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An American Torchwood? An American Doctor Who?! WHY?! No! Go away, Fox! We don't love you anymore!
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Was in the worst mood I can remember earlier this week. Much dissipated now--possibly due to the almighty cleaning binge that swept the kitchen last night. We had ANTS! Not swarms of them, but the idea offends me. I hadn't been able to give the kitchen a good scrubbing in a few weeks because we were either on the move, out of cleaning supplies, or people wouldn't get out of the kitchen long enough for me to do it. But now that sucker is gleaming!

For another few hours, anyway. Still. Good while it lasts. And it cleared the anger-cobwebs out of my head. No idea why I was so ticked off at the world. It's not really like me. Maybe it's just the stress from things being so crazy lately.

Oh! And speaking of crazy! I'm now working in Guantanamo Bay! That's right. They emptied the prison because they wanted to move it to central Pennsylvania so that we could use it for an office. Our work area, called the Tower (jokes about Isengard or Barad-dur may commence), sits in a little outcropping that protrudes from the top of the building, about 100 feet square with glass on all sides. We've currently got no vent system because they've got the HVAC off in order to remove asbestos from the pipes (heh), and for the last couple of weeks we've had no water because the plumbing has "rotted out" and they have to do a mass replacement (also heh).

This week the weather finally stopped screwing off and settled into the 80s, which means I'm now working in a greenhouse. Only without water.

We're pointedly-not-promised-but-assured-nonetheless that this situation will be remedying itself next week, when they believe water will be restored and theoretically the maintenance guys will be fixing the A/C portion of the HVAC. We shall see.

In the meantime, have another inking attempt.

Don't Get Et Inked
by *Bluesrat on deviantART

I love Etherites. This is Ambrose Quintrell, aka Doc Quantum. I've wanted to color this since I drew it, but I could never get it going with the pencils. Apparently it wanted to be inked, because it's working much better now.

But it's still going slowly, because my sister just bought a PS3 and I keep getting distracted by Assassin's Creed.

I return!

May. 26th, 2009 02:33 pm
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Back from vacation! I'll tell all about it later--my sister's getting the photos up--but in the meantime I'll mention my bemusement at returning to work. Not only is the A/C still off (and last week it finally hit the 80s, so arriving at work was like getting hit face-first with a sauna), but now all the water in the central building is shut off for at least two weeks. This is because--hardly a shock--the workers renovating in the basement discovered that the water pipes have rotted and need to be replaced. But it means that for a minimum of two weeks, any time I want a bathroom, I'll be traipsing down two floors and then over into another wing of the building. What fun!

I can't wait till they get to renovating the west wing and discover that the floors have warped too badly to carry weight and the walls are separating.

Anyway, I discovered another thing. To entertain myself on the train, I took along a bunch of radio plays. Some of them I knew I liked (yay, Shadow and Sherlock Holmes!), while some were nice new discoveries (Jack Benny's still funny, surprise surprise!). But I discovered that The Saint, recorded by Vincent Price, is the best of all of them. This may be because Vincent Price can do no wrong, but generally they're just fun, witty, and bouncy little stories that are still charming and engaging after all these years. To have a listen, follow this link! These old plays are apparently now in the public domain, so help yourself without guilt.


Apr. 13th, 2009 02:03 pm
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It's not that I don't care, but I kind of feel like as long as they realize it was stupid and fix the problem, I'm not inclined to fuss too much. We all do stupid stuff. They'll pay for it literally, with all the money they'll lose over this. Seems like enough to me. If it was really just a glitch, then I feel bad for them. If they were listening to some fundie freakout, then they should've known better as a business, and they'll get what's coming to them.
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First, the worst, purplest prose in the history of the color purple. [ profile] coaldustcanary pointed me at this, and I realized as I looked at it that I had seen this book before! Someone had brought it to a party in order to read aloud from it and entertain us all. And it really is the worst. These pages? Not even the worst in the book.

Second, a passing nod to the Great Racefail '09. For those of you who've managed to miss it (which was not me this time! I didn't participate, but I follow [ profile] matociquala's (aka author Elizabeth Bear) blog, so I saw that a couple of days after it was posted and watched the upheaval unfold from there.

My two observations on the Great Race Fail: I don't know about anybody else, but I learned a lot just from keeping my trap shut and reading. I'll have much to think on for a long time to come. And also, Stupid knows no boundaries. Neither does Smart, for that matter. They are the great equalizers, and the proof that beneath everything else, we're all human.

