- I have a Starveling Cat in Echo Bazaar now! Thank you again, yhlee. I can't express how much this amuses me. Anyone who's playing that I don't already know, leave your username in comments and I'll follow you under my game account.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (recorded off cable, half-watched while stitching) is not a very good movie. Granted, it wasn't a very good book. But I wouldn't have thought it possible to make the action sequences of the ending so boring on-screen.
- Reinventing the stitching wheel, part 25 in a series: linen turns out to not be a good fabric for blackwork.
- My car needs major repairs for the second time this year. I will not have put enough money into it to equal the payments I would have made on a new car this year, but I'm worried that I'm on the downward slide (it's a 2003 Prius with almost 94K miles). And I'm sad that I no longer love it. Any suggestions for feeling happy with one's older car again?
- The problem with Horton Hatches the Egg is that Horton is a Mary Sue, specifically the kind where the virtue of the protagonist is demonstrated by piling absurd pain and indignity on top of absurd pain and indignity. (Like an early Mercedes Lackey novel, or an SGA post-"Trinity" fic, except that Horton hasn't blown up a solar system.)
- I haven't done a SteelyKid post in ages, so those of you who don't follow Chad's blog won't have seen this recent picture. I have to point it out because it is so characteristic: open book, bare feet (she will not wear socks if she has a choice about it), random item of clothing she saw and insisted on wearing, stuffed animals, and big grin. That's our toddler.
Annual cookout yesterday. It started out very well (though if I'd realized that Chad was trying to convince one of the kids that werewolves are allergic to Nerf, I would've intervened), but a couple hours in my vision started going wonky. I took my contacts out, but I knew even as I did so that it was futile: sure enough, it was a migraine. My standard response is Excedrin [*], but that has acetaminophen and I'd had a glass of wine earlier; probably I was being overly paranoid, but I really like having a functioning liver. So I quietly went upstairs and laid down. It actually passed quicker than I expected, but not enough for me to go back to the party, which was too bad because I was having fun.
[*] My migraines are extremely mild on the absolute scale of migraines, and don't show up that often. Excedrin knocks out the pain almost completely, though I'm not crazy about the side effects. I took a couple ibuprofen last night, though I have no reason to believe they did anything.
Today I had an appointment to give platelets at 9, for the first time since October. It didn't happen, but at least it wasn't my fault this time. ( cut for those who dislike needles )
But at least I got to see half an hour of Ocean's Eleven, which I could re-watch very often indeed. After I got home, caught up on the Internet (our DSL had been out since Friday night), and ate, I finished re-watching the movie (well, I fast-forwarded all the Tess scenes). I just love the groove of the dialogue, especially between Danny and Rusty. I wish the plot of the second hadn't been so bad that it wiped my memory of whether its dialogue was as good.
- Conclusions from the "Erie Canal" poll: people who know the song out-number those who don't 2 to 1. The vast majority know the variant I'm familiar with, which is not about gin. As I suspected, New York was the big leader for those who learned it in school (though not everyone who went to school in New York learned it), but there was a respectable geographical scattering
Also, though I knew this already: ticking off boxes is fun.
- In related news, rachelmanija has a general poll on folk music familiarity and a follow-up post.
- I've just finished buying all seven seasons of Homicide on DVD for $20 a season (though only the set of seasons 1-2 has arrived so far). homicidereruns, here I come (when things settle down some). Also, if anyone wants to know how to get the DVDs cheaply, give a yell.
- papersky has a thoughtful post about lies springing off the whole MsScribe affair.
Finally, a request for advice. I have a few very small scrapes and dents on my car, at least one of which is fully three years old. I noticed this week that the paint around these is flaking and rust seems to showing. I blame the miserable weather we've been having basically all year, but whatever. The question is, is there anything I myself can do to stop the damage from getting worse, or is this a job for professionals?
