I was going to write about this week—the miserable travel to NYC for an argument that turned out to have been cancelled, the mouse that I couldn't keep the dog from killing, the anxiety dreams, my hips and stomach and head—but really, it was a sucky week and why would you want to hear about it?

Instead, in honor of the Subdudes who we saw in concert last night, have some music: "All the Time in the World", 6.3 MB MP3, which I'll leave up for about a week (yes, I've posted it before, but it's that good). If you like it, buy something of theirs: this song is off Primitive Streak, and their most recent album is Behind the Levee—pre-Katrina, as they said several times last night, but with some unintended resonances all the same. The program said that their music is "a treasure trove of blues, folk, R&B, country, Cajun, funk, gospel, and rock'n'roll," which is elaborate but not wrong; and they put on a really good show, including some acoustic numbers done in the middle of the audience.

And now, I have a brief to write that I've been avoiding all day and a football game to watch after (though, as things are not going well in the first quarter, perhaps I'll be better off going to bed early).

Locations of this week's painful, itchy, and swollen insect bites:

  • The cartilaginous rim of my ear (unknown source).
  • My ankle, shin, and knee (a three-fer, probably from a spider).
  • The inside corner of my eye, just above the tear duct (small black fly).

And that was all before doing yardwork today (five mosquito bites in about ten minutes of pulling up dandelions in the back yard).

I want to join the Culture and change my body chemistry enough that biting insects no longer find me appealing.

Saw the Pirates movie yesterday. It's my impression that the critics were mostly "Enh" and the public was mostly "Yay!" I'm afraid that I'm mostly on the side of the critics for this one.

spoilers for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest )

The hardest I laughed at the theater was actually for a trailer. It opened by stating that we were "told" that the Mars Beagle was lost in 2003, but its last transmission was classified Top Secret, and "it was the only warning we had." Ominous music, blurred shot of something over the Beagle, and then a view of Earth being slowly occluded by something that turned out to be the movie title.

Which was . . .

the punchline )

Finally, Movable Type 3.3 is out, and while I haven't installed it yet, I intend to. With this upgrade, it now natively supports tags along with categories, and I'd like some feedback from readers, librarians, and others with organizational tendencies.

Right now, I have the booklog set up so that every book is in a categeory according to genre and, where appropriate, subgenre and series. There are index pages for each category and subcategory, with books listed in alphabetical order by author, so they can be browsed (plus pages covering various time periods). There is also a search function.

I'd briefly toyed with the idea of also setting up category pages by author, but put it aside: it was technically fiddly, it would have meant a shitload of categories, and I wasn't sure of the utility. It occurs to me that tags might be the way to do author categorization; would anyone expect to use that? Has anyone confronted these same challenges elsewhere, with what conclusions? Can anyone think of other interesting or useful things to do with tags for a booklog?

Chad was away last weekend on a debauch, and I took the opportunity to eat a lunch buffet at an Indian restaurant. I had lentil doughnuts (medhu vada, judging by the menu; surprisingly good), and something unindentifiable that was very much like a crepe with a dollop of mashed vegetable curry in the middle, and grilled stuff, and naan, and rice kheer (nice thing about a buffet, I could take just a taste), and then I rolled myself back home to lie in the backyard and read.

On the way to the restaurant, I saw two striking things: a wild turkey winging its way across the road directly in front of me—they seem even bigger than they actually are (which is not inconsiderable) for being so ungainly; and a truck that had replaced the knob below the license plate with a chrome skull, with red LED eyes that lit up when the brake lights did.

Chad got home around 2 a.m. Sunday (delayed flight), and of course the dog woke up when he came in, but she went back to sleep surprisingly quickly; I actually laid awake for about twenty minutes expecting to hear her start crying after him. Chad's theory is that she thought it was a dream, which would explain why she was so amazingly excited when I let her into the bedroom the next morning. She frequently orbits the living room and dining room, running full-tilt in as wide a loop as possible; but when her orbit expands to include the bedroom and the stairs (and she is not good with stairs), well, that's an excited doggie. It was ridiculously cute in a way that probably only other dog owners appreciate.