I was mainly interested in the topic of writing Others (aka people who aren't like you...whatever you want that to mean), because I love characters who aren't like me. I read fantasy because I want to see new and different things, but also because I like it when things I read come back to enrich my perspective on real life. If all the characters are immediately identifiable, if I don't have to learn anything about them to get to know them, then they're boring--and probably cliched. Speaking as nothing but a fan of stories, I'll say it bemuses me that this topic came up so strongly in the fantasy genre, where I'd imagined it was a matter of course to at least make an effort to get into the heads and experiences of other cultures, other genders, other lifestyles, even things like dragons and vampires and alien species. But I guess there's doing it well, and doing it half-assed, and then there's doing it for critters you've just invented and there's doing it for characters that have some grounding in real life.

I just hope people've found the whole row educational (other than the requisite flamewars), and that maybe we'll get a more diverse array of writers being published out of this. My bottom line is that you shouldn't have to put up with crap for it, but it's boring when everybody's the same.
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Ahahaha! I have had the following said to or near me:
"The Sixth Sense is fantastic. You find out the guy's dead at the end."
"Wait till you get to the part where Flint dies."
"When I got to the spot where Dumbledore died, I had to put the book down."
The entire plot of the first Anita Blake book, in an attempt to tell me how good it was so I would read it. It failed.
All the other highlights of the Dragonlance saga, in an attempt to get me to read it (I categorically refuse to ever do so, both on grounds of having been spoiled for it so thoroughly and because frankly it doesn't sound all that fantastic or original).

Things I have spoiled for someone else:
Empire Strikes Back (I'm sorry, but with 95% of the modern world being familiar with it, why'm I supposed to assume you're the 1 out of 50 who doesn't know?)
The ending to Titanic (Me: "The ship sinks." Idiot who won't shut up about Leo:"OMG, how could you spoil it like that?!" Me:" O.o Seriously?")
Pearl Harbor (Person: "I can't wait to see it!" Me: "It looks interesting. (cue me nattering about the actual events at Pearl Harbor)" Person: "Wow, thanks for ruining it." Me:"O.o Seriously?")
Dumbledore dying. Oops.

A book I explicitly asked to have spoiled for me that the other person then lied about:
Deathgate Cycle. Me: "I can't bear to keep going without knowing what happens. Does Haplo die?" Him: "Yep." Me: *sadface* *keeps reading* An hour later, "NO HE DOESN'T WTF WAS THAT ABOUT YOU JACKASS? DID YOU THINK I WOULDN'T FIND OUT?"

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*sigh* Our department boss has decided she wants to be more "engaged" in the daily goings-on of the department. The first thing she's noticed is that sometimes we appear to be screwing off rather than working.

We've tried explaining to her that when we're, say, copying 200 GB of data from a hard drive onto the server, it's a bad idea to be doing anything else resource-intensive with the machine because then the data transfer, which is already going to take an hour, will slow down to a glacial crawl. Or when we're scanning 2-foot-wide maps at 600 dpi, the image program will hog all the system resources for minutes at a time and the computer will lock up, preventing us from doing anything significant, which, if you're scanning 100 of the bloody things, means that you're spending most of the day waiting.

Thus we may appear to be doing nothing of consequence when in fact we just can't do other work at the moment. She doesn't see what that has to do with anything, but I don't see what choice she's got. If she'd prefer we not surf the internet, we could always read a book (looks real professional, reading a book while you sit in front of your computer at work obviously paying no attention to it), or sit here like stumps staring blankly out the windows. Sometimes there's other work around the office, but there's only so much that needs to be done around the room, and four bored people to do it, and...well, we finished all that last week while we had no other projects to work on.

:P I knew this would come up eventually when they moved us all up here. Pretty much the only thing we can do is grin and bear it and wait for her to get busy again.

She suggests to our office supervisor that he be present at all times while we're working, to make sure we're not screwing off. Considering she's the one constantly sending him off to take care of things she doesn't have time for, I'd be interested to see how long that would last.
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The estimable [ profile] sandchigger has pointed out that today is International Bad Poetry Day. So! O my lit-geeks, let us celebrate those poems that made us gag upon the reading of them, by airing exactly what we thought of them.

I'm tempted to throw up some of Wordsworth's cloud-and-daffodil poetry that makes me want to put a pencil in the eye just to relieve the boredom...but that's pretty standard stuff, really. No, the worst thing I ever read--going on ten years ago now, but the memory has not faded--was Ezra Pound's translation of the Old English poem, "The Seafarer." Read it for a Comparative Lit class, in fact, and this thing was so vile that the day after the assignment, the professor actually apologized to us for making us read it and carried a garbage can around the room, encouraging us to do creatively destructive things with the paper it was written on.

I wept bitter, bitter tears that I had forced myself to sit through that apocalypse for nothing. It's on the web if you insist on putting yourself through that. I shall not be a party to such self-harm.

Never mind. Knock yourself out. Consider yourself warned, though. Reading it feels like you're trying to hammer fence posts with your head. It's got about as much energy and vibrancy as a concussion.

