All in all, it was a good weekend.
Girl Asleep is a delightful recent entry in the sub genre “girl on the cusp of womanhood who is confused by her changing life (and body) and learns to deal with it via a fantasy universe”, like Labyrinth and Mirror Mask. (I’m sure there must be more examples, but I’m having difficulty recalling them. Anyone want to add to the list?)
This particular girl, Greta, is growing up in Australia in the late 1970s. This is, in itself, more than a little fantastical, and the boundaries between the real and the visionary remain porous throughout the film. (I particularly liked the “integrated captions” for the scene changes, such as focusing on a bucket of fried chicken with a logo on the side reading “later that day”.) Her mother means well, but doesn’t understand her introvert daughter. Her father is little better, and over indulges in dad jokes (and an impressively 70s ‘stache). Her older sister is clearly thinking about moving out and has a dangerously sexy boyfriend. The family has moved to a new town, so Greta has to deal with the new school and all that entails. The only kid at school who seems to want to be friends with her is incredibly dorky (and adorbs). But a gang of archetypical “mean girls” also offers her membership – with unclear but intimidating strings attached. And then mom takes it into her head to invite all her little classmates to Greta’s 15th birthday party. The horror, the horror!
The party starts out okay, but piles stress upon stress until either reality or sanity fractures (there’s enough ambiguity that you may have your pick). Greta becomes lost in the woods, which are inhabited by wonders, but also by Big Bad Wolves. (And a friendly huldra. Don’t see too many of them around…) It all comes to a head in a climactic battle that I was quite charmed by, alternating seamlessly between hair pulling and pillow fights on the one hand, and advanced martial arts movie moves on the other.
The story had its genesis as a stage play, but the film fully embraces the possibilities of its new medium. While the film doesn’t seem to have a huge budget, it used that budget to excellent effect, creating many beautiful and memorable images. What I think it brings most from the stage is a “theatrical” sensibility, where the creative staff are willing to trust the audience’s suspension of disbelief, presenting images that work on multiple levels simultaneously, and respecting the audience’s ability to interpret. Both Kestrell and I were reminded of the excellent work of Lifeline Theater in Chicago.
It’s available on DVD and on Amazon video. Highly recommended.
I'm not going to embarrass them in public because they do try so hard and are quick to fix broken things when I bring them to their attention.
It's just that, by now, I'd hope they'd just email me, "Hey, Siderea, we'll be fucking up your email at this future date and time. We'll be around on Twitter until this subsequent date and time. Please be available during this window to exercise your account and let us know what we've broken this time."
Instead, I email them in response to the planned outage announcement and say, "Hey, what can we do in advance to make this work?" and they're like "nothing, it's all going to go perfectly!" and I'm like, "ooookay, when exactly will you be flipping the switch, (so I know when to check on you, but I don't say this part)?" and they're like, "oh, sometime on that weekend." *throws hands in the air*
(I miss nyip.net so hard.)
What I really want to know: Can I rip off GVoice's old/retired web interface legally? Or more accurately, can I pay somebody else to do it for me with reasonable ability to assure them they won't go to jail or get sued into oblivion for doing it?
To be clear, there are some nifty functional subtleties I'd want to make off with, which I wouldn't even want to bother pretending I came up with on my own. For instance, there's some interesting algorithm for how texts are batched into threads which I haven't entirely reversed engineered, but make a huge difference in readability.
2. Easy fixes: I got a dunning notice form the MA Department of Revenue yesterday, saying that I hadn't paid my taxes. Which is of course absurd. Have you met me? I checked my bank records and there was the canceled check. I called this morning and the situation was remedied in 5 minutes. They had filed my payment under 2017. I was all set to get belligerent, but fortunately that was unnecessary.
3. New water heater: We now have a tankless water heater. It's so small! There's so much more room over by the laundry area. It does take a while to get hot water to the third floor, but we'll never have to worry about running out (or the tank failing) again.
4. Working from home: I work from home once or twice a week now. Some things are harder to do because I'm working on a PC remotely through a Mac and my home "office" isn't actually set up for all day working. On the other hand, I can do laundry, make a really nice lunch, maybe run out to the gym, snuggle with Albert, sit around all day in a big soft t-shirt, and still get all my work done.