Chad's folks were up for dinner Friday night. It started inauspiciously, when I opened up the cabinet for plates and saw a house centipede scuttle away in that freakishly quick way that they do. Everyone else helped hunt it down, as I quietly quaked in the other room with the dog; Chad's dad gets credit for finally killing it. However, Chad assures me that this time, my freakout was justified, as the thing was huge, as big as his thumb.

On a more serious note, I was sorry to hear that a great-aunt of Chad's had passed away; though not surprised, since it had been about a year since she was given three months to live. I understand it was a good year, but she was a cool person and will be missed.

After that, though, dinner went fine. We were puzzled to learn of the existence of fat-free half-and-half, which Chad had grabbed unknowingly for the fettucine alfredo; I wouldn't have thought such a thing possible.

We went to the library book sale today, just on a whim, and found ourselves faced with a swarm of literary locusts. It was their bag sale—$2 for a brown paper grocery bag, which you could fill up as you liked—and people were filling those things up like there was no tomorrow. It was kind of heartening, in a way, that so many people wanted books! but it was also frantic and rather claustrophobia-inducing.

We picked up a few random things, and also two hardcover copies of John M. Ford's The Last Hot Time—they had four, which made me sad, so we rescued two of them. [livejournal.com profile] sloanesomething, you need one of these; do I have your address somewhere? The other free to whoever asks first.

And then we read in the backyard some more, and I booklogged a bit crankily, and watched an intense episode of Homicide ("A Doll's Eyes"), and now it's time for bed.

On Saturday, I got up early-ish, had routine yearly blood tests and breakfast (too much breakfast, because I was nearly falling over with hunger by then), and then went to work. Moved a bunch of paper around, came home cranky, sat in the sun and read Thud! and felt better. (Yes, this is a pattern.) We had dinner in a new-to-us Indian place, called Karavalli (9-B Johnson Road, Latham NY 12110), which a colleague of Chad's had recommended. It's in a strip mall behind an outlet mall, so I have no idea how anyone found it, but it was terrific. I had chicken in an almond-cashew cream sauce, wonderfully subtle and fragant, and Chad had huge shrimp with cilantro and spices. At 5:30, when we arrived, there was only one other party there; by the time we left, there wasn't a free table in the place. We'll be going back there, probably with reservations.

I also spent a bit of time on Saturday musing on [livejournal.com profile] pegkerr's post about being a woman (will be friends-locked shortly). I was interested to realize that I have very little identity as either a woman or female: when I free-associate "being a woman," I come up with "dealing with a dumb-ass reproductive system"; when I do the same for "being female," I get "unavailability of useful clothing sizes" and "dealing with the occasional bit of sexism." That's it. Sexuality, body image, physical activity—those are separate things inside my head. Actually, the most obvious things about me to a stranger, my gender and my ancestry, are possibly the least important bits of my identity.

On Sunday, I did work I'd brought home; I apparently fell asleep mid-afternoon over my reading, pen in hand and binder in lap. I needed the sleep, but I think I slept in a way that put pressure on my jaw because I woke up with a nasty headache. And then I watched the Patriots play the Steelers—they ended up winning, but I wouldn't have put money on it during any time I was watching. Another ugly game, and Matt Light and Rodney Harrison both went out with injuries (Harrison is apparently gone for the season). I did wish I could find the camera earlier in the day, though, as Chad set up a toy roller coaster on the floor (to see if it would work as a class demo) and the dog laid nearby supervising. Terribly cute.

Today at 5:10 p.m. I saw a MOUSE in my OFFICE and said, "that's it, I'm outta here"—grabbed my bag and my coat and fled. I'd heard that we'd had problems with mice but had never seen one; I've always been careful about food all the same, but I shall be hyper-vigilant now, because I like not sharing an office, and certainly don't want to start sharing with vermin.

In other news, my browser of choice, Opera, is now ad-free for everyone, so I'll link to an older post about why I like Opera. And I've relaunched Outside of a Dog in Movable Type, finally, and I think it's spiffy. No new content at the moment, but I'll be working on getting rid of the backlog (I've been logging stuff as I read it recently, but there are things from a while ago that aren't up yet). The RSS feed (and therefore [livejournal.com profile] insidedog), inbound links, etc., all should still work.

