prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
My last two months:

  • Dad died

  • Needed to buy a new car pronto speedy quick

  • Biopsy (thankfully a false alarm)

  • Still dealing with Dad's estate

I haven't been posting much on Tumblr, either, just reblogging things so that people would feel like I was still alive.  I'm not sure it has worked.

Mostly right now I just want to rave about Star Wars: Rebels.  Maybe I will.  Every 10 years or so the Star Wars Feels resurface and I feel the desire to impose my Deep Star Wars Thoughts on my friends.
prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
Did I forget to do my last Three Good Things entry?  I did!  Well, extra perspective, I guess.  Of course, so little happened Sunday that I feel sort of like I don't have three things to list.

1: BUT WAIT, that was one of the good things!

2: Also, my sister made leek and potato soup.  God I love this soup.  It's buttery and tangy and filling and just so good.

3: I got back to (some of) my roots by binging on Transformers comics.  I've always loved Transformers.  Even though the old cartoon was simplistic, even as a kid I could see there was so much potential in the idea of a race of ancient alien robots fighting a war of millennia across the stars.  And while Michael Bay's movies are certainly not a place to find much of that potential realized, in comics there have been some really great attempts.  A now-defunct comics publisher called Dreamwave made a really good, interesting attempt at it several years ago, including a version of Megatron who owned a certain brand of warrior mysticism to go along with Optimus Prime as both military and spiritual leader of his people. These days, IDW has the rights--which is splendid because IDW does one hell of a comic, with smart writing and art high-quality art and printing.

So, I dove back into the digital collection of issues I've accumulated over time.  (Gave myself an annoying virus when I installed a reader for the file format they're stored in.)   The psychology of a species that never dies of old age and is also hard to kill otherwise. The culture and caste systems that might evolve over millions of years with minimal turnover in population.  Alien robot mysticism!  Alien robot gender!  (They've got individuals that ID as 'female' but it's not like they actually have sexes.  No, seriously, they've got a spotlight issue devoted to a transgender Transformer.) Plus, now and again a deft touch of the dystopian horror of a war that has lasted for longer than entire geological ages of the earth and left their own home planet a shattered, lifeless husk.  Perhaps most interesting is seeing what ancient alien robots might consider body horror.  It's not breaking the boundaries of sci-fi or anything, but it's so satisfying to read stories exploring the same sorts of things my imagination went cruising after.
prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
1: Today has been a restorative day of slothful leisure, and I still have another day of weekend!  Woo!  God, I needed this.

2: Writing sensory deprivation smut is happy-making.

3: Leftover Chinese is the food of the gods.

Bonus 4: My parrots are being so cute right now that if you could see them, you would be driven insane by your inability to process the cosmic magnitude of their cuteness. (So now you know what happened to me.)
prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
1: Vacuumed and cleaned today, and got to spend all day with that feel-good feeling of a clean house around you. ^_^

2: The weather was stunning today, and I had nowhere better to be than lounging around in it.

3: I truly do have an amazing job.  I enjoy it, it challenges me, and I know I'm making a difference, both for the bottom line of the college where I work and for the students and scientists.  It's the kind of job that people talk about when they say, "If you love what you do, then it never feels like work."  Well...truthfully it does feel like work, but it feels like work you WANT to do, which makes all the difference.  I had a hell of a week this past week, but I knew it was only in passing, and that furthermore a lot of it was due to the overabundance of success in the past couple of weeks, and most importantly that it was WORTH it.

If you're wondering how you get a job like this, incidentally, I got mine by working my butt off for it.  I decided somewhere around 2006, working a job that was already beginning to impact me from long-term stress and unhappiness, that I wasn't going to rest until I got a job and career I loved.  I then spent two years searching for a field that I could both enjoy and make money in, another year and a half preparing and researching for grad school, another two years mining grad school for everything I could get out of it, and finally a year on the job market while I filled my time with short-term freelance work, refusing to settle for positions that sounded only kind of okay.  It took a lot of preparation and a fair amount of luck, and more than once I had months of abject terror and anxiety as I jumped into the void and trusted that I'd land safely.

It was not easy, and I did it because I knew that my long-term happiness and security were at stake.  I am not a person who CAN work in a job I don't love for very long without it impacting my physical health.  It all started with me confronting that and admitting to it, and then deciding what I needed instead.

