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)
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 [livejournal.com 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: (Default)
Two days before the con, I have the sniffles, and it's clear that this isn't just an allergy attack.

Bed rest. Fluids. OTC medicine. I should be okay by the weekend.


athelind: (Default)

You know, I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair.
Then, I thought:


Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair,
and all the terrible things that happen to us come
because we actually deserve them?"


So, now, I take great comfort in the hostility and unfairness of the universe.



-- "Marcus Cole",
in J. Michael Straczynski's
Babylon 5

athelind: (Default)

Yet Another Power Failure Knocks Out The Large Hadron Collider!



This makes me a little nervous; I'd joked earlier that the last few LHC glitches coincided with the escalating assaults on my late, lamented Grape.

I have a NEW car now, dagnabbit!


athelind: (Default)
A statement like that might seem to need qualifiers, but really, it doesn't.

I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

About very nearly anything.


athelind: (Default)
If you follow this journal, you know that October has been a long succession of disasters for Your Obedient Serpent. Many of them were car-related, and, of course, the climactic one, the destruction of my car on Halloween morning, was the proverbial bolt from the blue, the quintessential smite of angry divinity, if your metaphysics lean that way, or cosmic irony, if they lean in the other direction.

It's enough to prompt even the aggiest agnostic to wonder, "Why me? Who did I piss off?"

Well, I have a confession to make.

On September 15th, 2009, Jessica Simpson's dog was snatched by a coyote.

This was a minor news item, but one that prompted some small degree of amusement -- in part because so much of the "action" happened on Twitter.

We found one line in particular amusing:

Simpson, 29, has offered a reward to anyone who can reunite her with her 5-year-old, caramel-colored dog.

Quoth [livejournal.com profile] halfelf: "It's like she's expecting a ransom note from the coyotes, or something."

One thing led to another, and, before the hour was out, "CoyoteLuvsU" had a Twitter account, and had posted the following:

@JessicaSimpson WE hAVE YouR TAsTY tASTy DoG. DElIVeR 100 bOnz + 1 roDe RUnnEr To THE olD TRee In THE MeADoW. CoME alOnE, NO AnImAL CoNTRoL.


Today, on the phone with my mother, I mentioned this gag. Being no great fan of either Twitter nor Ms. Simpson, she found it uproarious -- but then stopped, and asked, "So, when did you do this?"

"September 15th", I answered.

"Aha!" she said, wise in the ways of Old Man Coyote. "That's when your trouble started. You took His name in vain."

My mother has a wonderful Ominous Prophecy Voice, and it has only improved with age.

I confess, the logic is inescapable. Indeed, at the time, I said, "I am so asking for trouble by doing this."

Friday the 13th seems the ideal time to Confess and Repent one's sins before the Trickster.

Coyote, forgive me! I have taken Your name in vain,
and trespassed upon a Gag that was rightfully Yours!
The forces of Cosmic Irony have weighed heavily upon me,
and more heavily still upon my late, lamented Grape,
who has suffered in my stead. I repent of my sin,
and my hubris in attempting to leech your Yuks!



You know, when I first came into possession of that Little Purple Car, I asked the opinion of a former Aspire owner, who had rolled his on Interstate 5 a year or two before, and come out unscathed. He said, "They may not look like much, but they'll give their lives for you."

Indeed, sir. Indeed.

athelind: (Default)
Mostly for my own reference:


Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design




While Dr. Akin is an aerospace engineer, most if not all of these Laws apply to systems design in general.

[livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty should take particular note of the following:


14. (Edison's Law) "Better" is the enemy of "good".



Snagged from [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking, whom I forgot to credit when I first posted this.

.
athelind: (Default)
After spending yesterday talking and laughing (and drinking) with family members, some of whom I haven't seen in twenty years, I'm feeling more positive about everything. The car? A setback and an annoyance. The job hunt? I've got prospects and directions I've never even tried before, because I didn't think I could do them.

I've spent far too much of my life not trying stuff because I didn't think I could do it. The only things I've ever done right were the times I dove right in despite that.

Joining the Coast Guard. Running off to Texas to move in with my Internet girlfriend. Going to a brand-new school that had only opened four years previously.

In the words of Virgil (and Scrooge McDuck), Audaces fortuna iuvat!


The secret, you see, is to
KEEP

SMILING!

athelind: (Default)
After I showered this morning, we had water backed up in the sunken bathtub in the master bath. This has happened before, and usually limits itself to the master bath; we had, in fact, just had a plumber out a couple of months ago.

After [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia and I had been at my stepdad's birthday party for, oh, maybe an hour, max, we got a call from Quel's daughter, informing us that EVERY DRAIN IN THE HOUSE was backing up.