Got a lingering mental scar of your own? I've shown you mine, now show me yours.
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It's the measurement around the bust. As in, BREASTS. Yes, those bits that men traditionally can't stop looking at. So since they're so deeply engrossed with them, how is it that apparently no sizing chart on the face of the planet actually takes them into account?

MEN. PAY ATTENTION. I'm fairly sure this is your fault.

Last week, I decided I had a bit of money left over from vacation and what I really needed was some summer shirts. Tank tops, that kind of thing, you know. Unwilling to pay more than $10 for a simple freaking tank top and unable to find any decent deals on them locally, I decided to indulge in a bit of internet shopping.

I was informed repeatedly that if I have a 34 inch bust, a 26 inch waist, and a 36 inch hip, then I am a size 4 to 6 and therefore A Small. In fact, I have 39 inch hips, a 28 inch waist, and if you assume that the bust is indeed meant to be measured around the breasts (where, you know, all the fitting people tell you it's supposed to be measured), then something like a 38 inch bust. My band size (that's the torso below the breasts) is 36 inches. And yet, I do indeed wear a 4 to 6 and the small size does indeed fit me. The medium size, which I was helpfully informed that my measurements (sans breasts) fit neatly into, hangs off me.

And then today when I was shopping for a motorcycle jacket, I went through all this again. Should I be looking at smalls? Mediums? A man's small, which according to the sizing charts might fit me better anyway? Do males dwell in some magical Land of Rational Measurements where I dare to trust their sizing charts? I can't just go someplace where I can try motorcycle jackets on, because there is no such place. Physical real-life storefronts don't believe that anyone smaller than a 5'6" barbarian queen could possibly ever want to ride a motorcycle, and they stock accordingly.

Do people suddenly somehow forget when designing clothing that women have parts that need to be taken into account? Do they think we're supposed to be measuring someplace else, or are they confused because all their models are anemic flat-chested boy-girls? Did they just kip the sizing charts from pre-teen boys and say, "Well enough then?" Or have fashionistas become convinced in their starved, perpetually blood sugar-crashing state that "bust" means we're supposed to be measuring the circumference of the nearest plaster cast of Cicero's head? I just want to know what the hell is going on!
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I HATES THEM. On my way to work this morning I had to dodge a barrage of nasty little buggers dangling from trees and trying to swing into my face. BLARGH. There are very few things in this world that I truly loathe, especially among things that're counted among the living (even though window wasps must die due to a critical incompatibility of lifestyles), but if all the gypsy moths would just up and die, I would not be displeased.

In other news, gosh & golly I'm stupid today! It's not unusual for me to forget to do things...but today I'm forgetting that I did do things. I ran around in panicked circles because I needed my insurance card for my car inspection! Only to discover I'd sensibly put it in the glove box a few weeks ago. Then when I got to work, I realized I was out of tea, so I quickly called my roommate to ask her to bring it in to work with her. But she couldn't find it, so I gave my bag another check and discovered I'd brought it after all. Knowing me far too well, she just sighed at me.

*sigh* And apparently my car will cost me a further $460 of repairs needed for my inspection to be approved. I'm going to try not to think about how much money I've put into my car this year so far.

To aid me in that, I give!

Kedrihm'Val--the last of my steampunk Star Wars: my character, the primitive Force Adept. He gets to be the stereotypical mystical savage that the civilized types have stuffed into appropriate clothing. :) What? There's always one in the stories!

Honestly, I'm so glad I did the steampunk Star Wars stuff. It was a lot of fun--highly amusing to those of us who actually play in that game--and I got a big kick out of how well the characters conform to the archetypes we're familiar with from Victorian literature. Well, neo-Victorian, really. But still, it was a good time.

Dr. Tillingtast bust--I've done a lot of stark lineart lately of the sort meant for coloring, so I felt the urge to do something a bit more pencilicious. A portrait of a fictional character, Dr. Tillingtast the evil Son of Ether.

Costuming practice--I see some artists who have an absolutely amazing facility with outfits for their characters. Comparatively, mine tend to come off as pretty bland. Well, if I want to get better, the only thing to do is practice practice practice! Also, I'm kind of pleased with her face as I have a habit of making my characters rather boringly Caucasian and that's definitely a rut I want to get out of. Why bury myself in a narrow range of facial features and skin tones when there are so many more possibilities out there?
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The supervisor of our Bindery unit (responsible not so much for actually binding books as for mailing them out to the company that outsources the job for us) is a creature inimical to technology. She's also Sasquatch's destined Forest Bride, for those of you keeping track.