My car went in the shop for two days this week (replace all the tires, repair a mis-aligned headlight), and I rented a car from the dealership. On the phone, they told me that they'd give me a Corolla, which was fine since my car is a 2003 Prius, in other words small, and a big car would be awkward.
Instead of a Corolla, they gave me . . . a Scion xB. I think the xB stands for "extra boxy." It looks like someone took a minivan and smushed it down with a rectangular compressor. An unspeakably dorky car—and I swear its dorkiness is an idiot magnet, since people tried to accelerate past me in lanes that were ending in ten feet, stepped out in front of me while I had the green light, all kinds of moronic behavior. (It was extremely sluggish accelerating up to highway speeds, between about 40 and 50 mph, but those weren't the times when people were acting like idiots around me.)
I was very glad to get my cute little car back.
This weekend we did Christmas at my parents' house, driving out Friday night. Saturday morning we saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and in the afternoon and evening I cooked two meat pies and a batch of baked mac & cheese, while listening to football on the living room TV. A good football day, as the Pats shut out the Buccaneers (who are good, unlike the Bills—but I still don't want to hear people talk about them as Super Bowl contenders) and the Giants beat the Chiefs with a record-setting performance from Tiki Barber. The movie was fine, given what it had to work with, and I do think the kids' acting has improved still more; but Hermione's dress was weird, Cedric had really big eyebrows (is this a British notion of attractiveness? Harry has the same thing going), and the ending could have stood thirty seconds' more exposition. The third is probably going to remain the best for the fresh quirky visuals and tight story.
Today my dad's side of the family came down, which was good because it's been a while since I've seen them for a holiday (and it's been years since I saw my step-cousin S.). My baby first-cousin-once-removed is very serious looking but was thrilled by the gift of a "Sit and Spin" toy, so that was very cute. And my parents' dog Truman did his usual crowd-pleasing performance of shredding wrapping paper as people opened their gifts. Then we sleepily drove off, made it safe home to our happy dog (who has already put a hole in the super-tough toy that my parents got her), and got stuff put away. It's going to be another long week at work, I'm afraid, but I'll try to get some Genji in, finish that monster Rent post, and so forth.
A very material objects kind of week.
Tuesday the transmission in Chad's car died as he was turning into a parking lot; the replacement was finished by Friday evening, which was faster than we expected, at least. I'd been on my way to get a new iPod and a haircut when he called me; must remember to make another appointment.
On Wednesday I had an inspiration, and after failing to talk myself out of it, acquired a TV tuner-to-USB box on Saturday (along with a replacement iPod. We're, umm, doing our part to help the economy?). I can't presently use the fancy Guide Plus+ software that came with it, which lets you click on a show in a programming grid and schedule recording, because we hooked it in above the cable box, but other than that, it was pretty easy. I am not crazy about the quality of a few test recordings—it's about the same as a VCR recording, but those are pretty fuzzy for us—but since mostly I'm going to use it to record Fullmetal Alchemist episodes, the real test will be Tuesday, when I'll see how an episode that I've already seen looks. (I recorded the new episode Saturday night, but I can't watch it since it's ten episodes ahead of where I am. The file size for the episode, recorded at "DVD quality," was 1.76 GB, which is obviously not sustainable for 51 episodes; I'll be experimenting with import format as well.) If the quality isn't good enough, we'll consider moving the split to before the cable box and/or getting a signal amplifier. Suggestions or comments are welcome.
In other TV news, season three of Homicide continues to be impressive; we watched volume 4 this week, which is the disc with the shooting of three squad members, among other things. Andre Braugher as Frank Pembleton really just owns the screen when he's on; I continue to regret that I missed the first-season episode that's just him and Bayliss interrogating a suspect.
I spent this morning setting up my new iPod and re-ripping my own small music collection, after snagging Chad's collection off his computer. He has tons of stuff that I don't know, so I ended up clearing all his ratings (which took so long that I was afraid I'd broken the thing) and setting up an "unrated" playlist. As I listen to each song, I'll rate it on the iPod and then can sort songs by rating in iTunes. There are currently six thousand, nine hundred, and fifty-eight (6,958) songs in that playlist, so this is what you'd call a long-term project, but it would be nice to have listened to everything at least once.
