athelind: (Default)
Next month, I have an all-day Interview event with the Oakland Teaching Fellows. As part of the process, I have to prepare and present a five-minute "teaching sample": I have to present a topic, explain it, and take questions, all in five minutes' time.

While I'm applying for a position as a science teacher, the sample can be on any topic.

The OTF program is an attempt to bolster Oakland's educational system by opening doors for people other than education majors and specialists. I qualify because I have no education-related training or credentials.

This, however, leads me to a little stumbling block in this process:

I've got no clue what I'm doing.

Searches on "five-minute lesson plans" have gotten me a bunch of filler, mostly just topic suggestions with no attempt to suggest presentation. I can come up with topics. I'm just not sure how to slam together a High-Speed Concept Delivery System.

The best idea I've stumbled across was using a Slinky to demonstrate different kinds of seismic waves (always topical for California schools) -- and I think half the appeal of that is that I know I can get a Slinky from work.

I know I have a few teachers out there. Any suggestions?

athelind: (Default)
The other day, I came home to find a note on the door from the local utility company, warning me that on Thursday, 18 Feb 2010, there would be two scheduled power outages for foir maintenance: one from 9:00-9:30 AM, and another from 2:30-3:00 PM.

On waking up this morning, I started to turn on the computer, and realized that it was 8:30. I decided, instead, to leave it turned off, and just curl up with a book until the first outage had come and gone.

At 2:20, having read the whole day without interruption, I went off to an appointment. When I returned at 4:40, all the clocks were still functioning happily, with nary a blink to be seen.

Neither scheduled outage occured as scheduled.

Needless to say, there was Stuff I Could Have Been Doing Today -- not just on the computer; I needed to get laundry done, as well.

I refuse to acknowledge that this is a subversion of my Lenten refutation of procrastination, however. The book in question is Neal Stephenson's Anathem, a 900-page doorstopper that I've renewed twice, but heretofore had only read about 140 pages. I'm now on p. 422 -- so I did something I've been putting off for more than six weeks, even if it wasn't what I'd planned.

athelind: (Default)
... I'm also going to give up The TV Tropes Wiki for the duration of Lent.

It tends to be my default time sink when I don't feel like doing anything useful.

athelind: (Default)
It's a law of the internet: any mention of a holiday always gets at least one reply asserting that the respondent pays no attention to that holiday, and why.

The response demonstrates that the respondent, in that alleged disregard, pays more attention to the holiday than do those who might observe it casually, and feel no need to comment.

That said, this is the first day of Lent -- a ritual I observe only in the most secular way -- and thus, I bid you all the appropriate tidings for Ash Wednesday.

athelind: (Eye - VK)
Okay, here's the deal.

I currently only have wireless internet access -- which means that, for most of what I require, I'm limited to my laptop, and my desktop is a Giant Blue Paperweight. My laptop is doing a fine job as Primary System -- it's actually newer and faster than the desktop -- but having to rely on it exclusively means that I've had to load it down with a lot of extraneous applications, rather than keeping it the Lean Mean Portable Productivity Machine that would be my preference.

My birthday is coming up soon, and when Quelonzia asked me what I wanted, the only thing I could think of was a wireless card.

Now, Ubuntu has a long list of supported wireless cards, but it's a long and poorly-organized list, hinging largely on information about internal chipsets that doesn't pop up in most advertising copy. It's also a list of cards that Ubuntu will recognize during the installation of the operating system -- it doesn't really say if you can plug a new card onto an existing Ubuntu box and have the appropriate drivers pop up.

I am polling the LiveJournal Hive Mind for wireless card recommendations.

I need something that is:

  1. Ubuntu Compatible.
  2. Old-skool PCI bus: my motherboard is Vintage 2003.
  3. Reliable.
  4. Available new.

If folks who Know Enough About Stuff To Have Opinions About Brands And Models could peruse the list and make suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it.

athelind: (Default)
… I have an icon for "pointless, repetitive, soul-destroying work", but not one for "vital, productive, fulfilling work".

athelind: (Default)

Gung Hay Fat Tuesday!

