Besides picking carpet for the new library and making appointments for HVAC maintenance and tax preparation (exciting, I know), the concrete parts of last week were mostly ( FutureBaby stuff (daycare visits with religious digression; echocardiogram) )
All these ultrasounds do make me wonder how difficult it was to get medical ultrasounds started, because many of what the doctors and techs call really clear pictures are, to me, grainy blurry blobs. Obviously medical science knew a good deal about anatomy, but it would have no way of telling how any given heart was constructed and thus what, precisely, an ultrasound of said heart was showing—right? And the 2D view of a 3D thing is so odd, especially when the depth changes with a little shift of the wand . . . anyway, learning how to read ultrasounds must've been an interesting process.
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Between the workshop earlier in the month and the brief I drafted after I got back, I've been thinking more than usual about my writing process. There's generally a point when everything suddenly falls into place and the whole case crystallizes into a couple of sentences—which almost always comes later than I'd like [*], but from there, writing is easy (or, at least, no longer like pulling teeth).
Thing is, I think of this as "breaking the back of the case," which I picked up unconsciously from David Henry Hwang's afterword to M. Butterfly. Which is a pretty nasty metaphor, and not that accurate for me either, but it seems to have stuck. Do you all have different metaphors? Does this happen to you when you're writing nonfiction? Fiction?
[*] I wish I could consciously monitor this process, and could therefore determine how much of the time leading up to this moment is actually needed and how much is just plain old procrastination. I'm planning to experiment with consciously shifting my focus from one thing to another, to see if my backbrain will process things in parallel.
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Since I was in the office on Sunday, I took pictures, because I find people's work spaces interesting (also I never got around to posting the ones I took earlier and things have changed slightly since):
Anyone else want to post pictures of their workspaces?
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Finally, a few links:
- Nice Beaver! :: One more zoo picture from Chad.
- Why do writers pretend to be Indians? - By David Treuer - Slate Magazine :: "Sadly, until we break the habit of reading Indian lives as necessarily "Indian tragedies"—and see the shallow types and terrible prose and awkward, tragic poses for what they are—there will be more Indian fakes."
- NPR: It Isn't Rocket Science: How Best to Board a Plane
- "Hollywood's About-Face On Blackface: Is the Broken Taboo a Step Forward or Back?" By Neely Tucker
- Match It For Pratchett :: Help match Terry Pratchett's $1 million ( £500,000 ) donation to Alzheimer's Research.
- Decision of the Day » Blog Archive » Best Case Name Ever :: "U.S. v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins, 05-56294 (9th Cir., March 17, 2008) // Even better: the Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins win."
- Is it possible that a Hummer's better for the environment than a Prius is? - By Brendan I. Koerner - Slate Magazine :: Answer: no.
Oh, okay, really finally: we got forty minutes into Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal on Saturday night before turning it off. Even if we'd realized that it was an OVA edited into a movie, rather than a series, it was violent and choppy and just not what we were in the mood for after a nice dinner to celebrate the good news about FutureBaby.
We saw comedian Stephen Wright perform here in Albany two weeks ago. Since I bought our tickets at the last minute, we ended up in orchestra seats, fifth row, which made more of a difference than I would have expected. (The man does, actually, smile on occasion.) The structure of the show alternated between strings of apparently-random one-liners ("A friend of mine has a trophy wife . . . but apparently it wasn't first place."), and longer stories with one-liners hung on them as ornamentation, such as a long surreal tale that started with his parrot making long-distance calls and ended with a truck full of seatbelts crashing into a police car. We enjoyed ourselves, and I may look into some of his recorded performances.
In general household news, we got the inside of our new windows painted . . . something like four years after they were installed. And this week, I got a bad haircut—that people keep telling me they like, which makes it even more annoying!—and had our shower literally fall apart on me, the slide bar coming off the wall. But there was also a lot of house stuff accomplished and good food and the Giants & Patriots winning, so on the whole I'm feeling pretty good to end the week.
A selection of recent-ish delicious links:
( Read more... )
Finally, the first disc of the anime Now and Then, Here and There turns remarkably unpleasant and stupid after a, well, unremarkable opening episode. This is something recommended to Chad, not me, but absent convincing reasons to the contrary, I won't be watching any more even if Chad Netflixs the other two discs.
