Home of the Snarkmaiden
20 most recent entries

Date:2014-05-24 18:27
Subject:Back From Far Flung Ports of Call


So we have returned from Boston and Amherst and points miscellaneous in the vicinity. I've added two new states of the Union to my life list: Rhode Island and Connecticut. We giggled a lot about how small Rhode Island is. Particularly when we pulled off the highway to buy a wireless mouse for my laptop (forgot to pack one) and found ourselves face to face with Rhode Island Community College. Really? A whole one just for Rhode Island? These dollhouse scale East Coast states are adorable.

I've started posting some of the pictures on Flickr, just the ones from our visit to Mystic Seaport and dessert in Providence so far, but more to come. I'm still getting used to the new camera. My previous Panasonic Lumix compact camera had stopped being able to focus while we were at the Met back on our January NYC trip, and I've been limping along with the one before that, which works fine but has a chunk missing from the lens, so if you know what to look for, you can see a fuzzy spot in every image. I'd gotten pretty good at composing around that, but when I stopped at Costco to upstock dog food before our Boston trip, it turned out that they had a really good deal on the display model of a discontinued Lumix, so I snagged that for the trip. This new camera is much more like a 'real' one, in that it has such fancifications as an aperture priority and shutter priority modes, and I normally don't even want to deal with all that, plus they've shuffled around where the white balance and metering options are so it's all one big new learning experience. I did a lot of shooting in Intelligent Auto mode as a result, but seem to have gotten a few good pictures anyway. And I didn't have to try to compose pictures around the divot in the lens.

I think, however, that I will never figure out the hows and whys of Flickr viewership stats. My Flickr page normally trickles along in the single- or double- digit viewers per day unless I post new pictures and echo them here or on Facebook, but on Wednesday, the 21st, when I didn't post anything, my viewership shot up to almost 700 views for no reason I can track, especially since no individual picture had more than 5 views. WTF?

Anyway, we had a really nice stay with our good buds in Natick, got to spend some highly enjoyable time getting better acquainted with Hal's siblings and nephew, Hal received the finest, most painstaking haircut of his life, inconveniently for return appointments this was in Worcester (but if you're ever in Woostah and need a haircut, we recommend Michaelangelo's), and we ultimately got out to Amherst in good order and had a visit with an old college pal of Hal's, and the wedding came off beautifully and at long last our dear friend pecunium is well and happily married. More perhaps on all that later, but for now I have a Chunga cover to exnihilate, and fresh from the triumph of finishing another chapter of my long overdue TAFF report for the next issue of BEAM, I am keenly aware that I have less than three months remaining if I'm really going to finish the whole report by Loncon3. Must get cracking...

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Date:2014-04-22 12:43
Subject:Last Call for TAFF Votes

Today is the last day to vote in the current Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund (TAFF) race. This journal proudly supports Curt Phillips for TAFF (...and as one of his nominators, so do I). If you'd like to know more about Curt and his fanwriting, there's a lovely campaign zine of his over at efanzines. If you are eligible to vote, and have not done it yet, please do so! If you've already voted, you can vote again! (Only the last ballot counts, but hey, TAFF can always use more money, so multiple votes with multiple donations are g-o-o-o-o-d.) You can find the ballot text with an explanation of the fund, the names and platforms of the candidates, and links to electronic ballot donation payment options here, that last of which is particularly important because the ballot and payment must reach one of the administrators by 11:59 PDT tonight, so it is indeed too late to vote by snail mail. But not too late to vote -- so do it now, act without thinking, support TAFF and Vote for Curt!

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Date:2014-04-13 11:46
Subject:Cooking Meh

Yesterday I tried Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk recipe. Nice enough, but not the Best Chicken Recipe Evar as rhapsodized by Faith Durand over at The Kitchn. Admittedly, I didn't use the sage because I went out back only to find that the buttercups have choked the life out of my sage bush. Bother. There need to be some changes in the back garden this year by golly. But I find it hard to believe that just skipping the sage makes the difference between orgasmic flights of ecstasy and "Eh, nice enough." I may try it again some time, but it's a long time to spend to get a so-so bird. Possibly it could be adapted to the slow cooker so one can ignore it all day.