But listen.  It wasn't ONLY luck.  Those times when I cast myself into the void, it wasn't at random.  I looked at my goal and what it would take to get there.  I lined up the skills and resources I'd need.  I looked at the risks and did things to minimize or survive them as much as possible, lined up as many points in my favor as I could manage, and then sweated through the wait and anxiety attacks to discover the fruits of my work.  A change like this is terrifying.  A goal like this is huge.  But it IS something you can orchestrate.
prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
1: I took tomorrow off, so it's the beginning of my weekend!

2: It's equinox this weekend, and the crisp taste of fall is in the air.  The year is dying, but somehow it reinvigorates me.  There's something boundlessly optimistic about fall.  As the year grows older, the world grows richer and more abundant.

3: I am at this moment having one of my rare cups of coffee.  As always, the smell reminds me of my mom.  It makes me miss her, and feel close to her.

Long before my people ever came to the New World, this time of year was a time to honor our dead and the things that have passed.  I suppose it's still in the blood.
prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
[livejournal.com profile] trobadora tagged me for this.

Rules: for five consecutive days post three positive things that have happened, plus tag three other people to do the same, so the positivity keeps growing.

No, you know what, I had some froofy generalized positiveness stuff here, but screw that.  Things HAPPENED this week.

1: We're having a massive budget crisis at work which has, among other things, resulted in the freeze of our only multicultural support position for students on campus.  A number of faculty and staff who are concerned about this came together, and today we had a really GREAT meeting with the college president, who is totally on the same page as we are and is prepared to not only hire for the position the moment we're not in immediate fear of bankruptcy, but also to re-evaluate it and make it more powerful and extensive.

2: I've been invited to join a new policy think tank that's being established for the college--not as a communications support person but as an actual participating member.

3: Two small fluffy birdies who are excited to see me when I get home every day. <3

Tagging: you, you and you.  I can't even remember who on my follower list is actually active on LJ these days. XD
prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
So many new people!

By way of introduction, I figure I can't do better than to tell you about the dream I had last night. It was about the next Avengers movie. They were just getting going into the first big fight, gearing up for the bad guy's dramatic entrance, when lo and behold, SKELETOR comes sauntering in through the doors, in his trademark purple hood and boots and a red satin negligee.

Tony Stark stopped in the middle of the fight and said, "What the fuck."

What the fuck indeed, Tony. What the fuck indeed.

Welcome, new friends!
prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
I had forgotten this about Livejournal: you can't import ANYTHING.

It is, however, easy as pie to export a Livejournal or Tumblr blog to Wordpress (and from Wordpress you can export an XML file so you can back up the whole thing and move it elsewhere if you so wish), so at least backups are doable. Except that's only part of what I want to do.

It looks like currently the only way to automate crossposting between Tumblr and LJ is if you post everything to Wordpress and then have it crosspost for you. Theoretically Tumblr's API can apparently support crossposting to Tumblr, but apparently nobody's bothered to write that code.

One's a creaky old platform and the other's a stupid platform, and the world at large doesn't seem to think either one is relevant. I wonder if I should try my hand at coding...

GRADUATION

May. 9th, 2012 10:42 pm
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
GUYS. YOU WON'T BELIEVE. GUYS, I HAVE SURVIVED.

I just submitted my final papers tonight! Graduation is Sunday! Jobs...are...exciting prospects! ^_^ Whatever, I'm leaning a bit off the beaten path anyway. The right one will turn up.

I'm going to be a magistra!
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
Right, so I've rambled about them enough times. Have some actual pictures of my parrots! Bathing! When they're cutest!

Lucky, bathing in a salad bowl:
From My Parrots


Lucky considers biting the camera:
From My Parrots


Two minute video of Jamaica, also bathing in the salad bowl:


She flapped her wings at me until I paid attention to her, and then mimed bathing until I caught on that she wanted the salad bowl.
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
So if you're wondering why you haven't heard anything from me lately...well it's because sometimes I fail at keeping in touch with people. Sorry about that.

But also it's because this is my final semester of grad school! I just spent last week chugging around filing the paperwork to graduate. It feels kind of weird, like I just got here and now I'm leaving already.

So yeah, anyway, hi! How're you?
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
My two pet parrots, who'd been living with Mom for years, have come back to live with me. It makes me happy when I come downstairs in the morning and get squawked at by adorable hungry fuzzballs. :)

They'd been living with Mom because I didn't think apartment complex living would suit a couple of rather vocal parrots (or rather, I wasn't sure how well two vocal parrots would go over with the neighbors in my apartment complex). But it turns out they're doing very well! They're not all that noisy here; maybe because they're where they can see their people for most of the day, so they don't have to yell when they want attention.