Now, back at the end of October, we held a librarians' conference here at the university, and our department got volunteered to help out with organizing and staffing the thing--namely as AV staff. As I said at the time:

"Anyway, I'll be working A/V tomorrow, and alternately delighting in the chaos and screaming at the ineptitude of our Luddite bindery staff, who for some inexplicable reason our department head decided would be helping in the A/V duties (bindery supervisor managed to jam the blinds in one room through her panicked random button pushing, when no one had asked her to meddle with the blinds at all; God help us if she gets near an actual computer)."

Yesterday, she was given access to our server (which, for obvious reasons, she normally does not have) in order to fill out her section of an inventory spreadsheet detailing all our computer equipment and software. From which she promptly managed to erase all data but hers. And then, in a marauding orgy of random-button-pushing panic, she deleted the backup clearly labeled "DO NOT TOUCH" in that folder. And the backup copies stored in two other folders on the server to protect against the near-inevitable. AND, somehow, the backup that our new employee, apparently needing no more than 15 minutes to take this woman's measure, had cannily decided to save on a completely different server. (Still, he gets points for initiative.)

This only surprised the rest of us in that we hadn't thought she had enough grasp of computers to navigate to all those locations in order to lay her destroying touch upon the documents. The head of our department attempted to protect the Forest Bride's good name by insisting that the perpetrator remain anonymous, but she gave that up for a lost cause since the overwhelming response was, "...It was her, wasn't it."
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Fox News tells us that 25% of Brits believe that Winston Churchill and Sir Walter Raleigh are mythical figures, but that Sherlock Holmes was a real person. I'm so sorry, British friends. If it's any consolation, it's true that there are Americans who can't point to China on a map.

Okay, so probably not comforting. Except possibly to the Chinese.

I stayed up way too late last night, for the second night in a row, and I'm feeling jut a tad run-down now. But I stayed up so I could watch Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Conan O'Brien maraud across late-night television! Did anyone else catch that? It was great! They're all claiming responsibility for "creating" Mike Huckabee (one of the Republican candidates for the US elections, for those of you overseas who have better things to do with your time), and after weeks of sniping at each other, they ran amok. Hilarious! All in great fun, of course; in truth, so far as I know, they're all good friends.

Jon Stewart: it begins. And then it continues. But Steve has to take off to do his Colbert Report, so they follow him. Conan has to leave to do his show after that, so it's over to his place for the big showdown.

Sure, it's lame; sure, it's filler. Who cares? I love this stuff!

Also, meme. It's been making the rounds again, I never did it the first five times it made the rounds, and I suppose it's time. are seven facts/quirks/etc. about myself:

1: When you ask me specific questions, like "What do you want for your birthday?" or "What movies would you like to see?" or "Name seven unusual facts about yourself", the answers tend to fly right out of my head.

2: Um...

3: Uh...

4: Er...

5: Seriously, I had a whole list of odd tidbits about myself to put on here the other day.

6: ...

7: I'll just fill these in later, shall I?
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I happened across this while browsing for new reading material on Amazon. The book is Dark Need: a novel of the Darkyn, by an author named Lynn Viehl, and the synopsis felt like hitting my head off a brick wall.

Quick! How many cliches can you spot in these two sentences?

"Paying a visit to “Infusion,” Sam discovers that Lucan is the sexiest man she’s ever seen. But she has no idea that he is actually a vampire assassin who is innocent of these crimes. Or that she bears a striking resemblance to the woman he loved and lost long ago."

The first review made me laugh, though: "I was rendered speechless by the awfulness of this book for a good two hours after reading it. It actually gave me trouble going to sleep..."
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I totally forgot about this one! But this, at least,, was about a different employee. One of the department supervisors.

Not too long ago, we had an alleged sasquatch sighting over in Elk County, PA, which is quite some distance from here. Maybe 100 miles or so. Turned out to be a bear with mange, but it was touch and go there for a little while.

Sasquatch = Bigfoot, since I'm not sure who's up on their cryptozoology.

Anyway, Supervisor-Lady is driving home from work in the evening, transporting--and this will become important--a ziploc baggie full of steak that a friend gave her. She's listening to the car radio and hears about Sasquatch. She immediately becomes convinced that Sasquatch is going to cross two counties, come find her car, and kidnap her to carry her away as his forest bride.

She is so terrified of this, in fact, that when gets home, she drives right over the driveway into the lawn, to park in the garden right in front of the porch, where she proceeds to honk the horn so her husband will come out and escort her into the house. He doesn't come out, so she calls him on her cell phone. Then the baggie full of steak slips down between the seats, so she bends to fish it out, at which point she screams and nearly passes out when she hears BANG BANG BANG on the car window. It's her husband, who naturally wants to know what all the commotion is about. After she explains, he escorts her into the house, thinking that she's insane.