After that, I watched the Patriots lose to the Carolina Panthers in a rematch of the Superbowl of two years ago; an ugly, sloppy, stupid game. I'd like to think this was just their one lousy game of the season, but they looked shaky in the opener too, so I am not confident. More, Randall Gay was injured, which is not a good thing.
On a happier note, have some links. And tomorrow, there shall be another Sayuki post; and this week, there will be a revamped booklog with automagically generated genre and series indexes, and integrated search (don't worry, it will look basically the same).
- Why hiccups happen and how to cure them, by Diane Duane in a Making Light comment thread. My personal hiccup cure is to hold my breath while drinking as much water as I can stand (weirdly, just holding my breath doesn't do it), but if that ever fails, I shall go for the sugar.
- Library Thing has the potential to be the best cat-vacuuming EVER, if I could only think of a reason to have all my books catalogued on the web.
- marag has written a short Vorkosigan-books/Firefly crossover. Gen, Ivan-POV, a little too in-joke-ish at first, but there's a reason for it and the punchline amused me.
- Apparently we're going to be getting actual answers about the hatch in the Lost premiere this week, per this New York Times article (reg. possibly required).
Oh, right, I meant to do a week in review post.
Car stuff: On Monday, I discovered a dent. I've only had the thing since Thursday. It's a very small dent, true, but someone has quite clearly opened their door into one of my back doors. Grr. Otherwise the car is still lovely; it went over the hills to Williamstown this weekend with no problems, and is currently averaging 47.9 miles per gallon.
Work stuff: I should always assume that good decisions will be appealed, instead of letting myself get my hopes up, as I did regarding that decision I was all excited over. On the other hand, I'll be helping with the appeal, which should be educational. I stayed home sick Wednesday, went to a legislative hearing on Thursday regarding possible litigation, and that was about that's reportable for the week.
Social stuff: we spent most of the weekend in Williamstown for Chad's 10-year college reunion. Got to see many of his friends, to meet some of their kids for the first time, and to sleep on the worst hotel bed I've ever paid for. Came home early Sunday so Chad could go to Union's graduation; spent most of the afternoon outside in the sun, devouring a long-awaited book, and then went to bed very early.
House stuff: currently investigating painting the house and replacing the windows. Anyone have strong feelings between Pella or Andersen windows?
Sunday night's dinner was lovely; mmmm, lobster bisque.
Monday was quietly productive.
Tuesday I went to a deposition for someone else in the office; the witness wasn't testifying about our part of the case, but we sent someone just in case. Then I picked up a copy of the anthology with the middle Peter Crossman story in it, On Crusade; Barnes & Noble's online branch sent me a copy that was actually Evelyn Waugh's Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, of all things, wrapped in the cover of the Knights Templar anthology, and I had to get another sent to the local store.
Wednesday I got my teeth cleaned (oww), firmly resolved (again) to start flossing regularly, and bought a car.
Thursday I picked up the car.
Friday I drove the car, and baked chocolate chip cookies.
Saturday I cleaned the house, showed my parents around the house when they arrived, and took them out to dinner in the new car. (Mmmm, bitter chocolate with orange mousse.)
Sunday we had Chad's parents, grandmother, and great-aunt over for lunch along with my parents. Our parents' dogs had a great time together, Chad cooked an excellent lunch, and the cookies were a hit.
You know, even when you're not the one cooking, entertaining is hard work.
I'd never had my own car. In high school, I learned to drive on my mother's Ford Escort wagon, which I borrowed to go to my part-time job and to go out on weekends.
In college I didn't drive, as I was living in cities where cars were either unnecessary or an active nuisance (Boston, London, and Washington DC). I could have used a car in law school, since New Haven's public transportation system was not superb, but between the buses and Chad, I managed.