Also used this week's batch of no-knead dough to make cinnamon bread. Eh. It's perfectly nice, but it's not a match made in heaven. Cinnamon bread want's to be less crusty and a bit more cake-like than this approach produces. I guess I need to practice on the old-fashioned kind of high-fuss bread recipes if I'm going to make cinnamon bread. Or just get it at Costco.

But the no-knead bread approach is good for creating counter space -- since the various successful loaves, I've moved the bread maker down to the basement. I figure it can sit there for a few months while I decide whether I'm ever going to want to bother with it, and then, most likely, it will wind up at St. Vincent de Paul.

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Date:2014-04-13 11:34
Subject:Signs That It's Been Too Long Since You Did Laundry

Normally I sort my darks into blacks-purples-magentas-reds loads versus blues-greens-grays loads to prevent unpleasant color bleeds. Right now, I'm running a blacks load. I have a reds load on deck. Gonna be a l-o-o-o-n-g laundry day.

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Date:2014-04-12 10:09
Subject:Ah, Spring in the Northwest

The crabapple is blooming, the lilacs are about to, the mallards are paired off, and everywhere birds are gathering nesting materials: crows, wrens, and robins alike. This morning I spotted a little brown wren in the big apple tree, and it turns out she's nesting in the bird house that Hal re-located into the side yard after the willow was taken out. I'm glad to see it's still an acceptable home.

And as I sat over my tea and shirred eggs just now, I heard that distinctive Northwest herald of bird whoopie season: the abrupt clatter of a bitsy air-compressor going off on the roof. The flicker is back, showing off the superior hardness and puissance of his...beak...by using it to batter out a rapid mating tattoo on the metal flashing of our chimney. It's always startling the first time each spring because the sound is so absolutely mechanical as to be inexplicable on the roof, and it takes me a moment to remember what the hell that noise is. But once I figure it out, I find it cheering. The season of renewal is upon us.

I'm less thrilled by the millions of minuscule baby spiders staking out their individual territories all over the house. I'm sure this is phylumist of me.

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Date:2014-04-01 14:51
Subject:Update on Bride in a Tree

Eagle-eye jry spotted the actual work of the photographer who was doing the bride-in-a-tree photo shoot. So you can see the results for yourself, here.

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Date:2014-04-01 09:17
Subject:Webcam Impressionism

webcam impressionism

Morning in Seattle. Unedited webcam shot from a few minutes ago. No fancy Photoshop filters needed, just mist on the lens...

Sunlight! We get sunlight! I'm just so grateful the mornings are getting lighter again, every time I step out on the back porch with the dogs and it isn't pitch black any more. And spring is definitely sprung in these parts, too -- forsythia alight like flaming brands, stands of daffodil and narcissus and muscaria, trees blooming pink and white, cream and fuchsia. And like a poison green mist in a bad sci fi movie, the trees are leafing out all over the hillsides with promises of summer yet to come. For those still in winter, I have seen it myself: spring is possible, spring is coming!

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Date:2014-03-27 16:16
Subject:Cherry Blossom Update: Bride in a Tree

Whenever the Yoshino cherry trees really get going on the Quad, one of the inevitable consequences is photographers, but a particularly entertaining subset of these are bridal photographers, here taking advantage of the backdrop for that Perfect Memory. Now it's tricky, because the weather doesn't always cooperate, as early one morning walking to the office I spotted a poor young woman huddled in her wedding dress and parka combo in the chill mist and spitting, ominous gloom, waiting while her photographer set up his equipment and framed the shot. Or the public doesn't cooperate, by not staying away in droves, like last Sunday, when the lawn of the Quad was so full of humans it looked like there might recently have been a rock concert -- I didn't see any brides out in the largely black-clad surge of humanity, but you never know. Bridal photographers can be pig-headed, er, I mean "dedicated." Or possibly, "service-oriented."