… President Valentine … ?

For Lent this year, I think I have to give up procrastinating.

I will, of course, start tomorrow.

athelind: (Default)
From Bill Cosby's epic routine on parents and grandparents:

My father walked to school, 4 o'clock every morning, with no shoes on -- uphill. Both ways! In five feet of snow. And he was thankful.

(Jump to 1m57s.)

Used to indicate how tough things were when the speaker was a kid, acknowledging that there might just be some humorous exaggeration for effect. Also used in response to a speaker who's ranting about that topic, as a curt dismissal: "Yeah, yeah, we know. Uphill. Both ways."

More than the moon landing, more than the Nixon resignation -- this was the defining moment of my generation. Every Baby Boomer and the early batch of Generation X has heard this routine, and knows this phrase, even if they can't place the source.

And yes, heard it, not "seen" it: back in those days, we didn't have your YouTubes or your DVDs or your Comedy Centrals. We had to get our comedy on LPs -- big, black hunks of vinyl with sound physically etched into it that you had to play back with a needle, a real, physical needle, not a beam of light.

Analog. None of this fancy "digital MP3" mumbo jumbo.

If we couldn't get our hands on a comedy LP, we might make scratchy, bootleg tape recordings off the radio -- if we were lucky enough to have an FM station that carried The Doctor Demento Shows for a couple of hours, once a week.

Most of us just had AM radios that played disco and elevator music.

And we were thankful for them!

athelind: (Default)
I hate to say it, but with all the fuss about Google Buzz and having to create a full profile to opt OUT of the damned thing, I'm trying to fight down a wave of Insufferable Smugness about refusing to get a gmail address in the first place, because I Didn't Trust Google With My Private Mail.


athelind: (Default)
AMC has made all 17 episodes of Patrick McGoohan's classic series, The Prisoner, available online.

This series is required viewing for anyone who's ever ...

Well, for anyone.


Especially in this day and age.

I am not a number!
I am a free man!

athelind: (Default)
Since my brain is currently actively engaged in other matters, my Magnum Opus* has finally decided that it wants my attention, as well.

(Obviously, this only happens when there are other things that Actively Need Doing; I don't think I've really done any serious work on the Opus since I finished my capstone, though I was actively working on other story ideas over the long commute during my three months with the civil engineering firm.)

I'm looking for good software to help me organize my plot -- and just to make it hard on the audience, I'm looking for Ubuntu software.

If I were doing this analogue, I'd get a pack of 3"x5" cards, and write down the Important Plot Moments that Must Stay In No Matter What, figure out what order to put them in, and start "inbetweening", as the animators say: adding the transitions and the bridge scenes and the character development moments that get me from Scene to Scene to Scene.

If the inbetweening process suggests a different order for the Keystone Scenes, I could then start shuffling them around.

I'd like to find software that does this sort of thing gracefully. Wikis don't work (I've tried'em). Mindmap software is kind of close (discrete ideas in boxes on a blank desktop), but the radial paradigm is all wrong.

I'm downloading a few outliners from the Ubuntu repositories, and I'll mess around with'em later. I was wondering if any of you out there in LJ Land might have some suggestions for something more graphical, more like a Big Ol' Bulletin Board/Table Top that will let me have a bunch of ideas and plot elements all out in front of me at the same time, and shuffle them around without awkward copypasta. Don't be hesitant to suggest Windows Application X or Mac Application Y -- I can always use them as a search term to find open-source software that's like those programs.

* No, I'm not going to give any details about the Magnum Opus at this stage of the game. I will say that, yes, it has dragons. And dinosaurs. And sorcerors. And maybe even swords.
athelind: (Default)
Why is it so hard to find a portable radio or, hell, even an entertainment center-style stereo that has a nice row of programmable radio buttons, so you don't have to twiddle up and down the dial every time some hockey game clutters up your classic rock station?