We got back from Worldcon late Monday night, after stopping to have dinner with my mom. Picked up the dog Tuesday; she and I spent a sleepy day out in the backyard, her keeping vigil against those sneaky squirrels, me attempting to do work, write up Worldcon, and stay awake.

That's really my week in a nutshell: attempting to do work, write up Worldcon, and stay awake. Not so much success with any of them, really, either.

Yesterday, we did take the dog to our local park, to give her some better associations with the car, and also to tire her out, as she'd been really hyper since coming back from the boarder's. I think we may have walked her too much, as today she's really been favoring her bad paw, and has been sacked out on the floor for the last half-hour, which is early for her to be this hard asleep. There isn't anything obviously wrong with the paw, so we took a short walk tonight and will keep an eye on it. (She was certainly well enough today to keep the yard free of the very active neighborhood squirrels; if she ever doesn't chase a squirrel, I think we will go straight to the vet.)

Oh, and while outside yesterday, something (probably a mosquito, judging by the initial reaction) bit me just above the point of my right elbow. My elbow now itches fiercely every time I move my arm (of course, I am right-handed), and is twice its usual size, bright red, and noticeably warmer to the touch than the surrounding skin. I hate insects.

Link of the week: my mom spent two weeks this summer working in Romania with orphans for Children on the Edge. She's put up her speech about the experience, and a downloadable presentation, on the web (note: you might not be able to access this link behind a proxy). Hearing about the conditions and the stories from Mom was very depressing, but when I first went through her pictures, I was really struck by the children's smiles.

My mom is a pretty amazing person.

On Tuesday morning, we had:


A Household Drama In Three Lines

Scene: Tuesday morning. A steady, heavy rain can be heard on the windows and roof. As Chad lies in bed, from across the hall comes the rattle of shower curtain rings being pulled aside. After a pause, Kate enters the bedroom:

KATE (breathlessly)
Okay I'll take the dog for a walk.

(beat)

CHAD
How big is the spider?

Kate holds up thumb and forefinger about three or four inches apart, while saying

KATE
It's one of those fuzzy things. In the bathtub.

Chad exits the bedroom; as ominous banging noises issue from across the hall, we fade out.


(It was reddish-brown, flat, many many fuzzy legs, and looked something like a cross between a caterpillar and a centipede. We get a fair number of them, and I hates them, precious, hates.)

It rained basically all week, though after Tuesday mostly not in the morning, which is fortunate because the dog hates the rain. She was sick a lot this week, throwing up on the carpet twice; she's due for her shots soon and we'll ask the vet what more we can do besides special food and daily OTC acid-reducers (well, in addition to making sure she actually eats the pills and doesn't leave them behind). Poor doggie.

Got my iPod this week and spent too much time wrestling with it. I will spare you the tedious details, but it turned out to be a problem with confusing third-party software and defective hardware on my end, rather than an Apple problem. It's working beautifully now and I'm delirious with geeky joy.

I had a nice day yesterday: went back to bed after getting up with the dog because Chad was sound asleep (thereby combining self-indulgence and virtue, a rare combination), poked around with my iPod, read a good Heyer (Venetia, out of the library), did some housework, and ate a very lovely dinner Chad cooked for me, including crème brûlée (I even helped with the torching). Today Chad's folks came up for lunch, which is always nice, though I foolishly ate a little too much and am a little sluggish as a result.

Emmy has just finished getting her dinner out of the food cube, so we're going to take her for an after-dinner walk in a few minutes (before it starts raining again) and maybe then watch one of my presents, The Italian Job. A pretty good weekend, all in all.

No platelet donation tonight; they won't do platelets if you're under 150 pounds, unless you have a really unusually high platelet count, which I apparently do not. So I did plasma instead. I was initially dubious about this because for me whole blood donation leads to pounding empty veins and the rare faint, but they swapped me about 400 ml of saline for 650 ml of plasma (I imagine they don't straight swaps, or give saline for whole blood donors, for reasons of proportions?). That was actually the only unpleasant part, as room temperature saline is much colder than blood, obviously; otherwise, I had one hand free to read my book [*], watched the machine in interest, and feel much less empty-veined than after donating whole blood. Takes a little longer, alas, but I think it's a good trade.