And then she comes to work the next day and tells us all this story.

Cut forward to two months later. We're having a holiday party--which I missed the second half of, having gone home feeling sick. The Bosslady decides that what would be great entertainment would be if she made our funniest co-worker dress up in a gorilla suit to come down and crown Supervisor-Lady as Sasquatch's Forest Bride. Our poor victimized funnyman (who's an awesome, hilarious guy who doesn't deserve this crap) gets stuffed into a gorilla suit that doesn't fit him properly, so he can't see. He's put in the charge of the deaf Administrative Assistant, who have I ever mentioned that the problem is less that she's deaf and more that she just doesn't give a damn about anything else and pays no freaking attention? And the Administrative Assistant wanders off, abandoning him to his gorilla-encased fate. She can't hear him call her back, because of course she's deaf, so he's stuck tottering pathetically into our loading area and trying not to kill himself on anything pointy or tripsome.

He stripped the costume off as soon as he could, of course, but then they hadn't gotten all the pictures they wanted, so they tried to make him put it back on.
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I got to hear more stories today!

So it turns out the ouija thing from last time actually happened about eight years ago, but the vague dark presence actually sat down in a chair and talked to her. So then she abjured "dark arts" and swore herself as a Christian. But she's still psychic! These days, Jesus talks to her. He told Boss-lady that her best friend (the administrative assistant, who is deaf from scarlet fever when she was a baby) will be healed, though it will happen one day when Boss-lady is not present. So every day, Bosslady says, she tells her assistant, "You'll be healed! Healed! You'll be healed!" (Because she repeats everything three times).

Also, Bosslady claps a lot. She always has. Just...randomly claps, in meetings and things, whenever she enters a room. That kind of thing. We always figured it was just a tic (my adjacent co-worker suspects she may have Turett's). But no! It turns out, it's chi-clapping! Which I'm told is a practice of Japanese businessmen that's meant to raise the energy in a room. Of course, when they want to boost morale, they also tend to do other things like give little gifts or praise or show their employees respect. Oddly, chi-clapping by itself doesn't seem to accomplish much other than make your employees want to murder you.

Oh, and she can see the future. Yes.

Stay tuned. I'm sure there will be more of The Crazy. My roommates have already decided we need to throw another party and invite co-workers so we can hear more of this.
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We had a holiday party this weekend, and it was lovely. Awesome food, good friends, fun conversation, interesting stories... Ah. Stories. Had a few folks from work there, including the cute cookie-baking supervisor who's been here for years and knew about Bert.

He told us another story. A story about our boss-lady *sob* using an ouija board to help her work out the five-year budget plan for our department. She's psychic, see. Only it didn't go so well, see, because while she was communicating with the beyond via party games, she felt a Dark Presence appear in her office, so she panicked and yelled "I ABJURE YOU!" called her useless administrative assistant, who had her come over so they could pray together with the family pastor for a few hours.

This was two years ago. God help me. I already worked here, then.

I have created a new tag, because "stupid" just doesn't cover this. I'll be off in the corner for a few minutes, making incoherent sputtering sounds.


But at least my co-worker, the one who sits next to me at work, has an absolutely awesome baby girl. I mean, unfathomably awesome. I'm not usually the baby-cuddling type, but I hold this one every chance I get. Since I'd met the baby girl at work a few times when Husband stopped by with her, I knew she was a quiet, well-mannered little thing who enjoyed being around people. So we told Co-worker to bring her whole family to the party, because we knew everybody would adore the little one (and also because they're new parents, so their chances for social gatherings can be kind of limited, and we were fine with taking turns with the baby so the parents could have time for themselves too). The child was the hit of the evening. This kid is five months old, and she's so alert and attentive. You look in her eyes and it's like you can already see her thinking. It's almost spooky. I've never seen a baby with such aware eyes. She's usually almost completely quiet; she prefers to watch people and listen to them talk. And bounce. She loves to bounce. So baby girl enjoyed the party as much as everybody else.

We had a storm over the weekend, but it didn't do much other than dump ice on us. Which didn't really cut the party short, because it didn't start up till about 9 pm. Which I remember really frigging well, because that's when some of our guests stumbled back in because their car had been towed out of a perfectly legal parking spot, which meant we had to drive them (in the ice storm) to get their car, for which they were charged $95 (that's $20 more than three months ago, when I last took somebody to pick their car up from this place) so they could retrieve it and drive home. In the ice storm, which had gotten worse while they were forced to wait.

That tow company--Walk's--is a bunch of jackasses. This is far from the first time I've heard of such things happening. But this time they did it in dangerous weather conditions and screwed over our guests. We've taken it up with the landlords for a refund and, hopefully, a reaming-out. The landlords are not best pleased, either. Apparently they've been having some troubles of this sort lately.

