all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
Tonight my mother and I went to see Sarah Vowell speak. For free, even! It doesn't seem right, but that's not a price to argue with when it comes to seeing one of your idols.

It was awesome. I did not jump up and down and make a noise so high-pitched that only dogs could hear it, although I don't know how I managed that degree of self control. I also didn't get in line for the book signing afterwards, because I'm still low on spoons from being sick for so long. (By the way--still sick. *sigh*)

The actual talk wasn't long, but she covered a lot of varied ground. At one point the interviewer talked about her optimism for the US and asked if she still felt that way given recent events. "I'm... I don't feel as optimistic as I used to," she said, and paused, and everyone in that theater went so still and quiet that I honestly think we were all holding our breath. You could, as the tired old phrase goes, have heard a pin drop.

She also never referred to 42 by name. She didn't even, as she did with Bush, give him the grace of calling him "the current president." The closest she got was referring to him as "the Republican candidate at the time" and "a member of the Executive Branch."

She had notes, including a great quote from George Washington that she brought out during a discussion of free speech:
"... in a free, & republican Government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude—every Man will speak as he thinks, or more properly without thinking—consequently will judge of Effects without attending to the Causes."

If I'm not very coherent, it's because a not-insignificant portion of my brain was mostly busy going "Holy shit! She's RIGHT THERE! I'm in the same room with Sarah Vowell!" So there you have it: holy shit! I was in the same room with Sarah Vowell!
all_strange_wonders: (keg of glory)
Today I had a KNITTING EPIPHANY.

It deserves the capital letters.

For years I've been noodling around knitting in a kind of English/American style, holding the yarn in my right hand and often dropping the needle to throw. It was fine, not terribly fast, but good even tension and the idea of purling continental style made my head hurt.

Today I decided that I want to learn to knit faster. I don't have the same kind of time available to knit in that I used to, after all, but I still have things I want to make. It would be nice to finish them before I die of old age. Everybody says knitting continental style (with the yarn held in the left hand and manipulated primarily by the needles, instead of the hands) can be faster, so I gave it a shot.

Knit stitches continental style are a doddle. I did two and swore I was never going back. Garter stitch is going to fly off my needles at something like twice the speed, once I get the tensioning sorted out to my satisfaction.

I tried to purl. I cursed. I looked at the instructions again, firmly did what they said... cursed some more. I caved and watched a video, did exactly what the person on the screen did, dropped the stitch halfway through trying to get the new loop through, and said something unprintable. I noodled around some more, and frankly despaired of ever achieving my dream of quick purling. I was just going to have to knit garter stitch only for the rest of my life, which was going to make the pair of socks I was planning to start knitting for Peter a little awkward.

And then I found this video:



Holy shit, people. I am a convert, 100%. Did I mention that, being me, I decided to fingure out how to knit continental-style while I the middle of knitting a k2p2 rib panel? So in addition to trying to do the standard continental purl, I was also having to try and figure out how to gracefully move the yarn to the front of the work for purling and then move it back and quietly losing my mind in the process. Working the way shown above, you don't have to move the yarn, which sped up the ribbing even more. (I mean, being able to purl with the yarn held on the left without dropping the stitch sped things up the most, obviously.) This should also make things like seed and moss stitch way less irritating and time consuming to knit.

My tension knitting this way is still a bit wonky, but I should be able to sort that out with practice. Conveniently, I have a garter stitch shawl pattern to get started on....

Plague

Sep. 27th, 2017 11:54 pm
all_strange_wonders: Reads "Real children do not go hoppity skip -- unless they are on drugs." (drugs)
In other news, I've been hit by probably the worst bout of The Ick in 3 years or so. It still doesn't beat the worst time--my doctor didn't tell me to go home, lie down, and watch boring TV because entertaining TV would make me cough more and keep me awake--but I did end up pretty much flat on my back for a week in a non-voluntary way. I'm getting better now, but "better" in this case means I can stay awake for a whole work day. It does not, unfortunately, seem to mean that the damn cough is going away. How I wish that weren't a familiar sensation...

Anyway, I'm still cough and still tired, but at least I've gotten some reading time in recently? I've been plowing through the assorted works of Agatha Christie, with varying degrees of success. The last one I finished was The Seven Dials Mystery, which I was really enjoying right up until it turned out to be a bit too much Murder of Roger Ackroyd-y for me. That sort of cast a pall over the whole thing, alas, although there were still some delightful turns of phrase that I plan on pulling out for the quotes file.

