometers. Why? It's a nice round number and from what we have seen so far even a object made of fairly rigid material like stone or iron could not retain a highly irregular shape in such a circumstance. But I am open to be correct should someone with a better understanding of the math involve show that a theoretical object made entirely of iron (for example) would not round itself even with a mean radius of 1000 kilometers. Or that it should be lowered to something more like 470 km radius of Ceres.
The minor part of the definition should be that it orbits a star, brown dwarf, or is not orbiting another object that can be defined as a planet. If an object otherwise qualifies as a planet and it has only 2/3 the mean radius of larger object it is a moon. If the two objects are close in size, the larger having a radius of no more than one and a half times the the smaller, then they are binary planets. Why 2/3? Because anything less and the more massive object would be getting too close to being twice as big in radius/diameter and in pure math it would have more than three times the volume. (3.375 times the volume if you want to be precise)
This brings me to moons. I think that anything that would not otherwise qualify as a planet due to orbiting a planet is a moon and anything smaller should be a dwarf moon, minor moon, or something of that nature. That would mean in the solar system there are seven moons and about ten minor moons. Anything that would otherwise be a comet, asteroid, or some other irregular body is a natural satellite, but not a moon.
So under this definition that makes ten planets in the solar system, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto, and Eris.
And the seven moons are Ganymede, Callisto, Titan, The Moon, Io, Europa, and Triton.
The minor moons would include Rhea, Titania, Oberon, Iapetus, Dione, Tethys, Umbriel, Ariel, Charon, and Enceladus.
And rather like the asteroids they so resemble the natural satellites are too numerous to pay attention to all of them.
Is it just me or is the definition of "moon" entirely too loose while the definition of planet is rather too tight? I think anything that would not satisfy the IAU definition of a "planet" save for orbiting another planet instead of a star should be a moon, thing that don't and are too large are "dwarf moons" and little chunks of rock that would otherwise be called asteroids are just "minor" or "natural satellites". Personally I wouldn't also require the stupid "cleared its orbit" criterion, but what is good for the goose is good for the gander. The latest rock found hiding in the rings of Saturn is no more a moon than one of the Trojan asteroids is a planet.
I've gotten my email in box down to just 100 unread messages and I'm going to deal with all of them by the end of the week. I'm going to see how long I can stick to actually responding to every email rather than letting them age into irrelevance.
Another thing I did on Sunday besides returning from Limon I also picked up another small load of books from my parent's house. In whatever time I can free up I need to start working on selling off some of them or else my apartment will begin to resemble the place I once had in Littleton; overstuffed.
Now I need to figure out what to do for dinner and plot out what I shall work on each morning this week so that I can keep on top of all the household chores. If I can work up enough energy I shall also need to start doing some cleaning, sorting, and filing tonight.
When exactly did my life become so dreadfully deadening?
Here I am back again from Limon and Karval Kon, the world's smallest science fiction convention. This was Karval Kon 32 and the theme was B-grade prehistory. The dinosaurs with cavemen and all that sort of silliness. I overall had a good time, though next year I will get my own room and be prepared to do all my meals except for having a (bad) salad or some sort of soda pop at the banquet since the food does not meet my standards at any of the places in Limon. Well the Arby's would be fine, but it isn't really sit down dinning for the necessary banquet.
I already trucked in most of my food this year so I think it would not be a huge stretch to bring everything for a weekend of picnicking in hotel rooms. It would just mean I would need to be a little be more organized.
The skits were fun once I overcame my terror at acting and got silly. Since there were dinosaurs in the mix nearly every one of them ended with one of the characters being eaten. The costumes were good, but everyone was too quick to realize that I was Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker's Guide. I had a whole funny routine worked out with the idea that people would not get what I was doing at first as would be the case with a more mundane audience. Nope, all very fast on the uptake. That's one of the nice things about hanging out with people who have read or seen many of the same works of fiction as yourself.
The games were a blast. The World's Greatest Party Game went very well and my team won for once. And every round of Werewolf produced lots of great jokes, naturally since we were busy lynching people on suspicion of supernatural cannibalism. I think it also makes the game more interesting (and harder on the Werewolves) since we play it every year and thus have some investment in a degree of honesty. Don't deny being a Werewolf too vigorously or next time the village will lynch you on the general principle of better safe than sorry.
I suppose I'll write a more coherent convention report, perhaps with illustrations, once I have more time.
No, that's too gentle, I loath twitter. I am right there with Old Man Stewart Shaking His Fist at Twitter. I have read a few twitter things by writers I like and they're not even the reading equivalent of popcorn. It's like eating flour right from the bag one spoonful at a time instead of having a slice of bread. You may eventually get in the same amount of reading as a full novel, but twitters are missing something critical that can only come from sitting down to purposefully write a paragraph or two.