When I graduated and moved to Schenectady, I drove Chad's Ford Taurus back and forth to bar review classes. Towards the end of the summer, Chad's parents got a really good deal on a new car and didn't need their other car for a trade-in, so they let us borrow it. This was a huge relief, since we needed to move, and having only one car really limited our geographical range. As a bonus, the borrowed car was a slightly nicer version of Chad's, with power seats that put the car on something closer to my scale. (Any car that has lots of room for Chad is going to have rather too much room for me. Driving Chad's car involved a folded-up blanket on the seat and a neck pillow pressed into use as a back support.)
Chad's folks took their car back just a few weeks ago, leaving us with their venerable Ford Aerostar minivan. That vehicle being decidedly not up to the daily commute to Albany, I went back to driving Chad's Taurus somewhat uncomfortably—but in the happy knowledge that it was very nearly paid off and I could start looking for a new car. Which I did.
And today I brought it home. It was really a frighteningly easy process, once I'd done my research and made up my mind: thorough test-drive on Saturday, scoping out both the car and the dealer; applied for credit on Saturday on-line; approved on Monday; called on Wednesday and said, "Yes, please" (it would have been Tuesday, but the person I was dealing with wasn't in); and signed the final papers and drove away today.
Somehow it feels like it ought to have been more difficult.
I'm not complaining, mind. I have a spiffy brand-new (73 miles when I picked it up) Toyota Prius, which I have wanted ever since it came out. It's a hybrid, with both an electric and gas motor; no need to plug it in, the batteries are recharged from the gas motor and from regenerative braking. It gets over 40 miles per gallon (because only the electric motor is used at low speeds, it actually does better in city traffic; I got 50.1 on the way back from the dealer), and is so clean that California has designated it a "Super-Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle" (no, I'm not kidding).
Of course, I'm not all that green: hybrid system aside, it's otherwise just a nice car. It's eerily cool to be motoring along without the gas engine running, for one thing, and I have no complaints about the handling or interior. Well, no major complaints; the headrest may become an irritant, and the weird gear shift, which protrudes from the dashboard, blocks my view of the clock partly. But it's got more room inside than one might think, cruise control, keyless entry, funky LCD screen with touch controls, decent speakers . . .
. . . and comfortably-sized seats.
Yay, my own car!
I really need to start thinking about the start of the week when I write these up. Things actually happened last week on Monday (Chad's parents and the dog came up to help with house things) and Tuesday (long transatlantic phone call), but I'd never know it from the post.
Of course, now that I've said that, I can't remember anything in particular that happened this Tuesday, besides the usual slow process of getting back to work after a long weekend.
Wednesday night, Chad had his three advisees over for dinner. They came over at six, like his class the week before; unlike his class, I had to kick them out at 9:15 when subtle hints weren't working. ("There are two cookies left. Do rock-paper-scissors for them and eat them in the car; I'm tired and I have to be in court tomorrow morning.") They're good kids and very comfortable with Chad—obviously—so no offense was meant or taken. And the cookies were a big hit.
Thursday I was supposed to have a Mental Hygiene hearing, but after wasting most of the morning waiting in court, we determined that it needed to be rescheduled for Friday because of conflicts.
Friday morning we had the hearing. We lost. I didn't do as much as I could have; a patient was released into the community over the psychiatrist's objections. No connector but a semi-colon, because causation is never clear; all I can do now is hope it doesn't all go smash. That's all I want to say about it, and I'm trying not to dwell on it, so no condolences in the comments, please.
Friday night was much better thanks to the John Hiatt concert, which I wrote up in the last entry.
Yesterday I slept very late and then went to a car dealership to look again at a Toyota Prius. I need to check a couple more sources of information, but absent terrible news from those, I'm going to get one. I'm really excited: I've never had a car before, and I've wanted a hybrid since they came out. Last night we went to a party thrown by one of the faculty at Union, which was fun, even though we didn't manage to leave before I turned into a pumpkin.