I also just finished Strange Practice, which I mentioned in my last entry. Allow me to reiterate how fun that was, and how much I look forward to reading more in that series. I'm only disappointed that I seem to have discovered it not long after it was released, which means that now I have to wait forever to read the next one.

One the audiobook front, I finally girded my loins to finish Seanan McGuire's A Red-Rose Chain so that I could catch up to the newest Toby Daye release. I usually gobble Toby books down in a flash, but for some reason Red-Rose Chain was a really hard one for me, and I had to stop it and move on to lighter things several times. Only the fact that I had Once Broken Faith and The Brightest Fell waiting in line behind it finally pushed me through. It was good, but emotionally it put me right through the wringer. (And speaking of going through the emotional wringer... oof. The Brightest Fell did not pull its punches. Can it be next September so we can find out what happens next?)

Current junk food listening: the Mrs. Jeffries mysteries by Emily Brightwell.

Oh, and podcasts! My Favorite Murder and The Dollop. True crime and history, both with comedy? It works. They make long drives seem short.

book rec

Sep. 25th, 2017 09:24 pm
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
I just finished Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw, and I have this to say to you:
Go. Read. Enjoy.
all_strange_wonders: (moving castle)
... No. There is too much. Let me sum up.

As usual, events have been eventful

Peter and I went on a vacation to see the total solar eclipse. Between the eclipse itself and the blissful 7 whole business days when I didn't have to think about my job, it was absolutely worth all the money and time in the car. We watched the eclipse in a tiny little podunk town in Tennessee. It turned out that the clock in front of the courthouse lights up at night. We know this because it lit up during totality. For some reason, that really just made the whole thing for me. We also (later) climbed up the side of a mountain in Virginia and then slept outdoors next to a cabin that's about the same age as Peter. I would say that was also in a little podunk town, but using the word "town" would rather overstate the matter. It was staggeringly gorgeous countryside, just also staggeringly far from civilisation as I know it.

While we were on vacation, my computer picked up a new trick wherein it decided that it couldn't do any kind of file writes (saving documents, downloading emails...) and only started working again after I booted it into safe mode. It did it again a few days ago. I am Not Amused, but also not really together enough to deal with it in any meaningful way beyond doing the safe mode trick. At some point I'll boot from my Disk Warrior flash drive and run some diagnostics and etc, and hopefully that will put a stop to this nonsense.

I am starting to think about what kind of job I would want to do were I not doing the job I have now. This one has pretty much wrung me out recently, for all that I didn't really recognize it until I didn't have to do it for a week and a half. I wouldn't even mind that so much if I enjoyed it more, but I don't. The money is good, though, and being the primary income-earner for the household means that taking a big pay cut is not really an option. There are plenty of customer support jobs around, but they all have the same ultimate problems.

I'm figuring out that I really prefer project-based work like the documentation stuff, so at least that's something to be going on with. It's much less anxiety-inducing than the support work, and there's a lot to be said for reducing the amount of anxiety in my life.

Uprooted

Aug. 6th, 2017 10:48 pm
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
My parents are moving, and it has left me deeply homesick and weepy. I would say absurdly so, but the house they're moving out of is the same one we all moved to the winter before I turned 9. It has been "home" for literally two-thirds of my life, and I feel strangely cut adrift now that they are emptying it out and planning to sell it, even though I moved out almost two years ago.

And despite the fact that they're just moving to another house here in the same city--I'm not even sure they've changed zip codes!--I find myself suddenly missing them desperately. Somehow, the move is a reminder that someday they will die and be gone and I will never, ever be able to see them or hear them or touch them again, and that is unbearable.

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The scepter, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
1. I think I just subscribed to another half dozen journals or so. Complete strangers need to stop writing interesting things, or my reading page is just going to get silly.

2. Let's talk about the trailer for A Wrinkle In Time! I had a little bit of a struggle with myself letting go of my image of Meg and Calvin, which was formed largely by the cover art of the 1973 Dell Yearling edition, but I'm a big girl and I can deal with that sort of thing. If you haven't seen the trailer... well, they have the scene with the little kids all bouncing balls, and it was perfect. And by perfect, I mean completely fucking terrifying. It gave me chills and made me feel vaguely nauseous, which is frankly what that scene should do.

3. 4 day old chamomile tea smells a lot like burning hair. You know, just in case you ever need to know that.

4. Jesus, politics. I tried to take a break from reading the news, but it turns out I'm really bad at that. I do manage a day here and there, at least.