5. Organization: The corner cabinet in our pantry was a mess. My baking supplies were in there as well as some junk and apparently some mice from time to time. Things were hard to find and inefficiently stored. Also, I hated my flour canister. It's supposed to be sealed, but the gasket always falls off the lid into the flour.
The other day I hauled everything out. I scrubbed the cabinet (can't find where the mice get in though). I bought some great containers for sugar and flour (and will probably get more. Yay, Prime). Reorganized everything. All the baking supplies I rarely use are now in the basement -- equipment in a box, oddball flours in the freezer. I just need to get another storage box for the empty tins, which should also live in the basement until needed and figure out where my enormous cake topper mold goes.
Bonus: Albert. He's just the best.
1. You currently own more than 20 books:
2. You currently own more than 50 books:
3. You currently own more than 100 books:
Let's just lump all these together under HELL, YEAH.
4. You amassed so many books you switched to an e-reader:
Not really. I added the Kindle app to my phone for traveling convenience, and because of a few things I wanted which were only available in e-form. But I still prefer hard-copy overall.
5. You read so much you have a ton of books AND an e-reader:
That would be me. I should note that I also have a TBR stack on my Kindle app.
6. You have a book-organization system no one else understands:
Mostly it's pretty straightforward. Where people might disagree is some of my judgment calls.
7. You're currently reading more than one book:
Generally speaking, yes.
8. You read every single day: Yes.
9. You're reading a book right now, as you’re taking this book nerd quiz: No.
10. Your essentials for leaving the house:
My belt-pack and cellphone. I don't have to carry physical books any more because of the Kindle app.
11. You've pulled an all-nighter reading a book: Yes, many times.
12. You did not regret it for a second and would do it again:
If that refers back to #11, yes.
13. You've figured out how to incorporate books into your workout: Workout?
14. You've declined invitations to social activities in order to stay home and read:
This happens in the other order. I decline a social invitation because I don't want to go, and then I end up staying home and reading instead of doing something else.
15. You view vacation time as "catch up on reading" time:
Not as a rule. If I've spent money to go somewhere and do something, I'm going to do it. Reading may happen during travel time or in the evenings.
16. You've sat in a bathtub full of tepid water with prune-y skin because you were engrossed in a book:
No -- reading in the bath isn't compatible with showers.
17. You've missed your stop on the bus or the train because you were engrossed in a book:
No, but I did miss a fork on the interstate once because I was listening to an audiobook. That was the only time I ever tried to listen to an audiobook while driving.
18. You've almost tripped over a pothole, sat on a bench with wet paint, walked into a telephone pole, or narrowly avoided other calamities because you were engrossed in a book:
No! I loathe people who aren't paying attention to what they're actually doing.
19. You've laughed out loud in public while reading a book:
Yes. And then glanced around to see if there was anyone nearby who'd be likely to appreciate the joke.
20. You've cried in public while reading a book (it’s okay, we won’t tell): No.
21. You're the one everyone goes to for book recommendations:
Only some people. It's pointless to solicit recommendations from (or make them to) someone who doesn't share your taste.
22. You take your role in recommending books very seriously and worry about what books your friends would enjoy:
That's putting way too much emphasis on a matter of opinion.
23. Once you recommend a book to a friend, you keep bugging them about it:
I may ask them, once.
24. If your friend doesn't like the book you recommended, you're heartbroken:
Disappointed, sometimes. Heartbroken... no, I don't invest that much of my ego into it.
25. And you judge them. HELL, NO.
26. In fact, whenever you and a friend disagree about a book you secretly wonder what is wrong with them:
I would wonder what was wrong with someone who actually did this.
27. You've vowed to convert a non-reader into a reader:
No, I don't tilt at windmills. If it's going to happen, it'll happen with or without me.
28. And you've succeeded: n/a
29. You've attended book readings, launches, and signings: Yes.
30. You own several signed books:
Many! I even use "autographed" as a tag on LibraryThing.
31. You would recognize your favorite authors on the street:
Some of them, because I know them socially from cons.
32. In fact, you have: If you include "at a con", yes.
33. If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, you'd choose your favorite writer:
Maybe. Still stiff competition from Howard Shore, though.
34. You own a first-edition book: A few.
35. You know what that is and why it matters to bibliophiles:
It's about rarity and historical interest. And bragging rights, for some of them.