Today, we have the wedding photographer who is framing his subject in cherry boughs. I'm sure these will be lovely photos, the happy bride surrounded by gorgeous, massed pink sprays of cherry blossom, but the rest of us are treated to the odd spectacle of Bride in a Tree. Or perhaps Onna Stick.

Oh well, at least the guy brought a ladder for her to use. When it's the boyfriend-photographer-girlfriend-subject combo, you often get the guy badgering the girl to climb the tree unaided. The Things Portrait Photographers Do, Man.

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Date:2014-03-25 16:44
Subject:Like a Face in Dreams

Spotted on Pinterest, this rather striking portrait of Sherlock Holmes created by morphing together photos of multiple actors who played the role, including Basil Rathbone, Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jeremy Brett. I find the fusion strangely compelling and while I think it most nearly resembles Rathbone, it keeps tantalizing me with a sort of facial familiarity that I can't quite place. Faces in dreams are often like that for me, almost-familiar, but layered or substituted in such a way that on waking I usually can't trace who the face belonged to -- although, in a rare breakthrough the other morning I was able to piece together the fact that my dreams had cast Lee Pace as Cory Doctorow. Don't ask me, I can't explain it either. But this dream-face Holmes, who is he reminding me of? Apparently a couple of the commenters on the Tumblr in question think it's Richard Armitage, but while I can see their point, I don't think that's it. Nearest I can come is the young Sean Penn crossed with some half-recollected leading man from the late 1930s.

So, does this fabulist Holmes remind you of anyone? Do you see faces clearly when you dream?

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Date:2014-03-25 14:44
Subject:Lying in Wait

Aer Lingus prices Seattle-Dublin are currently $1092 for two weeks in mid-August, but Kayak suggests that prices may go down again in the next seven days, and suggests waiting on purchase with 79% confidence. For now, I'm waiting...

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Date:2014-03-22 18:34
Subject:Red Letter Day for Mail

Today's Post

Many good things came in the mail today -- a reimbursement check from our homeowner's insurance agent (dang those guys are quick!), my 23AndMe kit, and the Curt Phillips for TAFF anthology! It's a damn-fine looking fanzine and offers up a lovely selection of Curt's fan writing. Highly enjoyable stuff. Get yours today! Also, Curt Phillips for TAFF!

And yes, I've gone and gotten myself signed up with 23AndMe. Thinking about going to England just tends to spur my curiosity about my biological father. It's a long shot that any immediate relatives will turn up, but even if not, there should be genetic information from the mystery side of the family, and a sense of where those folks are from. Plus I went ahead and did the consent to participate in research because genetic! research! The kit is easy to use, as is the registration process, although it's certainly one of the longest TOS agreements and Privacy Statements I've ever seen. Not surprising, but impressive.

I also put together another batch of dough for bread for the week today. This first loaf was the best yet. You would not believe the noms. Crisp crust, chewy consistency with a custard crumb. Just seriously amazing bread. Who knew it could be this ridiculously easy to make really top notch bread? Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day -- highly recommended.

Best Bread Evar

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Date:2014-03-21 15:56
Subject:What's Next?

Savery Hall

So I had to take a pass on taking Mandarin in Winter -- I was dead sick at the beginning of the quarter, and then off traveling for over a week later in the month. Losing almost two weeks of class time is bad in any 10-week class, losing almost two weeks from a 10-week Mandarin kills, it kills you deadly. So, ho hum here we go I'm off cycle again, waiting for the next class to come around on the guitar. I can possibly talk my way into the second-year third quarter class in Mandarin, I guess I could try to talk my way into the third year third quarter class for the heck of it, or I could do Something Completely Different. I guess I could probably take The Swedish Novel with no problems, but right this minute I'm not feeling it. The statistics course is, sadly, full, and the Art Department is snotty about letting non-matriculated students take classes. So, if you could take one random university course right now, what would it be?

Meanwhile, because they are there: cherry blossoms!