Also related to the party, here's a terrific gingerbread recipe:

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup boiling water

Stir it all together, make sure you've beaten the lumps out, and pour it into a 8" x 8" or 9" x 13" baking pan (the smaller size gets you fluffy, fat pieces, while the larger size gets you a more brownie-like texture). Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In completely separate news, I just read Melusine and The Virtu by Sarah Monette, and it is love. I'm already reading them again while I wait for the third book to come to me. I know some people on my f-list have read them, so...y'know, if you'd like to comment, or flail or burble or even criticize or whatever, I'd really be up for some of that.
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Okay, it's storytime.

A few of you have spotted this. "This" is a tv show on A&E called Paranormal State. It's one of those reality ghost-hunting shows, but with a twist: it's all about the Penn State ghost-hunting club, the Paranormal Research Society!

Now, I got all types on my LJ friends' list. Some believe in the spook, others don't. If you don't happen to believe in ghosts, then that adds an extra little spice of crazy to this, but it doesn't really change anything, because this isn't about whether you believe in the supernatural or not. This is about crazy people on TV. These people are FUBAR.

Great thing: I work in the same department as their staff/faculty advisor. So every time he comes up to drop off books for us to work on, we get to hear the latest updates. Now, this guy's a nice fellow, and he's fairly reasonable, all things considered. He's on the skeptical end of the spectrum, where he actually works to disprove that something's a ghost before he starts in with the weird stuff. But the funny thing is, he's BORING AS ALL HELL. I mean...he told me a story about this little girl's voice coming out of thin air, and I yawned. He could tell you about the time he saw Hitler ride in on the back of a fire-breathing dinosaur to fight a tornado with his bare hands, and you'd be in a coma by the end. (He never saw such a thing, so far as I know, but if he had, no one would ever know, because they'd sleep through the story.)

Anyway. That's the advisor. He's the normal one. The other folks...wooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Where do I start?

I'll start with their leader and god-king, Ryan. This guy... First off, I don't know what he's still doing here, whether he's going to grad school now or just f***ing off in his studies, because he should've graduated several years ago now. Ryan has this thing. See, what he does is he lays eyes on an attractive female, and starts talking to her. If she evinces any interest or knowledge in the supernatural and/or occult (she reads tarot cards, say, or maybe she just really digs ghost stories), then he decides that they are MEANT TO BE!!!!11! and in fact they were true loves in some ancient life he suddenly realizes they both shared. He has known her 4EVAR and she must come to be with him in his floating castle off the coast of Ecuador or whatever he's got going on in his head that day. Anyway, he proceeds to stalk her--the real kind of stalking that's scary and not at all amusing--and to harass her friends until she gets a restraining order against him, at which point he will merely harass her friends until he finds the next girl who is his true and destined bride. My roommate, who is no longer Wiccan but used to work at the local new age shop and read tarot for spending money, once literally threatened him with physical violence (and she meant it!) to make sure he wouldn't start up with her. Because oh, he wanted to. Demonstrating that she was already married didn't work.

Also, he set up his club with circles of initiation. Yes, those kinds of circles. Lots of people join the club because they see it and say, "Ooo, ghosts, this'll be interesting." They don't get to know the Forbidden Secrets right off the bat. You must pass through the circles, swearing progressive oaths and whatnot, demonstrating your loyalty to Mr. God-King Stalker. I know this because a friend of mine got flattered by him into putting up with it long enough to get access to the Super-Sekrit Handbook (which is not the copy the club gave to the university, let me tell you), and when she read it, she ran the hell away and proceeded to get stalked by him for several weeks till she got over her desire not to rock the boat and turned the thing in to the student government.

Ryan went away for a while after that, but he's been back for some time now.

There are assorted individuals who are members because they totally believe in the supernatural, and some of these are the kinds of nutcases who believe they're possessed by demons who really dig black trenchcoats (it's not their fault all their clothes are emo--really!) and that they have invisible pals from Atlantis. Or in some cases that they are from Atlantis. Or possibly they're even from Middle Earth or Narnia or Midgar (how dare you claim it's fictional!).

And then, there is Mendel Schmiedenkamp. I don't even know how to describe this guy. In some ways, he's less insane than the rest. At least he's actively disinterested in hurting anyone. In others...well, he reveres Aleister Crowley. Let me put it this way: he'd better hope magic is fake, because otherwise he's gonna find himself in seriously hot water someday. And naturally, as the kind of guy who knows enough math to pretend he can understand kabbalah and who uses his engineering degree to come up with all sorts of half-assed theories about a new generation of hermeticism (on which he holds forth in the pompous speech patterns only used by certain gamers, comic book enthusiasts, and Trekkies) and who may just possibly in fact try to summon crap just so he can see what it does (I hope he makes that part up), he has groupies. Who take his every word as law. Among others, he mentored (god help us all) the woman who believes she is the reincarnation of JENOVA (yes, seriously, she does; I wasn't making up the Midgar crack) and flips through personas she has lifted from various anime shows so that she doesn't have to face life as herself. And her inexplicably loyal girlfriend/wife, who's a little frazzled around the edges but is the kind of faithful, caring individual that a lot of anti-GBLT folks like to believe doesn't exists, whom Ms. JENOVA sleeps around on, not even with attractive women. Hose-beasts. They're hose-beasts.