We're home now, and can't flush.

This is gettin' ridiculous. Now I'm just starting to giggle.


athelind: (Default)
Here's the full damage tally, as far as we can reconstruct it:

  1. Lexus comes tearing down our residential street at high speed, around half past midnight.
  2. Lexus impacts 1977 full-sized van, two doors down.
  3. Van is hit with sufficient force to hit the next-door neighbor's Toyota, in her driveway, and then rebounds off to TURN COMPLETELY AROUND and wind up on the sidewalk between next-door neighbor's house and OUR house.
  4. Lexus continues on its course, directly into my little purple car.


On the phone, my insurance company wanted as much detail about all of the accident as I could give them.

"What parts of the van were damaged?"
"ALL OF THEM."


athelind: (Default)
To my great surprise, I have realized that I do indeed have a concept of the afterlife:

Just when you've settled down into a nice, well-deserved stretch of eternal oblivion, when you think all of life's nasty little jokes are, at last, over...

Rod Serling steps up and submits you for the viewer's approval, as you commence an eternity of thirty-to-sixty-minute doses of irony, forever, and ever, and ever.


athelind: (Default)
About 20 minutes ago, as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard what sounded like a distant accident.

My stepdaughter then pounded on my door and said, "Some one just ran into your car!"

The drunken son of a bitch hit the FULL-SIZED VAN that parks two houses down, hard enough to TURN IT 180 DEGREES AND LAND IT ON THE SIDEWALK, and then continued on to slam into MY car at high speed.

He hit his head in the impact, but was up walking around by the time I got out there. The fire department, police, and paramedics are out there now.

The front of his car is a crumpled mess. I've seen the rear or mine -- the left rear is about a foot or so in front of the right rear.

It's destroyed. It's fucking destroyed.

I can't take any more of this. I just can't. There's just been too fucking much, in too short a time.

Trick or fuckin' treat.


athelind: (Default)

Struck at 75 mph, this coyote rode from the Utah-Nevada border all the way to Sacramento wedged behind the grill of a Honda Fit.

Despite the impact and an 8-to-10-hour drive, he suffered no broken bones or internal injuries -- proving that at least some coyotes are every bit as durable as Chuck Jones told us when we were kids.

Four days later, he escaped from a kennel,

There's a slide show at the NBC Bay Area site. It's amazing.

In a later interview, the Honda was quoted as saying, "Beep beep."




On a related note, I got the Grape back today. The shiny new headlight on the starboard side makes the old port side headlight look sorta grungy. There's a crack in the Ford medallion, but that's the only remaining evidence of that impact.

I have appointments planned for tomorrow, but the Santa Cruz Resume Jaunt will take place on Friday.


Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] wingywoof for the coyote story. Thanks to Kuykendall's Auto Body & Frame for the car repairs, and thanks to [livejournal.com profile] hinoki for sending me there.
athelind: (Default)
So, the plan today was to hop in the car, head first to Campbell and then to Santa Cruz, and personally deliver resumes to some likely employers. The hand-carry trick is what landed me the Schaaf & Wheeler contract back in 2007, after all.

I had everything carefully mapped out, via Google. I had minimaps of all the twisty, curvy confusion of Santa Cruz streets. I was steeled and ready for Hwy 17 -- brand new tires! What better time for it?

Naturally, I rear-ended another car on the El Camino onramp to Lawrence Expressway. For those taking notes, this is the major intersection closest to my house.

What happened? I'm still not entirely sure. There was a line of six or seven cars; I think I was at the back. We were all accelerating smoothly; the two onramp lanes had merged together, I was deliberately taking it easy because I had a long drive ahead.

I checked my side mirror, looked up, and SHIT CAR STOPPED BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE skreeeeeee slam.

We both pulled off to the side, and were immediately apologizing to each other and making sure everyone was okay.

According to the folks in the other car, someone three or four cars ahead of them had stopped abruptly, and, well, dominoes. They were, themselves, right behind a motorcycle, so they really slammed on the brakes to avoid taking him out.

Nobody was hurt, though the passenger in the other vehicle hit her head against the headrest on her seat. She seemed okay, though I know better than to assume that in such cases, and told her that, if she was still having problems later, she needed to get checked out. The other car had no visible damage.

The Grape's snoot is visibly crumpled, and the hood is popped on one side. At least one headlight looks misaligned.

The CHP arrived on scene after, oh, maybe half an hour after we called, since there were no injuries reported. Since we had no problem exchanging insurance information, they said they didn't need to write up a report.