36. You tweet, post, blog, or talk about books every day: No.
37. You have a "favorite" literary prize:
I take more interest in the Hugos than I do in other prizes, but I'm not sure that translates into "favorite".
38. And you read the winners of that prize every year:
Not necessarily -- even for the Hugos!
39. You've recorded every book you've ever read and what you thought of it:
I try to keep up-to-date with entering books into LibraryThing, but that's partly to make sure I don't re-buy a book that's on my TBR stack. Sometimes I write reviews, but I don't feel compelled to do so.
40. You have a designated reading nook in your home:
Not really. Mostly I read either at the table while eating, or in my favorite chair, but I don't think of them as "reading nooks".
41. You have a literary-themed T-shirt, bag, tattoo, or item of home décor: Yes.
42. You gave your pet a literary name:
Of the current pride, Grey Mouser, Sunfall (of Ennien), Spike (from the Toby Daye books), and arguably Loki and Kitsune are literary-related; Spot, Winnie, and Catgirl aren't.
43. You make literary references and puns nobody else understands:
Yes, and usually my friends understand them.
44. You're a stickler for spelling and grammar, even when you're just texting:
Mostly. In casual writing I'll allow myself some leeway, and I don't beat myself up over the occasional typo.
45. You've given books as gifts for every occasion:
Every type of occasion, probably. But not every single one of any type.
46. Whenever someone asks what your favorite book is, your brain goes into overdrive and you can't choose just one.
No. I have "all-time favorite" which doesn't change, and "current favorite" which does. I do sometimes get snarky and respond with, "You want me to pick ONE?" Especially since I like different books for different reasons.
47. You love the smell of books: Meh.
48. You've binge-read an entire series or an author's whole oeuvre in just a few days: Yes.
49. You've actually felt your heart rate go up while reading an incredible book: Probably.
50. When you turn the last page of a good book, you feel as if you've finally come up for air and returned from a great adventure:
Sometimes. When I do, I frequently go back and re-read it immediately.
It is definitely not a WWII clear-out-the-bunkers flamethrower - fortunately. It's also more than a glorified heat gun. When fully operational, it spits out approximately a one-foot blowtorch-style flame. Today I just did a small test run on some weeds growing up out of the cracks in my driveway. It looks like it killed everything, but I'm going to check on Thursday to see if there's any regrowth involved.
My tentative conclusion is that this is a very useful weeding tool, but for me, at least, it takes two people to operate: one to run the blowtorch, and one to operate the garden hose. It's another thing Meredith and I will get to do together.
The extent to which Verizon has screwed this up has been epic. tn3270 referred to it as a Russian novel.
Penultimately, I had a conversation with billing that went approximately thus:
Billing: Hello, Verizon Billing, this is [NAME]. How can I help you today?
Me: You can waive this month's bill because Verizon has screwed up two move orders so far, and the 90 year old account holder hasn't had access to her phone line for five days and counting. It's still not on at her new place, but I understand there's an expedited technician order for today. But who knows? You're the seventh Verizon employee I've talked to so far, and I've been told a variety of wrong and contradictory things every step of the way. This has been the worst corporate fiasco I've been involved with in years.
Billing: ...yes, we will totally credit the account for the month.
I had originally thought that we might have trouble because Verizon had security and stuff, and I wasn't the account holder (D) and I wasn't the contact on the account (tn3270). But no. I text chatted with Verizon in advance of putting in the order (CSR #1), and they told me what authentication tokens I needed to authorize the move order, I got them, and they worked fine when I put the order in.
No, everything went to hell apparently due to galloping incompetence on Verizon's (staff's) part(s).
Initially, I was told we didn't need a technician to come out for the line move, unless we wanted help plugging the phone into the wall; they could do it on their end. For the record, this is a good ol' fashioned POTS line, and moving within the same town. Fine. Once we'd nailed down the move date and booked movers – June 30th, to be precise – I got back in touch – btw, I was using the Verizon website realtime customer service chat, because I couldn't find a damn customer service phone number. It's 1800VERIZON, btw. So I fired up the chat thingy, and talked to a customer serv rep (CSR#2), who said they'd be happy to do the move order for me. Somewhere in the middle of the process, he apologized to me and said that the system was saying that a technician is required for that address; that there were no available technicians on the move in date, but could do the day after (7/13) between 1pm and 5pm, and it wouldn't cost anything to have the technician. I said to make it so, so he put the move order in. I asked him to confirm the service and he quotes me a price that I later find out is almost twice D's usual bill. I ask him whether he needs the account contact there to meet the technician, and he doesn't know, so he transfers me to another cust serv rep (CSR#3), who says, no, any adult who can let the tech in is fine, and who confirms the order is all complete, and (he specifically said this) the previous CSR did everything necessary.