Slept late again today, did laundry, cleaned the bathroom, downloaded John Hiatt live MP3s (the one of "Perfectly Good Guitar" does have the whistling). Chad went shopping with his parents' old minivan (on loan) and brought back a file cabinet and a chaise lounge for outdoors. Now I can organize the old bills that have been piling up in my office, and then go lie outside in the sun when I'm done—surely the sun will be out by then?
And now I'm going to go shower and get dressed, because we're going out for a fancy dinner to celebrate our one-year anniversary. (No, the file cabinet was not an anniversary gift, or the lounge, though both did make me happy.) Happy anniversary to us . . .
In short: Crazy week, nice weekend.
As I said at the beginning of the month, I have the Mental Hygiene calendar for the month of May. ( Mental Hygiene trials and tribulations )
I also picked up a couple of short-term, short-deadline research projects this week, which are both interesting (even if with one of them, I'm frantically learning about X in the fervent hope that a case involving X will not materialize). With the usual business of my job, it's shaping up to be a busy few weeks.
Despite that, I purposefully did not bring any work home this weekend. I had a long weekend, we weren't going anywhere or having any company, and I just wanted to unwind, at which I was moderately successful. Saturday we went car shopping; I really want a hybrid, and so we went to see whether Chad could actually fit in the driver's seat of one. He can drive the Prius, somewhat uncomfortably, but that's better than the Civic, which he can't drive at all. (I'll be the one driving it most of the time, but it's silly to get a car that Chad cannot drive in an emergency.) Then we bought lots of books and came home. I did more research on the Prius, and after dinner, we watched two DVDs. Actually, we only watched part of one, Ronin's "alternate ending"; we rented it solely because we could not imagine what alternate ending there might be. Well, we couldn't imagine it because it was terrible. If you at all liked the ending of Ronin, do not watch the alternate ending. I've expended a considerable amount of effort trying to pretend I never saw it, without complete success. On a happier note, the DVD of This Is Spinal Tap is extremely silly; the voiceovers of the band members, in character, are terrific. There's also another hour of outtakes, practically an entire movie in itself.
Sunday I bought clothes for work (two skirts, two linen/rayon shirts that I absolutely adore, plus a sweater on clearance for home, most satisfying) and then sat on our new swing, for the first time since we bought it, and read most of the new Pratchett novel. Went to bed early, but woke up thirsty and then was awake for far too long, plus I had bad dreams all weekend.
Today I did a lot of cooking, updated the book log with the new Pratchett, and that was about it. Today was chocolate chip cookies for when Chad has his advisees over this week (he had this term's class over Thursday, which was fun), and parmesan-garlic risotto with baked chicken (I love risotto. This needed more garlic, though.). This week, I also tried papersky's method for cheese sauce; in brief, instead starting with a roux, just cook the butter, flour, and milk together. It worked a treat, even with the different proportions from my original recipe (1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups milk, 2 cups cheese, 2 cups macaroni = great mac & cheese), and it was indeed much faster and easier. Thanks!
A few links that caught my eye this week:
- An eyewitness account of the bomb going off at Yale Law School, and one professor's comments on the aftermath (thanks for the condolences, by the way)
conversation about disaster studies and why human nature is
selfless under the right conditions (NYT link):
" . . . Exhibit 3: The World Trade Center, which was
the largest waterborne evacuation in the history of the United
States. A half a million people evacuated Lower Manhattan by water
and there was no plan for it. People in barges, sailboats and
ferries with no instructions put into the port after seeing those
buildings on fire. If you're out in the water in a pleasure craft
and you see those buildings on fire, in a strictly rational sense,
you should head to New Jersey. Instead people went into potential
danger and rescued strangers. That's social."
I did not know that, and found it really striking.
- For readers of the Exordium books, by Sherwood Smith and Dave Trowbridge: some of the visions on Desrien were cut from the series for length. There are links to them on Sherwood Smith's page. (I haven't had time to read them yet.)