[*] I'm two books into what's probably going to be a binge on Laurie King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books, and wondering distractedly if I've found a new subgenre, novels that can be blamed on Gaudy Night. Miss Grimsley's Oxford Career, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, what else?

Unfortunately I happen to feel dreadful, just because of extreme lack of sleep, not because of donating. Work is still Work, but I squeezed in a bit of socializing this weekend with a dinner visit to some friends of Chad's over the Massachusetts border, and will steal an overnight visit to my parents' this weekend. And now I'm going to bed before we lose power again for another 30 seconds and I nearly doze off waiting for the laptop to boot back up.

(Oh, but warm weather for a part of the weekend, and several hours outside with no bug bites. Yay, working bug-trap-thing.)

Spring! The trees haven't leafed out yet, but it was 60-ish this weekend and we got a lot of yard work done. The everyellow and the spiky red triffid in front have been replaced by a dwarf burning bush (looking more like a stick at the moment, hopefully it grows fast) and some white Mediterranean heather. In the back, we put down grass seed again on the side (we're giving up on the back until the fall), this time with biodegradable protective matting. It would be really nice if this worked. I also set up our Christmas present from my folks, a gadget to trap biting insects. The placement may need fine-tuning, as something took a good chunk out of my neck this afternoon while I was reading the latest Dortmunder, but it's definitely catching some insects (you can see them caught on the sticky paper. Take that, bugs!).

The doggie was very pleased to be outside so much this weekend. She even hung out in the front yard with Chad (tied on a long leash to a tree), which she usually doesn't get to do because it's not fenced. If only she wouldn't insist on eating clumps of topsoil . . .

I also got my hair cut yesterday, hooray. The bad cut had gotten positively unbearable, so I walked into the first place I came to on upper Union Street on the theory that as long as it was shorter, it would be an improvement. I think I like this cut, but I have to live with it a bit; it's much more shaped, with the very bottom considerably thinner than usual. We also had dinner out last night, a Mexican place in downtown Albany, which was nice though I ate far too much.

I even got some reading done this weekend, though the book log won't be updated tonight because I have Work. It's going to be a bad couple of weeks for Work, alas, so I really ought to go check on the laundry and then get to it.

The early part of the week was mostly spent in a sleep-deprived fog, as I was far from caught up after not sleeping while Chad was away. On Wednesday I did get the decision in the case that I'd compared 490 documents for, last Friday; much faster than I'd expected, obviously, but I always take a win.

Thursday did not start out well; another goddamn many-legged crawly thing, in what was going to be my cereal bowl, and then a visit to the dentist. My current dentist is very good, but when one already has jaw problems, even the best dentist in the world can't make a filling replacement feel good—since it involves having one's mouth held open for half an hour. Eating hurt for the next two days.

The day got considerably better when work let out early; I came home and stretched out in the sun-dappled shade with a Brust novel. Most relaxing. Watched and enjoyed The Bourne Identity that night, slept late the next morning, stretched out in the shade again with another Brust novel, and then went out to see The Italian Job.

Weekend took a bit of a downward turn when I felt inexplicably lousy after the movie and for most of Saturday. This was not helped by rotten insomnia the night before, even though I slept very late in the morning (through Chad power-sawing and hammering downstairs). I worked on our built-in bookcases yesterday afternoon, tedious details of house stuff )

Of course, the problem with power tools is that they require a high degree of concentration, and you end up exhausted without realizing it. And I woke up at 4:45 this morning and basically stayed awake until 7:30 or so. Another weekend goes by and the book log continues to languish for attention, the poor neglected thing . . .

Weekend movie roundup:

  • The Bourne Identity. The interviews and such included with the DVD make a big deal about how it's not your typical action movie, which is crap. There's one plot detail that avoids cliché, and a car chase scene where random cars appear not to have TNT in their trunks—both of which are refreshing—but it's unquestionably an action movie, sub-genre spy/mystery. Matt Damon's character is found in the Mediterranean with two bullets in his back, a Swiss bank number implanted in his hip, and no memory of his identity. The Swiss vault contains six passports with his picture, a gun, and a lot of cash; he appears to have not read any spy novels before he fell overboard, since the contents of the vault don't immediately scream "Special Operations" to him. People are after him, there's a girl, you know the drill. Competent and entertaining.