5. I really appreciate how my housemate makes sure to belch loudly every time he enters the house. Oh wait. No.

Gonna say 5 things makes a post, because my housemate also really likes to talk.
all_strange_wonders: (crisis management)
"There's water coming out of the core switch" is not a good thing to hear someone say about critical network infrastructure. Those are the exact words I heard someone say in my office today.

Through an unfortunate confluence of events, the air conditioner repair company decided to power-wash the roof of our building while it was in the middle of being replaced. The end result was a giant pool of water on the roof draining directly into our wiring closet... and onto our main server rack. We only found out about this when the phones went down.

They pulled the plug and sent everybody home. Nothing else to do, really. My mildly-educated guess is that we lost at least the switch the phones are on. We'll be lucky if that's all (see above re: water coming out of the core switch).

In the meantime, everyone who can works from home. Nobody can reach the Git server, or the lab, or the VPN, or the... anything. Nobody on the Support team can forward their desk number to their cell. It's inconvenient.

On the other hand, it comes with sunlight, cats, and temperatures that don't numb my feet.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
Sweet merciful jesus and all the baby angels.

It's been a hell of a time. But today, finally, a whole month late, we got our new release out the door. I got the final versions of the publications in 10 minutes after the deadline, largely because people were still sending me content edits and updates until about 2 hours before the deadline, at which point I was on a call with a customer and pretty much unavailable for doing other shit.

There are already more updates pending on the documents we put up this afternoon. But for the moment I'm glorying in the fact that they're DONE, even if it's temporary. (So, so temporary. I look at updates tomorrow.)

For some strange reason, I've been having a lot of trouble with anxiety recently (something about being insanely busy at work and also the world coming apart at the seams?), and there was a very real and huge feeling of a giant weight hanging 'round my neck that went as soon as everything was posted to the website. And then I went and checked in with US politics. Should have gone and gotten a cookie or something instead.

But hey, I wrote a thing. Not dead yet. And maybe tonight I'll actually get some sleep.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
Yesterday, waiting on and constrained by no one's pleasure but my own: bliss and serenity.

Today, trying to make other people happy and suit myself to their needs: miserable, anxious, guilty.

Somewhere along the way, my life took a sharpish turn.
all_strange_wonders: (moving castle)
Peter's mum is in the hospital with an intestinal obstruction, and his dad stayed the night with her there. Peter has gone up to their house to look after the dogs.

Paul is at work, so I'm alone in the house.

It's blissful. I feel bad about enjoying it so much, because I am only getting this time by myself for a really shitty reason (Margaret being in the hospital for a medical problem of as-yet-unknown seriousness), but... I'm still enjoying it. It's so still and comfortable in the house, and there's nobody else's moods or desire for conversation to contend with.

I went to the market this morning and got bread and marveled at the number of tomatoes that have suddenly shown up. Last week it was zucchini and yellow squash as far as the eye could see. Today it was tomatoes of every conceivable shade and size (actually, that's a lie--I didn't see very many green or purple tomatoes today). Bell peppers are starting to come in, too, and the pat-a-pan squash are getting bigger and more interesting to look at. I bought one that looks like a small and slightly craggy watermelon.

I went to a new flower shop near the Scrap Exchange and got flowers to take to the hospital, and then I wandered over to the Scrap Exchange to find a vase for them. I even managed to stay mostly on task, and came away with 2 candidates for less than $5. I'd love to find a house over in that area, but it's the Next Big Thing now, so it's already impossible.

All that, and the only thing I was constrained by was my own whim. It made me realize how little I actually do on my own anymore, without having to at least account for myself to someone waiting at home.

I don't really know what to do with that.


Aaaand Paul's home. Goodbye, sweet temporary illusion.
all_strange_wonders: (moving castle)
Tonight, in conversation, a friend mentioned that a house on her (rural, somewhat isolated) street had been broken into. She then went on to say that her neighbor heard the alarm going off at that house and headed over with his gun, and took a potshot at one of the fleeing perpetrators.

Paul and I just sort of nodded. Peter was... startled by this information, and spent about five minutes talking about how incredibly illegal that was, while the friend and Paul and I listened and nodded and then said that yes that was all true, but still of course that guy did that thing. This is the rural South and why do you think he owns that gun?

I wasn't surprised by the news that this guy was perfectly willing to shoot at someone fleeing the scene of the crime. I was just surprised that, after living in the South for so long (and growing up in rural Virginia), Peter was so surprised and taken aback. Yes, it's terrible; yes, it's illegal; no, he should not have been trying to kill a guy for breaking into a house... but it's not surprising.

----

Life back in the office after a 4-day weekend is weird. We're down three more than expected this week--one to food poisoning and two to sudden, unexpected deaths. I may have to take more cases. I do not want more cases.