Subsequently, tn3270 got a phone call from Verizon confirming the incipient move.
On Thursday, 7/13, 6pm no Verizon tech, and D's landline still has no dial tone at the new place, and is still working at her old place.
I am working until 9pm, so when I get home around 10pm, I get back on the text chat, and ask what happened. I'm informed they can find no move order on the account. The cust serv rep (CSR#4) asks if I have an ID number for the move order, and I don't have one. But they're happy to submit a new move order. Grrrrr. I say, yes, do it. After a long pause, the cust serv rep apologizes and says they can't do the move. Because it's a landline. The text-chat customer serv reps can't do landline moves. For that you have to call in. 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM EST Monday through Friday or 9:00AM to 5:00PM on Saturday. Also, he tells me, I might need to present paperwork in person at a local Verizon office.
It's after 10pm on Thursday, so I have to wait until the phone is staffed again. Why they can have 24/7 text chat CSRs but not 24/7 phone CSRs, I don't know.
Other stuff comes up, that has priority Friday, so I don't get to call Verizon until Saturday, 7/15. The rep I speak to (CSR#5) tells me she sees no record of the move order for Thursday, but she can totally put in a move order for right now immediately. I say the guy I talked to on Thursday said I needed a technician and special documentation; she said she had no idea what he was on about, no technician was needed, and no, they didn't need any special documentation. She said it would be done by "5 today, though maybe really more like by midnight". I make her give me the order number for this move order.
Sunday, 7/16, still no dialtone at her new place, dialtone at the old place. Verizon is closed for phone calls.
Today, Monday, 7/17, I call Verizon and ask WTELF. The CSR (CSR#6) calls up the account and says, "Oh, I see you had a move order for last Thursday." "WAIT. WUT. You can see that order? I was told you guys had no record of that order!" I make him read me the order number; so now I have the order numbers for both move orders that failed to happen. He then apologizes on Verizon's behalf and tells me they over-booked technicians, and that is why no technician came out. "BUT, BUT, WAIT. NOBODY EVER CALLED OR EMAILED. I WAS TOLD THERE WAS NO ORDER. THE LAST PERSON TOLD ME WE DIDN'T NEED A TECHNICIAN AT ALL." The CSR apologized again, and said he'd put the order in, and expedite it, and a technician would be by today.
Then I explained that I wanted the bill credited, and he referred me to billing (CSR#7), who both credited the bill (tn3270 has already got the confirmation email) and confirmed her service level and price, contra CSR#2.
Miraculously, a Verizon technician actually showed up at the assisted living facility today. He did a bunch of stuff, including something in the network closet and sticking some sort of probe in her wall socket, and assured us everything in the building is all set.
She still doesn't have dialtone, though; the technician confidently told tn3270 that the problem was on the pole outside. They'll have a lineman deal with that tomorrow (Tuesday, 7/18).
Next up, contacting the Mass DTC to see about filing an official complaint.
It turns out that there's no Music AH for Worldcon 75.
I mean, on one level, I'm not shedding any tears over screwups with the convention after they booted me (and the way it was done). But on the other hand, my friends are going to miss out on a lot of the activity they enjoy at the convention because there's nobody put it together.
The bad news is that some of the stuff that fatigues me seems to be pretty low-key and difficult to avoid.
I've also gotten better a learning to avoid stuff that fatigues me when things are going badly - I think this is part of why I'm keeping plugged in mentally. That's a good thing.
In other good news, I'm learning about other database systems and starting to be able to reason about them more deeply, and to collaborate with other people who know them. The not-quite-bad news is I'm learning how hard it is to go from knowing huge gobs of information about SQL Server, and not always being able to translate it to other engines yet, because of the depth of the knowledge.