Comments from people who don't listen to the radio because of technology X, Y, or Z will be deleted. Do not open Pandora's Box.
athelind: (Default)

Better Off Deadbeat

Craig Cunningham is suing abusive credit companies and bill collectors.

It's one of those framing issues: "oh, no, he's trying to weasel out of debts he racked up, fair and square" -- but, you know, we've all been manipulated into this debt-based economy anyway. We're expected to play nice and be cooperative and toe the line, while they don't even see fit to follow the rules that already favor them.

The only way that's gonna change is by telling the bastards to take a flying leap. And sometimes, that takes another bastard to lead the way.

More power to ya, Mr. C -- and back to you, Howard.

For the record, I'm not seeing this as some kind of easy way to deal with my own economic woes;
for one thing, I don't have a whole lotta debt right now, myself. This just pleases me.

athelind: (Default)
After sleeping in far too late yesterday, I went to bed earlyish last night, determined to roll out of bed at a decent hour, hop in the shower, and fire up the computer for the usual rounds of email and job boards.

I did indeed wake up around 7-ish, looked at the clock -- and, rather than blurry LED numerals, saw nothing. The power was out.

No Net. No TV. No lights in the bathroom.

I wound up going back to bed until 8:45, then taking a shower by candlelight.

(I do so love bathrooms in candlelight.)

Needless to say, the power came back five minutes after I got out of the shower.

It was only a few minutes ago that I realized that it was the Second of February, and that I had gotten up, seen my shadow, and gone back into my hole.

Looks like six more weeks of winter, from here.

More water-themed dreams last night; how much of them were due to the sound of rain outside, I can't tell. Not the usual crystal-clear water, this time; in this one, the nearby creek actually ran through the backyard. The usual gang of Generic Dream Friends and I were looking it over. The water was higher than usual; I noticed that conditions were exactly right for a flash flood, and suggested that we should get back over the creek and into the house. Of course, everyone blew me off, right up until the big muddy rush of water hit.

For some reason, I was wearing robes of some sort, as was at least one of the others.

athelind: (Default)
Last night was gaming night, and, as a result, I caffeinated for the first time in a week and a half. As a result, I didn't get to bed until after 01:30, and when sleep finally came, all manner of vivid and surreal dreams occurred (with recurring water symbolism, for the record).

The dream that left a real impression on me, however, happened between "Well, I guess I'm awake now" 07:15 and "Wait, how did it get to be" 08:30, a time more associated with hypnopompic states than REM sleep.

Like the dream of the Dolphin in the Library, I was watching this one unfold from a third-person vantage. The protagonist in this case was a female lion-like creature, not anthropomorphic in the humanoid sense, but definitely possessing language, culture, and some degree of tool use. She was pregnant, and not entirely "with it"; in retrospect, there was a hint that those caring for her had her drugged. They her kept giving her puzzles to solve, and treating her solutions as oracles for the fate of her unborn offspring.

The most distinctive feature was an entity that looked like a cave painting of something a gaunt coyote, visible only to the dream's protagonist -- and not entirely visible, at that. It seemed more a fleeting shadow of an entity that whispered in the protagonist's ear, giving different interpretations to those oracles, or dismissing them entirely. Despite its sinister appearance and bearing, there was a suggestion that it was actually more benign and well-disposed toward the protagonist than the tangible and superficially-benevolent people caring for her.

It called itself "Nine-Moons-Winter"; the dream's protagonist thought of it as "the Winterthin Thing". Either name was an obvious reference to its gaunt appearance: as gaunt as something that had survived a winter that lasted nine moons.

The Winterthin Thing was more visible than the "real", tangible creatures, as if I were observing the action from the Dreamtime -- which I was, I suppose. There was definitely some Ursula Vernon influence here, visuals of cave paintings twining around and interacting with vaguely-seen but definitely "real" creatures, vivid black charcoals over soft gray pencils; the captions were even in the same font [ profile] ursulav uses for Digger.

(Yes, there were captions. The "format" of the dream was somewhere between a comic and a movie. And yes, I can often read very clearly in dreams, contrary to popular lore that says you can't.)