I definitely prefer Publications to Support, despite the fact that Support is theoretically the more important part of my job. (Says my friend J of me being given Pubs: "Well, that makes sense.") I'm coming to the belief that this has a lot to do with my preference for presenting things that are well-prepared and rehearsed, rather than improvising. Support calls are really just improv from start to finish, and I don't like it.

It still pays better than the comic book store, so I stick with it. I do miss my coworkers from Atomic, though. By and large, they were much nicer people to spend the day with, possibly because I actually had things in common with them. You can basically caption my work weeks as "TFW your old coworkers are still better than your new ones."

----

On the homefront:
Cleaning. Cockroaches. Argh.

Also, I'm somehow still not done polyurethaning our future kitchen island. This is a much bigger problem than it was last week, because I have finished cleaning off the kitchen table, and have in fact moved it out into the living room (also known as the place we've been intending to move it for the last 11 months or so). We're a little short on surfaces, but in spite of that, Peter managed to make brownies for my father's birthday.
all_strange_wonders: (fire now)
Micro has kind of a thing about food.

We don't know exactly what his kittenhood was like, but it resulted in a cat who is a teeny tiny bit obsessive about food.

He does the scarf-and-barf, is what I'm saying. We've tried a number of things to slow down his eating, with varying degrees of success. One of the things that has seemed to work pretty well is mixing his wet food with water to thin it down and make it harder to vacuum great big chunks down.

Last night, I found out that watering the wet food down makes it easier for your cat to projectile vomit it all over your foot. Peter heroically stepped in to clean up my flip-flop and the floor while I hopped off to wash my foot, but it did end the night on a bit of a rough note.

Today, upon leaving work, the Prius wouldn't start. It went into this weird zombie state where the power button indicator light would come on and change colors, and the open door alarm would go off, but it wouldn't actually start... and neither could I convince it that it was turned off so that it would stop screaming at me when I opened the door. Delightful, I tell you.

It turns out that this is the Prius's way of letting you know that the 12v battery is dead and you need a jump. If it had been me, I might have picked something a little clearer, like a Ouija board.

Anyway, Peter got to me 3 minutes before AAA and actually had jumper cables in his car, so he got to rescue me again. It was only 8:30 by the time we both got home. On the bright side, I had plenty of time to work on cleaning the junk out of my car?

It's been a hell of a week so far, folks, and it's not over yet. I don't know what the universe has in store for tomorrow, but I ca't say I'm looking forward to it with any degree of happy anticipation...
all_strange_wonders: (inna bucket)
I'm not keeping calm--my anxiety has been through the roof today, between the creeper last night and the anxiety dreams I had when I got to sleep--but I am carrying on. Jittery, shaky, deeply tempted to curl up under my desk and hide there, but carrying on.

There seem to be a lot of whispered conversations going on today, which always kind of makes me wonder what's up. I'm not in any loop for the company gossip, although I guess now that I've moved to support I'm at least within hearing distance of the main gossipers. The gossip that's happening right now is maddeningly just below the threshold where I can make everything out clearly, so I catch a word here or there while I eavesdrop, but not enough to actually put together.

Still, it's a distraction, and that's not all bad right now.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
Flea traps deployed,
flea medicine on.
Cats still scratching,
restless,
perturbed.
Now—patience, young grasshopper.
These things take time.
all_strange_wonders: (aspirin or death)
I've had better days.

The cleaners at work cleaned out the fridge on Friday (they're supposed to do it on Monday nights, but hey) and threw away absolutely everything, including the full bag of baby carrots I had just put in there on Thursday so I'd have something to eat besides all the junk food my company stocks the kitchen with. And the reusable container they were in.

Despite my best efforts, I've gotten poison ivy off the cats. They also have a truly terrible case of fleas, which they're happily shedding all over the house as I type. New flea meds are going on as soon as I finish this entry, and I've already got flea traps set up to help catch the ones that have already made it loose in the house.

And last but certainly not least, I got cat-called in the grocery store today. Just an "Ay, mamacita!", but delivered right behind my back by a guy who then stopped just a couple of steps away from me in the aisle and stared. It was creepy as shit, and I felt cornered. I spent the rest of my time in the store checking to see if he was following me after I got away. And then locked all the doors and windows when I got home.

The good news is that my posting application is working again. No idea why it stopped for a while, no idea why it's back, but it does make posting a heck of a lot easier.
all_strange_wonders: (crisis management)
... there will be no asylum for any of us.