No information, no content, no point. Just say no to twitter.
Every day I have gotten up with the thought that the worst was almost past and that I had finally fought off the cold that was threatening to bring me down in my first week of employment. No such luck. I am still quite sick and today without the whip of money and keeping my job over me my weakness has gotten the best of me. I've barely done half a sink of dishes and now I'm going back to bed. I wanted to have more done and I wanted to help my parents tomorrow, but the way things are going I hope to merely be well before I go back to work.
False pattern recognition is a factor in racism. That is someone sees an obvious physical characteristic and associates it with a negative event. Because the human mind is always looking for patterns it sometimes picks out ones that are not really there. What I wonder is if this will also be true of robots in some fashion. A robot might have the same correlation does not equal causation problem and so might, falsely, pick out some physical characteristic to decide things on and then run amuck with it. Perhaps it would pick out glasses wearers or non-wearers as something and then cause a confirmation error by proceeding to treat them all with that assumption.
I've been making a mental list of new things I'm going to get once the paychecks start rolling in. Some little, some big, all things that should make me quite happy and I plan on getting most of them new.
1. Socks and Underwear I am not exactly short, but I am short of what I like to have. I've noticed more and more of the socks in particular migrating to the rag bag and so it is time to get at least one if not two new packages from Costco.
2. New Tennis/Walking Shoes My old ones are getting down there and breaking in a new, but inexpensive pair, would be a good idea given the amount of walking I do at my job.
3. Pens and Little Notebooks I need to find a new brand and model of pen as my favorite was replaced by the manufacture with a model that breaks and leaks too easily. I also want little notebooks for witting down these sorts of ideas in.
4. Personal/Calling Cards It would be useful to have a simple and elegant card to give out with contact information on it.
5. Tee Shirts Nothing exciting, just the various colors of tee shirts probably ones produced by American Apparel. Because I want more colors in my tee shirt drawer. Especially shades of red.
6. A New Mattress The one I have is fine, but a new one would be a wonderful luxury as I think a full one memory foam one would make me sleep better based on my experience with a mattress topper.
7. Plastic Hangers To finally replace every wire hanger in my closet with plastic hangers. It will look nicer and keep my clothes better (I think). And a few heavy duty hangers for my coats. These I'm willing to buy used if I can find them.
8. White LED Christmas Lights Not actually for Christmas, but to put up as party/mood lighting.
9. Sheets I would like one more set of sheets for my bed. Because one of the old sets in getting close to the end of its life.
So that's my list of desires right now. Everything but the mattress should be fairly easy to get the money together for. Almost none of these things will be purchased right away, except the socks and shoes.
Goals this week include getting new pictures of myself with the brand spanking new camera I got an actual deal on at the Circuit City closing sale. I also should get a start on my gran's taxes even though the plan is to file them in April. Also I need to help my parents. On the fun side I feel inspired to find time to have people over for tea and cake, perhaps on Thursday. Though that might be a road too far with all the other things I have to do.
My general outline of a plan will be to see if I can volunteer on Wednesdays at the Library, do laundry first thing in the morning that day, and then clean and bake in the evening sometime. Then Thursday could be going out to my parents' house to help them and then, if time permits, I could have a Tea, Cake, and Geekery afternoon. And have my Karval Kon bag ready to go no later than Thursday night because it will be an earlier morning than most for me on Friday and then immediate departure for the convention after work.
The week after may be from heck due to having to work continuously from Monday the 9th until Wednesday the 18th. And I'm sure my parents won't be pleased that I cannot help them until then. Perhaps I should get in an extra day helping them on the Sunday I drive back from the convention.
Thinking about the good stuff in my life this morning and having a cup of tea makes me feel much more positive about my outlook. No matter what happens things will work out somehow. I'll sell the stuff that is crowding my apartment, I'll find the time to help my parents move, and start my grandmother's taxes. When? Well that's a question. But I shall figure out a way to scrape together the time.
I also feel good because though this coughing chest cold got me up this morning I feel on top of it. My Guaifenesin and plenty of fluids and oranges strategy seems to be working to keep this under control even as I work eight hours a day. I expect to be recovered by Tuesday at this rate.
I am having to work much harder than usual at keeping a positive attitude right now. I think perhaps because I am so tired when I get home from work I am more susceptible to negative lines of thought. I'm usually on my feet for almost the entirety of my shift so my feet ache a good deal when I get home. Though I suppose even the slight amble I undertake must be of some utility towards health, not much though.