Not all of these people made it onto TV, for which you can thank your stars, but this is the crew from which Paranormal State is drawn. And my well-meaning, oblivious knock-you-stone-dead-with-his-voice co-worker, who heard once that I kind of enjoy the occasional ghost story, keeps trying to get me to go to their meetings.
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We've got Exciting Weather here in Pennsylvania today, which makes relevant that perennial thought, "Crap, I need new winter boots."

And that means it's time to embark on my annual bitchfest on behalf of women everywhere, the "I just need a pair of decent winter boots, people, is that so much to ask?!" rant.

Seriously! I mean, fine, I have a couple of strikes against me: namely, I am small--I wear a size 5 or 6 shoe, which is at the extreme low end of you can 'reasonably expect it to be available' for women in the US--and I have muscular calves. They're not freakish mutant calves, but they are the legs of a short woman who walks a mile between work and home every day. These are not measurements that women are allowed to come in, apparently. I can easily find boots that fit my legs. They are at least size 7. To my mind, this looks like a boat with a sink pipe attached to it. Do females actually come with feet that big attached to legs like milkshake straws? I am granted the honor of choosing between boots that fit my feet but bunch up around my ankles, or clown shoes that reach my knees.

Ah, but I get ahead of myself! Before I bother worrying about size, I first need to find boots that actually qualify as functional. See, I live in Pennsylvania, the state of meteorological schizophrenia. We're having winter weather today. Is it snow? Ice? Slush? Raspberries raining from the sky? No one knows! So when I look for boots, I look for qualities that cover the wintery gamut: I want a tread that's reliable on ice (that means no felt on the bottom, wtf are you people thinking?!), that won't get soaked in sleet (does anyone waterproof their footwear anymore?), and that stays warm in snow. Oh! And while I'm at it, I admit that I adore suede, it's a beautiful material, but I'd really like a boot that's made of something that won't spontaneously combust the first time it encounters road salt.

And here's where I get completely unreasonable. If someone could manage, if it wouldn't be asking too much, it might be kind of nice for these mythical boots to be moderately attractive. The featureless lump-boots (ugg boots, indeed!) that're so popular lately would probably fit, yes, but they make me look like I have camel's feet and, while they look very snuggly, like stuffed animals for your feet, I don't bring my teddy bear to work, either. Also, they're always made of suede. And while things like galoshes/wellingtons and duck boots are indisputably functional, they're so functional that I fear wearing them will summon a herd of farm animals from nowhere to create a sodden barnyard to tromp around in. What I want is maybe something, you know, foot-shaped. That doesn't look like a silent declaration of war on Siberia.

But, um, people? "Attractive" is not synonymous with high heels. I know heels are super-sexy and all, but 1: not every woman likes or is capable of wearing them, and 2: there's a time and a place! Yes, fine, I'm sure there are women out there who've mastered the art of high heels to the point where they can balance by one 4" stiletto on an egg without cracking it, but for 99% of us, how is this possibly a good idea? And these are perfectly lovely, but I'd go skidding off to my doom the first time I hit a patch of ice. And...wait, what? Okay, that fits not a single one of my qualifications, plus I think it involved drugs. Somebody withhold that guy's bong and drag him bodily out of the 70s, please.

Where was I before the yeti-pimp-boots...? Oh, yes. Money. You can find all the above things so long as you're willing to spend $100 or so, but since I consider that a somewhat luxurious amount to spend on boots, I'm stuck with ugly, defective, or clown shoes.
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Sometimes you come across things that you just have to blog about. We were...Alice, this might be traumatic for you, it involves dead betas and weirdness...we were celebrating our boss's 50th birthday this morning, when her assistant dives into our break room kitchen and hauls out a small lunch-pail-sized box. "Shall we go out and bury Bert?" she asks. Well, half of us had no idea what she was talking about, till my supervisor explained to the room in a desert-dry tone, "Bert is our department fish who died years ago and has been sitting in the freezer ever since." Apparently Bosslady has been having trouble letting go.

Man... I've eaten food out of that freezer!