An example? Well: SQL Server is a database engine; most database engines make changes in memory, and then flush those changes to disk later. SQL Server has two mechanisms for this: the checkpoint, and the lazywriter. MySQL runs checkpoints too, but it also has a scan that runs once a second that *sounds* like the lazywriter, but might not be. And for some reason, this lazywriter-like function can block changes to the database. So, why? What's up with that? How does it work?
These are pretty deep questions, and they're pretty advanced, too. You could build a fine and powerful application running MySQL and never need to know this. You could build multiple such applications and never need to know this, in fact - and you could manage many such applications without need to know it. So where is it documented? Well... hither and yon. There are hints here and there in blogs and forums, but not all such hints are made by people who understand the process on a deep level, so they have to be reviewed carefully.
Just as in life where there's always a solution that's simple, elegant, and wrong, I'm sure there are discussions of this process that are likewise simple, elegant, and wrong.
I kind of wish I was younger - there were times when I'd imagine this as being akin to studies of magic in many fantasy worlds, where people know set spells, but don't quite understand precisely why they work. It would be exciting viewed from that perspective!
And it wouldn't surprise me if such stories were more likely written more by Unix programmers and admins than Windows. One interesting difference between Unix and Windows programs: Unix programs have a tendency to have dozens, or hundreds, of configuration options that you can set, meaning that there are all kinds of ways to control your daemons (no, really - that's the Unix term for what we Windows people call a "service") using these options, but it's really hard to know what, precisely, is making a difference.
So, you see, understanding MySQL is a lot like learning magic in such a world - you can see things to change, but if you don't have a deep understanding of how they all tie together, it's easy to make superstitious changes (things get better, but not because of what you did) or to confidently break something completely; you can also make the right changes, and things work much better. It could be really kind of fun and exciting to tie all this together and to feel like you're understanding the magic better.
Right now, it's a bit frustrating - but it's getting better. As I keep reminding myself, there are only so many ways to do things and I know many of them - once I figure out what is being done, and why it's being done, I can usually piece together how it can be done, and then reason from there how they are doing it. It's not as fun as imagining myself as a master of the mystic arts, but it's getting the job done.
Here's hoping life is treating you all well - that you have joy, and love in your life, and that you have striving where you need challenges, and rest and support where you need succor.
(Oh, great. Now I'm remembering old cartoons - someone gets in a bad scrape and someone yells SUCKER! It would be twisted in a good way, I suppose, to reverse that - have the cartoon show someone getting help when they need it, and having someone call out SUCCOR!)
I suppose, next I'll have to explain why, when thinking of random numbers, I'll usually come up with 2356.
In the news today are a bunch of obits for director George Romero. Pretty much all of them focus on Night of the Living Dead, and to be fair, it's the work he is best known for.
But let's pause a moment and remember his movie Knightriders -- the closest thing the SCA has to its own motion picture. Legend (maybe true, maybe not; I honestly don't know) has it that Romero happened to attend a particular SCA Crown Tournament, and was swept up by the drama he saw there; his producers weren't thrilled by the idea, and said, "Enh -- maybe if you add motorcycles and a good soundtrack, we'll think about it". So he did.
Knightriders has always been on my personal list of Movies Every SCAdian should see. Not because the club portrayed is the SCA, mind. It very much isn't: it's essentially a traveling RenFaire where they joust on motorcycles. But the feel of the group, I've always thought, reflects the SCA beautifully. You have the folks who are dead-serious about The Dream, who see something better in the ideals of their club. You have the stick-jocks who are here for the sport and the babes. You have the craftsmen who are making it all possible, and, yes, you have the folks who are just here to party. (There's even poor Patricia Tallman, better known for Babylon 5, in her first major role as the token mundane who is enamored by the whole thing but doesn't quite seem to get it.)
The movie gets a bit full of itself at times, and some people mock it mercilessly, but I love it -- not least for Ed Harris (in my favorite of his roles) as King Billy, who is trying desperately to keep his people both safe and united, and to pursue his dreams while everything around him is falling apart. He is a wonderful study in obsession, illustrating both the advantages and problems of having a strong leader.
If you haven't seen it, check it out. It's not the most brilliant movie ever, but it's wonderfully human. For pretty much every character in it, I can say, "Yeah, I know folks just like that". That's one of the higher compliments I can pay a director...