Lucky, my Quaker, is very happy indeed. She's always been a people-bird. Jamaica, the Nanday Conure with a voice like a rusty serrated knife to the skull (she can't help it, that's how they're built) is a bit grumpy, because she and I have an ongoing rivalry for Lucky's affections. I am her arch-nemesis, except when I'm feeding her noodles or carrots.

Sadly for her, her #1 intimidation tactic is to puff up as fluffy as she can manage, rock back and forth, and coo at me. She can't figure out where's she's going wrong with this, but it's so cute that sometimes I deliberately tick her off just so I can watch her do it. :D (Not that ticking her off takes much; all I have to do is go over to their cage and talk to Lucky.)

Now I just need to find an avian vet around here someplace.
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
We remembered today that Mom owned a handgun that my dad bought and customized for her.

It's mine now, I guess.

This is weird, owning a handgun.

Actually I've long wanted to learn how to handle, care for, and shoot a firearm. Seems like one of those skills that can come in useful in life. I'm not so much concerned with defending myself as I am with knowing how to safely manage potentially dangerous objects.

Another weird thing I discovered: I'm not all that attached to this house. Mom and Dad separated when I was four. We moved around a lot after that, till I was 12 and we moved in here. I always thought I'd be very emotional about this place, but it turns out that it mainly felt like home because she lived here.

A few years ago, though, Mom and Dad finally sold the old place where we'd lived before they separated. That was emotional. Did I ever write about that? Because there's actually quite a story involved with that house.

Actually, let me know if I did. Because I thought I remembered doing so, but I went back and tried to find that blog entry and couldn't spot it.
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
I lost my mom on Thursday.

I'm doing pretty well now, though for that first day, my big accomplishment was to cry on everybody who hugged me. I got hugged more than I think I have since my first week of life. Not normally a demonstrative type, me, but under the circumstances I appreciated it.

Sometimes it's nice, being part of a community. My family isn't the only one who lost her. Everybody loved my mother. It's a tremendous relief to avoid most of that plastic "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry" sympathy that tends to go around at times like this.

It was so damn sudden, is the thing. She had been sick for the past week, but--so we thought--not that kind of sick. And I find that most of what's really riding me about this is not my sense of my own loss--though I do miss her, god, I do--but my sense that this was not fair to her. She was 63. She had things to do. Plans. She was not done. And maybe if she'd gotten so much as a chance to say something to any of us, I wouldn't feel so much like she'd been wronged. But one minute, she was in hospital expecting she might have an ulcer or some kind of gastrointestinal problem, and the next she was crashing and then in cardiac arrest. Hell, I don't even know if she had time to be shocked.

Of course we all have plans. It's not like you hit a spot in your life where you say, "Welp, that's everything I wanted to get done. Suppose I'll just hang out here till I croak, then." And 'fair' and 'reality' don't even have each other's cell phone numbers. And I know it's normal to be pissed off, and I'm okay with all that. I'm not about to hold it against myself that I'm upset my mother died.

One really bizarre note, though. Quick bit of background: Two years ago, an undiagnosed heart defect gave Mom an aortic dissection. That's where the lining of your aorta ruptures. She was lucky to survive it, and it did affect her--she had to avoid doing anything to strain her heart too much, she got tired easily. But, you know, it didn't hurt, it didn't take away all her enjoyment of life or all her hobbies.

Now, people say all kinds of things at a time of loss, from "Let me know if I can do anything to help" right on to "She's in a better place." None of which bugs me. We all express ourselves in our own ways. Except that on Friday I had three people in a row say, "At least she's not suffering anymore." That one I could not handle. I finally had to stop poor Consolator #3 and tell her, "She wasn't suffering to begin with."

Which may have rewritten my definition of "awkward social situation."
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
It's not that I haven't been around LJ. I just haven't been around this part of LJ. I've been lurking in backwater comms and getting distracted by Internet Things and also watching a lot of stuff on Netflix that I've wanted to see for years and never quite got around to. I also rediscovered my obsession with Sherlock Holmes (I periodically do this, every few years) though it's extra fun when there's also a new movie and TV episodes to look forward to.

So, I wish I'd remember to keep up with my f-list a bit more, but you haven't heard a word out of me because I haven't really had much to say.

Now what has been noteworthy is this summer crash course I took in digital forensics! Taught by Mark Pollitt (who founded and built up the FBI's digital forensics unit), this class was amazing. It's a wildly different way to think about information technology. In fact I can't really call it IT, because even though it uses a lot of the same technology and skills, the goals and mindset are so different that...well, it's just a whole different paradigm really.