It was a very vivid dream, one that stayed with me on awakening and fairly well demanded that I record it here.

... did something just introduce itself?

athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
As I noted earlier, this was the first FC in six years that I didn’t present the (non-adult) Dragon Panel, and that I was seriously considering returning to those duties next year. That prompted some discussion in the comments about species panels in general, and what they covered. Evidently, both the Dragon and Avian panels were a bit on the aimless side this year.

Under my auspices, the Dragon Panel hewed pretty firmly to “Dragons In Mythology, Folklore, Heraldry, and maybe, just maybe, Modern Fantasy”. [ profile] eclipsegryph runs the Gryphon panel in much the same way; Eclipse has done a LOT of research on kittybirds, going back to their earliest mentions in ancient Greek lore. He always seems to have something new to add, though, and I try to do the same in mine.

The other species panels I’ve attended (and co-presented) have centered around beasties that are, shall we say, less elusive than gryphons or dragons: reptiles/dinosaurs, avians, and bats. Those panels have presented more tangible data about the critters in question, as well as their traditional roles in folk culture. We talked about echolocation in the bat panel, for instance, but we also discussed how bats tended to be sinister in Western culture, but lucky in the East (rather like dragons, that. Hmmmm.).

I’m not sure if that’s true across all the panels, though. Maybe the more obscure and arcane critters attract those of a more academic/analytical/geeky bent. Does the Fox panel talk about Reynard and the Kitsune? Does it dive into how the vernacular term “foxes” covers a wide range of species across a wider range of clades that are only loosely related? Does the Canid panel discuss pack behavior and the ridiculous genetic diversity of genus Canis? Does it compare and contrast White Fang and The Big Bad, or the distinct pop-culture perceptions of Wolf and Coyote?

I simply don’t know.

And I’d like to.

I want to know both what the other species panels cover, and what the audience is interested in hearing.

*To be generous.
athelind: (Default)
Does anyone out there know how to open/convert/break down an .avb avatar file from the old, old Microsoft Comic Chat program? Way back in the Dark Ages, Malathar made a custom file for me, and I'd like to convert the various emotions and gestures into LiveJournal icons.

athelind: (Default)
Despite the Unusual Circumstances of my life right now, this was a terrific con.

I only attended four official Con events, and only made a couple of turns through the Dealer's Room and Art Show -- most of my time was spent socializing. I spent lots of time with lots of folks, and always seemed to be able to find someone to pester. (Discovering that my phone could send texts to multiple recipients helped a lot there.)

After five straight years of presenting the Not-Adult Dragon Species Panel, I skipped this year, and finally got to see the Masquerade -- the NADSP has been scheduled opposite the Masque for three years in a row, thank you so very much. The Masquerade was fun to see in person for once.

On the other claw, I pitched in at the eleventh hour to help [ profile] eclipsegryph give the Gryphon Panel, and had a blast and a half. Presenting panels has always kicked up a con into high gear for me, and I'll probably volunteer to take back the Dragon Panel again next year.

(Who went to the Dragon Panel this year? How did it go without Your Obedient Serpent at the helm? I've only heard feedback from one person who heard it from another person.)

I think the best part for me was the new location. I've always liked downtown San Jose, though I don't go there nearly often enough. The new hotel is in a splendid location, and is a pretty decent venue for the con, though I suspect we'll outgrow it quickly.

The afore-mentioned Unusual Circumstances allowed me to take public transit into the con with little difficulty, so I avoided the trauma of downtown parking this year. That's unlikely to happen again next year.

Having decent food and little conveniences like a grocery store and a drug store in the immediate vicinity was pleasant enough for us as attendees, but there's a hidden benefit that a lot of attendees have neglected. Being smack in the middle of downtown -- and the Fairmont is as close to dead-center in the middle of Downtown San Jose as you can get -- gives us the opportunity to become a local institution, to be part of the community in the same way that AnthroCon has become part of Pittsburgh. The local businesses certainly enjoyed our patronage, and the local populace seemed downright enchanted by our brand of madness.