She also insisted on hugging each and every one of us, shortly before announcing that she had acquired a flu while visiting Gettysburg over the weekend. Wow, thanks. Nothing says "I care" like germs.

Anyway, Thanksgiving was super-fine. My hermit-like father actually came out of his burrow to visit us at our humble abode, and the three of us--Dad, Sister, and I--had a lovely Thanksgiving all to ourselves. Making a holiday dinner for a family can be grueling and tedious. Making it with a family is fun.

I made my first-ever completely solo turkey, which was beyond awesome. We brined it, which essentially means we soaked it in a bucket of salt water overnight. Holy crap. It took two hours to cook, and we didn't have to baste it once, and when I carved that sucker, it nearly exploded with juiciness. So freaking easy. I will never cook a turkey a different way again. Here. Do it. I swear it will convert you. You don't actually need any of the herbs, spices, or aromatics on that list if you don't want them. They're a matter of preference, though I do recommend using the vegetable stock and the sugar in the brine. And when you brine the turkey, there's enough salt in that water that you don't have to be concerned about bacteria in the food. I've talked to people who've brined their turkey for up to three days, though doing it even for a couple of hours makes a definite difference. It doesn't come out super-salty at all; just perfectly juicy and seasoned with every bite.

I think Dad'll come back to visit just for the shopping. He's a huge bargain hound (the thrill of the hunt!), and we nearly had to drag him from the stock surplus store we have here because every time he turned a corner, he said he kept finding more things that he suddenly found he needed desperately. :D I admit, it was pretty tempting. I bought a full-length cashmere/wool blend coat there for $20 (Albert Nipon, holy cow! Probably why it was so cheap; do they do anything besides perfume these days?). Almost got a leather duster for $30, but the wool coat was too perfect a fit to pass up.

Anyway, done babbling. How about some art? )
prettyarbitrary: (Default)
And this is the kind of thing that some of you are interested in, anyway. So here's the more detailed deal behind my previous complaint about work.

This particular project annoys me, but honestly there's a greater issue here of increasing stupidity overall. There was a time when we were considered valued, skilled (if catastrophically underpaid) employees. We used to build web pages, do graphic design, assist and advise other departments with their digital projects. Now, because they've rearranged the hierarchy, we've got a couple more layers of bureaucrats above us and so are now looked at as menial labor...never mind that it's the same people as before who are giving us the work and suddenly assuming we're unskilled and stupid. And I do mean stupid; the classist attitude that's been growing around here is such that I almost expect to see people with tenure recoiling from the shadows of their minions screaming, "UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!"

And then there's the likelihood that in the next year or two, they will probably either 1: be cramping our entire department into a single room upstairs, along with all our fairly bulky equipment, or else 2: move us off-campus entirely to a place I have no vehicular access to (not that they feel like giving us a bus pass discount like they do the people who make higher salaries).

Worst of all, our bosses--i.e. the Dean and her people--are reorganizing not only the library's hierarchy, but the entirety of how the library works and gets used, attendant on the increasing demand among students and faculty for digital interfaces. And yet, while they're in the process of doing this, they have NO IDEA how people actually use the Web and digital resources, let alone how things get on there or are maintained.

The Dean--dear god--in her annual address, the Dean actually tried to tell us that thanks to our dealings with Google, she *thought* that students would be able to sign up for Google accounts for free through the university. But she wasn't sure. Our library has just joined the Google book initiative--you know, the thing where Google scans everything from our library they can get their hands on and puts it online? And she doesn't even know how you sign up for a freaking Google account.

Given that, I'm sure your fertile imaginations can come up with some of the horrors of such a computer-illiterate administrator trying to actually capitalize on a partnership with a company like Google. Among other things, the university signed a contract with Google saying, "We handed all these copyrighted documents over to Google, and they take any and all responsibility for how they get used, not us." They think that will somehow protect the university from any legal action, in this age when the price for digital piracy is increasingly falling upon the supplier of the materials in question. Even if it's legally solid now, what're the chances that a change in the law won't nix the thing in six months? Another one is that Google will be handing back digital copies of all the public domain works (we don't want the troubles that go with owning digital copies of copyright works) to us when they finish the project. The Dean believes she can parlay this into a profit through things like print-on-demand services. That's complete nonsense, considering the abysmally low quality at which Google creates their reproductions. But they haven't bothered to research that. Mind you, it wouldn't do them much good, as they have no one able to explain the meaning of 'dpi' to them. At least, no one they're willing to talk to.

And in the middle of all of this, the state (the state, not the feds; be clear, this is our Governor Rendell's fault) is cutting our funding by near-apocalyptic levels, and we're having to scramble for money just to pay the employees we've already got.

In all, it's been a good job and I enjoy my co-workers, but I'm getting increasing signals that it's heading toward time to move on.


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October 2015

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