"The #1 Gruel Cookbook in the World!" What?
I subscribe to The Mysterious Package Company's "newsletter", Curios & Conundrums. The first one this year, Gods of Madness was on a Victorian theme and included, amongst other oddities, this small cookbook (10 recipes). It sounds like joke, but the recipes, all grain or legume-based porridges, beverages, soups, &c., all sounded really good and the photos were quite appetizing.
I made Victorian Restorative Gruel.
Cook steel-cut oats in beef stock and a little sherry. Meanwhile, cook chopped bacon until crispy and then brown chopped onions in the bacon fat. Add to the oats. When the oats are soft, take off heat. Whisk together a spoonful of molasses and a whole egg. Add to the oats and let sit under cover 10 minutes. Thin with a little boiling water.
It is SO good! Savory and creamy and hearty. Kind of like oat risotto.
( photo )
I'm eager to try some of the other recipes, like Atole (Mexican cornmeal drink), Pig's Foot Congee (Chinese rice porridge) and Pootjes Pup (Dutch noodle pudding). I also have another MPC cookbook on the docket -- How to Poison Your Friends, which was part of the paranoia-themed issue.
121/130, 7 this year, 9 left to go!
I climbed at Lac Sam on Saturday with a small crew, then had dinner with the family back in Ottawa -- my sister, brother-in-law and nieces (2) were in town for a 2 weeks (except BIL, only a week) and headed out this morning, so met up with them for the last dinner before they left.
Today we climbed at Mont Rigaud as it was the only area without a 70-80% POP starting in the afternoon. We did get a full day of good, but hot, climbing there.
I've been saving up for this trip for nearly a year, because I wanted to have the experience of taking an overseas trip while I still can. And, sadly, it looks as though not only will this be the only such trip I ever take, but it will probably be the last time I ever fly anywhere at all. The default cabin pressure during flight has been raised from 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet, and at that virtual altitude I have Issues -- to wit, it knocks me off my feet at the other end for the rest of that day and most of the next as well. And that's on a 4-hour flight; I don't want to think about what might happen if I took a trans-Atlantic flight.
My flight out left at 10:35, but (working back) that meant I needed to be at the airport by 8:30, which meant I needed to leave home by 7:30, which meant I needed to get up no later than 6:30. Generous estimates all, but if the choice is between sitting in the waiting area for 2 hours and missing my flight, I'll take the former. And in point of fact, that's how it worked out; I was running early enough that the traffic thru downtown wasn't horrendous, I found the long-term parking lot I intended to use without trouble, and the bag-check and security lines were only 3 or 4 people long.
I had decided that since I was traveling solo, money spent toward making things easier for myself was worthwhile, so I sprang for the Early Check-In option with Southwest. This got me into the A boarding group, which meant that it was easy for me to get a window seat with bin space directly above it for my first carry-on bag. The flight was uneventful. Someone I know had told me that the San Juan airport was "a pit", but either it's been significantly spruced up since she was last there or she has a very different definition from mine; it was a lot like the Nashville airport. I retrieved my checked bag and got a cab to the con hotel (apparently the hotel itself doesn't run a shuttle).
( The con )
- I would doubtless have gone to more of the panels if it hadn't been so goddamn cold on the convention level. I was feeling not really up to snuff all weekend for various reasons, and that made me even less inclined to sit in an ice-cold function room.
- I think this is the first con I've ever been to where I bought nothing from the con itself. There just wasn't that much to buy.
- Also because of not feeling up to snuff, I didn't take very many pictures.
- The streets in Old Town make the ones in the French Quarter look wide! One parking lane and one traffic lane, and you didn't see any SUVs or pickup trucks because there wasn't space for anything larger than a standard sedan to get thru.
- I had taken quite a bit of money with me, and came back with about half of it -- see above about nothing much to buy at the con. The largest chunk of what I spent, aside from the hotel, was on food and cabfare.
- I gave out a few no-Nazi buttons at the con, and two more to employees at the bookstore.
- Puerto Rico is primarily Spanish-speaking. Although everyone I interacted with was bilingual, all the signage outside the hotel was Spanish-only. I was happy to leave the navigation to my taxi drivers!
Bottom line: While I didn't get as much out of the weekend as I might have hoped, I'm still glad I went.