I got thrown feet-first into taking cases yesterday, almost literally, despite still having no fucking clue what I'm doing. I laughed out of sheer terror when my coworkers told me I was taking a case. My heart races every time I have to send an email or make a phone call. I'll adjust, eventually, when my hindbrain realizes that I can't actually fuck everything up that spectacularly.

In the meantime, I look at the news and wonder how long it will be before we're scrambling to escape. North Carolina is a political disaster for everyone who's not a straight, white, evangelical Christian Republican man. There are a lot of people here who don't tick all those boxes, and we are frankly screwed. I live in one of the urban centers, and I have a decent job, so we're insulated from the worst of it, but reading the local news every day is just a slow burn of helpless rage. I want to say that this isn't who we are, but as Peter points out, it certainly does seem to be.

We should be better.

The national news doesn't help, of course. Part of me--a part I'm ashamed of and yet perversely must shine a light on--is glad about the recent news out of Portland, because it at least shows that the South isn't the only part of the country where white supremacists are feeling comfortable again. I don't feel so bad about not wanting to move there.

And then there's... oh, everything else. So much, every day, toxic and corrosive and inescapable. Where can you move to escape climate change? Where does international brinksmanship and bullying take us? What, really, is the point of anything if this mad toddler can charge in and destroy everything?

Sometimes, these days, I feel like I can't stay here. But then, where else is there to go?
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (uptown local)
I had this nice little post about Shetland, and the guy from Primeval... but then I quite Chrome, and it turns out that restoring from draft when you're using the rich text editor isn't quite as robust as a person might like... so now I don't. Oops. Maybe in another few days and another episode or so I'll be able to conjure something up about it again.

Anyway, this post is really just to say this:
Dear sweet baby Jesus, why am I reading about politics when I should be going to bed?

(Answer: "Because it's not like it's any better to ready about it right after you wake up in the morning. Sorry, lady." In my imagination, he is wrapped in the stereotypical blue blanket which graced many a nativity scene during my childhood, and takes that "Tough shit, them's the breaks" attitude about basically everything. I have a strange relationship with religion, for one that's so straightforward.)

Trump apparently doesn't realise that Israel is part of the Middle East. That's ok, though, because his supporters probably don't know it either.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
Luna has this thing she does when she's released in the morning, where she comes into the bedroom singing the song of her people ("Woe, woe, woe is meeeeeeow...") and looking at me in a very pointed way. She usually follows it up by jumping up to stand on my keyboard until I pick her up and/or make room in my lap. Sometimes, she's singing for cuddles and lap time, and on those days she settles down with an air of supreme satisfaction. Other days, like today, the respite is only temporary, and down she goes again (with another stop on the keyboard, of course, because none of the cats can get on or off the bed without stepping on a keyboard, even if they have to go out of their way to do it). On these days, it turns out the song is actually "Woe, woe, woe, let meeeeowwt."

Not for nothing is one of her many names Whinybutt.
all_strange_wonders: An illustration of Nita from the Young Wizards story "Uptown Local". (Default)
There is just so much to do.

Mostly it's good stuff (y'know, aside from the Day Job). People to see, events to attend, fun to be had out in the world.

It's exhausting. I love it all, and my schedule is filled brim-full with The Things I Do... and I miss night upon quiet night of doing nothing much. I love my friends and I wish I could see all of them more often... but I pass up the chance of seeing them to stay in my house and fold laundry by myself. Tonight I skipped the contra dance to stay home, do a couple of very minor chores, and start watching a new mystery series on Netflix. (Shetland, if you're interested. So far I'm fine with it, although most of what I can say about it is that the landscape they're filming in is incredibly striking and also they seem to have color-shifted everything very grey.)

I realised the other day that I hadn't even logged into my Netflix account in at least a month. Living with Peter, it just doesn't work to throw a show on while I'm doing something else if he's going to be in the room at all. It either distracts him from what he's doing and wears him down, or he gets way more tuned into it than I am and asks questions and wants to pause it while he's out of the room, which is... not how I treat casual television. So I kind of default to just not watching anything with a plot anymore, which means a lot of youtube videos and not a lot of working through my netflix queue. Not a lot of fanfic, either, since I can't obsessively re-run old favorites in the background to get the feel right in my head.

It's weird right now, is what I'm saying. The introvert in me is constantly looking for a nice place to get away from all of these fabulous people I love, and since I never find it (because when we're not out somewhere together, Peter and I are home together, which is still not the same as being alone even if it is way easier to deal with than constantly being around anybody else), I never do the mental vacation stuff I used to.

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