    The ending is free of obvious sequel hooks, though it's my understanding that there's two more in the works (per Greg's Previews, formerly upcomingmovies.com).

    The alternate ending is stupid, though not movie-destroying the way Ronin's was.

  • The Italian Job (2003). I really have a weakness for caper movies, even fairly undistinguished ones like this remake. The whole movie was basically in the trailer, as I suspected (except the Ukrainian subplot), but what the heck, I enjoyed it anyway. Once again, the characters have a sad lack of knowledge of genre films, else they'd know better than to hire Edward Norton for a job. Revenge and a whole lot of gold, what else do you need for a movie?
  • Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail, special edition DVD. I wouldn't have believed this could be made any more silly, but it is. Worth the rental just for the "Subtitles for People Who Don't Like the Film," which are all eerily apropos quotes from Henry IV, part II. Don't miss the animated Lego version of the Camelot scene, and the documentary about the film's locations, on disc two. Perfectly, daftly brilliant.

Work was fairly quiet this week, the high or low point, depending, being the careful page-by-page comparison of two sets of 490 documents, to make sure that they were properly copied, before sending them off to a judge to inspect in camera and decide whether they should be disclosed or not. And hey, I found an error, so it was worth it.

Otherwise it was a heavily house-oriented week. The dryer broke and was fixed. The central AC was turned on for the first time and works beautifully. The deadbolt on the front door refused to turn (meaning we couldn't lock the door at all) and was fixed. The slate roof was fixed (just the usual spring repairs), and a vent was replaced because it was installed badly. And the chairs for our patio furniture set finally came in, meaning we no longer have a nice dark wrought aluminum table surrounded by white plastic chairs.

I also got back to the project of refinishing the built-in bookcases on either side of our fireplace. This had been my project while we were working on the house in January, before we moved in, and had rather fallen by the wayside since. For some reason I just didn't really feel like working on them. I said I would this weekend, though, and managed to get them finally in good enough shape to actually start staining. Next weekend, hopefully.

Part of the problem with the bookcases is that it involves putting tarps over everything in the living room and kicking up a lot of dust (power sanders are wonderful inventions, by the way), so I hate to do it when someone else is home. Chad's away this weekend, though, so it was the perfect opportunity. I had big plans for a weekend by myself: replace the pair of shoes that I'd ruined at Williams by stepping in the mud, unpack the rest of my paperbacks and see how many more freestanding bookshelves we needed, put our stacks of papers in our new filing cabinet, cook something that Chad wouldn't eat, do all the laundry, get the book log up-to-date . . . I know, I know, I'm such a wild thing.

I didn't get to all the laundry, the filing, or the book log. I blame this on the fact that cell phones are pieces of junk. Both mine and Chad's died within the last couple of weeks; Chad's displayed a cryptic error message and refused to even acknowledge it was a phone when the tech people looked at it. They replaced it. This week mine refused to charge, and it took approximately four epochs for the tech people to decide that it also had to be replaced. (I'm not saying they were bad, because they weren't, just that it was a long process.) I think someone's planned obsolescence calculations were a bit off the mark: the phones had year warranties, and they both died at six months. Granted, this probably means they're going to die again in another six months, but still.

The food that Chad won't eat, quiche Lorraine, came out well. Fortunately, a beer bottle and plastic wrap will substitute passably for a rolling pin—I really thought we owned one.

Chad won't be home for another hour, at least, and I was planning to go to bed, but I'm going to stay up. There was a, well, I'll just say a highly unpleasant bug that crossed my path not so long ago, and I'm really extremely wide awake as a result. (By the way, Dustbusters are excellent insect removers, though I'm making Chad empty this one out. Go ahead, laugh; he will too. But he'll do it. Readings of character.)

. . . to check the entire shower area for bugs before getting in.

At least a spider on the ceiling when Chad is home, is far better than an earwig on the shower curtain when Chad is not home.

May 2017

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