This is, for the record, my second vehicular accident in my driving career -- the last one was twenty years ago, or more. As I said to the officers, if this happens so seldom that I'm never quite sure what to do, I must be doing something right.

Because the Grape is kind of old and scroddy, however, we don't have collision coverage, so this is all gonna be out of pocket.

Note, however, that Coyote does, indeed, love me: "For all the bad luck we have, we have a lot of good luck." On a day that I'd planned a drive over Highway 17, a twisting, turning route over the Santa Cruz mountains, with long stretches that have no access or egress, and traffic reports regularly show extensive blockages because accidents and mishaps can jam up the whole route for miles... my accident happened a block and a half from home, and nobody was hurt.



Meanwhile... my stepfather's in the hospital today, getting tests run. He had some dizziness yesterday, and the doctor sent them to Urgent Care, who in turn started running tests. When I talked to mom this morning, they'd done an EKG and were scheduling an MRI. Hopefully, it was just a head rush, and neither heart nor stroke.

Poppa turns 80 on the 29th. My sister's been planning a surprise party for him on Halloween, since that's the closest Saturday.


athelind: (Default)
Glad I still roll down the windows to and from work; last night, there was a TAP TAP TAP noise that picked up in rhythm as I picked up speed. Brain quickly assessed that there was Something Stuck To Or In The Left Front Tire.

This morning, I took a walk around the block, and, amazingly, remembered to actually LOOK at said tire. Sure enough, there's a big, fat ol' Philips head embedded in the tread, and it's lookin' mighty low.

AAA's been here and gone, the donut is on the car, and I'm about to toodle down to Goodyear to get the real tire fixed.

And I had PRODUCTIVE things planned for today. =P



Addendum: Well, that was fast and (relatively) painless. The tires were six years old, and the guy at Goodyear said that they weren't supposed to patch tires more than five years old -- though he said it in a way that implied that they'd do it if they really had to. However, the tires were six years old, and due to be replaced anyway, so the Grape is now riding on happy new tires.

And now -- onto Productive Things!


athelind: (Default)
You know, I've very quickly adapted to using a single monitor -- thanks in part to the quick-and-easy Desktop Switcher that Ubuntu has.

The whole system seems to be working much more smoothly than it has in a very long time.

After almost a full day of this, I've started to realize that all of my most blood-pressure-raising computer issues in the last few years have centered around my stubborn insistence at keeping the two-monitor set-up running.

Hell, if I recall correctly, that was what kept me from keeping that video card I got last year in the machine: it ran fine until I tried a second monitor.

Hmmmm...


athelind: (Default)
I'm getting used to one monitor, but so far, that's not the most annoying thing about the glitches in the Ubuntu display editors.

No, the most annoying thing is that, now that I'm only running one screen, all of the annoying little visual flourishes like expanding windows and transparent toolbars have activated -- and I CAN'T TURN THEM OFF.

It's taunting me.

athelind: (Default)
Well, over the last couple of weeks, I upgraded from Ubuntu 8.04 to 9.04, with a week or so at 8.10 just to make sure everything was stable.

Annoyingly, the jump to 9.X threw a wrench in my video drivers, and the setting software was cranky.

In the proces of trying to correct a minor glitch (that made Second Life almost unusable), I've once again completely cocked up my two-monitor browser settings. The second monitor refuses to set itself at the proper 1440x900 resolution -- it's turned into a 1024x768 monitor PANNING ACROSS a 1440x900 virtual screen.

That's worse than useless.

Once again, the only hints of help I can find online involve hand-editing the appropriate config files; meanwhile, finding useful information about just how to DO that elude me.

So, to hell with it. I'll just use one monitor, like everyone else does.

Ironically, I've got the replacement Eee working just fine under Eeebuntu.


athelind: (Default)
Via boingboing:

Bacon may not make everything better, but cookies do:

FBI Interrogator Reports That Cookies Work Better Than Torture.



This is Pure Undiluted Coyote In Action: the reprehensible deeds of the arrogant and powerful are countered by something that is, at first glance, absurd.

Part of me wants to make a funny, light-hearted post about the wonders of baked goods, full of references to Eddie Izzard and '80s cartoons about Being Nice and '70s superheroes defeating the villains with Hostess Fruit Pies.

Part of me wants to go on a self-righteous tear about how the vile nature of torture is compounded by its ineffectiveness.

Look at the icon: which part do you think won this one?

It's particularly ironic because those who try to defend "enhanced interrogation" love to accuse their opponents of "coddling" terrorist suspect. "Maybe we should just serve them tea and cookies, instead! That's sure to get them to talk!"

Guess what? It does, assholes.

Treating people as people, as human beings, goes a long way toward getting them to see you as human in turn.