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Date:2014-03-20 16:25
Subject:Department of Yer Dreamin', Pal

Craigslist subject line says: "Free Pet Rooster, To Approved Home Only." Yeah, I don't even have to click through. This is some softhearted idiot who decided to raise laying chickens and found they or their neighbors can't cope with the noise of a rooster around. And they're We Must Not Hurt The Cute An' Fluffy Animals vegetarians who can't bear the thought of slaughtering their own birds. Or anyone else doing it either. So now they're looking for someone stupid enough or wealthy enough to be willing to do what they themselves are not -- keep a noisy, unproductive bird fed and healthy for years to come out of a sheer love of animals. Not. Gonna. Happen. The Happy Retirement Home for Unwanted Roosters is the fricassee pot. And even if they actually manage to find a sucker this time, it only pushes the problem off a few years. Hens can live a good long while after they stop laying, certainly long enough that keeping them in feed makes the ultimate cost of the eggs they laid during their productive years prohibitively high.

People, if you are not willing to kill a chicken, don't keep chickens in the first place.

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Date:2014-03-17 10:41
Subject:Another Take On Tone

Consider the possibility that if some one tells you your choice of words makes it hard for some people to hear your message, this may not be a request to shut up, it might just be a request to find better words. If you can't bear to have people ask you to rephrase, perhaps the problem does not lie in them.

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Date:2014-03-15 11:39
Subject:Loaf du Jour

Today's Loaf

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Date:2014-03-15 10:38
Subject:Baking Day Supports Curt Phillips for TAFF

Baking Day

Today I'm making bread out of the third and final ball of last weekend's dough. The first loaf went into the toast you see there. Close to the first time I've made toast out of home made bread -- usually such a rarity it's gone before it's cold, or else it's scones, which don't toast well. The middle ball went into a Chicago-style pan pizza (another first) mid-week. BJs' dough is sweeter, but other than that, mine was a pretty fair approximation of West Coast immitation-Chicago-style pizza. Anyway, it was noms and we ate the whole thing.

I'm also playing with a sort of intermediate version of scrambled eggs -- not as much ever-lovin' fuss as French-style scrambled eggs, these were, but still similarly rich and silky. So that's a win.

And even as I type this, the "Curt Phillips for TAFF" anthology zine should be done and out in the world, or reasonably soon thereafter. Get yours today, and Vote for Curt!

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Date:2014-03-14 16:17
Subject:Summon Photographers Spell

Singled out

Yes, it's cherry blossom time on the UW Quad again, bringing with it the hordes of flower worshipers, taking selfies or posing for friends in the branches of a tree or just against the clouds of lush, lacy white blossom. It's as reliable as swallows at Capistrano: the return of the cherry blossoms and with them, the hordes of eager photographers.

Yes, I'm obviously guilty, too. My excuse is, I'll post some of these to the department Facebook page -- pretty pictures of the Quad always attract hits.

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Date:2014-03-10 11:16
Subject:The Real Tone Argument

Shut up, and lie back down, I'm not done kicking you for things other people did to me.

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Date:2014-03-10 10:00
Subject:Lesson of the Week

Aggregated outrage addicts are a powerful tool in the hands of a person who doesn't care what kind of wreckage she leaves behind so long as she gets her own way.

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Date:2014-03-09 11:14
Subject:Dear Daylight Savings Time,

His Imperial Honor, Der Schoobenheimer

God damn it, it was just starting to get a bit light at 5:30 in the morning. Not daylight, but at least a hint of gray dawn pale around the edges so it wasn't full dark. Yes, I'm sure I'll appreciate having an extra hour of light in the evenings eventually (right now, it doesn't really help 'cos the train I can catch doesn't pull in that early), but now that the rain is lovely and warm instead of wintry mix, Shoobie wants to stay out and hunt worms in the mud when I let the dogs out for their morning pee. It's somehow all that much worse to have to wade out into the mudpit formerly known as the side yard in the pitch dark of night to retrieve the Little King of Everything.

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