BUT I can now comfortably use a hex editor, I know how to find and recover deleted data off a storage device (that will undoubtedly come in handy sometime in my life, though I wish I'd learned how about 15 years ago when I went through a plague of hard drive failures), and I have conducted three digital forensic investigations, written accompanying forensic reports, and participated in one (1) mock court trial. Which was like being roasted slowly over hot coals, but an enlightening experience nonetheless! Detection is just as satisfying a puzzle as they make it out to be on TV, though it takes a hell of a lot longer and does not make for visually arresting images. It was fun as hell, but:

1. Forensics turns out to be a lot like being let loose in a packrat's storage room and told, "Find something useful." There is stuff lying everywhere. You need to make damn sure you've worked out the questions you need answered before you start poking at things, because otherwise there's no way to sort out what might be relevant evidence from what's just crap.
2. LOGIC LOGIC LOGIC. The logical precision required makes me drool. (Yeah, shut up, you have my kinks, I have mine. Kids in school used to tell me I was a Vulcan.) Delineate very, very carefully the differences between scientific conclusion (inarguable, hard-evidence FACT), opinion supported by facts (logical extrapolation), and speculation (personal opinion --> useless). A forensic examiner's career rides on getting this right.
3. Once you have either found what you are looking for or decided it's not there, you have to write a forensic report and then testify on it in court. This is like enduring the world's most grueling peer critique and simultaneously the essay test your entire degree rides on for every case you work on. Forensics examiners can destroy their careers by fucking up their testimony or report just once. How do people do this for a living?

In short, forensics is hard, you guys. Oh my god. I don't think I've ever encountered such a rigorous discipline. The precision it demands of you is brutal. Never mind scientific research; digital forensics is like doing timed geometry proofs on a sugar crash.

But it is so cool. Also Mark was utterly fantastic. He had so many stories, like the time the Director of the FBI went all cloak-and-dagger on him when Mark had to go sign for Monica Lewinsky's dress, and doing undercover work in the Baltimore Projects, and working with tech-head Mounties when the RCMP and the FBI were both building their digital forensics units.

Oh, and he would wish me to make it known that contrary to what you see on TV, no one wears $1000 suits to a crime scene. You wear the crappiest clothes you own to a crime scene, and then when you come home, your wife stands outside with a garbage bag and your bathrobe so you can strip them off before you enter the house, and then you burn them. Because most crime scenes are nasty.
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
On something dangerously close to a whim, this weekend I started a container garden. I usually try to have a few plants about the place, but I've never had the room (or the light) for anything serious, and between the big window, little patio and the enormous yard, they were kind of begging for it. So as of yesterday we've got thyme and basil, pepper and tomato and lettuce, and lavender and a couple of other pollinator-friendly flowers dressing up the place. And strawberries. Bless the strawberries and cross your fingers.

And today of course it's raining. But whatevs. It seems to make them happy.

In the course of snooping around, I discovered an absolutely dear little greenhouse only about a mile from me, called Ballantyne Gardens. The proprietors are sweethearts, and the place is a vegetative treasure house of half-concealed water features, shiny baubles and unusual plant offerings hung, tucked, and draped into every available space. And not only do they have big, gorgeous baby plants and beautiful landscaping, but they also have a dog, a cat, and pet chickens. The dog is a pile of big-eyed shaggy love, the cat is imperious, and the chickens are timidly curious until you flash them food.
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
AT LAST I have gotten my own web space and domain!

Still moving in (i.e. updating broken links), but if anyone is interested, the URL is http://bluesrat.com.

Using Dreamhost. I like it so far.
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
Hallo! Yes, I still breathe. More or less. Heh. Spring. I've survived my first year of grad school, though the last few bits of work cling with a stubborn refusal to be shaken off.

I meant to get an internship this summer, but I...sort of didn't get around to it, so I suppose I'll just be lurking around finding ways to keep busy, then. Money. Money is good. We like to not rack everything up into student debt.

And, uh. Well, that's about it, really. How are you?
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
I'm spending a few days in New York City over spring break so I can visit my brother and, y'know, bum around NYC. This will happen March 12 - 15. If any of you will be there at that time, a meetup would be grand!
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
Posting to claim that precious 1-1-11 date before it flips over, and to wish you all a Happy New Year, folks! I hope yours has been awesome and that it carries through for the year.

Best gift of this holiday season: next week my sister has an interview for a job that won't thoroughly depress and stress her. *thumbs up and fingers crossed*

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