This is an opportunity and an experience that we simply didn't have hiding in the Doubletree, stuck in a part of town that's flat-out dead on the weekends and not overly lively during the work week.

Furries are always worrying about how to improve their media image, and I submit that a goodly part of it is simply to be VISIBLE, being happy, friendly, fun people getting together to have a good time.

athelind: (Default)
Most of the news outlets are nattering on and on about Apple's new tablet as today's top story.

NPR, however, knows what's really important.

athelind: (Default)
Packing up the laptop, grabbing the bus back home, and then, off to work again!

Thanks to everyone; this was a great con. More later.

athelind: (Default)
You know it's a classy hotel (as opposed to merely an expensive one) when housekeeping neatly makes up the air mattress on the floor, as well as the beds.

athelind: (Default)
I was originally only going to attend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but I wrapped up all my chores by 5 PM last night. I discovered that I could get everything I needed for five days into a single, small suitcase, including my laptop -- and suddenly, taking the bus into downtown instead of driving became VERY PRACTICAL.

So I did. 45 minutes and two dollars later, I was at the Fairmont.

Picked up a cheap air mattress from Walgreen's, just down the street from the hotel; at $9.99, I may just leave it behind if I decide I don't want to cram it in the suitcase on the way home. It doesn't have one of those battery-powered inflation pumps that so many of them do these days -- but it DOES have a big ol' deflation valve in addition to its beach-toy style INflation valve. I looked at that, and looked at [ profile] hafoc's CPAP breathing compressor, and made a joke about using that to blow the thing up.

... it worked. A one-inch air fitting is a pretty standard size, it seemed.

Spent some time downstairs in the lobby, hanging with [ profile] rikoshi, [ profile] tealfox, and a few others. The hotel had a band playing, and it was ... bad.

These guys were so obviously off-key that even I noticed. Teal insisted that they were singing the harmony without the melody, which sounds about right -- but they kept getting worse. Please understand: [ profile] quelonzia will attest that I have a tin ear. Eventually, these guys were playing at the resonant frequency of tin.

Finally, I went to bed. The air mattress was fine, but odd dreams plagued me through the night -- including one in which Scully and Mulder had been dragged out of retirement to infiltrate a furry convention.

And they were working for Jonathan Winters.

Don't ask me where THAT came from.

athelind: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

It's Old English for "Noble Serpent".

I've been using it since the early '80s, originally assembling it from a "Random Old English Name Generator" table in an early issue of Dragon Magazine. If I recall correctly, "Lind" (serpent) was only on the prefix table, not the suffix, so from a gamer standpoint, I "cheated" -- no idea how well or poorly it may work on a grammatical standpoint.

The original "Athelind" was actually a Champions character, a centuries-old dragon who decided to take up superheroing as a lark.* A decade or so later, when "The Boojum Snark" decided that it would be more comfortable for the rest of to address him by a name rather than a title, he adopted it as his nom de guerre.

And the rest is history.

* At almost exactly the same time, a comic called The Southern Knights, and that Atlanta-based superhero team included a centuries-old dragon who also decided to take up the crimefighting trade. Needless to say, my fellow players immediately brought it to my attention.
athelind: (Default)
A lot of people keep defending President Obama's mediocre track record on progressive causes,* citing the close margin he has, and occasionally even acknowledging that he can't even rely on his own party members in Congress.

[ profile] bradhicks points out that Roosevelt, Johnson, and every other President who managed to accomplish anything of lasting significance faced the same kind of opposition, but knew how to use the power, prestige, and clout of the Chief Executive of the United States to get shit done.

The ones who didn't?

They didn't accomplish jack shit, for any cause, progressive or otherwise.

This is not the change I voted for.

*Most of his defenders also ignore his reprehensible track record in sustaining and expanding frankly regressive causes, including some of the worst stances of the Bush Junta on privacy, security, and copyright law, just to name a few.

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