I had a bit of excitement, last week, when I turned my computer on . . . and found it caught in an endless reboot cycle because it couldn't load the OS. Fortunately, I had 1) the bootable CD that came with the computer, 2) the sure and certain knowledge that all of my data was backed up, and 3) relaxation techniques to keep me from wrecking my shoulders, jaw, and stomach while I determined that it was a software, not hardware, problem (some file in the boot sector had gotten corrupted).
Back up your data!
We bought an exercise bike a week ago. It uses magnets for resistance and so is remarkably quiet. So far, so good; I'm going to have to be very diligent about my stretches (hip bursitis), but otherwise no complaints. Oh, and very diligent about keeping the foolish dog away from it: I clonked her good right on the flat of her nose with the pedal, the first time I was pedaling away.
- My Neighbor Totoro is a charming, odd, low-key, family movie that deserves the label. I recommend it. Also, have some icons.
- We saw Amos Lee, Elvis Costello, and Bob Dylan in concert last night.
Unfortunately we missed all but the last couple of Lee's songs, but he was quite good and got a satisfyingly warm reception from the crowd. He closed with his best-known song, "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight," and I think he may have played "Shout Out Loud" too, which you can hear at his website.
Costello was doing the very solo thing, him and a guitar. He came out and banged right into "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," and did several songs before doing any stage patter at all. Good stuff, very energetic and entertaining, also notably smooth at getting the audience to sing without explicitly asking for it.
Dylan was touring with a band. I am not terribly familiar with his music, especially his recent stuff, so I can sum up my reaction in eight words: I like my pop music to have words.
Seriously, except for the occasional line, he might as well have been singing in Swedish. And I know he's capable of enunciating, because he did do it once in a while, and because he was great when we saw him in 1999. I ended up zoning out for much of the set, trying to relax in the uncomfortable seats. Fortunately, I was fully awakened by the last song, "All Along the Watchtower" Hendrix-style.
For the perspective of a Dylan fan, see Chad's report.
- Episode 51 of Bleach has an amazing number of characters and not much forward movement. (It was on Adult Swim while I was doing stretches after the concert.)
- Donate $30 to DonorsChoose and buy Chad's blog.
- Someone came to my booklog and put "i am searching for a spell to reverse timeto july29,2007" (sic) into the "search" box.
- Neighborhood fauna spotted recently: a fox, fireflies, bats, and frantically-active squirrels.
- Useful LJ bookmarklets, including one that will change pages to your style—even ones in "format=light".
- del.icio.us is my new obsession. I'm planning to use it for con report roundups, and to that end, added this year's Boskone links as a trial run. Any comments on the tagging or anything else? (Chad suggested tagging by panelist as well, but I'm uncertain about that; people often don't show or are added at the last minute, and not all panel reports will reflect that. However, if people would really like it, it can be done.)
(Also, for the auto-posting, I need to hide the tag lists with CSS or otherwise format them so they don't overwhelm the links (see what I mean?).)
We're done with Samurai Champloo now, and thus are out of anime from NetFlix (Fullmetal Alchemist being taped from Adult Swim as it airs). Chad and I both liked Champloo and are liking FMA; Cowboy Bebop worked much better for Chad than I, largely because I couldn't stand Faye and Ed (and to a lesser degree because noir isn't really my thing). I saw bits of Hellsing which I found visually stylish, probably too dark for me, and likely to be annoying in its treatment of the indecisive blonde girl.
Pretty thin fodder to base recommendations on, I realize, but does anyone have suggestions? We do find that anime works well on DVD, especially in half-hour episodes that don't have to be too much time commitment.
(I suspect Utena is just too weird for this point in our anime-watching experience, plus I have no idea what Chad would think of it (though I'm half-tempted to get it myself during March Madness just to see). The Count of Monte Cristo retelling, Gankutsuou, looked very visually strange to us in the previews on Champloo discs.)
Anyway, thoughtful recommendations, [eta:] with detail or reference links, are welcomed.