Since my relationship ended recently I also feel somewhat adrift. With what I thought was a long term relationship going it felt like no matter what happened I had point of stability in my life. That everything would work out fine in the end because I had my partner in crime, someone to help and be helped by. The job that I have does not give me the sense that I will get stable relationship stuff from it. It is one of those companies that likes to keep its employees in suspense about if they'll be employed in six months or not. Still, I have money coming in even if it is only theoretical for a few more weeks as it works its way through the payroll system. And I should get to claim my last week of unemployment, maybe, hopefully. Though no matter what happens my credit card and other expenses are paid up for March.
I both feel like I should jump right back into dating and also not. Everything seems to be flying up in the air and grasping at potential relationships right now seems like a poor idea. But on the other hand I feel lonely, especially on nights when I come home and the apartment is empty and it hits me again that Richard did not want to stay together with me.
I note in passing, just before I brush my teeth and head to bed, that a table-saw is a very heavy item. A drill press may or may not be heavier. And my family has an awful lot of stuff to move in this last month. Any debt of labor I may have incurred though the moving of books has already been repaid with interest several times over in the course of this and we've not even come to the pool table yet. I wonder how that thing shall be managed even with stars favorable to the operation. I rather wish my father was more reasonable about selling it. Or just leaving it.
As promised I have a post after dinner, but it is a disorganized mess rather than something interesting. Why? Because I thought about writing something and decided it was dreck after I had finished. So I am sitting hear with chicory 'coffee' getting ready for bed. Tomorrow will be another day helping my parents pack up. I am also going to have to schedule time to do my grandmother's taxes which she cannot do herself, of course. Her mutual fund information finally came. I would expect that given the state of the market she won't have to pay very much in taxes this year. But we'll see.
That's pretty much it. Everything from going to Karval Kon to my future volunteer status at the library is on hold until I get more information about my exact job schedule on Thursday. And so now we wait to see how things come out.
Must be Tuesday as I jumped on my bicycle at noon and headed down to shelve media items. Shelving movie and music discs is not a task for the goal orientated. It is very much something that is a journey rather than a destination. Get those items out there so they can go right back out again. Books, for the most part, move at a slower pace due to their longer check-out times and also that a lot of library patrons come in just for the media items.
The weather was excellent for bicycle riding today. It was just a bit breezy rather than being actually windy and I flew down 7th Avenue. Last Friday when I was doing bookdrop at the library it was terribly gusty and while good for me the ride was not nearly as fun.
I think it helps to make me feel better to ride to the library every few days. It gives me both a reason to get out and makes me feel alive. The only downside to the ride today was that I forgot my wallet at home so I had to beg money from Richard to buy meat for tonight's dinner. I am going to make something dead simple. Pork chops under the broiler with Brussels Sprouts and carrots on the side sounds good. It is about time to work on that so adieu until I have time to write after dinner.
One of the many things that I am grateful for now is that I did not get the flight attendant job I went out for in 2005, four years ago now. With everything that has happened since and all the things I know now about how the airline industry has changed and the likelihood that I would have been laid off my life is better for not having gotten that job.
I did not see it then, but the airline industry that I loved growing up was dead and gone by 2005. It may have died even before the 2001 hijackings without anyone noticing and the paranoia of the west since then only accelerated the changes. Now the airlines are greyhound buses in the sky. Miserable cramped unpleasant places with next to no standards. I miss the days of dressing up in a suit to fly. I miss when young children would be called up to the cockpit to see the controls, and not necessarily just airline brats either. In short I miss travel being as pleasant and interesting as getting to your destination. It cost more, but I would rather pay for that. This is why I no longer travel.
I don't want to be a piece of meat packed into as small a space as they can make the average person tolerate. And I'm glad that I'm not part of that. Flying is now and is for the foreseeable future something I will only do if absolutely necessary, not something I do by choice.
This does cut me off from certain options, but that's what life is about. There are infinite possibilities and you cannot choose them all.
This is possibly the last week I will be on unemployment. A very exciting possibility, but also an event the brings on a certain amount of apprehension as any change is apt to do. Not terrible fears, just mild ones relating to what my work schedule will be like, the amount of vacation time, and the like. I hope that things will work out well, but I did not inquire too closely as to the exact particulars beyond the rate of pay and exactly what I will have to do as I am quite hungry to have a job. No matter what happens I intend to stick with this position for at least one year from my actual date of hire. I am also quite hopeful that the addition to my resume may help me in eventually landing a job with the Denver Public Library. It seems to me that between my volunteer work and the interaction with the public and loss prevention aspects of my job that I would be a good fit for one of their hybrid security guard/circulation clerk positions. And once I have a city job I shall never, never give it up.
I doubt I will write much publicly about my job both for the reason that I don't wish for my employers to read my thoughts about work and also for reasons of propriety. I am willing to say on this blog that I will be working in loss prevention with a major supermarket chain. If I am to continue blogging about work as was my habit in the past I shall have to figure out how to make the system work here on Blogspot as I simply do not trust the current owners of livejournal with private information as well as disliking particular policies.