Those who defend and support torture don't give a damn about facts or evidence. They don't care about getting useful or accurate information out of these prisoners. They don't even care about the "ticking time bomb" scenario gleaned from their careful, in-depth research into Kiefer Sutherland.

They just want to hurt people, or have people hurt in their name. They just want to cause pain. They don't care about terrorism or any of the rest of it; 9/11 just gave them a justification to do what they've always wanted to do, to indulge their vicious cruelty, and to assert loudly and contemptuously that any other approach is naive and weak.

It is indefensible that I live in a nation that can even debate this issue.

Not when the alternative is cookies.

athelind: (Default)
When I used my "Coyote Laughs" icon on my post about the Hot Smoked Sausage prank, I thought to myself, "Oh, that's just asking for trouble. Somehow, some way, that's going to wind up biting you on the ass."

Well, I had one of those sausages for lunch, and another for dinner.

I've been fighting off the remains of the flu for the last few days, and when I'm not feeling my best, my stomach sometimes has trouble digesting certain things.

Like capsaicin.

Let's just say that particular bit of foresight was more literal than I expected.


athelind: (Default)
A week or so ago, during the holiday retail frenzy, [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia got a pack of hot dogs and buns. Originally, she planned to build an official dinner around them, but decided that they were better-suited for quick, fast meals. This was a nice idea, since I was working crazy hours.

Shortly thereafter, I came home exhausted, after everyone else had eaten dinner, and needed something. The Fire of My Heart said, "You can have a hot dog!"

The Grandspawn replied, "No, he can't. They're all gone."

Quel had had two. I'd had none.

(This is a recurring phenomenon, incidentally. Whenever we get something simple and easy to prepare, to use as meals when people are pressed for time or don't feel like cooking, the Grandspawn considers it fair game as snacks, and will rip through the whole stash before anyone else has a chance to get any.)

So, today, I went to Smart & Final (the bulk food store), one of the few local purveyors of Quelonzia's Incurable Addiction, and saw that they had my favorite brand of Cheap-But-Substantial Hot Dogs, Bar S. 16 dogs to a package, three pounds of meat, $4.99 -- and each dog is both larger and more flavorful than your ISO Standard Oscar Mayer.

They have three kinds: Polish Sausage, Smoked Sausage... and Hot Smoked Sausage.

I got the Hot Smoked Sausage. They're tasty. (Of course, I'm the only one who thinks so.)

When I got home, I opened the package up to fix myself one. Because the package doesn't seal by itself, I slid the whole thing into a Zip-Loc bag.

Unfortunately, in the process of opening it, I just happened to snip off the part of the label that says "HOT".

"Oopsie."

Hey, I've never claimed to be the grown-up.

Update: Younger Stepdaughter also likes the spicy smoked sausage. She suggested having it for dinner tonight -- and has no intention of warning her stepspawn. She didn't get any of the last batch of hot dogs, either...
athelind: (Default)
There's a move to revoke the LDS Church's tax-exempt status for violating the section of the Federal code that limits the use of such organizations to influence legislation.

This seems entirely appropriate to me.

Do As Thou Wilt.


athelind: (Default)
To my surprise, I find myself praying.

This is hard to admit, this year, this hour. Not only am I an avowed agnostic, but the Religious Right has been so soundly mocked for praying for the victory of their Chosen Candidate, as if they could command their God.

The last eight years, however...

It's not much of a prayer, as prayers go. It's just a single word, but one that keeps echoing in my soul as I read Barack Obama's speeches, or watch them on video, or see the words and images of those who have come together, having finally found someone that they can genuinely support, rather than a mere placeholder for their opposition.

It's a single word:

Please.

Last night, [livejournal.com profile] ounceofreason said, It's Christmas Eve, except that there's a decent chance that Santa will burn my house down.

That single sentence perfectly encapsulates how I feel right now.

Please.

Perhaps I'm praying to Old Man Coyote. The last election, for me, moved "Coyote Loves Us" from a wry acknowledgment of Murphy's Law to something akin to an epiphany. It staggered me that Americans could put that man back into the Oval Office even by such a slim margin after seeing what he'd done to this country in that first term; what better evidence that our little corner of the universe was in the paws of a prankster, a practical joker with a penchant toward the scatological, who'd just pulled the national-if-not-global equivalent of a banana peel?

Nice one, Coyote. But just this once...

Please.

I'm going to work now, to while away the next several hours in the ever-so-important task of unpacking and inventorying this week's shipment of comic books and pop culture trinkets.

I welcome the distraction.

When I leave the back room refuge of the comics shop, perhaps there will be good news.

Perhaps I can allow myself to hope.

Please.

March 2010

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