I've been really slacking on these. The first week, I can understand why: I'd visited my parents and Mom's friend B. from Scotland that weekend, and then stayed up late watching the Patriots just beat the Bills in Tedy Bruschi's return. I didn't have a particularly good reason the second week, though, just general blah-ness. But that's why I'm starting this earlier than usual, so it does get done today.
- Aggressively medicating the early stage of my seasonal cold with decongestants did successfully prevent the late stage from manifesting. Since the late stage is a nasty, full-body gagging cough, this is a good thing; I just wish that decongestants didn't do such bad things to my brain, and that the whole experience didn't leave me so tired.
- The dog was back at the vet's again for an ear infection (yeast); the ear wash stuff reeks, but it and the subsequent medication are working.
- After the end of Daylight Savings time, I've been driving home in the dark and getting really carsick from other cars' headlights. This is deeply annoying. It seems to be helped by moving my side mirror so that it doesn't shine the headlights of cars behind me directly into my eyes, though this naturally has its own risks.
Stupid tricks with keys:
- I wasted an hour when I forgot the keys to my parents' place when I left here and had to go back and get them. And then, of course, I didn't need them once.
- I managed to lock myself out of my car, in the parking lot before work, when my car keys slipped out of my coat pocket without my noticing. I will never hit the power locks without my keys in my hand again. (I called AAA after I got back from court that morning, and the locksmith they sent had it open within seconds.)
- Mom's friend B. smuggled haggis and white pudding, wrapped up in literally yards of cling wrap, in from Scotland, and we had some at our early Thanksgiving dinner. The white pudding (oatmeal and onion stuffing) wasn't really to my taste; the haggis basically tasted like the filling in meat pie. Mom and B. also made a cloutie dumpling, except substituting shortening for the shredded suet (since every American's reaction to "suet" was, "the stuff you put out for the birds?!"). It was tasty but very dense ("dumpling" is a misleading term) and a little drier than it should've been because of the substitution.
- Made tourtiére with about 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes substituted for 1/4 pound of meat in this recipe. I'd never made mashed potatoes before, and as potatoes, they were not successful, but lumpiness is good for meat pie since when you mix it all together, the non-lumps basically vanish immediately anyway. The starch might help it act more like a pie as leftovers, but otherwise it tastes the same, so unless I make a bunch of pies, I probably won't bother in the future.
(I also added a little more allspice, and cooked it at a slightly lower simmer, at about medium heat, so that I had liquid to ladle into the pie. I also used 1/4 pound of beef with 1 pound of ground pork.)
- This Wednesday, I got in and sent an e-mail around the office, saying that it seemed like people were having bad days and I'd just re-stocked my vase of Ghirardelli chocolate squares. I think we went through about a bag and a half that day.
(I managed to make it through emergency week duty with just one minor thing, but other aspects of work were busy enough that I was very relieved to take Veterans' Day completely off for absolute frivolity.)
In household news, we arranged for repairs on the leaky roof. We also suddenly, and without any action on our part, starting getting double or triple our previous download speeds (or, in other words, something like the advertised rates). Hey, I'll take it.
In entertainment news, other than what's already been logged, this Monday we went to a performance of Japanese drumming by the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble at Union. This was very cool, even though the biggest drum resonated in my skull in a slightly unpleasant way. I liked the "Tatsumaki" (tr. "Whirlwind" or "Tornado") best; it was highly dynamic and also fun to watch, as the drummers raised their arms high before striking, jumped to switch between sides of their drums, and so forth. Unfortunately it wasn't on any of the CDs they had for sale, because apparently it is to be watched rather than just listened to.
I also was in the same room for some Hellsing episodes, including the flashback episode with Sir Integra and Alucard and the ending. Great music, visually stylish, interesting relationship between those two, but not particularly interested in watching more (which is handy since Chad's returning the DVDs to the student who lent them). (The opening credits are briefly disorienting, because when we see the back of the white glove with symbols on it, I except to see the gloved hand snap and fire appear.)
And while I was writing, the Pats appear to have squeaked out a win over the Dolphins (I watched most of their loss to the Colts, but this game wasn't on TV here). And the Giants tied it very late but couldn't stop the Vikings from getting a field goal, so they lost.