Speak up if you want to read my thoughts about work, sex, or any of the other topics that I relegate to my 'secret' journal. Or speak up if I added you and you cannot seem to get it to work.
Last night when in a dream I was watching a BBC report about an formerly obscure Jewish sect in Jerusalem that was preparing for bad times as their claim to fame had run out. In this dream they had worldwide attention focused on them when a Pope made some prediction based on a dream he had about a prophet being born to their congregation. They received all sorts of donations and all the children were checked, but now the time was running out on the prediction and it looked like it was not going to come true. People were drifting away and there were no more donations from abroad, though they had a fantastic new building from everything they previously received. And even though it was a Christian prophesy about a Jewish prophet it seemed the members of the congregation were demoralized about it not coming true.
You know Circuit City's prices are not that bad... but on clearance they're often still higher than those you can find online. That's right the super duper clearance prices just barely match the same discounts you can find almost any day of the week online. At a guess this has been the problem for Circuit City all along. They're up against Amazon and every other online purveyor that can offer 30-50% discounts off list price all the time at the expense of not giving a buyer instant gratification.
Here is an example. The movies at Circuit City are now 40% off their origional retail price. Today when wandering around with my father today looking for bargains I noted that the original price for The French Connection was $14.95. Amazon offers the exact same movie for $8.99, only three cents more than the $8.97 'sale' price offered by Circuit City. Additionally with Amazon there is not any sales tax and you can actually return something if it does not work unlike with a clearance sale.
Another example is a one terabyte hard drive. Costco has a Western Digital "My Book" for $139.00 and the super duper 'bargain' at Circuit City for a similar external hard drive? $205 after discounts. Bah.
It is like this for virtually everything in their store. My advice to everyone is that if you go to the clearance know what you are looking for and check online prices before you go. They might start getting into good prices in another week, but right now the people who buy stuff at Circuit City are just suckers.
I plan on making yogurt tomorrow. It really does not save any money over buying it at the store, well about a dollar and three bits since the gas coming out of the stove is a fixed cost included in rent. But every dollar counts and I have nothing but time to spend cooking, cleaning, and so on. You would think this apartment would be more clean considering that fact, but motivation is sometimes hard.
In good news I'm not only getting enough money back from the feds to pay off my credit card, but enough to live on for two or three months without tapping my last savings account. But if I still do not have a job come April I will need to clean myself out. Then I should have enough to last through the end of the year. I do have job leads and I've even had an interview now. I am quite hopeful things will turn around for me personally in the next month.
I had a much more coherent post to make, but I forgot what it was going to be about. Too many distractions in modern life. Well... that's the news right now. Tomorrow or the next day I think I'll be off to Costco to get some nice bulk food. Perhaps a big package of chicken thighs.
Oh and someone with too much alcohol took pity on me and gave me a bottle of blended Scotch whiskey he did not like. This made me quite happy as I don't really have the money to afford my evening tipple at this point and I really ought to husband my liquor cabinet.
The other day I figured out what the problem is with manned space programs. The problem is that no president want to be seen to kill the program because he'd be the first president since Eisenhower not to have a manned space program. It is the same problem as with Vietnam for Nixon. Even though he promised an end to the war he did not want to be the first American president to not fight a war to at least a draw. It is all about saving face.
Even though manned space shots are a waste of money that return next to zero in useful science we're going to keep doing them because of pride. The same reason that the Russians kept doing them even though they were minutes away from being bankrupt in the 1990s.
And so we'll keep wasting those billions for pride. It isn't that large relatively, but since I think we Americans are going to have to make serious and painful cuts somewhere else soon due to the debts run up by both the private and public sector it is galling. But then again it does have the value of letting at least a few people pretend that we're still a superpower.
I have a bunch of neodymium magnets. You know the type, the dangerously strong magnets found inside hard drives if you're willing to tear them apart and look for the metal housing plates used by the swing arm thingy. Gomez Lemieux (local fan) gave them to me years ago and I've been using them still attached to the little plate each is mounted on. That's not a bad way to use them as the plate gives a bit of leverage and/or air gap to enable a user to remove the things from a ferrous surface.
For whatever reason it had never occurred to me to remove the magnet from the plate... until today. Now I have a loose rare earth magnet to which I could attach something else using epoxy. For example a 1976 Eisenhower dollar. But what else should I attach to such a magnet? I've got a bunch of them and as long as I'm getting the epoxy out should I do more than one such craft project? I doubt there are many (any?) other inexpensive coins of the size of the ol' Eisenhower dollar
In other project news my coffee tables are set up in the living room and look fabulous.